Sometimes, I'd like to be someone else. I'd love to be someone without controversy and "drama" in their life. I day dream about living somewhere where only God and the local wildlife know me. This is one of those times. I wasted 20 minutes of my morning today watching a very distasteful video my brother posted attacking me and a Catholic friend of mine, Steve Ray. Vilifying my integrity and Steve's, my brother spewed lie after lie about my own life. Yes, my own brother wasted his time and mine on this disgusting display of frenzied egoism, emotionalism, and fury, none of which are fruits of the Holy Spirit.
Sometimes, I wish I was someone else's sister.
But I firmly believe in the Lord's Divine Providence. I believe it was for a divinely decreed purpose that I was born into the family I was born into. I believe it was by providence I was named Patricia. I see the wisdom of God in all the many chapters of my life. I didn't see His hand in those times while I was living them, but from the 20/20 point of view of hindsight, I definitely see His hand of wisdom and mercy at work.
But, yes, I admit, at times like today I'd love to have a different family heritage. Even so, I am sure that this too is part of His plan. I am Patricia Ann White Bonds. I was born into the same family as my brother, James R. White. Our parents were both victims of abuse as young people. They carried those scars as people in those days did: silently. Silently, and without resolution, because no one talked about those things. You just toughed it out and did the best you could.
But the problem with that is that when dysfunction isn't corrected, it gets passed along. It victimizes the next generation — my generation, and specifically me. It skews every part of the lives of those who come from those who have not dealt with the past. This is definitely true of my brother and me. We are both the product of our distorted, dysfunctional, abuse-ridden upbringing. We bear the scars of that dysfunction, and those scars have no doubt affected our own children.
Rewinding to about 1996 or so, when God started helping me work through the wounds of my childhood, my relationship with my brother started to become an issue. After spending a lengthy time working through the sexual abuse that my father subjected me to for years, I had to confront my brother with the truth. Whether out of ignorance or a simple denial of what he knew to be true (I am not sure which), he began making false accusations against me to the elders of my church at the time, demanding that I be brought up on charges for having confronted my parents with an elder of my church to discuss the sexual abuse I had been subjected to. As you have read before on this blog, that visit to my parents' home was not met with any openness or willingness to accept counsel concerning the incestuous behavior I had endured for some ten years. My father and mother violently resisted the subject and denied any wrongdoing, other than my father's vague acknowledgement of having "sinned against me." His vague acknowledgement was accompanied by a denial that what he had done to me was wrong. So, no real progress was made in reconciling our family members to one another. Fortunately, my elder board refused to accept my brother’s accusations unless he had heard my story straight from my lips. So, I met with him at Diane’s house and told him the whole story. I not only described my father’s sin in detail, I also discussed the steps I had taken in order to find healing and peace.
Even after hearing my story, my brother James was hostile, defensive, and threatening. He warned me to "watch what I said" about my parents. He also made a very feeble comment about hoping he could "help me" someday. Help me? I had just told him how God had taken a woman who had experienced one of the most soul-damaging sins that can be experienced and had taught her to forgive, to overcome the residual damage to her spirit, and become a joyful, thankful woman of God. I wasn't asking for my brother's "help," I was showing him the miracle God had already done in me!
What grieved my heart after that meeting was that I had just opened my soul to James, allowing him to see a miracle of grace and he had seen it as lies and insanity. It reminds me in a very unsettling way of the story in Matthew 12:22-32 where Jesus performed a miracle of grace by healing a man, yet the unbelievers around him claimed He was casting out demons by the power of Satan. They looked right at a miracle of grace performed before their very eyes and yet they refused to admit that it was the work of God. Some went so far as to call it "evil."
You have to understand one thing about my brother and me. Before I began studying, really studying, for myself, I believed everything he told me about Scripture, theology, church history, everything having to do with our Protestant beliefs. The truth is, James wielded more power in my life than the Pope has in the lives of faithful Catholics. He was the author of all my "we knows" that I applied to those Scripture passages that simply made no sense at all from the Reformed Baptist perspective; those same passages that fell into place with the rest of Scripture when I began to understand them from the Catholic perspective. Back then, I accepted everything he said about doctrine as though it was from the mouth of God.
I don't remember for sure now, but James either bought and gave me my copies of the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith, as well as a book discussing Calvin's Institutes, or he provided me with the information on how to order them. But one thing is for sure, and no amount of James's historical-revisionism denials can change this fact: I read the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith completely and carefully. I marked my Bible with the proof texts and cross references. I asked James questions about what this document contained. He answered my questions and others I had from reading sections of Calvin's Institutes, as well as James's book Drawn by the Father, which explains the Calvinist/Reformed view of predestination. Truth be told, back then, I was a disciple of James White. He instructed me in my Reformed Baptist beliefs.
But when it was time (as you can read here in the Out of Darkness Series and in my conversion story) for my family to choose a different church, he was reluctant for us to visit his little church. I could see that he enjoyed being there without any family entanglements, especially from our family, a family that was (and is) extremely dysfunctional, due mainly from the incenstuous sexual abuse my father perpetrated on me (which my mother knew of and remained silent about).
So I asked James what other church he would suggest I attend. He suggested I attend Northwest Community Church, because, as he stated, most of the elder board was Calvinist. In other words, they were Reformed, and he knew that I had been looking for a good Reformed Church, because James's instruction to me had led me to become an adherent of the 1689 Confession he held to. So, after leading us to the Reformed Baptist position, James recommended that I attend Northwest Community Church because he felt I would be "more compatible there" than at the Southern Baptist Church I had been attending. I spent several years at Northwest Community Church, until my conversion to the Catholic Church in 2001.
While there, I enjoyed the fellowship of others who espoused Calvinist beliefs. In fact, Diane, my counselor and the pastor who worked with us were both extremely Calvinist. About the time of my conversion to the Catholic Church, there was a migration of members from Northwest to another even more Calvinist church, including many of the folks I had been close to.
I understand that Northwest Community Church has since returned to a more moderate version of Protestant theology. But during my years as a member there, it was decidedly Calvinist and in agreement with the 1689 Confession.
I mention this simply because my brother now claims that I had never even read the 1689 Confession, much less owned a copy of it. This claim of his is completely false. I not only had a copy, I studied it closely, and my brother, James R. White Himself, explained its contents to me. Those are the facts, regardless of what revisionist-history version of events he's pedaling to his followers now.
Also, contrary to what James is now claiming, I had read key parts of Calvin's Institutes, and he (James) made a point of discussing with me his appreciation of what Calvin taught, as well as a few areas where he disagreed with some of Calvin's teachings (such as his belief in infant baptism, which James rejects). It seemed strange to me then that James would champion the theology of someone, John Calvin, he did not completely agree with. But then, that was before I realized that, as a fellow follower of Calvin, I had become just a part of a schism of a schism of a schism.
So, no, James, my dear brother, I was never a member of a Reformed Baptist Church. You were glad of that. You made sure of that. But I was Baptist, and then Reformed, and I became a member of the church that you yourself recommended I join because most of the elder board of that church was in agreement with your theology. You made me a Reformed Baptist. That is the fact, whether you are willing to admit it or not. You can't re-write history. I won't let you. Not when it's my history you're attempting to rewrite.
I'd like to address something that my brother alluded to in one of those uncharitable letters he sent early after hearing that I was becoming Catholic. He accused me of becoming Catholic in order to "hurt my parents," to "get their attention" somehow. I'd like to set the record straight here, too.
The repugnant sin that cripples my family has absolutely nothing to do with the Catholic Church. In fact, if we had been raised Catholic, I would have known that I had the right to blow the whistle on my father's sexual abuse against me and call the police. The Catholic Church has stood the test of time and will stand the test of time, and it will be here, loving and longing for Christ's return, when He comes in glory. Countless converts to the Catholic Church have recorded their reasons for becoming Catholic, and none of those reasons have anything to do with Patty and James White's father.
No. There is one primary reason that I became Catholic. I discovered that the Reformers were arrogant rebels who did violence to the Church Jesus established and rejected her. I discovered that if Christianity is historic, Christianity is Catholic. I discovered that those men I trust so much to have selected the very books I had seen as the sole rule of faith in my life were full-blooded Catholics. They were men of God who knew Him in the Eucharist, who honored the Saints and asked their intercession. They honored the Blessed Virgin Mary and asked her intercession and help. They would never have dreamed of running off willy nilly in rebellion against the Bishop of Rome. (Who on earth is Mother Rome anyway? Never heard of her.) They passed the relics of martyrs from diocese to diocese as Sacramentals. They faithfully guarded the Traditions that were passed down from the Apostles and never dreamed that someday people would believe that we were only bound by what was written down. They were Catholics! And you have trusted them all your life to have chosen the books you hold up as your only magisterium. When we were children we weren't even allowed to play with the children of people like that! But the early Church was Catholic! It was as Catholic as St Thomas the Apostle in Phoenix where I will venerate the cross with my family this evening.
I'll tell you what I saw in the little 5 x 4 screen this morning. I saw a man who is terrified of discovery. He is terrified that people will realize that he came from such dysfunction and that he has spent his whole ministry covering up for his father and denigrating his sister in order to save his own reputation. I saw a man who is fighting for his identity. Who believes that he is a champion of the Reformation. Who is too busy attacking others to realize he is defending an indefensible position. Too busy waging war to realize that anyone who takes an honest look at history can see that the Catholic Church IS the Church. That everything else is a perversion of what had always been and what was delivered by mouth to the Apostles. No honest person of integrity and intellect can look at history and not see this. There has to be some other reason to be so resistant to the truth.
I'll tell you what James White is fighting for. He's fighting for the honor of his father who dishonored his sister. He's fighting for the protection of his mother who abandoned his sister to his father and who will never find the peace she so desperately needs until the truth is out and dealt with by the grace of God. She desperately needs to know she has a Mother in heaven who loves her and wants her to know Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. He's fighting to protect his self image as a near genius. (His second grade teacher called us one evening and told my parents that his IQ score had been just shy of genius. Unfortunately for his soul, he was on the other line and heard it. I believe it might actually be the thing that costs him his soul if he's not careful.) He wants to be seen as a champion of the Reformation and of his parents. I just want them all to know that Jesus knows the truth and loves them anyway. That He wants to heal what the world and psychology says can't be healed. I want my brother delivered from his pride so that he can learn the humility of a Saint Francis who wanted to know nothing but Jesus. Yes, James, converts to the Catholic Church are converts to Christ. But they aren't converts to a truncated, distorted Christ. They are converts who learn that they can plunge into the ocean of His Divine Mercy. They are converts who almost without exception came home because they gave history an honest look and decided to abandon mother and father and reputation and their occupation and everything to follow Him. That's called discipleship. That's true conversion to Christ.
I beg you before God and man to stop persecuting the Church of God and take some time to be silent before Him. I beg you to put down your sword and allow God to silence your fears and show you the truth. But more than anything, I have begged and will beg my father to let the truth be known for the sake of his own soul and that of his wife and son. Life is brief at best. And I no longer believe in the kind of "grace" that just covers up sin and lets it sit there unaddressed. You may believe that you are forensically, legally declared righteous, but hidden sin like this does not enter heaven. Please, before it's too late, let God heal this family.
One more thing before I close. I did consider my brother's work before becoming Catholic. I've told him that but he would prefer to believe what he wants to believe. But the truth is that from where I stand, I have no interest in the teachings of someone who will not or cannot recognize the grace of God. If you can't see what God has done is making me whole from something that the world would tell you would never heal, then you are not spiritually alive enough to know truth when you see it. You may know Greek, you may know Hebrew, but you don't know the amazing work of God in a heart who will abandon all else to know and love Him. So for me, you can argue all you want, I know sharp Catholic apologists out there who can defend everything you try to tear down. But the thing that disqualifies you as a representative of truth is your spiritual blindness. Open your eyes, James. Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God.