by Cindy Kunsman cross posted from her blog Under Much Grace
Editor’s note: For the record I think Patheos has made a huge mistake and done their credibility no good by adding toxic Mr. Mark ‘I Think Women Are Penis Homes’ Driscoll to their line up. Having Bristol Palin’s incoherent ramblings is bad enough, but she’s done no one (besides her kids) any real harm.
I’m grateful for my relationship with No Longer Quivering (NLQ), a website founded by Vyckie Garrison and now overseen by Suzanne Titkemeyer and their support of Hillary McFarland’s book, Quivering Daughters. A few years ago, NLQ joined the bloggers at Patheos, an interfaith website
that features material that considers all sorts of belief systems including the non-religious. (I’m especially grateful for Richard Wade’s thoughtful and respectful approach to his beliefs on his Patheos blog, the Friendly Atheist. He isn’t what I consider a zealot who wants to make sport of others who disagree with him, and I find that refreshing.)
I’ve been through thick and thin with No Longer Quivering dating back to near it’s inception, and I’m honored to be a part of their Spiritual Abuse Survivor Blogs Network. Very much like Patheos itself, it provides a forum for those with many religious perspectives, most of whom have been adversely affected by the Patriarchy/Quiverfull Movement. Though it’s faced many challenges, the participants have worked through them which is often difficult considering that most everyone also grapples with personal recovery from the resulting spiritual abuse. As I’ve once heard someone say, it’s like trying to hug porcupines because of the hypervigilance that follows religious abuse. (Many people just trade up and shift their cult life over into “activism” instead of doing their own hard work of healing.)
I love America and the fact that anyone can hold any belief that they want with the promise that their government will not discriminate against them. You can be a racist, a hater, a conspiracy theorist, and hold to beliefs that most people find repugnant. But like the American melting pot, though there is much tension, there is also liberty and freedom for expression at Patheos. I think that such efforts make us better people when we can engage one another with respect. But that is an ivory tower concept that doesn’t often come to fruition.
I have mentioned Mark Driscoll on this blog a few times, the former pastor and co-founder of an allegedly Calvinist, postmodern friendly megachurch in Seattle. I didn’t track the details all that closely, but he lost his position run due to his authoritarian/abusive behavior, plagiarism, and using church funds to fund a marketing campaign so that his privately authored books could dominate the market. If I recall correctly, I quoted him saying that he’d break the legs of those in his congregation that didn’t agree with him. That’s the short version of his story, and many media outlets tracked his rise and fall quite well. (And I hate to give egomaniacs like him much attention.) I believe that because of his book sales, the Gospel Coalition folks latched on to him, and both camps were able to broaden their mutual demographic to bring in even more money.
I’ll leave it up to the reader to use their keyboard and google to figure out more about Driscoll so that they can develop their own opinions. I deem him a thinly veiled misogynist who latched on to opportunity when he wrote a very successful book. He speaks openly about sexuality which was a primary focus for him, but many of his gratuitously sexual sermons were R-rated, making them off-limits for minors. I don’t mind the subject of sexuality at all, but I am of the opinion that he used it to indulge his personal proclivities in a manner that was not Christian or edifying. I find him to be quite vulgar on many levels, and I never understood his appeal apart from the marketing of his sexual preferences which I assume that people found to be titillating instead of stereotypically prudish.
Well, for all of my lofty ideas about liberty and freedom of expression, I’m awash with unpleasant feelings and thoughts when I learned that Driscoll now has a blog at Patheos. (He well may have had it all along. I don’t know because I don’t follow him that closely.)
He’s not the only patriarchal blogger there, and it is America, right?
ShirleyTaylor alerted me to a recent Washington Post article about Driscoll, protesting the fact that Patheos allows him to blog there. Half of me is glad for that, for he stands diametrically opposed to the principles that I consider vital to an effort like Patheos. The other half of me realizes that censorship is a knife that cuts both ways. If you limit the free exercise of the freedom of speech of someone that you don’t like, they can do the very same thing to you when their belief system becomes all the rage.
And so ensues the tension inherent in a free country where liberty prevails for all people. It applies to each of us, and I love the idea that, in America, you can pray to a potted plant if you like. I just hate to see such a profiteer and spin doctor prosper while he enjoys the benefits of free speech. I am prejudiced and prefer my own beliefs, and I hate spiritual abuse. I’m saddened and sickened that Driscoll has access to a broader audience through the interfaith website and thus gains the benefits of seeming legitimate among other Christian leaders who aren’t guilty of his errors. (And I really don’t want to know if it’s more common than I’d like to think. Maybe it’s really the norm among nationally known ministers? I’ve lost enough bliss in my life and would rather remain ignorant.)
So today, he cost of liberty in the United States weighs heavily upon me. I’m called to put into action the principle of tolerance and the inherent tension it brings. I hope that the organizers and administrators of Patheos might reconsider the broader access that they’ve given Driscoll by allowing him to participate as a blogger – primarily because of his unethical behavior. Patheos purports to give millions “access to credible and balanced information about religion,” and in my opinion, Driscoll doesn’t qualify.Sigh. Like a particular body part that we all have, we also all have opinions. This one is not a humble one. And sometimes, this thing called democracy in a constitutional republic really seems like it can suck. And being mature about tolerance really bites.
And people wonder why I’m a Christian? A good part of it has much to do with justice so that the injustices that don’t get resolved in this life will be met with just consequences in the next. And since I see God as a loving, sane, wise being and not an SOB with a hammer who sees everyone as a nail, it provides me with hope that helps me live a meaningful life. It’s more than that, but today, it’s pretty important to me.
In the meanwhile, may the post-Mars Hill bloggers and Facebook groups prosper.
(Check out their blog links to more resources and commentary.)
Cindy is a member of the Spiritual Abuse Survivor Blogs Network.
Cynthia Mullen Kunsman is a nurse (BSN), naturopath (ND) and seminary graduate (MMin) with a wide variety of training and over 20 years of clinical experience. She has used her training in Complementary and Alternative Medicine as a lecturer and liaison to professional scientific and medical groups, in both academic and traditional clinical healthcare settings. She also completed additional studies in the field of thought reform, hypnotherapy for pain management, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that is often associated with cultic group involvement. Her nursing experience ranges from intensive care, the training of critical care nurses, hospice care, case management and quality management, though she currently limits her practice to forensic medical record review and evaluation. Most of her current professional efforts concern the study of manipulative and coercive evangelical Christian groups and the recovery process from both thought reform and PTSD.
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