Friday, January 26, 2018

Review of Washington DC's Museum of the Bible

The Museum of the Bible entrance doors

This winter, during a long stay in Washington, DC, I had the chance to visit the new Museum of the Bible, just off the National Mall.  While free timed entry tickets were assigned online, those times were not being observed at the museum.  Instead, people lined up outside in the cold and simply waited, sometimes for over an hour, to be allowed in.  This was very poorly done, as only one of the security entrances was being utilized.

However, after a long, cold wait, we finally were allowed inside, and our explorations began.  There weren't any signs saying, "Historical artifacts, this way!," or, "This way to see the Bible collection," so we decided to start at the top floor and work our way down.  This resulted in us not actually seeing the collection of old Bibles till our second visit, the next day.  (We actually left the first time believing the museum didn't have any Bibles!)

We enjoyed the special exhibits, The Living Dead: Ecclesiastes Through Art, and Christmas Illuminated (an exhibit put on by the Bavarian State Library).  There was also an exhibit from the Vatican Museums and Vatican Library, but compared to the others, it was underwhelming and disappointing, consisting of merely large print copies of works, while the other exhibit displayed actual art.

Pickled lemons and single-texture food, anyone?

The views from the rooftop promenade are beautiful, and the Manna restaurant offers additional seating in an outdoor rooftop garden.  The food at the restaurant left much to be desired, though.  It wasn't that great, and the titles of the entrees tried too hard to be relevant to the museum's theme (I mean, honestly, who wants to eat a "Scholar's Initiative?")  The cafe, Milk + Honey + Coffee + Tea, on a lower floor, offers snacks and coffee, and is more reasonably priced.

On the third floor, we very much enjoyed the walkthru exhibits depicting the stories of the Bible. The Old Testament is a 30 minute experience with smoked lights and short narrated videos telling the story of the Hebrew Scriptures. One part has a burning bush and God's voice is unfortunately a bit Sauron-like. (This exhibit is NOT for sensitive children.) It plays like a walk through haunted house, with moving walls, strange noises and lights,and fog machines. This is probably one the BEST and most enjoyable experiences in the museum. It may sound strange from the description, bu it must not be missed.  We could tell a lot of Jewish scholars had worked on it, since the stories had a lot of great Hebrew flair.  It was amazing, and very well done.


The New Testament walkthru wasn't as impressive, probably since the walls didn't move and there wasn't any smoke, but the art in the entrance was very innovative and interesting.  I enjoyed comparing the imitation movie posters to the actual Biblical stories, and was surprised at the level of imagery and meaning included.

The World of Jesus of Nazareth is a really cool replica village, with actors telling stories, "interpreters," and interactive rooms.  It reminded me very strongly of the Holy Land theme park in Orlando, with lots of picture taking spots.  The museum guide actually highlights "Selfie spots" on the map!

There's a ride visitors must pay extra to enjoy, the Washington Revelations Flyboard Ride.  It's $8, plus tax, per rider.  I was the only guest on the ride when I went. Riders stand on a platform, leaning on supports, while the platform moves, simulating the feeling of flying. On the screen, a computer simulated video plays, making one feel like she's flying over the National Mall, looking at spots where Scripture is written or has brought inspiration. Wind blows and water droplets mist the riders' faces.  The flyover is dizzy, and the film is disappointingly reminiscent of a computer generated Sims game, with very few of the shots being actual photographic film. Not worth the 8 dollars, in my opinion.


The second day, we finally discovered the floor that contains all the old Bibles, and it was as amazing as I'd hoped.  I only wish we'd been given better directions to find it in the first place, because we left the first day thinking the museum simply didn't have any old Bibles to display.  Many of the artifacts (a lot of pottery shards and parchment fragments) are on loan from other museums or individual collectors.

But the Bible room is amazing. THIS is what it's all about. Throughout, instead of background music, there are people's voices reading snippets of the Bible in different languages. Some parts of the exhibit, on the fourth floor, are like walking into a Renaissance church, with medievally garbed interpreters telling stories from large screens.  There's a large display about the King James Bible, complete with different copies of many of the editions, as well as a page from the Gutenberg Bible, and an edition of Luther's Bible.

I wanted to stay all day in the Bible collection, and I highly recommend this floor to anyone who visits the museum.  Go here FIRST!  If you don't have time to see any other parts of the museum, this is the exhibit you should see.

The second floor, the Impact of the Bible, has a lot of displays that highlighted ways the Bible has been influential through history, from a replica of the printing press, to fashion, to colloquial sayings we use.  This exhibit is large, and one could spend hours in here.

One feature of the Museum of the Bible that most of the other museums in the area don't have is the dedicated children's area. While several of the games aren't working, and there are no activity guides at the door, the play area and the arcade type games are great! The lighting is strange and not conducive to picture taking (and parents love taking pics of their kids playing), but this would make a great spot for storytime or guided activities for kids. During the summer, I imagine they'll resort to timed entry, since it would get over crowded. A permanent docent or two for this space is also a good idea. 


The bookstore is about on par with other National Mall museum gift shops.  However, since this is the Museum of the Bible, I expected a lot more Bibles on sale.  There were very few, and even as far as art or things inscribed or printed with actual Scripture, there was very little.  That was disappointing.  If there's one place where those sorts of things would be acceptable, THIS is it!

This is all the Bibles on sale. That's it.

Overall, I enjoyed our visit, but the overwhelming feeling I had was that the museum is very schizophrenic, not unified.  The main theme is Bible, but there's not much else to link each exhibit.  When taken one floor at a time, it's not as overwhelming, but who has time, when on a short visit to DC, to return to the Museum of the Bible four or five times?  It's almost too much for one museum.  The styles of the different exhibits and floors vary widely, and it's obvious different people designed and curated throughout, since the experience changes so dramatically from exhibit to exhibit.  There isn't one style used throughout, and it kind of makes me think if one single font were used, it would have a massive impact on the unity of the place.  As it is, each floor is like a single self-contained museum, with it's own artistic style, font, and feel.

I'd like to see self-guided journeys offered.  For instance, if you're there specifically because you want to see old Bibles, being pointed primarily to that section of the museum makes sense.  If you're interested in being immersed in the stories of the Bible, being directed to the Old Testament and village of Nazareth experiences would be best.  If you're visiting with young children, being informed about the Children's Experience should be paramount, especially if timed entry of that space does eventually get established, like at the Building Museum's popular play area.

I'll definitely visit again, and I hope that, over time, the hiccups in timed entry and museum visitor flow will be smoothed over.  If not, then maybe by then the cafe will offer fine Israeli wines to calm the stress of getting in!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

From Disney magic to a new stage of life

I want to begin by kicking and screaming and wailing, "Life's not fair!"

Well, it's not. Life really kicks ya in the balls sometimes. But I know another truth about life: God provides and sustains, even when His guidance leads us on crazy journeys. 

There's no amount of spin that can hide it. God has guided us. And His Providence has sustained us. That's the barebones bottom line of our story.

For years, we lived in Washington DC, where we were active in TWO local churches. We shared custody of our sons with their respective parents, and, while Ashley's boss was a real jerk who yelled all the time, we were satisfied. We were living into our reconciliatiatory calling to hold space for two warring branches of Anglicanism, calling one side to orthodoxy and renewal, and the other side to reject schism and ignorance of their theological history.

But then God told us to go to Florida. Our middle son's mother wanted to stay with her mother in Daytona for a while, to get back on her feet financially, and we realised our custody schedule could stay intact with us in Orlando. 

Plus, DISNEY! 

Ashley and I have clergy friends there, and I have family all over South Florida. It appeared to be a great move.

And it was! For a time, we lived happily and carefree, if dripping with sweat from the incredible heat. Ashley had found a job even before we moved, and started right away. I found a job a few months later, and we secured our Florida resident Disney passes, in short time becoming regular Disney experts. Our custody rotation of our oldest son stayed intact, even though he was still in North Carolina. We got the middle kid every weekend. While both boys complained that they missed their altar bky service, we kept promising they'd get back into acolyte rotations soon. 

Then a hurricane hit. It wasn't very devastating to Florida, but it spun up the US coast and flooded Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina to the point where some towns are still trying to recover. The roads and highways were closed for days and weeks, and we were unable to get our oldest for two rotations in a row. That was rough for this mama, but we survived and got together at Thanksgiving, and all was well. 

Then Ashley's boss began stiffing him his paychecks. Turned out, the boss is an alcoholic who has major follow-through problems, and due to his refusal to cough up the full paychecks each week, we got behind on a lot of bills. Our car got repossessed one night, a few days before Christmas. Our apartment complex manager began eviction proceedings against us, slapping us with loads of legal fees, when we were late with rent by a few days. 

Again, God provided. The generosity of our family and friends surprised and overwhelmed us. That's the grace of God--overwhelming and undeserved. Friends even sent Christmas presents for us and for the kids, and others sent groceries and ordered pizza! We got our car back, managed to stay in our apartment, AND still got to go to the family gathering in NC for Christmas. 

Ashley found a new job almost right away, with a firm that assured him they were hiring him for a permanent position, and we rested in the Providence of God, grateful for provision and protection. We caught up on all our bills and thanked God for it all. 

My paternal grandfather joined my grandmother in heaven in the Spring, and, since we lived nearby, I was able to quickly zip down to Naples for the family gathering and memorial service. I was blessed to see the middle sister who hasn't spoken to me in years, and she gave me a hug. All the Scheafer sisters were there, and we laughed and talked and reminisced about our grandparents long into the night with our cousins, aunt, and uncles.

My mother underwent serious surgery a week later to remove a large tumour from her neck. Again, I was only a few hours away and could drive down to Miami to spend a couple days with her and with my closest sister, who had flown in from Togo with her family for Grandpa's memorial and Mom's surgery. It was lovely, finally together again. My mom's surgery was successful and revealed the tumour to be benign.

Then, immediately after tax season, Ashley's firm laid him off. We were shocked. Speechless. Confused. Wasn't this what was provided for us? Why did this keep happening??

Finally, we decided to consider leaving Florida. Ashley dedicated himself to the job search, AGAIN, and expanded the search to include North Carolina. He accepted a position yesterday at a firm in Winston-Salem. We will move in with his parents in Rocky Mount, and he will commute three days a week, eventually transitioning to remote work.

Again, God has provided. Of course, at this point, it's difficult to rest easy. The what ifs pile up and make me wonder if we'll just get yanked around more. 

BUT, I look back and remember, no matter the difficult circumstances, we have survived. Providence has allowed me to be present for some important moments in my extended family life this year, we've gotten to tromp around all the Disney parks pretty much whenever we desired, and God hasn't let us starve or be tossed on the street without transportation. It's been close a few times, but every time God provided. 

What if our time in Florida wasn't primarily to take us farther down the path of Ashley's call to the priesthood, but rather to teach us to more fully rely on God's provision, to strip us of our ideas of self-sufficiency, to remind us in tangible ways that we can and must put family first, to stretch us in ways we could never manufacture in a place of comfort?

If so, I admit, I shake my fist at God a bit. Couldn't He have taught us all that without making us gain more grey hairs and worry lines around our eyes? Could he not have provided for us without long nights of weeping and mourning? Could, "Be not afraid," have been impressed upon us via ways that involved a lot less fear? Were our hearts not teachable enough before, when we never worried about paying bills, having enough to eat, having a roof over our heads? 

And yet. God has been present throughout. We have been laid low again and again, but we've never been destroyed. Maybe following His guidance isn't so much about us moving to higher planes or even advancing in ways we imagined, but rather about illuminating Him, making clear His provision and love. Maybe our lives, at this stage anyway, are supposed to be a huge arrow pointing to Him. 

All I can do is say thank you, and also, please God, can my life point to you in less tangibly painful ways going forward??

We moved to Florida on faith, and we leave on faith. We could never view our time there as a waste, because of all the Providential moments we were able to be with family at critical times. Plus, lots of Disney adventures could never be considered a waste! But looking forward, we eagerly, if tentatively, wonder what's in store next. God has already provided a job and a home for us. Both sons will be close by. Penelope will bring youth and laughter to her grandparents. Our future holds a lot of commuting for both of us, but we've always been down with that. We'll be free to dedicate time to his parents and siblings' families. 

Maybe we've come full circle so we can help revive the dying church where he was confirmed and where he began the discernment process so many years ago. There's a thriving Catholic Parish in the area, too, with both Novus Ordo masses and Latin Mass services. Think of what we can learn and the ways we can grow from making friends with parishioners there!

Looking back, I don't regret anything. Our time in Orlando was fruitful, just in ways we hadn't anticipated. Our time in North Carolina will continue to grow and strengthen us. What the next step after that is, we don't know. We have tentative ideas and half-imagined plans, but are confident that God will continue to provide for and lead us. 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Lenten Project: Day Forty

It's the close of Lent.  Now it's Easter.  Time to look forward, and rejoice in Hope.

Easter 2012, Messiah Lutheran Church, Mauldin, SC

I've learned and grown through these forty days of my Lenten discipline.  I've faced my failures, admitted my faults, remembered joys, and rejoiced in memories.  Looking back to where I've come and comparing my old self to who I am now, I know I have a ways to go on my journey of life.  But there's good in affirming how much has changed in me since I was a child.

I might still doubt sometimes.  When I do, I run to the cross, dip my fingers in the holy water, and remind myself of my baptism.  I still fail my kids in this mothering business. When that happens, I try to treat them with respect, apologise when I'm wrong, and model repentance to them.  I still have flashbacks and occasionally have a hard time talking about episodes from my past.  But that doesn't mean I shouldn't talk.

I'll keep on talking because over the course of this Lenten Project, I've received numerous messages, emails, texts, and comments from people who have been helped though my telling my story.  There are universal elements, things with which people identify, in each of my posts, stuff that unites us all in this human journey.  This blog series has sparked numerous positive conversations, inspired reconciliations, and reminded others of the Hope we have in Christ.  There have been horrifying stories recalled, funny episodes related, and lots of in between, just-tell-it-like-it-is kinds of posts.  I hope my Lenten Project has been a blessing to you, and I invite you to stick around for future posts.  I don't intend to stop.

Join the Conversation

Which post has been your favourite these past forty days?

Did you have any interesting conversations or revived memories that my posts have sparked?  I'd love to hear about them!

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Lenten Project: Seventh Fearless Friday (Good Friday)

One thing that missionary kids excell at is in reveling in their natural habitat. From swings to elaborate treehouses from which to launch on zip lines, we certainly created plenty of opportunities for thrills. 

Even when my family was on deputation, raising monetary support to go to Grenada, we had a nice wooden swing in the backyard of our house in Sharon, PA. There were some nice playgrounds in that area, too, and I have vague but fond memories of playing when I was a little girl. 

But it wasn't till we got to Grenada that our outdoor habitats got more awesome. At one house, an old plantation manor house with two and a half acres of land filled with tropical fruit trees, Dad built us girls a double decker treehouse.

This is one of the breathtaking views we had from that house.

We also had a little platform over some roots that was our hammock space. When Dad was putting up an even longer rope swing, he asked for a volunteer to test it with him. My sister Lizzy stepped forward, unafraid that Dad's knot tying might not hold. Sure enough, the rest of us girls had our doubts vindicated! On the backswing, the rope broke, and Dad and Lizzy fell to the ground, landing on some big above-ground roots. Dad landed on Lizzy, and Mom was certain he'd killed her or broken bones or caused internal bleeding. At first, Lizzy assured everybody she was fine, but when Mom continued to fuss and Dad kept acting so contrite, she began to ham it up, whimpering and letting her arms hang limply while she got carried with great fanfare into the house. She got to spend the rest of the day on a pile of cushions, eating the entire sent-from-America Tootsie Roll stash. With rewards like that, the rest of us girls felt sorry we hadn't volunteered after all!

At the next house we lived at in Grenada, we took it to the next level and had a four  storey treehouse, complete with super long rope swing. 

Come to think of it, we Schaefer girls haven't had much luck with rope swings, because Mary was swinging on this one once and ended up flipping over the nearby retaining wall to land on her back on some coconuts. Dad was so scared she'd broken her back that he drove the little red car down the hill to get her and drive her back up to the house so she wouldn't walk. But Mary was too good and honest to let our parents feed her all the American candy when she wasn't really injured.

Aside from rope swings and hammocks, the favourite contraption at MKs' houses was the zip line. A couple of our friends had great tree lines in their yards that were perfect for their zip line setups. We'd spend hours taking turns hurling our bodies from tops of makeshift ladders (slats nailed into coconut trees) while hanging on tightly to small metal pipes suspended from the zip line. Only be careful you don't slam into the tree into the other end!!

One missionary family lived right on the edge of the rainforest, so we'd go exploring and hiking whenever we visited them. There was a small quicksand pool that Darrell always told us we'd get sucked down into our deaths if we even stepped a toe in. Scared me spitless everytime he ominously warned us. If it was really that dangerous, I wonder at our parents for letting us go play around it! More likely he was just being his annoying self and teasing me (probably made all the sweeter for him since I swallowed it every single time!).

I grew up climbing mango trees and spending all day up there, reading. If I got hungry, I could always reach out a hand and pick a snack!

Growing up so close to nature is something I really appreciate about my childhood. While it's a miracle none of us ever got seriously injured, I wouldn't trade those experiences for anything.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Lenten Project: Day Thirty-eight (Maundy Thursday)

Lent is almost over. Today is Maundy Thursday. We've moved from self-reflection to a reflection on the ultimate selfless gift: Jesus' gift of dying on the cross for us.  We celebrate the institution of the Last Supper of our Lord, that time when He gathered together his disciples and taught them what is love and forgiveness.

This day is a holy day that's brimming with restoration and hope, looking to the future Easter, while remembering the beginning of the Passion.  For me, I keep in my heart the hope of reconciliation with my sister Elizabeth, though reality is discouraging.  Since my divorce, my sister, still a Fundamentalist, has been shunning me, denying repeated attempts to seek forgiveness or reconciliation, saying that I have the "spirit that worketh death" on me.  (I don't know what that is or how a Christian could be marked in such a way, and none of the pastors I've asked have understood what she means by that, either.)

I've emailed repeatedly, trying to keep the door to the relationship open, but all my offers and suggestions to restore harmony have been rejected. I honestly don't know what else to do.  She claims I'm unrepentant and unchanged since I divorced.  I suspect she believes, agreeing with my parents, that I'm a walking, talking adulteress.  That, unless I "prove" my penitential spirit by following a specific list made by her, I've not actually repented.  She and her husband reject the testimony of pastors (from several different churches and denominations--Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Baptist), friends, family, those who have counseled me, those who have observed my life up close over the years and see a pronounced difference in me.  She demands that I let her "hold all the cards" and dictates that I must personally apologise to everyone who knew of my first marriage and divorce, since I broke my marriage vows to them and dishonoured God. Why my not having done these exact things must result in her refusal to have anything to do with me, I'm still not sure.  Most of what she has said makes little sense when viewed through the lens of Scripture and the light of the Gospel.

Hannah and Elizabeth sing together, Singapore, 2000

My friends, I want you to know that Jesus says his burden is easy and yoke is light, and his forgiveness is freely given, not earned through apologising to everyone you know. Jesus doesn't seek to break those who come to him, but to heal their brokenness. When you start living a life of redemption, the evidence is clear to anyone who will look--repentance has occurred, is occurring, and will continue to characterise you. This is what Easter, Christ's Passion, is all about.

I will admit, I've been tempted to fall back into my old habits of just pretending, of saying what my sister wants to hear so I can create a false peace, have a shallow reconciliation. But one thing I have learned, something I think has been shown through my posts this Lenten season, is that faking it never works.  Pretending all is well, embracing passive-agressivism, or even willfully choosing blindness and stunted spirituality, results in death, not life.

So I choose Christ.  I choose living a life of repentance.  I am marked as a child of God, and I want to be characterised by reconciliation.  But I can't force people to reconcile when they refuse.  I can't force people to act like Christ when they believe His virtues (peace, unconditional love, free forgiveness to those who don't earn or deserve it) are anathema.

I don't give up hope for my sister.  But I give the struggle up to God.  Because trying to convince a spiritually blind person that God is good and forgives is futile until that person willingly hears the Holy Spirit's voice.

This was a hard post to write. I wrote, deleted, rewrote, deleted again, scrapped the whole thing, prayed, pondered, wondered, and rewrote it all again from the very beginning.  It was not easy.  But it's right.  Because reconciliation is my theme. Hope and life are together threads entwined to run through every story I've told in this Lenten Project.

Hannah, Mary, and Elizabeth, mid-90s, Grenada

I hope that someday this episode of my life will be a testament to the reconciliation found in Christ, that Lizzy and I can be friends, or at least speaking sisters again.  Until then, it's a story of how Christians can be stubborn, proud, and often very unlike the Christ they serve, but how forgiveness is always available, always free, not earned. My comfort comes from the Lord. I'm reminded every Sunday during the Eucharist that we are one Body, Fundamentalist Baptists, Lutherans, and Anglicans, and everybody else, united in Christ, whether my sister Lizzy can see it through her blindness or not.  The passion of Christ was not futile or worthless.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Lenten Project: Day Thirty-seven

After working so hard to secure employment at Bob Jones University, I felt like I'd achieved the highest level of spirituality.  Now, despite never getting to be a "spiritual leader" during my undergrad days, I was a respected staff member, someone who could influence students for Jesus, and also learn from the other BJU employees who had suddenly become my peers.

Senior portraits.
Why is it that yearbook staff always pick the worst pose?

I loved my job.  I was a staff dispatcher for the campus security, and often worked the 12 hour overnight shift.  Anything could--and did--happen in the middle of the night on and around campus.  One night, in mid-July, the campus watermain sprung a leak and flooded a part of campus.  I was on the phone with the fire department, coordinating the directing of outsiders to the cleanup crews to get everything under control, while also accomplishing all my other nighttime dispatch duties: recording everything on the blotter, paying attention to the alarms checking, and keeping track of entrances and egresses from the main gate of the campus.  It was fun, but also exhausting.  With all that, I barely had time to wonder about a summons I'd received that late afternoon from the head of human resources.  I was to report to his office in the morning, two hours after my shift was over (rather inconvenient and inconsiderate, since I'd have to attend the meeting on no sleep, plus find some way to keep myself awake for two wasted hours in waiting around on campus).  My coworkers had assured me it was probably just routine, to finish paperwork, or maybe even to get commended for working so hard all summer.


I napped in my sister's room for a couple hours, or at least attempted it.  Now that there were no distractions, my mind went to work imagining what the summons could be possibly be concerning.  Turns out, it was NOT for a commendation.

The HR head was there with the head of my department.  They weren't smiling.  HR glared at me and said, "I'm afraid I have bad news.  You are being terminated."

I was flabbergasted.  I stammered out a, "Why?" while I struggled to recall if I'd broken any rules in the two months I'd been employed. Nope, I'd been perfect, but BJU standards.

He said it was because I'd proven myself to be a bad influence and a poor example of Christ.  When I pressed him for example of what in the world he was talking about, he pulled out, quite dramatically, a sheaf of heavily highlighted papers.  He'd printed one of my emails to several of my friends who were still undergrads.  This email was one of those silly quizzes that kids forward around, what's your favourite food, what's your best childhood memory, what's the most daring thing you ever did, etc.  I'd filled it out a month prior, and sent it on to a few of my friends and coworkers.

Apparently, some of my answers on the quiz were less than pleasing and were downright evil.  I'd put The Patriot as my favourite movie.  HR head explained that, since that movie is rated R, I was being a bad example to the students by saying I liked it.  I shouldn't be even watching rated R movies, and definitely not leading others by example to appreciate or desire to watch them.

I'd said I'd gone skinny dipping. As a kid in the Caribbean Sea.  That was wicked to admit, because it brought to mind nakedness and encouraged young people reading my email to pursue wantonness.

I'd joked that I enjoyed kissing my husband (since all physical contact between genders is banned at BJU, I'd never kissed anyone or been kissed till I started dating and then married my husband, so it still felt a bit illicit, even to admit that I'd done it).  That was bad because it displayed my proud spirit, bragging about physical sexual contact to students who were not allowed to follow my example but who would be expelled if they tried to be like me.

And on the list went, HR man got really heated in his ranting and raving, while my department head just sat there, not saying a word in my defense.  I'd burst into tears after about five minutes, but HR man kept going, alternating between waving the sheaf of papers in the air and shaking his finger under my nose.  He spat, "You have no integrity. Can't you see that you're unqualified to be an example to students, to represent the University?"  He told me I should be becoming more reserved with my friends who were still students, because now I was staff and I had to be over them.  Never mind the fact that I'd been an undergrad too just a few weeks ago, or that school wasn't even in session yet.

What I was afraid of most of all was being barred from seeing my sisters. Friends I could leave behind, but the usual procedure for people who get fired from BJU is for them also to be blacklisted and banned from campus.  I'd been well-schooled in the Black Book during my time with campus security.  I knew how it went.  I finally broke in through HR man's incoherent sidetrack story of how he could not witness to people at his first job because he needed to glorify God by applying himself to working hard.

I asked him point blank if I'd be banned from campus and kicked out of the Alumni Association.  He said no.  He further said he'd make sure that didn't happen, since I hadn't actually done anything wrong, I certainly didn't deserve to be punished beyond losing my job.

With that, the meeting was over.  My department head finally spoke up and offered me a ride home. I could barely see through my swollen eyes, but I refused.  The man hadn't defended me or said much of anything at all during the entire meeting.  I didn't want any help from him if that was his definition of "stand up for and protect the ones in my department."

I walked home.  When I got there, I immediately checked my email to see if my campus account had been locked yet.  I found an email from my new brother-in-law, accusing me of being a horrible, inconsiderate, cruel, deceitful person, a slut, someone who he wished his brother had never met, much less married.  He'd sent a copy of his email to everyone in his family, even aunts and uncles I hadn't met yet.

One person on the recipient list contacted me and assured me his opinions were not shared by the family, but no one stood up to him directly and said what he'd said was wrong or that he shouldn't have emailed everybody like that. Even his brother, my husband, kept quiet. It made me feel so worthless. I was unworthy to be staff at BJU, and also not worth defending. All on the same day. 

I spent the rest of the day with my head in the toilet, throwing up.  A few days later, I received a letter from HR man and from the Alumni Association. I'd been banned from campus, blacklisted.

I blogged about that meeting, describing my feeling of shock, asking why it was morally and ethically okay for my personal emails to be read, printed, and held against me.  Why had it been acceptable for me to be closed in a small room with two older men I barely knew, one of whom then verbally abused me while the other watched?

I wasn't allowed to go see my sisters on campus (I had three sisters who were students that new school year).  It meant I was banned from attending their concerts, recitals, speeches, and even just picking them up to go shopping, or dropping off clean laundry in their rooms.  I was totally blacklisted.  (And no one I left behind knew why--that sort of thing is never explained, so everybody always assumes the worst.  People later told me they all thought I'd broken the law somehow, or had an affair.)

I wrote a letter to Stephen Jones, the president of the school, begging to at least let me be un-banished.  I didn't want my job back, I told him, but I shouldn't be excommunicated for forwarding a silly quiz to some students.

He wrote me back and approved my request to have my blacklisted period cut short (it's policy for all those who part ways with the University on not-good terms to have to prove their repaired testimony after one year of banishment has elapsed).

But before I could be allowed back on campus and special passes for my sister be approved, the dean of students demanded to see me.  He said that, while the University president had said one thing, he was saying another and would not let the un-banishment go forward till I met with him.

I went to see him, and he accused me of doing things I'd never done (he later called me up and apologised.  Apparently, he'd gotten me confused with my brother-in-law's fiance, who had also worked in campus security, and who had done some bad stuff, I guess. Yes, the fiancĂ© of the same brother-in-law who had written me that horrible email).  He also waved some papers around (print outs of my blog) and demanded that I delete everything I'd written about my firing from BJU before my punishment could be lifted.  In order to have the privilege of my sister's company, I had to comply.

So, in exchange for reuniting with my sisters on campus, I did everything he told me.  I never promised never to blog about it again, though, and this is the first time since then that I have.

Bob Jones University is a terrible place, filled with abusers and enablers of abusers.  The focus is all Law (in made up rules which are hardly biblical), and little Gospel. Sure, sometimes the light of God breaks through and good things are accomplished, but it's clear that it is in spite of the people in charge over there, not because of them.  There is joy there, in small pockets, but not because Christ is modeled by the Administration.  There are good people there on staff and in the faculty especially.  I loved my teachers and respect them immensely, for the most part.  But even they are mistreated and abused by the school leadership. I sometimes feel like cursing them all for they did to me, for almost destroying my faith, for totally crushing my spirit, but I remember what the Scriptures foretell about those people's fate, and all I can only say may God have mercy on their souls.

Do I want BJU to be destroyed?  No.  I do, however want change.  I'm not the only one who was hurt while a student or staff member.  There are scores and even hundreds of others who have more horrific tales of abuse, sexual, physical, verbal, emotional, and spiritual.  Ignoring them won't erase the pain and won't bring about healing for anybody. Until BJU can admit past fault, without qualifications or excuses, and seek to actively repent, no change will be appropriate or effective.