Survivor Blogging Trends 2017
Part Three: Positive Trends in Survivor Blog Communities
NOTE: This series was originally designed to be three posts, with this one being on positive trends and continuing challenges in survivor blog communities. However, I am splitting this into two posts so they are shorter, and the series will conclude with a few continuing challenges.
Most of these trends are relatively brief. I’m seeing what I interpret as enough points of evidence to sense that something important is going on, even if the trend is still emerging from the fog and the direction it’s heading is uncertain.
The challenges, on the other hand, seem clear enough from a longer stream of online incidents. It also seems like they will always be with us in survivor blogging. Recent events that I mentioned in the Introduction to Part One have brought a few particular challenges to the forefront.
So, here are what I see as positive trends, for your consideration. Because a number of the cases I’ve drawn from involve behind-the-scenes activities, I won’t be mentioning specific details for them, or for the continuing challenges in Part Four. Continue reading
Survivor Blogging Trends 2017
Part Two: Survivor Blogs Aren’t the Same as Discernment Blogs
Over the years, I’ve seen blogs that post supposedly “negative” articles about the Church critiqued as being self-authorized, self-centered, and self-congratulating watchdog operations. According to opponents, blogs dealing with abuse are just out to cause a ruckus and tear down the Church as the Bride of Christ.
One of the key problems for critics, though, is this: How many churches, denominations, and ministry networks authorize and protect whistle-blowers who warn leaders and members alike against internal malignancy and toxicity? What ongoing processes do you have to ensure those in roles of influence haven’t gone off the rails and are inflicting damage to Christ’s disciples by their own shepherding overlordship?
If prophetic voices must work from the outside because all internal checks have failed, so be it. Jesus Christ spoke up and acted in defense of those who were weak and harmed by others – and against those who misused their position and power to the detriment of others. How is He a role model to us in ways we should confront corrosion and corruption within the Church?
Part One in this series on Survivor Blogging Trends 2017 summarized five years of previous articles on trends. Part Two looks at two issues I’m seeing as coming into the foreground.
- First, how critics of survivor bloggers seem to conflate them with discernment blogs when they’re not, and some thoughts on sources of conflict they have with survivor blogs.
- Second, things known probably just by those who host survivor blogs and write for them, about the reflection and restraint that goes on behind the scenes.
Survivor Blogging Trends 2017
Part One: Past Articles (2012-2016)
on Trends in Spiritual Abuse Survivor Communities
I have been blogging since 2003, and in 2007 I began addressing surviving spiritual abuse – mostly from the perspective of investigative research writing on malignant leadership and toxic systems. I’ve written a dozen or so case studies on spiritually abusive situations, scattered across the spectrum of theologies and organizational forms. So I’m not a newbie to blogging or survivor blogging, or to many issues of conflict that arise.
One of the most recent relates to a so-called “crisis of authority” (especially for women who post their views online) and “beware of broken wolves.”
Who’s In Charge of the Christian Blogosphere? (The age of the Internet has birthed a crisis of authority, especially for women.) by Tish Harrison Warren, via Christianity Today. See also her response to critics, posted on her blog: New CT Piece on Authority in the Church and Social Media: A Response to Critics.
Beware of Broken Wolves, by Joe Carter, via The Gospel Coalition.
The fast and furious interchanges sparked by these posts brought up some reflections on survivor blogging. So, I decided it was time to add these to my occasional series that I started in 2012 on trends in spiritual abuse survivor communities. Here’s the plan:
- Part 1: Past Articles on Trends in Spiritual Abuse Survivor Communities (2012-2016)
- Part 2: Survivor Blogs Aren’t the Same as Discernment Blogs
- Part 3: Positive Trends and Continuing Challenges in Survivor Blog Communities
Final thoughts in introducing this year’s trends: I hope I am known as a reasonable researcher on abusive systems, and also as a relatively fair-minded critic of our own survivor communities. I’m sure not everything I write goes down well in both of those circles, but I see my role as calling people to consider the larger picture of the organizational cultures we create and ways we misuse power in them. The squishy business of identifying and tracking trends, and giving reasoned speculation to where their trajectories may lead, is part of that role. Before I launch into what I think I see unfolding in 2017, here is the series of articles on trends that I’ve posted in the past five years, to bring you up to date. Continue reading
This morning I did a guest post on Spiritual Sounding Board: The Legacy That a Defamation Lawsuit Left to the Survivor Community.I think it’s an important piece of history for spiritual abuse survivors.
On February 22, 2012, Julie Anne Smith was served papers about her former pastor suing her and four others for $500,000, for alleged defamation. She’d posted critical reviews online of him and his church – Beaverton Grace Bible Church. The defendants won the lawsuit and Julie Anne continued her online presence with BGBC Survivors, which eventually became Spiritual Sounding Board. In less than four years since, this blog has had nearly 1 million hits on its home page! Here’s the final paragraph in my post:
But really, who would’ve thought that a lawsuit that seemed meant to intimidate and destroy, instead sparked resources to comfort and edify? Thanks, Julie Anne, for investing yourself in finding a redemptive edge within a destructive situation, and thereby bringing light and hope to many … You.Rock.
Worth a read, and a prayer of thanksgiving to God for how Julie Anne has invested herself in ways that make a difference for the Kingdom!
Since 2008, I’ve been writing about different dynamics in the abuse of power, especially in religious institutions. Every year or so since 2012, I’ve taken some time out to note what I see as possible trends within spiritual abuse survivor communities. (I use communities – plural – because there are theological, denominational, and cultural differences among them, despite the common ground of surviving spiritual abuse.) What’s mostly been on my radar are trends in networking, resourcing, legal issues, and where and how spiritual abuse shows up across the theological spectrum. This year, my list turned out differently. Continue reading
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
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