Creating and Sustaining a Safer Blogging Environment

I was part of a team effort with Julie Anne Smith to write a recent post on Spiritual Sounding Board, A Warning to Commenters: Be Aware of Potential Blog Owner/Moderator Intrusiveness. This post created a significant amount of heat about spiritual abuse survivor blogs. But the controversy also potentially brought forth an important amount of light about the dynamics of survivor blog owners and commenters on them.

I spent time over the past few days trying to process it all into something clear and constructive. That’s because I found it disturbing that a huge number of assumptions were being floated in all directions. For instance, some blog owners assume it is automatically okay to use a commenter’s email to follow up with them, while others found that a horrifying intrusion through misuse of unpublished information. And some commenters assume the comment system requires them to use their real name, while others chided them for such childish ignorance.

To me, this culture clash and condescension was unnecessary. All it takes to start creating better understanding is being clear and transparent about our blog policies and practices. Then people can know exactly what we do, can grapple to comprehend why (if they want to), and post questions or challenges if they desire. But we have a deep problem if we think we are above writing out our otherwise-invisible assumptions by posting our actual concrete practices.

So, I did the best I could to summarize information that I think will contribute to a more civil and safer blogging environment – especially for those of us who come from backgrounds of spiritual abuse and are often more sensitized to anything that smacks of secrecy and/or bullying. Here are practical suggestions for commenters and for blog owners/moderators, followed by the example of revised commenting policies that I posted on my own futuristguy blog earlier today. Continue reading

Review of *UnLeader* by Lance Ford

Hear ye, hear ye … I have just posted my first-ever book review on Amazon!

It is for UnLeader: Reimagining Leadership … and Why We Must, by Lance Ford (Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 2012). I received a review copy in September 2012 and read it then — and have peeked at it (and the stack of notes I wrote!) off and on ever since. I was planning to post a review last year, but other circumstances took over for a while and many things disappeared into that vortex.

However, what the time-lag added to the writing of my review was the reality that for 16 months, UnLeader keeps coming back to mind as really something extraordinary. I hope what I’ve posted will give a fresh and helpful perspective on grasping the value of what Lance Ford has produced, and the gift it is to the Kingdom. I also hope you will buy a copy, read it, and be changed by the  powerful and empowering message that Lance Ford offers!

And here is that review … Continue reading

Invitation to Participate in a New Research Study on Spiritual Abuse

Dr. Barb Orlowski is looking for spiritual abuse survivors to complete a survey…

Six years ago, a friend blogged about Barb Orlowski looking for survivors of spiritual abuse to fill out a survey about their experiences and recovery. This was for Barb’s doctoral project. I participated – it changed my life!

Back then, the landscape of the survivor community was way less developed, and there was far less research available. Dr. Orlowski’s ground-breaking work deservedly got published in the book Spiritual Abuse Recovery: Dynamic Research on Finding a Place of Wholeness (Wipf & Stock, 2010). All the while, she’s continued working behind the scenes to minister to survivors, get them connected, and provide new resources. Her compassionate investment in this marginalized community has made an incredibly positive impact for the Kingdom!

And now Dr. Orlowski is looking for spiritual abuse survivors for a new study. It uses a similar set of questions to her 2008 survey, but she is also looking to research how widespread spiritual abuse is. If you are a survivor and didn’t participate in her original study, please consider helping her with this one. I know from experience that it provides an invaluable opportunity to reflect carefully on what happened to us, and synthesize that with intuitive hunches about issues like:

  • What made me susceptible to spiritual abuse?
  • How do toxic leaders capture followers and then keep them under control?
  • What process did I undergo to bring healing from those wounds by religious wolves?

I believe you’d find taking this survey helpful to you, too, if this is the right time for you to think through the destructive impact of abuse, and how reconstruction has been happening in your personal life. The invitation letter with details from Dr. Orlowski is below. Continue reading

“Launch CD-ROM Notes” Goes Live!

CD / DVD data storage Concept, Fotolia #46016849, © Nmedia and licensed to Brad Sargent/futuristguy.

CD / DVD data storage Concept, Fotolia #46016849, © Nmedia and licensed to Brad Sargent/futuristguy.

Hear ye, hear ye! I’ve just gone-live with my latest futuristguy media blog, Launch CD-ROM Notes!

It’s my latest building block in a series of media blogs related to my training curriculum on “designing and organizing for holistic social change with a systems perspective, intercultural paradigm, and interdisciplinary processes.” Continue reading

Sample Chapter: Ground Zero – Getting the Big Picture

Group work is already hard enough, especially when bringing together people from diverse backgrounds with a goal of pursuing actions for the common good. We need practical tools to help us reduce and resolve friction over differences, create integrity in our processes, and measure the qualitative and quantitative aspects of both our project impacts and their costs. But we do also need more …

Sadly, sincere people can inflict horrific damage, even while attempting to do good. In my 40 years of non-profit work and volunteerism, I’ve experienced far too many negative effects of abusive leaders, dysfunctional teams, toxic organizations, and wobbly collaborations. At their worst, these led to leader and/or volunteer burnout, unresolved conflict, emotional abuse, poorly conceived processes, absent procedures, preferential treatment of some, marginalization of others, irresponsible goals, failure to document or evaluate the legacy we’re creating, and gross waste of resources. It is an unfortunate irony that attempts at social transformation could prove so destructive.

I believe we can do better in doing good! That is why I chose to see the personal costs I paid in bad experiences as an investment toward creating an approach to doing good and doing no harm. I do not want to see happen to others what happened to me. Doing some good never makes up for inflicting simultaneous and significant hurts to recipients or participants. So, I’ve written this book with many original, integrative frameworks that explore sources of teamwork conflict and resources for healthy collaboration. I believe it will prove a powerful tonic to counteract change-project toxins … Continue reading

Part 1: What is “Do Good, Plus Do No Harm” About?

1. What is “Do Good, Plus Do No Harm” About?

“Answer Balance” © Scott Maxwell. Fotolia #7281912. Licensed to Brad Sargent/futuristguy.

“Answer Balance” © Scott Maxwell. Fotolia #7281912. Licensed to Brad Sargent/futuristguy.

Do Good, Plus Do No Harm. Did you wonder where the title for this book came from?

While the theme hearkens back nearly 2,500 years to the Hippocratic oath, the expansion of details comes from my own personal experiences – some delightfully constructive and others woefully destructive. Continue reading

Part 2: The “What, So What, and Now What”

2. The “What, So What, and Now What”

of This Training Curriculum

Building blocks, benefits, and next steps.

“Balancing Gears” © Scott Maxwell. Fotolia #9081260. Licensed to Brad Sargent/futuristguy.

“Balancing Gears” © Scott Maxwell. Fotolia #9081260. Licensed to Brad Sargent/futuristguy.

Sources for Answering Questions on How To Do Good Better

When it comes to doing better at doing good, I find much to learn from immersion service experiences, as I’ll share in the final section of this chapter. I also learn a lot by connecting ancient history and alternative, “speculative history” – otherwise known as science fiction. I’ll periodically bring up points from history, and also from Young Adult Literature (YAL), especially sci-fi and dystopian novels. (As a futurist, I often find YAL to be 15 to 20 years ahead of the mainstream curve in what social trends they explore.) Indulge me for a moment while I draw together a few threads from sci-fi and history to share a key reason I created this entire curriculum.

Continue reading