Sept. 8, 2011

Mindful Prisoner #11

by Allan Lummus


Mindful Prisoner #11

Church in Prison is Hard

There is one English Protestant church service and bible study at the prison chapel. Almost everyone has problems with something someone is saying or doing. Which is exactly what you would expect. There are hundreds of protestant denominations and major sub association within those denominations, since every one of us went to a different church. Is it any wonder that we cannot agree on what this service should look, feel, and sound like, much less be preaching?

I would be surprised if, in fact, there are any two people who would agree on all points of their theology and worship style. Those who like a more quiet and reserved service are irritated by the clapping and shouting style of the Pentecostals. The Pentecostals find the silent sitting and listening crowd to be cold and depressing.

Then the content of the service. The theology of most Fundamentalists looks to divide the good Christians from the "bad" so to avoid "contaminating" the committed. Homosexuals are demonized along with all manner of sinners. The more liberal find the demonization of homosexuals and judgmental attitudes offensive.

Race is also an issue. Most Pentecostals are black and many Fundamentalists are white. These are the two biggest groups. There is a smaller group of mostly whites who are Evangelicals but not Pentecostals nor Fundamentalist. An even smaller group of liberals (non-Evangelical, National Council of Churches, "mainline").

The tension to split into groups is always there. If one group pushes too far, the others stop coming. It is a very hard tightrope to walk for any chaplain. I do not envy their job.

The bottom line is that both sides have to compromise. Some speakers will represent Fundamentalists, some will be Pentecostal, some will be Evangelical. Of course, the liberals have to expect to never have their views respected. :) The trick is to get the balance and convince most of us to go along with it. Awareness that the needs of others leads to compromise, and lack of awareness will only perpetuate the problems of living together with others.

The Mindful Prisoner

P.S. Thanks, ShadyX, for my first comment and song suggestion.


Mindful Prisoner #12

I Speak (#1?)

One of the common feelings of prison is being voiceless. No power to make yourself be heard. That is why I like the idea for the blog. I am thinking of some prisoners in particular, and some also the loved ones of those prisoners. Sex-related crimes. What is prison like for them? How should I prepare for coming here? What kind of issues do SOs need to work on to heal and not re-offend?

I think these questions should be regular topics for Mindful Prisoner. I would encourage either those who are preparing to come to prison or people whose loved ones are preparing for prison to comment or write to my mail address. I will respond to everyone. My focus will be on the social-psychological and spiritual dimensions of the issues. Remember, this is a family friendly site so write comments with that in mind. Please write letters for anything that you think may be questionable.

First, a good website for answering questions about whether or not they have a sexual addiction is There is plenty of good content for those struggling with all sorts of sexually related additions, both legal and illegal behaviors.

Next, to those who are preparing for prison (both SO and loved ones): the first thing is to get into a local SAA program and to find a therapist. Believe me, if you are coming to prison, you have some addictive behavior or you would have stopped it long before being detected. Also, you will not receive much attention till the last two years of your prison sentence, so you need to get on a program of mental health prior to prison. This will allow you to begin your healing and carry you through until the prison system has space for you.

The reality is that SOs are flooding the federal system. SOs are the number one offense by far, and there are tens of thousands waiting to be processed. This is like the first few years of the War on Drugs, when tens of thousands were put in prison but they did no have the resources to treat them.

I would encourage family members to get on Prison Talk to find other family members of felons. Also, find a 12-step program geared toward family members of the addicted. These will give you support while you are dealing with consequences of your loved one's behavior. If you can afford a therapist, this is a good time to see one.

My primary message is that you all will get through this. It will be the hardest thing you have ever done, but you will make it.

Please write, and I will help any who want some help along this path. I will not have all the answers, but I will at least provide a virtual ear to listen to your concerns. Remember, family friendly posts only as comments. All other writing needs to be done as a snail mail letter.

Peace and solidarity,
The Mindful Prisoner


Replies Replies feed

Other posts by this author


Get notifications when new letters or replies are posted!

Posts by Allan Lummus: RSS email me
Comments on “Mindful Prisoner #11”: RSS email me
Featured posts: RSS email me
All Between the Bars posts: RSS