Willful Idiots

When you join an evangelical church in the United States, you get this:

It was the kind of community that Ms. Bragg, who was not raised in the church, wanted for her children. They signed the church’s Membership Covenant, an agreement stating they would submit to the Bible and to the authority and spiritual discipline of church leaders. Members promise to “practice complete chastity” unless in a heterosexual marriage, to “refrain from illegal drug use, drunkenness, gossip,” and to “diligently strive for unity and peace within the church.” Leaders promise “to lovingly exercise discipline when necessary.”

From here.

This is not a church of course. You say, yes it is. It is “The Village Church” in Hurst, Texas. I say, it is not a church. It is a cult. It requires members to submit to the “authority and spiritual discipline of church leaders”. Since no church leader has any real authority to give spiritual direction of any kind, they are asked to submit to the authority of a personality who happens to have manipulated a group of people in bestowing upon him some kind of arbitrary title.

This is not all that complicated: God does not talk to the pastors of “The Village Church”. He never did and never will. He does not “talk” to anyone. If He did, the first thing he would say is, STOP GIVING YOUR HARD-EARNED MONEY TO THESE CHARLATANS!

The leaders of this church will say He did because most church leaders actually believe that the majestic voice inside their heads is not their egos: it is the Lord, guiding them to guide others, to bring spiritual fulfillment to the ignorant masses. And they better be ignorant– nobody who is not ignorant would buy this bunk.

Why would any person with any kind of intellectual integrity agree to such a bizarre, obscene obligation? Why would you surrender your right, as an adult, to define for yourself what is moral and what is not, what you are allowed to do and what you are not allowed to do? And why on earth would you surrender to a group of grasping, self-serving “leaders” the power “to exercise discipline” over you?

I am always struck by the number of Americans who will proudly, insolently insist that they would never allow the government to tell them what to do, but will do what their church tells them to do.

Does this same church ask its members to give generously, without regard to their own personal benefit, because that’s what Christ asks of a member of his church? Yet the church protects itself with the fake “MinistrySafe” deceit, and it’s “covenant”. Trust us, but we don’t trust you.

Why would you believe that the people who created this “covenant” are inspired by Jesus, when it is absolutely obvious that the “covenant” serves their own interests alone? It is a franchise, the buildings and organization are a monument to Chandler’s ego. Nothing in this business seems even remotely related to the teachings or example of Christ. In fact, the close you look at the structures and constitutions of these organizations, the more obvious it is that they serve the financial and egotistical interests of the founders.

Mr. Chandler is raising money to build a new campus that is likely to cost more than $70 million.

Okay– now it’s different. It’s even worse. Now you idiots are co-conspirators with Mr. Chandler: you are actually paying for him to put you, and others, into an abusive relationship.

That Said

That said, I find the allegations nebulous. The Bragg’s daughter clearly has issues and has received therapy. Many therapists fervently believe that most emotional disturbances in young girls are caused by sexual abuse, even if it isn’t remembered. They will frequently “encourage” these young women to ransack their memories for possible incidents. She “remembers” an incident that occurred while she was in bed, and had been, or was asleep.

Was there something else that led the police to charge Mr. Tonne? From the article, the daughter could not identify the man she alleges abused her. There were no witnesses of any sort (to the incident, or to the man entering the room, or leaving). Did Mr. Tonne confess, perhaps, to one of the church leaders, who chose not to disclose to the Braggs?

Finally, the inevitable:

Boz Tchividjian and Mitch Little, lawyers representing the Braggs’ daughter, who is now an adult, said their client planned to move forward with formal litigation in order to hold the Village “accountable for the sexual trauma inflicted upon her as a child by an adult employee.”

Oh my!

Of course! The money!

Even after signing the onerous “covenant”, the Braggs are suing. The Braggs now have a financial interest in prosecuting Mr. Tonne. That doesn’t automatically mean the allegations are false but it introduces a corrupting influence. The Braggs will have no difficulty finding an “expert” psychologist who will testify that all of their daughter’s psychological issues stem from this incident of abuse. No psychologist who would testify otherwise could survive the withering hostility of the general public, and the church would never dare to produce one in it’s defense.

They will try to settle out of court for some of the millions they have from their generous, credulous sheep.

The Beauty and the Shlep

Why do so many Hollywood movies present the trope of the shleppy, tasteless cretin, recently played often by Seth Rogan, who wins the beautiful, smart, rich girl, who, in real life, is obviously way out of his league.  Like Charlize Theron.

It’s simple: in a nutshell, it appeals to crucial fantasies of both genders in the audience.  The shleppy guy, who in real life is dumb, sloppy, obsessed with sports and guns–  thinks that beautiful, smart, rich women only pretend to fall for smart, good-looking, athletic men– as they do in real life.  But in their heart of hearts, they really prefer ME!  Because I am so hot and desirable.  I am real man.  I grunt and sweat and fart on the couch.  But I’m real.  And, in a pinch, I can kill people.

For women, they see the positive aspects of a relationship with a man whom they can easily manipulate to death, out-maneuver, nag, and exploit.


The Trolls

This article describes how an allegedly respectable biographer of Martin Luther King Jr. has uncovered evidence that he may have conducted inappropriate activities while leading the civil rights movement in the 1960’s.


We are supposed to be shocked, I suppose, that Martin Luther King strayed from his marriage vows (actually, you’d have to have been hiding under a rock for 30 years to not know that). And we are entitled to knowledge of King’s offenses because Martin Luther King Jr. is respected and celebrated and widely known. So journalists have an obligation to find any dirt on him they can and splash it across as many front pages as possible so we may all come to regard the formerly admired hero as a disgusting example of perversity and sin. We may now go out and tear down the statues. Repeal the laws he caused to be passed. Restore the attitudes he changed.

Mr. Garrow, the author, will defend himself, because you know he will be savaged by a lot of people who feel that smearing Martin Luther King Jr. is not an admirable activity, regardless of whether he participated in an orgy or not. And he’ll have to respond to this question: what is the point? Is there any interest, other than your own, that is served by repackaging the fact that Mr. King had sex with some women?

[Some might object to my use of the word “smear”, which is usually associated with the act of relating false, pejorative information about someone in order to destroy their reputation. I would argue that publishing true information which the publisher would know would destroy someone’s reputation with the general public even though it may not, on it’s own, be directly relevant to the issues for which a person is famous, is also a smear. Think about it this way: what if a “journalist” set out with a list of 25 randomly selected politicians and artists and decided to try to find “dirt” on all of them, and was willing to accept information of dubious veracity coming from bodies known to have an interest in discrediting the person? And what if that person was deceased and unable to offer a defense or explanation? Easy target.]

Did someone out there stake the claim that people of significant accomplishments never do anything naughty? And what do we mean by bad? The sex, of course, grabs the headlines, partly because of the perversity in all of us— mostly because of the perversity in all of us. We immediately read the story not because we are interested in social justice and the law and women’s rights: we read it because deep in our own very dirty minds we want to know more about the sex. It appeals to our desire for sex. It tickles are fantasies about having sex. It makes us feel good to condemn other people for having sex because we are ashamed of our own perverse desires and condemning others is a way of deflecting suspicion. It makes us feel like we have inside information that others don’t have: you admire Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.? But I happen to know that he had sex with women in hotel rooms.

David Garrow probably knows this. He also knows he will make a lot more money from a book about Martin Luther King having sex than he would from a book on how little has changed in terms of segregated schools in the past fifty years. He knows that perfectly, but will never admit it, because that would implicate you for wanting to read about Martin Luther King having sex. He needs to provide you with cover, for your prurient interest in sex. You need to be able to say, “I was reading about the important civil rights leader” because you don’t want to have to say, “I saw the word ‘sex’ in the title and immediately felt an overwhelming desire to read the article, because I have a dirty mind.”

How different, really, is Garrow from the FBI agents who secretly tapped King’s phones and bugged his hotel rooms and recorded his SEX and then tried to persuade him to commit suicide? The FBI– certainly, J. Edgar– think that you should be shocked by the sex. He had sex. He had sex with women. He had sex, sex, sex. You could read this all day and all night and never be satisfied that you have read enough about Martin Luther King Jr. having sex. You participate in the attempt to make him commit suicide because you join the FBI in the belief that a perfectly monogamous relationship is the only kind of sex anyone should ever know about.

The greatest defense against this attitude– maybe the most contemptible motive there is– is to come to the realization that the sex is not a big deal. He shouldn’t cheat on his wife, but it’s not that big of a deal. It was wrong, but it’s not that big of deal. It’s not the end of the world. We all have the need and the urge. Many of us fantasize about it but excuse ourselves because we only fantasized about it, though if we could, we would.

It is nowhere near as wrong as trying to persuade him to commit suicide by splashing these details all over the press.  Where are the names of the FBI agents and administrators who tried to do this?  We know one of them– J. Edgar Hoover.  Someone made a film about him and he got what he deserved:  he was portrayed by the most mediocre name actor in Hollywood:  Leonardo DiCaprio.