In recent posts I have begun (temporarily) breaking with tradition on this blog and using actual names. So, let’s talk about that a moment.
Since I find the content of a few old journals so compelling and important to share, and since the narratives offered in them are so saturated with names, I will use first names of real people in the telling of these stories as an exception to the overall practice of this blog. It will keep things less confusing (something I have been criticized for in the past when several characters are portrayed as Agent This and Agent That over and over within a single account).
However, I will restrain myself from using any real names of any real people with whom I am in conflict or controversy (including my own name or those closest to me). I also will continue to use pseudonyms for institutions, organizations, and churches. If I attract local readers, especially those familiar with the streets of Lubbock, there is a strong chance they will know who I am referring to, but not necessarily, and people not local will almost certainly not know or figure it out.
Okay, enough with the disclaimers. From this point on, I will copy from the journal(s) with minimal editing and let the entries speak for themselves. I will be happy to entertain questions and fill out more context if needed in the comments section below.
Here is the entry:
Saturday, December 28, 2013, Lub/TX
What a holiday season it has been? [Mrs. Agent X] and I have hosted our street friends to spend the night in our home at least as much as not almost since Thanksgiving. [H] and [Menace], [Agent J], [Agent D], and Tanya have all come through and spent a few nights with us when [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church (not its real name)] closed and ran them off.
None of that is terribly big news to anyone reading this [blog] thus far. However, on Christmas Eve, I received a text msg from [Mr. Big] desiring to have an “informal” meeting with me in which another board member or two might “sit down” with me and discuss my “frustration.”
* * * * * * *
(I am finding myself too busy to write a complete a thought! It is now the next day, Dec. 29, and I am in San Antonio, Texas [on a matter of family business].)
* * * * * * *
So, to sum up…. On Friday, Dec. 27, I met at Market Street with [Mr. Big], [Prof. Erudite], and [T-bird]. Suddenly I have 3 (count ’em THREE – 1, 2, THREE!) board members breaking away mid-day from whatever other things they otherwise find important to come talk to me for 2 hours! I really don’t know, as yet, what I did to get their attention. They did not say, I have to guess, for certainly I have tried many times, many ways.
I took [Agent MyDad] with me to the meeting. We offered communion, and all three accepted and joined us in the middle of the Market Street Café. They also came with gentle attitudes and charitable demeanor. And they asked to hear from me.
I chose to focus in on one single issue. I protested the decision of leadership to close the door of [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church] on homeless needy people when it is freezing temps and volunteers are available.
Despite the charitable demeanor, these men did not budge an inch on that issue. Rather, they characterized my protest as frustration and anger, but [Agent MyDad] refused to let them do that. Again and again, he rebutted until they relented that my protest was a matter of “SADNESS.”
The conversation went on at length. Eventually, [Prof. Erudite] revealed that he is concerned about my relationship with the “executive minister”, [Pastor Bates], and he believes I take issue with his ministry-shaping book, When Helping Hurts, which I do. [However, I did NOT make ANY of that my issue to settle with these men.] But this was tipping his hand a bit too.
It tells me that I have been heard, and that up until now I was being ignored. [Prof. Erudite] had to have done some kind of research to learn these things, and now he is invested in knowing me.
But [Agent MyDad] made a comment afterward that still rings in my ears: “They came to the [executive ministers] defense.” That is a powerful observation. It says these men really care for their minister. And I appreciate that! I doubt my boss(es) would take such a stand for me. It is especially refreshing to see that in a church/ministry where so often ministers are treated as disposable.
On the other hand, it tells me they view me as a potent threat to defend against! I have appeared powerful to them in some way. Yes, they seek to neutralize me, but they did think they need 3 board members who will break in the middle of the day at an hour and place of my choosing to come to the defense of their boy!
I don’t feel so powerful, but I see that I have drawn a powerful reaction. (More on that [another time]…)
I need to review a moment here. I came with ONE SINGLE ISSUE to protest. I have been protesting it for weeks now. I could have chosen a number of issues, but I have taken on only one. And I have tempered my concern on that one issue dramatically. I protest specifically this:
When volunteers are available and the temperature drops to 30 degrees F or below, the door should be open to the needy.
I will relent IF volunteers are not available, but even then I would suggest engaging a program to drum up more. I find it unacceptable for the shepherds of a church to tell the flock to scatter into the night – ESPECIALLY when fresh volunteers are coming to help!!!
The first time I addressed this, I was told we had “no volunteers.” That was not true on that occasion, and I demonstrated that I knew better. And since then I have heard of other cases when volunteers were turned away. Also, I have spoken to at least one volunteer who told me he has never been called upon!
Then when I addressed it a 2nd time, I was told we were “teaching these people” to take responsibility for themselves. I refuted that notion as well. Then I was told I need to merely accept “leadership decisions..”
On a later occasion, when it came up again, the “executive minister” actually told me it was “WARM.”
Now at the meeting with the board members, I was essentially being told to accept leadership decisions, that there are many behind-the-scenes, logistical factors that go into these decisions of which I am not privy (nor invited to become privy) and so I should accept them.
Now there is this other front that [Prof. Erudite] brings to bear in which he wants to broker peace and harmony between the “executive minister” and me. And I am hopeful that we might find fruitful results in that. I promised [Prof. Erudite] to devote myself to caring for that evermore so.
Yet, I also think about how once upon a time leadership in Alabama made a decision that black people sit in the back of the bus. That decision made a lot of sense to leadership and a lot of white people too, and was intended to be accepted without question. And I am mindful that Rosa Parks may have been angry, cranky, and hard to get along with. [I don’t think her feelings/attitude undercut her protest at all. I think it stood or failed on the merits of it’s own reasonability.] But I bet she did not imagine the overwhelming POWER she brought to the table – nor did leadership – until it was unleashed.
I am really having trouble with a leadership decision that gets defended with untrue statements of various kinds [smokescreens] on the one hand and broken philosophy and hegemony [powerplays] on the other. I do not accept that. And the fact that these answers are changing as they do, and that THREE board members would break away mid-day to suddenly come caring about what I have to say tells me that there is a lot of nervous energy going on at headquarters and a lot of POWER knocking on that shut, locked door.
We opened that meeting sharing communion. A meal the “executive minister” was once invited to join, but which he declined saying, “I already ate a big meal” and then asked us (shortly thereafter) to leave [the “church” property]. His bosses came to the meal. [The one he rejected.] The invitation still awaits the “executive minister”. Hopefully, he will come and hopefully Jesus will be revealed, the ministers reconciled and the flock gathered into the fold!