What Do You Believe: Christians, Domestic Violence, and Divorce

The Workbench of Faith

ID-100105894 Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at freedigitalphotos.net

“Why doesn’t she just leave?”

“If she won’t leave, then that’s her problem, not mine.

“I just don’t understand.”

I’ve heard people make these statements about abused women.  It’s true, most people don’t understand.

It’s not easy to leave.

Leaving means admitting to the world that you let the one person you should trust the most hit you repeatedly.  In the Bible, this person is charged to love you as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25-26). Everyone expresses shock when they learn of the abuse, but they don’t ever see the woman in the same light, again. She might as well be Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter.

Abusive spouses love to use the Bible to support their actions. They focus on Ephesians 5:22-24, though.  Wives be subject to your husbands.  They like that verse, and if their wife…

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Russia: Conceptual rather than territorial. Why this and other differences matter to us.

This little jewel of an article, Peculiarities of  Russian National Character, arrived via my  inbox and I want to pass it on to those of you who might be interested. Below is an excerpt from one part of the article below. Those of us who share a passion for Russian literature will see some very familiar truths. While those who view Russia through the lens of modern Western or American viewpoints will hopefully become a little wiser about Russian cultural and political concepts.

You can get access to the entire article at the link below:


         Mount an attack on their national currency, causing it to lose part of its value on par with a lower price of oil. Watch in dismay as Russian officials laugh all the way to the central bank because the lower ruble has caused state revenues to remain unchanged in spite of lower oil prices, erasing a potential budget deficit. Watch in dismay as your exporters go bankrupt because their exports are priced out of the Russian market. Keep in mind, Russia has no national debt to speak of, runs a negligible budget deficit, has plentiful foreign currency reserves and ample gold reserves. Also keep in mind that your banks have loaned hundreds of billions of dollars to Russian businesses (which you have just deprived of access to your banking system by imposing sanctions). Hope and pray that Russia doesn’t put a freeze on debt repayments to western banks until the sanctions are lifted, since that would blow up your banks. (GIHAdmin. Pecuralities of Russian National Character.o1.13.15).

Book Monday Review: in the GARDEN of LIFE AND DEATH- A Mother and Daughter Walk by Kimberlyn Blum-Hyclak

I knew it would be an emotional, heart wrench of an experience when I pulled it from the package. This collection of poems, published by one of my favorite small presses – Main Street Rag, is the work of my friend and fellow poetry critique member, Kimberly Blum-Hyclak, or simply Kim to us who love her.

 in the GARDEN of LIFE AND DEATH – A Mother and Daughter Walk   is also part of my experience as I listened on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s over the years as Kim shared their birth and growth with we privileged few. Still there were many surprises and the verses that I had already met are more poignant in the midst of their published friends.

This is a generational journey of mother and child, child and mother, granddaughter and grandmother. The mother is both witness and participant as the story progresses. Kim does not sugar coat the experience, there are no band-aids to cover the pain, and as you let her words sweep your heart, embed themselves in your emotional plane; you begin to see the incredible depth that is present in life and death.

My daughter, still alert, makes up stories

about “the little bug” – the blips of light racing in a circle

timing her temperature. She draws her mouthwash

for chemo sores into a syringe while we count cc’s,

compare them to teaspoons. She asks what is the word

that means dying and coming back as someone else?

Knowing my sister is pregnant and wouldn’t it be cool

That if I died I could come back as Aunt Lynda’s baby?! (Baseline 4-5-93)                                              

Amongst the chemo,needles, tears, and stark fear are incredible bursts of normality:

The air is cooler, lighter, we breathe easier. We whisper 

messages across the playground through hidden tubes.

Zachary, Gabrielle and Nicholas race

from structure to structure, the rubbing padding thuds (Finley Park)

the brilliant color of laughter:

red clay, stain their shorts, underwear and skin. They giggle

in the spray of cold water from the hose before I wrap 

them in towels, allow them back in. Brother and sister graft

together over treks in the woods and snacks

from the garden. My stomach rounds (Dance Of Fertility Gods And Goddesses)

and Hope:

I step forward

secure in my footing

and the firm foundation,


the stones ahead of me

lead to another’s garden. (Stepping Stones)

I have purchased several copies of this book. Some of them will be gifts, one will go by my bedside, and the other will go with me in my satchel as my family has embarked on its journey. Kim’s words are my voice, at this time, when I find it easier not to speak.

You can visit Kimberlyn Blum-Hyclak at: http://www.awriterswindow@wordpress.com

Main Street Rag’s web address is: http://www.mainstreetrag.com


The Biophilia Hypothesis: A collection of invited papers supporting and refuting the hypothesis.



The major premise of biophilia is the existence of genetically based physiological (probably neural) structures that respond selectively to various plants, animals, and habitats. Like social behavior, though, biophilia is manifold in kinds and degree. There appear to be many bioresponsive behavioral systems, not just one biophilia (Soule’, Michael E. 443).

The Biophilia Hypothesis, edited by Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson has taken me an entire year to read. I admit that it took me a while to get into the subject. I spent the first quarter of the book defining vocabulary and researching topics. Once I got the hang of it I felt compelled to go back to the beginning and start again. Each section, each chapter was carefully digested and then mulled over. I found myself discussing the concepts with myself verbally while traveling in the car, pausing to read entire passages until my husband threatened to throw the book out the window.

It is not as if I had not heard of E.O. Wilson, nor read the writings of such notables as anthropologist Elizabeth Atwood Lawrence. But until I read this book I had not pursued the concept of E. O. Wilson’s Biophilia in terms of a hypothesis as well as ideology.

The book is not new, it has been around since 1993 and the research in the papers presented are older than that. But it is relevant research and especially important in today’s world as we struggle to grasp the delicate interaction of civilization and nature in an increasingly fragile ecological world.

Biophilia as defined by E.O. Wilson as “the urge to affiliate with other forms of life”(416). The essays (papers) presented in this book come from a range of authors involved in and with anthropology, biology, physiology, ecology, and so forth. The research delves into the relationship between humans, domesticated animals, wild animals and all other forms of natural life on earth.

Part of this book, especially the beginning chapters, is quite heady and full of scientific jargon. The reader could choose to skip them and go straight to the essays presented. Yet, I urge those of you whom might be tempted to not skip them. The material that follows will be all the richer for the reader’s effort to broaden their scientific education.

This is far from light reading. The essay’s within are worth the study, and this book is one to study and not just read.

*Kellert, Stephen R., and Edward O. Wilson, ed. The Biophilia Hypotheses. Washington, D.C.: Island      Press.1993.416,443. Print.

Emily Dickinson – A much loved friend.


The Magnolia tree in my grandparent’s front yard had the girth and height to hide a child from the everyday. Two large branches crossed early in the trees history. They rose some thirty feet high above ground, and proved the perfect spot to nestle against with a good book. A hole long abandoned, and blackened with age provided space for a container of tea, along with whatever snack I could find to carry up into that magical space.

I first discovered Emily Dickinson on a rainy winter day amongst the many treasures in my grandmother’s library. Amongst the shelves were several volumes of her work including a rather large cumbersome edition that claimed to be the complete collection of her works. I fell in love with her at once. Dickinson’s view of the world in minutia complimented childhood introspection and fascination with my own small world.

It was a much worn paperback selection of her poems that I carried up into that tree. I would recite her poetry aloud in imagined Emily Dickinson style for hours on end until the call of nature forced me to climb back to earth.

I was therefore thrilled with a recent gift, The Selected Poems of EMILY DICKINSON, Introduction by Billy Collins in paperback format. It is a 2000 edition Modern Library Classic with a sampling of more than four hundred of her poems divided in to sections on “Life”, “Nature”, “Love”, and “Time and Eternity”. It is just the right size to slip in my purse, curl in my hand, or stuff into the side door of my car.

Emily Dickinson and I were both born in December. She died in May of 1886 at the age of 55, the age I am now. I find much tender remembrance in the cadence of her words and embrace again the friendship that began in childhood. Emily Dickinson did not title her poems. I love this about her as I find myself reluctant to name my own poems, spending many agonizing session trying to think of a title.

In the following three line poem, To hear an oriole sing/ May be a common thing, /Or only a divine (1-3), we are reminded of her keen recognition of the special in the everyday, the sustaining wonder that was and is Dickinson.


Dickenson, Emily. “To hear an oriole sing.” The Selected Poems of EMILY DICKINSON. New York: Modern Library, 2000. 89.Print.

Advice from those that know…

PJ Mark points out in the July/August 2014 edition of Poetry&Writers that:

It is important for a writer to be a part of a literary community. A writer needs to read and buy books and attend readings and support fellow writers. It’s very difficult to engage others in supporting that writer’s work if that’s not happening (qtd. in Szczerban, Michael 77).

How do you become part of a literary community?  Simple, you join them.  I belong to several and visit many more.  You attend small and large conferences, you join critique groups and let them critique your work, and you get to know writers.

My shelves are full of books written by people I have met in critique groups, at readings and through workshops.  I have just completed Kathie Girogio’s novel,  The Home For Wayward Clocks. Not only is Kathie a great teacher, I met her through a P.O.V. workshop, her book is an exceptionally well crafted work of literary fiction.

And lets talk about craft for a moment. Other writer’s will help you learn to write.  My husband, the annoyingly engineering type, was quite astonished at how generous we writers are at sharing our tears, fears as well as our progressions, and triumphs.  He has attended a couple of writer’s conferences with me and has often remarked that you do not see that type of selfless proprietary sharing in his world.

Who do you meet at these workshops, critique groups, and readings? Successfully published writers, aspiring writers, and those who are thinking about writing.  People like me and people like you.

I have listed a few opportunities below. Feel free to comment and add your favorites.

Reading in September, Charlotte NC area: Nancy Stancill from her début novel, Saving Texas. http://www.nancystancill.com

The Writers’ Retreat at Folly Beach, SC.  October 2-5, 2014.  http://twwoa.org

The South Carolina Writer’s Workshop 24th Annual Conference, Myrtle Beach SC.  October 24 – 26, 2014. http://myscww.org/conference/

All Writer’s Workshop: Offers both online and on site writing courses – http://www.allwritersworkshop.com/about-us/about-allwriters/


Works Cited

Szczerban, Michael. “Agents & Editors.” Poetry&Writers. 42.4 (2014):77. Print.