Sunday, December 16, 2007

A bit of site housekeeping

Folks, I'm going to give you one heads-up, and one heads-up only.

The notion here is to deal with issues, and not with personalities--unless, obviously, a personality makes himself (or herself) an issue.

Whether it's an obvious bit of nonsense like calling someone a "moonbat" or a "sissy," or more subtly-phrased disparagements, there will be no more of them. At least, not here.

I've been tolerant, but as is often the case, my tolerance has been taken for granted. Talk about events and ideas, not about people, or your comments, too, will be eligible to join the "Remove Forever" club.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

If you don't have a catchphrase, let me suggest one

"Live for nothing, or die for something. Your call."

As a Christian, such a statement has a very specific connotation to me, but it's certainly a conversation-starter at the very least. You might have to Google the source (other than the Biblical overtones, obviously), and when you find it, you'll know one movie you might want to go see in January.


Friday, November 02, 2007

When enough really is enough

For those of you who aren't geeks (like me), I wrote this past July of the small anti-Bellevue virulence reaching "critical mass."

In physics, the term is used to describe achieving a necessary amount of nuclear material for the purpose of sustaining a fission reaction. In argumentation and debate, the term can be used to describe the assembly of sufficient information to come to a reasonable conclusion in a given area. Since so many of the regular posters here at TBR (I love the smell of an official acronym, don't you?) are observers of the events surrounding Bellevue Baptist Church in recent months, my attention is periodically drawn back to those who self-identify as "truthseekers," but are in point of fact naysayers.

Is that all, however? After over a year of nay-saying, are those who still participate in the attacks against a Christian church, her pastor, and her staff still deserving of the benefit of the doubt? Or have they, finally, reached a "critical mass" of evidence and vended that benefit away?

The only available conclusions are these: As general rules, they've spent all the considerations extended to them, done nothing to seek reconciliation, and done everything to injure those with whom they disagree. I am no less convinced that God can do a work in their lives, but I am persuaded by the evidence that it is no longer (and probably hasn't been for awhile) legitimate differences of opinion that fuel the anti-Bellevue cadre, but wrong attitudes of the heart.

In a word, sin.

"Oh, you're gonna get it now, Mike! You're judging! Judging, judging, judging!"

My best Gomer Pyle impression aside, it is responsible to encourage people to re-evaluate their behavior. However, it becomes irresponsible to just encourage, and not challenge people with regard to their behavior. And with regard to judging, I've not suggested (nor will I) that Christians cannot sin, that sin invalidates our salvation, or that people who sin cannot be Christians.

The so-called "Saving Bellevue" site, still published by Jim Haywood, has as its latest indictment the fact that Bellevue hosts (gasp!) a Fall Festival as a safe, non-occult alternative to traditional Halloween parties and trick-or-treating. This is something Bellevue has done for a number of years, yet only now is it worthy of the "Saving Bellevue" scorn. Haywood writes in his National Enquirer-esque headline style, "Tonight Oct 31st 2007 Bellevue hosted a carnival. Thousands came and rode rides. It was in the parking lot and on the ball fields. I am not aware of the Gospel being presented." To be blunt, it's obvious that the reason Haywood wasn't "aware of the Gospel being presented" was because he was too busy surreptitiously photographing the setup on the church grounds. Think it's possible that the Gospel might have been demonstrated in the lives of those serving the children and parents who attended? Having been a part of Fall Festivals in years past, I know as fact that many people who attend don't otherwise visit Bellevue--which is quite the point. It's an opportunity to show that Christian deeds can match Christian verbiage.

But if Christian verbiage is the sticking point, there are a few things Haywood would've known had he bothered to check. My friend on the ground (and working one of the admissions tables) Daniel McCrosky tells me that among the crowd were a number of Bellevue members whose job was to actively share the Gospel as they had opportunity, as well as the presence of an EE table setup and the presence of Christian music, plus the very mechanism for getting a wristband, which required filling out a card with information that will be used for follow-up visitation at a later date. The Gospel of Jesus Christ was actively, unashamedly shared during the festivities--and will continue to be shared in the near future with many of the over 8,000 who attended.

Jim, part of your so-called "Mission Statement" reads thusly, and like so: "Our sincere desire is to honor Jesus Christ, Truth Himself, through an improved measure of accountability within His church." Sneaking around and taking photographs of children's rides on church grounds honors no one, and particularly not Christ. This is not the first time you've posted scurrilous photography and inaccurate, baseless accusations on your website, and I fear it won't be the last. I ask you to remove that nonsense from your site, along with the vapid suggestion that local mission projects are somehow an unworthy goal of the 2007 Love Offering.

The critical mass, Jim, illustrates that you use your site to do as much damage as you think you can, rather than to attempt to "save" much of anything. In the name of Christ, I call you to repent. Delete your files, Jim, and shutter your site permanently. It serves no useful purpose except to bring notoriety to yourself.

Enough's enough.

Oh, and speaking of Bellevue's Halloween alternative, Haywood's nonsense isn't the only ugly upshot of the festivities. What is, only as a joke, referred to as the BBC "Open Forum"--the home of the anti-Bellevue faithful--has begun to indulge an element of bigotry, not to mention an element of inanity, into the mix. The disingenuous remarks expressing outrage at a Fall Festival ("How CARNAL! To have a carnival!") when Bellevue has done just that for as long as I can remember is pathetic. But what really is a scorcher is the bigotry, both subtle and overt--and not just of the racial variety: Thusly, and like so:

"The other lady Said: 'I hope they can help the neighborhood deal with all those people they are bringing in on Halloween night!' I kind of bet those 2 aren't the only ones..."

"What next.....Entertainment for Adults......Bingo, Strip Bars, or maybe even Slot machines...Gee....We could make lots of money for Missions...."

"I wonder if the meth-addicted carnies that run the rides were a part of the package?!"

"When I looked at the pictures from the BBC 'campus' and saw the carnival activity, it was very depressing...for what I saw was something that was once so beautiful and holy destroyed to something so ugly, degrading, and demonic."

"If you think the dress code at BBC is in bad shape now, just wait till the inner city crowd arrives with the baggy pants, boom boxes and the $500.00 sneakers. Oh by the way, this same crowd will really help the offering. If BBC wants to retain this crowd, they will have to serve breakfast and lunch. Also, don't forget metal detectors at all the doors. Way to go BBC."

(Oh, and on another matter where the truth suffers at the "Open Forum" for the sake of the group, their moderator writes this, containing a lie: "Colleges and Universities already have this. It's called the 'Baptist Student Union.' I know it's at the U of M, because that's where I was saved 18 years ago. Perhaps the BSU would accept a financial donation from BBC, but they are already doing this job. Next?" This is either a result of ignorance or willful misrepresentation, but the statement regarding Bellevue's U of M ministry and BSU/BCM activities is a lie. As a former president of the University of Memphis Baptist Student Union, I can tell you that Bellevue had a separate college-campus ministry there way back into the 1980s. If the Love Offering wants to extend and/or expand that ministry, people involved with the BSU/BCM work can only cheer. Implying that Bellevue is horning in on some other organization's "turf" is untruthful.)

And to the Forum's anonymous moderator, I say what I said to Haywood: Enough's enough. You help no one, and you go out of your way to hurt a great many. I call on you, in the holy name of Christ, to repent of your sins regarding your "Forum" and its activities, and to shutter it permanently.

Because I love you, I have to say this: You and yours, along with Haywood and his, have allowed disagreement to fester and mutate. As it stands, you are indulging--dare I say "harboring"?--hate.

Enough is enough.


EDITED TO ADD: One more example of hate, written by someone I thought was a friend:

"9/11/05 was Steve's 1st day in the pulpit - coincidence or providence?

"God leaves nothing to chance - if 9/11/01 is deemed as a bad day in Amercian history, there is no way 9/11/05 will not be viewed (if it's not already) as a bad day in Bellevue history."

Comparing Pastor Gaines' first sermon to a terrorist attack has to be one of the most hateful things I've read in this entire saga, and one of the most irresponsible things I've read in my entire life.

I am crushingly disappointed, and genuinely hurt. I've asked the author of that statement to recant, and warned that author numerous times over the past year that associating with those who hate will precipitate hate in you.

For the individual who wrote that: In Jesus' name, you must repent of such hatemongering.




EDITED TO ADD SOMETHING EVEN MORE DISGUSTING (IF POSSIBLE): This time it's Jim Haywood's turn to publish bile--from the mind of someone I used to respect, a man named Riad "Ray" Saba. Periodically, and for some unknown reason, Haywood lets Saba have a little column space on his vile "Saving Bellevue" site. There's a new article from Saba, innocuously titled "A Worthy Lesson to Learn," comparing Bellevue to Memphis' Temple of Deliverance Church, where G. E. Patterson preached until his death. The article purports to compare the status of Patterson's legacy at his church with Adrian Rogers' at Bellevue, and contains an astounding piece of hatred. Thusly, and like so:

"Many thoughts went through my mind as I considered and compared the situation of both these two wonderful churches. One thought blatantly stood out: One church honored her prophet; the other church killed her prophet! The result is certainly obvious!"

Don't pass that over: Bellevue Baptist Church "killed" Adrian Rogers.

Ray, that's a sick, demented thing to say--and Jim, that's a sick, demented thing to publish. You both must repent.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Yes, I'm still around

I've been investing my time in many other places, and as I have oppportunity, I'll share with you. By all means, keep the discussion going; I'll be along presently.


Friday, October 05, 2007

Condolences to my friends in Memphis

I read this morning that Willie Herenton was re-elected for a fifth term as Memphis mayor. Only bad things can come from that, and I'm sorry to see it happened. Before moving from the area, we refused to live inside the Memphis city limits, in great part because of the lack of positive leadership from Willie Herenton. Had Herenton had but one strong contender, rather than two, he would not be mayor today. (Of course, had a recount been requested by Dick Hackett in 1991, Herenton probably wouldn't have been mayor in the first place.) A runoff provision is looking better and better for Memphis mayor's races of the future.

And if Herenton or any of his supporters are reading this, I'd like to pass a message along to him: Winning an election with a plurality isn't necessarily an expression of God's favor; as a matter of fact, it might be an example of God's punishment that the city is reaping divisive, pugilistic "leadership" as a result of unwise voting decisions.

He quoted Proverbs 12:2 in his acceptance speech, but only part of it. The verse in its entirety: "A good man obtaineth favour of the LORD: but a man of wicked devices will he condemn."


Thursday, October 04, 2007

Words Mean Things II: Peeling Back The Curtain

In response to my previous article, I've gotten several e-mails that ask, in different ways, the same thoughtful questions: Aren't actions more important than words? Aren't words just so much insubstantial fluff until they're supported by behavior?

Well, that depends on the words--and how they're used.

Words spoken, published, or otherwise disseminated thoughtlessly, in the heat of a given moment, can serve as snapshots of their author's mind at a given moment, but not much more than that. However, words that are planned, calculated, and repeated in an organized manner by (even loosely) organized individuals are much more substantial, being far more revelatory, and must be taken much more seriously.

Let's take, as an example, something that I frankly expected to get far more press coverage than it has. Recently, U.S. Senators Harry Reid and Tom Harkin used the Senate floor (and its insulation against debate) to launch planned, calculated, and organized attacks against a private citizen--not against another legislator or government official, mind you, but against someone who's never run for elected office, much less been either elected or appointed to one. Reid and Harkin (and you know, if you've followed this blog for any length of time, what it means when I refuse to refer to a man even as "Mr.") told lies about this private citizen from the floor of the United States Senate, slung insults at him from the floor of the United States Senate, and used the floor of the United States Senate to insist that this private citizen made "unpatriotic remarks."

Problem is, the private citizen in question is Rush Limbaugh, and Mr. Limbaugh didn't say what Reid, Harkin, and their fellow Democrats would like people to think he said. The Senators and other high-profile Democrats had all sorts of opportunity to get the facts of the matter straight, but that would've meant forgoing their move to personally attack someone who has made their professional lives uncomfortable for many years. And rather than get it straight, they chose to (in the words of former boxing referee Mills Lane) "git it on!" Democrats make it a way of life to do things to help their party in lieu of helping the country as a whole, so these unfounded verbal attacks against Mr. Limbaugh should come as no surprise.

So, yes, their words do mean a great deal. The Democrats' words, repeated ad infinitum, demonstrate more clearly than any Republican or otherwise-conservative response just how dangerous the Democrat Party is. Yet there are well-meaning but misguided people who just don't get it: witness Barack Obama's recent hand-holding stint with Rick Warren, Tony Campolo's infatuation with the Democrat Party as a whole, and... well, I can't consider Jimmy Carter "well-meaning," so let's move forward.

Over time, and with organized repetition, words become powerful tools. They are meaningful, even when that meaning gets twisted; both Lenin and Goebbels understood how to torque language into useful shapes, how to use the power of the lie. Whatever the scale, words that are repeatedly employed reveal the character of their employer.

In the episode of Rush Limbaugh vs. the Senate Democrats, Mr. Limbaugh has been very careful over the years to indicate that, on issues of war and national security, he doesn't question the patriotism of those with whom he disagrees, but rather their particular choices on particular issues. Well, Rush (since I'm certain you're a regular reader, I hope you don't mind if I call you by your first name... heh heh...), the time has passed for being overly generous; when faced with a critical mass of evidence, there's no shame in admitting an inexorable conclusion.

And in the larger case to which this issue speaks, the conclusion is painful, but obvious: The Democrat Party in the United States is anti-American. It is interested in the consolidation of is own power base to the exclusion of the health and prosperity both of the country and its general population. It is invested in the failure of the United States military, and of traditional American institutions. Yes, theirs is a myopic worldview, but the evidence of it is overwhelming.

And it is no crime--indeed, only right and proper--to identify a spade as a gardening implement.


EDITED TO ADD: If you think the attacks on Mr. Limbaugh aren't coordinated to at least some degree, get this latest bit of nonsense: Elizabeth Edwards, wife of Democrat presidential contender John "The Breck Girl" Edwards, is now insisting Mr. Limbaugh's draft deferment wasn't legitimate--while, in the same breath, perpetuating the Democrat talking-point of a lie regarding Mr. Limbaugh's statements about our armed forces. As with Bill and Hillary Clinton, the Edwards couple has produced a critical mass of statements that can only lead people to believe they're far more interested in personal political power than with the good of the country.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Words Mean Things

A year or so ago, I wanted to leave a response on a blog. Some people were making foolish statements about the pastor of the church I attended at the time, and I wanted to articulate a perspective that wasn't based in emotionalism. In attempting to post my response, I had to register to do so; part of the registration process was the opportunity to establish my own blog.

Now, I had prayed about doing just such a thing since blogging became a significant part of the Internet, though it had never been at the top of my proverbial list. This struck me as not merely a formality, but an opportunity God was presenting to me. And as you can see, I took it.

Over the past year, I have had the opportunity to write about politics, pop culture, denominationalism, and more (yes, Celine Dion is in there). But between those who are aficionados of this blog and those who attack it, I've been drawn--even after being away for nearly six months--to writing about events at my long-time home church, Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis. More specifically, this blog has served as a way to respond to the increasingly shrill, fact-free, and emotion-laden words being indiscriminately lobbed at Bellevue like so many verbal Molotovs by otherwise well-meaning people.

You can post your favorite term for discussion, but let's start with the biggest Bellevue-buster bomb of all, the phrase "harboring a pedophile." Pretty damning phraseology, hmm? I mean, when should we expect Chris Hansen of Dateline NBC to visit Bellevue's offices?

Turn the phrase around. Let's say Pastor Smith is harboring Mr. Jones, who is (read along using your best movie-trailer-announcer voice) on the run, accused of a crime he didn't commit! In harboring Mr. Jones, Pastor Smith demonstrates a number of things about himself, including these:

1) He thinks Mr. Jones should not have to face the law.

2) He thinks Mr. Jones should be free to live his life as he has before.

3) He wants to help Mr. Jones maintain his freedom--and his lifestyle.

Quite a step out for Pastor Smith, wouldn't you agree? But let's say that Pastor Smith actually knows that Mr. Jones is a criminal, someone who is avoiding justice. In this scenario, "harboring" Mr. Jones means Pastor Smith wants Mr. Jones to be free to maintain his criminal lifestyle. Harboring Mr. Jones, if my faulty memory serves, actually makes Pastor Smith an accessory after the fact to Mr. Jones' crimes.

With regard to the Williams case at Bellevue, make no mistake that the use of the term "harboring a pedophile" are words thought to be an unstoppable weapon against Steve Gaines. Unfortunately, those words are a deception.

Mr. Williams, while admitting to despicably harming his son over the course of a year and a half, has never been remotely linked to assaulting another human being, particularly a child in the care of Bellevue. After the time frame in which he assaulted his son, Mr. Williams has never been linked to any form of child abuse at all, anywhere.

The loaded question has often been posed "Would you let him babysit your children?", and of course I would not--nor do I think that Mr. Williams should ever been alone in the company of children. Is that because I believe him to be an active, unrepentant pedophile? Not in the slightest; I also believe that recovering alcoholics shouldn't go to places where alcohol is served, and that recovering Democrats shouldn't visit the Daily Kos, listen to Air America, or watch CNN (except for Glenn Beck, but that's a different article).

Pastor Gaines didn't have any evidence to believe Mr. Williams was an active threat to any child, and certainly didn't desire to facilitate Mr. Williams' past behavior. If the anti-Bellevue club has a favorite branding iron, it would have to be the "harboring a pedophile" label. Too bad, for them, that it's a misrepresentation.

I'm blessed to see that The Bratton Report (I'm telling you, I just might have to have t-shirts made up!) has become a place where people of varying opinions with regard to Bellevue can, in the absence of any other legitimate place to do so, voice those opinions. Sometimes they're substantive, and sometimes they're so much Swiss cheese, but you can publish them--although you should be prepared to back them up.

"Why do you let him (or her) say that, Mike?" If I didn't, I'd be guilty of the same filtering I dislike in other sites. And in the words of the philosopher Montgomery Scott, "After all, we're big enough to take a few insults! Aren't we?"

Words mean things. They can communicate information about a subject, and about their author. (Often, that latter communication is unintentional, yet no less informative.) Words should be used precisely, and responsibly. When you're here, at least, please do so.

Or when you're anywhere, for that matter.


Friday, August 10, 2007

Let's wait

The recent get-together at Huey's was very rewarding, and actually productive. Putting names with faces was one thing, but the maturity expressed (that perhaps one can criticize aspects of a church's direction without verbal assaults) was refreshing.

However, for those who have made a hobby of attacking Bellevue Baptist Church, that opinion does not appear to be infectious. A few moments ago, I visited the primary home of anti-Bellevue rhetoric, and saw that it's been ratcheted up--with not even a peep of admonition (so far) from the regulars.

But let's be patient.

Surely the notion that a church is "dead" because you don't like it will be countered by someone; surely the notion that a pastor you don't like is led by a demonic spirit will be rebuked at some point. Perhaps the Huey's lunch made me overly optimistic about the future of this dispute. The next day or two will tell the tale.

Occasionally, a Bellevue contrarian will realize that (gasp!) people outside the church body might be reading what is written. One day, they may realize that ignoring the Biblical model for conflict resolution can give people the notion that it's all right not to take anything else the Bible says too seriously. They might even realize that when their behavior is indistinguishable from worldly behavior, something is wrong. One day, they may understand that calls for others to be responsible ring hollow when one's own responsibility, or the collective responsibility of one's group, is suspect at best.

The clock is ticking, but let's be patient.


Sunday, July 29, 2007

You are cordially invited

Since I'm going to be in Memphis later this week, I thought it might be a good idea to get together with some of my fellow bloggerati (my favorite new word, by the way). If you're reading this and are or will be in the Memphis area this Thursday, the cordial invitation to lunch extends to you. A couple of copious commentators have committed to convene, and I'd like you to join us.

All right--I'm sorry about all that alliteration. It's a weakness.

Anyway, we'll be getting together at Huey's on Germantown Parkway this Thursday, August 2nd, at around 11:30 a.m. Personally, I tend to take my time at lunch, so if you can't get there until noon, I probably won't have gotten around to ordering yet.

See you Thursday.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Critical Mass

(Apologies for anyone who thought there was a pun in the title related to Pope Benedict...)

From time to time, I'm prompted to review the activities of what goes on at the curiously-named "New BBC Open Forum." When considering the group's activities, there are some facts worth remembering: It isn't new, it isn't in existence for the benefit of Bellevue Baptist Church, and the actions of its leadership and membership show it to be the polar opposite of an open forum. Consequently, the name seems odd to a number of people who stumble across it--sometimes because I link to it, sometimes because they've Googled it up, and sometimes because it's recommended to them by others who enjoy rabble-rousing as a pastime.

To be clear, I love their members with the love of Christ and I pray for them regularly, just as their major targets (the leadership of Bellevue Baptist Church) do. However, as with any emotion-driven group, the Closed Forum (as they have been more accurately labeled) has allowed any legitimate concern they had in the past year to ferment, pungently overpowering any hope for productive, constructive discourse by allowing bitterness to become their main product.

I keep a link to their blog for purposes of balance, so that anyone wanting to learn more about the recent problems at Bellevue can have another viewpoint, such as it is. But with the recent buckets of bile being tossed around their site, I may have to reconsider it. I've quoted their antagonism in previous articles, but some of it has reached new depths. Consider these few examples, quoted thusly and like so:

(These first few are from an individual who self-identifies as a grandmother)

I don't know whether you are evil or mentally ill and don't care.

Either way, you are a disgrace.
No wonder you defend SG and other FALSE TEACHERS.


Thanks for showing us exactly what a false teacher looks and sounds like.....your arrogance is right up there with gaines....
go kiss the mirror and get your fix.

In Texas, people like you make nice fish bait.

(Note the obtuse death wish there. Does (or did) one of your grandmothers speak that way? But I digress. This next one's from the, um, "moderator.")

You only illustrate with each succeeding comment just how ignorant you are, and it provides comic relief for the blog, so I have no reason not to publish them.

(Moderation, indeed! And hold onto your funny bones for this last one...)

I was just doing a little brainstorming(hold the sarcasm, smart alecs), and I penned down a possible compilation of my presidential deacon staff.

OC- head of security
AOG, Eke.- bible stuff and whatnot
SOTL- public relations
Nass- valet parking
Gmom- catering
Socwork- social work
Junk- puns and jokey phone messages
Lin- death threat laison
concerned- watercooler talk coordinator
mom4- leisure suit picker outer
cakes- long word letter writer

More positions will come available as I make them up, so send me your resumes...(all positions pending the signing of a Loney loyalty/confidentiality oath)

Yes, a group whose members love to toss out death threats and death wishes gets a hearty laugh out of it, too! Ain't bitterness grand?

Ahem... If you, for some reason, wanted to read more, my apologies. I really don't have the stomach for much of the hatred in the Closed Forum these days, just as I have little tolerance for Savaging Bellevue's front-page link to the story of a small, independent church in Michigan exercising church discipline on an elderly member of its congregation. The problem is that Savaging Bellevue used one of its Enquirer-esque headlines with no mention of that church's location, affiliation, or anything else that would dissuade a casual visitor from thinking the story happened at Bellevue.

It would be great to communicate my concerns privately, but they've long since shuttered themselves in--it's been awhile since any e-mail of mine to anyone with the Closed Forum or Savaging, er, "Saving" Bellevue, or Integrity Does Count (But Only For Others) was deemed worthy of a response. Actually, it's been over a month since the last responses, and longer than that since any of the contrarian "leadership" deigned to respond.

Now, I understand that this article will likely be greeted with something other then genuine thoughtfulness by those in the center of those aforementioned contrarian groups. But I'm the sort of optimist who believes, as a Christian, that God will mediate and reconcile any dispute within the body of Christ if we will just let Him! In recent days, I've read remarks from people in the anti-Bellevue camp who seem to be under conviction that their comrades may be going about things the wrong way; reading and ruminating upon some of the very same types of remarks I've quoted above made those people rethink how they do what they do, and even if they should do it at all.

So don't tell me there isn't any hope for them, because there is. And I'm all about hope, because Jesus is all about hope.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Pope Benedict's fallability

I'll let you read the original press release for yourself.

Done? Good.

Did you notice anything that made, well, no sense at all? Any fundamental problems that glow in the dark? Any extra-Biblical qualifications for the presumed exclusivity of the Catholic denomination of Christianity?

This mini-article is more a of a starting point for discussion--so, if you're of a mind to do so, let's discuss.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Where Rage Has Lease: Lessons From Chris Benoit

"Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil."

Ephesians 4:26-27

Chris Benoit gave place to the devil.

For reasons that may remain unknown, WWE wrestler Benoit (and you couldn't pay me enough money to do him the fundamental courtesy of referring to him as "Mr. Benoit") chose to turn himself into a monster. In 2003, Benoit's wife Nancy filed a restraining order against him (later rescinded), fearing for her family's safety--and, evidently, rightly so. In 2003, their son Daniel was a toddler.

Fast forward to 2007, when their son Daniel was a 7-year-old with needle tracks in his arms from what were most likely injections designed to increase his height and weight. There's been no evidence that Daniel was abnormally slight, or otherwise dealing with medical problems, just evidence that his monster of a father wanted to bulk him up, even as his monster of a father bulked himself up through chemistry. But I digress.

This past Friday, Benoit strangled his wife to death. Then he made a few phone calls.

This past Saturday (or early Sunday), Benoit smothered his son to death. Then he sent a few text messages.

Some time after that, the coward Benoit killed himself.

Rage does not always equate with volcanic emotional displays--sometimes rage can be intensified by a slow burn, a simmer, cooking under pressure over time. Benoit was slow and methodical in murdering his family. From the evidence released so far, the coward was not acting in wild-eyed fury but in a slower, more measured pace.

Do we blame steroids? No, we do not; whether or not they were a contributing factor, they were not an excuse.

Do we blame "professional" wrestling? No, we do not; however, the blithe, egocentric behavior of Vince McMahon and other pro-wrestling personalities in the wake of Benoit's murders and suicide (lionizing the man even as the evidence available at the time suggested Benoit was the perpetrator) has earned any WWE, ECW, or other wrestling presentation a ban from my home. Over the years, as televised wrestling has become more brutal and bizarre, it was less and less frequently a judicious choice, but now it is gone.

We blame the culprit--Benoit. Not for being a wrestler, nor for taking performance enhancers, but for giving place to the devil. We blame Benoit for not making the choice to spare his wife and his daughter; if you are foolish enough to end the life God has graciously given you, that's one thing, but allowing your mindset to bleed onto your family is another matter entirely.

Benoit indulged his wrath through more than one sundown. As a result, his surviving family members (including two other children) must deal with the reverberations from his evil acts, from his sins.

"Hey, you're finally judging somebody, Mike! Way to go!" Not in the slightest. Did Benoit have a saving relationship with Christ, then suffer some sort of breakdown? Though I have never seen evidence to suggest that, ultimately I have no idea--and unlike so many who are eager to pronounce the Benoit is "rotting" in Hell right now, we should all pray that somehow, some way, such is not the case. Judging his actions is another matter entirely, however, since they are the components of a cautionary tale, vividly demonstrating the dangers of allowing rage, hatred, bitterness, or any other sinful mindset to ferment in one's own life.

As I write this, my son is patting my arm, watching me write and asking questions about why the words are moving around on the computer screen. There is no power on this earth or elsewhere that could cause me to do harm to my son, my daughter, or my wife. Not because I'm such a paragon of virtue, but because Jesus is my Lord. In the lives of those of us who are Christians, we have the conviction of the Holy Spirit to guide us in understanding when we give Satan a beachhead from which to exert undue influence in our lives; apart from God's protection, there is no defense from that influence becoming a pervasive one. (Keep in mind that in Ephesians 4, the apostle Paul--through the leadership and inspiration of the Holy Spirit--was addressing fellow Christians, not the lost.)

As Christians, we should be grateful to God that we have a refuge in Him from evil influences. Let us have the humility to run to Him in our times of need, and the discernment to know when we are under attack from the enemy.

Ephesians 4 finishes out this way, in verses 28 through 32:

Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.


EDITED TO ADD: Reports are surfacing that Benoit used a variant of his signature submission "finishing move" to kill Daniel, his son; the name of the move is the "Crippler Crossface."

Again, I urge you to ban broadcasts of so-called professional wrestling, and anything else having to do with what has turned into this barbarism of "sports entertainment," from your home.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

A word to the unwise

If you've read much of anything I've written online over the past ten months or so, you have gathered that one of the most frustrating things I can think of is when people engage in gossip, rumor-mongering and attempted character assassination whilst hiding in the tall grass of anonymity (as opposed to the tall grass at Oakmont, site of this year's U.S. Open).

This morning The Drudge Report (no relation) linked to a Reuters story regarding a precedent-setting lawsuit filed against people who used online anonymity to spread vicious threats, including "career-damaging rumors" and threats to do harm, against other people. The alleged--ahem--perpetrators were, surprisingly or not, regulars at a site designed for law school students.

As I read the piece, I could not help but think of the misguided few who regularly, and unfortunately, dispense anti-Bellevue bile. If you are one of that bitter minority who makes online attacks your weapon of choice, whether or not you sign them, the Reuters article should be sobering reading.

It is one thing to behave in such a way when one has a professed affinity for the law. When one has a professed affinity for God's grace, however, such behavior is even more out of place.


Monday, June 11, 2007

Consider this, part 2

As I've reminded you previously, Islam is a totalitarian worldview. For some insights into that, this New York Times article makes for interesting reading.


P.S.: Forgive me for not being here so much, please. I have a lot on my plate these days, but I will be back in the regular swing of things soon.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Consider this when reading the news

Islam is not a religion.

It is a worldview with totalitarian domination as its goal, and with the forced subjugation of those who disagree with it as its by-product. If you do not adhere to Islam, you are dar al-Harb, potential victims of an Islamic war to force you into dar al-Islam, an all-encompassing Islamic rule.

Some adherents are more strident about it than others, but that is the essense of Islam--totalitarianism. Please keep that in mind as you peruse the news.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Condolences and joy... and disappointment

This morning, it was announced that Rev. Jerry Falwell has passed away. As I heard and read the media reports surrounding his passing, they reminded me of anecdotes Pastor Rogers used to share about Rev. Falwell, and how those stories gave depth and substance to a Christian who was too often pilloried by the secular press (both liberal/mainstream and conservative) for having the temerity to suggest that those of us who are Christians in the United States are actually allowed to express political opinions and preferences.

Both Liberty University and Thomas Road Baptist Church will now pass into a difficult period, mourning the loss of such a charismatic leader as they remember his work to spread the Gospel and influence the culture. The brothers and sisters in Christ of Liberty and Thomas Road are in need of our prayers; please remember them, and pray that God the Holy Spirit will comfort their hearts, reminding them that Rev. Falwell is even now face-to-face with our Lord. As you read this, he is experiencing a joy that all of us who name the name of Christ will one day know... and probably getting pointers from Pastor Rogers on the fine points of kicking up gold dust on the streets of Heaven.


EDITED TO ADD SOMETHING THAT HIT ME SQUARELY IN THE FACE: Perhaps I'm more optimistic than I should be, but I am shocked to read what is being written regarding the homegoing of Rev. Falwell. Clearinghouses for the venom are here and here; see what you think about what is being said--and see if the style of rhetoric rings any bells.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

A contaminated timeline

For those who believe belonging to a church is a license to publicly bash it (and for those who do so even without belonging to the church in question), I bring forth for you consideration some prescient observations from Keith Solomon, someone who has, for awhile now, been part of the discussion regarding events at Bellevue Baptist Church. I quote him thusly, and like so:

I've seen a lot of bloggers telling people to refer to the 'Integrity Does Count' timeline for an accurate account of the events surrounding Bellevue. They speak as if it's completely true without any bias or spin whatsoever.

I don't expect whoever wrote it to be perfect, but I do expect a humility and desire to be as accurate as possible, even when admitting to error. That's true in everything, but especially when dealing with the body of Christ.

One of the events that is listed in December 2006 is a party our singles had:
December 2006
Career and Singles celebrate the New Year with a “Black and White Hollywood Night” party. The “Hollywood Parties” originated at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church.

To be honest, I don't see anything wrong with the party even if the theme did originate at Saddleback. However, it did not and saying that it did is a deliberate falsification that should be removed if the timeline is to have any credibility with me. To deliberately ignore the facts because you think you can get away with it is the worst kind of deception in my book.

This is where they got the idea that the parties started at Saddleback. There isn't a year listed, but Friday, February 10 would make it 2006.

Here is a flyer from the singles department from 2002. Under 'Special Thanks' you'll see mention of a 'Hollywood New Year's' party. Since this was 4 years before the Saddleback party, I don't see how the theme could have originated there based on the Saddleback link.

So is this a big deal? I think so. First, everyone who has printed this off and handed it out has been passing around a lie. Is it a big lie? Well, the party was evidently a big enough deal to make the timeline in the first place. Before handing it out in the future, everyone should mark that line out. I think anyone who has already handed out the timeline should contact everyone who received it and tell them that there is at least one mistake on it, too.

Second, it clearly speaks about the men who created the timeline. This image was sent (by someone else) to IDC in March, but there was never an answer or any action taken whatsoever. Men of integrity would instantly remove anything questionable (or clearly wrong), but the event remains.

Third, why are we arguing about parties anyway? Would Steve Gaines' behavior be more acceptable if the party hadn't taken place?

I just can't help but wonder how many other events have been doctored up. If they'll ignore one mistake, why not more? The sad part is that it's so unnecessary. There's more than enough dirt for them to use without resorting to fiction.

I see a lot of irony in the name 'Integrity Does Count'. I believe it does, and that God honors it's presence. I'm not a professional fruit inspector, but I haven't seen much evidence that God is working through IDC.

The NBBCOF puts a lot of importance on fruitfulness. Is IDC sinking or swimming? There sure has been a lot of dissention among the ranks.

Maybe they should create a list of their accomplishments thus far so that we can judge for ourselves whether or not we should support their efforts.

Until then, I'll keep Proverbs 11:3 in mind.
The integrity of the upright will guide them,
But the crookedness of the treacherous will destroy them.

One additional observation, if I might: Who, exactly, makes up (pun intended) "Integrity Does Count"? Demanding accountability from others while hiding in the shadows starts off as being humorously ironic; however, it soon devolves into common hypocrisy.

Don't let that happen to you.


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The parable of the fuzzy scroll

There was a man who was blessed by God with a wonderful family; one day the Lord prompted the man and his family to move to a far country, full of elephants and tigers and blazers (although having a school nickname inspired by Chevy doesn't make much sense, personally--but I digress).

As this family pitched its tent by an emerald lake, the man and his wife began to do the things which would allow them to abide in this new land lawfully. One of the most important rules of the new land was the Rule of the Tag. Each wagon in the land must carry the Tag--but not the Tag of their former land, no; even though driving with a Tag from the former land caused other wagon drivers to cut them slack when veering suddenly to get to the right exit and generally elicited a friendly, you-ain't-from-around-here wave from the natives, the family's wagons must now be identified with the new land.

So, it fell to the man to journey into the Land of the Bureaucrats, where the precious Tags are found. He had carefully assembled the parchments and scrolls which would prove him worthy to receive a Tag and allay the instinctive suspicions of the Bureaucrats. In doing so, the man had gotten a copy of the most valuable of scrolls--the parchment kept by his Banker in a land thousands of miles away, the scroll that declared to all that the man would one day own his wagon outright.

With great satisfaction, the man waited to speak to one of the Bureaucrats; when it was his time, he carefully laid out all his scrolls and parchments before the Bureaucrat's squinting eyes. After a long, contemplative silence, the Bureaucrat peered up at the man and declared "This one is fuzzy--begone!"

Yet the man did not move. The scroll his Banker had sent him was a copy of the real scroll, and the journey over the thousands of miles had caused it to blur. Yet the man could read the important parts of the scroll, so he beseeched the Bureaucrat to reconsider. "Your Banker has failed you, and you cannot have the Tag of our land until all your scrolls please my eye. Now, many others wish to make their entreaties of me, so please step aside if you must cry out to your Banker. So let it be written, so let it be done."

As the steam rolled from the man's ears, he raised a loud cry to his Banker; over the long distance, the calm, restful voice of his Banker filled his ear, dissipating the steam. "My friend, we knew you were moving to that new land, and we knew the trials you would face, so we are sending the original scroll to your tent by the emerald lake. Even the most impassive Bureaucrat cannot help but be moved by its beauty and clarity; just be patient, and your wagon will have its Tag."

The man was frustrated that he could not have another copy, until he realized that he would enjoy a few days longer the courtesy extended to those who drive a wagon with a foreign Tag, and then be able to stride boldly before the Bureaucrat after his crisp, original scroll arrived. As he left the Land of the Bureaucrats, the man took each wave from the natives as more precious, and hoped the waves would continue after his new Tag made him blend in more closely with them.


Thursday, April 26, 2007

For your viewing and listening pleasure

Folks, I don't watch American Idol. At all. Ever. But last night, they did something impressive, and paired up two great singers (one of them is my all-time favorite, and you can guess which one) for a landmark duet.

Please, go watch it. Right now. Here. It's good stuff.


EDITED TO ADD: Yes, yes, copyright issues have been raised, and that link is no longer active. However, the more fascinating thing is how the Elvis/Celine duet was produced in the first place. If you're interested, there's analysis here.

And I hate to burst anyone's bubble, but the copyright wasn't exercised until recently. I leave the broken link as testament to the fact that it was available, until the holder of the copyright exercised it--as is their right, something that seems to elude some people. As someone with more than a passing interest in both radio and television production, however, the how'd-they-do-that link holds more interest.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Warning: Obscene Language

After reading this observation from the previous thread (quoted thusly, and like so)...

bepatient said...
I try to steer clear of the Closed forum but occasionally I pop in to see what is going on and I skimmed through and saw a comment that SG is the "head demon".

...I went for a stroll through the Forum linked in the list to your right, the one innocuously named the "New BBC Open Forum", but which is more accurately known as the "Closed Forum" for its lack of hospitality toward those who do not line up with the anti-Bellevue sentiments fermenting there. (I would have preferred to make these observations in an e-mail, but it's been a long time since the Forum moderator deigned to respond to one.) Don't take my word for what goes on there, though--here are some recent examples, beginning with the aforementioned "head demon" reference.


Oh, yes. Quoted thusly, and like so:

The demons have been loosed on BBC, with the head demon, SG, directing them.

Matt 18 only works with believers who have actual fruit. It does not work with people who are deceptive...professing christians with no fruit.

I described what is happened at BBC as "voodoo".

Are any of you Christians? You certainly are not showing the fruit of a believer!

The leadership at BBC has many similiarities as the brutes in Jonestown. Matter of fact, many of the members at BBC have decided to stick their brains in their pockets and allow SG and his band of thugs to do their thinking for them, just like the people in Jonestown.

The Antichrist should put BBC on his list to visit right off the bat. SG has prepared his flock to usher in the antichrist. No doubt they will give him a standing ovation, if they haven't already.

Have these remarks been deleted? Have those who posted them been reproved?

No, and no. There are occasional calls for a calmer tone, but they (obviously) go unheeded. Keep in mind that repeated calls for a more civil discourse do get reprimanded, but denying the salvation of professing Christians, comparing Bellevue to a non-Christian cult, and insisting the Antichrist will feel very much at home among the "demons" there are the coin of their bitter realm. Their remarks are not only untouched, but encouraged.

Nevertheless, and just as with the so-called "Saving Bellevue" site, I leave a link to the Closed Forum in the list to your right. But be warned--the Forum is a place loaded with obscenities and filth. Strap on your hip waders before you enter, and take a long, hot shower after you depart.

It doesn't have to be that way, though. Once again, I beg those who participate in the Forum, in the name of Jesus, to repent of their mindset and their actions. They do nothing to heal, and do much to harm.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Your point is not well taken

The National Enquirer-esque headlines are a regular feature of the deceptively-named "Saving Bellevue" website, and one of the more recent ones continues the tradition. I quote thusly, and like so (yet without the large font): "Parliamentarian and Pastor Barry McCarty's church in Texas, Valley View Christian Church split in 2004. The off shoot (sic) is Cornerstone Christian Church He (sic) was the Parliamentarian for our March 25th Business Meeting."

Get it? See, Dr. McCarty had a church split under his watch. So, he must be part of an effort to make Bellevue split, right? Why, of course!

Well, no.

With regard to the so-called "split," it wasn't much of one. Dr. McCarty became Valley View's new pastor, about 150 people flared off to follow Valley View's old pastor preach at a Dallas hotel, and Valley View was just left decimated--with only 1200 people left to attend their church. Granted, an 11% drop in membership is nothing to sneeze at, and none of us is privy to just what level of acrimony was present during those members' departures, but according to the National Enqui... um, sorry, the so-called "Saving Bellevue" reference, no one needs to know anything else about Barry McCarty other than that his church split.

A couple of things to consider here:

1) Correct me if I'm wrong, but hasn't at least one group in the past splintered away from Bellevue to form its own church? I have yet to read a condemnation of Ramsey Pollard on the so-called "Saving Bellevue" site for presumably mishandling his pastoral duties to the point that members broke away to start what is now known as Second Baptist Church in Memphis. To be clear, I don't know that Pastor Pollard ever necessarily mishandled his pastoral duties--my point is that "Saving Bellevue" should either be consistent, or remove their latest attempt at gossip-mongering.

2) Dr. McCarty has been the Southern Baptist Convention's parliamentarian since 1986. If you'd like to read an extensive article on the man, Baptist Press has one here.

3) Since you probably didn't follow that link, here's a sample from it. As you read it, see if anything sounds familiar about it--quoting thusly, and like so:

Preparing for his first convention, 1986 in Atlanta, McCarty studied what had happened the year before in Dallas. He said that while some of the points of order offered were well-intentioned, they stymied the convention’s deliberative process to the point he suspected that some messengers were raising the points to “confuse and frustrate the chair.”

“The thing I remember most about the convention in Atlanta was that they threw everything at us, including the kitchen sink,” McCarty recalled. “It was pretty obvious to me that people who were opposed to the president had found that in the point of order they had a way to harass the chair.”

McCarty said he gave Stanley a legitimate way to dispatch such points in quick fashion: “I recall one thing I had taught Dr. Stanley that became his favorite expression: ‘Your point of order is not well taken.’ But when someone raised a legitimate point of order, we took immediate corrective action,” said McCarty, who noted the 1986 Convention had an unusually large number, between 60-70, points-of-order raised.

4) Dr. McCarty was a personal friend of Pastor Rogers'; in addition to serving as SBC President in 1979, Pastor Rogers served as SBC President in 1986 and 1987 with Dr. McCarty as parliamentarian. As he noted in the recent business meeting (and as is obliquely referenced in the aforementioned Baptist Press article), Dr. McCarty treasured his friendship with Pastor Rogers. Perhaps some in attendance missed that reference?

Now you know more than "Saving Bellevue" evidently wanted you to know about Barry McCarty, the incredibly well-qualified parliamentarian who served Bellevue during the March 25th business meeting. Why do you think that none of this information made it onto that site?


EDITED TO ADD: Apparently, there's nothing that the so-called "Saving Bellevue" folks won't bootleg. I see today that they made a very poor recording of Mark Dougharty today, which continues a trend of surreptitiously recording people and events. Why? From whence comes their compulsion to keep unapologetically breaking these types of laws over, and over, and over, and over again? I mean, I half-expect to see bootleg copies of 300 and Meet The Robinsons for sale on their site!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Just when I was looking forward to writing about something else...

An anti-Bellevue blog is closing.

No, not that one. Or that one. Something previously titled "Bellevue Baptist Church - OUR (sic) True Story," now re-titled as "From Bellevue Baptist Church to the World...." evidently intends to shutter its publishing.

And I'm sad to see it go.

The author (or authors) of that blog missed (or ignored) the point of my interaction with them, as you'll see in their most recent article. Normally, I would've responded on that blog, but for whatever reason I "may not comment with this account," according to Blogger.

You Finally Win

You hypocrites and brood of vipers, you win. How 'bout a round of applause, no?

Let's keep in mind that "brood of vipers," in particular, was a phrase Jesus employed when speaking to those opposed to Him and His mission. It's informative to the rest of what "Don" has to say.

After receiving a record setting amount of email, most which were completely absent of anything Christian, and after the way other bloggers who have been kind to our cause have been treated, we are pulling this blog down - mostly for legality's sake. Can't elaborate on that now, though.

But when you are able to elaborate, by all means feel free to use this venue to do so.

All day we collectively received calls from "minister friends" and from "concerned people" whose choice phrases cause those of us contacted to believe solely otherwise. No matter what Steve Gaines says, harassment is never a good thing on any level, and bullying never wins out in the end.

So you don't think that your choice to single out two Bellevue staff members and call them racists, then reference the alleged "countless deacons and bible fellowship teachers and lay leaders who make awful racist remarks on the ball fields, out fishing, and in public" was a good one after all? Because your anonymous remarks were just what you claim to detest--they were harassment, and they were bullying in nature.

Congratulations, Mr. Mike Bratton! How happy you must be now that you get your way, since you are so vehemently against anyone who wishes to pose their opinion.

Now you've moved from harassment and bullying to outright lies.

You DEMAND that they tell their names or that they show their faces or you paint them out to be liars and evildoers.

Where? When I wrote this to you? Quoting myself thusly, and like so:

"Either put the weight of your reputation(s) behind your accusations, or refrain from making them."

And like so:

"Your 'reputations' are of precisely zero consequence until you publish your names with your accusations. Is that elementary point so very elusive?"

And like so:

"As a friend of mine once reminded me, if someone won't sign his or her name to his or her complaint, that complaint is worthless."

I never suggested that your charges against Bellevue staff were necessarily "lies" or that you were anything resembling "evildoers." I asked you to sign your name to your complaints. Now, the things you've said regarding me were absolutely lies, and I encourage you in the name of Jesus to apologize for them and repent of them. But I was attempting to give you the benefit of the doubt. Since you post no e-mail address, and since I cannot post to your blog, I have no option but to correct your misstatements here.

While you win the battle by us pulling this momentary blog down, you have proven a point that is about to be made known to the entire world ........

Let me ask a question I've asked for months now: Where is the Biblical precedent for broadcasting the presumed private sin of another to the world at large?

And you definitely will get to see our faces in the very near future. See, what you have always failed to realize and what you clearly cannot see because of your ego that is in the way (and let me say this not just to Mr. Bratton; this I speak to all of the pro-Gaines crowd who use the bully pulpit for their own promotion and personal gain) is that SHEEP ARE HURTING AND SHEEP ARE DYING AND THEY PERISH FOR LACK OF KNOWLEDGE AND YOU HAVE IGNORED THEM FOR THE LAST TIME. (And yes, there are those close to the pastor who are gaining personally from their "squashing" of these sites and comments, but more on that at a later date.)

Interesting. We're getting into "threat" territory now.

You have allowed them to lay bleeding by the wayside, by beating those who simply look for answers. You attempt to destroy those who question things that are clearly not Scriptural and you attempt to make them a laughing stock before your peers. You continue to beat them and blast them into a faux submission, and only when you stand before the Lord - only then will you see the thousands who now lie broken and stranded in the path.

You want control, not restoration. You want power, not fellowship. And it sure seems like for the time being, you have it ...

One hundred eighty degrees incorrect. Those whom you and yours attack mercilessly are people, from my experience, who desire fellowship and healing. They are far from perfect, as they would be quick to admit, but their orientation is one of openness and commonality.

So I implore you, have your fun for now. I promise you, and this is the very sad part, that it will be short lived. We went to the people who were at fault, and we were rejected - wouldn't even listen. We then took a group of godly people to confer about the problems, and still nothing. We tried to take it to the church - and were promised our day - yet still, nothing. And I want to say that how anyone can say that the opposing viewpoint had a chance at all of being heard at the "business meeting" is completely out of their mind. Period.

Since we don't know who you are, there is no way to objectively validate your statements. Did you go to the people at fault? Who knows--you're anonymous.

And again, the contrarians had their opportunity, and fumbled it. Just as you have.

So, now we will take it to the people. All the "facts" you accuse us of not having, all the things you say aren't real hidden behind a blog screen name, and all the things I am absolutely certain that you all have ignored because you liked your position ... all is going to be made known. And you are going to realize that you have been very, very wrong.

If so, I'll be the first to admit it.

Too many threats have been levied against too many people, too many "rights violations" have been incurred by too many innocent bystanders, and too many federal laws have been either bent and/or broken by the current leadership - and finally, there are those who are listening. The most sad thing is that the "church" is the one who chose to ignore it's own in this matter... now the matter is being taken up in the only place where people will listen, and act.

And you can control no one's behavior but your own. To date, you, whoever you are, haven't exactly acquitted yourself with élan.

Thank you to every one who listened, who prayed and is praying, and who has never been afraid to speak up. May God bless and keep you as you continue to stand for what is right.

Please keep us in your prayers and keep your eyes open. This is all we can say for now.

No matter what anyone may think, we all trust and believe that Jesus Christ is Lord.

I haven't seen anyone question your salvation--though that is a favorite tactic of those who share your viewpoint. Why, you even opened your article by doing just that.



I had hoped that "Don," and whoever else was working with him in publishing, would understand the responsibility required in making the accusations found in that blog--namely, to sign one's name to one's charges. And more than just a first name, obviously. For reasons known only to "Don" and his presumed colleagues, this responsibility has not registered.

And I'm sad to see that.


EDITED TO ADD: Thankfully, we seem to have a sort of apology for the previously-quoted remarks. You can read it here.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

What is a "real man"?

A little distance is a wonderful thing.

Having been caught up in the joys of both serving in the Memphis Passion Play and of moving to a new home in a new city, I have been blessedly distant from both the childishness that currently permeates the Closed Forum and the disregard for law that is the calling card of "Saving Bellevue." My prayer is that I will be able to address other areas of interest (which I expect to do soon), but I would be remiss were I to neglect observing how both anti-Bellevue groups are operating these days, in one more effort to encourage them to repent of their behavior.

First, the nonsense ironically known as "Saving Bellevue" has pushed the boundaries of the ridiculous to new depths. Last week, I sent them an e-mail; since I've yet to receive a response (which is, unfortunately, typical), perhaps sharing its contents with you might encourage a response. This is the text of my April 7 e-mail, quoted thusly and like so:

I would've written sooner, but we've just now finished the move to Birmingham. As I try to catch up, what do I find at your site? Why, bootlegged IMAG video of the business meeting. Care to explain why a group such as yours--a group so very, very interested in "integrity" and "accountability"--seems willing to break the law with regard to copyright infringement on a regular basis?

You folks really have to stop this. I'm concerned about you, and about your circle of associates. In the name of Jesus, I ask you to put aside your bitterness, because it is blinding you to the wrongs you are committing; you and yours have long since become known only for what you are against, and not at all for what you are for. Consider that Easter Sunday would be a good time to renounce your old behavior and put your efforts toward constructive work for the cause of Christ. At the very least, I encourage you to attend whatever church you'll attend tomorrow without carrying a video camera.

Appropriately, the videos they bootlegged off Bellevue's IMAG system have been removed by YouTube, but the response of "Saving Bellevue" is telling. Rather than taking responsibility for their own illicit behavior--and while displaying a continued, disturbing predilection for unrepentently breaking the law where copyright issues are concerned--their sole response is "This is censorship."

No, this was violating YouTube's Terms Of Service. And breaking the law.

Integrity counts? When--only when it's someone else's?

Secondly, the clique ironically known as an Open Forum has taken to baiting the men of Bellevue who don't buy into their bitterness by insisting they aren't "real men." A few make the assertion, and the rest affirm it. Obviously, such immature, schoolyard taunts have been the coin of the Forum realm for awhile now, but rather than dismissing the taunt, I felt led to address it.

At the Closed Forum, one finds that a "real man" is someone who thinks destroying a church is a good idea. According to the observations and rah-rahs of their few-but-proud (apologies to the U.S. Marine Corps), real men "are not afraid to stand up and speak out. They put their names on the line to protect the church and preserve the truth."

Interesting that the majority of the men who participate in the anti-Bellevue movement do so behind pseudonyms--except for the few who'll provide both their first and last names to television producers.

(The same observation applies to the "Saving Bellevue"/"Integrity Does Count" hybrid. One can only find out the IDC membership after joining--for a fee, of course. So, according to the Closed Forum, IDC is anything but "manly.")

And how have anti-Bellevue sympathizers "protected" or "preserved" much of anything? We've seen them, as a group, fumble every chance to maturely speak to the issues that are supposed to drive them; equate their brothers in Christ with Fascists, the Mafia, and Satanists; and make un-Biblical pronouncements regarding who is--or is not--a Christian. What we haven't seen is concern for the church body as a whole or the meekness, the strength under Christ's control, that would allow them to speak up about an issue without defaming others.

Real men, and real women, are up to that task. So, what do you say, IDC-ers and Forum-ites? Will the discourse of the playground be your only legacy, or can you leave the taunts, bitterness and antagonism behind you?


EDITED TO ADD: For those few who make up what's left of the Closed Forum "regulars," thanks for stopping by and browsing. From what I read, your collective seems either unwilling or unable to take up the challenge and put the playground mentality in the rear-view mirror. It's at once telling and heartbreaking.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Programming notes

1) For the next several days, my presence here will be infrequent at best, as our moving process has begun. Apologies in advance if I don't respond or post much until some time next week.

2) The Memphis Passion Play will be at Bellevue from Friday, March 30th to Wednesday, April 4th. Make plans now to attend!


Monday, March 26, 2007

Post-game analysis

Bill Buckner.

Chris Webber.

Jean Van de Velde.

These three athletes have one thing in common: Each had the opportunity to achieve, yet wasted that opportunity in memorable fashion. (And as I'm not a fan of the word "choke," I will refrain from using it in the balance of this article. Let's put you--or me--in their situations, and see if you--or I--could have done better.)

For Mr. Buckner, an otherwise tremendous baseball career was forever asterisked by his role in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, when he allowed a ground ball from Mookie Wilson to trickle between his legs. Mr. Buckner's error gave Mr. Wilson's New York Mets the win and forced Game 7, which the Mets won.

Mr. Webber, a standout collegiate and professional basketball player, made one of the most colossal mental errors in the history of basketball: calling a timeout in the waning moments of his Michigan squad's 1993 NCAA championship game against North Carolina. Had Michigan had any timeouts remaining, it would've been a good idea; since they did not, the resulting technical foul gave North Carolina the ball and the championship.

And then there is the case of Mr. Van de Velde. While I saw all these events live, on television, this is the one that is most vivid in my mind. Perhaps it is because there's no Red Sox bullpen to blame, or because a moment's distraction in a basketball game is something I can relate to. Perhaps because I enjoy golf so much, or perhaps because it happened nearly in slow-motion. In any event...

At the 1999 British Open, Mr. Van de Velde went to the 18th hole with a commanding lead. All he had to do was nudge the ball down the fairway, and he would have won his first major championship; but, like a hacker on a driving-range tee, he pulled his driver from his bag. Seven shots later, after finding the rough, the sand, the grandstands, and the water, Mr. Van de Velde ended his round in a three-way tie for the lead--and lost the ensuing playoff to the dumbstruck Paul Lawrie.

Now what does all that prologue have to do with yesterday's business meeting at Bellevue?

It's simple: The Bellevue contrarians pulled a Buckner, to use the vernacular. They Webbered their opportunity. They Van de Velded.

They seriously, seriously Van de Velded.

From what I understand, the contrarian game plan for the business meeting was not followed, whatever it was supposed to be. And from what I knew, the contrarian group's performance didn't catch anyone in Bellevue leadership by surprise.

A motion to keep the television cameras from "scanning" the congregation? A motion for a secret ballot? Please. It's one thing to hide behind pseudonyms while posting anti-Bellevue epithets on the Internet, but wanting the luxury of hiding during a church business meeting is absurd. What was next? A motion to allow contrarians to address the congregation from behind a curtain? While scrambling their voices? If you don't have the courage of your convictions when you have the opportunity to (literally) stand up and be counted, I would encourage you to reevaluate just whether you hold a conviction--or a grudge.

Which reminds me of a suggestion for the next business meeting: If my failing memory serves, people speaking at a microphone are supposed to identify themselves. This did not happen yesterday, and should not happen in the future. (And I understand that the meeting was adjourned with a motion on the floor, but adjourned to when? If the next business meeting won't be within the next ninety days, it's a moot point as I understand it, but some clarification would do wonders.)

There were actually (gasp!) some good things presented, such as a call to codify conflict-of-interest procedures in committee selection, but those measured proposals were in the minority, particularly when it comes to the recipient of the First Annual Van de Velde Award.

And the winner? The action that equated to pulling a driver from the bag when only a long iron was needed? To going for the green instead of chipping out of the rough? To firing an approach shot into the water?

This year's winner was the absurd, well-nigh-antagonistic notion of trying to force the congregation to vote on two disparate matters with one vote, particularly since the Bellevue leadership offered to have both measures considered separately. A quarterly business meeting just like what we had yesterday? Fine, let's talk about it, and vote on it. A resolution against sexual immorality? My, but that's a novel concept--is there anyone at Bellevue Baptist Church who thinks it's a bad idea to be against sexual sin, much less sin of any type? Obviously, no.

Attempting to force Bellevue into quarterly business meetings by the "two-pronged" approach, attaching it to a motion no member would consider opposing, was too clever by half. It precipitated a quick end to the business meeting, and squelched the single opportunity the contrarians had to legitimately speak to the membership.

In short, you folks blew it.

Over and over again.

(A note to Josh Manning, since you don't make an e-mail address available: You insulted everyone who had anything to do with yesterday's meeting with the aw-shucks comment "I wish I had shaved this morning, but I had zero intention of speaking when I left the house this morning." You made sure you were in Memphis for the business meeting, and you just happened to have a prepared motion with you, but you had no intention of speaking? Nonsense. That disparity flushed any credibility you might have had.)

And what's the rest of the talk in the anti-Bellevue locker room? Why, let's check some more highlights:

"Mr. Angel.... I hope you are reading this! Do you understand how hard it is going to be to sit in that bema seat when you get to heaven? Answer for your decisions! I know Joyce Rogers would like to hear your 'real' explanation for calling to adjourn the meeting! I guess you guys were beginning to feel the heat! I wouldn't want to be you, that has to answer for all those your turned away from the truth yesterday dear sir!"

"they will never give you the tools needed to reach the 3,000 Bellevue members. But, I am sure the media would."

"It reminds me of the jews lining up and going to the slaughter in Germany..a real tragedy!!"

"I am praying that God will remove SG by whatever means necessary if the members will not do so as they ought."

Does that last one sound like a veiled wish (with rather a "Malcolm X" flavor to it) for Steve Gaines' death? It's not the only one. Here's one with a different flavor--this one wielding the Bible as a baseball bat:

"I hope all of you see the parallel between Steve Gaines and company of false prophets saying good things are happening to BBC and Hananiah's false prophesy that good things were going to happen to Israel. Here is the account:


"[17] So Hananiah the prophet died the same year in the seventh month."

Let's have a couple more glittering highlights:

"We love you, CW and JM. We RESPECT both of you for your love for The LORD Jesus and for your love for The Word and for your love for His Church. It is for this love, however, that both of you meet the conditions of a wolf, his hirelings, and his lukewarm and compromising audience for hatred and punishment at BBC (and also by a handful that blog here). After all, the one they serve (satan himself) hates both of you, is burning in jealousy towards you".

"You REALLY dislike Josh. And it is obvious why. He has done nothing but rip the veil from the putrid decay that has begun to eat away at our church and you want it to stay covered."

"AS YOU SAW with your own eyes, MANY of the members of Bellevue are 100% behind Brother Steve and the leadership and are thrilled with the direction Bellevue is going. REPLY: Yes, there were TOO MANY, members that were affirmative for leadership & SG. If you were honest with yourself and others you would admit that the vast majority of the membership is clueless as to the many "issues" surrounding leadership & SG. They were voting blindly and clueless, voting without knowledge is dangerous."

"Once we were 'one in the bonds of love'. Now we are 'one in the bonds of love only if you agree with me and show blind faith in leadership'."

"And this Sunday, important business is cut-off by Miller after -- yeah -- 45 minutes, after more than an hour of "Celebration" filibuster."

To recap the post-game anti-Bellevue chatter:

Church is a "filibuster."

Most in the Bellevue membership are idiots.

The business meeting was the equivalent of the Holocaust.

Neither the pastor nor anyone in Bellevue leadership can possibly be a Christian, because the pastor and church leadership all serve Satan.

If the church doesn't do as the contrarians wish, Pastor Gaines should die.

Obscene. Is it any wonder what precipitated the "anti-Bellevue" label for that group?

To the folks in that group: I love you all with the love of Christ, and challenge you out of compassion. For months I have pleaded with you to stop attempting to bludgeon those with whom you disagree. I was confident the day would come when you would have the chance to air those of your objections that are legitimate, and your negativity and hate-mongering would only work at cross purposes with the presentation of any serious concerns. I was hoping you'd take the opportunity given to you to voice your concerns in a measured, responsible way. You didn't. Instead, you've chosen to further antagonize those who aren't in lockstep agreement with you.

This has to stop. You injure yourselves with your behavior, and contribute nothing to the distribution of the Gospel. If you have concerns about Bellevue, lay them at Jesus' feet as you would any other concerns, and leave them there. Is God deaf to the petitions of His children? Will He not move as He sees fit for our benefit and for His glory?

The Easter season is a time when the unsaved are more open to the message of Christ than they might be otherwise. Please, I beg you: Take the energy you invest in negativity and contention, and reinvest it in the only thing that has eternal consequences--sharing the love of Jesus as He gives you the chance.


EDITED TO ADD (AS IF THIS ARTICLE WASN'T LONG ENOUGH): I see that the Closed Forum is open enough to continue to allow more obscenity, in the form of another post that lusts for the death of Pastor Gaines. I'll be interested in seeing whether or not that post (along with the others) are condemned and eliminated, or even complained about, or if there's even a mild objection.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Carnations for a friend

A little over a year ago, my family lost a friend.

He was the kind of friend you tell stories about, smiling and laughing as one gentle anecdote tumbles into another. He was the kind of friend you watch, and learn from even when he isn't trying to teach you anything. He was the kind of person who challenges you, even telling you things you don't want to hear so that you can be a better friend to others.

It was a sudden thing when he passed, and every friend he had found a different way to mourn. Some are still mourning today. You never know whose thoughts are where, though. My eight-year-old daughter, out of her own sweet spirit, asked if she could place some flowers on his grave; quietly, I agreed, and today the beautiful floral arrangement on our friend's grave has, slipped into one side of the vase, the addition of three yellow carnations.

As we walked away from the gravesite, my daughter matter-of-factly said she looked forward to seeing him again, and that she knew our friend was happy in Heaven. If it's possible, though, this afternoon he was just a little bit happier.


Monday, March 12, 2007


There are some who suggest that there are certain sins from which one cannot be healed--some, even, who are ostensibly members of Bellevue. For them, and for everyone else, this article should be of interest.


Friday, March 09, 2007

With one hand tied

(Note: Please don't miss the "Edited To Add" at the end of this post.)

As those of us who are members of Bellevue Baptist Church look forward to a congregational meeting Sunday morning, March 25th, the unfortunate shrillness of the anti-Bellevue opposition has increased. They're louder, all right, but they're still not saying much that's substantial--and the things of substance they do say get drowned out by the noises surrounding their favorite sport, attempted character assassination.

That's what separates the anti-Bellevue types from those, concerned by some recent events in Bellevue's leadership, who want to see issues addressed yet seem able to air their concerns without insisting Pastor Gaines isn't really a Christian, but a willing servant of Satan. The latter group desires comity, reconciliation, and healing; the former group desires power, and the only way available to them is to tear down Bellevue as much as possible, and restructure it in a way that benefits them.

After months of attempting to dissuade a cluster of these people away from their bitter, slanderous remarks, I've been asked not to address them any more. Oddly, their moderator (as well as other participants) seems to miss the irony of a site supposedly dedicated to "comment and exchange ideas in a respectful, Christian spirit" limiting comment, censoring ideas, and encouraging disrespect to any who would dare disagree with the prevailing mindset. Here are some of my most recent submissions, so you can see just what terrible, terrible things I wrote:

Post One:

Truth Rules said...

I have been following your posts for quit some time. I must say that you state your opinions in a such a way that your opponents are unable to refute most of your facts. But I've noticed that rather than refute facts with a counter argument they change the direction of the debate. That seems to be problematic for anyone searching for truth. Keep up the good work. There are many of us who enjoy your posts.

I appreciate your kind words. And I'm glad you have also noticed that instead of answering simple questions or engaging in discussion, some find it easier to just lie about me, and lie about what I say. I asked a boatload of questions, and I don't recall seeing one person among the "regulars" attempt to continue the discussion.

No one can point to a personal attack that's ever come from my direction, yet we read nonsense about how I allegedly "don't want to discuss anything in a civil (or civilized) manner" when the people tossing those same allegations can't even brook an opposing viewpoint without throwing bombs.

You "regulars" will have an opportunity, from what I gather, to speak up in public. I seriously doubt you'll behave then as you do now--but who knows? As I've said several times now, we have serious concerns at Bellevue which require serious and sober discussion and debate. If you're not up to the task, there's no shame in admitting it; however, believing that the bile and invective that flows so freely from the keyboards of the "regulars" is either serious or sober is self-deception. You folks still have a couple of weeks to compose yourselves, but if this is it, there's a problem.

"Why do you even bother with those people, Mike?" When a day goes by without that question, I'm surprised--but when I'm asked, the answer is a simple one: Because I love "those people," and I believe you have legitimate questions, legitimate concerns, and legitimate pain.

The way you're doing things now doesn't help you. All I do is try to get you to realize that.

Truth Rules said...
Brady, thank you for posting. I made my first post on this blog today as well. I usually post on some other blogs but have read this one for months. It is hard to understand how these who profess Christ's love in their hearts can be so anger with anyone who says anything positive about our church.

There are a number of "regulars" here who have, sadly, a vested interest in Bellevue's implosion. Some are angry, some are bitter, some are wounded, and all have reasons to ask questions. Those reasons, however, do not--cannot--justify the months and months of personal attacks against those with whom you disagree in both Bellevue's leadership and laity.

And if memory serves, I've read some remarks about whether or not I ever object to Bellevue's leadership as strenuously as I do to the behavior here. To be blunt, I don't have to--they don't threaten me, attack me, or circumvent my questions.

You may now return to your regularly scheduled programming, already in progress. :)


Post Two:

New BBC Open Forum said...

"Banned" is such an ugly word, but as long as he's just trying to keep things stirred up, you could say that. Mike hasn't always done that,

Mike doesn't do it at all, actually. (Grr... I hate it when I refer to myself in the third person.) Again, why is asking questions such a terrible thing?

so let's not go so far as to say it's permanent, just that he needs to stop heaping pain and derision on the people who post here. Tim just summed it up well in his last comment. Not everything that's said here has to be confronted.

You must be joking.

Read back at what's been sent my way for having the temerity to ask questions. Then, tell me with a straight face that you're not playing favorites with your "regulars."

And what makes anyone think he or she has the right to come here just to disrupt? I don't post on the Bratton Blog because I have nothing to say there. Actually, I could have thought of several things back when I read it regularly, but I didn't because it would have just been argumentative, and the moderator probably wouldn't have let it through anyway.

Presumption, ma'am. The only things I blow off are things with obscene or otherwise offensive language.

Or if he did, he'd have tried to pick it apart like a day-old Thanksgiving turkey carcass.

Then don't serve up day-old Thanksgiving turkey. :)

I don't need that here, and I don't need to go anywhere else for it. But if that's all Mike wants to do, he should [go].

So, let me understand. You and yours want a place where you can post anything you like, of any length and on any topic, without people disagreeing with you?

Then here's a tip: Rename this place. As has been otherwise noted, people who aren't members of Bellevue are as much a part of your core group as people who are, so the idea that this is a "BBC Forum" is out. And as for it being "Open," well, that doesn't match up with your desire for exclusivity, does it?


We are confronted with a problem that's all too common in modern society: The need for sober-minded people to address wrong behavior with "one hand tied behind our backs," so to speak. When one of the little "Open Forum" clique questions the salvation of someone with whom they disagree, it would be simple to suggest that the people making such spurious remarks might want to make sure of their own salvation before they question others' relationship with Christ. It would be simple, but it would be wrong.

No one but God can see into the spirit of a person; no one but God can make the call so many Forum denizens make with ease. But ask those folks to stop, and they'll make you their next target. The same pattern holds with any of their behaviors, such as gossip, misuse of Scripture, the aforementioned character assassination attempts, even the refusal to sign their names to their attacks. It is a problem the Bellevue administration has been faced with, and on a smaller scale, it is a problem I've had to address for a number of months.

Oddly enough, it's an answer to prayer to find I've been relieved of the opportunity to speak the truth in love on that particular site, though I understand that what I write here won't miss their sight. Bitterness is such a pervasive element of that cadre's existence that it will be a welcome respite to not wade in it on a regular basis. Now, there is the temptation to take a cue from the "Open Forum" regulars and post there under a pseudonym, but it is a temptation that is easily dismissed. Speaking your mind while claiming your statements will be a crucial part of Bellevue's healing, while tossing bombs from the bushes is the tactic of those who wish only harm on Bellevue and her congregation.

Consequently, those of us who address the anti-Bellevue folks do so at a disadvantage from the start. That is, depending on how you define "disadvantage." We may not have as many options available, but that's all right, because (to coin a phrase) it's not about us.


EDITED TO ADD: In perusing the Formerly-Open Forum, I came across this unfortunate, yet typical post. Quoting thusly and like so:

I spent the last few minutes looking for the last post I read from Mike Bratton. It is in response to Former Pastors respectful written, heartfelt concerns he addressed to BBC administration.

If I may ask, "A former pastor," why are you a former pastor, rather than a current pastor?


9:30 AM, March 05, 2007

You and I have respectfully disagreed with each other, and that's how it should be done.
Mike's post above was just an example of how he treated many people on this blog- he got personal and ugly if he didn't agree with what someone said.

The technical term for such a response is "grasping at straws." Had "Amy," the individual who refers to my question as "personal and ugly" actually asked me why I asked the question, she would've learned something. One of my oldest and best friends is a man who is also a "former pastor." I wanted to know what circumstances had transpired in that poster's life to bring him to the place where he was today, since I'm sympathetic to the things that brought my friend to be in that same category.

But in the toxic environment of the Formerly-Open Forum, any question posed by the "enemy" is automatically hostile, and any action of an "ally" is either applauded or excused.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Lengthy, ponder-worthy question

If your group's said to be all about integrity, yet it commits copyright violation after copyright violation (even after the copyright holder says "Um, would you mind not violating our copyright?"), then what's your group really all about?


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

With a banjo on my knee

That's my whimsical response to the question "Are y'all still going to Alabama?" Indeed we are, and with alacrity.

My family and I will relocate to the Birmingham metro before mid-April, and rather than waiting until the night before the moving vans pull up, I wanted to impose upon you now. If you are one of those in the Birmingham area who frequent TBR (sounds official, doesn't it?), we need your help. Even if you're not there now, but know about the area, we could use your input as well. While my wife is more familiar with the area than I am, neither of us knows nearly enough about, for lack of a better term, "the best of Birmingham."

Is Hoover High School all it's cracked up to be? Where do you get good barbeque? What are some good Southern Baptist churches to visit, and how do they celebrate Easter and Christmas? (For the record, we've had friends recommend Gardendale's First Baptist--which we've visited, really enjoyed, and plan to visit again--along with Brook Hills, Hunter Street, and Valleydale.) Where's a good dry cleaner? Know any good babysitters? What's the best grocery store chain? How much more fun are Birmingham's golf courses than those in Memphis? Does anyone down there really use the abbreviation "B'ham"? Auburn, Alabama, or UAB? Oh, yes, and this one... Do you folks really still refer to it as "The War of Northern Aggression," or is someone just yanking my chain?

As you can tell, we're loaded down with questions--most of which I haven't listed, and probably don't even know to ask. Whether you'd like to respond in the Comments section or via e-mail, please respond. We're making our final house-hunting trip very soon, so Moving Day can come at virtually any time the Lord sees fit to orchestrate, and He's already made it clear we'll be there by Tax Day.

One other matter, of a very personal nature: I need a gig down there; freelancing's been interesting, but I could do without it. Networking has, to date, been slow yet productive; if you're connected to anyone in radio broadcasting or commercial production work, that's been my bread-and-butter since 1989, and I'd appreciate an opportunity to hook up. Or if you know anyone who could use a snarky blogger to do some writing, just let me know. Additionally, I act, teach Christian theater, and write plays; if you know of a Southern Baptist church (perhaps even one of the ones I listed earlier) that could keep me busy in those areas, I'd be obliged.

Cast a broad net, so the saying goes.

The broth for the "Bratton family stew" has been percolating for awhile, and it's now at a rolling, noisy boil. If you can toss some ingredients into the pot, to make the stew a bit more tasty--

Sorry. That analogy got away from me. Let's try that again.

We're ready for the next chapter in our lives, and if you can pass along any suggestions to make the transition easier, we would appreciate it.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Break glass in case of deletion

It's gotten downright funny.

A representative from the group oxymoronically named "Integrity Does Count" (You down with IDC?) made some statements last night regarding the mysterious nature of their organization. My response on the oxymoronically-named "Open Forum" lasted only a matter of minutes. Thankfully, I didn't un-learn the previously-learned lesson, so here's the post in question, which addresses a key point in the way the IDC sub-group does its business:

Mike Bratton said...
Tim said...

There is no fear involved in the Board of IDC. There is a matter of effectiveness and right now they may have more effect anonymously.

Because, of course, non-profit organizations do some of their best work from the shadows?

Could you explain the rationale there, Tim?

Since when has releasing names become an issue in your eyes. The church has a legal responsibility to do so and gain your support in refusing to do so.

Actually, the church has no legal, or moral, responsibility to release much of anything to a group whose raison d'etre is to work at cross purposes with the church. Or was Mr. Coombs' response not factual?

IDC has no legal or other responsibility to you and you take issue with them because of it.

You do, on the other hand, have a moral responsibility to let those you disagree with know your identities.

Imagine the scene. It's a clear, beautiful July day in Philadelphia, the year is 1776, and the Colonies are moving to assert themselves. John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress, strides up to the Declaration of Independence and with a bold stroke, signs it thusly and like so:


Doesn't have the same ring to it, does it? I mean, centuries later, who'd want to do business with the Anonymous Life Insurance Company?

This is actually far beyond a double standard.

No, actually, it's right-smack-dab in double-standard territory.

Releasing names for one is a legal requirement

You and yours had your collective hat handed to you on that one, didn't you? Why, then, do you still pursue it?

and the other is to satisfy your curiousity.

If you were smuggling Bibles to China, I could understand the need for a certain level of secrecy.

Wait--you're not smuggling Bibles to China, are you?

There is a moral responsibility to identify one's self to those with whom one disagrees. The propensity to avoid doing so, combined with the convenient dismissal of inconvenient facts, is increasingly eroding the base upon which the IDC and Mostly Closed Forum claim to operate; when that base is gone, it cannot be reclaimed.

And folks, it's just about gone.