Editing Update June 28 – Piecing Up the Picks

It’s easy to think that you’re writing a book because of what you’ve learned, but I wonder if I’ve actually learned more than I would’ve otherwise BECAUSE I’m writing this book. It’s forcing me to synthesize what I’ve observed in my own experiences of surviving spiritual abuse, along with concepts I found in Scripture because I had no where else to turn for answers on what happened, along with practical things I’ve learned since then to help me move from victim to survivor to overcomer. I trust my identity is in Christ, and not in the layer of life dealing with malignant ministry leaders.

The past few days have helped me understand why this editing process bogged down for a while. Yes, editing is slow-going work. But there was something else going on …

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Editing Update June 23 – Prayer Brings Breakthrough!

Editing your own writings can be excruciating … well, make that “IS,” not “can be”! I have so much material to draw from on this first book that it’s been hard to find a pathway through it. I want to make it workable and practical and digestible, but it’s seemed impossible. Very frustrating …

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Editing *Safe Houses for God’s People* – Update June 18

Things rarely go as quickly as we think they will (or “should”). I expected to be halfway done in the final editing of the first of two companion books on developing ministries that are safe, healthy, and sustainable. While I’ve made significant progress, I’m only about a third done. So, I continue to plod on forward … Continue reading

Can I Edit *Safe Houses for God’s People* in a Month?

In one way, I have been working toward this month for 21 years, since I started a curriculum on cultural studies in 1991. In another way, it’s been over 3 years, since I did the first draft of the curriculum in 2009-2010. The experiences of surviving five different (but all devastating) malignant ministries go back 5, 10, 20, 25, and 35 years. If nothing else, this month is a milestone for transitioning from the process of “processing” the past to completion of something redemptive and constructive for the future. Perhaps the manuscript will ready for review by July. That would be amazing, and I pray it gets done by then. Watch the progress as I post update reports periodically … and would definitely appreciate your prayers for a productive month! Continue reading

Lessons from The Hunger Games 5C – Identifying Cults: Ultimate Vision, Reductionist Language, Ideological Conformity, and Social Ostracism

5. How Do We Discern Dystopian Dynamics and Totalitarian Tactics? POST SUMMARY: This post introduces and overviews Robert Jay Lifton’s eight criteria for totalitarian thought reform (“brainwashing”) systems. It also gives some learning exercises for two groups: survivors of spiritual abuse and their personal network, and organizational designers/leaders who want to develop healthy and sustainable ministries. Note: I have split this material into three parts so readers can receive the best benefit from it.

Part 5A prepares our thinking with a review of previous points in the series for discerning an abusive/dystopian system, thoughts on totalitarian tactics from The Hunger Games trilogy, and the “before” part of the learning exercise.

Part 5B summarizes Dr. Lifton’s system for identifying “cults” and how the various elements work together. It then explores the first four of his eight criteria, dealing with: communications, motivations, absolutism, and confession.

Part 5C explores the final four of Dr. Lifton’s eight criteria: ultimate vision, language, ideological conformity, and ostracism. It also gives the “after” part of the learning exercise, and draws out three key issues for putting “brainwashing” into perspective.

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Lessons from The Hunger Games 5B – Identifying Cults: Authoritarian Communications, Motivations, Restrictions, and Confessions

5. How Do We Discern Dystopian Dynamics and Totalitarian Tactics? POST SUMMARY: This post introduces and overviews Robert Jay Lifton’s eight criteria for totalitarian thought reform (“brainwashing”) systems. It also gives some learning exercises for two groups: survivors of spiritual abuse and their personal network, and organizational designers/leaders who want to develop healthy and sustainable ministries. Note: I have split this material into three parts so readers can receive the best benefit from it.

Part 5A prepares our thinking with a review of previous points in the series for discerning an abusive/dystopian system, thoughts on totalitarian tactics from The Hunger Games trilogy, and the “before” part of the learning exercise.

Part 5B summarizes Dr. Lifton’s system for identifying “cults” and how the various elements work together. It then explores the first four of his eight criteria, dealing with: communications, motivations, absolutism, and confession.

Part 5C explores the final four of Dr. Lifton’s eight criteria: ultimate vision, language, ideological conformity, and ostracism. It also gives the “after” part of the learning exercise, and draws out three key issues for putting “brainwashing” into perspective.

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Lessons from The Hunger Games 5A – Dystopian Dynamics, Totalitarian Tactics, and Lifton’s Criteria for Identifying “Cults”

5. How Do We Discern Dystopian Dynamics and Totalitarian Tactics? POST SUMMARY: This post introduces and overviews Robert Jay Lifton’s eight criteria for totalitarian thought reform (“brainwashing”) systems. It also gives some learning exercises for two groups: survivors of spiritual abuse and their personal network, and organizational designers/leaders who want to develop healthy and sustainable ministries. Note: I have split this material into three parts so readers can receive the best benefit from it.

Part 5A prepares our thinking with a review of previous points in the series for discerning an abusive/dystopian system, thoughts on totalitarian tactics from The Hunger Games trilogy, and the “before” part of the learning exercise.

Part 5B summarizes Dr. Lifton’s system for identifying “cults” and how the various elements work together. It then explores the first four of his eight criteria, dealing with: communications, motivations, absolutism, and confession.

Part 5C explores the final four of Dr. Lifton’s eight criteria: ultimate vision, language, ideological conformity, and ostracism. It also gives the “after” part of the learning exercise, and draws out three key issues for putting “brainwashing” into perspective.

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Big Milestone – Entering My 10th Year of Blogging

Well, it’s April 1st, 2012, and I’m finally entering into my 10th year of blogging.

Who woulda guessed that some old guy like me would have blogged his way into the final year of an entire decade?

And yes, I did officially begin my first blog – beyondposthuman on blogspot, to be exact – on April Fool’s Day of 2003. [Yea, verily, make of that what thou willt.] At the insistence of my friends Andrew Jones and Shannon Hopkins, and with the encouragement and well-wishes of Austinian friends and co-WabiSabians, I did.

And now here I am, at least 300,000 words later (not all of ‘em necessarily worth readin’), and this my 300th post on my WordPress futuristguy blog, but glad to have been on this journey.

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Chronology of Books on Spiritual Abuse and Recovery

General Resources on Spiritual Abuse and Recovery – as of March 2012

I’ve been working on this reference/resource list for a while now. If all goes well, I’ll be updating it periodically. It’s a select list (but I’m trying to get it more and more comprehensive over time). I’m looking for Christian books primarily, plus a few that are from other religious/spiritual backgrounds and some academic volumes. I’m also including a few select titles on spiritual abuse and cults that are now considered “classic,” regardless of whether they are Christian in their perspective or not. Overall, this includes books that deal with such topics as:

  • Authoritarian Leaders
  • Church Discipline
  • Dechurched Disciples
  • Faulty Teachings, Heretical Teachings, and Cults (some general, some very specific)
  • Legalistic Theologies
  • Recovery and Restoration
  • Religious Addiction
  • Spiritual Abuse
  • Toxic Churches/Organizations

I also wanted to put these books in chronological order, as a potential study tool for understanding how the history of wider Church-based concern about “malignant ministry” has developed. This is in part because, as a 20-something-year-old, I endured a devastating church split that came closer to claiming my faith than anything before or since. That was in 1978, and it would be a dozen years before some of the very first (and also what have turned out to be some of the very best) resource books were published for survivors of such horrific experiences. All I had then were the Scriptures, a few friends to process things with, and a tenuous clinging onto Jesus Christ, that gradually over time turned into a tenacious commitment. Continue reading

Reflections on Malignant Ministries 2: Three Additional Lessons Learned

The past few weeks, I’ve been reflecting on my experiences with various kinds of churches, ministries, and Christian non-profits. Mostly I’ve focused on situations that relate to spiritually abusive leaders and toxic organizations. But I’ve also considered relationships with other Christians where they got into or came out of “christian cults.” I won’t be going into the details here, but I did want to share the big picture of what’s happened. Keeping that big-picture perspective in mind, here are the contours of what I’ve experienced.

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