For Such A Time As This Rally 2020

FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS VIRTUAL RALLY 2020. For 20 years I’ve watched to see what SBC individuals and institutions would do in dealing with issues of systemic abuse. I’ve posted what research I could, sounded the alarm when I felt I should.

SBC systems, leaders, and stewards demonstrate evidence of extensive and historic corrosion by power and complacency about all forms of abuse. Specific situations have been documented for decades by abuse survivors, and the extent of it was also exposed in 2019 by the #AbuseOfFaith series by the Houston Chronicle/San Antonio Express investigative reporting team.

Before the #SBC19 annual meeting, I concluded the SBC had only a year left–through June 2020 and #SBC20–to prove any substantive movement institutionally on #SBCToo and abuse. Despite a few steps forward, it did double steps backward. In light of this, I am asking these question:

* Is this the SBC’s “Ichabod moment”?

* Has any glory that was there departed because of refusal to minister to the needs of a large segment of church and community who’ve been traumatized by sexual abuse (1 in 3 women, 1 in 4 men)?

* After decades of systemic complacency *institutionally* about abuse — regardless of what individuals and particular churches do — why should we trust SBC entities purportedly doing anything about it from here on out?

* What must they do to prove genuine repentance and change on their long-standing abuse situation?

For research documentation, analysis, and resource links, see SBC Abuse Solutions website.

https://sbcabusesolutions.wordpress.com/

#SBCtoo
#SBCadvance
#VirtualRally2020
#SBCDatabaseNOW
#forsuchatimeasthisrally

Meanwhile, as an encouragement in the midst of what may seem like immovable odds …

Each of us can contribute something important to the larger picture of being an abuse survivor, advocate, or activist; a trauma-informed counselor, minister, or organizational developer — whether it’s providing pieces of the puzzle, sharing peace in the struggles, even getting pizzas for the huddles! Let’s learn, transform, serve.

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For my most recent reflections on the SBC and abuse, see this thread on Twitter.

 

 

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The Hunger Games Prequel–The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes–Release Date: May 19, 2020

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes – screenshot of Scholastic Press product page

PREPARING THE WAY FOR A HUNGER GAMES PREQUEL!

It’s been 10 years since the release of Mockingjay completed The Hunger Games series. As a student of malignant leaders and toxic organizations, I was engrossed by the insightful ways author Suzanne Collins wove truths about social control and trauma throughout the narratives.

Her series gives us a rich source to mine on abuse, resistance, and resilience. I posted an analysis of how those features fit with Robert Jay Lifton’s eight criteria for identifying a “cult” of “totalist psychology” control. This series includes discussion questions for abuse survivors, people in their support network, and organizational developers. My hope is these questions will help build bridges among these audiences.

I also developed a Hunger Games reference fansite for the book and film series. Check it out for links to sources for the books, audiobooks, movies, games, and related materials for study. What have been social impacts of the series? Do you think some fan items may have contributed to over-the-top Capitol-type consumerism?

And now, a prequel novel will be released on Tuesday, May 19th. We can at last return to the nation of Panem, this time to the roots of Districts’ rebellion and The Hunger Games, and the origin story of Panem’s eventual president, Coriolanus Snow. What The Hunger Games did for us in exploring the range of social control tactics, perhaps the prequel(s) will do for us in displaying the route someone takes to complete the searing of their conscience in choosing the pathology of power. Continue reading

NARCISSISM NOTES #13–Trajectories of Transformation, Chapter 9: “Transformation for Narcissists (Is Possible).”

Narcissism Notes share my interactions with material Chuck DeGroat presents in When Narcissism Comes To Church: Healing Your Community from Emotional and Spiritual Abuse.

Can abusive people change? If so, how–and how much? Chapter 9 deals with hard theological and therapeutic questions like these. My notes on this final chapter lay out Chuck’s case for possibilities of change as stratified according to the spectrum of narcissism (detailed in Chapter 2), indicators of openness to change, and who is likely or not to pursue transformation.

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NARCISSISM NOTES #12–Trajectories of Transformation, Ch. 8: “Healing Ourselves, Healing the Church.”

Introduction

Narcissism Notes share my interactions with material Chuck DeGroat presents in When Narcissism Comes To Church: Healing Your Community from Emotional and Spiritual Abuse.

This chapter presents a unique challenge: How do you do justice in just one chapter to the immense issues involved in the healing process when people and organizations have been traumatized by narcissistic abusers of word, deed, and power? There are entire books dealing with that.

And yet, I feel Chuck has done a credible job in that Herculean task to lift up healing with a framework that makes sense for both personal and organizational transformation. His use of the Exodus journey as a metaphor provides a meaningful touchstone for reflecting on the ups and downs of recovery. And his use of three people’s narratives — Paul, Stacy, and Heather — periodically throughout the chapter interweaves how individuals and institutions influence each other in both wounding and healing.

For this chapter, things went in a different direction as far as sharing my thoughts on Chuck’s material. A number of quotes struck me, and I decided to feature them, with a small amount of commentary. After the initial quote “slide,” the rest are numbered in the lower left-hand corner, and those numbers appear at the end of the subheads. Continue reading

NARCISSISM NOTES #11–Systems and Narcissism, Ch. 7: “The Gaslight Is On: Spiritual and Emotional Abuse.”

Introduction

Narcissism Notes share my interactions with material Chuck DeGroat presents in When Narcissism Comes To Church: Healing Your Community from Emotional and Spiritual Abuse. Here are six things that came out of my thinking about the two chapters in which Chuck dealt with dynamics in systems dominated by narcissism–the first three items from Chapter 6 and the last three from Chapter 7.

  1. The whole system gets poisoned/tainted.
  2. Systemic narcissism manifests with two different “faces.”
  3. We can composite deeper insight from viewing sick systems from different angles.
  4. People in self-serving systems try to make you think you’re the sane ones by joining and staying, but the crazy ones if you won’t stay compliant and want to leave.
  5. What we’ve called “gaslighting” is actually a range of toxic tactics.
  6. Important reasons for understanding narcissistic/toxic systems before attempting to start up or transition to a healthy system.

Let’s dive in and see what’s what … Continue reading

NARCISSISM NOTES #10–Systems and Narcissism, Ch. 6: “Understanding Narcissistic Systems.”

Introduction

Narcissism Notes share my interactions with material Chuck DeGroat presents in When Narcissism Comes To Church: Healing Your Community from Emotional and Spiritual Abuse. Here are six things that came out of my thinking about the two chapters in which Chuck dealt with dynamics in systems dominated by narcissism — the first three items from Chapter 6 and the last three from Chapter 7.

  1. The whole system gets poisoned/tainted.
  2. Systemic narcissism manifests with two different “faces.”
  3. We can composite deeper insight from viewing sick systems from different angles.
  4. People in self-serving systems try to make you think you’re the sane ones by joining and staying, but the crazy ones if you won’t stay compliant and want to leave.
  5. What we’ve called “gaslighting” is actually a range of toxic tactics.
  6. Important reasons for understanding narcissistic/toxic systems before attempting to start up or transition to a healthy system.

Let’s dive in and see what’s what … Continue reading

NARCISSISM NOTES #9–My Book Review for *When Narcissism Comes To Church* by Chuck DeGroat

BOOK REVIEW

When Narcissism Comes To Church: Healing Your Community From Emotional and Spiritual Abuse, by Chuck DeGroat (InterVarsity Press; release date March 17, 2020).

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Best broadband introduction I’ve found for all parties affected to identify and deal with abuse.

As a young Christian in college, I survived a brutal, three-year church split that fractured our church into four fragments. I had to decide whether Christianity was a crock and I should discard it, or if something had gone terribly wrong along the way in this church. I was driven to make sense of the horrific treatment I’d seen and the resulting confusion and emotional trauma I’d experienced:

  • How could supposedly Bible-believing Christians do such cruel things to one another?
  • Did the leaders teach and/or live some right things, but in a wrong way?
  • There were no justifications for what happened—but were there other explanations?

There weren’t any books on spiritual abuse recovery back in the 1970s. When Narcissism Comes To Church by Chuck DeGroat is the book I wish I’d had, to help me understand how I’d been susceptible to getting sucked into such a toxic system in the first place, how to interpret the crazy-making tactics of the abusive pastor and his band of enablers who took over the church, how to heal, and how to support the few friends I had left who’d gotten mixed up in that mess.

Like many abuse survivors, I didn’t want what happened to me to happen to others. So, I was always watching for resources on any/all forms of abuse. Eventually I felt led to find or develop ministry resources myself. Since 2007, I’ve invested myself in research writing on subjects related to abusive individuals and the institutions they create or co-opt, recovery and ongoing resilience for survivors, and practical solutions for intervening in and preventing systemic abuse.

On that basis, I can say with confidence that When Narcissism Comes To Church serves as a centerpiece resource for [1] abuse survivors and their personal support/advocacy networks; [2] personal equippers and social change agents (counselors, teachers, writers, activists, social entrepreneurs); and [3] leaders in established churches, plants, and non-profits.

Chuck DeGroat—who has experience and expertise in all three of these groups himself—integrates principles, practices, and personal stories in a masterful way that moves us forward, yet always using personable and accessible language. He introduces a comprehensive range of essential concept frameworks and solution skills that these audiences likely already know they need. He also embeds clues to advanced principles and practices they might not otherwise realize for years that they require in order to go deeper.

I’m thankful for the compassion and wisdom Chuck DeGroat puts on every page. He’s gifted us with a guidebook to personal healing from emotional and spiritual abuse. But his book also gives all parties affected a common vocabulary for the challenging conversations we must be having about individual recovery and support, and institutional rehabilitation and health. This is why, in a time of reckoning on abuse in our congregations and communities, I believe When Narcissism Comes To Church is destined to become a timeless, standard resource.

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