Dee's Blog
Wed 04/30/2008
Living with the Questions
Topic: Making Changes
All successful social activists, or anyone interested in facilitating change in our world, must live with a degree of comfort, where the questions are.   Welcoming more questions from others, as well as those that arise from within.   As thinking deepens, speaking is carefully calculated, moderated by well-defined feelings and intuition. 

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CDT
Tue 04/29/2008
Risk and Trust
Topic: Making Changes

As we speak truth, we do so because we have a degree of risk tolerance.   We also trust ourselves to be able to cope with the impact of the backlash that comes when we speak truth to people who prefer to live in DIM thinking (See

We are not trusting others to hear, though we hope they will.  Instead we are centered so that we can speak with boldness, even though we may be trembling internally.  In the deepest part of our souls, we each know that we are going to be okay even if nobody joins us.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 6:30 AM CDT
Updated: Tue 04/29/2008 6:31 AM CDT
Mon 04/28/2008
No Such Choice
Topic: Power

Have you ever noticed how we all crave praise, but are prone not to want the responsibility that inherently comes with power?   So that we can so easily deny our power in order to avoid responsibility? 

 Think about it.  It's a very human trait, and none of us are exempt.   The greater the power, the greater the responsibility, whether the power is denied or accepted.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 9:37 AM CDT
Sun 04/27/2008
Disempowering Colluders--the FIRST step
Topic: Power

Janet Clark, author of Blind Faith, a novel about a young man who is dealing with sexual abuse by a priest and his family who is unusually supportive.  A lot of the story models that support for others and shows the value of having it. 

For me, the very best line in the book is near the end, when a therapist asks a question that probably goes by most readers.    Other than the two who have accompanied the intimidated young Jack into the office, she wants to know who else in the family knows of the abuse.  
Fortunately for Jack, the family did not collude.  This is a huge strength and not nearly as common as most people would believe.  The true story of "Claudia" written into the much larger story in How Little We Knew demonstrates this. 
Long ago, I concluded that this may be the best starting place for unravelling a story.  I say this because the collusion is what most immobilizes so many.  It's what almost immobilized me, for sure!  There is so much out there about sexual assault and abuse by clergy now, but so little about collusion. 
If one of Jack's close friends or family members had been a strong colluder, this issue would have needed attention before he could even start down the road of discovering and grieving his losses so that he could do the equally important step of rebounding and discovering his enormous strengths. 
Otherwise, there would have been a ghost in the therapy room, undermining everything the therapist was trying to do.  Disempowering the colluders often takes time, but it cuts to the chase.  Disempowering colluders, ideally, should be the job of all clergy who hear of a violation for the very first time.  Problem is colluders can't disempower one another. 

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CDT
Fri 04/25/2008
The Power of Freedom
Topic: Power

Even though I spent almost a decade in a country where there was no freedom of speech and only one newspaper was allowed to operate, it is so easy for me to forget about the power and privilege of freedom.

Then, something startling happens.  Like three days ago, when I received an e-mail from China.  I had just contacted a lady, asking if she was available to a survivor needing support.  The person in immediate need was located in a country relatively close to hers, geographically.

The lady in China replied cordially, but called attention to my attached e-mail that I had sent to her.  In it, words that referred to faith issues had been removed before she'd received it!  She had been able to read between the words that remained, but wanted me to know that e-mail communication might be difficult, considering the censorship of incoming mail and the lack of freedom that residents of China have to send anything about matters of faith, along with other "sensitive" material. 

A strong reminder that we are blessed if we have freedom.  Blessed with power and privilege alike.  How dare we squander either as we sit back comfortably, deciding not to take an unpopular stand when to remain silent is to sacrifice the integrity of our souls.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CDT
Updated: Thu 04/24/2008 8:22 AM CDT
Thu 04/24/2008
Outside or Inside
Topic: Making Changes

Frequently I hear from people who believe there is one way or another to make change in the way the churches deal with sexual abuse by clergy.   Some argue that it must come from people who are working inside the church.  Others are convinced it will happen only because of activists putting pressure ON the church from outside. 

I do not believe it is an either-or question. 

The change may have to be initiated by actions from people outside.  The really important change, though, is the one that has to happen when there is REAL change.  It's going to have to come from the souls of church leaders.  By choice, not because they are forced to do so.  Out of love, not fear or anger toward victims.  
One cannot force love, unfortunately.  Policies and law changes are good, but they are often manipulated and used against victims, to the letter of the law, same as the Scriptures are.  If the hearts aren't changed, there is no hope for REAL change.  This has been true in every social movement.
REAL change takes centuries.  We have only just begun, and it's important to remember this no matter what approach is used.  Finding a place to stand when change isn't visible is what faith is all about.  It's the hardest place to stand.
We have to all look at our personal shadow side before we can make institutional change.  The real reasons people collude, and that's likely to be different reasons for different people.  It takes MUCH soul-searching, and this is what I find clergy so resistant to doing because these issues are just too close to home.  After all, they think of themselves as the spiritual leaders.  They do not need prophets, but the voice of truth is a prophetic voice.  That was Jesus' message to the Pharisees.  
Individuals must change and feel responsible for holding people accountable, both professionals, members of the laity and the general public.  A genuine holding others accountable, feeling responsible only comes when there is a change from the inside, of course.  It is not a knee-jerk reaction that comes because of coercion, though changes in the law and policy often hasten it along.


Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CDT
Updated: Wed 04/23/2008 8:34 PM CDT
Wed 04/23/2008
The Difference in a Comma
Topic: coping

Last Sunday, I picked up the church bulletin and brought it home with me.  Because I noted something I thought I really needed to share with you.  The way I noted it, that is--not the way it was actually written.

I still like the way I first saw it.  It fits just as much as the original intention of the writer of the Mohawk prayer.  (Yes, where I worship one is not surprised to see prayers that come from "the heathern," as people of my roots might refer to non-converted Native Americans) 

The original sentence, located in the prayer, read:  "Help us, be kind to us."

My eyes didn't note the comma, so I read it:  "Help us be kind to us." 

The first version, of course, indicated the Great Spirit being kind to us on earth.  My understanding, before I took a second look this morning, was that we needed help to be kind to one another, but also to ourselves.  Whichever works for you today, I hope you find kindness.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CDT
Tue 04/22/2008
All in How You See It
Topic: coping

I've often been impressed with the mood differences of those who have left the Catholic Church or other faith groups.  Those who express the sense of being forced out reflect much more of an angry and defeated victim attitude.  Those who talk about choosing to leave either in protest or because they no longer agreed with the theology seem to have an air of self-confidence.  Generally, there is a mixture of those two moods.  Yet the more one is able to interpret the leaving as a decision based on conviction, the less likely the life of the individual seems to be negatively impacted.

One's faith should always be a matter of choice.  Healthy faith always is.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 7:26 AM CDT
Mon 04/21/2008
Bridging the Gap
Topic: coping
As I open my soul and find the courage to share what I find there--my struggles, as well as my joys--I find hope.   As I receive the messages from others who are in that same process, I find even more hope.  Hope for change.  And a reminder that we are all in the process of evolving into what we are intended to become.  If we just keep our souls open, despite the mutual brokenness that we have all experienced.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CDT
Sun 04/20/2008
Expectations and Stakes
Topic: Power

At this crucial time, with the pope's visit, I am reminded of just how much the word "pope," in the Catholic world and even beyond, is equated with "Power."  Rather than comment on the recent events myself, I prefer to again give you the words that have come as a press release from SNAP.  My plan is to resume personally writing this blog again tomorrow.



Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
Statement by Joelle Casteix of Newport Beach CA, SNAP southwestern regional director (949 322 7434)
We see this as a small, positive first step on a very long road, and we're confident the meeting was meaningful for the participants and we're grateful that these victims have had the courage to come forward and speak up.
But fundamentally it won't change things. Kids need action. Catholics deserve action. Action produces reform and reform, real reform, is sorely needed in the church hierachy.
Some talk is OK. A meeting is better. Decisive reform is crucial.
We do vulnerable children a severe disservice if we set extraordinarily low expectations for a brilliant, experienced, powerful global leader like the Pope.
In the Gospel of Luke, we're told "To whom much is given, much is expected." The Pope has been given the reins of a vast, wealthy, powerful global monarchy. He must use those reins to safeguard the vulnerable.
We cannot confuse words - even sincere, eloquent ones - with deeds. The stakes are too high.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the nation's oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We've been around for 17 years and have more than 8,000 members across the country. Despite the word "priest" in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is
Contact David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, 314-645-5915 home), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688), Mary Grant (626-419-2930), Mark Serrano (703-727-4940)

Barbara Dorris
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CDT
Updated: Thu 04/24/2008 8:31 AM CDT

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