Remembering The White Rose

February 22nd. On this day 75 years ago, three members of the White Rose student resistance group were executed for opposing Nazism. Hans Scholl. Sophie Scholl. Christoph Probst.

I first learned about their courage 50 years ago, from a text my sister translated in her high school German class with Mr. Reid. The article had photos of White Rose members. So full of life – they seemed radiant, yet willingly risked all to stand against evil.

I wondered why.

By raising that question, they planted a seed in me to find out whys and wherefores of resistance, a course I’ve pursued 50 years.

The New York Times published an article by Richard Hurowitz on Remembering the White Rose. Here is a quote from it:

“They did not seek martyrdom in the name of any extraordinary idea,” Inge Scholl recalled in her memoir of her siblings and White Rose comrades. “They wanted to make it possible for people like you and me to live in a humane society.”

The sentiment makes me ponder:

What change-seeds do we plant?

What legacy do we leave for next generations?

How might our pursuit of hope, service, and justice affect the course of the future?

A quote I’ve pondered for the last 25 years continues to challenge me to keep those kinds of questions in mind:

In the long run, what counts is how the next generation thinks. How far new ideas permeate culture is not measured just by attitude change during one generation, but by what is taken for granted in the next. ~ Helen Haste

Perhaps I’ll have far greater understanding in another 25 years …

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Training Series Companion Website: Systemic Abuse Researcher Notes

Today I completed the first go-round for all pages on Futuristguy’s Systemic Abuse Researcher Notes. This is an important piece of progress in the overall Training Series system I’ve been developing. It’s the general research tools that go with the four Field Guides and its other companion website with resources specific to every chapter in the book series. So, things are pretty much ready to roll, once the first Field Guide has cover and interior design done.

Here’s some background and the purposes behind this Research Notes website, from one of the posts there:

Some of us bloggers in abuse survivor communities have periodically talked behind the scenes about our need for:

1. Some sort of research clearinghouse for resources on abuse and violence. We see the many underlying similarities among dynamics in all forms of abuse, and also the need for information sources on personal recovery, relational advocacy, and institutional accountability.

2. Some kind of listing about denominational policies, resources, and case studies. Both survivor experiences and research work show that situations of abuse and violence have emerged in every theological stream, every organizational form of church governance, and in both centralized and decentralized networks.

There have been some collaborate efforts toward those goals in the past, but getting a site together or maintaining it have been difficult. Since much of my work in survivor activism has involved research writing articles and case studies, I know the value of having go-to sources on the many complicated, interrelated issues that arise. I felt moved by the recent #MeToo and #ChurchToo movements that this was a providential moment when need #1 — creating a research/resource clearinghouse — was both urgent and important. (Need #2 is still important in the long run. But it would be a huge project, and I believe it would be more effective if core topics on systemic abuse get addressed first as a way to determine criteria to evaluate the efficacy of denominational resources.)

So, this is my attempt to set up a site that can serve as a comprehensive framework for crowd-sourcing additional resources on key research issues, and an accessible format for people to share the findings. (It won’t be a site for resources on recovery from specific types of abuse, violence, or trauma situations. I will leave that for others who feel called to take up that task.)

This new website updates and takes the place of some of the material that’s been on this Futuristguy blog for a while. Specifically:

Mars Hill Case Study main page and Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church Research Guide – Part 1 – Research Guide to Mark Driscoll’s Personal Issues (the first post in the original article series that was later compiled into a page).

The “Pyramid of Abuse” section in the Responsibility for Spiritual Abuse (Compilation of Posts) page and the Responsibility for Spiritual Abuse – Part 2B – The “Pyramid of Responsibility” in Toxic Systems post.

Spiritual Abuse Legal/Media Research page.

I’ve put notes on those posts and pages to alert readers to these updates, but left the original post or page intact.

I hope that having all the key research, statistical, legal information, etc., in one site will make it easier to navigate. Check out the Table of Contents page to see what gets covered!

 

Two Reposts: Pursuing Questions That Lead to the Answer[er] & Finding a Culture’s Quest/ion

“Gold Guy With Question” (c) Scott Maxwell / Fotolia #16798720, Licensed to Brad Sargent.

Introduction (2017)

Questions are something I find central to pretty much everything I do in terms of professional work, personal ministry, and pastimes. Editing is about questioning a text to see if what it says makes sense — or, if not, how to work with the author to refine it so it does. Research writing involves questions that guide the search for details (Who did what?), timelines (When did that happen, and how did that shape the context of what happened?), personal profiles (Who are you, and what drives your life in the pathway that you’re on?), and practicalities (What went wrong, why, and how can we repair that?). As to hobbies, I especially enjoy movies because, it seems to me, each one typically wrestles with two or three Big-Idea-Earth-Shattering-Or-Life-Shaping Questions. So, if I can identify those questions, I have a resource to share with people who are looking for an answer, or who’ve been living out an answer that doesn’t really fit The Question That Drives Their Life.

Anyway, I recently became acquainted with someone who really, REALLY likes the topic of questions. So, I thought I’d edit and repost these for my new friend’s enjoyment. I wrote the first one for Advent almost a decade ago in 2008. That same year, I republished an article from 2004 about questions the catalyze subcultures — another topic I find very intriguing, especially since it ties right in with social change. (I first wrote about subculturization in 1997 and, if all goes well, I’ll be able to pick up that thread again sometime soon to revisit it from the angle of social movements and how social entrepreneurs can navigate them.)

  • Hope Awaits: Pursuing Questions That Lead to the Answer[er] (2008)
  • Finding a Culture’s Quest/ion and Shaping Their Transformative Trajectory (2004)

I hope friends old and new will find something of interest in these articles, in picking up new questions or polishing reflections from old ones. Continue reading

World AIDS Day and Remembering Dr. Lalia Phipps Boone

Today is a significant day of remembrance for me. December 1st is World AIDS Day, which was set in place to encourage awareness of HIV/AIDS and those who are infected or affected by it. December 1, 1990, I attended a Christian conference on HIV/AIDS ministry, and that was part of what confirmed my “calling” to spend as much time as I could over the next seven years, writing and editing resource materials for HIV ministries and churches.

December 1, 1990, was also the day that Lalia Phipps Boone – my mentor in editing – passed away at age 83. Without her influence, I likely wouldn’t have become a writer of HIV ministry resources or much of anything else. So, I want to honor her memory today by telling you a little about her and how my connection with her changed the entire course of my life … and perhaps therefore the course of yours. Continue reading

Lyvonne Picou’s Research on Black Christian Women Survivors of Male Sexual Violence

by Brad Sargent, aka brad/futuristguy,

and cross-posted at Spiritual Sounding Board.

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I am fiercely committed to addressing the taboo and stigma attached to childhood sexual abuse (CSA) in the Black community.”
~ Lyvonne Proverbs Picou

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Occasionally, I find out about surveys or other research related to specific groups in survivor communities. When I do, I encourage people to participate if they’re part of the group under consideration. Even if they’re not, such research findings always contribute to our greater understanding of dynamics involved in various aspects of abuse, violence, sexual misconduct, etc. So, I want to make people aware of Lyvonne’s important research work.

Mutual friends in the social entrepreneurship world of Do Good X recently connected me with Lyvonne “Proverbs” Picou, whose research focuses on African-American women survivors of male sexual violence. Her 13-question confidential survey is posted here:

https://goo.gl/Z42XwA

We got together this past week for coffee and conversation. She shared about her work in African-American churches to bring awareness about male sexual violence against women, about becoming “surthrivors” (a term she coined in 2009), and about how the church needs to shift its culture and language. Lyvonne has a lot of insight into personal recovery and how the arts can play into that, plus ideas and practices local churches can implement to make a positive difference.

Plus I asked Lyvonne to share some of her spoken word work (“Proverbs” is her handle for poetry slams and preaching). She performed a stunning piece about Rahab that I could only describe as “elegant”!

Lyvonne had asked me to share some about my work on systems and systemic abuse in Christian organizations. So, I talked about vastly different types of control systems I’d experienced in various churches, how these can interlock with other organizations to create a Christian industrial complex, and different roles people end up playing, from perpetrators to pawns, in getting an abusive system up and running, or keeping it going.

Then she asked about case studies I knew of on spiritual abuse or sexual misconduct in predominantly African-American churches and ministries. I could only come up with two situations at the time, and in the days since have come up with a few more that I’ve seen addressed on survivor-type blogs. I know there are more – I’ve seen blurbs in news reports or social media. Which leads me to a lot of questions:

  • Why don’t these seem to receive much coverage on survivor blogs?
  • Are we overlooking them?
  • Do we not attract a racially diverse readership, and if so, why?
  • Do we tend to focus on certain theologies, and so are missing some that may be more prominent in African-American churches?

Much to learn … So, I’m looking forward to hearing more from Lyvonne as she continues her research, because the communities she’s in touch with are ones we need to know more about. For instance, I’ve been aware of long-standing general estimates that one out of three girls will be the victims of sexual abuse before age 18. But from one of Lyvonne’s posts, It’s Not a Scandal, It’s a System, I learned of this specific research:

The Black Women’s Blueprint has an ongoing study that found 60% of Black women are sexually abused before they turn 18-years-old. Sixty. Percent. And, since the Black church is 85% women, that means that half of Black church congregations have been sexually abused.

If you’re interested in more about Lyvonne’s educational and theological training, “beautiful scars” ministry, and research work, you’ll find her website here: Lyvonne. The About page has links to her social media accounts plus YouTube videos of her as preacher, poet, and educator.

Meanwhile, thanks for considering participation in this important study – and please share the survey link!

Survivor Blogging Trends 2017: Part Four – Challenge #2

Continuing Challenges in Survivor Blog Communities

Challenge #2 – Listen for the Natural Limits

of Crowd-Sourced Fact Gathering.

A few years ago, I posted an article entitled, Is It Time to Tell My Story? It included suggestions and questions for working through our experiences as survivors of abuse. The two main goals behind doing this were (1) to gain insight by processing what happened to us, (2) so we could share it and hopefully help prevent others from likewise experiencing abuse or help them recover if they’ve been victimized.

One of the frameworks I presented was on different kinds of information. This is important for social media, because – as we’ve seen the trend increasing over recent years – it is full of inaccuracies and outright falsehoods. Some people naively post alt.facts as if they were accurate and legitimate, or disinformation that mixes a bit of truth but the rest is askew, or intentionally inflammatory theories designed to poke people and get a reaction out of them.

Bottom line: If we accept whatever we read at face value, we’re going to absorb a lot of garbage. We need to think critically so we can respond with discernment. Here is what I posted about differences between various kinds of evidences and critical thinking skills: Continue reading

Critique of the “Church Clarity” Scoring System on LGBTQ Policies

Church Clarity is a recently-launched website that promotes churches — especially evangelical ones — clearly stating on their websites their policies on LGBTQ participation. In the homepage section “Our Solution,” they state “Church Clarity is not advocating for policy changes. Together, we’re establishing a new standard for church policy disclosure: We believe that churches have a responsibility to be clear about their policies on their primary websites.” They also state that they “believe that ambiguity is harmful and clarity is reasonable.”

To these ends, their team created a classification/scoring system for how a church website communicates their policies on LGBTQ. So far, their team has applied this system mostly to mega-churches, and they also provide a means for crowd-sourcing information and assessments.

I am for transparency and clarity. And on this issue in particular that has been so contentious, it seems reasonable to expect a church’s or denomination’s overall stance to be accessible and clear for those who seek that information. However, is that assumption fully and really so, does the scoring schema work for all contemporary systems of theologies and policies, and is this enterprise potentially about something besides seeking clarity in disclosure? Continue reading