Jean Vanier, Celebrity Leader of L’Arche, Abused Women By Using Creepy, Mystical Nonsense

The Sandy Great Bahama Bank as viewed from space-NASA

“Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also harder to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say ‘My tooth is aching’ than to say ‘My heart is broken.’” CS Lewis


The story of Jean Vanier’s abuse is a hard one for me to write. One of my daughters and I have long been involved in ministry to those with intellectual differences. For example, we have helped with Tim Tebow’s Night to Shine which is a prom for those who not able to attend proms due to their disabilities. I had a ball dancing with one young man in a wheelchair, spinning him around as we both laughed. My daughter has spent summers helping at Joni and Friends Special Needs Camp.

My local grocery store chain hires those with disabilities. I have known one young man for 10 years. He is incredible and manages the program to bring groceries from home shopping to the cars. He has shared with me, over the years, bits and pieces of his life. I encourage him since I truly believe the home shopping program is handled so well due to his dedication to his job. I believe, along with Nouwen, that each of us is blessed more by the disabled than they are by us.

L’Arche and Henri Nouwen:

L’Arche defines itself as a community:

We create communities with a culture of shared lives between people with and without intellectual disabilities, from which we can work together to build a more human society.

It is a miraculous group of communities in which those with and without intellectual disabilities live with one another, not as caretakers an clients but as equals in forming and running their community.

At L’Arche we celebrate people with intellectual disabilities and build circles of support around them. We go beyond supporting people’s basic needs. It is this focus on building relationships and cultivating a sense of belonging that makes us different.

L’Arche communities hold in balance four elements: service, community, spirituality and outreach. Experience has shown us that each element has an important role to play.

L’Arche communities around the world share this common philosophy and approach while reflecting and celebrating the ethnic, cultural and religious composition of the areas in which they exist.

I first heard about these communities when I was reading through the works of Henri Nouwen.

Nouwen’s spirituality was greatly influenced by his friendship with Jean Vanier. The two men met while Nouwen was teaching at Harvard.[5] Vanier sensed how lost Nouwen was feeling and invited him to visit Trosly-Breuil.[1]:105Nouwen visited Vanier at the French community, the first in the L’Arche network, twice before returning in 1985 for a nine-month residency.[19] The stay helped Nouwen find a purpose that had been missing. As Robert A. Jonas explains: “Henri had always wondered what a Eucharistically centered community would be like, and now he had found one at L’Arche.”[20] :l

During Nouwen’s time in France he traveled to Toronto, Ontario, to officiate at a wedding and sought permission to stay for a week at L’Arche Daybreak in Richmond Hill. While there a core member named Raymond was hit by a car and left in critical condition.[21] Nouwen provided spiritual guidance to the community and Raymond’s family, ultimately helping to reconcile the community and the family, who partially blamed Daybreak for Raymond’s injuries. Nouwen’s intervention had such an impact that the Daybreak members asked him to serve as their pastor.[1][22] Nouwen accepted and moved in the fall of 1986 to L’Arche Daybreak, where he would spend the last ten years of his life.[6]

While at Daybreak Nouwen was paired with Adam Arnett, a core member at L’Arche Daybreak with profound developmental disabilities.”It is I, not Adam, who gets the main benefit from our friendship,” Nouwen insisted.[23] Nouwen wrote about his relationship with Arnett in a book entitled Adam: God’s Beloved.[24]

I read his book, Adam, God’s Beloved, and was deeply moved. Nouwen ever took Adam with him when he was invited to speak. Also, if you haven’t read Nouwen’s The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming, you are missing one of the most profound books written on this beloved Biblical story.

So my connection to this disturbing story involving Jean Vanier and Father Thomas Philipe came through my admiration of Nouwen. Thankfully, it does not appear that Nouwen ever broke his vows and may not have known about the abuse.

Jean Vanier’s  many accomplishments and death in 2019

Jean Vanier-Wikipedia

When Vanier died, he was universally admired for his lifelong work, caring for those on the margins. He wrote numerous books and received impressive honors. According to Wikipedia

Jean Vanier CC GOQ (September 10, 1928 – May 7, 2019) was a Canadian Catholic philosopher and theologian. In 1964, he founded L’Arche, an international federation of communities spread over 37 countries for people with developmental disabilities and those who assist them. In 1971, he co-founded Faith and Light with Marie-Hélène Mathieu, which also works for people with developmental disabilities, their families, and friends in over 80 countries. He continued to live as a member of the original L’Arche community in Trosly-Breuil, France, until his death.

Over the years he wrote 30 books on religion, disability, normality, success, and tolerance.[1] Among the honours he received were the Companion of the Order of Canada (1986),[2] Grand Officer of the National Order of Quebec (1992),[3] French Legion of Honour (2003), Community of Christ International Peace Award (2003), the Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award(2013), and the Templeton Prize (2015).

Here is one obituary which was written after his death Jean Vanier, Savior of People on the Margins, Dies at 90.

The turning point in his life came in 1963, with his first visit to an institution for people with intellectual disabilities. He was so moved by their pleas for help that he bought a house and invited two male residents to live with him. It was the beginning of L’Arche. He helped found a similar group, Faith and Light, a few years later.

Today L’Arche, rooted in the Roman Catholic Church, has 154 communities in 38 countries; Faith and Light has 1,500 communities in 83 countries. Through both organizations, people with and without intellectual disabilities live together in a community where they can feel they belong. His work served as a model for several other organizations.
Rev James Martin, the editor of the Catholic magazine, America, said to the NYT:

Of all the people in our time who minister to people on the margins, I would say he and Mother Teresa were the avatars for Catholics,” Father Martin said. “Jean Vanier showed us the great strength of tenderness and vulnerability and weakness, which is Christ’s message.”

The “mystical” and clandestine abuse of women by Jean Vanier and Fr. Thomas Phillipe:

However, just like Ravi Zacharias, Vanier was hiding a dark secret. According to the NYT Founder of French Charity Is Accused of Pattern of Abuse:

The French-based charity, L’Arche International, revealed that its founder, Jean Vanier, had engaged in “manipulative sexual relationships” with women from 1970 to 2005.

’Arche’s statement said Mr. Vanier had been a member of a small clandestine group that included Father Philippe and some women, and that he had adopted some of the “deviant theories and practices” of the priest, who died in 1993.

In 2/2020 L’Arche Canada released a letter outlining Varnier’s sexual activities.

First, let me stress, that it appears that none of the intellectually disabled were abused. However, 6 women were abused in coercive relationships over long periods of time.This excellent report left nothing to the imagination. They first addressed the abuses of Varnier’s spiritual mention, Fr. Thomas Philippe. I think readers might find it interesting that Philippe claims he was seeking a mystical experience.

In 2014, the first allegations of sexual abuse by Father Thomas Philippe dating back to the founding of L’Arche until the end of his life, were sent to the leaders of L’Arche International. (Thomas Philippe died in 1993). At the request of the L’Arche international leaders at that time, Monseigneur d’Ornellas commissioned a canonical inquiry into these allegations in late 2014. The inquiry listened to victims of Father Philippe and concluded that the allegations were substantiated. In 2015 the canonical inquiry made the following conclusion:

“These consistent and sincere testimonies show that Father Thomas Philippe had sexual relations with women of legal age, through which he said he was seeking and communicating a mystical experience; however, they are very serious at odds with the religious vows he had taken and with the discipline and morals taught by the Church; they demonstrate a psychological and spiritual hold on these women from whom he demanded silence, because according to him this corresponded to ” special graces ” that no one could understand.”1

The letter now addresses allegations about Vanier’s behavior.

…The issue was raised directly with Jean Vanier by the L’Arche International leaders, resulting in public statements made by Jean Vanier in May 2015 and October 2016 when he essentially stated he was not aware of Father Thomas Philippe’s behavior.

In 2016, L’Arche leaders received an allegation from a woman who questioned Jean Vanier’s behavior towards here in the 1970s. This allegation was thoroughly investigated. While Vanier acknowledged the relationship, he stated that he believed the relationship to have been “reciprocal”.

Then, in March 2019 towards the end of Jean Vanier’s life, L’Arche International received another similar allegation.

At this point, L’Arche began an independent investigation.

GCPS Consulting, a UK-based group with expertise in the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse (PSEA), was selected for this work for their experience in such investigations and policy development with major international non-governmental organizations. GCPS was engaged in April 2019. Director Paul Nolan, and Senior Associate Ester Dross, who conducted this work.

In addition, L’Arche International established an Independent Oversight Committee and asked two people who had previously held senior positions in public administration in France to review the integrity and reliability of the investigation process and its findings. They concurred with the findings on February 11, 2020 and consider the conclusions of the investigation to be well-founded.

I am quite impressed with the investigation which appeared to demonstrate an understanding of a power differential between a priest and a church member.

Jean Vanier, as with Father Thomas Philippe, crossed boundaries which are expected and necessary when people are in a relationship of trust, for example being spiritually accompanied by either a priest or a person of authority.
• Jean Vanier had relationships with women, some of which were inappropriate at least and were formed under conditions of psychological hold.
• For some of the women, these relationships were experienced as coercive and non-consensual in nature.
• All of the women described how the behavior had a subsequent long-lasting, negative impact on their personal lives and inter-personal and/or spousal relationships.
• Most of the women have received psychosocial support for years to overcome the consequences of the abuse they described.

Here are some quotes from the women who were molested.

  • In 19XX, when in Trosly, I was very upset (about a personal issue). I was very upset and very vulnerable. (……) He told me to come late (for spiritual direction). We prayed, I got an invitation to meet him in (xxxx). It was very intimate, he did everything except intercourse. (….)
  • I was like frozen, I realised that Jean Vanier was adored by hundreds of people, like a living Saint, that he talked about how he helped victims of sexual abuse, it appeared like a camouflage and I found it difficult to raise the issue.
  • He said: “This is not us, this is Mary and Jesus. You are chosen, you are special, this is secret.”
  • In 19XX, (….) I decided to go and see Father Thomas to seek his advice. I wanted to talk about (….) our secret with Jean Vanier.(…) He told me to come and see him at 22h00. I knocked at the door. There was a curtain, and he sat on the bed. Before I could start talking about Jean Vanier, it started with him, the same as with Jean Vanier. He was not tender like Jean Vanier. More brutal, no intercourse, same words to say that I am special and that all this is about Jesus and Mary.
  • When I expressed my astonishment saying (…) how could I manifest my love to Jesus and to him, he replied: “But Jesus and myself, this is not two, but we are one. (…) It is Jesus who loves you through me.”

The report discussed a close bond that was formed between Vanier and Philippe. However, women began to come forward regarding Philippe. His mystical coercion was quite disturbing.

The Dominican archives contain the statements of the two victims of Father Thomas Philippe who sounded the alarm. It describes the behavior of Father Thomas Philippe but also his justification for his behavior:

Then he began theories, to try to convince me, […]: the lost woman of Hosea, the sacrifice of Abraham, the glorious mysteries, the transcendence of the prophetic mission (of his mission) regarding the norms of morality. He asked me, most insistently, to bind myself to him by an act of absolute faith in this mission and in himself. I replied that I could only make an act of faith in God alone, and trust in creatures only insofar as they were God’s instrument for me […]. He explained to me that it was not for me to make this discrimination, that he was an instrument of God, and therefore at present and directly moved by God […].

He said that I lacked strength, that I had to get used to it gradually, that all this was a great honour to Our Lord and to the Blessed Virgin, because the sexual organs were the symbol of the greatest love, much more than the Sacred Heart -. And I said, “but that’s blasphemy! “Then he took up his theories again, saying that when one arrives at perfect love, everything is lawful, for there is no more sin5

Philippe was convicted due to his actions towards the woman as well as his mystical beliefs that such actions were Biblically warranted.

The punishment of deposition is one of the most severe penalties provided for in canon law (1917). It deprived Father Thomas Philippe of his capacity to carry out any public or private ministry: celebration of the sacraments, spiritual direction, preaching, etc.

Jean Vanier and the women, along with Fr. Philippe’s *advice.*

In all the letters kept by Jean Vanier, a series of indicators lead us to believe that he shared sexual practices similar to those of Father Thomas Philippe with several women, none of whom seem to have declared themselves as victims. Some of them he met at l’Eau Vive, others later.

In these letters addressed to him by these women, the interplay between a “love” dimension, “mystical” remarks and the evocation of physical contact, is in line with what is known about the sexual theories and practices of Father Thomas Philippe and those of Jean Vanier revealed by the allegations recently brought to the attention of the inquiry.

Some letters from Father Thomas Philippe sent him advice on precautionary measures and rules of conduct:

For XX be very careful. You can sometimes pray with her, if it is very prudent; but externally the minimum, no more than St John at the Last Supper and in a rather discreet way. I feel that the Blessed Virgin asks us to be very careful about this point. Rely on obedience. Even if XX […] and you are very much in a hurry internally, you must remain below this limit rather than go beyond it… Mary may want to test your obedience12

…Because Jean Vanier did not denounce the theories and practices of Father Thomas Philippe of which Jean Vanier was personally aware as early as the 1950s, it was possible, for Father Thomas Philippe to continue his sexual abuse of women in L’Arche and it allowed Father Thomas Philippe to expand his spiritual influence on founders and members of other communities.

So, in essence, Vanier covered up for Philippewhile continuing his own despicable actions.

The founder is not the community.

Here is a thought from The Conversation.  I once thought Catholic humanist Jean Vanier a hero. Now I’m wrestling with his coercive legacy

The founder is not the community

The legacy of Jean Vanier will be forever compromised due to the nature and gravity of his actions.

This is not to say that the work of L’Arche is compromised. L’Arche consists of countless decent persons of goodwill whose work conforms to a vision that its founder could never quite attain.

Distinctions are important in theology as in life. The distinction to be made here is not between the sin and the sinner, for they are interdependent. The only distinction to be made is between the founder and the community that he helped found. There is one we must stand against and another we must stand behind.

The best insight came from reporter Jamie Munson of the National Catholic Reporter and it’s a lesson for all of us.

From the National Catholic Reporter by Jamie Manson, No, Jean Vanier is not ‘like all of us’

As I watched people grapple with this dark side of Vanier, I saw more than one person suggest that Vanier was like all of us, a mix of good and evil. That sentiment, I think, must be rejected. Most of us do not act the way Vanier did, abusing his spiritual power, twisting theology to force women into ritualistic sexual abuse, and lying to protect himself and his nefarious spiritual father.

What we should do instead is contemplate the mystery of how such an extraordinary movement like L’Arche could grow out of such unscrupulous and, frankly, creepy beginnings.

Be careful of over-identifying charismatic leaders with the movements they create. Let’s leave it with this!

Perhaps this moment invites us to be careful of over-identifying charismatic leaders with the movements they create. If L’Arche is as good and holy as many say it is, it is because of the courage of leaders like Tina Bovermann and the goodness and holiness of the countless lay people who built the 154 L’Arche communities in 38 countries.

 


Comments

Jean Vanier, Celebrity Leader of L’Arche, Abused Women By Using Creepy, Mystical Nonsense — 76 Comments

  1. I think this is an accurate portrayal of what spiritual abuse is: using someone’s most deeply held spiritual beliefs to abuse him or her.

    I find it unsettling that Varnier and his mentor used the relationship between Mary and Christ in their manipulation of their victims. In a relationship that is clearly portrayed in scripture as chaste, they read a sexual relationship. I have heard similar stories of a person using this same relationship, between Mary and Christ, to manipulate a victim into coercive sexual abuse. I think what makes it so disturbing is that something so good, Mary’s devotion to Christ, that God has used to heal and reorient people’s lives, was used instead for such evil purposes.

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  2. Awareness is power. Thx again, Dee, for outstanding work here. At Vanier’s passing, I learned of his work, and then of his evil. It’s great that you point out the good will of good people that have nothing to do with the evil of these two leaders.

    HereIStand: not sure how many more of these types of stories I can take

    Another POV: I’ll read as many stories as it takes to sharpen vision to get the picture of what MAY go on beneath the surface and always question, “Is the benevolence or shiny picture being used as cover for evil?”

    Jesus spoke of wolves in sheep’s clothing. That costume closet is enormous, with constant reinvention.

    The history of helping society’s disenfranchised while some “helpers” violate the vulnerable is long. Oversight can prevent. Independent investigations render evidence to stop, prosecute, incarcerate, & to provide reparation.

    Awareness can also prevent & halt these atrocities. TWW provides awareness. God bless.

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  3. Yuck. Ugh. Blecccch.

    I’m not sure I can separate L’Arche from Vanier and Philippe. I kind of think L’ Arche should be re-founded with a leader of unimpeachable integrity. Maybe re-evaluated from the ground up. Maybe a whole new enrity. Can a bad tree bear good fruit?

    It reminds me of the Legionaries of Christ. Their founder was a monster. Members who have remained — following exposure of the corruption — often say, “We have to recover the order’s charism.” Um, sorry, guys, but your order *has* no charism. The founder was a demonic pervert, and everything he touched, he poisoned. That’s not a charism.

    Maybe it’s different with L’Arche. But my gut says, “Raze it to the ground and sow the field with salt.” Then anyone who truly cares about the developmentally disabled can start anew with a brand-new organization free from all residual traces of Vanier’s and Philippe’s influence.

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  4. Kara: he was so fixated on him and his “healthy touch” ideas

    So Vanier, in addition to violating women himself, role-modeled this evil and passed it along to other predators, who in turn, violated women. This is extremely evil.

    Thanks for sharing, so sorry for what was done to you, and bless you. Appreciate your voice, bearing witness, and your courage, speaking up about something so devastating to experience.

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  5. While I’ve known about this for awhile now it’s still the one that hurts the most.

    I work with people with disabilities. I grew up with family working with people with disabilities and Jean Vanier may not have been a common name in evangelical circles he was to us. This abuse was gross and to the point I’ve had to rethink some of what he taught.

    That said, yes — we have much to learn from people with disabilities. Not in the Oscar-bait movie sort of way, but rather in simply living and getting to know people. Even on a personal level I’ve learned so much — a friend with Down Syndrome taught me all about Prince’s music for example! Another person and his wife (who also has some disabilities) has shown me his endless talents on cooking. Others have an understanding of grace and patience we can only begin to grasp. I’m convinced when we serve and live with those with disabilities we are with those who are the greatest in God’s kingdom.

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  6. HereIStand: I’m not sure how many more of these types of stories I can take.

    I come away from these stories (I’d heard about the Philippe/Vanier issue last year) wondering if anyone can be trusted. Sexual abuse is just one facet of the general abuse of power and authority out there. That said, there were several times while reading this article where I just wanted to hurl my wireless mouse at the wall out of anger and frustration.

    Sexual abuse gets the headlines, and can be shattering, and I DO NOT want to minimize it, but I’m telling you, abuse of power is across the board. Just to give an example: Over the weekend, some people who had been with Hillsong shared on Twitter about their experiences. One woman had babysat for the family of the Dallas Hillsong pastors (now moving on to be elite real estate agents in Florida) and as payment she got a partially used gift card to a men’s clothing store that had slightly over $15 on it. That’s abuse of power as well.

    Or just to give another example that is just rampant throughout the Evangelical Industrial Complex, and that is “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” People writing testimonials and forwards for others in their circle, promoting their books to their groups as the next best thing to sliced bread in “gospelly” knowledge, etc. That’s also an abuse of power and authority, and it happens EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.

    Blergh, can anyone be trusted?

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  7. At one time, my church was interested in founding a L’Arche (the ark) community, and we spent many happy hours as guests of several already established houses. A counselor at a community-based group home, I was amazed at the difference. There was an enveloping sense of mission *shared* by staff and its members. Because of NIMBY issues, it took longer than it should have, but we partnered with two other churches and eventually – 10 years later – established a community which has spawned several others. Anselm would have a different assessment regarding a “mixture of good and evil.” He would identify the facade of righteousness as part of the evil itself. It is good that the organization is not tied to the founder’s name.

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  8. Nouwen wrote an introduction to Fr Philippe’s book, “The Contemplative Life” (1990) ,as did Vanier.
    “When I left him, he said, ‘if you wake up in the middle of the night and your anguish overwhelms you, think of me.” He did not say, “Think of God” or “Think of Jesus.” He said “Think of me.” He said it with such gentleness and compassion, so free from any self-preoccupation or self- importance, that I realized that he offered himself as the safe way to the healing presence of Jesus. Père Thomas Philippe knew more, much more, about suffering than I did, and he had lived it through in faith. That was the source of his authority; it was also the source of his compassion.
    After this profound experience, I realized that it is rather unimportant to know much about Père Thomas’s personal past.”
    What a pity he didn’t look into it.

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  9. “just like Ravi Zacharias, Vanier was hiding a dark secret”

    I can’t believe that either RZ or Vanier were hiding in plain sight. Somebody knew about their gross sins. There were decades of abuse … and someone within their circle surely knew: family, friends, church elders, ministry peers, ministry board members. Somebody knew and will be judged for enabling them.

    “This is not us, this is Mary and Jesus. You are chosen, you are special, this is secret.”

    Some places in Hell must surely be hotter than others.

    “Vanier covered up for Philippe while continuing his own despicable actions”

    I suspect this go on in ministry/elder boards across the globe … folks don’t challenge the leader, because he is not sinning any worse than them. “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17).

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  10. They first addressed the abuses of Varnier’s spiritual mention, Fr. Thomas Philippe. I think readers might find it interesting that Philippe claims he was seeking a mystical experience.

    Sex as Mystical/Religious Experience.
    The Baalim and Asherim would be proud.

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  11. Paul K: I think he meant “Mary” from the family of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.

    Perhaps, but I’m not convinced. This article in America also does not stipulate that Vanier was talking about Mary of Bethany, or Mary Magdalene. John J. Conley, S.J. writes, “The manipulation of spiritual vulnerability, even of the disciple’s love of Jesus and Mary, as a tool for sexual conquest lies at the center of Vanier’s assault against these women.”

    https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2020/03/13/my-conversations-jean-vanier-raised-many-questions-i-have-no-answers

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  12. He said that I lacked strength, that I had to get used to it gradually, that all this was a great honour to Our Lord and to the Blessed Virgin, because the sexual organs were the symbol of the greatest love, much more than the Sacred Heart

    To non-Catholics, “the Sacred Heart” is a reference to a specific devotion to Christ.
    He was saying that (his) sexual organs were at least on an equal to Christ.
    That his genitalia was God.
    Cult of Priapus (Roman god of the male erection).

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  13. readingalong: My other concern with this situation is: Do we really know that no disabled persons were abused, along with the women mentioned above?

    That thought had crossed my mind too….and I have also wondered if (suspected?) there are other people who are part of the L’Arche communities who are abusers and / or victims of abuse. (Consider the incidents from long term care facilities, group homes, rehabilitation centres, etc….)

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  14. The punishment of deposition is one of the most severe penalties provided for in canon law (1917). It deprived Father Thomas Philippe of his capacity to carry out any public or private ministry: celebration of the sacraments, spiritual direction, preaching, etc.

    LAITIZED. Commonly called “defrocking”.
    Forbidden to function as a priest or clergyman in any way whatsoever.

    This is the closest thing you can get to being fired as a priest. In Catholic tradition, once Ordained to Holy Orders (clergy), you can never be completely Un-ordained. Once Done, it cannot be Undone. Deposition/Laitization is as close as you can come.

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  15. Friend:
    This reported quote from Vanier stands out:

    He said: “This is not us, this is Mary and Jesus. You are chosen, you are special, this is secret.”

    Mary and Jesus were mother and son. That’s some evil, twisted manipulation on top of the fake holiness and demand for secrecy.

    I was assuming he meant Jesus and Mary Magdalene, which would be yucky enough.

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  16. As I watched people grapple with this dark side of Vanier, I saw more than one person suggest that Vanier was like all of us, a mix of good and evil. That sentiment, I think, must be rejected.

    “That sentiment” is the Sin-Levelling you find in so many Defenders of Pastor Apostle Sexual Predator from the pulpit and spamming this blog’s comment threads.

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  17. Catholic Gate-Crasher: It reminds me of the Legionaries of Christ. Their founder was a monster. Members who have remained — following exposure of the corruption — often say, “We have to recover the order’s charism.” Um, sorry, guys, but your order *has* no charism.

    Isn’t that the same thing Defenders of the Faith(TM) say about Ravi Z, JMac of Chicago, Bill Got Hard, Deep Throat Driscoll, etc when they get exposed and have to bug out?

    Maybe it’s different with L’Arche. But my gut says, “Raze it to the ground and sow the field with salt.”

    Surface or shallow subsurface burst, with casing salted with Cobalt.

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  18. Ruth Tucker,

    I do not want take away any complements about Dee’s effort or “stamina”, but human history, and the BIBLE is full of really depraved stuff… in fact, the “stuff” that has been done “in the name of Christ” over the last 2,000 years is HORRIBLE!!
    So, in reality, TWW is just filling a roll that is current sorely needed, and has ALWAYS been needed…. humans can and will “go bad”, and checks and balances are needed. In fact, I could argue that the bad behavior, under the guise of religion is the worst…. using humankind desire for truth and noble causes to cover ones particular depravity..

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  19. Headless Unicorn Guy,

    Not disputing, just adding, for me it is “creepy mystical nonsense” (nice string of words Dee). Those book covers are about him, the text is disrespectfully patronising. I got the impression their houses in the UK (I looked into them when I was still “mobile”) were too fixated on the bullshit and the image.

    Headless Unicorn Guy,

    Girardian replication of the victim mentality.

    Friend,

    To give way in front of the (sole) “Other” means to take the last place (of two).

    Max: Somebody knew

    Lowlandseer,

    Nouwen’s drawing attention TO Phillippe’s past was his shot across the bows. When Nouwen goes down (and millions of people get the creeps from him), Phillippe goes down with him.

    Lowlandseer,

    The other thing from this excerpt is that like Todd Wagner, Phillippe (neither faintly resembling St Paul) puts himself in God’s place.

    Kara,

    I know this is different to some “degree” but this reminds me of:

    ( i ) a creepy man who always blocked the door of a Vineyard church and did horrible things to everybody’s hands. I spoke about him to others for years. It was only after I had dropped out someone mentioned to me they had had other complaints. At “welcoming” I need the message “we have got space for you” not the reverse.

    ( ii ) Selwyn Hughes promoted putting arms round people when “counselling”. At the time he was touted as one of the more straight and sober would you believe it. (He is also a spiritual gift rationer.)

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  20. Headless Unicorn Guy,

    This is the non-existent “suffering” for which Nouwen was mocking Phillippe for making such great play of. Trouble is, some people probably took it literally, much the better for Nouwen’s coffers. Just like the way the clique around Savile or Murphy-O’Connor used to exchange legpulls in front of children.

    researcher,

    Vanier “others” his clients. As if to “prove” he wouldn’t, well, you know. Seeing as the more subtle disabilities make us nearer his “class” (especially if we have “winsome” habits like staring in order to make sense of our surroundings) are all the more common population-wise, sadly well, you know.

    I’m now getting used to reading books as “statements” (or not). By contrast with Vanier, Guattari and Merleau-Ponty obviously sincerely see the “different” as perfectly well their equals.

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  21. There are lots of interesting posts around at the moment. From Warren talking about Driscoll’s church with no elders (maybe the only thing worse than an elder run church is one where there simply are no elders) to Julie Roys having multiple recent posts about people that have been covered here, like Falwell, White, Harvest and Willow Creek.

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  22. Jeffrey Chalmers: Wandering Eagle has a post about a LU law professor post/editorial, which basically states that LU Board is admitting it’s guilt by suing “Jr”…. a VERY damning post/editorial

    That.

    (Except the editorial is written by (to quote the op-ed): “a former English professor at Liberty University and two-time alumna of the school”.)

    I had read both Wandering Eagle’s post and the editorial he linked to early this morning….of all the damning points in the editorial, one of the things that really stood out for me was:

    Earlier that year, he [Jerry Falwell Jr] bragged in a university-wide convocation that when he got bored he liked to start Twitter fights (such as those he picked with politicians and Christian ministers, even faculty and Liberty parents).

    (Given all Jerry Falwell Jr,’s “extra-curricular” activities, where does he find the time to get bored…..)

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  23. Michael in UK,

    Well, in the 70s l had some dealings with L’arche and I’m sure our group met one of the Vaniers. My lasting impressions of the place were two – the atmosphere in the place was, to me, utterly false – dimmed lights or candles, everyone speaking in whispers – and , secondly, the agitation of those being cared for if the “rules” weren’t followed, particularly in their “shrine”. The whole experience was oppressive.
    And as for Nouwen, I find it remarkable that his admirers are adamant that he either never knew of any abuse or that he never broke his vows. (Who says? Only certain groups merit examination, it seems). His teaching was the usual eastern mystical nonsense. It was never about finding God through the Lord Jesus, always it was about finding god through someone (eg Adam) or something else. His universalism was clear and was eventually owned. I takes a special kind of narcissist to want an icon made of himself, leaning on the Saviour’s chest.
    Unfortunately the same stuff is being peddled in any number of “religious” organisations, and I include in that my Capuchin friends in Donegal whom I am longing to see.

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  24. researcher,

    Did I get it wrong, or Wondering Eagle w/r to writer of op-ed academic position???
    Yea, got that to…. bragging about inciting Twitter fights… and remember, as someone that can not hold to YEC, I could never teach at LU, yet it is fine for “Jr” to do all his “things”…
    And Evangelicals wonder why “Christianity” is having less influence on our culture??

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  25. Lowlandseer: I find it remarkable that his admirers are adamant that he either never knew of any abuse or that he never broke his vows. (Who says? Only certain groups merit examination, it seems).

    Given the existence of bloggers who are digging for the truth, I would imagine you question could be answered in the near future if it hasn’t already.

    Did you ever read The Prodigal or Adam? I found them thoughtful and touching.

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  26. Jeffrey Chalmers: Did I get it wrong, or Wondering Eagle w/r to writer of op-ed academic position???

    Wandering Eagle just wrote “A former Liberty University professor”….and I can understand how easy it is (for any number of reasons) to unconsciously add-in the word “law”.

    I cheated when I wrote my other comment. 🙂 I had Wandering Eagle’s post open on one tab and the op-ed open on another tab since I was planning on copying-and-pasting the bit about Jerry Fallwell’s bragging about liking to start Twitter fights.

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  27. dee,

    I’ve read a couple of blogs regarding him and he seems to have been a bit of an “icon” for particular groups. But his writings remind me of so many others promoting a rather shallow syncretistic spirituality. I doubt that “the big house people” (as they say in Ireland) will let his clay feet be exposed to the light.

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  28. dee: Did you ever read The Prodigal or Adam? I found them thoughtful and touching.

    Same here.
    Some of his writings & quotes are inspiring & channel another side to faith.
    However, I had heard of a bigger picture; comments here confirm. TWW commenters don’t hedge on truth.

    Oh the writers that don’t play well in living. Karl Barth, noted here at TWW, to my disappointment. Well-researched bios/docs can be a great disappointment. PBS Hemingway series.

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  29. Jeffrey Chalmers: Driscoll is in news, alone with a “police call”, according to Wondering/Wandering Eagle…

    Long story short, Driscoll learns his 17-year-old daughter has kissed a 15-year-old boy from church. Boy gets verbally punished by another adult at church, Driscoll tries to throw boy’s family out of church, orders boy to delete all emails and social media between him and girl, much bullying ensues. The boy’s family gets shunned, barred from church by security, and reported to the police.

    Now, in my day I’ve known some strict daddies, but have never seen reactions so angry, loud, over the top, psycho… I feel sorry for the boy and for the girl. If I had been one of these teens, I’d probably still cringe at the memory.

    https://wonderingeagle.wordpress.com/2021/04/28/a-family-is-allegedly-driven-from-mark-driscolls-the-trinity-church-in-scottsdale-arizona/#more-32322

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  30. Friend: Long story short, Driscoll learns his 17-year-old daughter has kissed a 15-year-old boy from church. Boy gets verbally punished by another adult at church, Driscoll tries to throw boy’s family out of church, orders boy to delete all emails and social media between him and girl, much bullying ensues. The boy’s family gets shunned, barred from church by security, and reported to the police.

    Demonstrating why readers of both tWW and Wondering Eagle never need to watch soap opera.

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  31. Friend: Driscoll learns his 17-year-old daughter has kissed a 15-year-old boy from church … much bullying ensues. The boy’s family gets shunned, barred from church by security, and reported to the police.

    Lord, I wonder what happened to his daughter?! Hope she hasn’t been reading Daddy’s porno “Real Marriage” book. Daddy has failed multiple times to set a fine outstanding example of a Christian … not to mention pastor.

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  32. Max: Lord, I wonder what happened to his daughter?!

    Eagle writes that Driscoll thinks young people should never date, but should make best friends and then marry. Fine if people want that, but many do not. And I’m thinking that this mentality is only compatible with marrying them off very young.

    Driscolls aside, I’ve known some parents who threatened to throw their kids out of the house, or beat them, or even end their kids’ lives, if X or Y happens. This is supposed to motivate kids to behave. Unfortunately, kids don’t know whether or not the threat is real. Terror is always damaging, and it does not reliably cause obedience. Sometimes it backfires. Sometimes it causes kids to do desperate things.

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  33. Friend: Driscoll thinks young people should never date

    And Dever thinks they should not be baptized before they are 18! The New Calvinists (or whatever Driscoll is ‘now’) are tough on young folks!

    “Terror is always damaging, and it does not reliably cause obedience. Sometimes it backfires. Sometimes it causes kids to do desperate things.”

    Sadly true. There are so many desperate kids in America for one reason or another. So many families are a mess. So many Daddies don’t carry that responsibility right, in love.

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  34. Friend: I’ve known some parents who threatened to throw their kids out of the house, or beat them, or even end their kids’ lives, if X or Y happens. This is supposed to motivate kids to behave. Unfortunately, kids don’t know whether or not the threat is real. Terror is always damaging, and it does not reliably cause obedience. Sometimes it backfires.

    Yes. With the caveat of my parents did far more right than they did wrong…

    Dad said I’d be on my own if I ever got pregnant out of wedlock. (Looking back, I understand and empathize with why he made the threat. But can also acknowledge there were better ways to communicate the seriousness of natural consequences.) Never did get pregnant out of wedlock, but this also erased a measure of my trust in our relationship.

    Fast forward about 10 years, and the (unbeknownst to the rest of us) son my dad’s mother had given up for adoption when she got pregnant and abandoned by her boyfriend at age 19 made contact with the family.

    Given that he is very close to his mother, I wonder sometimes how my dad now feels about his old threat, especially knowing that HER mother practically disowned my grandma when she got pregnant at age 19. But, like I said, a measure of trust was erased by his old threat, and I still have worked up the courage to ask.

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  35. Ava Aaronson: inspiring & channel another side to faith

    HN’s writings speak for themselves (book by variable book) unless they are to be taken as posing. His being clergy was implied as selling point I suspect. As commercial cult to be bought into, it’s simply on a par with any other. And evidently he had bought into the Phillippe craze seriously.

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  36. Catholic Gate-Crasher,

    I tend to agree. Maybe not completely start again, but I would hope every inch of the organisation is scrutinised. Personally I would not trust such an organisation unless every single level and staff/ community member had been “weeded”, so to speak. We don’t yet know who else was aware of the abuse or shares the same dodgy philosophies which seek to justify abuse.

    That’s not to say that others are definitely aware and follow these practices; as Dee says I’m sure many are good people. But I think that’s the only way to be rid of the stench of the top men’s appalling behaviour and teaching.

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  37. Max,

    Absolutely, and I think the kind of teaching gi experienced in my former church makes 5is possible. The focus was constantly on what terrible sinners we are, how we should feel guilty all the time so that we can be thankful for Jesus’ salvation.

    The other part of the teaching is that “your heart is wicked and not to be trusted”, “lean not on your own understanding” and so on. In my view, yes, absolutely, these men and many like them have people around them who know what they’re doing. Maybe even parishioners or ministry participants who are aware, or who suspect. But because it is constantly drummed into us that our judgment is flawed, and that any decision we make is probably wrong, and that we shouldn’t gossip (and thus can’t discuss it to get another perspective), these people get away with their abuse.

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  38. Liz: it is constantly drummed into us that our judgment is flawed, and that any decision we make is probably wrong, and that we shouldn’t gossip (and thus can’t discuss it to get another perspective), these people get away with their abuse.

    So be a “Christian” and get in your zombie (mindless, voiceless) mode, while dumping your pocketbook into the Dear Leader’s collection. Cult. And while you’re at it, vote in criminals that destroy democracy, via this same fascism (not “socialism” or the Common Good with Rule of Law, for all).

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  39. Catholic Gate-Crasher: Predators always target the most vulnerable, right?

    Yes, and the vulnerable don’t always know they appear vulnerable. That is probably a blind spot among kids and some adults who have had a hard life.

    Parents can also signal a child’s vulnerability to a predator by talking about problems and hardships, or striving to please the predator. Then the kid is both set up for victimization and completely unsuspecting.

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  40. Wild Honey: … I’d be on my own if I ever got pregnant out of wedlock.

    Without any reference to your parents…

    Based only on my own observations, girls seem to hear these threats more than boys: the parent(s) will throw daughter out, or beat her, or worse. Parents do use corporal punishment on both girls and boys, but I’m wondering if girls are on the receiving end of more verbal threats.

    I was repeatedly threatened by an abusive elder, although not regarding pregnancy; this just happened when the elder got angry and didn’t want me to be alive anymore. Although the threats traumatized me, I honestly thought every kid got a few death threats per year. Hooboy, looking back, I’m grateful to be alive, and amazed that I found ways to recover and thrive.

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  41. The Driscolls ap•par•ent•ly have planned to send their daughter to a major university. It may be a sure bet that…that is where their future thoughts are. Intense relationships at a young and tender age tend to disrupt those type of further educational plans. So would a possible unplanned prego situation with an underage male individual. The press would have a field day?

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  42. C J Mahaney, with his heart filled with pride, and his mind darkened bu foolishness, weaponizes his idea of Christianity, with the tools of sin sniffing and guilt. He taught his parishioners to NOT trust themselves. He then taught them to be his extended eyes and ears. Didn’t take long for this environment to create information gathers. A elite group of these individuals was formed. Every parishioner was examined and watched by their respective mentor. Weekly care groups were made with a strobe pecking order, mandatory. Every one knew who was in and who was out. And no one wanted to be on the outside. Soon the most intimate personal parishioners lives details were known, catalogued and archived for future use. This religious group closed ranks, leaving extended family and former friends on the OUTSIDE. Various credentialed medical doctors and lawyers were shunned. In-house professionals were used word of mouth. Quietly only the approved would render services. This group steadily considered internals only. All problems were considered and addressed by assigned leader types. Absolutely no one disagreed or challenged their Apostles or assigned leaders without serious penalty. The list goes on. You get the drift. After many incorporated name changes, this group became known as sov•er•eign Grace Churches. Their pack mentality MAY continue to this day… Sanitized histories of this questionable group abound on the internet. Please Beware. The life you save may be your own.

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  43. Sòpwyth: The Driscolls ap•par•ent•ly have planned to send their daughter to a major university. It may be a sure bet that…that is where their future thoughts are. Intense relationships at a young and tender age tend to disrupt those type of further educational plans.

    [waves hand] Here to point out that kids with high school boyfriends and girlfriends go to college ALL THE TIME.

    And also that major universities have both male and female students nowadays.

    Most parents who plan to send their kids to a major university (or even a minor college) see the wisdom of NOT sheltering them to a point of cutting off contact with someone who kissed them. It makes far more sense to give kids some life experience to prepare them to live away from home. Lots of kids have an after-school job or summer job. Many are licensed to drive. Parents introduce more privileges and responsibilities.

    I was a pretty well-behaved college freshman, but I was also harmlessly bonkers. My best friend and I “adopted” a fried squid from the dining hall as a pet. It had a name and a place to sleep,* and we talked to it. I don’t think I would have done this at home, where there was an actual dog… 🙂

    *It slept most of the time.

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  44. Friend: Most parents who plan to send their kids to a major university (or even a minor college) see the wisdom of NOT sheltering them to a point of cutting off contact with someone who kissed them.

    But when they’re a piece of property that you can trade for your benefit (like trading Sansa Stark to the Boltons for The North or Cersei Lannister to the Baratheons for the Iron Throne) ONLY if they are Unspoiled….

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