Annotated Reader’s Guide to Futuristguy on Abuse Recovery, Advocacy, and Activism

Issues Involving Individuals, Institutions, Leaders,

Relational and Systems Repair Work, and Technical Research

INTRODUCTORY NOTES: Since 2007, I have done research writing on issues related to individual, institutional, and ideological elements contributing to abuse and violence. The materials I’ve developed draw from two main sources: (1) Personal experiences of participation in organizations that turned out to have malignant leaders and so were toxic, and (2) extensive experiences working with non-profit agencies, churches, and start-ups since 1973. Many of these materials linked to here are technical, some are more personal. I have been reorganizing these and many other articles into four Field Guides to improve the logical flow, and editing them for consistency and accessibility. In the meantime, here are select articles that offer some help on particular aspects of systemic abuse issues.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

Continue reading

Advertisements

Some Thoughts on Supposedly Feminist Men Who Reportedly Abuse/Harass Women

Today, The Wartburg Watch (TWW) published a post about the ongoing Willow Creek/Bill Hybels situation: Nancy Ortberg Claims She Endured an Unwanted Physical Encounter with Bill Hybels and Raises Some Serious Questions About His Behavior.

This is Dee Parsons’ seventh post on related topics. (See Resource Bibliography on Willow Creek Church Situation and Bill Hybels’ Reported Misconduct, which includes her prior posts and other key statements and analysis.) Near the conclusion of the article, she notes:

I am going to ask a hard question. Is it possible that Bill Hybels encouraged the leadership of women in order to increase his own access to women who admired him within the confines of church business, giving him plausible deniability? I do not know the answer to this question but red flags are waving up, down and all around this situation. (emphasis added)

I think this is a crucial question, and I appreciate that Dee has put it forward for consideration in abuse survivor communities. I’ve been thinking along similar lines for a few days, and had thought about writing an extended article, but I don’t have time available to develop it right now, due to other project deadlines. So, I decided to post this short form version with two key thoughts. Continue reading

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!

 

What Makes a Ministry “Safe”?

Introducing Four Core Questions

of “Safe” versus “Sick” Systems

OVERVIEW: I have long held the opinion that it is not enough to critique what is wrong with something, if you are not interested in figuring out what is right with it and extending that, or doing something to help fix and then keep improving what is deficient. Much of my research and writing for the past seven years on futuristguy has been about evaluating problems and moving toward solutions. This article on what makes a ministry or system “safe” versus “sick” introduces four core questions to guide our thinking. Detailed versions of the questions and contrasting responses are part of a forthcoming curriculum for social transformation agents, “Do Good, Plus Do No Harm.”

1. Are we treating people with humanization and hospitality, or objectification and hostility?

  • Humanization places objective value on people simply for their existence, regardless of what they may or may not be able to do for the institution. Objectification values people for what they can do for those in power or for the part they play in keeping the organizational machine going.
  • Hospitality welcomes people in and lifts them up. Hostility keeps people out or holds them down.
  • A good indicator of humanization and hospitality is how we divide people into categories or classes, and treated some differently based on those factors (e.g., age, race, marital status).

2. Are our leaders qualified, unqualified, or disqualified from service in a responsible public role of authority, influence, and decision-making?

  • Leaders are qualified by reason of mature personal character and consistent moral/ethical behavior.
  • Individuals who seek leadership are unqualified if they are personally immature, and/or are under-skilled for the specific requirements of the role sought.
  • Individuals who seek leadership are disqualified by reason of bad personal character and harmful/evil behavior (i.e., immoral/unethical).
  • A good project for figuring out what constitutes role-model-worthy maturity is to create “must-have” and “can’t-have” lists of character qualities and behaviors for leaders, based on Galatians 5:19-26 (the desires of the flesh versus the fruit of the Spirit), and leader profiling in 1 Timothy 3, Titus 1, and 1 Peter 5.

3. Are our organizations structured to dominate and control, or develop and give freedom?

  • With domination, the resources flow from people-as-pawns to their exploiters. With development, the resources flow from and among participants.
  • Control conditions people into functioning outside the demands of their personal conscience and the dreams of their personal direction, and puts the responsibility for directives of “good” versus “harm” on external/organizational sources and forces. Freedom releases people to function responsibly according to their personal conscience and direction, within communal norms of “good” without inflicting “harm.”
  • Very different kinds of organizational structures can still be used to dominate and control its members. For instance, control can be through compliance (like the former Soviet Union), chaos (like the Maoist Cultural Revolution), or charisma (Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple). Authoritarian leaders can control centralized, hierarchical organizations or can co-opt decentralized, “flat structure” networks. And it does not matter whether the scale of the dominated enterprise is small, medium, or large.

4. Are our collaborative social involvements designed for sojourners or colonizers?

  • Sojourners travel together as interdependent people of equal value who serve one another for the benefit of all. Colonizers take over with some people being more important/valuable, and make the rest subservient to those few.
  • Sojourners share, listen, and teach. Colonizers take, tell, and indoctrinate.
  • Either set of dynamics seem to be able to drive any scale of collaborative enterprises from the small and local (projects), or medium and regional (partnerships) to large and global (politics).

Summary

A “safe/healthy” space is one where people are treated with humanity, welcomed with hospitality, leaders are role models for their character and behavior, the organization serves to help people develop and find their wings, as the group travels the road of life together to the benefit of both individuals and the group as a whole. A safe space nurtures hope, helpfulness, and human flourishing.

An “unsafe/toxic” space is one where people are viewed with contempt and treated as cogs in the machine that benefit the few, where those in control consistently harm others, where the organization diminishes the personhood of the many to benefit the power-prestige-greed of the few, and it imposes its limited views and unlimited desire for control wherever possible. An unsafe space inflicts despair, learned helplessness, and abuse.

Capstone 2-6: A Lawsuit Against Mars Hill Church Could be a Just Cause Because …

Introducing My Post

This post presents my case for a civil suit against Mars Hill as a biblically reasonable move to halt the corporate shut-down and (hopefully) bring about justice for those treated unrighteously, give relief for abuse survivors, and reinfuse integrity into a Christian witness in the public square.

I have studied Mars Hill Church intensively off and on for months now. I’ve concluded the organizational and spiritual situation there is dire. So, when it comes to writing capstone articles based on my research into Mars Hill Church, this is one of several posts that I’ve felt the most “fear and trembling” about. Their paradigm is excruciatingly complicated and the meltdown extremely messy. And so, I really have felt the weight of responsibility to consider various angles carefully when evaluating whether a civil suit against Mars Hill is warranted. I have concluded that it is. Continue reading

Capstone 2-5: Trends, Turning Points, and Tipping Points in Spiritual Abuse Survivor Communities (2014) – Part 2: New Observations, Analysis, Interpretations

It’s been nearly two years since I last posted an article about emerging trends. Overall, it looks like some of the trends I noted before are seeing further development and perhaps differentiation as far as subgroups who are affected. For instance, de-churched Christians are starting to be divided into post-Christendom “nones” (who do not profess a particular religious or denominational affiliation, but consider themselves “spiritual”), and post-Church “dones” (who have given up on enduring church services where everything has been same-old, same-old for decades).

Other trends seem to have become more intensified. They definitely look to be moving toward longer-term influence in driving change. So, they’ve moved up a notch to turning points or perhaps even tipping points. Here is some of what I believe I’m seeing emerge from the fog of observation and gradually into more clarity of interpretation. Continue reading

Capstone 2-4: Trends, Turning Points, and Tipping Points in Spiritual Abuse Survivor Communities (2014) – Part 1: Setting the Stage

Futurists, Scenarios, and Spiritual Abuse Survivors

All the futurists I know do a lot of general research and reflection on culture and change. But at some point the information needs to be narrowed down to help specifics client or group figure out how they want to navigate the issues that are most relevant to them. One of the ways futurists do that is through scenarios. Scenarios take into account the information gathered on trends, and related analysis, and put them into a realistic story form that seeks to capture the emotional impact people will feel in struggling to cope with unavoidable changes. Rather than dictating answers to the client’s questions of “So what?” (meaning) and “Now what?” (resolve to act), the futurist facilitates a process for the client to discern and decide his/her/their own answers to them. The scenario doesn’t have to be about distress and disaster to be effective. Various kinds of conflict can be effective sparks for discussing where the client is at in the midst of these changes, and what is plausible in moving on from there. “Success” can create change just as much as conflict can. Continue reading