Stigma vs. Stigmata

Set aside the fact that the second term is one plural form of the first and  bear with me a moment. Because I don’t want it to be that simple. Now, using your own experience imagine the times you’ve heard or read these words. What might someone who is a  consumer of popular culture and modern Christianity  say about them? Most likely they would approximate a definition for stigma. Then, if they have average recall, they’d say the second word has to do with blood coming from the palms of people in scary movies. Yeah pop culture.

The cinematic references are inconsistent with the traditional Christian term stigmata. It is the plural of the noun stigma. It has been used to describe past instances of spontaneous manifestation of scar like marks on, or bleeding from the palms of people who were particularly pious (lacking a better term), like nuns and monks deep into lifetime of sacrifice and service.

Quick Empath get on with it. Or talk about scary movies. One of the two buddy because this is getting tedious.

I’ve had the privilege, mainly through my work,  to befriend a number of older men and their wives. In most cases they had kids m close to my age and i met and knew them as well. These men all profoundly impacted me in some way. They were a sort of amalgamated fatherly influence. It is my sense that those who had no children or those with only daughters found some gratification in mentoring a young man. Some are still around, some  are already gone. Recently I found a thread running through those relationships. It doesn’t touch each and every one as far as I can tell. It is, however,  preponderant.

The common thread is stigma and stigmata. Using the pedestrian definitions mentioned above, the men individually have a stigma, and the women collectively have stigmata. More plainly stated this suggests that the men have one or more major marital infractions while the women have been saintly in their forbearance.

I’ve had conversations with the children of these couples after one or both spouses died. Not being one who easily sustains shallow talk, the conversations I end up having usually drill down. I have heard enough stories about how Mom and Dad didn’t really get along well, but Mom tried her best. Its just that the Dad hurt her when they were young and she could not bring herself fully back into the fold.

Then a couple of months ago I reconnected with a friend I had not spoken to in nearly ten years. He and I took our boys camping and fishing for many years as they grew up in Texas. When I moved away we lost touch. We spoke for a long time when he contacted me. He told me of the deaths of both of his parents. In this case I knew the son and only knew the parents tangentially. So the son was honest.

He told me that his mother had died a few years back, and his father more recently. He chuckled and shared that he had zero idea what was really going on with his parents. They seemed fine. But Dad remarried two months after Mom passed.

I expected to hear he married his paramour. I was floored when my friend said that his father opened up to him, before he died, and told him him miserable life his father had had. His older sisters corroborated. His mother was an insufferable harpy. They had moved to Mexico when my friend was a child and lived for several years as expats. That would have been in the 70’s.

The return to the U.S. was when Mom went bad. She was crestfallen at the loss of the maids and drivers and large home in Mexico Cities swanky diplomatic and expat zone. She became a bitter malcontent. She incessantly nagged and dragged her husband down with expectations unmet until he found work that kept him on the road most of the time.

I had my red pill opener and I used it. And it reminded me of all the other stigma vs. stigmata stories I’d ever heard.

A woman can and will find something to blame for her seething discontent rather than examining her own expectations; expectations constructed more and more using materials provided by the church.  If, after decades of quiet suffering under the rebellion of a disdainful woman during which he maintained a calm gentle demeanor, offered fatherly steady child rearing and made for abundant provision…after all that, if a man deserves derision up to the moment of death, what can any man expect temporally?

This isn’t a question to stir hopelessness. It is more a Shit Happens Deal With It admonition for men to find a way to see the atmosphere of their home both from inside and outside. The view from outside often stands in stark relief to the life he marinates in daily. Talking to others about it, if they have gotten past the withdrawal from blue pills, makes looking from the outside in easier.




6 thoughts on “Stigma vs. Stigmata

  1. “More plainly spoken, the men have one or more major marital infractions while the women have been saintly in their forbearance.”

    As I understand it, you are saying the anecdotal evidence you have acquired from your friends supports the common view that women are better-behaved, that is, more spiritual.

    However, knowing that you regularly read Dalrock, I was surprised to see your response (“I was floored”) to hearing of the reversed scenario. I would have supposed you were aware of this possibility.

    “A woman can and will find something to blame for her seething discontent rather than examining her own expectations; expectations constructed more and more using materials provided by the church.”

    This reminds me of the lists of requirements for marriage that some single, Christian women have compiled. Their expectations are so high that I seriously wonder if Jesus himself would be able to meet them. Extend those expectations into marriage and it is little wonder that so many Christian women are unhappy and often initiate divorce.

  2. No, I did expect it, and was still floored.. I wrote “spoken” where I should have written “stated”. I have edited it. Thanks

  3. If the woman, early on, is able to bias the relationship in her favor by establishing a serious grievance, transgression or failure on the part of her husband, she can coast the rest of her life on the effort of the husband to make up for his lower status. How often have I heard Christian men say, sometimes with an attempt at sorrowful humor, after 30,40,50 years of marriage, “I don’t know why she put up with me all these years.” I’VE HEARD ELDERS SAY THIS FROM THE PULPIT. I’m sorry I transgressed God’s injunction against divorce almost 20 years ago but I’ve never been sorry I divorced the self centered Christian woman who thought it was her right to use me as an emotional punching bag. (At the time, I also thought it was a woman’s right to treat her husband like that) I’m going to a Christian couple’s 40th wedding anniversary this afternoon and really hope I can keep my mouth shut.

  4. One little addition. In the case of the man who remarried 2 months after his wife’s death, it would be interesting to have asked around his social circle and in particular his church leaders if they had noticed anything. Odds are nobody did. Because that kind of emotional and verbal abuse from a woman is very likely only happening in private, in public a cheery or at least tolerable face is put on in order to avoid public embarrassment.

    Unless he went for counselling, his pastor would have had no clue. Indeed, it is possible his pastor would have pointed to that family as “One of our Godly, happy families”. If he did go for counselling…probably still no clue, because of the tendency to pedestalize.

    Something to bear in mind when people are bragging about “all the families in OUR church are happily married….”How d’ya know, eh?

  5. Women can be abusive right in front of people and no one realize what’s happening. Ive seen it that a woman can berate her husband without a word, done during a dinner party of something.

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