New Case Study Website Launched: “SBC Abuse Solutions”

Relevant to the many current discussions about SBC and systemic abuse, I just went live with my “SBC Abuse Solutions” website. I’ve been contemplating this kind of site for several years, as a centralized place to bring together various writings I’ve done on the SBC, to help people identify, research, and resolve systemic abuse.

Researchers may especially appreciate that I’ve provided details/links for each official SBC entity: nonprofit corporation’s legal name, address, webpage on the SBC site, entity website, EIN (unique Employer Identification Number issued by the IRS to a 501c3 non-profit corporation), ProPublica profile page (which links to required Forms 990s), and any recent official statement(s) regarding sexual abuse issue. Accrediting agencies are included for the six SBC seminaries.

It seemed only natural to develop my writings about the SBC into a case study site. I’ve participated in SBC churches/ministries for 30 of the last 45 years and have written a lot lately about overlaps between toxic systems and problems in the SBC. The site is about 75% finished. I plan to complete the rest this month.

I’ve designed it for those who believe that SBC local churches and official entities NEED to change–and that we CAN implement genuine and long-lasting systemic changes. But I’m reminded of the old joke:

How many psychiatrists does it take to change a lightbulb?

Just one, but the lightbulb really, really has to want to change!

Same with the SBC — does it, as a wider system, really really want to change or not? The SBC churches and entities dealing with abuse issues has been a ver-r-ry slo-o-ow train comin’ . And it may or may not ever get to the station. Hoewver, 2020 looks to be a watershed year for Southern Baptists, as they must decide whether to make significant progress on systemic abuse as a larger community, or practically guarantee their irrelevance for evangelism, missions, and discipleship in a world where 1 in 3 women is victimized by sexual abuse/violence — same in America, and about 1 in 4 men. With that percentage of the global population reeling from the effects of such trauma, how can we not try to ensure that we get how to minister to abuse survivors and ensure that our organizations are safe places for people to congregate?

SBC Abuse Solutions is likely the most detailed case study I’ll ever produce with background info; analysis of system issues; and practical guidelines for processes to evaluate problems, implement change procedures, and follow through with relational and organizational repairs.

I hope these reference + resource materials help repair damages inflicted during past and present abuse situations in the SBC, and foster stronger intervention into current cases, ministry to survivors, and systemic safeguards for prevention of victimization in the future.

And with that, now I go hide in my office and keep my nose to the grindstone to work on editing the rest of the material for this SBC site, and then continue with the training materials on how to identify and deal with malignant people and toxic systems.

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A Cultural Geography of Survivor Communities – Part 8: Coming Full Circle on Issues That Could Divide Us

 

 

PART 8: Conclusion

Coming Full Circle on Issues That Could Divide Us.

In December 2018, I started posting a series on “cultural geography of survivor communities.” As it unfolded, it turned out far longer and more detailed than I’d anticipated. But, it seemed the thing to do at the time, and I’m glad I did. It’s my time capsule that summarizes the past 10 years of trends among abuse survivors and advocate ministries, and attempts to provide a snapshot of where things stand in 2019.

I’d eventually planned to conclude the series with a post analyzing distinctives and conflicts within in the broader Christian #MeToo movement. After all, that is what I began with in Part 1B. However, due to other writing commitments that begin in January 2020, I am not able to invest the time needed to complete that piece the way I’d originally hoped for. But I will wrap up the series with some key points of observation and analysis. It’s a bit rough and random, but it’s the best I can do with the time I have available.

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A Meaningful, Multiplied Matryoshka Haus Thanksgiving! Part 2: Recollections from the Celebration

I mentioned in Part 1: Backstory that I expected to follow up on that big picture of Matryoshka Haus’ origins and overall direction with a post more specifically about the Thanksgiving celebration. Part 2 is that post. (And, when more details about the three sibling non-profits are available, I’ll add Part 3 with that news and some thoughts on what it could mean for MHaus’ future.)

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How best to convey the ambience and significance of the Matryoshka Haus Thanksgiving? I thought about this off and on for a few weeks, and decided to share the flow of the overall framework, punctuated by photos, some scans of the program brochure, and a few personal recollections. Continue reading

A Meaningful, Multiplied Matryoshka Haus Thanksgiving! Part 1: Backstory

SUMMARY. I returned Tuesday from a trip to London to celebrate a milestone Thanksgiving with the good people of Matryoshka Haus – which has been both a community and a non-profit, founded 16 years ago by Shannon Hopkins. I’ve been associated with them since early on, and served as an archivist, editor, and interactor.

I’m blogging a short series about this unique organization, which was awarded a “Traditioned Innovation” designation from Duke University in 2018, in recognition of their significant contributions to making a difference through social transformation entrepreneurship.

MHaus leaders invested 2019 in discerning their way forward as an organization, adopting some crucial choices that opt for an agile institution that can last beyond two generations, instead of orbiting around past forms leading to fragile institutionalization. Part 1 shares their backstory, Part 2 about the milestone process, and Part 3 about choosing multiplication, not division; and specialization, not separation.

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In my work as a futurist, I sometimes share a definition of an institution as being “an organization that lasts beyond two generations.” That means the organization’s legacy outlives its founders. What does it require, for that to be a positive?

The current members must provide enough flexibility and freedom for their “spiritual grandchildren” to discern their own cultural times and how to adapt the purpose, mission, and vision for impact in their own generation.

The alternative to growing into this kind of institution is to become institutionalized – inflexible, circling around the past instead of moving into the future. Unfortunately, too many organizations remain on that pathway instead of choosing a forward trajectory. It results in their losing agility and instead developing fragility.

Thankfully, the Matryoshka Haus non-profit team paused in 2019, investing much of its energy into considering the organization’s past and present, so they could find the optimal way forward. Their process gives me confidence they’ll continue their dynamic impact through relating, advocating, consulting, producing social entrepreneur tools, and more. Meanwhile, the London community that birthed this non-profit continues to evolve and is finding its way forward as well.

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  • Part 1: Backstory to a Forward-Looking Community, and Evolving from One to Three
  • Part 2: Recollections from the Celebration
  • Part 3: MHaus and To Be Announced …

Wishing all y’all a meaningful Thanksgiving Thursday! I already had a T-day, actually, this past Sunday in London. I was a guest at the 16th annual Matryoshka Haus “Britican/Ameritish Thanksgiving” celebration. It was wonderful to be there with the MHaus community to mark a year of transitions for them, and to look forward to new things that were evolving.

Change involves both losses and gains, and this year represented an extraordinary level of change for both the Matryoshka Haus community and the non-profit ministry organization. More about that in a bit … but thought I’d share some first-hand history on the origins of this extraordinary gathering of people.

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Three Questions to Help Us Discern and Decide Our Trajectory of Transformation

Earlier this month, I was out of town for my Aunt Virginia’s memorial service. Auntie V once was asked to sum up her life. She was a natural/intuitive futurist, and said it was “the ability to understand things to come.” She exercised *The Art of the Long View* in politics & community service decades before Peter Schwartz wrote his book by that title.

At her memorial, I shared how visionaries inspire individuals & communities to look beyond apparent limitations to see new POSSIBILITIES. Futurists don’t give THE answers to problems, but use research and questions to facilitate processes where you choose PREFERRED path forward. In essence, communities ARE the answer to their questions, and they can benefit from input to hold up a mirror so they can see it for themselves.

Figuring out our personal or social pathways forward is not a passive process. So, I also shared how I see hope, imagination, and prayer intertwined. Together, they activate our vision & motivate our work toward a future that is different from what otherwise seems inevitable.

If there is one “human universal” that drives a desire for transformation, it’s to make a better world for next generations. We could use more “futuring” to discover & pursue our personal passions, plus develop common ground for the common good in bettering our communities.

Doesn’t every era need this kind of input, to draw out & amplify our trajectory of transformation? I find it fascinating: 3,000+ years ago, the tribe of Issachar had members whose life & legacy was to understand the times & discern what Israel should do. (1 Chronicles 12:32)

If you’re interested in some of the specific tools and techniques involved in strategic foresight (studies of the future), here’s a tutorial, “So What’s a Futurist?” In it, I overview the kind of futuring skills I learned in a one-to-one intensive training over 20 years ago.

When I shared a tribute to Auntie V, I boiled futuring down to three key questions.

1. Helping people see our connections with one another, our interdependence–and welcoming all people of good will to consider how to seek common ground for the common good. The question is, WHO NOW?

2. Using either/or analysis plus both/and synthesis skills to find relevant cultural trends that no one can control–but that will deeply affect or direct our pathway forward as communities–and challenging us to imagine together the constructive (and potential destructive) possibilities. The question here is, WHAT IF?

3. Equipping people to see their way to a paradigm/culture shift by identifying trends that will have significant effects on them, finding patterns of plausible changes, and presenting that in story form to confront them with emotional impact of choices. The question: WHERE NEXT?

I had some fascinating conversations about geeky futurist stuff with my Aunt Virginia — social change, next generations, the pursuit of hope. I’m grateful to have had her as a role model in my own work in social change and advocacy … and to have shared that tribute in her honor.

Here are some quotes I particularly like related to the drive we have to pursue the common good, make things better for next generations, and be activated by hope and pray as we engage our imagination about a more preferable pathway forward.

Helen Haste Quote, *The Sexual Metaphor*, 1994

Angela Merkel Quote, July 2018

 

Impeachment — A Key Resource I Recommend for Keeping Up With the News

A friend asked me about journal articles on historical and legal issues about impeachment that I could recommend. I haven’t kept up with those, but here is the best basic resource book I can recommend, to help you keep up with the news about potential impeachment proceedings.

My top recommendation is Impeachment: A Handbook, by Charles Black and Philip Bobbitt (2018, new edition; Yale University Press; ISBN 978-0300238266). Various editions going back to the 1970s are available — but make sure to get the newest edition (2018), as it adds essential new material. [Image of newest version to be added. The edition shown is the 1998 reissue.]

This book is relatively brief, considering the historical, legal, political, and media dimensions involved. It covers the key issues to be able to understand the questions being asked and technical issues being raised.

The original portion of the book by Charles Black was written in 1974, coming out of the Watergate/Nixon impeachment situation. It covers the essentials of the constitutional procedures for the House to accuse and the Senate to convict or acquit, what “impeachable” offenses are, and issues regarding the US court system. (A lot of those came up with Richard Nixon, as he sought multiple ways to impede the investigations.)

New material added in 2018 by Phillip Bobbitt covers the history of presidential impeachment since Nixon, legal/criminal issues, and responses to common misbeliefs about impeachment. (These misbeliefs are ones I’ve heard expressed as far back as the Watergate era, so that is an important section to have available.)

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Secondarily, if you’re interested in tracking the history of how the broader uses of impeachment (not just for a president) have been politicized and culturized the last 50+ years, see The Age of Impeachment: American Constitutional Culture Since 1960, by David E. Kyvig (University of Kansas Press; 2008; ISBN 978-0700615810). It gives a chronological survey of impeachment situations in recent history, and the essential issues/lessons we can distill from each.

If you’re interested in the origins of impeachment in the American Constitution, and various applications check out The Genius of Impeachment: The Founders’ Cure for Royalism, by John Nichols (The New Press; 2006; ISBN 978-1595581402). Be aware of the author’s bias, based on the time in which this was written and the controversies surrounding then-recent presidents and administrations. Given that, I suggest this book as the one I’ve seen with the most historical background on the genesis of impeachment in our constitution.

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OTHER WATERGATE AND IMPEACHMENT RESOURCES

Since impeachment inquiries are rare, questions about Watergate and comparisons to the Nixon impeachment will likely arise in days to come. I was majoring in political science during the era of the Watergate and the House impeachment proceedings — and even took a course they had to keep up with the constitutional, public administration, and media issues that were coming up.

I’ve collected Watergate-related resource materials over the years, as it is one of the case studies I use to demonstrate various dimensions of toxic organizational systems, how they become corroded, and the consequences thereof. I’ve organized the sources here: Watergate and Corruption.

This visual bibliography gives DVD and book titles dealing with a wide range of topics and perspectives, along with links to the original publisher’s pages wherever possible. I am adding a section with books/links just on legal and historical issues regarding impeachment.

Hope you’ll find this of help in researching related topics of interest.

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Bilbo’s Acorn, and Finding Hope in Battle

~ With Birthday Greetings on September 22nd

to Bilbo and Frodo Baggins!

I find the scene about Bilbo Baggins and his acorn one of the most poignant in the third movie of The Hobbit series: The Battle of the Five Armies. It takes place in the ruins of Erebor, the dwarf palace in the Lonely Mountain. King Thorin Oakenshield – whose heart and mind have been overtaken by Gold Fever – sees that Bilbo has something in his hand. Is it the Arkenstone – the heirloom of his house?

Thorin: What is that – in your hand? Show me!

Bilbo: I picked it up in Beorn’s garden.

Thorin: You carried it all this way?

Bilbo: I’m going to plant it in my garden, in Bag End.

[Thorin smiles and chuckles, seeming as if the Dragon Sickness from gold has gone.]

Bilbo: One day, it’ll grow. [He huffs a smile.] And every time I look at it, I’ll remember … Remember everything that happened. The good, the bad … and how lucky I am that I made it home.

I’m a very visual and concrete thinker, so I often use physical objects as reminders of memorable moments and milestones, and the people who were part of them. They become a sort of liturgy of hope. Sometimes – not every time – I hold and look at them, I call to mind the events of the past, recount their impact for good and/or ill, and express gratitude to God for sustaining me through it all.

It’s a way to practice the sentiments of seeking God that we find in Lamentations 3, especially verses 19-25 (NIV, via Biblegateway), especially in the midst of the troubles and battles of life.

I remember my affliction and my wandering,
    the bitterness and the gall.
20 I well remember them,
    and my soul is downcast within me.
21 Yet this I call to mind
    and therefore I have hope:

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”

25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;

Back to Bilbo and his hopeful little acorn, there is an even more poignant follow-up scene that was shot, but not included in the theatrical cut of the film, or even in the Extended Edition. Thankfully, we do find it in the Appendices Part 11, Section 7 on “The Cloud Bursts.” This is a segment about battles in the city of Dale, and the acorn scenes and commentary from Peter Jackson and key actors in those scenes start at about 23:20 minutes in.

To set the stage, the fight in Dale against the forces of evil is not going well. A moment arrives when there is a lull in the battle, and Bard the Bowman, Gandalf the Grey, and Bilbo Baggins have a crucial conversation, capped with a surprising twist.

Bard: The causeway has fallen! The elves still hold an open gate!

Gandalf: Not for much longer.

Gandalf: Get some bowmen up into those towers!

Bard: There are no bowmen left …

[Gandalf looks anguished. The scene shifts to snippets of fighting where orcs are prevailing.]

Bard [on the verge of tears]: I let myself imagine this city restored. We would take what had been destroyed and rebuild it. We would wash away this sadness – and the streets would once again be filled with life … full of hope.

Bilbo [winded]: No, no – no, no, no, no! Come now, don’t despair!

Bard: What would you have us do?

Bilbo [sighing]: Huh. Do? Do …? Here. [He nods his head for them to follow as he walks, just staggering a bit, to a nearby patch of ground.] Here, I’ll show you. [He puts down his sword, Sting, and begins digging into the earth with his hands.]

Bard: Bilbo!

Bilbo: [He reaches into his jacket, pulls out the acorn, and holds it up to show them.] Yeah?

[Gandalf and Bard look something between confused and bewildered. Bilbo gently places the acorn into the hole in the ground. In the background the Shire theme by Howard Shore plays as he fixes the acorn there and then covers it over with dirt.]

Bard: What is that?

Bilbo: [Huffing, he picks up his sword, stands, and faces Bard. He whispers.] That’s a promise.

[Now speaking in full voice, but still winded from fighting.] Underneath all that blood and dirt, there is a chance of new life. It may sound hopeless. It may sound foolish. But, uhh, really, what else can you do? When faced with death [he points Sting at the fighting beyond them], what can anyone do? [He points Sting at the place where he planted the acorn.] You go on living! Hmm?

Part of what makes this scene – and especially the commentary – so emotional is that it is in the context of a tribute to Andrew Lesnie, the Director of Photography on both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. Sadly, he died of a heart attack at age 59. They weave a clip of him into the commentary on the acorn scenes, and I find it a powerful memorial to their friend.

Why is this theme of the acorn and finding hope coming to mind for me today? Not just because September 22nd is Bilbo’s and Frodo’s birthday, but because of my many survivor/advocate friends who are battling against toxic systems with institutionalized abuse.

Perhaps today is a good day for planting acorns …

Meme from IMGFLIP.COM.