When Accusations of Gossip Become Gag Orders

The Puritan’s idea of hell is a place where everybody has to mind his own business. Wendell Phillips, attributed


Today I attended the funeral of a friend who served on a community board with me. He was an incredibly kind and faithful man who loved his job as an orthodontist. His office was a kid’s dream. Popcorn, movies, and all sort of antics. He will be missed by many. So, given my day was filled up with a funeral and helping my mom, I am presenting a post I wrote in 2013 on the subject of gossip. 9 years ago!


George Orwell got it right in Nineteen Eighty Four. Words can be manipulated to mean whatever we want them to mean. Take a look at a few examples from the book.

As the government, the Party controls the population with four ministries:

the Ministry of Peace (Minipax), which deals with war,
the Ministry of Plenty (Miniplenty), which deals with economic affairs (rationing and starvation),
the Ministry of Love (Miniluv), which deals with law and order (torture),
the Ministry of Truth (Minitrue), which deals with propaganda (news, entertainment, education and art)

I always find it amusing when someone attempts to define a secondary issue by starting with the words “The Bible says…” Everyone who holds to a conviction, be it the age of the earth, election, the role of women, forms of church discipline, etc., will spout their “proof texts” and appear startled when another person does not see the obvious biblical logic of their argument. That is why there are a gazillion denominations, and Christianity is divided between Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox expressions. Every last one of them is absolutely convinced they have the truth and that everyone else is just plain illogical.

Gossip and slander are often used interchangeably.

A number of months ago, I did a post on the use of the word slander in the Bible called Slander or an Inconvenient Truth. In the post, we explored the Bible verses surrounding slander to prove a point.

It is vital to the discussion to understand that slander is an act of making a false statement in order to damage another’s reputation, etc. It is a big fat lie, and the person making it knows it, just as Satan knows it.

Therefore, the expression of a legitimate concern, based on a number of reports, is not slander but a form of Christian love. It is meant to protect the church from serious error; to help those who are being hurt by the church; to prevent harm to others in the church; and to exhort those in leadership to follow the example of Jesus.

Slander is a lie, and the person making a claim knows that it is a lie. Unfortunately, many use the word to mean anything negative about an individual. What is interesting is that word “gossip” often appears in the same list of sins as slander. 2 Corinthians 12:20

 For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip,arrogance and disorder.

What I found even more fascinating is that, when I plugged in the word “gossip” into word search sites, I found the majority which listed verses that had the word “slander” even without the word “gossip” being mentioned( here and here.) I found it interesting when Justin Taylor wrote How to Stop Church Killing Gossip. He does not use the Bible to prove his chosen definition of gossip, which is:

Gossip involves saying behind a person’s back what you would never say to his or her face.

When I researched the word gossip, I found a number of business and psychology websites that deal with gossip in the workplace and in any other venue in which people gather. It is obvious that gossip is of interest to Christians and non-Christians alike. In general, it is considered a net negative.

Gossip has been around since the dawn of man. In a Forbes article, we learn some of the history of gossip.

Talking trash is hardly a modern invention. It’s been around for ages, dating back to caveman days, when sharing information about others (Is he faithful? Is she a hard worker?) contributed to basic survival.

In ancient Egypt a hieroglyph from 1550 B.C. detailed the spread of gossip and suggested ways to curtail it. The Romans also partook: In Scorpion Tongues: The Irresistible History of Gossip in American Politics, Gail Collins notes that Mark Antony spread word that Caesar Augustus assumed the throne by bedding Julius Caesar.

Definitions for gossip include:

  • a person who habitually reveals personal or sensational facts about others
  • rumor or report of an intimate nature (Merriam Webster)

A number of other sources connect gossip with slander. (Wikipedia) I believe that this connection is key.

Gossip is idle talk or rumor, especially about personal or private affairs of others. It is one of the oldest and most common means of sharing facts, views and slander. This term is used pejoratively by its reputation for the introduction of errors and variations into the information transmitted, and it also describes idle chat, a rumor of personal, or trivial nature.

When is gossip bad? 

It is obviously bad when it is slander which means a false tale that is intended to hurt another. However, sometimes the intent is good, but the results are bad. This occurs when confidence is shared with the expectation that it will be kept. Knowing the rules of the game when one is talking confidentially is vital, as I learned the hard way.

True story:

Years ago, I was in a Bible study with a family whose husband had done something very hurtful to his wife. In fact, it was grounds for a divorce and that was being discussed. We all were trying to support the entire family but especially the wife. Several Bible studies were filled up trying to give her support and letting her vent. The day before the third meeting, another neighbor was joining the study. Due to the anticipated nature of the discussion, I decided to inform this person of the issue so that she would be prepared. I told her of the confidential nature of the problem and assumed all would be well since I had known her for years.

Hours before the study, the woman who was so hurt called me, crying hysterically. That neighbor had decided to inform a few other neighbors of the issue and now it was all in the open. I tried to explain my reasoning to her but to no avail. She told me that I had no right to say anything and that she had planned on not discussing the matter that evening. She was right. I apologized.  Lesson learned. Even good intent can sometimes lead to inadvertent pain. That was one incident that I should have discussed with the hurt wife before I discussed it with anyone else, even a prospective member of the group.

The key may be found in the public nature of the person or organization.

We are a culture of gossips. People Magazine, Perez Hilton, the supermarket tabloids, etc., are replete with stories and rumors of public figures. You can expect the public to focus on you when you are a public figure. You trade your private life for the public arena. Therefore, you open yourself up to examination and critique.

The law recognizes deliberate slander, which is a lie with the intent to harm another person. You, as the critic, can say what you believe to be true. For example, many still think that Casey Anthony is guilty of her daughter’s death even though she is innocent in the eyes of the law. Many talking heads have stated their beliefs on this matter. However, they can not say that Casey Anthony has murdered other people since no such evidence has been found or discussed.

Does the person or organization vie for attention in the media or community?

When people open themselves up to public recognition and/or declare themselves to be role models, they are open to critique. How many politicians espousing “family values” have been caught in embarrassing situations which appear to contradict their belief system? How many pastors have done the same thing?

Even more importantly, many of today’s Christian leaders and pastors often hold themselves up as examples for the Christian and secular communities. As I often say, they jump up and down, wanting to be recognized so that people will come to their church. They are handing out an invitation to the world to look at them quite closely. They should expect their lives to come under the microscope when they do so.

They cannot tell others to sacrifice and still hold onto their houses and private jet rides. They cannot condemn Jerry Sandusky and expect a pass on a poorly handled pedophile situation in their friend’s church.

One church leader put out a stupid tweet declaring that God caused a destructive hurricane because the USA was looking at ratifying gay marriage. Then he, along with his friends, got bent out of shape when people disagreed with his clear understanding of the Almighty. It was his fault. He went public. He gets to be criticized by the public. If you can’t take the heat of being under a microscope, then don’t run for Congress and don’t be a pastor. It is part of the territory. To claim that discussing a stupid tweet is gossip is ridiculous.

Accusations of gossip are often “gag orders.”

The vast majority of posts under a Google search for “gossip” comes from churches and are written by pastors or leaders condemning gossip. I found an excellent post by Joy at Joy in the Journey called Gossip, Accountability and the Myth of Pastor Infallibility commenting on gossip. She called the following pastor’s assumptions a “gag order.”

I  recently read a series on gossip written by the pastor of a local church. In it, he defines gossip as “secret slander. Or as one lexicon defines it, gossip is ‘providing harmful information about a person, often spoken in whispers or in low voice, with the implication that such information is not widely known and therefore should presumably be kept secret.’” In the series, he describes at length all the harm that can be done by engaging in this kind of talk, whether or not it’s the truth about a person, and he calls on people to Jesus Christ’s standard of perfection – only godly speech always.

Churches and leaders are still sinful.

Joy continues

We have to accept that people at all levels are going to screw up, mistreat one another, break laws, and then try to cover it up. What are we to do then? If we are forbidden from ever discussing issues with anyone except the person involved, how can we hold one another accountable? How can we bring abuse, lying, stealing, cheating, manipulation, and any other sort of corruption to light?

The key to discussing negative things is the word “Why.”

Are you trying to trash their reputation? Or are you seeking their best interests, and those of everyone else involved? Are you trying to confirm whether your impressions or observations are true or accurate? Have you gone to that person directly and been rebuffed? Are you trying to remedy a bad situation, protect someone from being abused, prevent laws from being broken, or just help a person do the right thing or break a harmful habit? These are all right, good, healthy, and important reasons to discuss something harmful about a person.

When is it not gossip?

It is really quite simple. It is not gossip when you, as a church member, have a question or concern and need an answer. If one is a member of a church, (s)he has the right, and even the obligation, to question the use of tithes and the lifestyles of the pastors and church leaders. They have a moral duty to raise concerns about the safety and care of children as well as any doctrine that is being taught. They should question changes in church bylaws and constitutions. They have a right to know about the theological stances of the pastors and leaders  They should expect that pastors and church leaders will answer both thoroughly and truthfully.

Church leaders and pastors need to pull on their big boy pants and be willing to discuss the concerns of any member, even if it is awkward. They should be willing to take critique and role model how big boys in Christ handle criticism and concerns. Otherwise, they will come off looking like wussy Pharisees.

Here are some examples of problems that should be discussed and do not constitute gossip. In each of these circumstances, the people involved have been accused of gossip and slander. Some details have been changed.

  • Recently we received communication from a woman who expressed concern about handling money matters in her church. It appears that the lead pastor (YRR megachurch) had moved to a very large home. During this time, he has been involved in massive fundraising in the church. The budget was presented to the congregation with little time to look it over prior to the vote. A significant amount of money was being held in an account to “bless the pastors.” When she raised her hand and asked a question about this, she was told that they needed the money to hold onto the great pastors they already had. They refused to answer more questions. This person had given a great deal of money to the church and was now questioning the use of that money. The elders refuse to answer any further inquiries on the matter.
  • There is a large church in which a pedophile badly harmed a group of boys. He is serving a lengthy sentence for his crimes. A mother of one of the boys let some church members know that they had reported an incident a year previous to the church. Their report was ignored, and her son’s psychological well-being was called into question. The church had elected not to report the incident and did not have to because of lax reporting laws in that state.
  • A pastor and his buddies run up a $60 million debt. The pastor is living in a $2 million home. He is asking people to sacrifice to pay off the debt, and he is still living in his mansion.
  • The Sovereign Grace Survivors site has documented years of alleged reports of child sex abuse and harsh discipline. Lawsuits have been filed. Yet many of the YRR crowd defend the ministry.
  • A husband and wife spent many years telling people how to live a biblical, Christian marriage. They gave classes and were brought in for tough situations. They often made people feel bad because they would hold up their marriage as an example of how to do marriage. They got a divorce. Some folks who were the recipients of their “wisdom” have discussed it with one another, trying to figure out what went wrong.
  • A pastor who decided to change the entire Sunday school program to better prepare kids for “the world” was highly critical of parents who enjoyed the old system. He was adamant, saying this program would prevent children from leaving the faith when they went to college. Two of his kids have left the faith after years of the “perfect” SS program.

In each of the above circumstances, the people attempting to confront the situation were accused of gossip and slander. But was it? I would say no.

In Justin Taylor’s post How to Stop Church Killing Gossiphe quotes Ray Ortlund, who lists the outcomes of “gossip.” It is important to remember that Ray Ortlund has been a supporter of CJ Mahaney (and a Calvinista.)As you read the following list, I have an assignment for you. Read it in light of today’s church scandals and ask this question. “Is he talking about gossip or gag orders?” I also have a question. Where are the Bible verses to back up his assertions? Ask who is being protected in this tirade?

  • Gossip is our dark moral fervor eagerly seeking gratification.
  • Gossip makes us feel important and needed as we declare our judgments.
  • It makes us feel powerful to cut someone else down to size, especially someone we are jealous of.
  • Gossip is a sin rarely disciplined but often more socially destructive than the sensational sins.
  • Gossip leaves a wide trail of devastation wherever and however it goes – word of mouth, email, blogging, YouTube.
  • It ruins hard-won reputations with cowardly but effective weapons of misrepresentation.
  • It makes the Body of Christ look like the Body of Antichrist – destroyers rather than healers.
  • It exposes the hostility in our hearts and discredits the gospel in the eyes of the world.

Then we wonder why we don’t see more conversions, why “the ground is so hard.”

Really, Justin? Is it the gossip that is affecting conversions, or is it the abuse: physical, emotional, and sexual?

 


Comments

When Accusations of Gossip Become Gag Orders — 64 Comments

  1. To inform and warn the Body of Christ about bad-boy pulpits and bad theology is not gossip. To boldly speak truth into abuse and error is the right thing to do … to remain silent and cover/protect is the wrong thing to do. If informing and warning to protect other believers is gossip, then GOSSIP for all you’re worth, Christian!

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  2. There is a new organization out there to focus on out there with the very ominous name of “The Network.” Not the movie but an actual tiny denomination. Though it is a horrible name choice, sounds like something you would see the hero fighting against in a sci-fi movie. In that way it is an appropriate name according to: https://julieroys.com/whistleblowers-network-church-leader-hit-sex-crime-36-years/

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  3. The truth about a church pedophile, the words spoken from a minor about an adult who violates children, must be whispered.*

    These are painful, immeasurably traumatic words for that child.

    Sure, no one wants to destroy a churchman’s reputation if he is innocent. His reputation is on him.

    Does the listener care enough to alert LE for investigation and due process? That would prevent further violation of children, if indeed he is a pedophile?

    So many cases documented… DOJ records, a tally by the Houston Chronicle, …

    A local LE detective at our church says in his personal experience, in doing investigations based on testimonies of minors, there’s night/day difference between rebellious fabulist teens and traumatized truth tellers.

    Another professional, a HS principal, received a call from a coach reporting a team’s locker room assaults, and he IMMEDIATELY phoned LE for investigation.

    Regarding churches, nothing about violations among publicly funded leaders in churches is cavalier.

    Jesus defended the woman being stoned but called abusive leaders snakes and whitewashed tombs. He also said those violating children belonged at sea bottom mob-style.

    *without further violating a child, I write a real yet fictionalized account in “Legal Grounds”. Recently a woman tweeted that she was first violated at age about 6, and MANY other woman responded also having been violated as a child, younger than 10 years old. #childrentoo #churchtoo

    If LE, the DOJ, can handle and sort out the truth, surely churches should be able to be transparent and proactive with truth tellers about public figures, respectfully.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  4. The Bible says a lot of things are sin, but Jesus seemed to think the teachers and leaders of his time were the biggest sinners. And because most of Justin’s friends can’t even properly use the term “slander” when referring to news articles and watchblogs, why would I think they are reliable on other words or biblical concepts?

    Just for fun, I want to try changing the words of Justin’s list, because two can play that game:

    Authoritarian leadership is our dark moral fervor eagerly seeking gratification.
    Authoritarian leadership makes us feel important and needed as we declare our judgments.
    Authoritarian leadership makes us feel powerful to cut someone else down to size, especially someone we are jealous of.
    Authoritarian leadership is a sin rarely disciplined but often more socially destructive than the sensational sins.
    Authoritarian leadership leaves a wide trail of devastation wherever and however it goes – word of mouth, email, blogging, YouTube.
    Authoritarian leadership ruins hard-won reputations with cowardly but effective weapons of misrepresentation.
    Authoritarian leadership makes the Body of Christ look like the Body of Antichrist – destroyers rather than healers.
    Authoritarian leadership exposes the hostility in our hearts and discredits the gospel in the eyes of the world.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  5. ishy: Authoritarian leadership

    Interesting how authoritarian autocratic leadership silences victims while supporting predators.

    By what authority? Whom does this authority represent?

    One would think the control freaks in churches would seek to expunge predators while making church safe for vulnerables. They seem to do the opposite: power to the predator while nixing victims’ testimonies.

    Predators are consistent. They leave a trail of victims. Evidence.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  6. Quoting Bernard, who said “He is a slanderer, who wrongs his neighbour’s credit, either by unjust raising or upholding an evil report against him”, John Robinson (sometimes called The Pilgrim Father or Founding Shepherd of America) warns “Sometimes being evil; as when men without just and necessary occasion blaze abroad the faults of others; either in idleness, for want of other talk; or of hatred, by way of revenge; or in flattery, to please other men; or in envy, as grudging at their good name. And it may well be thought, that persons oftener calumniate others of love to themselves, than of hatred to them; thinking therein to build their own credit, upon the ruins of other men’s; which is, as if one, to make his own garment seem the fairer, should cast more upon his neighbour’s.”
    (Works of John Robinson: The Pilgrim Father, Vol 1, ch. click, Of Slander, 1628)

    (A fairer representation of the Puritans than the quote ‘attributed’ to Wendell Phillips, which comes from the novel The Damnation of Theron Ware by Harold Frederic, 1896.)

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  7. People are social beings, and frequent verbal interaction with others seems to be really important to most of us (there are some, myself included, who seem to be able to get by with relatively little daily human contact, but I think this may not be the norm).

    The thought occurs to wonder how ‘gossip as an habitual mode of social interaction’ comes to be an enduring pattern in a person’s life. Is this learned from parents or from peers? I find it a bit disheartening that human wisdom in the raising of the young does not seem, over thousands of years, to have made much progress on this front. Every generation seems to start back at the same place, and to not improve on its predecessors.

    But I suspect that there is an adaptive character to ‘communication about 3rd persons not present’. It’s thought that roughly 1 in 25 people has sociopathic personality traits. These people can be dangerous and it’s important to identify the sociopaths in one’s social circle and do what one can to protect oneself from them. Good-hearted people would also want to protect their fellows, alerting them to the sociopaths they are aware of. Necessarily, communications about this would not tend to enhance the reputations of the sociopaths that are the subject of the discussions.

    So perhaps there’s a beneficial pro-social character to these communications, but they also go awry due to the flawed characters of the participants (not to mention concealed, not yet detected, sociopaths who participate in these conversations and who bend them toward their own purposes).

    I’ll add to the discussion of ‘etiology of the disorder’ that ‘trash-talking of 3rd persons not present’ can be a means by which the gossiper seeks to control his/her hearer: ‘listen to me, not to that other person.’ It isn’t simply a bad habit, it may be a technique deployed in service of what the person wants. It may be an example of the bad things bad people bring forth out of the abundance of their hearts.

    I intuit that a good test of whether a person has bad motives is their reaction to learning that you have been in communication with people in their gossip network. If this upsets them, I think there’s a good chance that they are saying different things to different people for reasons that it might be worth understanding for the sake of one’s own protection.

    The thought also occurs that speaking ill of 3rd parties not present is not unusual from pulpits, too. Perhaps if the stated purpose is ‘protection of the flock’, that makes it OK.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  8. Ava Aaronson: Interesting how authoritarian autocratic leadership silences victims while supporting predators.

    I find it interesting that many pastors try really hard to hide what is going on in their church and are so afraid of people finding out. If it’s good, would you hide it?

    Judging by the number of broken and beaten people that seem to come out of hypercalvinist churches and by scandals that have been reported on by secular news (who are under no authority by pastors), the problem isn’t gossip or slander.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  9. Ava Aaronson: Interesting how authoritarian autocratic leadership silences victims while supporting predators.

    By what authority? Whom does this authority represent?

    The authority of man, not Jesus. Clearly, the authority of Jesus is waning in the American church. He has no influence where “authoritarian autocratic leadership” resides. Thus, predators and victims can be expected … authoritarian church structures too often produce hunting grounds and killing fields, abusers and abused entangled in an evil web.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  10. A few years ago, leaders at one of my former churches accused many people of gossip – publicly, in a congregational meeting. The leaders followed up with a requirement that everyone sign a document that was essentially a gag order (those who left used that term). Attempts to address the issue with the leaders failed, and a significant number of people left.

    It seems that pastors and leaders think they can talk about congregants, though.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  11. Lowlandseer: One is Fittsburg Baptist Church and another is St Martha’s Episcopal Church.

    You could have asked me instead of assuming. The one I saw, which randomely showed up on a FB feed, was Cape Hatteras Baptist Church in North Carolina (they are SBC but I don’t know if they are Calvinist). It’s apparently a popular and multi-denominational phrase, based on images in Google. I am surprised it’s so popular.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  12. drstevej,

    drstevej: Is it the gossip that is affecting conversions, or is it the abuse: physical, emotional, and sexual?

    This is the discursive space where power differentials are negotiated. American evangelicals as discussed here have a need to maintain control of all discourses or their control over doctrines, praxis and gender come into question in such a way that their authority is undermined. This is about authoritarianism.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  13. Lowlandseer: It’s a bit like the Muppet show with the two of you sitting in the balcony laughing at your own jokes.

    Here to please! It’s like waiting anxiously each morning for the latest tweets of Piper Points, Mohler Moments, and Dever Drivel!

    Lowland, if I didn’t find a bit of humor in the mess we call church in America, I would be crying all the time over the burden.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  14. I’m a nobody in a small town, but I’m pretty sure I’m the subject of substantially more gossip than I spread about others. About one particularly bad rumor, my boss reassured me “Don’t worry- no one believes it!” That made me feel better. This doesn’t excuse the gossip I do spread, of course. But I feel safe sharing one juicy bit of gossip here, since I’m not naming names. I used to go to church with a man we’ll call Fred. I was friendly toward him and unaware of ever doing anything against him. Some time I’d left that church, he started shunning me— refusing to even say a word. I think he heard something— most likely spread by Pastor Joe, who makes a big thing of no gossiping. A couple years later, I heard the gossip told to my friend by another former churchgoer, who’s a Bible teacher. He’d seen Fred sexually harassing several young women/girls in the church. He went to Pastor Joe about it— “Oh, yes, that’s the way Fred is” “Well why don’t you do anything?” “We can’t— we need Fred’s wife to play the piano!”

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  15. Oh here’s another bit of gossip involving the little white church led by Pastor Joe.Before I attended a different friend attended at a time they needed Billy to play the drums despite his ongoing pharmaceutical problem. Well after they both stopped attending she saw Billy would be parked outside her apartment at night with many people coming and going to his car. she told him you know the sheriffs office is right over there. Billy replied I am an honest Businessman I just prefer to work at night!

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  16. Dave A A: “Oh, yes, that’s the way Fred is”

    This phrase is used so often in churches, maybe it’s a Bible verse? (not really)

    One instance of the many: when the old guy usher always brushes the ladies seated at the aisle seat, with his hand and arm, full sweep, the front of their blouses or dresses, as he passes the plate to each row. Because, that’s just how old Elmer the usher is, a harmless old service-minded dedicated usher.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  17. Max,

    Yes, they did. Then, other people in the denomination “gossiped” on social media about their church using the same document.

    I couldn’t help thinking that my former church obviously didn’t know that they should have required signatures before things blew up. After, it’s too easy for people to figure out the reason for the document.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  18. Micah: I couldn’t help thinking that my former church obviously didn’t know that they should have required signatures before things blew up. After, it’s too easy for people to figure out the reason for the document.

    My old church tried to “retroactively” implement the covenant, declaring that because members had agreed previously to be members, they were bound to obey the elders and any decisions they made. Then they went after people who tried to leave. So, I’m glad at least people could catch on and get out.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  19. With care I will say two things.

    – Anyone in an abusive or otherwise difficult marriage or family situation needs to confide in someone who can be trusted. Since congregations are intent on identifying sin, and on keeping families together, it is far safer to seek help outside one’s church.

    – I am fortunate to have a happy nuclear family. Still, I have an ironclad rule never, ever to make casual negative comments about my husband or children. It’s too easy for someone to hear a mild gripe and decide that a marriage is troubled or the kids are out of control. Never give anybody material they can relish, exaggerate, and pass along to others. (Sure, sometimes I need to vent. I do that one on one, in person, with a trusted friend.)

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  20. Samuel Conner: there are some, myself included, who seem to be able to get by with relatively little daily human contact, but I think this may not be the norm

    It probably isn’t although I’m the same. As I get older I find increasingly that despite wanting and liking human company, when I get it I want it to end as soon as possible. I may start identifying as a cat.
    Seriously though when you don’t have too much human noise things become much clearer – cf retreats and the monastic tradition.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  21. One of the pastors of my current church has a very bad habit of talking about situations from the pulpit in specific enough terms that we all know who he is discussing. They are all situations where members have made bad decisions and are on their way to church discipline (unless they just leave the church). Besides publicly sharing these situations with the congregation (with enough specificity that it’s easy to understand who is talking about), the sermon also goes out on a local radio station. I’m waiting for someone to sue him for defamation. It seems like this kind of information is best kept with the elders, unless it’s something that affects the entire congregation in a negative way.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  22. LInn,

    I now attend a small Lutheran Church in my area.
    It’s all liturgy based, and you won’t get beat over the head with some obscure verse out of 2nd Chronicles. Lutheranism is not into administered beatings from the pulpit so to speak, but some fundagelical pastors are. They must get off on it somehow.
    I am soooo glad to be free of all that horse poo-poo.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  23. Max: Lowlandseer: It’s a bit like the Muppet show with the two of you sitting in the balcony laughing at your own jokes.

    Here to please! It’s like waiting anxiously each morning for the latest tweets of Piper Points, Mohler Moments, and Dever Drivel!

    That would be more Meet the Feebles than The Muppet Show.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  24. Ken F (aka Tweed): On the bright side, we can still laugh at ourselves. Many people can’t.

    True Believers are totally incapable of laughing in general, never mind laughing at themselves.
    The closest they come to it is the cackle of Triumph as their boots stamp on the faces of The Other.

    “Angels can fly because they can take themselves lightly.”
    — G.K. Chesterton

    “Satan fell by force of Gravitas.”
    — either C.S.Lewis or John Donne

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  25. Ava Aaronson,

    You are “supposed to shut up, sit down, and be quiet!”..
    I have encountered several other similar situations when I questioned “non-logical” statements made by “leaders”. I remember once having a fundy preacher quote old testiment verse at me about arguing with “fools”… that was probably 45 years ago and I still remember it!! I wish I remembered the verse!!

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  26. Jeffrey J Chalmers: You are “supposed to shut up, sit down, and be quiet!”..

    “Never let them frighten you, for there is nothing covered up which is not going to be exposed nor anything private which will not be made public. The things I tell you in the dark you must say in the daylight, and the things you hear in your private ear you must proclaim from the house-tops” (Jesus, Matthew 10:27)

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  27. Jeffrey J Chalmers: I remember once having a fundy preacher quote old testament verse at me about arguing with “fools”… that was probably 45 years ago and I still remember it!! I wish I remembered the verse!!

    Most likely one of these:

    “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself” (Proverbs 26:4)

    “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion” (Proverbs 18:2)

    “If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet” (Proverbs 29:9)

    As someone once said “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” Of course, that doesn’t apply in the blogosphere 🙂

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  28. ishy: Just for fun, I want to try changing the words of Justin’s list, because two can play that game:

    Authoritarian leadership is our dark moral fervor eagerly seeking gratification.
    Authoritarian leadership makes us feel important and needed as we declare our judgments.
    Authoritarian leadership makes us feel powerful to cut someone else down to size, especially someone we are jealous of.
    Authoritarian leadership is a sin rarely disciplined but often more socially destructive than the sensational sins.
    Authoritarian leadership leaves a wide trail of devastation wherever and however it goes – word of mouth, email, blogging, YouTube.
    Authoritarian leadership ruins hard-won reputations with cowardly but effective weapons of misrepresentation.
    Authoritarian leadership makes the Body of Christ look like the Body of Antichrist – destroyers rather than healers.
    Authoritarian leadership exposes the hostility in our hearts and discredits the gospel in the eyes of the world.

    🙂

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

Leave a comment - Click here for our commenting rules

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *