“Peace is the fruit of love, a love that is also justice. But to grow in love requires work — hard work. And it can bring pain because it implies loss — loss of the certitudes, comforts, and hurts that shelter and define us.” ― Jean Vanier, Finding Peace Link
After I spoke with Brian McLaren last Friday, my intent in posting was to portray him in a positive light, particularly since he said he was open to some form of mediation. I was excited about that possibility and conveyed that to Julie. Julie responded that she would like to seek peace with Brian and I sent Brian an email regarding her desire.
I took notes but I must have filtered those notes through my own faulty perceptions of the conversation. I was sad when I learned that there had been some miscommunication. I apologized to Brian for anything that I said that did not accurately reflect his words and thoughts.
My goal is to work with others to find a way to bring peace to this situation. In keeping with that desire, I asked him if he would like to respond to my post in any way that he thought would most accurately reflect his words and intent in the original conversation. Our mutual goal is reconciliation and I do want to work with Julie, Brian and others to make this happen.
The following is in Brian's own words. Please continue to pray for peace.
Dee, thanks for your willingness to be in conversation with me. We spoke by phone last Friday, February 6, and you wrote a post about our conversation on Sunday. On Tuesday morning, I emailed you about some areas where I felt your summary didn’t reflect our conversation, and we talked by phone later in the day. All of our conversations have been characterized by honesty, cordiality, and openness, and for that I am grateful.
You asked if I would write a clarification for your readers.
When I told you I was not contacting you representing anybody’s camp, I was trying to make it clear that I was reaching out as an individual, a fellow Christian. I had no authorization to speak for anyone else in any "camp," nor had anyone else asked me to speak on their behalf. I was speaking for myself only, and I trusted you because I sensed that you share a similar desire, as a committed Christian, to be a peacemaker and, as far as it is possible, to “be at peace with all people,” as Paul said.
You said on your post, “He said he has a number of theological disagreements with Tony and does not know him well.” That wasn’t what I said. I do know Tony well, and never would say otherwise. What I did say is that I have had less contact with Tony over the last few years compared to, say, a decade ago. I mentioned the theological disagreements not to distance myself from Tony, but to say that for me, friendship is not dependent on theological agreement.
You correctly said that I am eager for third-party review and mediation, but I did not say this couldn’t happen “until the current litigation was resolved.” I am happy to engage in third-party review and mediation whenever a fair and workable process can be mutually identified, agreed to, and arranged. In fact, that’s the reason I contacted you last week: in hopes that you would be willing to help such a process come to fruition.
You may have noticed that very soon after making your post, people seized on certain elements of it. For example, because you said that I claimed not to know Tony well, certain people were quickly calling me a liar, because they know that I in fact do know Tony well. I know you didn’t intend to put me in the position of being portrayed as a liar, but it quickly happened.
Lamentably, miscommunications are often amplified on the internet, which provides all the more reason for responsible people to exercise care in jumping to conclusions, believing the worst, etc. Scripture has a lot to say about how we communicate, and for people who identify as Christians, I don’t think there’s an online exemption.
Perhaps if you and I publicly and consistently demonstrate sincere attempts to “speak the truth in love” and to make things right when we stumble, we can set an example for more people to do the same. Not one of us is perfect, and all of us need grace and humility as we seek truth, justice, peace, and love as followers of Christ.
Again, Dee, I appreciate your willingness to speak with me, and when I brought this problem to your attention, I appreciate your desire to make it right. I look forward to continuing to do the hard and delicate work of peacemaking with you, with God’s help.
Julie had 3 very small children she was raising alone when all this took place. I am sure she was overwhelmed. My heart goes out to her and what she went through ALONE.
Personally, I think MPT comes off as a big weenie in the way he dealt with the pushback from his earlier support of Tony and then changed his mind for Julie then took it all down. If he cannot take the heat with people trying to understand or not believe his wishy washiness, he can stop seeking a public persona as a Christian leader. I get the feeling he had his finger in the wind of public opinion, anyway.
His principles/values are wrapped up in how people respond to him?
I think the comparisons some are making are unfair. Further, it DOES take time to process things, and no amount of demanding that everyone see things a certain way is going to change that.
What beakerj said is so very true. Been there, done that, still have the scars to prove it. I am tired of people insisting that others’ responses to all of this be “perfect.” If you feel so strongly, write for publication instead of slamming others whose responses don3fit your script.
Announcement to our readers:
Julie will no longer be able to comment on our blog as well as others. Everything she says is being scrutinized and reported to lawyers if you get my drift.
Please pray for her. This makes me very sad.
Just chill. I am sick of your judgementalism. Try putting yourself in others’shoes for a while. Maybe what you say is true, but maybe not. Have you contacted him yourself? If not, why? Seems more to the point than sniping about it here.
/done with this thread for today
Oh man. Not surprised. Praying.
Please be aware that Raleigh is slated to get a serious ice storm. TWC just used the word *catastrophic.* If we go down, do not worry. We may not be able to approve comments or communicate. I will try to update on Twitter if that happens. @wartwatch
I am speaking strictly about those who seek to promote a public persona as a Christian leader. They invite analysis. If they do not like it, then they should find another business where that will not a problem for them.
MPT got some of his blog fame going after Driscoll and going deep with the problems there. Even publishing Andrew’s story which was a deep inside look into how things operate.
So how long will he need to process Julie’s side? Has he even tried like he did with Driscoll before speaking out either way?
Oh my. Praying for all, since ice storms are so much worse than snowstorms.
MPT is a journalist and autjor, not a “leader” by any stretch of the imagination. You mischaracterize him and what he does for a living, which is not, imo, fair to him or to any other *writers* or social commentators who might be weighing i on this.
I am keeping Julie M in prayer! She has friends all around the world who support her.
I am SO GLAD that this story broke and that we can be a part of helping her.
Keeping The Deebs in prayer regarding the ice storm.
I am not allowed to respond to you personally as you asked on another thread. Of course, I am judging. This entire blog is about analyzing and judging the behavior and actions of those who set themselves up as “Christian” leaders and how they treat victims. Just because we like someone is not a good enough reason to ignore their very public behavior. People are doing that with Tony. You went through this same thing with RHE on the first thread. That is ok. Just giving another view and opinion which does not seem to be ok with you for some reason I will never understand.
Tony Jones & Brian McLaren are mentioned together & linked in this discussion of the Emergent big business. This really put things into big picture perspective for me. This wasn’t a grassroots emergent movement, this was a marketing scheme:
Peter Drucker: Leadership Network and the Emergence of the Modern Mega-Church Empire:
MPT is a journalist and author who writes mostly “Christian” themes including a deep analysis of the problems at Mars Hill that was a sensation in blogdom. I wonder if he would rather not be a leader in those areas? He does try to sell books and bring readers to his blog, right? He wants to persuade people, right? He was a big enough deal that people actually talked about his strange reponses to the whole Tony Jones ordeal.
Why would he not expect pushback from people as a journalist and author who is seeking publicity?
i said that i thought it better that we didn’t interact, and there was nothing about “not [being] allowed.”
I think i am tired of this whole discusdion and just have no patience for “X is a weenie”-type posts.
Not sure what you mean. He has taken a position in the public sphere to comment on important issues. I commended him for the stand he took WRT Robin Williams. ISTM he made a hasty judgment in the first post, saw evidence and changed his mind, got bombarded with some bad feedback and went silent. That looks like backpedaling or caving to public disapproval. If it went beyond that to threats against him or his kids, then why not just say that? What he has done is make himself weak and vacillating. I think that is a shame because he is talented.
You assume that he is in a default mode of “sseeking publicity,” and strongly imply that that is his entire motive for blogging. Why? Do you know this for a fact, or are you making an assumption based on your prior experience?
I think it is unfair, and wrong, to assume that all writers are vapid publicity seekers who use blogging and eocial media solely to gain a following and make money. The number of writers who can actualky make a living solely from their published work is minuscule. Most writers and similar types (ccreative people) have day jobs and pursue writing because they love it, not for personal gain. So unless anyone can prove that MPT is some sort of egomaniac who only writes to get fanboys/girls and $$$, I’m going to give him the benefit of fhe doubt. Because i have done the day job to pay the bills thing, do that i can maybe afford to do the things that realoy matter to me. And i know plenty of others who are there, too.
Lydia, i think i have responded adequately and would like to table this for now.
It used to be that you didn’t get a platform until you had proved yourself through trials. That has all changed, and young guys now have platforms before they’ve been proved. This is an opportunity to man up and demonstrate that he is worth listening to. Somebody who runs from difficult issues is not hard to find. A man of courage and conviction is a voice worth listening to.
I, personally, have had to go against peers and endure the disapproval of friends to do and say what is right, including slander. That was a choice I made when I learned facts that were different than what I had assumed before. That used to be a good thing, and I was encouraging MPT to do that very thing. Again, unless there were credible threats against him.
There is no doubt that he is processing, but it is fundamentally nonsensical to ask people to take your opinion seriously if you are not prepared to weather the storm that may come your way from people who disagree. Summer soldiers and all that.
Amy Smith wrote:
Thanks, Amy. I appreciate all of the work that you do.
Have you written to him about this? Maybe it would help. Seriously.
Two comments removed by request of commenter.
No, and I doubt that he writes to everyone who disagrees with him. That’s an unreasonable and impractical standard for blogs, IMO. We can have a conversation about what you think is unfair, but that can only happen if you say what is unfair and why.
I meant drop him an email. Am sure that’s posdible via the contact info. page on his blog. I wouldn’t expect a reply, but hey – it could be helpful to him to know your thought, and that you would support him if/when he makes those blog post public again, or writes a new one.
It is very hard to gauge what readers think when there is no response. Just saying.
You have a wealth of expetience to pass on. That can potentially be very helpfulmto others.
Apart from that, i think reaction via social media are nothing like real “letters to the efitor” (which i greatly miss, fwiw). I think that the immefiate reaction from many of the SCCL commenters was overwhelming, which is one reason i sympathize with him. It used to be poison pen letters and crank phone calls, but now it’s instantaneous commenting (often, attacking) via FB and Twitter. Which is why i avoid controversial topics on FB.
Is nothing like, not “are.”
I was talking about his work (being a writer and journalist), and think maybe we mean different things as far as “getting a platform.”
I could write to him, but I doubt he wants to hear what I would say. He has a platform because a lot of people read his blog. I don’t think there is some exemption from critique because someone is a writer or doesn’t like negative feedback. Trust me, in most fields, negative feedback or even judgmental behavior happens all the time and people either learn from it or they don’t. This is a growth opportunity for a lot of people, ISTM.
Hey Lydia, are you saying that others -RHE, NBW etc – are also narcissists, or just that they are part of the celebrity culture? I have no experience with it, so can only go by what I have read in their writings.
I still think that people, as people, take time to deal with the fact that someone they may care about, look up to, & so on, is a liar & an abuser… it may be the first time the true power of a personality disorder has become known to them. I would liken it to finding out, in my field, that a valued colleague was a paedophile. I would be rocked, disturbed, gutted & likely unable to process things fast, unless I personally observed it. These guys all seem to have seen things at a distance, & have needed paperwork & so on to show the truth of matters.
All in all, I am expecting to see some about-turns, apologies, reparation & so on, but I’m not expecting it to be fast necessarily.
Despite my optimism at the beginning of this thread I do think Brian McLaren has some things he could helpfully put right in a timely way.
I learn so much from these threads & will think about what you say… the industry is something I am a novice in.
Also Dee, husband & puglets be safe in the ice.
I honestly think he is a writer who also does some blogging and podcadting. Most writers do, these days.
Besides all that, has it occurred to folks that there is litigation proceeding against Julie, and that perhaps attorneys on both sides have made either requests ot demands about some blog posts? I say this only because MPT was almost too candid in his account of the only time he’s been around Tony, on a World Vision trip abroad several years ago. It wax in his Jan. 31 blog post, and it was not exactly flattering.
This is so much bigger than a few blog posts and tons of comments and sites like Why Tony. And Tweets by people with questionable motives.
I’m finding it hard to believe that RHE, MPT & others like them didn’t also receive harsh pushback & public criticism when they wrote about the exposure of Mark Driscoll. Is it different now because this is someone in their circle? I know I’ve received it something fierce because of exposing abuse and the coverup of abuse at my former church, as evidenced by the most recent “mega manifesto” by anon mailer who says he Is “dead serious” about stopping me. Threats aren’t to be taken lightly for sure. That’s why I made a report to the police and handed over the packages. But I refuse to let him/them silence me from advocating for the abused and speaking the truth to shine the light to expose the mountain of secrecy and deception that enables the evil to continue.
Also, as an aside, yeah, there are bloggers like Perez Hilton, who wanted attention and money and got both. But he writes a scandal sheet, and is light years ofv from almost all other people of any stripe who blog.
I don’t get why Julie has to stop commenting, but the Scribd site can stay up and Tony’s 12 page opinion can stay up.
I wouldnt assume that everyone in question is either a celebrity or is involved in a “celebrity culture.” If they are part of either, i doubt 99% of the people in this country either know who they are or would want to be bothered with knowing.
None of them are Kanye and Kim [hhuge understatement].
I would imagine her attorney asked her to do so, lest his attorney be able to use her own published words against her.
I agree… these things do not happen overnight.
Amy Smith wrote:
I was also wondering, based on a comment I read at SCCL, about possible legal/contractual ramifications for people who provided endorsements for Tony’s upcoming book.
But maybe I’m just too eager to find a reasonable, legitimate explanation for the ongoing silence from McLaren, RHE, and NBW.
I never intended to imply that he or any other writer is exempt from criticism. But i do think that there has, unfortunately, been a lot of jumping to conclusions. Absent his formerly public posts, it is hard to know whivh way he was tending. I have a copy of his Jan. 31 blog post, so I’m going on that.
I thin we would all like the same. I hope things do change.
Even if you saw it 1sthand, it would still take time to process. Because it would go against everything you thought you knew about that person.
but … maybe a thoughtful letter would be a better way to go than attacks on FB. you know?
Maybe I’m dreaming, but i think it’s worth a try.
That is my working theory regarding some other messes such as the Gospel Glitterati’s silence and/or enabling of Driscoll and Mahaney which to me is inexplicable on Biblical grounds. I suspect there is non-disparagement language lurking in some contracts. If that is true, then it is sad that Christians would sign away their right to object or speak out.
Don’t do FB or Twitter. Hopefully he has some spiritually mature people in his life who can help him discern what to attend to and what to ignore.
I think that the points I’ve been trying to make would be much clearer if you did know how the SCCL page tends to go, as well as FB and Twitter in general. Am not suggesting that you’re a Luddite (if so, i am one, too) or uninformed, just trying to point out that this kind of instantaneous communication has very serious drawbacks when trying to allow for any kind of nuance in the discussion of sensitive/ddifgivult issues. Neither platform is conducive to that (pputting it mildly), and just to be clear, i mean program (aas a place where people write and publish), not the kind ogof platform that i believe you were referring to a bit upthread.
As an aside, software developers talk about “platforms” all the time, and their usage has spilled over to the media in general. And, for that matter, to people like me.
Did he take that article down too?
Which article or post are you referring to? Did you mean on his blog? (He made a bunch of stuff on FB private, as well as seversl of his blog posts.)
The piece i am referring to was posted on his blog on Jan. 31. It is the only post on his blog that directly addressed this situation.
“XA is in Florida (the state where Brian McLaren also resides). XA from what I could tell from the Twitter feed: lives 10 miles from the Everglades, is a possibly a Methodist (given all of the feeds), liberal Democrat, possibly black and possibly a woman.”
i’ll echo bridget in saying why does this matter? or at least matter enough to mention it here? feels weird. causiness going a bit too far?
All of the blog posts that referred to Tj and Julie etc., either directly or indirectly, are not there anymore. He uses WordPress software – am familiar with it and bet he reverted the posts to “draft” (unpublished) status. That’s a usual option in blogging software.
To be honest, it is creepy and kind of stalker-ish to me. *Not* saying anyone is being a stalker, but why???
That’s why I get screenshots of everything, as Julie Anne over at Spiritual Sounding Board has faithfully taught us to do!
Others asked about XA. I find it curious that a Florida attorney has spent so much time defending a near by Florida resident, Brian McLaren, on this blog.
Honestly, i am baffled as to what you are doing with all this information? I mean, you seem to be going overboard and i don’t get it.
Other people asked valid questions which XA wouldn’t answer. So several of us have been doing research. That’s all.
I get that. Maybe the flaming will subside and people can have a reasoned conversation. I know how Twitter and FB work, but I don’t like it personally.
Yes, I agree–and I so much respect the persistent questioning of you and others here in interactions with XianAtty and others; as a “none and done” I no longer have a theological or doctrinal dog in the fight, so to speak, but I do still make an effort to think the best of those representing Christianity while being solidly on the side of victims like Julie. And I support exposing those who would work against justice and transparency, whatever their ideological orientation. It is people on places like TWW that help me hold onto a shred of hope that there is some integrity and goodness in organized religion 🙂
I don’t like it, either, at least, not when used in that way. But for other things, it works very well.
The thing is, flaming is flaming, but FB and Twitter are in full view of the world in ways that other means of internet discusdion were/are not, for the most part.
The Emergence is sinking.
Your heart will go on…
He got dogpiled on FB, as another commenter who followed it stated way upthread. That’s why I’m hesitant to condemn him, because it blew up in his face. Like walking into a swarm of angry hornets, imo.
I was referring to this article from MPT. I presume that is deleted also.
IMO he should not have been dogpiled for changing his position with new evidence. I hope that he will think through this responsibly.
Thanks, and I totally sympathize with your “none and done.” I refuse to let people who claim the name of Christ but don’t act like him affect how I see him!
Wishing you all the best
Wishing you all the best.
“Others asked about XA. I find it curious that a Florida attorney has spent so much time defending a near by Florida resident, Brian McLaren, on this blog.”
— LOL! You might want to consult a map. Florida is a very large state with close to 20 million people and a couple thousand miles of shoreline. The notion that McLaren and I live “nearby” just because we live in the same state is just plain silly. Stop with the stalkerish nonsense already.
Please delete my comments, wished I had never written them. Sorry for causing any drama or pain to anyone.
God bless you and shine His wonderful Grace on you.
Thank you for your love and concern. Praying that all will be well for Julie?
But he was, and i think it has happened before, which is why he wrote that post you disliked. Really, it can be hard to imagine until you see it happening – or until it happens to you.
The SCCL FB commenters are a mix, but there are some who are still very raw (from abuse), and they can be kinda brutal. I hate when that happens, and honestly, i don’t think many people can put up with it. That nobody should *have* to… well, that should be the default. But, unfortunately, it isn’t.
And it doesn’t work on me.
I especially dug reading the posts by the so-called Attorney state over and over how very deeply he cared about Julie, yet, while out of the other side of his mouth, nit picking every comment or action of hers, and needling her when she appeared on these threads.
Yes, it isno longer visible. I have the text, though.
Thanks. You as well.
Can you email it to me? Dee can give you my email (when she’s able) if you don’t have it. I’m just curious what he wrote.
Yet you ripped my head off early on, several threads ago, for merely answering a question about Rachel Held Evans v. Nadia. You accused me of being against RHE, or snapped at me, “what is so wrong about getting one’s work published, hunh hunh?”
I never said there was anything wrong with RHE being published (I don’t think there is anything wrong with someone getting their written work published, I was only trying to respond to why RHE was getting more attention than Nadia – because she is more well known, IMO). I got judged and jumped on for that by you.
You seem to be touchy or very defensive about anyone being critical of any of these emergent Christian guys at all, the MPTs, RHEs, etc. I’m not sure what that’s about.
I think they’ve (RHE and friends) all messed up with their public stances on about the Tony Jones/ Julie situation with their base or their fans or followers, whatever they are called (the people who formerly bought their books and attended their conferences).
And I do not hate RHE or have anything against her or this MPT guy. I don’t agree with their opinions on every single topic, but I have no ill will towards them.
Commenting on Facebook threads is actually a lot like commenting on a blog like this one. One can write very long responses on Facebook.
Twitter is not, IMO, a good venue for debates because Twitter has a limit of 140 characters per tweet.
Facebook though? People can write a post so long it’s almost like a blog post.
My guess would be she is trying to dig up more information on XtianAttny to see what the real deal is, because Xianattorny comes across as being dishonest on this blog. He/she claims to care about Julie but his/her behavior on this blog comes across as the total opposite.
I don’t see it as stalkerish but checking up on your credibility. Your behavior here is suspicious to me.
I’ve got it, but won’t be able to send until i can get back to my laptop (tomorrow). Hope that’s OK.
Bill Kinnon wrote:
So much this.
No hurry. That is fine. Thank you.
This friend speaks my mind.
You’re only too right.
You’re only too right.
Amy Smith wrote:
To add my thoughts to those of the 111th Zooey above: I once heard a preacher observing that, as she understood matters, the devil always overplays his hand. When Proverbs says that “pride goes before a fall”, no exception is made for him.
The same, writ small, goes for narcissistic (with or without a formal diagnosis or a capital “N”) people. They may be shrewd and clever manipulators, but – if you’ll forgive my stating the obvious – ultimately all wisdom belongs to God not them.
Nick Bulbeck wrote:
Point of order. Recently heard someone on this proverb who pointed out it is nearly always misquoted. It should read:
Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
Power is on. Had some fluctuations last night.
Glad you’re ok!
Here is a post pertinent to the last bit on this thread about responses to MPT.
Julie, if you are still keeping an eye on this comment thread, I’m glad to hear that your children are doing well. That is great.
I’m convinced that MPT and many other leaders have never walked through life (I’m not talking counseling here folks) with an abused person. If they had, or are, they would see that the responses from some at SCCL are completely normal for people who have been abused. And here is the real kicker – they may always have triggers that cause negative responses. So if MPT and others think that everyone is going to arrive to some standard of perfection this side of heaven, they are mistaken. And they probably shouldn’t say that they support abuse victims when in reality they don’t even understand abuse victims. They are causing more harm than good. This goes for the Emergent leaders that have shunned Julie M. as well. For people who think the whole shunning nonsense is evil, they sure know how to do it. They just have another name for it, such as keeping myself healthy, avoiding toxic people, having peaceful space, etc.
This discussions is apt to heat up as various sides of the argument become entrenched. There is much pain in this story and people naturally want to protect the victims. Sometimes, the perception of who is the victim can vary.
Once things get heated, however, things become uncomfortable. Suggestion: if you have disagreed with someone over a number of comments and the discussion keeps going downhill, it is time to ignore one another for awhile.
Around 30 comments removed at request of commenter.
No comment. 🙂
The many responses to those comments are going to look interesting 😉
Count me as another one who is unimpressed with MPT’s bizarre response to it all. He’s someone who writes books critical of Christian culture (which, for the record, I generally agree with). Then, he receives some criticism which he has not elaborated on, calls Stephanie at SCCL a bully/abuser, and takes his ball and goes home. It comes across as if the only reason he swapped to his new position was for getting accolades for doing it. When he didn’t get that, he got mad and left. It seems that if you really had a change of heart, then it wouldn’t be that difficult to say (as others have pointed out above): “I made a mistake in how I handled this. (list mistakes). I’m sorry. I look to do better in the future, and I look forward learning from this experience and from others who have been in similar situations.”
It seems he’s fine with being talked about when he’s lauded and admired, but when criticism comes, “I wish to take some time off.” Again, this is a guy who’s bread and butter is critical evaluation of evangelical Christianity.
You don’t see the women of the Wartburg Watch or Spiritual Sounding Board or several others pulling this sort of stuff. And they’ve been under greater stressors than what MPT claims. Has MPT been sued for speaking out against his former pastor?
At any rate, MPT seems to have anger issues. Here’s an account of a reader here (or at one of the simialar sites) who got into an exchange with MPT a couple of years ago: http://brgulker.wordpress.com/2012/08/21/so-i-got-lectured-and-blocked-by-jesusneedsnewpr-today/
Clearly, if some people sent him threats or something similar, then that is completely inappropriate and should be condemned. However, as best I can tell, nobody at SCCL has any idea what exactly he reacted to. How is that helpful?
Like drooling fanboys extending their Net Presence from Mommy’s basements, they have NO job or life to take time and energy away from Building And Promoting MY Brand, MY Narrative, MY Reality.
Like NPD Tony was marshaling his sock puppets into a “Spontaneous People’s Demonstration(TM)”?
P.S. 1300 comments and counting!
I also have been thinking along those lines lately, and believe it is a core issue to why there seems to be shock about so much push-back against a few people in particular — by their own followers who thought these people were advocates for victims, but are (1) not considering Julie McMahon as a victim and (2) use social media in what happen to be classic shut-down/silencing techniques that trigger those in the audiences who have thus been bullied.
The way I’ve been putting it is that it is one thing to “talk advocacy” but another to “walk as an advocate.”
In that, I am NOT saying that it has no value to give victims emotional support, or to use what gifts we have help them process their experiences and tell their story, if that’s what they want to do. That DOES has value. However, that is more along the lines of “walking out support.” Those are only threshold activities for personal advocacy for victims/survivors.
I learned advocacy from my sister. Here’s what I saw her do, starting in the mid-1970s. Being an advocate meant taking photos of her friend’s multiple bruises from her husband’s punches for evidence. It meant helping her pack up her things quickly to leave for somewhere safe. It meant helping her process what was happening with all police reports and court issues.
Then it went beyond my sister helping her one friend, to helping others who’d been victimized.
It was going with them to the police to file a report, and waiting for them or taking care of their kids during hearings.
It was taking a turn on the rape crisis hotline, answering forwarded calls one weekend a month.
It was volunteering with safe houses for women and children who were survivors of domestic violence.
It was listening to people’s stories and showing compassion.
It was keeping up as best as possible with political issues that affected victims’ rights, and working with teams of people to help strategize ways to inform, support, and empower survivors and those at risk of victimization.
It was exercising perseverance with those who weren’t ready yet to file reports, or move away from their abuser, or etc etc etc. Part of advocacy is empowerment by letting the other person decide their course of action, even if you have suggested negative scenarios that could unfold from it.
It was learning about related issues – child sexual assault and anger management for perpetrators and other disturbing topics, and incorporating those into resources and trainings, and then trying trying trying to get leaders in theologically conservative churches interested in providing their staff and volunteers and parishioners with trainings on abuse and assault prevention.
In short, I learned from my sister that to serve as an advocate for victims takes far more listening and working than talking and posturing about it.
And — back to the present situation — while some of the thought leaders and ministry role models involved here have done some admirable things related to some kinds of victims, that doesn’t mean they understand much about survivors of spiritual abuse and the unique dynamics of our communities because of past betrayal by those with spiritual authority.
I am hoping that the flare-up of this situation and the intense level of push-back helps the broader Christian communities realize some differences in dynamics, and opens learning opportunities so things like this maybe will be less likely to happen or people seen as leaders will be less likely to call themselves advocates unless they are far more activist about it.
MPT comes from a very strict fundy background that was more than likely abusive in some ways, so I think he has triggers, too. He might not be as raw as some of the SCCL people, but honestly – I would be *so* happy if a lot of them would seek out good therapists and be able to start healing. It is a process, it takes time, it is hard work – and maybe many of them are there, right now. That said, I think many of them have been SO worked over by what they’ve been through that they lash out at others who do not agree with them 100%, and it is anything but productive or helpful for all involved.
People who are very much in the middle of recovering from trauma are not the best, most objective advocates for others experiencing trauma, as I’m sure beakerj (who is a social worker and has been through her own hard times) could affirm. It is a highly combustible mixture, and I think that the reactions of many on SCCL are *not* about MPT or RHE or NBW, but about the betrayals they’ve experienced in their own lives. Still, FB and Twitter are just not places where people can sit down and have reasoned, productive discussions (with periods of yelling and banging on the table, but getting back on track, too). It’s just not going to happen there.
Have you ever read the guest post by a former member of Mars Hill that MPT published a few years ago? It was written by a woman who has long since left that place, who is an artist. MD insisted that she had “sex demons,” among other things. That post, and the one MPT wrote about “Andrew” (also formerly a member of MH) a few years ago are what garnered attention. He is not a big dog in Emergent circles; he’s a writer who had a LOT of people coming around after he posted both of those pieces.
I don’t know him and have never had contact with him. But he is definitely *not* on the same level as McLaren and TJ, and he is neither a member of the clergy nor a “leader.” He has become a social commentator via The Daily Beast and some of his blog posts. Speaking of which, have you seen his recent one on fundamentalism in Progressive circles? Definitely worth a look!
J Pow wrote:
Off-list correspondence on FB and via email, maybe? I think it’s likely. Not excusing the waffling, just trying to give it some context. He might well have gotten some threats, but that’s all conjecture at this point. I really have no idea, but I *can* imagine that there might have been some pretty vitriolic off-list exchanges, if only because I’ve gotten that kind of thing myself, though for entirely different reasons.
Also, the “instant” and truncated communication via FB and Twitter is just NOT made for substantive conversations. And that’s part of the problem, I’m thinking.
Hey – check your inbox! I sent the text you requested. Hope it’s helpful.
I think it’s worth re-reading beakerj’s comment, so I’ve taken the liberty of quoting the whole reply. Hope that’s OK.
I’ve been through the process she describes, and I can remember feeling like my brain and emotions were tied in knots, because people I trusted had completely betrayed that trust, and in an especially nasty way. (cf. the people at That Church who kicked me out and then shunned me and *then* said nobody was ever told to ignore me or not speak to me and THEN wanted to “send me out.” Like h*ll! I walked out of that place and had no intention of ever setting foot in it again, and no taste for playing their game. But I digress… 😉 )
This is the reason I wrote the comment. I’m not trying to be mean or unkind to MPT. I believe he, and others, just really don’t understand the process of healing from different kinds of abuse. I do think MPT should have been aware of the emotional state of most of the people at SCCL and been able to take that into consideration and respond in kind. But maybe he had no idea what the SCCL community is about. I really don’t know MPT and what he knows and doesn’t know.
I do think that Julie M. was shunned from her church community and spiritually abused by them as much as if it had happened in a church that adheres to ‘formal’ shunning.
@ J Pow:
Everyone is where they are. Some people aren’t in the best place, sometimes people who are otherwise OK act like jerks. I’m not excusing the “act like jerks” part, it just simply is how we humans tend to operate. Because we’re all in process, no?
Yes. I get all this. I hope all of them are in therapy where they can safely deal with what they have been through. After seeing some of MPT’s responses to different situations, he might do well with some therapy to work it all out as well.
I understand all this and am not lumping him in with the Emergent Leaders. I do include him as a person who has weighed in (then out) on the JM situation who maybe needs some further understanding of those healing from different kinds of abuse.
Dee is now officially overwhelmed!
@ Headless Unicorn Guy:
TWW has slowly descended into chaos.
I completely understand Beakerj’s comment and agree with it.
Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
Thanks! Will read.
I agree with you on his apparent lack of understanding. We are all coming to this from very different places, and for those who have never had personal experience with abuse or abuse victims, it is a lot to take in all at once. *Not* saying that anyone should be let off the hook, just that it’s (as beakerj stated so clearly) a process, and it’s not going to happen overnight.
i thought you would. 🙂
Couldn’t you say this about Mark Driscoll? Tony Jones? Virtually anyone? So, should we never be critical of any action by anyone because they might “be in process”?
Everyone’s free to act like a jerk, but when you’re a public figure, then you’re fair game to being critcized for doing it.
OK, I want to clarify: I am not involved in Emergent or Progressive circles, and I have no wish to be. I am Lutheran; a member of the same synod in which Nadia is clergy (the ELCA), and I was very, very angry at her responses to the whole situation, which were (imo) orders of magnitude worse than anything RHE wrote. Nadia is older (around my age), has considerably more life experience (by her own account), and should, imo, be well past the kinds of statements she was making on FB.
@ J Pow:
that wasn’t the point I was trying to make.
@ J Pow:
please see my other comments a bit upthread.
I just posted this comment on R.L.Stollar’s article on “The Evidence Against Tony Jones.” It’s in response to a “Davis,” a commenter who apparently works as a mental health professional but self-admittedly doesn’t get it yet about power dynamics in spiritual abuse. (So, other commenters were challenging him on how his points fell short.) Thought I’d paste it here, as it deals with why this is about far, far “more than just personal matters of a messy divorce – it’s about public pathology,” to paraphrase something Becky Garrison wrote.
February 17, 2015 at 12:01 pm
Davis, since you stated you were open to guidance from the group, and to learning, I have some suggestions about the big picture here and for resources, regardless of whether you choose to continue commenting or not.
It appears to me that you made the case for several points based on human rights and respect especially for those among us with mental health issues, and that particular diagnoses do not automatically mean someone is a criminal. Important points. We all equally deserve basic human respect. That’s a core of human rights and Christian theology in being made in God’s image. Also, those who do break the law are criminals, not those who might break the law; this is not Philip K. Dick’s *Minority Report* and the “Pre-Crime Division.” [And perhaps you would agree that a corollary might be that those who do break the law and fail to abide by binding legal agreements should be treated equally and respectfully, whether they enter the court with or without mental health issues.]
You may have other points you’d like to make here from your particular professional perspective, but it also seems clear enough by your comments themselves and your own admissions that you have missed issues of power dynamics here. From my own conversations and research since 2008, I would suggest that many of us from spiritual abuse survivor communities regularly encounter(ed) both secular and religious professionals who do not yet understand the unique spiritual dynamics involved with verbal, emotional, and/or physical abuse at the hands of someone who holds religious authority over their victims. These professionals, and everyday people as well who may have no personal experience of this sort of abuse, also frequently miss the additional social dynamics of damage when the abuser rallies formal organizations and/or informal networks to condition victims through “positive” behaviors like “love bombing” and “negative” behaviors like “gaslighting.”
I will be frank: While you might learn a lot from those here who have personally experienced the kinds of public pathology that spill over from abusive behaviors at the personal level, if you choose to dialogue and comment, you might want to steel yourself against push-back for what may likely appear to me and perhaps other members of spiritual abuse survivor communities as reductionist thinking. I am not negating psychological or political perspectives; rather, challenging to synthesize them with many other academic disciplines relevant to *systems* of spiritual abuse.
Why? Because this situation with the Emergent Movement is about far, far more at the theological, sociological, social media, and organizational systems levels than just our appropriately legitimate concerns for respecting the human rights and moral responsibilities of those involved who may have various kinds and degrees of mental health issues. Histories of authoritarian systems seems to show that acknowledging those realities of human rights are simply not enough. After all, almost exactly 40 years ago, even the USSR signed its (theoretical) agreement to the Helsinki Accords, which included statements of human rights — but continued to prove itself to be one of the worst offenders of the Accords through its social control system of compliance through fear, disinformation, intimidation, and punishment. This included inflicting medical and psychiatric treatments on people who had no mental illnesses but were political prisoners of the State. (And as a sidenote, if I remember correctly — and crowd-sourcers, please post corrections if this is faulty — the Canadian Psychological Association condemned Soviet use of medical treatments and torture for false psychiatric diagnoses [such as “sluggish schizophrenia”] in the mid-1970s, at least a few years before their American counterparts finally took actions.)
If you are interested in learning more from classic research on social-political-cultural power dynamics in perpetrating and perpetuating abuse, I would suggest starting with some of the foundational research done by Dr. Robert Jay Lifton in the 1950s and published in 1961. If anyone could be called the founder of the discipline of trauma psychology, plus a key holistic contributor to system issues involving sociological “cults,” it certainly would be him. His work on *Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of “Brainwashing” in China* integrates many of the psychological, social, and political strategies and tactics of totalistic mind- and behavior-control. And if nothing else, read Chapter 22, where he devotes several pages to each of the eight key indicators of authoritarian totalism, which have eery parallels to what many in our spiritual abuse survivor communities been traumatized by.
And, if you are interested in personal and social dynamics of spiritual abuse, here is a link to a reference bibliography I compiled (and need to update!) with mostly books for survivors, plus some resources for professionals. Christian popular literature on recovery from spiritual abuse really only goes back 25 years, and there is still a long way to go in terms of academic research on this domain.
Fluctuating again, eh? 🙂
And maybe next time, you could directly ask me about things, instead of making assumptions? I would really appreciate it, as I think there has been some miscommunication/misunderstanding on what I was saying, and why.
I think you are correct about many of them not having walked through life as or with an abused person.
But lets take MPT, who resides in a corner of the corner of leadership. From how he’s written, I suspect he’s suffered some of his own traumatic circumstances. I find him sometimes dismissive, and he seems to have a temper, and no doubt he’s been getting things wrong. But look, he’s been more right than wrong, esp when you stand him next to the others.
Everything that needed to be said to him (and yes, they needed to be said) could have been brought up a couple of weeks from now, after he’d been able to stabilize from the uproar he was facing inside himself (and likely from the Tony-stalwarts too).
On the other hand, I’ve been where the SCCL people are, in early to mid-process of their own trauma. When it is still raw, it is impossible not to scream when anything touches that wound. These people need time and generosity. I think it’s very important that it be given them in public ways.
I don’t think it is a great idea for still-traumatized people to involve themselves in dramas like this one. It just tears them open again. I didn’t attend to anything “out there” for a long time because I had a good therapist to whom I listened.
After long trauma, one can become something of an adrenalin junkie. One only knows how to exist in life with hypervigilance and high anxiety. Living calmly and steadily is one of the more difficult things I had to learn. For a long time, I was bored out of my gourd, and I spent a good deal of time despising my own company. lol
We all need time/space in these situations. Online media isn’t very time/space patient.
They are effectively retraumatized, and *nobody* who is recovering from such pain needs to go through that. Ever.
And yes, MPT is far from perfect, but then, that’s true of the rest of us as well. God knows what kinds of comments any of us would get if we had blogs that got lots of traffic.
The people on SCCL really need a close community – one that isn’t open to public view – to help them get through what they’re going through. FB is the exact opposite of that, although it is possible to establish private discussion groups there. (Although I have issues with that, as it still isn’t anything like actual discussion forum software, and I distrust the owners of FB re. security.)
Closed, not close.
I would caution against over generalizing and making sweeping assumptions about sccl people. It is a huge group with a wide variety of commenters and participators who are there for a variety of reasons. We are not the Borg 🙂 . Assuming they are all too wounded to weigh in usefully in a discussion of systemic abuse feels…a little condescending and dismissive.
Further, that group (inasmuch as it is a monolith) is providing a huge amount of the impetus and publicity keeping Julie’s story out in the open. Don’t be so quick to dismiss it just because a few (and it was a few) jumped on MPT- and other commenters on his fb post- so quickly.
Regarding the threatening private comments, I’m sure they happened. Because they horrifyingly happen, apparently, to just about any public person who comments in any controversial way whatsoever. Stephanie Drury mentioned, in a recent comment thread on this very topic, that the post and comment thread had prompted TWO separate Christian men to privately message her and tell her she deserved having been raped.
I used to read and comment on both the SCL blog and the FB page, so i do understand what you're saying.
As for those threats: sickening, and it seems to happen to any woman who is in the public eye in any way at all.
Banannie, I would never say that someone might be too wounded to weigh in usefully. The wounded can be depended on to weigh in with the clearest eyes of all. But the cost to them is very high.
I am amazed that some at SCCL aren’t more explosive than they are; it takes a huge amount of discipline not to blow like a volcano. You hold each other up, thank goodness. But I wish with all my heart that the traumatized among you weren’t in the vanguard.
Plus MPT needs to grow a skin. He lost his temper and sent out the meanest thing he could think of, calling abusers. Now I can’t find any of his writings about Tony/Julie. Did he pull them all? I hope not, because those posts were about the process towards Julie, on whose behalf this fracas has been taken up. His responses (not just here) are why I suspect he has also has some trauma, and hasn’t gotten through the process, yet.
That no one gets out of these situations unscathed is just another layer of consequence for being so foolish as to allow narcissists into leadership. And as usual, the most fragile among us get the worst of it.
Is JulieM NOW the ‘silenced’ proverbial political prisoner of the emergent religious 501(c)3 industrial church complex?
let none call it CULT?
This article on “Narcissists in the Pulpit” was just posted by Brother Maynard, and is very relevant to recent comments in this stream:
For now she is remaining quiet, I assume because her ex is taking her to court again. But unlike before, her story has been heard and we can be her voice until she can speak again.
Finding humor in #WhyTony http://billymcmahon.com/2015/02/17/finding-humor-in-whytony/
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Ok. I’ll stop copying and pasting now. I know y’all are smart and can read on your own if you so choose. 🙂
“Preventing Proverbial ‘Scortched Church Syndrone’ (TM) Perhaps?”
Those who aspire to pastoral ministry should be required to undergo a psychological evaluation either in seminary or as a condition of ordination?
It has been stated that ‘there is an inherent power imbalance in pastor/parishioner relationships’, therefore, one way to guard against its abuse is for kind folk to read their bibles, really read them, know what they say, – and what they don’t say. Stay cleay of those who make stuff up, n’ stay clear of the pulpit car crazies.
…someone needs to write a white paper on what to look for so us kind folks are prepared in advance of making towards the exits.
“There are many ailments or obstacles that can prevent people from engaging in ministerial vocations, be they physical, spiritual, psychological, or situational. While none of these may be the fault of the individual, they remain valid hindrances to ministry as a full-time vocation. ”
“Clergy and Narcissism?”
“Trinity Theological Seminary, Clergy and Narcissism in the Presbyterian Church in Canada by Rev. Dr. R. Glenn Ball. ”
“…For his research, he conducted a survey of 420 Presbyterian churches across Canada. An overview of his findings was published in the Presbyterian Record as “Does a Church Setting Attract and Foster Narcissistic Behaviour? What I learned studying Narcissistic Personality Disorder.” In this article, he gives an overview of NPD behaviour, and says, This is not good news. These are the people who leave congregations decimated. As one respondent noted, “anyone with high scores in these areas should not be in ministry.” ~Brother Maynard
Along with Brother Maynard’s now three post coverage of NPD, please take the time to listen to Dr Diane Langberg’s hour long talk on NPD and the damage it does to/in the church. Boz T recommended it and Dr Langberg is on the board of GRACE.
Then better check your closets for a Chinese Dragon made of mismatched animal parts with a voice like John DeLancie….
Bill Kinnon wrote:
This is quite good especially around the 35 to 40 minute mark when she speaks of the cycles of NPD leadership that churches can go through.
I’m still not sure why you seemed so very angry at me for just mentioning that RHE probably got more criticism simply because her name is more familiar to people… and took that as me slamming RHE or something. My intent was not to slam RHE but just to offer someone a plausible answer for their question was all.
What was there to misinterpret? Your response to me was very abrupt in tone, discussion demanding to know what was so wrong with someone being a published author?
Maybe you could take more care to think of how your responses come across to someone reading.
I’ve also seen you get very touchy talking to other people, when they make a comment critical of (or perceived by you as critical of) RHE or MPT or these other guys, you jump on them for it.
I don’t think this is in my imagination. I’ve seen it happen to other people on the threads about Tony and Julie, in regards to RHE and M. Paul Turner.
Regarding this, you remind me of the people who come on to the threads that are critical of preachers Furtick, Piper, and Driscoll to defend Furtick, Piper, Driscoll.
It comes across as the same sort of defensiveness, or unwillingness to consider, that maybe your favorite preacher / denomination / author / blogger / (whomever) may possibly be incorrect about something.
I think it’s probably not a good idea to argue about something that took place weeks ago. I don’t remember what I wrote, and would have to look.
My apologies for any offense given, as none was intended.
As far as your interpretation of how I write, that’s fine. I do not think I mean what you think I mean, and I am not trying to make anyone sound better than they are. What I have seen, here and elsewhere, are many attacks – not just criticisms, but attacks – on people, and I don’t like that. Never have, never will.
But we’re talking about an old thread, and I don’t think the point of this comments section is to argue about these issues. Please let it go.
P.S.: threadjack over. My apologies for my part in it.
Not sure if their has been linked here, a third in the series:
Also, linked from SCCL:
P.S.: i think constructive criticism is both healthy and necessary. But all too often, it turns into the opposite (destructive). Am not talking about here, but vast swathes of the interwebs plus the rest of the world. The internet serms to be a magnet for angry people, or at leadt, i sure have seen that in forums and unmoderated comments sections over the years. Unfortunately, that kind of thing stops real conversation dead in its tracks.
Am grateful to the Deebs for providing an open space for productive comment and conversation! I so wish that blogs like this one had existed back in the early 00s (wwhen i was going through the immediate aftermath of being booted and shunned), but i am SO glad they are a reality now!
We are so glad that you all are here. You bring much richness to our lives.
I agree wholeheartedly with this sentiment! Communities like this would have done much to mitigate the isolation and despair we felt when we were being targeted and destroyed by a xtian org.
I am so, so sorry. If you would ever like to tell your story here, please let us know.
@ dee: wow. Thanks Dee. I will ask my husband what he thinks. It is primarily his story as they were his employer. (However, given the terrible boundaries involved, as well as close family ties to the organization, it quickly became a whole community and family disaster).
fwiw (related to some earlier discussion on this thread and on others), a good piece on what being a writer is really like: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/feb/20/tim-lott-life-as-an-author
Not exactly a “glamorous” job.
“Until Tony apologizes for silencing Julie, until Tony apologizes for fighting tooth and nail to avoid paying full child support, until Tony apologizes for convincing people his ex wife was mentally ill from his position of power, when no documented evidence existed of such a diagnosis, he is best avoided in Christian circles.”
-Val said that ^
It’s a bit frightening that you people think this should be grounds for ruining a person’s career. And not just his, but the careers of his peers who refuse to jump on the anti-Tony train. This guy is a jerk. He isn’t an abuser. And as someone who has actually suffered at the hands of an abusive, controlling, violent man, I’d like to thank you all for watering down the meaning of “abuse” so that it literally means nothing. The damage you’ve done is unreal. Yes, the church has gone crazy, you guys included.
Who *wants* to ruin anyone’s career? That is quite a charge? Surely you must be able to read people’s motivations. How do you do that? I am one of the editors and I am not aware of anyone wanting to ruin someone’s career.
Well, it appears that you do not believe the police reports or the testimony of his children. I do believe them as do many others.
Tony Jones admits has has NPD which is an Axis 2 diagnosis. So you think that someone you define as a jerk who self admits to NPD should be in his position or am I not understanding something?
So a man who pushes his wife so she falls in front of his children is not abuse in your book? Could you explain why?
Could you please outline what damage was done and by whom? If you are going to accuse *you* (whoever that is?) then you are morally obligated to explain specifically what you mean.
What do you means by *crazy*? And who is crazy?
I am so sad that you would denigrate the abuse o another human being. I am so sorry that you were abused. As you know, @96% of reports of abuse are proven true. Therefore, I believe you were abused just like I believe that a father who pushes his wife so she falls on the floor is abusive. You obviously have different criteria which you believe is ironclad and I do look forward to learning from you.
Apparently you don’t know that God disqualifies men in the Bible from serving in Christian ministry when they cheat on their wives, leave their wives and (young) children, can’t run their own families, are abusive, have financial problems, character problems, and bad reputations with believers and unbelievers.
You’re concerned about ‘ruining’ some bum’s career and not the least bit concerned about ruining God’s reputation before a watching world? Guess what?
God wants that bum’s career to be over!
Maybe you should take a sobering, reverent look at the Word of God and why He sets the standard so high for those in ministry. (The world is watching and they can openly criticize and mock God when we in the church behave no differently than the world.)
Here’s the gold standard for those in Christian ministry, a fine pastoral example who OBEYS the Lord in all of these matters: Would the Rev. Billy Graham do this? If the answer is “no”, than neither should some other pastoral leader.
P.S. In case you didn’t also know we’re in the United States. Tony Jones, Brian McLaren and the rest of them are nationally known public figures. They write, speak, blog, and are in the news. McLaren was even in Time Magazine. They have now claimed that we can’t discuss them. Under the First Amendment, we can discuss ANYTHIING about them and they are fair game.
People who have made their stock and trade by the First Amendment now cry foul.
Not even in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous would they fall for this jive story. A good sponsor in A.A. would hold a recovering drunk’s feet to the fire and make them MAKE AN AMENDS for all of the horrible ways they treated people, ex-wife, children, family, friends.
“…Takng To The ‘church’ Exits?”
There is a blurring of the space between religious freedom and trynanical control, and 501(c)3 emergent church leaders are aparently in the perfect position to capitalize on that…
I agree with you in this post. The disqualification here is self-imposed.
I would add that a Christian ministry is not a ‘career’. It’s more of what used to be called a calling, not something you go into for promotion, advancement, the money, or status.
“Religious Change Means Gain?”
Advantaging monetary gain under the guise of newfangled religious instruction…
It is amazing what new age thinking, incense, and a few candles can accomplish…
Trying to catch da wind?
Are Julie and Brian meeting? Any update?
God God people! Put down your opinions, meddling and gossip and go back to your own lives!