I am deeply saddened by the turn of events in this past week. This is an attempt to update you all and ask you for prayer for all those involved.
My conversation with Brian McLaren
Last week, Julie told me that she was willing to do a mediation with Tony. During my discussion with Boz Tchividjian, he suggested a mediator from outside of the evangelical/progressive camps which I thought was wise. I told him I would be willing to speak with Brian McLaren about that possibility. Brian contacted me and we were able to talk by phone on Friday. I am pleased that Brian took the time to speak with me, given the fact that I am a relative unknown. I reiterated to him that Julie was willing to mediate and I asked him for his thoughts.
He was negative about any possibility of mediation between Julie and Tony due to the current situation involving litigation and the courts. He believed that their lawyers would not permit such a meeting. He also felt that neither of them would want to sit down with one another given the current status of things. At that point, I knew there was something going on behind the scenes of which I was not aware.
He then stated that he does not intend to sue Julie. What he planned to do is to seek legal advice so that he could release emails and other communications that he has had with Julie in the past. He stressed that several others, as well as he, believe that Julie's representation of the facts is causing harm to the reputation of some individuals. He said that he would be willing to sit down with Julie in some sort of mediated situation to hammer these things out. Once again he stressed that he believed that such a meeting might not occur until the current litigation was resolved.
He had one disagreement with my post about his statement. I placed him in Tony Jones' camp. He said he has a number of theological disagreements with Tony and does not know him well. He also said that he was glad that Julie has people supporting her during this time. We ended the conversation with the intent to be in touch in the future.
My thoughts on the conversation
It was obvious that there were two parts to this conversation. Brian McLaren (and perhaps some others) want to sit down with Julie and try to come to some resolution of their conflicts. However, there is something else preventing Tony and Julie from sitting down. Prior to this conversation, Julie was in an optimistic frame of mind. Tony had refused to send one of her sons back to her after a visit and Julie went to court to hold him to the agreement. She believed that things seemed optimistic at that time.
I do want to give props to Brian for his willingness to talk with me. Our conversation was polite and nonadversarial.
What has happened to prevent mediation between Julie and Tony?
Apparently, this past week, Tony has decided to file some sort of lawsuit against Julie which goes beyond the custody of one child. I am aware of some of the issues involved and cannot share them with you at this time. I will do so in the near future. If what I know is true, this is a sad and hard-hitting action on the part of Tony which occurred when Julie was willing to sit down in mediation.
Julie was reportedly shut down this week by a well-known individual.
Julie told me that she decided to reach out to one Progressive leader who had not contacted her about her story yet had made some public comments on the situation. Julie sent an email asking said person if they would like to hear her side of things. Julie received a curt response. "Do not contact me." Then, Julie's name was removed from that person's Facebook. Why was there not one word of love or encouragement?
For Tony and Courtney
Love is easy when people are patting your back and telling you that they love you and follow you. Love becomes much more difficult when people are in pain and are not giving you the props you believe that you deserve. My grandparents immigrated from Russia and I have a love for the Russian people. When I was new Christian, I read Richard Wurmbrand's book, Tortured For Christ. I remembered being startled by his love for those who hurt him. I will always love this quote.
"A flower, if you bruise it under your feet, rewards you by giving you its perfume. Likewise Christians, tortured by the Communists, rewarded their torturers by love.
Can Christians really have this kind of love? Jesus seemed to think so.
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. (Luke 6:32-24 NIV)
I think Tony and Courtney need to ask themselves a question. At the end of your lives, when you look back at this time, will you be proud of the way that you showed sacrificial love to Julie- the woman Tony promised to love and cherish; the woman with whom he had three children? This is the mother who has cared for their children for many years, allowing Tony to have the time to write books, be a leader and to teach and travel and even court and marry a new wife.
Tony needs to consider his role as an advisor/cohort to doctoral students at Fuller Evangelical Seminary. How will these actions be translated into theology that can be understandable to those entering the ministry?
Today, my pastor discussed empathetic listening which he defined as "working just as hard at understanding as at being understood." Immediately I thought of Julie. In the past few years, how hard have people worked to understand what she has been going through? Was she disposable since Tony was the leader and he now had a new honey who was so much cooler than Wife #1? Was Julie discarded because she wasn't part of the inner circle any longer? During those lonely years, she cared for those children while Tony continued to post happy pictures of his new life and wife. Courtney got called *amazing* by some leaders while Julie got called *crazy.*
My pastor told us what happens when people are not heard.
We invite hostility – When people do not feel that they are heard, they turn up the volume, turn on the heat, call out the guard, shut off the hearing aids and spread the word.
We are responsible when people in our communities are not heard. That is why I am so grateful that a number of blogs and their readers finally heard Julie and told her that they believed her and cared about her. That showed up in the GoFundMe account. I was hopeful that we could raise $1000. Instead, we have raised, as of this writing, $5,650. Julie received $2000 last week and will get another $3,065 on Tuesday. I am going to keep the fund up for the time being since she is going through a particularly trying time.
It is because of all of you that Julie now has hope. It is also because of all of you that she is willing to sit down for mediation because she now knows she is believed. Please keep encouraging her in the weeks to come. As you will see, this is a terrible ordeal and I am so sad that Tony has proceeded in this direction. That is his legal right but is it right? You can decide for yourselves as details emerge.