Category Archives: Home


Do not dehumanize.

Are you finding yourself listening to someone who wants you to dehumanize any group of people? Are you obeying?

It was in grade school way back in the 1960’s that we learned that it was sloppy thinking, and wrong, to generalize. To assume that everyone who you perceive as belonging to some group is the same. If you’re swallowing any of the political water we swim in, if you are agreeing with your activists of choice, you are probably assuming a lot of bad things about huge communities of people, and about everyone on the “other” side.

You may be assuming that people you are supposed to love have thrown in with bad people and bad beliefs. You may not be checking with your loved ones to find out if they have; you may simply accept the word of public figures who don’t know you or your loved ones. You may be building a case which is not true. If you are wrong, then you have betrayed the people you’re supposed to care about and defend.

What if you are correct about your loved ones holding to beliefs you judge deplorable? How do you respond then? Let’s think about it.

Dehumanization is nothing to make light of. It is choosing to believe that everyone in an “other” category is less than— less than the best people, less than your tribe, less than you. Eventually you decide they are less than human.

It starts innocently, or does it? It starts with jokes! It starts with generalizing people into a group. Informing yourself about them using confirmation bias. Ridiculing them, then marginalizing them, then dismissing them, but alternately reserving the right to pull out those straw men to get angry at. Then you’re alright with disenfranchising them, excluding them, and eventually you’re alright with killing them, or seeing them killed.

Soft and harmless dehumanization is the seed of all atrocities and genocides. At the very beginning, it is hate. We cannot claim we have blind eyes to turn.

How do we avoid dehumanizing?

I must see each person as an individual, look them in the face and agree that they are as relevant, as valuable, as unique, as I am. That doesn’t mean accepting without discernment everything they do or say. It means I look past stuff which actually is not my business and value the person.

My job is to treat them fairly, as I would want to be treated. Really, my job is to love them. As they are, with their shortcomings, and with sympathy, since I’m not holy either. I can recognize that someone’s sins are objectively awful but that I am not the reconciler of all things.

As a follower of Christ, I should see a triangle here. As I stand in spirit facing another person, I am at one lower angle or corner of the triangle, the other person stands at the other lower corner, and God is at the top corner. I am on equal ground with any other person and God is the one we each need to be reconciled to. I cannot travel the other person’s upward angled relationship to God and he cannot travel mine. That person has no burden to to prove himself human to me, and I have no authority to to give or withhold the status of humanity from him.

That person is flawed just as I am, but he is an image bearer of God. God loves him so I must orient my valuing of him accordingly. He is a unique creation. We are both of immense worth.

We each must work out our relationship with God; every single human being has one. Although we might see each other’s faults, we can only exhort and encourage, advise and support. I can share with them, I can hope for them, and I can pray for them. I cannot judge, condemn, or execute consequences; I have no right to do so.

People deserve to be seen as individuals, on a personal level. As humans, as images of God.

Not a Bookbinder: What Am I?

From my other blog.

Maddy Tree Books

In my previous post,I Am Not a Bookbinder I wrote that I am not primarily a bookbinder, even though I make books and conduct a small business selling them. Now I am going to explain what I am instead of what I’m not.

I have created a business with art training (a BFA in Painting and Drawing) but with little bookbinding training. I’m a painter/drawer who has become a craftsperson. I make books, primarily the Japanese binding type. They are sketchbooks and art journals. I design and decorate the covers of these books using collage, marbled paper, handmade paper.

What business do I have marketing handmade books?Weakness: I took one survey course in bookbinding. No doubt there is a lot I don’t know.Strength: I took one survey course in bookbinding. In fact, I took one book I learned in that course, and turned it into a business…

View original post 957 more words

Progressive Patriarchy

Case #1:

It seems it’s just me, but whenever I see a male politician or media spokesman telling me he’s going to defend my right to choose, I feel mansplained to. When a man tells you he’s fighting for your reproductive freedom, just imagine he’s patting you on the head while he’s doing it.

He has no stake in the matter. He is patronizing you, telling you what he thinks you want to hear. Necessarily.

Case #2:

Progressives are blind when it’s convenient. The faddish love affair with non-traditional families. Behind every happy photo of two men rejoicing over their baby stands unseen a woman—a surrogate. She is paid like a servant to risk her life and give away the child she bears. Sometimes she is the biological mother of the child, and sometimes she carries a baby created using another woman’s egg.

Every time you see a gay couple with a child, understand that your are seeing a child who has suffered a deep, permanent loss, and this loss has been forced upon that child deliberately. The best possible case is that the child has begun life with the loss of one parent. The child of a surrogate has lost three mothers—her biological mother, the mother who carried her, and the mother who might have raised her. We are expected to cheer the fulfillment of adult desires, and to dismiss the negation of children’s needs. Toward both mother and child, it is the most elitist, classist, opportunistic act possible.

Ghosting Church

The manner by which people leave churches is not what it ought to be, when one considers all the ”one-another” commands. When we know that our local church body is only one location in the true Church, the Body of Christ consisting of all true believers everywhere and at all times.

People leave churches badly. I have lost dear friends, co-workers in ministry, elders— all have walked away not only from church affiliation but our relationship.

Three of us ladies created and led a successful, substantive women’s ministry. Each of the other two in turn one day departed our church, without having ever discussed with me that they were discontented, or that they were deciding to leave. I cannot help but conclude that I was seen as part of the problem.

Dear friends, also partners in ministry, sharers in private Bible study, slowly moved away. They engaged less and less, they were absent more and more, and eventually it became clear they had moved on. What hurt was that that same process applied to our friendships. Phone calls ceased. No acknowledgment when my mother passed away. That’s serious ghosting.

Shaking the dust off the feet. People leave church badly.

They leave long before they leave. They nurse their gripes and grudges carefully and quietly. It’s like they dont want resolution. By the time they decide to go, they don’t want fixes; they want to move on. If people meet with pastors to discuss problems with their churches at this point, they are there to register complaints on the way out the door.
Some people do try to work out their differences with leadership, or present their cases for what they see as problems, before they eventually leave. Some do so in good faith, but if they don’t get the resolution they’re looking for, they choose to go. And sometimes that is the right thing to do! Good churches are legitimately different, and it can take a couple tries to find your church home.

Some people present what they see as error to their leadership, and even when they don’t get the answers they want, or see the changes they want…they stay. They are satisfied with being responded to and they accept their leaders’ decisions. As long as the issues aren’t differences over core Biblical doctrine, this may be the correct course. Being a member of a church is a serious commitment not to be discarded lightly, and we are called to unity.

It’s my experience that those good-faith exiters tend to maintain at least their best friendships. It’s when people leave in a disgruntled manner that they tend to ghost relationships.

Weren’t we friends? Do we not all together belong to the universal Body of Christ? Aren’t we spiritual brothers and sisters? Isn’t our connection Christ himself? Then how do you put me behind your back and disappear me from your life?

We ghost the church body, we ghost the relationships we had there. Maybe it’s simply embarrassment. And if you have mentally moved on, you don want to dwell on it anymore.

But it seems obvious to me that we in the Church have better ways to conduct relationships. If we try to walk Biblical paths, if we love one another as The Word says we must, that love ought to show even as we leave our churches.

We leave church badly.

More Pro-Choice Lies

How can your position be virtuous if it requires the destruction of the small, the helpless, the dependent, defenseless, the vulnerable ones, the undeveloped, the marginalized, the invisible, the powerless? The pro-life position does not require this, nor the dehumanization of either the mother or the child.

I will believe you care about the women facing unwanted pregnancies when I see your support for women who choose to keep their unplanned children—support for state programs and support for organizational and personal charity— with the same fervor with which you support the right to abort. It seems you only have passion for the elimination of their children, and no concern for the women after all.

I will believe you care about women facing unwanted pregnancies when I see your sympathy for women who have aborted, and who are suffering as a result: trauma, remorse, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, disordered relationships. When I see you allow those women to express regret publicly, when I see you campaign for mental health access and faith-based counseling for these problems.

I will believe you care about women facing unwanted pregnancies when I see you campaigning on social media for addressing the problems which lead women to seek abortions. Women are pressured by poverty, adverse living situations, and especially pressure from the babies’ fathers and their own families. Surrounded by a culture’s relentless advice to get rid of the pregnancy, what choices do they have? Do you really wish there was less need, or are you all in for shouting your abortion and expanding abortion culture to the ends of the earth?

I will believe you care about women facing unwanted pregnancies when you admit that women aren’t alone in their pregnancies, and that their babies’ fathers are equally responsible for their children, and that they should be accountable to the women and children. When you recognize that a problem pregnancy is a father’s problem too. That you think access to abortion lets men walk away from their responsibilities. That you realize that is an injustice, and that abortion rhetoric tells women that they are—and should be—on their own!

What can you add?

An Incomplete Collection of Pro-Choice Lies

It is easy to put the lie to the rhetoric that the right to abortion is the key to female empowerment, freedom and equality: half of the babies aborted are women. Worldwide, more than half, because some cultures strongly value male heirs over worthless girls.

An unborn child’s dependence on its mother’s body is not an argument for abortion rights. Among civilized people, a baby’s dependence is an argument against the right to kill it.

The overturning of Roe is not a loss of freedom. It’s freedom for everyone and that’s a miraculous change.
I see the posts. You’re outraged. You’re scared. You’re beyond tired. But you ought to be relieved and rejoicing because you are an adult woman able to recognize that this is justice, a civil rights victory, the end of disenfranchisement for a whole class of human beings. The end of summary death for your most helpless countrymen. It means a chance for equality at the most fundamental level for every person. It makes us a kinder, more equitable, more civilized nation. It’s a victory for every American. We all ought to be dancing in the streets.

It makes us all safer. Why? Because we have delegitimized one significant expression of measuring the value of human beings in a relative manner. Our law at the federal level says that all persons, conception to tomb, are included in fundamental rights.

One of the saddest reveals today is how many Christians are first politically progressive, and second Christian.

This ruling should open the discussion about how we support women and babies in difficult circumstances: policy and law in government, as well as state encouragement for private charities. This is what would have been happening if abortion as panacea had not become our societal default.

Imagine for the last fifty years legal elective abortion had not been the law. Might we not have directed our efforts, at the state level toward supporting women in crisis pregnancies? Billions of dollars which we gave to Planned Parenthood might have been legislated to be directed to orgs that support women and children rather than funneling toward one deadly mechanism. We might have expanded support for private charities to do the same. Might pro-life perspectives have had an equal voice in the media culture?

What might you add?

Reducing Relationship

This is a revised post from a few years ago. We have been married a few more years, and our teens are adults now. The dishes are better under control but it isn’t because we have the house to ourselves. It’s still a busy home.

I have a husband who won’t let me get near the dishes lately. There are always a lot of dishes here, a lot, always. His reasons are clearly excuses.

In 31 years, we have not had Fight One over who works harder, whether he should help with the housework, or whose job it is to iron his clothes, mow the lawn or put the kids to bed. It’s not because we’re above such things; we simply don’t do 50/50 here.

Did other people’s wedding vows assign domestic duties, and which spouse was going to be the primary breadwinner?  Because to hear some people complain about their marriages, you would think that they promised to model Ozzie and Harriet in their suburban 1950’s TV home. And they resent that, so away with marriage, what they see as an obsolete patriarchal engine of oppression.

We didn’t sign a contract outlining household duties or role caricatures when we got married. We didn’t confuse our wedding vows with societal expectations or TV sitcoms.

What did we vow?

“Will you have this woman/man to be your wife/husband, to live together in holy marriage? Will you love her/him, comfort her/him, honor, and keep her/him in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be faithful to her/him as long as you both shall live?”

“In the name of God, I, ______, take you, ______, to be my wife/husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow.”

What we vowed may have been a slight variation on these words. We knew what we were promising. Notice that we both vowed the same things. There wasn’t the Housewife Version and the King of the Castle Version.

You’ll also notice that these vows are not limiting, but rather open-ended, except as to duration–until death. We were promising to love, to comfort, to be faithful.  We were not promising the nuts and bolts, the how we would achieve these abstract states of existence. We were promising to live the rest of our lives committing to one relationship.

A relationship has the potential to grow and expand, and to build toward intimacy, without a limit. To live under a contract would reduce our love to a pre-ordained set of limiting boundaries.

On another front…

During my tenure as a parent, I’ve been advised by persons who are over The Age of Eighteen, that I ought not to tell adults what to do. All the advice-granters in the world would tell me to say: “OK, you’re an adult now, so I’m not allowed to tell you what to do. In return, I give up caring whether you get yourself up for church, school or work. It’s your business and I’m not going to help you anymore. You’re not my responsibility.”

There is certainly truth in there. My role as a mom changes as my child matures and I do have to increasingly step back and let him make decisions, and let him live with the way those decisions play out. I’m fine with Mr. Experience  teaching him the responsibilities of adulthood. And I’m not above feeling a tiny bit of pleasure when an “I told you so” would be an appropriate thing to say.

But relationships are not contracts. A contract spells out what I am responsible for, and what I am not responsible for. Beyond the requirements of a contract one does not go. A contract limits my actions.

When we had a young teenager who was self-willed and in danger of going off the rails, the going advice was to put the relationship under contract.  “This is what’s expected of you, Teenager.  And if you commit these crimes, here is a handy list of the corresponding consequences. Now you know what to expect.”

It was an invitation not to be resisted. And because our children are creative people, it was unresisted very creatively. There was no instance in which he/she committed Offense X and therefore was liable for Consequence X.  It was never that simple.

They don’t just want to do X and get away with it; the goal is to confound your attempts to be the authority in the first place. They want to mess with you. It’s all about the relationship, and the rebellious child knows that better than you do.

Contracts and legal agreements reduce a relationship to that which is spelled out therein. Do we really want our family relationships to be bound by contractual agreement?

Relationships are not contractually binding; relationships supersede contracts. My behavior toward those I love aren’t limited by the letter of the law. Or so says The Author of Relationships:

Romans 12:10 “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”

John 15:12-13 “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

Romans 12:8 “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.”

“We love him, because he first loved us.”  1 John 4:19

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”   I Peter 4:8.

Relationships with human beings are infinitely more binding than legal agreements. We are accountable to love one another. To act on their behalf toward their good, even and especially when they aren’t able to appreciate the help, even and especially when we don’t think we have the strength to do it, even and especially when we feel like doing the opposite. According to J.Budziszewski, “Love is a commitment of the will to the true good of the other person.”

I want to relate to people in my life according to love and grace, not according to a reductive contractual agreement.  At times, I must borrow heavily from an inexhaustible Source to fulfill my part.

I give the Adult a wake-up call because I know she has trouble hearing her alarm, on the morning after receiving the caution not to tell the Adult she should go to bed. Or go pick her up when she didn’t plan for the ride home. Overlook irritating and irritated talk.  Dive in to thankless tasks. Really act as though the person is truly loved, and you couldn’t live without her, because it’s true.

And isn’t the debate over complementarian  vs. egalitarian marriage really a hyper-focus on this very thing? They can’t get their eyes off of that simplistically reductive 50/50. The change agents are so proud of their enlightened egalitarian marriages.  They’ve given us something new, something never seen before in the long millennia of human history: men and women, equal in marriage! 

But the Bible had this one a long time ago:

“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Ephesians 5:21.

And specifically on marriage:

Ephesians 5:33: “However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

I Peter 3:7:Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”

Each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”  I Corinthians 7: 2-5

Settle what job is whose, for goodness sake, and move on.

But when you confuse Ward and June Clever with millennia-old Scriptural teaching, it makes for confusion. If you’re going to set out to right societal wrongs, it would be best to get an understanding of the issue all the way down to its foundations.

My husband does the dishes lately without explanation.  He fends me off and tells me to go relax.  After working all day and then chauffeuring for awhile, then going to a meeting, after working on his own writing, before going to bed much too late and getting up much too early.

It’s not because he’s invented a brand new kind of marriage. It’s not because he’s heard on Christian radio that husbands doing chores get rewarded in the bedroom. He has nothing to prove and no secret agenda. He just understands what he promised.


The Difference That Counts

You may make a long list of the differences between a woke belief system and the Christian belief system. But there is just one that is unarguable, and it is the one that matters.

The woke are compelled to destroy the wrong-thinker: hate him, remove tenure, harass him publicly, heap abuse on his name on social media, drive him from his job, protest his home and family, call for violence against him. These actions are considered virtuous.

Christians are defined by their responsibility to love their enemies. We are to forgive them. We are to do good to those who hurt us. We are to hold nothing against them and to pray for their welfare.

This is the difference the world needs to see. Let’s make sure they notice.

What Abortion Does to Us

I wrote this several years ago, and obviously before Roe was overturned.

The case against abortion rightly focuses on the harm to the unborn. But what does the abortion culture do to us?

It desensitizes us. I hardly need illustrate this point. A comedienne recently celebrated abortion via patriotic parody on Netflix. Basically nice people put on vagina hats, put vagina hats on their minor female kids, march them along to protest in the streets, enjoying the tribe vibe, then go back to work and school and friendly society sure of their moral superiority while nurturing a constant state of rage against their family and friends who believe that life is a right belonging to all human beings.

It dehumanizes us. We keep our human status, but we lose the context for what it is to be human. We lose the criteria for deciding what being human is. We lose that because we trash it. We must, if we decide to create castes in which some humans are human and some are not. If personhood must be relative, then we will end by re-evaluating all persons’ personhood, according to what scale I try not to imagine.

It makes us elitists. When we throw in with abortion culture and accept it as necessary, we reveal that we are rank elitists because we have decided that we have the right to declare who is human and who is not, who is a person and who is not, who is “viable” and who is not. Viability is an arbitrary and ever-shifting goalpost if there ever was one. And if the doctor was incorrect about viability, he will sometimes impose non-viability without prejudice. This happens. We decide who lives and who dies.

Abortion infantilizes us. When we grow up, we learn that things happen which we didn’t plan for. Sometimes we should have forseen the consequences of our actions, and sometimes unforseen things present themselves regardless of our actions. Whichever the case, we must meet life’s challenges, take responsibility, and make the best outcome we can, though perhaps no possible outcome is what we would have chosen. Life isn’t perfect.

The abortion culture has taught us that if we face a challenge that we find too great, or even too inconvenient, there is a panacea  which will take our circumstances right back to where they were before that interruption. No consequences are tolerated, and if there are consequences we must be victims of an oppressor. Blame must be assigned. We have learned to expect life to clear itself up so we can get back to our comfort. It’s a childish perspective. The abortion culture makes us children.

Abortion culture makes us relativize killing. Is abortion killing? Is this a human, is this living? Is this kind of killing justified? How can I make this killing OK?

It’s a bad place to find ourselves.

Abortion destroys us. A culture which endorses abortion destroys itself. Proverbs 8:36 declares: Those who hate me love death. That culture has put death on the menu. It has made death one essential option. And once we approve of death as a tool, an instrument of expedience, a means to an end, we cannot put it away. We give death a kind of life and it may have its way with us.

Heroic Help That Doesn’t Cost Me Much

“Hey, anybody out there who needs to go camping in another state, I will totally pick you up and drive you to the campsite and you can sleep on my spare cot to recuperate too!”

But I’m not seeing anything like the following from the same people:

“ Hey, anybody having a crisis pregnancy, I will drive you to your OB appointments and help you find material support for you and your baby! I will be around to babysit and be a friend!”