This is a test, nothing but a test. A test of your routine blogcasting network.
I didn’t know what I was doing, but with the encouragement of my former pastor Byron Harvey, I launched into the wild world of blogging. I started out on the old Blogspot platform and then moved to WordPress in 2006. I moved from there to Patheos in 2013, just in time to cover the demise of Mars Hill Church and Gospel for Asia. When Patheos decided I was too hot to handle, I moved really quickly back to this independent format on WordPress. Since 2005, I have written 4,865 posts according to WordPress backroom counter.
Maybe when I hit some milestone like 15 years, I’ll throw a party. For now, I noticed the date while looking up some old posts and thought I would quietly remember the occasion. Some readers have been along since near the beginning and some more recently. Perhaps regular readers could indicate when you started following the blog and what story or topic brought you in. I appreciate you, your tips, and feedback.
Some past posts have aged well. The 2009 post regarding child abuse and non-heterosexuality has been in the top ten nearly every year since 2009. Readers continue to be interested in Mars Hill Church and various players surrounding the demise of that church.
Although the page views don’t show it, the story that continues to be covered here and almost nowhere else is the Gospel for Asia saga. The target of federal scrutiny and two RICO lawsuits in the U.S., GFA has also initiated and been involved in various legal actions in India. Although the scope of the GFA empire dwarfs other organizations I have examined, it continues to fly along under the radar.
For a profile of my work and the role blogging has played in it, see this lengthy article by Jon Ward in Yahoo News earlier this month.
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The learn more about the sexual identity therapy framework, go here.
Judging from a couple of tweets I have seen (for instance here), he must have announced on Twitter too. I wouldn’t know it since he blocked me a long time ago after I wrote a few articles about him and his former church.
We are now practically neighbors!
K.P. Yohannan isn’t as well known as Driscoll in the U.S. but he is the Most Reverend Eminence in India. It will be interesting to see if Yohannan blogs about his organization’s legal troubles and trial preparations. It will give readers a couple of different perspectives to read about it there and here.
Having Yohannan and Driscoll in the family makes me wonder when David Barton and Eric Metaxas plan to join up.
Fellow Patheos blogger Fred Clark (Slacktivist) is worried for Messiah College prof John Fea and me. He says:
But I’m worried for both of them. Specifically, I’m worried because this is an election year and that means that the ever-shifting goalposts of the white evangelical tribal gatekeepers may well shift between now and November. Depending on the outcome of the upcoming Republican presidential primary races, the bounds of theological acceptability could shift in such a way that both of these fine professors may end up on the outside looking in.
I like Fred and appreciate his blog so his post deserves attention and I encourage you to read it. I appreciate his kind words and positive assessment of my work here.
He’s worried because Ted Cruz is doing well in the polls. Cruz is supported in no small way by David Barton. Barton appears to be Cruz’s evangelical endorsement broker and runs one of Cruz’s Super PACs. Both John and I have written in honest terms about Barton’s revisions of American history as well as his problems with more current events (e.g., Barton’s claim that Obama’s administration has not prosecuted child porn).
Fred thinks we may be in some jeopardy since we both teach at conservative Christian schools. I sincerely appreciate his concern. In a day when Wheaton College is moving against a tenured professor for her religious beliefs, I guess it looks like anything can happen.
Fea thinks he is ok, and I suspect he is right. I feel pretty confident that I am in good shape as well. I am not a stranger to efforts to silence me by pressuring my employer, it has happened on more than one occasion before, coming from both the far right and the left. Grove City College’s leadership has leaned on academic freedom as a value and I keep on writing. While I take nothing for granted, I have appreciated GCC’s stance on these matters through the years.
Leaving aside our employers, I think Clark sees something real when he discusses “the ever-shifting goalposts of the white evangelical tribal gatekeepers.” A Cruz win would shift the party dramatically toward the Christian dominionist view of the world. Although I consider myself generally conservative, many in the far right consider me to be a moderate. I honestly think Ronald Reagan would be considered a moderate in today’s GOP.
Having said that, I think John and I are fine. I have already gone on record as saying Cruz isn’t a good choice for the GOP. I will say that even if he turns out to be the GOP’s choice.
And besides, if something does happen and I have to start another life, Clark says I have potential to make a switch:
This month marks 10 years of blogging. Nice to start the month with some favorable press over at Christianity Today. Michelle Van Loon and Marlena Graves link to this blog in their story on whistleblower and watchdog blogs. In addition to this blog, they link to Wartburg Watch, Spiritual Sounding Board, Recovering Grace, and the blog of GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment).*
Van Loon speaks from personal experience of dealing with a cover up in a church. She sees the benefits of confronting obvious problems when others want to pretend nothing is wrong. Leader worship is a prominent aspect of why people in the pews don’t reflect more on the truth of the messages being delivered. Van Loon says:
When I see someone suggest those harboring hurt or suspicion toward the church are in sin, or that fellow believers would do best to ignore whistleblowers, my internal alarm sounds. Unquestioning allegiance to any earthly leader, even in the church, has proven in many cases hurtful rather than helpful.
Graves follow by highlighting the cost of speaking up.
When working for a Christian organization that many saw going in a troubling direction, we said something. We submitted our criticism, attended meetings, and talked to leaders at each level. Initially, we trusted the proper protocols and official channels set up to give and receive feedback. But not only did those in charge fail to address our concerns, they began enacting policies to punish those who spoke up.
Currently, insiders at Gospel for Asia are telling me that leaders are ordering the students and staff not to read my blog. Mark Driscoll called the blog information “shenanigans” and some Mars Hill leaders discouraged blog reading. David Barton regularly misrepresents me and my motivations to his audience. One mark of an insecure, and often controlling, organization is the use of sanctions to block members from learning opposing views.
In the cases of Mars Hill and GFA, those injunctions from leaders triggered many to read the blog anyway. Some stay away out of fear, but others find information that is being obscured from stakeholders/members by their leaders. For this reason alone, many bloggers perform a valuable function for the organization’s members.
* There are other blogs I would add to this list, particular this one: Wenatchee the Hatchet.
On June 30, this blog will turn 10. We should have a party.
There may be a few readers who are still with me and I hope to hear from them. Unfortunately in the move to Patheos, many of the old comments did not make the migration.
Initially, the main topic of interest was a defense of reorientation therapy, but it wasn’t long before I shifted to a vocal critic. Over the years, I have covered a variety of topics from voter fraud in Ohio to debunking bad history to more recently Mars Hill Church.
Starting this week, I will revisit some of the more popular posts from the first ten years. Through the summer I hope to bring out representative blasts from the past.
In the comments, I invite readers to name your favorite posts.
Hope you enjoy the party!
Patheos is celebrating five years in business and to help out with the fun, I’ve been asked to post some highlights of my brief time here along with a video. Since I have only been on board since October 31, 2013, I have come late to the party but have picked out five posts and an honorable mention category to honorably mention.
I thought I would celebrate by remembering my first post, the most viewed post, the most “I can’t believe I’m reporting this” post, a post I hated to write, and the last post. First post: Rick Green: 5,000 Likes On Facebook Could Trigger A Senate Run For David Barton (UPDATED) – I did several posts on David Barton’s flirtation with a primary challenge to Texas Senator John Cornyn. Despite Cornyn being quite conservative, the Texas tea party thought him soft on Obamacare, immigration and the national debt. Much to the dismay of comedians and columnists everywhere, Barton eventually decided not to run. Most viewed post: A Former Mars Hill Pastor Speaks Out and Why Others Are Afraid: The Mars Hill Church Non-Disclosure Agreement – The various stories coming out of Mars Hill Church have been quite popular with readers. I have met some wounded brothers and sisters over the past several months. Former Mars Hill members and staff have begun to speak out and push the church leadership for reconciliation and healing of various offenses ranging back to at least 2007 for many and before that for others. More on this topic is available here. The most “I can’t believe I’m reporting this” post: David Barton And Kenneth Copeland: PTSD Can Be Cured By Bible Verses And Rebuking Satan – The title says most of what is important about this one. On a Kenneth Copeland broadcast, Copeland said psychology and drugs were of no help to soldiers with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. Rebuking the devil was offered as a cure. Barton agreed and added that just warriors shouldn’t have regrets which lead to PTSD. The Gospel Coalition’s Joe Carter called the advice “gospel destroying” and “demonic.” A post I hated to write: Parliament Spokeswoman: Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill Has Passed (UPDATED) – Introduced initially in 2009, I fought Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill from the beginning. The saga of the bill which originally proposed the death penalty for same-sex affection of any kind became a global story with the world keeping watch on the nation of Uganda. Eventually, Uganda’s strong man president Yoweri Museveni decided the bill helped him politically in Uganda and in the face of a torrent of international pressure to scrap the matter, he agreed to support and sign the bill. Last post: Mars Hill’s Board of Advisors and Accountability Hints at Secret Meetings – Besides this one, the last post was about Mars Hill Church’s Board of Advisors and Accountability. The BOAA has defended pastor Mark Driscoll and the other two executive elders despite multiple charge which have been filed. The latest post includes comments from the BOAA board chair.
An honorable mention goes to the Mark Driscoll plagiarism scandal – The month after I started at Patheos, I wrote my first post examining the accusations of plagiarism against Mark Driscoll. The first post evaluated the claims made by Janet Mefferd and the eventually I found many other instances of plagiarism in Driscoll’s books (see this handy chart for all of the citation errors I have found to date).
I have enjoyed blogging at Patheos and appreciate the hard working folks on the staff. Looking forward to the next five years!