If you are not watching the Mark Driscoll story, you should be. Here is why.


Update on Pastor Mark

If you are not following the Mark Driscoll resignation, you should be.

There was big story in Sunday involving Pastor Mark Driscoll.

Driscoll announced to his congregation by video that he will step down from being Pastor for 6 weeks while Mars Hill Elders investigate formal charges he abused his power.

The charges stem from 21 former pastors of Mars Hill Church that he abused his power.

It has been a tough summer for Driscoll and Mars Hill Church. Pastors have stepped down. Revelations of insults on a message board. Allegations of plagiarism. There has been a long list of issues well documented over the years of Mark Driscoll.

Now, some of you might be thinking that is just another blog on Mark Driscoll. Someone who is taking advantage of Driscoll’s demise. Or, you are not surprised by the story of abuse of the church and religion.

I would argue as while the story is about Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church, it’s actually about more. And for believers and non-believers, this is an important story to follow.

First, let’s look at the facts of the announcement.

It was a 17 minute video announcing his departure. Here is a portion of the quote from the video. Above is a link to it.

“I want to say to my Mars Hill family, past and present, I’m very sorry. I genuinely mean it. I’m very sorry for the times that I’ve been angry, short or insensitive. I’m very sorry for anything I’ve done to distract our mission by inviting criticism, controversy or negative media attention.”

“I have begun meeting with a professional team of mature Christians who provide wise counsel to help my maturity before God and men”.

” Storm clouds seem to be swirling around me more than ever in recent months, and I have given much thought and sought wise counsel as to why that is and what to do about it. Some have challenged aspects of my personality and leadership style, and while some of these challenges seem unfair, I have no problem admitting that I am deserving on some of those criticisms based on my past actions that I’m genuinely sorry for.”

At face value and first glance, this seems like a very sincere and genuine response. However upon some further examination, I think there are some very important things to consider.

First the actual process of investigation. This will be done by Mars Hill elders. I do not like this. I think there should be an independent and impartial review of this. Given the history of the issues, I would be very concerned having the church board investigating their own leadership. There can be a perception if bias. It is important to note that it has not only been Driscoll, but other Mars Hill Pastors accused of abuse of power. I would also be asking what this process of investigation involves. Who conducts and how is it conducted?

Second, and this may come across as a cheeky response to the “given much thought and sought wise counsel”. It is interesting to note that Mark Demoss, who worked on Mitt Romney’s Presidential Campaign was hired to work in a PR role with the congregation. Obviously, a significant and expensive hire. Clearly, Driscoll and Mars Hill have been thinking about the “storm clouds” and are prepared, or preparing a plan of response.

Third, this is very interesting. Mars Hill raised a total of $ 3 million, for a festival called the Jesus Festival. A festival that has been quietly cancelled.

An early look at the investigation, communication, and financial plan. I’m very concerned that this may handled in a fair, just manner. Not only for Driscoll, but the people he has hurt over the years.

That’s very sad. Because there is an opportunity here.

The sad fact of the matter is that as much focus as there been on such “sins” of homosexuality, or sex outside of wedlock, the church has had a deafening silence on one.

Spiritual Abuse.

Spiritual Abuse is not specifically a “Driscoll” issue. This has happened too many people by people in “spiritual authority”. Pastors, Priests, and other church leaders. They will use terms like Biblical, Spiritual, and Godly to ensure their followers comply with their beliefs. They will then threaten eternal damnation or personal separation from community for not.

In the meantime, the church has not spoke up. They have been silent. Or worse. They have brushed it under the rug. Using terms like “there is no perfect church, or perfect pastor” or “All you can do is pray for them” .

In the meantime, those who have been hurt sit in silence. Not being heard and concerns being ignored. Some sit in defeat in the church. Others leave faith all together.

This is the opportunity to say something. This is the opportunity to speak into that conversation.

Many of Driscoll’s defenders have reminded us about his gifts and contributions to the church community. They remind us of his gifted speaking style. His teaching. The gifts and talents are not up for debate. Let’s not forget how many “gifted and talented” leaders have abused people. There have been times victims of abuse are afraid to come forward because the leader is gifted. There is a fear that no one will believe the victim. Many times, the victims of spiritual abuse are not believed. This leads to another one.

This is the opportunity to actually discuss what spiritual abuse is. This the time to ask what are the signs, and triggers we should watch for the potential for abuse.

This is also the opportunity to watch how this is handled. This is a mega-church. They have lots of wealth, power and influence in the community. How they handle this issue will be telling to both victims of abuse, and quite frankly, abusers how this will be handled going forward.

Will the church in a position of power listen,and take these concerns seriously? Or, will it be another time when victims are silenced?

This is why this is worth watching.

Agree or Disagree: All religious books should be removed from hotel rooms


Agree or Disagree: Removing Religious Books from Hotels

 

In the above article from Sun News Network, it discusses that hotels are removing the Bible from hotel rooms.
The reason is it’s because it might offend Non-Christians.

Now, I’m sure for many of you there is one question that comes to mind.

There are still Bibles in hotel rooms?

Apparently! I have been in a few hotels recently and haven’t seen, nor looked for one.

However, if you want one, you can get one at the front desk.

Remember, the Bible is not the only religious book you can get at the hotel. Some hotels provide other religious books. As one simple example, the Book of Mormon is in a few hotel rooms. There is also the potential for religious articles in rooms as well

This leads to the question. Is it time to remove religious books, or for that matter from hotel rooms? Does it matter that they are there?

Should they be removed as well?rooms

1 in 5


1 in 5.

It’s been a number that has been ringing in my head this week.

1 in 5.

If you believe the statistics from the Canadian Mental Health Association,and there is no reason not too, 1in 5 Canadians suffer from some form of mental illness. Maybe it’s depression. Maybe it’s anxiety. Maybe it’s behaviour or substance abuse.

Let’s put this in perspective.

As you scroll down your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest feed, 1 in 5 people’s status could suffer from a mental illness.

Of the people that you might have an online debate with, 1 in 5 could be suffering from a mental illness.

When you are at work,1 in 5 of your colleagues could be suffering from a mental illness.

When you are at the bar or the pub, 1 in 5 of the crowd could be suffering from some sort of mental illness.

If you are a church goer, 1 in 5 people in your church could be suffering from a mental illness. This by the way, will include the pastor, the ushers and the worship band.

We were all impacted this week by the sudden death by Robin Williams. A very talented, gifted actor and comedian, with apparently from us on the outside, wax successful and rich. We were shocked to learn it was death by suicide. We expressed our condolences, reflected on his great movie’s and TV Shows and honoured his talent.

Then a blog was written by someone that angered, hurt and deeply offended many people about depression and suicide. You know who it is. I’m not going to talk about it, because it is not the point of this conversation.

There was debate about solutions, choices and options. There were also many posts about mental illness this week. Here were a couple of things that stuck with me.

The first on is that depression is not discriminatory. It can happen to any of us, no matter the social status. There were many comments about how money cannot buy you happiness. If that is your thought, then I highly suggest you educate yourself on mental illness.

The second one might make you feel uncomfortable.

It is estimated that there are approximately 3,500 death by suicides in Canada. That averages out to 9.5 a day. Let’s put this in perspective.

The day before Robin Williams passed, it was possible that up to 9 people died by suicide.

The day that Robin Williams passed, it was possible that up to 9 people died by suicide.

The day after Robin Williams passed, it was possible that up to 9 people died by suicide.

I have to ask if there was any moving tributes or thoughts about that on social media this week?

Something else. The Distress Centre reported that there was a 6-7 percent increase in calls from people considering suicide this week. On Tuesday, they reported 200 calls about considering suicide.

There could be a number of theories as to why that is. However, remember this.
The Distress Centre takes calls like this every day. 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Including Christmas. The day before Robin Williams passed. The day of Robin Williams passing. The day after Robin Williams passing.

They will also take calls on suicide when this story becomes a distant memory.

I’m not an expert on this topic at all. I’m learning and continuing to educate myself on this issue. The main thing I’m learning is that there is lots to learn. And as much as we can tell someone to cheer up pray more, eat better, or look on the bright side of live, I’m learning this issue is much more complex.

I do think that the conversation around this needs safety, security and respect. There was a time I brought the topic in this thread and it came off very offensive. For that, I’m sorry.

However, this leads me to some questions.

I’m wondering how does topic move from something that we talk about when this happens to a person of stature to reminding people to be aware that mental illness is a real daily issue?

I’m also wondering how we help people be aware of others. How do we remind people that there is more to us than what you see? And there is power in connecting?

I also wonder how us in the blogosphere can move this topic to a respectful, kind, open, dialogue?

How does the 1 in 5 continue to resonate with us?

My observations of what is going on with the Israel/Palestine rallies


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I’m not a person that attends rallies. The reason is that I’m not convinced that are an effective method of getting your point across.

However, within the last week, I’ve been to three rallies. They all were involving the current Israel/Palestine conflict. On Saturday in Toronto, I was walking down the street when I noticed a father and a daughter carrying an Israeli flag and a sign. I quickly turned around and followed them. I landed in Queen’s Park where a two security fences were put up. In the middle were three cops guarding the pathway in between. No one was allowed through. Turns out that it was the largest Pro-Palestinian rally in North America. On one side of the fence was the Pro-Palestinian crowd. They had speakers planned. On the other was the Pro-Israel side. They were there as a response to the Pro-Palestinian rally. The leaders of the Pro-Israel side was the Jewish Defence League. I never have seen this group before, but my first response was this would not be a group of people that I would want to anger.

As the crowd gathered for both the Pro-Palestine and Pro-Israel sides, I decided to sit in the park and observe. There were a few people with cameras observing. However the crowds got so big that I moved to the middle of the park. To my left was the Pro-Palestine group. Signs raised high and pointed directly to my right, the Pro-Israeli side. Their side of the park filled up. They had their signs pointed at the Pro-Palestine side. The anger from each side vibrated the park. It felt like a volcano was going to erupt. If the police were not there,I could not imagine what would have happened. Both sides were yelling at each other. One person tried to reason with the Pro-Israel side and was shouted at. He was called an “Arab lover”.
Organizers from the Pro-Palestinian volunteers were quickly escorting Palestinian supporters across to their side. One very large man from the Palestinian side wanted to go across to the Israel group and attack them but was held back.

In the middle was a group that was trying to bring a smile to the situation. They were a group offering Free Hugs. It was a group of younger people with funny names and titles. One name was Oz and his role was Laughter Supervisor. As sincere as that seemed, unfortunately, it wasn’t helping. As an example, one of the huggers went to a member of the Pro-Israeli side to offer a hug. The response was this

“You remember why you have the freedom to hug someone.”

I’ll explain why this didn’t work in a moment.

As the afternoon went on, the intensity and the anger continued to rise. Fortunately, there were no fist fights, but lots of insults. Which is hard to watch.

The next day, there was a Pro-Israel rally. I was curious what would happen. That rally felt peaceful. It seemed like it was a different group that came. Families, seniors and Rabbi’s. What was interesting was that there was one Pro-Palestine member that showed up. I didn’t see him, but someone mentioned this on Twitter.

The third one was last night. The Calgary for Israel rally. It was organized by Ezra Levant in response to an incident that happened between some Palestinian and Israeli’s did get into several fights in Calgary. Ezra initially tweeted out that there were “easily 2,000 people there”. I asked security there how many he saw, he told me 700. I also asked a quick member of the media and they estimated less than that. The number that came up wad 900. While there was a debate about numbers, the actual rally was peaceful and respectful. They had a security checkpoint before you came in. The only issue was there was a small group of Pro-Palestinian that were there. They had their flags and there was yelling back and forth. It was only until one of the speakers told people to leave them alone. People walked away and police covered the event like a blanket.

After watching these three rallies, reading some online conversations and listening to different perspectives. I have come up with four observations.

The first one goes back to the Free Hugs group. The reason that doesn’t work is how serious both sides are taking the issue. It is very personal and impacts in a deep way. There is a long history of loss. Not only Mothers, Fathers, brother’s, sister’s, friends and children. But ancestors and people before them. There is also the slightly small…….big issue of land.This is not something that a Free Hug and a smile can give an instant cure too. As a matter of fact, I think it came across as disrespectful. Not intentionally, but it did.

The second one is about holding up signs at each other. Observing this, I wondered what would happen if somebody dropped their sign and offered to listen. Really listen to the story your enemy has. I wondered what impact would that have on future rallies and if they can become future dialogues. I also realized that was idealistic.

The third and fourth one hits close to home.

I think Christians need to learn more about both Judaism and Muslim. I say that because of some comments I heard from the rally last night. It’s not necessarily that you will agree with the faith’s. However, you will be informed.

The final one comes is about Christianity At the Calgary for Israel rally, there were several shirts that said “Wherever Israel stands, I stand with them”. Now, I love the Jewish faith. It’s very beautiful. I myself have never been to Israel, but I have friends that have. From all accounts, it’s a beautiful country. However, I’m not comfortable with the idea that I simply need and obligated to support Israel because I’m a Christian. What I feel obligated to do is to research and give thought to the issues. If there is a place to observe and critique what both sides are doing, then I can challenge that. If there is a space where a perspective can be given, that should happen too.

As a Christian and as a human, it is sad that innocent lives have been, and continue to be lost. And as a Christian, and a human, I hope one day these rallies I observe can be more about the dialogue needed to learn from each other.

Agree or Disagree: Humanity is Sacred.


From time to time, I get requests on topics we should discuss on Agree or Disagree. This is one of those times.

This topic comes from Marty. He contributes from time to time. Him and I go back a few years. Actually, maybe more than a few years. He always provides humour and intelligence whenever he contributes.

He ask the question if Humanity is Sacred?

As a reminder from other guest posts, remember to keep on topic.Do not attack anyone personally, and of course we thank Marty for contributing.

 

Here are his thoughts for you to consider.

 

Is Humanity Sacred?

That’s the question…..

 

There are several reasons I’m curious about the varied perspectives that there must be on this topic.

We live in a society that heavily values personal freedoms and individual rights; those things are often described as “constitutional”. So in the human construct of government and “The people” we have determined that we are entitled to a basic standard of living. We also sometimes make those types of decisions for those who can’t speak for themselves (ie:animals, the environment etc.)

Often these decisions are made by representative groups or individuals whose position affords them the right to do so.That said, we acknowledge not all other species should by our laws.We have laws about theft, murder,ethics,standards of food production, where and it’s ok to be naked……and so on.But we have no trouble with the idea that other species do what they please so long as those decisions don’t adversely affect our lives.

In the end, decisions made about how we and (to a degree) other life forms live,form laws,how we eat, where we poop, when we sleep and what to do with our remains after we die made by humans.

So does that merely mean that we just happen to be the only ones in a position to do so? Or is Humanity somehow sacred? Since sacredness defined is “Connected with God (or the gods) or dedicated to a religious purpose and so deserving veneration”, and our society is increasingly moving into the post-religious, what then, from the perspective of atheists and religious alike, does that mean for humanity?

If Human life is “Sacred”; why? And if it’s not “Sacred” ….what are we?

What makes human life so important?

 

Agree or Disagree: With more school choices, both taxpayers and students win.


There was an interesting perspective on this topic written in the Calgary Herald.

I’ll let you read it. It’s written by Mckenzie Hahn from Faith Beyond Belief.

She believes that more school options are beneficial for taxpayers and students.

You can read that here http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/Hahn+Taxpayers+students+with+school+choice/10008477/story.html

Do you Agree or Disagree?

Agree or Disagree:The Podcast-The Hobby Lobby decision.


 

http://www.spreaker.com/user/7021827/review-of-hobby-lobby-decision

Click above to the latest Agree or Disagree:The Podcast as we review the week involving the Hobby Lobby decision.

My guest is John. He is from California and has been following American Politics for some time. He also works in the pharmaceutical industry. We discuss the decision and the impact around it.

Topics include.

The Hobby Lobby decision.
A similar decision in the 1990’s involving the Payote decision.
What exactly are the medications involved in this decision? What are they used for?
Who are the Supreme Court judges?
What does Hobby Lobby mean when they live by Christian principles? What do companies mean when they live by Christian principles?
The impact of the decision going forward. Including a decision involving Wheaton College.
You can read that here.
http://www.politico.com/story/2014/07/supreme-court-birth-control-wheaton-college-108567.html
What is going on with the Christian Right and the Republican Party? We also give a historical perspective?

John does not have a Twitter account. However he introduces us to a Craft Beer project he is involved in.

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You can also read this post http://kevinolenick.wordpress.com/2014/07/02/what-religlous-liberty-means-too-me-as-a-christian/