The Benedict Option: Sam Rocha’s Critical Review and Robert Webber’s Secular Saint

There’s been quite the discussion about Rod Dreher’s recently released book, The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation. It seems to me there’s a lot of hype surrounding its content and applications. It reminds me of what we saw in the “emerging ministry movement” of 20 years ago, with leaders looking for The Next Big Idea that would supposedly change the playing field for relevant ministry. However, such answers often ended up being lists of glib tips and methods and models that supposedly worked anywhere — a nice bypass for the painstaking local work of cultural exegesis and careful contextualization.

I’m not a fan of hypeful answers to complex questions. I prefer figuring out the broader context as a better way to give a more reflective response instead of universal principles that easily slip into quick-fix programs. And, since I have been writing about many things post-modern, post-Christian, and post-Christendom for 20-plus years, I thought it might be helpful to post several resources and thoughts to contribute to the discussion. Continue reading

Training Series Progress Update: Halfway Done with Final Draft of Chapters in Field Guide #1

This morning I finished the final draft of Chapter 8. Who Plays What Roles in a Fully Developed System That Benefits the Few and Takes Advantage of the Many? This is in Futuristguy’s Field Guide #1, which deals with systems and systemic abuse. This marks the halfway point in finalizing the chapters in that volume. After eight more chapters, I have the workbook sections, and then it will be ready for first-readers and then publishing!

Here’s a summary of this chapter, which ties together material on the Pyramid of Abuse. For me, this is a biggee, as far as a milestone. It took a few years to develop this Pyramid of Abuse, describe the roles, and refine the system. Later chapters in the training series will have similar kinds of Pyramids of Advocacy and Activism.

pyramid-of-abuse-2017-b

Pyramid of Abuse (c) 2014-2017 Brad Sargent.

The very top of the hierarchical “Pyramid of Abuse” consists of an autocrat (dictator), oligarchy (group of elites) or plutarchy (group of rich people). These PERPETRATORS run the system, openly and/or secretly.

The next layer down involves people who enforce the will of the one(s) at the top. These PERPETUATORS also typically benefit directly from the system by reaping power, prestige, and prosperity.

The next layer down involves functionaries who keep things running, pressure others into conformity through both positive and negative conditioning, and “just follow orders.” These PROCURATORS are often trying to work their way up in the Pyramid.

Those at the bottom are the masses who are milked as the sources of numbers, funds, and applause to keep the organization going. These PAWNS stay in the system for different reasons: They may know but ignore signs of toxicity, adore the leaders and what they say they stand for, or may be ignorant of warning signs.

LOYAL OPPOSITION seek to change the system from the inside; they can be in any layer of the Pyramid, but tend to be in the lower levels.

As a system, the Pyramid of Abuse also includes outsiders who perform parallel functions. COMMENDERS are supporters who lend their personal reputation and organization’s resources to prop up someone else’s system. In return, they become part of an interlocking directory that keeps multiple such Pyramids afloat in an ocean of victims. RESISTERS against a Pyramid often are survivors of victimization in it or by it. Or, they may just otherwise grasp the devastating human impact of an inhumane system and be committed to bringing justice to the situation. They become relational advocates to support other survivors and/or social activists to hold the insiders accountable for the damage they do.

Copyright and image license notes.

Pyramid of Abuse © 2014-2017 Brad Sargent. (Earlier versions called “Pyramid of Responsibility.”)

All “Gold Guy” images are © Scott Maxwell from Fotolia .com and licensed to Brad Sargent.

PERPETRATORS. Dictators: “Pointing in Hovering Futuristic Chair,” #12413672.

PERPETUATORS. Enforcers: “boxing dummy,” #1368447. Commenders: “superhero dollar,” #713804. Benefitters: “V.I.P. Access,” #5984057.

PROCURATORS. Silencers: “Alien Secret,” #9310273. Prompters: “Alien Thumbs Up,” #9310400. Diverters: “Basketball Big Hand Defense,” #6589772. Drill Instructors: “Gold Guy Thumbs Up,” #20266769. Negators: “Gold Guy Yelling And Pointing Directions,” #15452348. Validators: “Smiling Two Thumbs Up,” #9868732.

PAWNS. Avoiders: “hear see speak no,” #201421. Applauders: “award worship,” #202010. Pawns: “Puzzled Gold Guy,” #16713464. Loyal Opposition: “trapped in gear,” #810428.

 

Do Accuracy, Truthfulness, and Trust in Politics and Media Matter?

Denial

We’re living in a heavily politicized era of outrageous yet unsubstantiated claims, alternative facts, and fake news. Does it matter if a half-truth is slipped in with a series of full-truths? Does it matter if the evidence sourced for such claims is not given at all? Or if it turns out to be fake? Or if it is clearly and severely misinterpreted?

Yes. Continue reading

“Do Good Plus Do No Harm” Curriculum Project ~ Milestone Update

do-good-plus-do-no-harm-masthead-2

I spent much of January writing my final case study on which Field Guide #1 in my curriculum project is based. I also got all the completed chapters and other pieces lined up, and figured out what’s left to do. The really good news is that it looks to be 95% done! Here’s what’s left to produce, with finalizing the text after that:

  • 1 chapter to write part of, then 7 chapters to edit for consistency with the rest of the book.
  • 2 interviews to conduct and transcribe. (I’m keeping the names under wraps for now, but these individuals are very insightful on dealing with systemic abuse and recovery.)
  • 4 short case studies to write (3 movies, 1 historical), and 3 more to edit.
  • Finalize the list of add-on items: posters, worksheets, trading cards with the concepts and illustrations, etc.

I’m very thankful to be almost done, and for the prayers, encouragement, and support of friends along the way!

Starting February 2nd, I will be completing a grant proposal for a client, then I’ll be back at it with Field Guide #1 as soon as I can to finish it. After it’s done, I’ll likely be taking an extended break from social media and blogging on any new topics, as I arrange for next steps in publishing of Field Guide #1, update the companion website [Futuristguy’s Field Guides] with detailed tables of contents and additional resource bibliographies, and launch into Field Guide #2.

And if you’re interested in an overview of what what the curriculum looks, now that it’s been readjusted, see below. Continue reading

International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2017

What can we learn about contemporary forms of systemic abuse from questions raised by case studies of the Holocaust, collaboration, and resistance in World War II?

This post previews questions covered in Volume #2 of my curriculum for social change agents, community developers, missional ministers, and church planters. Case studies from the Holocaust will be prominent in it, but I will also use other historical and contemporary case studies, and movies from various genres, to explore issues of recovery from abuse, advocacy and activism for those who currently have no voice to speak up for themselves, and rehabilitation and remediation for individuals and organizations that have perpetrated abuse. Continue reading

PREVIEW: A Case Study in Systems and Ministry Accountability

A Word of Introduction to This Preview of “UN-accountable”

I have been writing about systems of spiritual abuse for nine years. Much of this work will eventually appear in a series of Futuristguy’s Field Guides, dealing with topics about individuals and institutions involved with toxic systems. And my “UN-accountable” case study on systems of accountability will eventually be published on Spiritual Sounding Board as a guest post series.

However, I have been involved in many discussions lately related to what malignant systems are, how to challenge them, what ways individuals and institutions involved can take responsibility for damages they’ve done, and how to implement a balanced process that keeps apparently competing interests together in a dynamic tension. Other questions have come up about the distinctions among facts, assumptions, opinions, analyses, and interpretations. So, I’m posting this article as a preview to the UN-accountable series, because it gives my thoughts on both of those areas. Continue reading

Peacemaking and Becoming People of Peace ~ Post 5: My Dad as a Person of Peace

Note: I originally posted this article for Fathers Day 2014. I am reposting it here as the (probable) endcap on my series on Peacemaking and Becoming People of Peace. (I say “probable,” as I don’t have other posts planned for this series, but then again, I’ve also learned to be careful about saying “never”!) This post has not been edited, other than to add this opening note and the series name to the title.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

Some things about your parents you just know because you’re there. Other things you figure out, whether early on in family life or later. And some things you may not even find out til some surprises come to light. And one of the things I’ve come to understand better over the years is that my Dad was a “person of peace” … Continue reading