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.

 

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

The Voices of Redlands ~ In-depth case study in spiritual abuse, advocacy and activism, and (hopefully) eventual restoration.

Because I write regularly on topics of malignant leaders and toxic organizations, sometimes spiritual abuse survivors ask me for help related to their story of experiencing misuse of power by people in ministry. I’m not often able to do that, but occasionally I know I must. And The Voices of Redlands book, video, and website put together by Ryan Ashton, John Baldwin, and their friends was one of those situations. Months ago, I reviewed next-to-final versions of their book. I had a few conversations with Ryan about the purposes of the project and offered feedback on their evidence and analysis.

Today they launched their RedlandsBook website and made their project public. I’ve just watched the seven-minute video of Ryan’s testimony on Facebook, skimmed through the final PDF edition of The Voices of Redlands book they posted, and took a look at their initial website. I would commend this set of materials to you as an important, in-depth case to study. It shows, not just tells, what it feels like to be embroiled in the midst of abuse, what it means to stand up for others as their advocate, how to push back on control as an activist, and ways to support a community that is confused and suffering. Besides being a call to action in their local situation, these all provide tremendous practical resources for anyone thinking through the damaging dynamics of abuse, silencing of victims, and spinning the story.

Continue reading

Research Tools: State-by-State Laws on Clergy MANDATORY Reporting of Child Abuse

The most recent Research Tools post was State-by-State Laws on Sexual Violence Issues, Including Clergy Sexual Misconduct (aka “Fiduciary Duty”). There is some overlap between this post and that one’s sources for links. But that one is on broader concerns of sexual violence while this post focuses in on the issue of clergy as mandatory reporters of known/suspected child sexual abuse. Continue reading

Research Tools: State-by-State Laws on Sexual Violence Issues, Including Clergy Sexual Misconduct (aka “Fiduciary Duty”)

I’m in the midst of editing a book chapter on character/moral, legal, regulatory, and professional aspects of church and Christian non-profit leaders. In some prior tweets and posts, I’d merged the concepts of professional “fiduciary duty” with power differential in cases of clergy sexual involvement with congregants. Tweeter XianAtty let me know that the two aren’t always the same. So, I wanted to do what I could to correct my understanding of this issue, and also to find online resources that clarify when “clergy sexual misconduct” is both an ethical issue because of biblical mandates on morals and on people considered leaders, AND a legal issue because of the power differential between clergy and congregant nullifies the legal defense of “consent.” Continue reading

An Open Letter to “Together for the Gospel”: Don’t Tether Your Future to C.J. Mahaney’s Past

In the mid-1970s, my sister Romae [pronounced row-MAY] embarked on a journey into activism for those who survive abuse and violence. It began when a friend of hers needed help to escape a situation of physical and emotional battering. Seeing the terrible impact of domestic violence on her friend catalyzed an unknown strength inside my sister. It propelled her in the direction of advocacy for survivors and activism in society. Romae felt compelled by her faith in Jesus Christ to do something that would make a difference for the future. From that point forward, her ministry and service expanded to others who were frequently left to otherwise suffer alone — and who often found themselves abandoned by churches.

Frustratingly, for almost 40 years she found that theologically conservative, evangelical churches were the least responsive to opportunities she offered to train staff and congregations on child sexual abuse prevention, domestic violence, and sexual assault. Still, Romae persevered in this calling to support survivors and prevent more victims. Sadly, she passed away five years ago. But Romae left a legacy of help and hope, along with a fragrant awareness that her strength to carry on as an advocate and activist always came from Jesus Christ, the power of the Holy Spirit, and people’s prayers.

This day — April 12, 2016 — we come to a spotlight moment for “Together for the Gospel,” a theologically conservative, evangelical movement that claims to be dedicated to promoting the good news of Jesus Christ. C.J. Mahaney has been given a prominent public role as a T4G speaker and spokesman. There are protests because of Mr. Mahaney’s dominant leadership over the system of Sovereign Grace Ministries/Churches, which has remained mired in criminal convictions of child sexual abusers, and additional allegations of systemic protection for abusers, failure to report known/suspected abuse, and traumatizing victims and/or neglecting them.

Despite years of documentation about the spiritually corrosive SGM/SGC system, and appeals to various organizations to stop shielding Mr. Mahaney from the consequences of his leadership, still he speaks for and at T4G. This causes great agony to SGM abuse survivors, their families, and those who stand with them. Continue reading