The Rev. Stephen Kidd on The Episcopal Church


Gratitude for Greg Garrett, who yesterday posted the following quotation on his Facebook page, a quotation that captures the essence of why I started this blog about 7 years ago:

“The Episcopal Church welcomed me when others wouldn’t have me, and honored my questions when others simply sought to dismiss them. Its sacramental life spoke to parts of my soul that the fundamentalism of my childhood couldn’t touch; worship felt ancient, holy, and real in ways I didn’t expect. 15 years later I am still amazed at the depth and breadth of our tradition, and I appreciate all the more our peculiar vantage point at the intersection of the Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox corners of our Christian family. The Episcopal Church isn’t perfect, far from it, but for me, it is home. — The Rev. Stephen Kidd, from an upcoming book by Church Publishing Incorporated


 

‘He was brainwashed’ — a Somali-American man’s account of his nephew’s recruitment by al-Shabaab


This evening, NBC Nightly News aired a report on Islamic extremists recruiting in Minneapolis.

“For years, Minneapolis has been a target for terrorist recruiters seeking angry, disillusioned young men,” reporter Ron Allen said.

Tens of thousands of Somalis live in a Minneapolis neighborhood called Little Mogadishu where recruitment of young men into Islamic extremist groups is “an all too familiar story,” Allen said.

Allen interviewed a Somali man about his nephew’s recruitment (the report included the names but did not show them on the screen, so I cannot spell them).

Allen: “You lost your nephew.”

Somali man: “Yeah.”

Allen: “What happened?”

Somali man: “He was brainwashed.”

The nephew, Allen said, was “lured” back to Somalia in 2008, when the kid was only 17 years old.

The nephew died a year later while fighting for al-Shabaab, the same group behind last year’s attack on a mall in Nairobi, Kenya.

Robbinsdale, Minnesota, a town in the Minneapolis area, was also home to Douglas MacArthur McCain, who reportedly died last week while fighting for Islamic State.

The word “brainwash” has been used more frequently as Western males have started fighting for Islamic extremist groups.

Some have become radicalized before traveling to areas controlled by Islamic extremists, while others might have been tricked into entering extremist groups.

In at least one case, a young man (from Belgium) traveled to the Middle East because he was led to believe he would be helping a charitable organization, but the organization was actually an extremist group.

Like many stories, the story of Zia Adbul Haq of Queensland, Australia, suggests religious brainwashing is most successful in times of crisis.

The 33-year-old had told those closest to him that he’d travelled to the [Syrian] region to find a wife after the breakdown of his marriage…
Friends told an Australian news organization that Zia “fell off the rails and under the spell of the extremists,” and  “Zia has been brainwashed.”

Life’s difficulties also seemed to be making restless, unemployed young men in Minneapolis easy targets for jihadist brainwashing, as Allen of NBC News suggested.
Even when Somalis enter the U.S. for legitimate reasons, some of them, somehow, become radicalized. As Michelle Moons of Breitbart.com reports,
NCTC [National Counterterrorism Center] reports have noted the high level of terrorist activity in Somalia, as terrorist group al-Shabaab has intermittently controlled various key regions of Somalia. A Center for Disease Control and Prevention document cites Office of Refugee Resettlement statistics that list Minnesota, California, Georgia, and Washington, D.C. as locations where the majority of Somalis have settled in the U.S. Thousands have come to the U.S. as refugees under the banner of fleeing war and persecution in their home country. Current population estimates of Somali-born individuals living in the U.S. range from 35,760 to 150,000.

Trouble with radicalized Somalis has been building for years. Here’s a snapshot:

Oct. 31, 2011: “Suicide bomber in Somali attack was reportedly from Minneapolis

Aug. 5, 2010: “14 U.S. citizens charged with trying to join Somali terror group

July 20, 2009: “Minneapolis struggles with Somali gangs

When your pastor is worse than ‘worldly’ — what’s Mars Hill Church to do?


An open letter to Pastor Mark Driscoll, or a blogospherical amicus curiae brief on behalf of those hurt and the 21 former Mars Hill pastors who filed a formal complaint

Updated 10:05 p.m  with an addition at the end.

Dear Mark,

Last night I saw a post about bullying on the Psychopath Resistance blog and the first person I thought of was you.

If a fraction of the allegations against you are true — and they are easy to believe — then you and your loyalists need to face the facts:

You were worse than “the world.”

You behaved worse than “worldly.”

Could Jesus have spoken this parable for you?

45 But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, 46 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful. 47 And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. (Luke 12:45-47)

Is there any “biblical warrant” for anyone continuing to respect someone like you, Mark?

Not if merely a fraction of the allegations are true.

Nowhere in the biblical texts can one find a single exhortation to respect someone who acts as despicably as you apparently have been acting.

But there’s warrant for your dismissal from ministry in Proverbs 26:18-19:

“Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death

is the man who deceives his neighbor

and says, ‘I am only joking!’ “

Oh, sure, you might not have been joking per se but let that stand for any excuse for your behavior following the damage you’ve done.

You’ve thrown firebrands and shot arrows and deceived numerous people around you — you’ve been the epitome of destructiveness — and now you’re going to try to talk your way out of it.

It’s appropriate that the television-and-Netflix series The Killing was set in Seattle because you’ve starred in The Spiritual Killing in the same city for years.

Where’s the Shepherd who is allowing you to injure so many sheep and disillusion so many others?

It’s like the U2 song: “Referee won’t blow the whistle / God is good but will he listen?”

And that’s not even considering the spineless, cowardly act of plagiarism.

For a minister presuming to help start a seminary, plagiarism is worse than grand theft auto, yet more pathetic than stealing 25-cent candy.

Congrats on occupying that unique space of horrible and pathetic, a space usually reserved for despots and Wall Street sharks.

The allegations against you could be a guide to bullying — it would be a New York Times bestseller, this time bestselling status that you actually earned, thanks to an endless supply of people interested in abusing power.

“Shame” is too good a word for what you should feel. Chimps have a better overall track record of behavior.

You’re a fundamentally indecent person, failing to act in the most basic human ways.

To borrow from William F. Buckley, I’d rather be taught by anyone among the first 2,000 names in the Seattle telephone book than by you or anyone who is still on your staff.

Do you need to learn what decency is? During the past three years, I’ve been reading through Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, and Seneca. You’ve been worse than the pagans you’ve been screaming at for years, so maybe you could start by stepping up to the pagan morality of Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, and Seneca.

You’ve failed to live anywhere near the neighborhood of Romans 12:9-21. That excerpt begins, “Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.”

In other words, you’ve lived the antithesis of that excerpt.

All your bullying just cloaks the wimp hiding inside.

Funny how the guy who claims real manhood is the wimp, and the one who tells men to have a pair doesn’t have his own.

How do I know? How can I say such a thing?

Because when a man has real security and true confidence, he doesn’t even feel the need to bully.

Doesn’t even feel the need, Mark.

Doesn’t even feel the need.

Do everyone who believes in any sort of God a favor and disappear from public view for the rest of your life, you bullying, reprobate pansy.

Most sincerely,

Colin Burch

P.S. Do you think I’m bullying you? Don’t be an idiot. I’m shouting at an influential, powerful authority figure who bullied people around him, and worse yet, used anti-Christian, sub-human behavior toward people who believe in Jesus. You do not deserve respect of any kind. You’re the wolf who tried to wear a sheep’s clothing. You’re the worst sort of evil: the degrading, maligning, self-aggrandizing preacher using the name of God to get your way.

Update: The dictionaries remind me “reprobate” has an archaic usage rooted in Calvinism. A contemporary adjective form means “morally corrupt,” and that was the version of “reprobate” I was intending to reference. Considering the likely audience for this post, I should have just stayed away from that word and used “corrupt” instead, because I’ll stand by my contention that Driscoll is corrupt if even a fraction of the allegations against him are true. I didn’t train in a seminary; I trained in newsrooms and then in a graduate writing program. Meanwhile, let’s remember, as I demonstrated above, Driscoll has forced many people to have a taste of Hell through the environments he has created.

Bullying is a Form of Torture


Colin Foote Burch:

Watch out for the Christian-minister type of bully like Mark Driscoll.

Originally posted on Psychopath Resistance:

suicide

Bullies leavetheir victims with long-lasting or permanent mental damage or drive them to despair and suicide. Keepingwell within the confines of the law, they can be mercilesskillers who are never held accountable. What can we do to stop them?


View original

Here’s why narcissistic pastors can get away with careers in ministry


For context, let’s start with a Gallup poll from last December and some academic analysis, as reported by The Christian Post:

The majority of Americans no longer rate pastors and religious leaders’ honesty and ethical standards highly. A Gallup poll released earlier this week reveals that for the first time since the question was introduced in 1977, trust in clergy has dropped below 50 percent.

Gallup attributed the decline of trust in religious leaders on scandals.

“If views of a certain profession have changed, it usually has been a function of scandal surrounding it. The Catholic priest abuse stories from the early 2000s helped lead to a sharp drop in Americans’ ratings of clergy, a decline from which the profession has yet to fully recover,” Art Swift, Gallup’s managing editor wrote.

John Fea, a history professor at Messiah College, said that the Evangelical world has seen its own scandals in the past few years which likely have also contributed to this cynicism.

“Within evangelism, part of the problem is all kinds of moral lapses among pastors. I think this Mark Driscoll plagiarism thing…the [Vision Forum] president who had an extra-marital affair. All of this kind of bad behavior by pastors causes people to mistrust these kinds of spiritual leaders,” Fea told The Christian Post.

Fea also noted that since the Great Awakening’s George Whitfield, Evangelicals have been driven by “powerful, almost celebrity-like leaders.” [emphasis added]

Consider Professor Fea’s phrase: “powerful, almost celebrity-like leaders.”

I’ve been researching alleged contemporary prophets — surely “celebrity-like” if there ever have been celebrities — and the accuracy of their prophecies. For clarity, I’m not evaluating the idea or concept or practice or Bible-based believablility of prophecy. I’m looking at specific individuals who say  specific things.

An early assessment, without naming names: “false prophets” is too grand of a term for these people. “Free-associating news junkies” might be more like it. Or maybe “narcissists with the ability to riff on a given theme” could sum up their natural giftings.

I’m not sure how the word “narcissists” will strike you. Essentially, narcissism is an unhealthy pre-occupation with self at the expense of everything and everyone else around. (Pastor Mark Driscoll is an easy example, but he’s just one tree in a big forest. I’ve spent a lot of time shouting about him because I would like others to avoid the bad experiences some people have had in Driscoll’s church.)

While you might think narcissism would work out as a license for one to do whatever he pleases, that’s not necessarily the case.

A narcissist could applaud himself for his upstanding morality. Self-affirming vanity and pride could grow from the way a community or a social group acknowledges the narcissist’s piety, purity, and holiness.

Many narcissists occupy pulpits because narcissism is not the kind of moral failing congregations will identify.

Alarms ring when a minister is caught in or suspected of adultery, pedophilia, embezzelment, or substance abuse.

But attitudes of moral superiority and religious confidence can be considered signs of God’s calling.

Congregations might believe a pastoral narcissist shows strong, uncompromising leadership skills; he never bullies. 

Who knows — maybe, because the Christian message can be offensive and controversial, the expectation of offense and controversy in the message blurs with an expectation of offense and controversy in the behavior.

For example, much has been made of Driscoll’s ability to attract young men to the church. Much also has been made of Driscoll’s ability to grow churches in a “secular” part of the U.S.

His defenders will not make much of the Gallup poll to which Driscoll has added yet more examples. Defenders of C.J. Mahaney will not make much of the poll either.

It’s the wicked nation, they’ll say, not that they know many people outside of their silly cliques.

But I would imagine, if there are any real Christians, if God is really there at all, plenty of quiet, wise, non-blogging, non-celebrity, non-self-congratulating-church-planting believers, both laypersons and pastors alike, can see what’s at stake, and maybe see problems before they blow up into catastrophe — and then contribute to the kind of delegitimization one really must insist upon in such circumstances.

Is the Mars Hill Church board lying for Pastor Mark Driscoll? Or just using weasel words?


Contrast this excerpt from the New York Times (which deals with formal charges against Pastor Mark Driscoll, filed by 21 former pastors in the Mars Hill Church organization) 

In a written statement, Anthony Ianniciello, Mars Hill’s executive pastor of media and communications, said, “We take any complaint or allegation against Pastor Mark and Mars Hill very seriously, and everything is and will be examined by several governing bodies.”

He also pointed to a statement the church’s board issued last week, saying, “The attitudes and behaviors attributed to Mark in the charges are not a part and have not been a part of Mark’s life for some time now.” [emphasis added]

 — With the following excerpt of the formal complaint filed by those 21 pastors formerly in Pastor Mark Driscoll’s organization –

Mark Driscoll excerpt from formal charges

So, what have we learned?

We’ve learned that the church’s board thinks Pastor Mark Driscoll’s subhuman behavior has been submerged “for some time now.”

Meanwhile, the small above portion of the formal charges extends from far in the past through May of this year.

So, one side says Mark is a bullying jerk today, and the other side seems to be saying Mark hasn’t been a bullying jerk for a while, “for some time now.”

What does “for some time now” mean, and why did these allegedly godly men float such an ambiguous phrase?

Does it mean the board is lying on Driscoll’s behalf?

Does it mean the board members are trying to mislead anyone who would care to read their statement?

Are they using the phrase “for some time now” to give themselves an “out”?

For example, “We weren’t lying. We didn’t specify a particular length of time, so we’re cool.”

What is it that they say about the bad apple spoiling the bunch? Has Driscoll turned his entire board into replicas of himself?

Just remember — weasels use weasel words.

And weasels are more successful in politics and business than, say, those lame “let-your-yes-be-yes-and-your-no-be-no” types.

Whatever the reason behind such a vapid phrase, the church board should now be as discredited as Driscoll himself. The entire Mars Hill Church experiment deserves no greater regard than the sleaziest TV preacher’s donation hotline.

After all, Driscoll has plagiarized and bullied with the intent of maintaining a reputation as a godly man.

No sane person would stand by him. Even Tim Keller, quoted in the New York Times article, has been hit in the back of the head by discernment — after the fact, of course, as discernment never happens when anyone needs to avoid danger.

But what special powers of identifying danger after the disaster. Wow. That’s somethin’.

Kind of like Sovereign Grace Ministries, Inc., which allegedly had no discernment about pedophiles operating in their midst for years and years. I’m sure the Holy Spirit was awake and all, just not inside all those Specially Anointed Godly Men With Spiritual Authority Over Your Life.

I know, I know, I’m missing the real takeaway points here:

  • Might makes right
  • Will to power

Got it.

If only Driscoll were in elected office. Then he would face jail time. But since it’s Christianity, someone eventually will give him a pulpit again, along with more mechanisms to screw people.

It’s easier to forgive than to discern the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Oh praise the Lord and pass the bottle. I could be referring to Pepto Bismol, so you can’t say I meant alcohol — see, I can even learn from Mars Hill Church’s board.

Pastor Mark Driscoll

Plagiarist. Bully. It’s all about the Anti-Jesus.

Mars Hill Church staffers get six bully-free weeks; God has no comment


Today, Pastor Mark Driscoll announced he will be taking a six-week break from leadership at Mars Hill Church.

Thus, staffers, pastors, and elders have been provided, temporarily, with a bully-free environment.

But, as Driscoll has noted before, he is the brand, so who knows if the church, or God, can survive without him.

Heaven’s press officer, noting the Almighty’s long-standing bias toward Western Christianity, said The Lord will not be commenting on Driscoll today because this is his (relatively new) day of rest.

The press officer added that ever since America invented armed drones, God delegates the smiting of brown people during His nap times and vacations.

Pastor Mark Driscoll teaches you how to slander!


In this free document made available through the generous support of Warren Throckmorton, you’ll learn all of Pastor Mark Driscoll’s techniques on how to slander!

Pastor Mark Driscoll

Pastor Mark Driscoll

Below, you’ll find just a few quick tips and highlights from a manuscript compiled by 21 former pastors who didn’t want these nuggets of wisdom cast aside.

This collection is sure to become another Mark Driscoll New York Times Bestseller.

In these Driscoll originals, you’ll learn how to…

promote yourself

“You think you’re the Resurgence. But, you’re not the brand. I’m the brand!”

Stick to your convictions

“I don’t give a shit what you think.”

exercise strong leadership

“…his fat ass is not the image we want for our church.”

Take real action

“I’ll tear his church down brick by brick.”

And there’s more! Download the Formal Charges document today — and start learning Driscoll’s ruthless, self-promoting, anti-ecumenical, corporate approach to faith.

Remember — you must increase, and everyone else must decrease!

Justifiable skepticism: What did C.J. Mahaney really know, and when did he really know it?


As the Associated Baptist Press reported last week,

A former youth worker convicted of sexually abusing boys in the 1980s at a Sovereign Grace Ministries church in Maryland was sentenced Aug. 14 to 40 years in prison.

Nathaniel Morales, 56, was found guilty in May of abusing three boys from 1983 to 1991 while working in youth ministries and leading Bible studies at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Md.

The article ended with this note, which refers to Sovereign Grace Ministries founder C.J. Mahaney:

Leaders of Covenant Life initially said they had no knowledge of any abuse until many years after it occurred when an adult who had been victimized as a child came forward. During the Morales trial, however, Grant Layman, Mahaney’s brother-in-law and a former pastor at the church, testified that he knew of allegations against Morales 20 years ago but did not call police. [emphasis added]

That highlighted segment is exactly what casts suspicion on C.J. Mahaney. As Billy Graham’s grandson Tullian Tchividjian said back in May,

“Give me a break. These people, they’re family. Of course he knew,” Tchividjian told The Christian Post. “C. J. was, for many years, the micro-managing head of the organization and nothing happened under the umbrella of Sovereign Grace that he wasn’t made aware of, so for anyone to say, ‘Well he didn’t know,’ that’s totally naive.”

A separate civil lawsuit against Mahaney, Sovereign Grace Ministries, Inc. (SGM), and affiliated ministers and churches, was filed last year.

The civil lawsuit named Mahaney and nine others individuals as defendants. (Morales was not named as a defendant in the civil suit.)

The primary accusation against Mahaney and the defendants is that they covered up sexual abuse and failed to alert police.

However, additional ministers are part of the plaintiffs’ stories of sexual abuse as detailed in the lawsuit.

Unfortunately, as the Washington Post reported back in June,

The claims [in the civil suit] have been dismissed largely because of statute of limitations reasons, but the lawyers have appealed and want to bring the claims back into play.

The details of the suit are graphic and disturbing. I could only read the first 18 pages of the 46-page suit before I had to stop. The particulars are disturbing and degrading.

The alleged perpetrators were involved in ministry. It’s the stuff of horror movies: How could such demonic animals touch a Bible or tolerate worship music?

I guess a crucifix is no match for a vampire.Lord_Vampire

Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) and its affiliates have been accused of more than sexual abuse, but accusations of spiritual abuse are less likely to wind up in court or receive coverage in the mainstream media.

But the chronicles of spiritual abuse have been documented and discussed on the website SGMSurvivors.com, which has archives going back to November 2007.

The founders of the website say they did not have an especially bad experience in their SGM-affiliated church, but they began to realize “SGM saw itself as set apart from the rest of the Christian world.”

SGM has been called a “cult” in at least two reports by WJLA, an ABC affiliate in Washington, D.C. (see here and here).

SGM-let_the_right_one_in02

A frame from the horror film ‘Let The Right One In.’

 

For Resurgence and Mars Hill Church, ‘unity’ is the new ‘touch not my anointed’


Here’s a screen grab of a Resurgence email I received Tuesday:

An email from Mars Hill Church and Resurgence (screengrab)

From an August 19, 2014 email sent from Resurgence, a ministry of Mars Hill Church.

Good, healthy unity and community are great practical analogies for Trinitarian theology. Love one another, someone famous said.

But like anything else that proceeds from the mouth of Pastor Mark Driscoll these days, one must consider the context of what is being said, and, unfortunately, suspect something other than God is motivating the message.

That’s because Driscoll has been caught in numerous instances of plagiarism, and 40-plus elders and many congregants have left the Mars Hill churches during the past three years, and former Driscoll associates like Ron Wheeler and Mike Anderson have revealed shocking information about working with the pastor.

So I find Driscoll’s appeal for “unity” to be little more than the manipulation of a biblical text for the purposes of keeping more people from leaving his church.

In several books detailing abuses of power and cult-style leadership within churches, authors have pointed out a biblical passage that has been manipulated by pastors and ministers:

“Do not touch My anointed ones, and do My prophets no harm.”

The passage, found in the Old Testament books of First Chronicles and the Psalms, has been used by pastors and self-anointed prophets to maintain an unassailable control over their congregations and rebuff any critique.

Among the dozens of books analyzing that type of manipulation, I would most strongly suggest Twisted Scriptures by Mary Chrnalogar, By Hook or By Crook: How Cults Lure Christians by Harold Bussell, and Churches that Abuse by Ronald Enroth.

Now the questions for long-suffering members of Mars Hill churches are clear: Unity at what price? Dwelling together at what price?

 

As PM David Cameron admits James Foley’s executioner might be British, BBC’s 2006 series ‘The State Within’ comes to life


The BBC reports British Prime Minister David Cameron

has said it looks ‘increasingly likely’ a man thought to have been involved in a US journalist’s beheading is British, as UK police try to confirm the militant’s identity.

With that, I can’t help but think of my end-of-summer Netflix binge on the 2006 BBC series The State Within.

To me, The State Within was one part Homeland, one part House of Cards, and one part speculative fear of a sinister military-industrial complex that could straddle the Atlantic, with a foot in Washington, D.C., and a foot in London.

The series’ premise somewhat reflects today’s acknowledgment by Cameron.

In the series’ first episode, a British national, converted by Islamic extremists, manages to get an explosive device on a passenger jet and trigger its countdown via laptop just before the aircraft taxis for takeoff.

When the device explodes, the aircraft is above a busy D.C. roadway. Everyone on the aircraft, and several people in cars on the roadway, die.

Eventually, investigators realize the suspected bomber is a British national. The tensions between the U.S. and the U.K. build with dramatic effect.

Yet the 2006 series hinted at an underlying anxiety echoed in today’s comments from Cameron, who said, “This is not a time for a knee-jerk reaction.”

In other words, just as Jason Isaacs‘ character, Sir Mark Brydon, British ambassador to the U.S., must try to quell rising anti-British sentiment in The State Within, today Cameron tried to prevent it from starting.

The BBC report suggests Cameron is working hard to keep Great Britain from becoming associated with violent Islamic extremists — and to prevent British citizens from becoming enemies of the United States and the news media.

He also said the government would “redouble” efforts to stop Britons travelling to fight in Iraq and Syria.

Islamic State using cult brainwashing techniques


On NBC Nightly News this evening, Richard Engel interviewed an Belgian ex-soldier who rescued his own son from the grips of the Syrian militant group called Islamic State or Isis.

The ex-soldier’s son thought he would be helping Muslims, apparently in a charitable capacity.

But the Islamic State slowly drew the son into its agenda.

In the Nightly News report, the ex-soldier was shown making an incremental step toward Engel.

“You know, inside, step by step, they change the minds,” the ex-soldier said.

That could be a succinct explanation of how numerous cults, of many different stripes, turn recruits into foot soldiers, whether figuratively or literally.

I’m hoping NBC News will post the interview on their website.

Postscript to ‘the reality of pastoral gossip’ — a personal experience


After my sarcastic post a couple of days ago, I want to share a personal experience to demonstrate just how reckless some Christian pastors can be.

Some Christian pastors.

I started college at Western Carolina University, where I spent two years, Fall 1987 through Spring 1989.

(My first year, I was in Reynolds dorm, which had the advantage of being an older dorm with larger rooms, and the disadvantage of being pretty much at the high point of campus, and at a far edge.)

At the beginning of my freshman year, I attended a church and got involved with its college group.

I met a guy I’ll call A.J. Somehow we became buds, which was somewhat odd: I was a white freshman and he was a black upperclassman. (I try to remind myself that some churches can level social hierarchies and open racial barriers.)

Eventually, A.J. started to open up to me, and he had some real hurt and confusion.

He had shared some personal, private difficulties with the pastor of the church.

The conversation was supposed to have been in confidence, but the pastor told some other people on the church staff.

I realize I don’t know exactly what his difficulties were. I realize sometimes a private confession is scary enough to warrant alerting others. Ultimately I just don’t know, but I tend to doubt A.J.’s difficulties warranted sharing. Maybe they did.

Either way, the violation of trust did significant damage to A.J.

He started dropping by my room in the late afternoons and evenings. He would ask me, again and again, “Why? Why did he tell others?” Why, why, why.

A.J. was astounded, hurt, confused.

I was only 18 years old. With a September birthday, I had begun my freshman year as a 17-year-old. I knew less than nothing.

I tried to help A.J., lobbing weak suggestions at his grieved face, nothing I said finding purchase. He was going in circles, we were going in circles, stuck on the question of why the pastor had violated his trust.

My church back home was loosely affiliated with the church near campus. So at times, I even tried to play the pastor’s advocate. But A.J. would reason back at me — to him, there seemed no justification for the pastor to divulge the details of his conversation.

So many conversations. Then, A.J. disappeared for a while.

I welcomed the break. I couldn’t help him. All he did was talk and talk and share his misery. The relationship was becoming a burden to me. I didn’t want him to show up.

Right before he disappeared, I remember passing him in a dorm common area. He was shut down, turned inward, mumbling to himself, yet walking with purpose. It was strange, but he kept walking, and I didn’t want to get into another marathon conversation.

I later found out why he disappeared for a while. He had been in the hospital. He had tried to kill himself.

The night I had seen him mumbling to himself, he had taken a bunch of pills. Later that evening, he had placed his thick leather belt around his neck and tried to hang himself from the bunk bed in his dorm room.

I can’t say with any certainty that the pastor’s gossip, that his violation of confidence, was the direct cause of A.J.’s suicide attempt. He was already struggling. But the pastor’s gossip made it worse.

All this and the recent Ron Wheeler letter regarding Pastor Mark Driscoll makes me wonder what a good pastor really is.

Does a good pastor say the right doctrinal things?

Driscoll has been saying the right doctrinal things for his Reformed circles.

A.J.’s pastor was saying the right things for his church circles.

Does a good pastor have the right leadership skills?

Driscoll has had very good leadership skills for corporate America. He could get a legit NY Times bestseller by writing about gaining and keeping power.

A.J.’s pastor was dominant enough in his church circles to maintain a leadership position and a mantle of authority.

Yet what once grew later fell apart.

I thought, in the Christian faith, what genuinely grows never falls apart.
 
Ministeries falling apart, individuals falling apart
 

‘Just no': Viewers wish Chris Matthews would ‘suffocate on his white privilege’


Colin Foote Burch:

THE ONLY REASON this is funny? Because Chris Matthews is a consistently sanctimonious, more-righteous-than-thou parody of earnest, in-crowd, Northeastern liberals.

Originally posted on Twitchy:

“I’m a white guy,” MSNBC’s Chris Matthews for some reason chose to clarify Monday night as he returned from a week away to host “Hardball.” His “crazy defensive whiteness syndrome” was too much for some viewers, though.

View original 335 more words

10 of Robin Williams’ Funniest Moments From Johnny Carson to His USO Tour


Colin Foote Burch:

Brilliant, hilarious, politically incorrect — an excerpt of Robin Williams at “Inside the Actors Studio.”

Originally posted on TIME:

“Comedy is acting out optimism,” Robin Williams is supposed to have said. That quote may be true or apocryphal, but as a comedian who became an Oscar-winning actor, he would know.

While Williams became better known as an actor, stand-up was his entrée into life on stage. His sets were fierce and fearless and wildly spontaneous, veering away from established routines at the drop of a hat, or the sight of a pocket camera, into new, hilarious territory. His jokes ranged from the oddball (“Do you think God gets stoned? I think so … look at the platypus”) to the quotidian (“The first time I tried organic wheat bread, I thought I was chewing on roofing material”) to the political (“You could talk about same-sex marriage, but people who have been married say ‘It’s the same sex all the time'”) — and he tackled all of them with the same…

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