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Lions Roar : July 2018
deeply wrong—both the violation of his marriage vows and the inappropriate- ness of the age difference. He admitted to bad judgment, but defended his actions by saying, “I was so lonely that I wanted to die. Would you rather I had killed myself?” He was ashamed and defensive at the same time. I was troubled by his confession but not sure what to do. In the end, I decided to do nothing. The events were in the distant past. I thought he was telling me the truth and seemed repen- tant. I was also strangely honored that ONE OF THE DISTURBING yet hopeful signs amidst the many difficulties of our present world has been the continuing parade of revela- tions about the sexual preda- tion of men in power. The assaults being reported seem to have occurred in almost every sector of our society: from religion to entertain- ment, from sports to politics, and within the confines of the nuclear family itself. Wherever men have held power over others, some of them have used it to gratify their sexual desire. One of them was my recently deceased father. He was a caring and somewhat charismatic minister turned therapist. He was also a sexual predator. He confessed this to me one sunny summer after- noon several decades before his death. We were walking along the bank of a small stream when he told me that he had sex with adolescent girls when he was in his thirties and forties and married to my mom, his first wife. I was shocked but not surprised. He had always been strangely close to teenage girls and the circum- stances of his divorce from my mother were convoluted at best. My response to his confession was to tell him that what he had done was THIS DHARMA LIFE Learning the Truth About My Father DAVID RYNICK’s father was known as a caring and charismatic minister turned therapist. He was also a sexual predator. he would share this terrible secret with me, that I would be chosen for this compli- cated intimacy. I was wrong on every count. Wrong, first in thinking that these events were in the past. To my knowledge, he never sexually assaulted another young woman after this time, but since then I’ve come to see that these sexual predations are never over. The consequences on the lives of the victims are deeply trau- matic and continue through their whole lives. I learned this first from one of my stepsisters, the adopted daughter of my father’s second marriage. I was never a part of that family, and she and her sis- ters had cut off all contact with my father shortly after their mother died. I vaguely knew this was because of my father’s inappropriateness, but I had no idea the extent of his predation until I got in touch with my stepsister two days after my father’s death. In the course of the conversation, she told me the story of her ongoing assault and rape at his hands while she was in high school. I share this story here with her permission. My stepsister herself had repressed these horrific memories until she was in her twenties and beset with debilitating panic attacks while in medi- cal school. I was shocked and horrified to hear her stories. They made sense in the context of what my father had alluded to, FORRESTDYLANBRYANT A life and leadership coach, DAVID RYNICK has received dharma transmission in both the Rinzai and Soto Zen lineages. LION’S ROAR | JULY 2018 23 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE