Busted Teeth

Every bit of livin’ I’ve been doin’s been killin’ me,
I took the wrong damn road again
And got nothin’ but some busted teeth.
These are things I know because the devil tells me so,
And the devil knows,
And the devil knows.
Nathan Davis, The Devil Knows

Motives. Why do people do things? Why do they do things that are obviously self-destructive? Why do they do things that hurt other people?


Is there really a force of evil out there – what Christians call “Satan” – that drives us to do things that hurt us or others?  Does this force whisper in our collective ear trying to entice us to destruction? Why would we evolve that way?

It doesn’t make any sense. Evolution would have us preserve and replicate our genes, not destroy them.

When I was a student nurse, a very long time ago, I spent several months working and training in a mental hospital in Columbia, South Carolina. While there, I became rather well acquainted with people who had some very serious psychiatric problems, most them full-blown psychotics. They obviously had mental processes that simply didn’t work right. We can argue all day about why that was so, whether it was due to traumatic experiences, chemical imbalances or some other mechanism, but they were just not thinking clearly.


But that’s not what I want to focus on. What I’m referring to here are people who do destructive things and don’t seem to see that they are doing so. They “take the wrong damn road again” and end up with “busted teeth” and don’t seem to see the teeth missing in the mirror.  Or maybe they do and don’t recognize that the “wrong road” led to the “busted teeth.”

I was raised in Christian fundamentalism. The religion is harsh, strict and rigid. The repercussions of my mother choosing to embrace this were severe and long-lasting. My parents divorced because of it. It took me years to leave it.

So, did my mother deliberately choose to hurt me and the rest of my immediate family by embarking on such a destructive path? Obviously not.


I well remember an incident when Mom wanted to make (and ultimately did so) a series of really foolish financial moves. She told me what she intended to do and I was horrified. I was nearly grown at the time, in nursing school, so what she chose to do at that point didn’t have a great deal of effect on me personally, but it would impact my sister’s life rather dramatically. And I remember that, even though I knew she was absolutely deluded and totally wrong – I understood her choice. I knew why she was doing it.

She began from Premise A.  Once she accepted that as true, it led directly to Premise B, which led to Premise C, and thus to her Conclusion: Bad Financial Decision. I couldn’t accept many of her premises, so I reached a different conclusion.

But she wasn’t being mean or evil when she did it. She thought, in fact, that she was being righteous and good, that she was doing what Jesus wanted her to do, that it was the right and proper thing to do. In short, she believed it was the “will of God.”


And that leads me to Bob Jones University. The university has been in the news for a while now because the leadership there hired a Christian organization called by the acronym GRACE to do an independent investigation of the university’s past and present procedures for dealing with students who allege sexual assault either occurring during their time at the school or in some cases, that which occurred at some point in their past. The issue is a big one on college campuses all across the country right now, and fundamentalism is not immune.

The report from GRACE (which has been many months in the making, and was delayed by BJU first firing and then rehiring them) is due out by the end of August 2014.

By far, in the minds of the critics of BJU’s policies in this regard, the man most vilified, most commonly mentioned as the personification of all things evil, is Jim Berg. Berg, who served as Dean of Students at BJU for more than two dozen years, teaches counseling, preaches about counseling, and generally is considered an authority on the subject by many fundamentalists.

By many others, he’s seen pretty much as the devil in a polyester suit.


Sort of like that. This comes from a Facebook page called, as you can see there, “Truth Seeking Graduates of Bob Jones,” or “Truthers.” The second comment was made by an administrator. I left it open so you could see that. These are not just outlier comments made by random goofballs.

So, here we see that Berg is a “pervert,” an interesting accusation. I haven’t seen the GRACE report yet, since it hasn’t come out, and I don’t remember hearing any stories about him actually engaging in “perversion,” whatever that might mean. Obviously, I haven’t seen every word written about him, but I just haven’t seen it. If anyone has, I’d appreciate being corrected.

In addition, we’re treated to speculations about his suicide. Oddly enough, I wrote a piece on suicide and got roundly criticized for doing so, by some of these very same people, including one of the administrators of TSGoBJ.  I wonder why this administrator isn’t being chastised as I was?

But the whole issue here goes back to motive, to busted teeth. That Jim Berg hasn’t exactly been the most effective or adept counselor in the history of mental health professionals is not up for debate. He’s inept, to say the least.

He’s a product, though, of the school that trained him and gave him his position as Dean of Students and has taught him everything he knows. He has been connected with Bob Jones University since the day he entered as a freshman student in 1970.


This quote, from the article about Berg in Al-Jazeera, is sort of astonishing to me. Landry says she “ran.” I’m glad she did, but I wasn’t really surprised at what he told her. Maybe she and I grew up in different branches of fundamentalism, but that’s exactly what I was taught for decades.


When we had our son, Nathan, I had planned for “natural childbirth.” We’d been to all the classes. I was ready with all the breathing exercises, only to have all my expectations swept away by the necessity of a cesarean section.

The morning of my delivery, a Sunday, our pastor preached a sermon called “Hard Lessons And Hard Heads.” [The date on the link is incorrect. Kent Kelly preached that sermon on June 20, 1976. He’s been dead for quite a few years.]

I listened to the sermon a day or so later, in the hospital, and cried bitterly as I did. The sermon was basically about how God has to punish us severely because we are so evil and horrible, and anything that happens to us that is bad is a “lesson” for our “hard heads.” Obviously I had done something that displeased God in some way and that’s why I had to have surgery instead of the beautiful “natural” birth I had so anticipated.

With my inner vision blurred by tears and disappointment, I couldn’t see that both I and Nathan had survived what would almost surely have doomed us both in earlier times. We were a living glorious example of the victory of modern science over evolutionary goofups.

My husband, having not just given birth, was less hormonally driven and able to see the lunacy of my grief.


But the point remains. In my fundamentalist world (and that includes Bob Jones University), if bad things happen to you, it’s because God is trying to teach you a lesson. The worse the shit that happens, the bigger the lesson. Get a hangnail and it’s due to sin in your life. Have a wreck? Bigger sin. Rape? Really big sin.

I do not believe that Jim Berg gets up every morning and says to himself, “Gee, I wonder who I can hurt today.” I think that BJU arms these people with some really crappy theology that leads to really crappy conclusions and nothing else (no real training) and then tells them they are qualified to do a job. And of course they are not.

That doesn’t make Berg blameless. But it doesn’t make him the Villain-in-Chief either. It means that he starts with Premise A, and that leads to Premise B, and then to Premise C, and thus to a Really Bad Conclusion. Just like my mother and her really awful financial decision, he’s doing what he honestly believes is the “will of God.” The problem lies in his premises, which are faulty.


And naturally, this is the only place left for them to go. Jim Berg can’t possibly be a True Believer.  He has to be a (gasp!) atheist.


Last night, Dave posted a little meme on his Facebook page.

A friend of his replied that Hitler “never claimed to be a Christian.”

Well, actually, he did.

But this is a common reaction. A Christian acts in some way, holds some theological position, does or says something that doesn’t sit well with another Christian, and immediately the circle is redrawn to exclude him.  It’s like this.


The green circle is Christendom. I am the black X on the outside. Yay!

Jim Berg is the red X.

Only Jim Berg has behaved in such a way that a Truther, in the comment above, clearly doesn’t like. So the circle has to be redrawn.


Like this. Now everything is all good again. Jim Berg has been removed from the circle and is outside with me, the awful atheist.

It’s religious gerrymandering.

Sorry, folks. We don’t want him, don’t claim him, and he’s yours. Own that. But while you’re owning him, try to place the blame where it belongs. Yes, in his lap. But also in the lap of the institution that taught him, and most importantly,  the religion that nurtured him.



Today is July 11, 2014. I uploaded much of the content of this section called “The Activist” yesterday, July 10, 2014. I knew when I did that the subject, Linda Fossen, wouldn’t be exactly happy about it. She is really good about dishing it out, but she isn’t good at taking criticism of any kind.

For example, she starts here and goes on for tirade after tirade ranting about Beth Murschell, for no discernable reason. She makes libelous claims, and absurd claims, and finally gets to the completely ridiculous, all in an effort to somehow besmirch Beth’s name. Obviously, Beth has royally pissed Linda off at some point.

I’ll get to that later on, but right now I want to address this:


I got this in my inbox today. I knew she’d get around to me. It was just a question of when and what vehicle(s) she would use.

The truth is, of course, that anyone who “wants to know about” me has only to ask. I haven’t hidden anything or anyone. That makes it sort of hard to use me as a target. So Linda has chosen to go after my son, who died in 2006, and his minor daughter.

Let’s get this straight, so we all understand it. She’s going to get revenge on me by targeting my dead son and his minor daughter.


Here he is. Well, when he was very young. Beautiful kid. About two years old there.

He grew up. They generally do. And he was still beautiful.

And then he died. August 22, 2006.

But you know what? You don’t have to read about him here. He has two entire web sites devoted to his career, his music and his life.

This is the main web site. His dad and I manage it. His music is all available there, complete with stories about him, and all the lyrics. Please go listen to some of it. There’s a little player right on the front page. There is also a short (very short) snippet of him on the page called Research here on this site.

And this is the movie site. Movie site? Yes. A Raleigh, NC based filmmaker contacted us several years after Nate died, wanting to make a documentary film about his life. We were concerned at first that he was a con artist trying to fleece the grieving parents, but he turned out to be the real deal. His name is Dean Garris, and he’s professionally known as Deano Pictures.

Other than appearing in the film and supplying Dean with material and introductions to various people involved in Nate’s life, we have nothing whatever to do with the movie. We are, of course, fans.

Here’s the trailer for the movie:

It’s available on DVD at the web site. Everything you could ever want to know about Nathan, including the cause of his death, is in the movie. If you’re interested, buy a copy.

Nathan’s minor daughter

Really? REALLY? Linda Fossen is supposedly an advocate for people who were abused as children. Is she serious?

I knew she just makes up stuff, and I expected her to start making it up about me, since she has almost nothing of substance to sink her grimy claws into, but this takes the cake.

What sort of person does this?

Those of you who are aligned with Linda Fossen, are you sure about what you’re doing?

Just in case you’d like to tell her what you think, her email address is Linda@LindaFossen.com and her Facebook page is here.


So she did, in fact, go there. As I predicted she would. This is not the original post. This is the one that was up when I found out about it and was able to grab a screen shot. The original post accused my husband of being a child molester. It was removed within about fifteen minutes of being posted. Apparently, that was too much for somebody over there. And please note that the admin writing this is Linda Fossen, and the person “liking” it is also Linda Fossen. She does this so it will look like the page gets more traffic than it actually does.

And she followed up with this.

She obviously is desperate to get me to come over there and chat a bit. However, since I’m not insane, I’m not going to accommodate her.

What I am going to do is write a little essay about questions and criticism and what that means, since Linda doesn’t seem to know.


Who is the Activist?

Another self-described childhood sexual abuse survivor, Linda Fossen appeared out of nowhere, at least from where I was sitting, several months ago. I began seeing her comment here and there, and then began to realize that her commentary and activity was almost entirely in the shadow of Cathy Harris (The Victim).


f Cathy said it, Linda “liked” it. It got to the point that if Cathy had said she had this for breakfast, Linda would have clicked “like.”


So, when the original “Truth Seeking” page went up (Beth Murschell’s page, now gone, so I can’t provide a link), I wasn’t surprised to see Fossen show up, vigorously flinging insults and random accusations around, with little to no fact backing up anything.

She was rather rapidly banned, a move I found unfortunate, and one which simply played into her delusions about being victimized. Not being the admin, nor at that time even knowing who the admin was, I had no input into that action.

However, her appearance and vociferousness did spark my interest and I began to look into just who in hell this woman was, and where did she come from? And more importantly, why was she here in this narrowly focused community and who in the world would give a damn what she had to say?


Linda Fossen appears to have decided to enter the world of sexual abuse advocacy (a cause that is getting really popular nowadays) by first writing a book about her life, accusing her father and brother both of raping her, and then, when she figured out that the legal system was not going to cooperate with her ideas of justice, she decided to go after Prairie Bible Institute.


Linda seems to have been the only person to actually come forward with such accusations, though. She claimed various numbers of alleged victims, around 90, but apart from a handful who did talk with the school or their advocates and declined to press charges, Fossen pretty much dangled in the breeze all by herself.

The school responded by turning over all the information they had to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (the appropriate law enforcement agency) and seems to have been much more cooperative and transparent about the matter than, say, Bob Jones University has been.


Did that satisfy Linda?

Nope. Linda wanted Prairie to hire GRACE. In fact, Linda demanded that Prairie hire GRACE.

Alas, though, Canadian schools and Canadian authorities aren’t really prone to the idea of being threatened into hiring obscure American non-profits to do their investigations for them, so they declined. And the RCMP declined to do, well, anything at all.

This pretty much infuriated Linda, who responded with the oddest remark I think I’ve ever read about justice, at least from an American.


So, with no evidence and no charges, far be it from any convictions of anything, and with no accusers apart from Linda, she wants the school to “identify perpetrators of sexual abuse” and say they were wrong.


That’s right. You read it correctly. When I first read this, I thought it had to be one of those instances where a news reporter just totally misquoted somebody. Surely she didn’t say that? Surely not.


This is a website run by Linda and another woman named Catherine Darnell. (Linda seems to have found one kindred spirit, at least.) They have expanded the idea of “abuse” to include almost anything you can imagine, from having your hand spanked with a ruler because you didn’t do your homework when you were a student fifty years ago to outright rape. They’re sort of short on the rape stuff, though, and pretty heavy on the hand-spanking. There’s one story of rape , but it didn’t really have anything to do with PBI; and a second one involving so-called “recovered memories” (in other words, the alleged victim doesn’t really remember any of this at all), but that’s pretty much it.

But what is godawful about all this is a link on the website to a page called “The Perps.” If you click on it, you go to a page with no information at all. Obviously, whatever was there has been removed. Thankfully. One has to assume that Linda and Catherine found out what libel is.


On the FAQ section of the website, we find the above question, and are told on the preceding page that Linda Fossen answered this. They had listed the alleged abusers names. Without any charges filed, without any real accusers (note that the tiny handful of accusers are called “Jane Doe”), they listed the names of the people who were accused.

And Linda explains why this is okay.


Please read that again, and think about it. This is a woman who thinks that Benny Hinn’s fakery is real. But it’s okay because she takes it seriously, this business of being judge, jury, and executioner.

Maybe she can be excused because she went to Christian schools for the most part, and probably didn’t learn a whole lot about, you know, the American judicial system.

Oh, wait. That’s right. Her husband, Gary. Yeah. She ought to know better.

So that leaves us here, where a woman who thinks she’s anointed somehow to sit in judgment on people willy-nilly has inserted herself into a community of people from a school she’s never attended nor even visited and is busily proclaiming various members of that community demon-possessed, or liars, or evil, or bitches (my personal favorite, having had the honor of having that yelled at me several times).

My only question is “Why in the hell are people tolerating this nonsense?”