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Sunday, February 17 , 2019, 5:00 am | Mostly Cloudy 47º

 
 
 
 
Teenagers

Louise Palanker: Wary of a Religious Cult, What Defines Rape, Getting Over an Ex

Question from Naomi​

I was walking my dog around the neighborhood and I encountered a couple of people. We greeted each other and everything, but I realized they were part of a church or Jesuits. They kept asking things like how I believed in God and what I can do to put more faith in my life.

I answered honestly but then they mentioned their church and invited me to go tomorrow night. They gave me their number and church address (pretty close by).

I have mixed feelings. On the one hand I am curious to go and see what it’s like. On the other hand, even though me and my family are Catholic we don’t strictly practice it. We don’t tell people how great it is, etc.

So I was going to let my parents know about this but it would be nice having another opinion. Would it be weird for me to go to their church or would it be OK for me to have this experience?

Weezy

Wow. This is actually a very tricky question. It would help so much to know your age. Assuming you are under the age of 18 I will advise you that, yes, you do need to tell your parents that you were approached by a group of Jesuits who invited you to attend a church service.

I say this because I believe that attempting to religiously convert underage children is really not OK, and so it makes me immediately wary. Your parents need to know that you had this encounter.

It is a fantastic topic for conversation with them. This is not the last time you will find yourself conversing with people (friends and strangers) who will attempt to religiously convert you. It’s a part of life.

Historically, Jesuits are very proactive and practical. They are passionate about social justice. Pope Francis is a Jesuit and as we have seen, his leadership embodies these philosophies.

However (and this is going to sound really old and stodgy), these “Jesuits” may in fact be a cult. And, yes, there is a fine line between a religion and a cult.

In fact, all currently traditional and widely accepted religions probably began as cults, but there are thousands of modern cults and most are pretty dangerous and built around the blind leadership of a “charismatic cult leader” who is fueling his own self interests with vulnerable human beings. Be very careful.

Religion is just a difficult topic to address from every angle. With no disrespect intended, many faiths believe that part of their work should include proselytizing, which is defined as actively endeavoring to recruit others to join your faith.

However, there are those who find this type of church work to be offensive in that it assumes that one’s own faith is the only true and right faith and therefore in order to “save souls” one must convert as many people as possible.

Missionaries believe they are doing what God is asking of them. Their intentions are good. But the question is raised: Should your chosen religion be imposed upon you by random strangers or should you get to actively go in search of it?

You probably feel like both of these options are in play right now. You had an interesting conversation. You were intrigued and you feel inspired to go and experience how this group of people worships.

They may be thinking, “We’ve got one. Let’s reel her in.” How exactly would this happen? Don’t you know your own mind? You do. And so do those who wish to control it. I know it sounds super creepy and unlikely. Just please watch this video.

But you’re saying, “This is not a cult. These are Jesuits. This is going to be just fine.” Yes, if these people are actually Jesuits it will be just fine. But do we really know who they are or where they will be taking you?

Do a little bit of research. Google their church. Read up on them. Tell your parents. It is perfectly wonderful to expose yourself to new views and beliefs and alternate ways of seeing our world and our existence. But being idealistic and altruistic and yearning for a place to belong are traits that can be preyed upon. Proceed with caution.

You can learn more about the world’s most inspiring faiths by watching the Oprah Winfrey Network’s Belief series:

(OWN video)

                                                                 •        •        •

Question from Serena

I understand the definition of rape, but I feel embarrassed that I'm not sure if it happened to me. When I was very little I had an accident during a nap session.

I do not want to go into detail about it but long story short, the teacher had to clean me up and I feel like it was more then that. I remember it about 50/50, but I think I was touched inappropriately down there but I’m not sure.

How would I go about addressing this if it happened 10 years ago? And how would I be able to know if it should be considered rape or molestation? I could really use some advice. Thanks.

Weezy

I am so very sorry that this happened to you. If an adult touched you in any manner intended to sexually arouse that adult, then you were sexually assaulted. That is a broad term that can be used to describe any sexual crime. The word “rape” has a more specific definition that may not technically describe what happened to you.

Rape in its purest, legal sense occurs when a man engages in intercourse/penetration, through use of force. The definition of rape has been broadened by society to include many forms of sexual abuse, and it is widely used to describe any sexual activity between an adult and a minor.

But the terms we choose to use are not what matters most here.

Many children have accidents during their very young years. They are cleaned up by an adult and they do not maintain a lingering memory of possibly having been molested. So it is very possible that something did happen to you.

My husband is a sex-crimes prosecutor and he recommends that you contact the Rape Crisis Center in your community. Although we are not defining what happened to you as rape, the Rape Crisis Center handles ALL forms of sexual abuse and/or assault.

They will listen to your story and help you decide how best to proceed. They will know what questions to ask you. You can ask them all of your questions, too. They will determine whether or not this possible crime can or should be prosecuted. They will assist you in getting the counseling you need to help you process what happened, move forward and thrive.

                                                                 •        •        •

Question from Crystal

My longtime-ago ex recently got in contact with me by Instagram and he told me to add him on Snapchat, so I did and I tried to catch up with him like “how are you,” but he keeps it so simple and I honestly don’t understand why? I don’t know if I should keep trying to text or him or just wait until he is good and ready to text me?

Weezy

You probably want to ask yourself why this matters to you. If it is because you’re still interested in him romantically then maybe you should not add him on social media.

Getting over someone usually means having as little contact as possible with that person. I would say stop trying to connect with him. If he has something to say to you, he needs to be much more direct and he needs to try a lot harder.

Should he fail to do so, you need to become his distant memory so that you can better see your own future.

Here is what The Dot TV has to say on this subject:

(The Dot TV video)

                                                                 •        •        •

Got a question for Weezy? Email her at [email protected] and it may be answered in a subsequent column.

Louise Palanker is a co-founder of Premiere Radio Networks, the author of a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel called Journals, a comedian, a filmmaker (click here to view her documentary, Family Band: The Cowsills Story), a teacher and a mentor. She has a teen social network/IOS app and weekly video podcast called Journals, built around a philosophy of cyber kindness. She also teaches a free stand-up comedy class for teens at the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara​. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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