I’ve been on vacation for the last week and consequently have been off social media and silent on the latest developments regarding the Tony Jones/Julie McMahon controversy. The latest news is that after Brad Sargent’s recommendation on the Warburg Watch that Boz Tchividjian’s organization GRACE acts as a third party mediator between the involved individuals, GRACE originally stated it was unable to do so. However, today Dee Parsons at Warburg announced that, “Boz cares about this situation. He offered a possible solution and is willing to help us proceed in this direction.”
This is encouraging and welcome news to me. I have nothing but respect and appreciation for the amazing work Boz and GRACE have done on behalf on child abuse survivors and victims within the Christian church. It is my hope and prayer that McMahon can find the healing and justice she has longed for and that Jones can likewise find healing as well as accountability.
A number of individuals whom I admire have written on the Jones/McMahon controversy, and I want to draw attention to their thoughtful posts:
Brad Sargent, “Diagnosing the Emergent Movement”:
A holistic systems case study by “futuristguy,” analyzing issues in the Emergent Movement: historical, personal, theological, organizational, institutional, sociological, and toxicological.
Libby Anne, “On Responding to Abuse Allegations”:
While it is easy to respond properly to abuse allegations made against your enemy, it is far, far harder to respond properly to abuse allegations made against someone you know and are close to. I get that. But if we are serious about calling out abuse and supporting victims, we have to be willing do this in every forum, including our own.
David Hayward, “Why do our leaders want us to be silent?”:
Here’s the issue for me: For me, the core issue isn’t who’s guilty or not guilty. For me, the only thing I am determined to do is to keep that post up with all the comments in spite of the surmounting pressure to take it down and silence myself and those who commented. It’s not about “trial by twitter”, as Rachel Held Evans suggested, but about simply giving space for someone to share their experiences, to be heard and even to be believed. That’s their right just like it is a leader’s right.
The simple point I’m trying to make here is that narcissists who are managing their condition through therapy don’t need a clean slate, they need accountability. They don’t need people to ignore their NPD, they need people to remember it, and to be willing to bring it up. A willingness to gloss over an NPD diagnosis is not helpful to anyone, least of all individuals with NPD.
Suzannah Paul, “but what are we FOR?”:
Healthy leadership is accountable, humble, and willing to learn, and criticism is integral to public discourse. Pretending that criticism and social media are the domain of trolls is disingenuous, silencing, and frankly, ridiculous coming from the mouths of those who have built sizable platforms on both. Criticism is a discipline, and it does not exist in opposition to Christian discipleship.
Telling victims that they should not tell their stories outside of “proper” channels is a silencing technique. As we see from the above discussion of Bill Gothard’s fall, legal channels won’t always cut it, independent investigators are frequently not as independent as claimed, and therapists and support groups, while helpful to individual healing, do not by themselves bring down abusers or prevent them from preying on additional victims.
The progressive church has taught me again and again that Jesus’ was right when he said “the truth shall set you free”. It has also taught me that “sunlight is the best disinfectant”.
Jason Dye, Rod Thomas, Sarah Moon, and Shaney Irene, “#NotMyProgressiveSanctuary Teach-In”, Storify by Justin Hanvey:
January 31 Teach-in on Progressive Christianity and Church and how we can do better in responding to abuse allegations.
** Added, 02/08:
It is because of all of you that Julie now has hope. It is also because of all of you that she is willing to sit down for mediation because she now knows she is believed. Please keep encouraging her in the weeks to come. As you will see, this is a terrible ordeal and I am so sad that Tony has proceeded in this direction. That is his legal right but is it right?