Futuristguy’s Field Guide “Essentials” – Three-Frame Tutorials on Dealing with Systemic Abuse

On my Futuristguy’s Field Guides site, I’ve posted Field Guide “Essentials” — A Series of Three-Frame Tutorials on Dealing with Systemic Abuse. This “Essentials” post has a series of three-frame tutorials, or “Threetorials,” as I have sometimes called them. In the 10 Threetorials posted, the first slide usually gives a definition of the concept framework, or a summary quote about it. The second slide usually gives some kind of visual image, chart, or graphic, plus a few details. (Note my Fotolia licensing information at the bottom of such slides.) The third slide expands on some of the most important points in the first two slides.

The tutorials there include the shorter versions of these 10-frame Essentials that I posted here on my futuristguy site:

Futuristguy’s Field Guides — Essentials Tutorials #1 and #2. [Essentials #1 is three core individual freedoms, drawn from global sources. Essentials #2 is The road to institutionalization via reversing of our freedoms.]

Futuristguy’s Field Guides — Essentials Tutorial #3. [Essentials #3 is Categorizing many specific manipulation techniques into a “Taxonomy of Toxic Tactics.”]

 

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What Will It Take for the SBC to “Clean House”? Four Suggestions from a Futurist.

SBC Cleaning House – Four Suggestions from a Futurist

Why would I give advice to leaders and members in the Southern Baptist Convention?

As a part of the larger Body of Christ, I am concerned about what seems to me to be a pivot point in the SBC’s trajectory. The SBC has many positive elements to its legacy. However, as an association of autonomous local churches and Cooperative Program entities, it has fallen short overall in systemic ways that corrode the credibility of the whole and the parts, the mission and the message. While some may dispute those conclusions, the details behind them have been making their way into the light for a very long time — and especially in the past few months.

As a futurist, two of my main concerns are always:

(1) to equip individuals and groups to discern and decide the most preferable pathway forward, and

(2) to give constructive reasoning and resources for having hope.

As a Christian futurist, I seek to have all I do steeped in an understanding of Christlikeness and what it means for us to serve as His disciples and as “people of peace” who treat all others with dignity as individuals; with impartiality toward any group demographics, whether those are socially considered preferred or stigmatized; and with hospitality in welcoming them to see who Jesus Christ is and what a community of disciples looks like.

From all I believe I know about organizational systems and problems of toxicity, I am convinced that the SBC is at a critical moment in its history. If destructive patterns that have become especially evident in recent times are not addressed, I do not see much possibility for health and sustainability going forward. I am venturing to give advice in these suggestions and links, because what happens with your body of believers affects us all.

Who am I to give advice to leaders and members in the Southern Baptist Convention?

Although I view myself as a Christian disciple first of all and an Anabaptist in theology second, for most of the past 25 years, I have been almost exclusively associated with SBC congregations. I was first in an SBC church plant in 1978, and have been involved on the teams of eight church plants and ministry start-ups, primarily SBC, since the mid-1990s. I was in the first cohort of Nehemiah Project church-planter associates, and later was certified as a Level 1 church planter candidate assessment and did the self-study materials for Level 2. For several years early on in the 2000 decade, I evaluated the speaking portions of candidates assessments. Continue reading

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.

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Willow Creek and Rapprochement: Truth THEN Reconciliation; Accountability OR Consequences

I was reflecting on the recent update from the Elders at Willow Creek Church, and the responses from Betty Schmidt, Vonda Dyer, and Nancy Ortberg to it, as well as to the Elders having contacted these women about having hired Crossroads Resolution Group and wanting to seek reconciliation.

It occurred to me that the Elders were once again imposing their perspective and will onto the situation. They did not ask first what the women whom WCC has let be called liars wanted, or those WCC let be called colluders wanted, or what either still-stigmatized group of individuals were willing to consider in terms of a process of rapprochement.

No … they decided, they hired, they “reached out,” they left messages.

But they have not yet admitted to “sins,” at best, only to “missteps.” They have not yet bothered to apologize. They have not yet repudiated or retracted the public name-calling statements. As far as I can see, they are still trying to run the show.

And none of that models being conciliatory. It continues the control.

None of it opens the way for reestablishing harmony. It deepens the hurt.

None of it mends their image. It mars their identity even more.

It may look as if Willow Creek leaders are being conciliatory, but, I believe, they are compounding their offenses. By directing the process, they are being disrespectful to those whom their own employees and board members have publicly offended. I cannot see that Crossroads Resolution Group is the answer to Willow Creek’s damaged reputation or broken relationships. Instead, it has created more for Willow Creek to repair.

Ms. Dyer’s response is entitled, “The Cart Before the Horse.” Ms. Ortberg’s response is entitled, “Sequence Matters.” On these lines, there are lessons to be learned here from the formal process used in post-Apartheid South Africa by their Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

From all that I have studied about this process, the emphasis was to speak openly about what had happened – uncover the truth, raw and horrific though it was. That was necessary so it could no longer be covered up, so that the truth would be known, so that such human rights violations would hopefully never happen again. For if this remained in the darkness, surely it would repeat itself.

Truth must come before reconciliation, if you truly want restored relations.

The Truth and Reconciliation process also offered amnesty for those who had victimized their fellow citizens. However, this part of the process had its own requirements: There was no amnesty without taking responsibility for one’s actions.

Accountability for actions must precede release from consequences, and even then amnesty does not erase all forms of negative impact from misdeeds.

I confess, I am ambivalent about Willow Creek Church, and Willow Creek Association and their Global Leadership Summit. Don’t get me wrong – ambivalence is not the same as apathy. The former is strong emotions going in conflicting directions; the latter is not caring or giving up on caring.

I have hope that Willow Creek can change course and do things right. And I also think the longer they game-play this process, the worse they find it will be. But, that could either make the public pressure for them to come clean even more intense, or could harden them into complete recalcitrance. For the sake of the Kingdom, and for those who are survivors of their institution’s misconduct, I care which way this goes. Truth first, then reconciliation, and accountability or else more consequences – and achieving all of that requires Willow Creek leaders to release control and let those whom they have harmed lead the way from here.

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For those interested, my post on Surprises from Post-Apartheid South Africa shares some background on that era and their Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It includes links to other media resources, including the official TRC website.

Futuristguy’s Field Guides — Essentials Tutorial #3

Introducing Tutorial Essentials #3:

There are many forms of abuse, harassment, and violence in our world. These incidents and ongoing patterns take place in multiple kinds of settings, with perpetrators using many kinds of techniques to exercise power over other people.

With so many tactics under consideration, how do we come up with a system that is manageable? How do we categorize them in meaningful ways – yet so the methods and models are not oversimplified such that they can no longer help interpret the largest and most complex situations that arise?

My tutorial for Essentials #3 is the non-technical version that shares some of the process I used, and the building blocks for the analysis models I’ll share in tutorials for Essentials #4 through #7. (And after that, perhaps I’ll post a more technical version of the process I used to create the scaled-down edition in Essentials #3.)

Tentative Tutorials in Series 1:

  • Essentials #1 Three core individual freedoms, drawn from global sources.
  • Essentials #2 The road to institutionalization via reversing of our freedoms.
  • Essentials #3 Categorizing many specific manipulation techniques into a “Taxonomy of Toxic Tactics.”
  • Essentials #4 Increasingly restrictive individual conditioning.
  • Essentials #5 Increasingly restrictive institutional control.
  • Essentials #6 What this looks like in a “totalist psychology” social control by ideological conformity, including four variations on total control organizations/societies.
  • Essentials #7 A series of increasingly large organizational forms that lead from an organizational “Pyramid of Abuse” to a “Totalist Machine.”

UPDATE June 04, 2018. I have changed my plans and instead of the 10-slide series, see this post on my Futuristguy’s Field Guides blog: Field Guide “Essentials” — A Series of Three-Frame Tutorials. This “Essentials” post has a series of three-frame tutorials, or “Threetorials,” as I have sometimes called them. In the 10 Threetorials posted, the first slide usually gives a definition of the concept framework, or a summary quote about it. The second slide usually gives some kind of visual image, chart, or graphic, plus a few details. (Note my Fotolia licensing information at the bottom of such slides.) The third slide expands on some of the most important points in the first two slides. Material from the longer/10-slide versions will be incorporated in the Field Guides.

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Essentials Slide 21

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Futuristguy’s Field Guides — Essentials Tutorials #1 and #2

In 2007, I started a phase of research writing that required me to process deeply my multiple experiences of spiritual abuse. Half a dozen situations with malgnant people and toxic organizations had eaten up nearly 20 years of my then 35 years in churches and ministries.

As I detailed what I’d experienced and began analyzing them, I started seeing that some of these situations did not fit what seemed to be the usual pattern. In fact, some had more in common with global societies and intense subjects I had been studying, some of them since the 1980s. The footprint of some abusive systems I’d experienced was more control by compliance to rules and regulations (like the former Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc). Some exerted control by chaos where nothing was predictable (like the Chinese Cultural Revolution). Some had especially charismatic leaders who could convince you of just about anything (like Jim Jones with The Peoples Temple). And some functioned off of competition among leaders and/or members (like how Hitler treated the top leaders in his regime).

I started seeing other patterns, and also pathways that led from small-scale situations and organizations all the way to large-scale “industrial complexes” and totalitarian societies. So it wasn’t just all about individual bullies. Some had more elements of institutions. Still others had elements of ideology (like Apartheid, and racism in America). All of this, combined with my work and volunteer experiences with non-profits regularly since the early 1970s, forged in me a systems perspective on forms of abuse and societal oppression.

Now that the first Field Guide in my “Do Good Plus Do No Harm” training series is due to be released this summer, I thought I would introduce the material by boiling down key points into an “Essentials” series of tutorials. To keep it as short as possible, I worked in PowerPoint instead of in Word and limited myself to about 10 slides per tutorial. I found this process forced me to focus on what is most important.

See what you think of this experiment — I’d appreciate your feedback! There are 20 slides total in Essentials #1 and #2, plus a Review/Preview slide at the end. I’ve numbered the slides for easier reference, in case you have comments on particular topics or certain slides.

And for those who prefer “long form” reads, I give links to some articles most relevant to Essentials #1 and #2 at the bottom of this post.

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Tentative Tutorials in Series 1:

  • Essentials #1 Three core individual freedoms, drawn from global sources.
  • Essentials #2 The road to institutionalization via reversing of our freedoms.
  • Essentials #3 Categorizing many specific manipulation techniques into a “Taxonomy of Toxic Tactics.”
  • Essentials #4 Increasingly restrictive individual conditioning.
  • Essentials #5 Increasingly restrictive institutional control.
  • Essentials #6 What this looks like in a “totalist psychology” social control by ideological conformity, including four variations on total control organizations/societies.
  • Essentials #7 A series of increasingly large organizational forms that lead from an organizational “Pyramid of Abuse” to a “Totalist Machine.”

UPDATE June 04, 2018. I have changed my plans and instead of the 10-slide series, see this post on my Futuristguy’s Field Guides blog: Field Guide “Essentials” — A Series of Three-Frame Tutorials. This “Essentials” post has a series of three-frame tutorials, or “Threetorials,” as I have sometimes called them. In the 10 Threetorials posted, the first slide usually gives a definition of the concept framework, or a summary quote about it. The second slide usually gives some kind of visual image, chart, or graphic, plus a few details. (Note my Fotolia licensing information at the bottom of such slides.) The third slide expands on some of the most important points in the first two slides. Material from the longer/10-slide versions will be incorporated in the Field Guides.

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Essentials Slide 01

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May Day 2018: If April Showers Bring May Flowers, What Do May Flowers Bring?

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viola flowers (c) Maksim Shebeko, Fotolia #112358669. Licensed to Brad Sargent.

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The old riddle goes, “If April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring?”

The answer, of course, is: *Pilgrims!*

But where I grew up, May Day – May 1st – was when we delivered small baskets of flowers to neighbors who were older like the Neckstads and Mrs. Salmon and Mrs. Perry, our teachers from school and Sunday School, and family friends like the McCartneys and Vances and Olsens.

Sometimes we’d labor the whole week before to make the flowers and baskets ourselves. Our craft table would be strewn with construction paper and pipe cleaners and crayolas, scissors and tape and glue. Maybe the “basket” would actually be a sort of easy-to-make cone, for a cornucopia of construction paper flowers. Or it might be a more elaborate holder, woven from long strips of craft paper.

Sometimes we’d put a real live potted pansy or marigold in a basket we’d made, or curl a cone and fill it with a tied-up bunch of snipped-off violets or posies. Of course, getting real flowers meant a field trip to The Greenhouse …

It was only a few blocks away from us, at the end of the wide gravel road in front of our house. If the weather was nice enough, Mom would walk with all three of us kids the four blocks down at the end of our street. There at The Greenhouse, we’d each get to choose a small potted plant or two to give as May Day gifts.

And, oh! What a wondrous but mysterious place The Greenhouse was to me as a pre-schooler! It just felt magical, before I even had words to describe how and why. Now I know it was because it was a completely different world apart from all I was used to.

The quality of light was different, from steamed-up windows and frosted glass everywhere. And the cool, misty air from hoses and spray bottles and water drippers. And old wooden tables in really long rows, with all kinds of shelves and cans and bags and pots and plants on top and underneath them. And the most amazing fragrance – a mixture of shredded bark and sharp stemmy “green,” humid dirt but that’s not really mud, floral and citrus and bubblegum sweet. The entire place was a marvel: so much to look over, sniff at, dig into!

Over the years, different families operated The Greenhouse. But they all seemed to be people who were kind to us kids, and patient in helping us pick out our plants for May Day. After all, they offered so many choices – so many colors that only these greenhouse flowers seemed to have with bright yellows and oranges, blues and purples from light to deep, brick reds, magentas and maroons. How to choose when you have more flower colors than crayons?

But the people never seemed to be in a rush with us. It makes sense to me now. If you love plants and flowers, how can you not love people and their families?

And all this worked together to make May Day flowers after April showers one of the most special events of the year …