Jeff Breakfast Knows What Happened to My Blog

Comedian and CEO of Pathymnal Jeff Breakfast reveals the reasons for my recent demise.

Whatever it was, we know Warren did it, and that’s final. Okay—It’s not so much what he DID DO as what he DIDN’T DO. But hey, you didn’t hear it from me. Fine, you did—He DIDN’T SHUT HIS MOUTH is what. How dare he blow the whistle we gave him! Where I come from, If a “truthteller” keeps calling out fraud and injustice like some jackass, he’s bound to get a taste of fraud and injustice all right—homegrown style. Stings like a really large amount of bees, don’t it? All of this is of course invisible and uninteresting to the public and as such, neither he nor anybody else will think to “sing” about our dubious dismissal in public.

That seems clear.

Being from the Seattle area, the Rev. Breakfast has had things to say about Mark Driscoll before. And he has something to say about him here:

Say, speaking of which, how would you like to hear a spanking new hymn composed by Mark Driscoll? These sweet strains of praise from a former record company executive will fill your soul with the feeling that his new full-priced hymnal just might bridge the gap between you and God. We’ll just go ahead and start playing it three seconds ago and oops you are already listening to it so might as well not stop now. From his sharpie to your ears, don’t you just feel like it would be great if you tried to love it? After ten seconds you can click away it if you don’t have the faith of a mustard seed that your life or private parts could use an authoritarian man ordering them around.

So go read the rest of Rev. Breakfast’s explanation, it will bewilder and amuse.

 

People Say Nice Things About You When You Are Gone

At every funeral I can remember, almost everyone is cordial and says nice things. I have heard that it isn’t always that way for everyone but that has been my experience. When they passed many years ago, I heard so many nice things about my parents that I never knew before. Over the years, I have thought I should say more nice things to people while they are alive because it is nice to hear when you can enjoy it. I don’t think I live up to that aspiration like I should.

Reading the reaction of others to the near death of my blog at Patheos has been a little like being able to attend my own funeral, except thankfully it is my blog’s funeral.  Last week and yesterday, I posted links to bloggers who had nice things to say about me but less nice things to say about Patheos. In fact, they had questions which still require answers.

One blogger who almost always has nice things to say is Patheos blogger John Mark N. Reynolds. Today, he penned a kind and clever defense of my time at Patheos. 

It is for all these reasons that Patheos and Patheos Evangelical needs Warren Throckmorton. He is a scholar with a light touch, but one who sees the absurdity of the powerful. He has the temerity to keep telling the truth until the truth, absurd in our particular era, makes you laugh. It is obvious now that someone like David Barton was a fraud, but Throckmorton recognized it first.

His targets? They are many, but his humor and good will are true, start to finish. He is right again and again and when he is wrong he is sorry.

I wasn’t first but I was and am persistent.

He continues:

If you have ever been disillusioned by an abuse of power, Warren Throckmorton understands. He knows it is absurdity to marry Jesus to power.

Yes, I think I do. No matter what the reason for the decision to 410 the blog, how it is being handled is an abuse of power. I know John Mark is speaking about other people I have written about, but he could also be writing about the instant case.

John Mark would like Patheos to bring me back. Now he is the one with the sense of humor. Maybe he could carry the mantle over there; at least until he tells the wrong truth.

 

Anxious Bench Asks Patheos: What’s Going On?

Today, Anxious Bench, a group blog at Patheos, featured two posts which questioned the termination of my blog. I will take them in the order posted today.

So, what is going on at Patheos?

Written by Kristin Du Mez, she wonders who was behind the move to end my blog at Patheos.

With so little information, it wasn’t hard for Throckmorton—and many of the rest of us—to jump to some conclusions. Throckmorton, of course, is known for writing on some of the biggest scandals in the Christian subculture. “A Christian whistleblower,” he’s blogged about Mark DriscollMars Hill ChurchK.P. Yohannan, and Gospel for Asia. Connecting the dots, Throckmorton explains: “Patheos was at the center of the Mars Hill Church and Gospel for Asia stories and now they host Mark Driscoll and K. P. Yohannan.” (Throckmorton has moved his blog to www.wthrockmorton.com, though Patheos has not responded to his request to migrate comments on his posts to his new site).

She then quotes Dan Wilkinson who provided an overview of BN Media’s connections. Go over and read the rest. I am not sure how long she will be there.

Can Patheos Continue to “Host the Conversation on Faith”?

I’m going to say, probably not.

It wasn’t always that way according to Chris Gehrz who wrote about his attraction to Patheos:

Perhaps most of all, I was impressed that Patheos recruited Warren Throckmorton in 2013. A psychology professor at a conservative Christian college who has publicly rethought his views on sexual identity therapy, Warren is even better known for his investigations of popular evangelical figures like David Barton and Mark Driscoll. That Patheos’ Evangelical channel would host someone as unflinchingly honest and potentially controversial as Warren spoke volumes to me as I considered the Anxious Bench offer. This was a “big tent” evangelicalism, open to self-criticism and dissent and not afraid to challenge readers.

So I was troubled to learn that Patheos abruptly endedWarren’s blog last month, for reasons that remain somewhat mysterious. Warren first reported that he was simply told that his blog no longer met the “strategic objectives” of Patheos…

Once you start getting rid of material because someone is offended or bothered by it, then it isn’t long before other bloggers bother someone else. Apparently, I bothered an investor, an owner, an advertiser, a potential writer or someone who wanted content erased. I still don’t know. Until it the “objectives” are made clear, the bloggers on the platform can’t feel secure that the conversation on faith will continue.

 

 

On Being Booted Off Patheos: Patheos Bloggers Speak Out

Patheos blogger Fred Clark (aka Slacktivist Fred) says I may have been “Throcked.” He offers this term to describe being fired to appease far-right donors and to warn others not to anger those donors.

Whatever the reason or reasons, some Patheos bloggers have bravely taken to their Patheos blogs to criticize the move to dismiss me from the platform.  This post serves as a summary of those posts.

Slacktivist

If it’s good enough for Andre Braugher, it’s good enough for me

Some excerpts:

Warren Throckmorton’s fine blog is no longer here on Patheos. He got booted off, with no coherent explanation. That was rude — rudely disrespectful toward someone whose long presence here has enormously enriched every conception of Patheos as a community or a conversation.

And it was a radical departure of the entire premise and ethos of Patheos as a platform for writers and bloggers from every imaginable religious perspective. It’s a violation of explicit and implicit promises made to everyone whose blog is hosted at this site. Not cool.

Two big points. One, Patheos didn’t treat me right. Two, what was good about Patheos is now in question.

In a previous post, Clark wondered why Patheos simply didn’t offer to move the blog to the Progressive Channel:

Patheos’ evangelical channel has changed its shape and tone quite a bit over the years since it first started with the strange duo of me and Scot McKnight. I fully understood when they booted me over to the “progressive Christian” channel — an awkward, we-need-to-call-this-somethingcategory that has since become a widely used term. But I can’t imagine a defensible notion of the “strategic objectives” for that channel that wouldn’t have room for Warren Throckmorton’s terrific blog.

Maybe the ever-shifting, perpetually negotiated boundaries of “evangelical” have reached a point where Doc Throck no longer fits into the now-Driscoll-friendly shape of that channel here at Patheos. OK, fine, then move him over to another channel. That was the whole idea of Patheos in the first place — there’s a channel for everyperspective, right? Not doing that just … smells bad.

Also too: It’s never a good sign when people start talking about “strategic objectives.”

Mercy Not Sacrifice: The Blog of Morgan Guyton

Early out of the gate was Morgan Guyton with this question:

Why Did Patheos Evangelical Push Out A Whistleblower Blog?

Some excerpts:

I’ve just been informed that the Patheos Evangelical channel has closed down the blog of evangelical whistleblower Warren Throckmorton, who was most renowned for his exposes on the plagiarism and abusive leadership of Mark Driscoll at the former Mars Hill Bible Church. Recently, Patheos Evangelical started hosting a blog for Mark Driscoll. It’s very hard not to see these events as interrelated.

They may be related. Driscoll is coming out with a new book and it could help him to get rid of all those Patheos links to his past difficulties with publishing and citations. However, I am not convinced. The material remains active on the web and my articles on The Daily Beast are more visible than the blog posts.

Guyton concludes:

There is nothing Christian about maneuvering in the shadows. Patheos Evangelical owes an explanation to all the bloggers in the Patheos community because these kinds of actions impact all of our credibility.

Preventing Grace with Anne Kennedy

One evangelical blogger mentioned the event without much comment. Anne Kennedy wrote:

Was curious and sad to see that Warren Throckmorton is no longer blogging at Patheos. You can read what he says here. He has moved all his content to a new cyber home if you want to bookmark his page.

UPDATE:

Anne added a post on May 30 with a more specific lament:

I do not pretend to be able to understand why Dr. Throckmorton does not meet “strategic purposes.” I didn’t know we had any. I was under the impression that we were all wandering around the internet every day, talking about faith, theology, politics, movies, books, food, culture, news, and whatever else happened by. Dr. Throckmorton is brilliant on the breaking news part. I have often been, I am sorry to say, jealous of his ability to dig out the news. Would that jealousy had compelled me to work harder. It is a great loss that he is no longer here. I don’t know how to make sense of it.

Other mentions

One occasional Anxious Bench writer had a lot to say although it was on his own blog. John Fea did three posts on the incident (here, here, and here).

I do know that many bloggers are discussing the issues involved (e.g., here) and are quite concerned about their futures at Patheos. They should be. I had no warning and was under the impression that my work was valued.

If you have written about this and don’t see your post here, please let me know.

Unfundamentalists

Former Patheos blogger Dan Wilkinson wrote a nice piece examining who owns Patheos. After examining those individuals, Wilkinson ends by writing:

Though Patheos continues to remain silent on the issue, it’s not hard to imagine why Dr. Throckmorton’s evangelical watchdog blog failed to meet the “expectations” of Patheos’ conservative Christian owners. Perhaps the only thing that’s surprising is that they let his blog last as long as it did.

 

 

Dear Patheos: What Expectations Did You Have?

In January 2017, evangelical bloggers at Patheos received an email from Patheos Evangelical Channel manager Barton Gingerich about changes coming to the site. BN Media had just purchased Patheos and planned to make changes to the writer’s agreement.

One change was the level of participation expected from bloggers. Tier 1 bloggers would be expected to write three times a week; tier 2 bloggers only had to post twice. Tier 1 bloggers would be paid slightly more.  In my email, Gingerich added this personal note to me:

Warren, due to your incredible frequency and important posts, you are a Tier 1 blogger.

In January 2017, my posts were “important.” By mid-2018, they didn’t fit the “strategic objectives” of the organization and my blog was completely removed from the site with only a day’s warning. In my view, my style or content had not changed during that time period. Since Patheos has not informed me, I don’t know what they think changed.

I feel this is important for me to say since Patheos Director of Content Phil Fox Rose sent an email to some bloggers yesterday implying that I knew their expectations “many months ago.” This email was sent to me by several Patheos bloggers:

As some of you know, Patheos decided to end its partnership with Warren Throckmorton. This was done after long and thoughtful consideration. The decision was not made based on a triggering event or post, and Mr. Throckmorton was advised of our expectations many months ago. This is not reflective of some change in policy. It was a specific case. This decision should not give any blogger reason to think their status is in question. We’re sorry the lack of details allows for speculation, but our commitment remains as always to be the place where conversation about faith is happening in the most robust and dynamic way. Nothing will change that. If you would like to discuss this further, please reach out to Ben, and I’m happy to talk too.

What were the expectations and how did I fail to meet them? Since I was not aware of any expectation relating to my blog (beyond the same agreement all other bloggers sign), I don’t know what Mr. Rose is talking about.

I suspect that current bloggers would like to know what the “expectations” are.

This isn’t a good way to treat people. I don’t need every detail about why they now don’t like my “important posts,” but I would like a rational explanation of the key factors that went into their business decision.