Thursday, July 26, 2012

Pastor Loses Suit Against Blogger

A pastor who sued a former church member over comments she made on her blog has lost his case.  I posted about the case here, and now the judge has dismissed every single claim in the defamation suit against Julie Anne Smith and four others.  The judge has also awarded costs and attorney fees to the defendants, including for two defendants who were dropped from the pastor's suit after it was filed.

You can read about it from Julie Anne herself here.

I am grateful for Julie Anne and the others for the judge's decision.  Hopefully, this case will help to further illuminate God's people on the existence of authoritarianism and spiritual abuse within the church.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Let's Actually Pray During Prayer Time

Note to all future mid-week bible study/home group fellow attendees, whoever you are at whatever church you are:  I'd like to encourage us all to actually pray during prayer time.  Okay?  I'm not exempting myself here, I'm just making observations.

It is strange, but there seems to be a rigid blueprint for mid-week evening church gatherings.  It doesn't matter what church, denomination, or belief system.  Or at least the ones I've been associated with.

First, there's "fellowship time."  You know, that 15-30 minute period where we have cookies and punch and chat that also serves as a buffer to allow fashionable lateness.  Then there's the "teaching time," or similar.  That's when we look at the bible, or teaching, or whatever book written on whatever topic by whatever author, and discuss or answer questions

Then, last - and actually least! - is "prayer time."  You know.  It's that last 15-20 minute period before the scheduled end time of the mid-week group.  You know?  The time where the first 10 minutes minimum of it is spent wrapping up "teaching time?"  Yes, you know.  Then, out of the 10 minutes remaining in "prayer time," 15-20 minutes of that 10 minutes is spent listing our prayer requests in detail.

Then, once we go 10 minutes past the end of the mid-week group and people start gathering up their bibles and other belongings and the kids are fidgeting, the leader of the group states that we are out of time and throws up a blanket prayer like, "Lord bless everybody. Amen"  and we never actually pray. You know?  You know.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Gossip, Slander and Divisivness

The words "gossip," "slander," and "divisive" are all words that appear in the bible and are strong words that are used to describe very bad behavior.  Over my 20 years within Christianity, I have heard these words used many times and in many contexts to describe behavior, call out behavior, warn against such behavior.  I have also heard multiple definitions and descriptions of these behaviors.

It is the description of such behavior that I will attempt to write about here in the near future.  I have wanted to do this for quite a while, and in the heightened attention given to the topic of spiritual abuse recently I think now is a good time to do so.

One reason for this is that I have seen these words used in a context where they are applied to behavior where it is not warranted, and used to flip-flop the places of the guilty and the innocent; the terms don't fit the behaviors.  I will try to show examples of what these behaviors are not, in order to give a better idea of what they are.  Coming soon.  Hopefully.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Expectations, Agenda, and Just Being A Christian

Chaplain Mike over at Internet Monk digs through the archives to find what he's been wanting to say.  His post is about agenda identification, and how he comes to the conclusion that it's OK to just be a Christian.

In my circles, very rarely did I hear the full-blown “God told me to do this” account that was more prevalent in charismatic or pentecostal churches. Still, that was the impression, even in our more theologically conservative groups. Whether it was defining a preaching series, implementing an element of worship that the pastor thought the church should practice, organizing an outreach program, expanding staff, building new facilities, using a certain method of teaching or training in the educational program or youth group, or designing the way the church should be overseen by its leaders, these ministers had a way of making it sound like these were directives from God himself. And the corollary to that, of course, was – if you are a truly dedicated, committed Christian, you will participate. 

Over and over again, I watched as the pastor’s agenda became the church’s agenda, because the pastor was able to persuade people that it was God’s agenda.
As some of the readers of this blog know, I am a fan of the San Francisco Giants baseball team.  Their colors are orange and black.  A promotion the team has put forth over the last several years in known as "Orange Friday."  Each Friday home game, the Giants wear orange jerseys and the fans are encouraged to wear orange articles of clothing or accessories.  Bright orange Afros, painted faces, you name it. 

While a good number of fans take part in this, many, like me, are content to dress just the way I would at any other game.  And even though I'm not much of a fan of these type of fads, I am content with thousands of other fans wearing orange.  Even though it is an official promotion, my lack of participation doesn't provoke others to wonder why I'm not participating in the way they are.  I've never been asked why, nor have I felt the expectation to wear orange.

Can the same be said of how our churches view our participation?  What if I use some other book on child rearing?  Or maybe none at all?  What if I never listen to sermons of the pastor's favorite preacher?  What if I want to have my kids with me in the service as opposed to in Sunday school?  What if I prefer to invite other people over to my house for lunch instead of signing up for the church program that places people on a list to come over to my house for lunch?  Is it OK to just be a Christian?  I hope so.