‘Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
and those who love it will eat its fruits.
Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets;
therefore do not associate with a simple babbler.’ —Prov. 18:21; 20:19
‘Dead flies make the perfumer’s ointment give off a stench;
so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.
A fool multiplies words,
though no man knows what is to be,
and who can tell him what will be after him?‘ –Eccles. 10:1, 14
I listened to the proceedings of the congregational meeting (as I am still a member at A.) via Skype, as my sister attended with her computer. I will note four things:
1. 13 opened the meeting and began by speaking for nearly 15 minutes straight, about ‘journeys’, enjoying them while they last, their value—it was essentially a nauseating string of clichés and platitudes that reminded me of an old Nissan ad campaign from the 90s. He closed with over-emphatic readings of Bible passages on joy (not inconspicuous was the passage from Philippians—my dad hadn’t been allowed to get that far in his recent series on Philippians, a direct response to people’s complaints; evidently it wasn’t really what they wanted, or it was too late? Or people weren’t even listening closely enough to realize he was preaching on the joy they’d been crying for for so long?). One of them was Phil. 4:8, which my best friend has had posted on her dashboard for years. I wanted to throw up when he read it—could he even define ‘noble’?
2. I could hear over Skype one parishioner approaching the CVs and saying, ‘You know, not all of us had a problem with Pastor T.’ I couldn’t make out their reply, if they had any. This little event was not noted in the CVs’ overview for Classis. See Appendix iv. on implications of wilfull omissions in testimony.
3. Only two people, women, approached my sister to say anything. I could recognize the voices of women I thought were my friends laughing and carrying on in the background. These two women offered what I would characterise as hasty, vague, hollow-sounding sympathy. They didn’t sound sad or sorry at all, or like they understood how ‘tough’ it was. I was so angry. She was so completely alone. [I will add that one woman who has been very good to us over the years sat with my sister during the meeting, but she couldn’t stay after its adjournment.] This church is not what it purports to be. How could they just leave that girl sitting there after having to sit through the reading of those nasty, defamatory excerpts from the Article 17 with her father absent?
4. At every turn, the ‘unanimous conviction’ of the council as they carried on with this course of action was insisted upon, declared, proclaimed. Yet the elder who read the Article 17 excerpts closed his speaking part with something like a sigh and, ‘Let’s just hope this is the right decision’, in a tone that made me imagine Judge Judy crossing her fingers. The elder who led the closing prayer could barely keep from weeping. I’m not convinced that this was considered the best decision ever, even then.