- Lack of Sentimentality.
- Short memories.
- Group-think and/or Irrationality.
In pt. 2, we’ll explore truths 3-6. Our list of principles, I trust, will follow next week.
Fourth, lack of self-awareness. Some examples of this have been explored before, but we’ll limit ourselves to a few, and they’ll be in the form of quotes or paraphrases of what some of the pastors involved have said.
Church visitor 22: ‘Wow, you’re really concerned about truth!’ 22 to 42: ‘Simon Templar is very enthusiastic about justice; do you think perhaps he could get a career in the legal profession?’ Implication: If you’re into justice, truth, and virtue, clearly the pastorate isn’t the place for you; that’s not really what we’re about around here…
From a pastor on the Oversight Committee, with the power of career life or death: ‘Simon, you’re taking pot-shots at me, and I’m always having to run for cover!’ Implication: wait, what? I’m making you feel like a target? Whaaat?
From a pastor on the CIC: ‘You should have submitted to the process, then maybe we would have done right by you. Maybe.’ Read: well, since we didn’t actually read or interact with any of the documentation,* we can’t really discuss our conduct or whether you deserved any of this, but I know we didn’t like your attitude, which consisted of asking us to explain ourselves, so I can excuse us from any accountability based on that–that you made us uncomfortable and therefore weren’t submitting (to the process). Being ‘cooperative’ here means, ‘don’t say anything, let them fumble about in the darkness and destroy you, because that’s what they’re there to do, apparently–some kind of a job, regardless of whether they do it well.’
[*The documentation addressed to the CIC from mid-September to the time of the pastor’s complaint about the overwhelming amount of written communication consists of:
–1 overview letter sent 15 September 2016, 3 pages, along with a supporting document recounting incidents with the Oversight Committee, 3 1/2 pages.
–1 follow-up letter sent 17 October 2016, 2 pages.
–1 letter as an addendum that of the 17th, sent 31 October, 2 pages.
–1 essay on the Star Chamber, sent 4 November (ST was at that point unaware that the OC had recommended to the CIC that he be defrocked, and that the CIC was meeting that very day to discuss this), 3 pages.
–1 letter sent 7 November, 2 1/2 pages.
Depending on how you want to count them, it’s 5 or 6 documents, up to a total of 16 pages, sent over the course of almost 2 months, roughly 53 days. 16/53=.3018, or, less than 1/3 page per day. Maybe 2 paragraphs or so, required of men who on paper have the obligation to ‘handle’ this rather weighty matter. But they were overwhelmed, dontcha know…
Of course, it’s hard to be overwhelmed by something you haven’t even looked at; back in the autumn, regarding the key initial documents from mid-September, at least 3 of the 5 men admitted to not having read them (I think it’s 3. I suppose the guy who wouldn’t return any phone calls, texts or emails could have read them…we’ll just never know, like whether there was a second gunman on the Grassy Knoll). See truth 6 below. These 16 pages, I might add, are not in small font, nor do they have narrow margins. One wonders how the sermon-writers on the committees who did read all, let alone any, of these 16 pages, and found it particularly arduous, approach a biblical commentary; on the flipside, if the laymen on the committee can’t read, what exactly are they doing on the committees?
My reaction though is that 16 pages over two months seems like a lot to them because they themselves don’t write, so writing substantial (grammatically correct as well as articulate, strikingly so when compared with samples of their writing) amounts of material doesn’t seem to them normal. And of course, if they don’t take this situation all that seriously, writing that amount of material will also be to them very inconvenient. Because not only may they not be writers, but also, they likely are not regular (certainly not close) readers of text that requires significant (and continuous) mental engagement.
Excerpts of these letters may be included as evidence in the future.]
Fifth, inability to hear anything that contradicts preconceived notions about what happened, or who someone is. This is connected to point three in Exposure, pt.1. I don’t feel I’m yet in a position to explore this point at length, though I’m sure it is at the heart of what went on in 2016. People heard the testimony of the church visitors at the Classis Meeting in December 2015, heard Simon Templar and 42 (for instance) maligned and marginalized by others, while the two of them went unheard, and that pre-empted any future objective hearing (see the next ‘truth’). This helped to create a conspiracy–often an unwitting one, the people in it are so clueless.
I’m registered to take a course on the psychological aspects of approaches to evidence in March; I’m hoping this will help me to shed some light on why there’s so much selective listening and deafness going on in classis Northern Michigan. Though I can say that there is some evidence of either closed-mindedness or intellectual laziness, since there has still been ZERO interaction with yours truly about this blog…
Sixth, lack of professionalism.
First would be operational incoherence that includes pervasive conflicts of interest. We’ll go through just the men on the CIC and leave it at that:
Pastor 1, the clerk of classis: his church is on financial life support from the ‘Classis’ (who or what is that, again?) who ‘approved’ the Article 17 in December 2015, and whose OC has been bungling their end of things for the past year. He is thus bound not only by Classis money, but by Classis favour–he can’t afford to rock the boat.
Pastor 2, regional pastor and chair of the CIC: has to maintain personal ‘relationships’ and thus ‘goodwill’ with every pastor in his care, which is all of classis. While a friend to ST, he also saw 21 on a regular basis throughout 2016 and finds it difficult to see people and their actions for what they really are; is compelled by his position to give everyone, including the wrong people, the doubt ad infinitum, long after they’ve demonstrated they don’t deserve it. It’s easier to tell the one guy under the boot of the Classis monster what he has to do to change and kiss up to them, than to stand up to your pool of peers with whom you’re stuck and tell them they’re all wrong.
Pastor 3, ‘youth’ pastor, member of both the CIC and OC. *cough* NO LIE! Here’s the email exchange between him and me:
9 November 2016:
Dear Pastor 3–,
I am ‘reaching out’, as the buzz-phrase goes, to you from the UK. I read your profile on —- CRC’s website; in addition to being their youth pastor, you’ve also been on my father’s ‘Oversight’ Committee, and the CIC as well.
I’m wondering whether you would be willing to talk to me (via phone or Skype) for a few minutes? If you give me your number, I can make an international call quite easily, or we can exchange Skype handles and make contact that way. There is a five-hour difference between our respective time zones, but if you give me a list of dates and times when you are available, I’m happy to call at your convenience. Please let me know.
Thank you for your offer, but I respectfully decline.
Dear Pastor 3–,
Thank you for your reply. I was asking you for a favour, not offering one, but I suppose that’s moot at this point.
At any rate, perhaps you do not object to writing just a little? I only wanted to ask two questions: first, do you think the way the OC (and CIC) have treated my father sets a good example to the youth of the CRC in general, and to those in —- CRC in particular? Second, if the answer to the first question is yes, how so? I only ask because of what I read on your profile on the church website, and because you are on both committees.
Thanks in advance for your interaction on this. For what it’s worth, I’m probably younger than you (though maybe not by much). Perhaps that means I fall under the spiritual purview of you as a youth minister?
Unfortunately I am also going to decline this second favour you have asked. It seems to me you already have your answers and no matter what I say, you will use my words to support your stance.
I sincerely hope you can find peace with God surrounding the events of your father’s separation from A. CRC, even if you don’t have all the answers.
Layman 1: is fellow parishioner/consistory & singing group member as Rogue K on the OC. That’s right, they’re on the council of the church who were approached about the issue of the Ss and did…nothing.
Layman 2: can’t even be polite. Although we’ve got two different stories as to why this is–we’ll come back to this.
So, conflict of interest, here in the selection of personal and the various hats they wear and diverse interests they carry with them into committee meetings or when reading (or not reading) their emails.
Professionalism is also lacking in failure to keep interested parties appraised of goings-on, of meetings, of those meeting’s subject matter, of correspondence between the committees, e.g., the recommendation by the OC to the CIC–when exactly was ST going to find out, if it had been left up to them to follow up? this is a counterpart to the double-whammy of booting ST out of the September 2016 Classis Meeting, without having informed him of what the OC planned to present there, and thereafter failing to give him a copy of document they presented, which was only done after ST asked pastor 1 of the CIC to ask the OC to copy him. Shabby–that kind of thing in the ‘real world’ in which I live and work is completely unacceptable.
Linked to that is failure to reply to communications, even to acknowledge receipt, after a peer or colleague has specifically asked for it, in writing and more than once. Then there’s the crummy email exchange I had with Pastor 3–, which speaks for itself above ^^^. Accusing a person you’ve never met of ulterior motives and underhandedness without even a reason or example is both unprofessional and very bad manners. In the Old West, there’d have been precedent for demanding a person take back such ‘fightin’ words.’ Unfortunately, we’re dealing with Christians who hate being questioned and challenged, and who apparently are never wrong.
Author’s note: embedded links to come, and stay tuned for pt.3!