Steve Carter Gets It

If you’re an unrepentant megachurch “superstar” pastor, who has been living a double life, the last thing you want is to see your story told. Shortly before you plan to retire. By the New York Times. On a Sunday. But that’s the bed Bill Hybels made for himself.

The Times tells Hybel’s personal secretary’s story:

“That first back rub in 1986 led to multiple occasions over nearly two years in which he fondled her breasts and rubbed against her. The incidents later escalated to one occasion of oral sex.

She said she was mortified and determined to stay silent. “I really did not want to hurt the church,” said Ms. Baranowski, who is now 65, speaking publicly for the first time. ‘I felt like if this was exposed, this fantastic place would blow up, and I loved the church. I loved the people there. I loved the family. I didn’t want to hurt anybody. And I was ashamed.'”

These #MeToo stories are starting to read like 1980s Madlibs. “The first [type of sexual encounter] led to multiple occasions over nearly two years in which he [verb, past tense] her [a body part] and rubbed against [a different body part].

And saddest of all, the “and I was ashamed” phrase, is an oft repeated, concluding refrain.

The New York Times story alludes to how Hybels’s spell on the church members left them so enthralled with him they couldn’t believe Baranowski and the other women who told similar stories. How dare the women even make the allegations many thought. To this day, that’s the view of the church elders who are proving better at group think than leadership. Initially, the #2 and #3 church leaders, Heather Larson and Steve Carter, both a generation younger than Hybels, rallied around Hybels who they felt was being unfairly criticized.

After reading the Times story, I poked around a bit at Larson’s and Carter’s social media. I learned that almost immediately after the allegations fell on deaf ears at their church, they started to feel remorse for not siding with the aggrieved women.

Larson’s mea culpa to the congregation can be viewed here.

Carter did one better by resigning yesterday upon reading the New York Times article.

He explained:

“I am writing to announce my resignation from Willow Creek Community Church, effective immediately. The new facts and allegations that came to light this morning are horrifying, and my heart goes out to Ms. Baranowski and her family for the pain they have lived with. These most recent revelations have also compelled me to make public my decision to leave, as much as it grieves me to go. Since the first women came forward with their stories, I have been gravely concerned about our church’s official response, and it’s ongoing approach to these painful issues. After many frank conversations with our elders, it became clear that there is a fundamental difference in judgment between what I believe is necessary for Willow Creek to move in a positive direction, and what they think is best. . . . I offered my resignation many weeks ago, but I was requested to delay an announcement and continue with my duties until the leadership determined how to make the decision public. At this point, however, I cannot, in good conscience, appear before you as your Lead Teaching Pastor when my soul is so at odds with the institution.”
Thanks to courageous women like Baranowski, the future belongs to the Steve Carter’s of the world, not the Bill Hybels.

Wednesday Assorted Links

1. Jordan Spieth laughs off “very British” haircut. Dude seems totally unaffected by his fame. Personable and grounded. Now if he can just get the flat stick heated up again.

2. Don’t ban scooters. Redesign streets. Related, I want one of these (the Plus to be specific).

3. No more free food for Facebook employees. Hope they are alright.

4. They don’t own homes. They don’t have kids. Why Millennials are plant addicts.

“Everyone made fun of me because I was sleeping on an air mattress and buying plants. But having living things to care for soothed me.”

“They don’t come in and buy $300 pots unless they are actors. They buy a lot of succulents, hanging plants and airplants.”

What the hell is an airplant?

5. 1 Hen, 76 Ducklings. Call me old fashioned, but I think if you’re going to have a baby, you should take care of it yourself.

Artistic Alchemy

Many moons ago, when my Guilford College students started doing multimedia presentations, their overlapping words, sounds, and pictures made it more difficult to grasp their ideas. The sum of their disparate media rarely equaled the individual parts, let alone superseded them.

We’re still mired in multimedia messiness.

Case in point, Isaacson’s stories of Steve Jobs telling people who had worked nonstop for months on their PowerPoint pitches to him to just talk to him. “Close your laptop,” he’d say within a slide or two, “and just talk to me.”

When combining media, error on the side of fewer. Less is usually more. More spices will not necessarily make your spaghetti sauce taste better. More words, sounds, and images will not make your audience embrace your ideas, your arguments, your art.

Sometimes though, people combine media in ways that are truly synergistic. There’s no formula though, it’s art.

For example, first listen to this new song, Big God by Florence and the Machine. Then watch the video.

Maybe it’s because I dig modern dance, but the video performance is far more moving and memorable than the song by itself. One plus one equals far more than two.

The next time your combining media, consider reaching out to Florence Welch for help.t to

Monday Assorted Links

1. I need another bike.

2. Swedish researchers say commute long distances for work at your and your partner’s own risk.

3. What does stand up comedy really pay? Brutal way to not make a living.

4. Those of you who are like me, meaning people with extensive life experience, get with the program—privacy is dead. As proof, dig The Verge’s “What’s in Your Bag” feature. Someday, maybe, they’ll get around to famous bloggers and ask me what’s in my bag. Because I know you’re dying to know.

5. The Asian-Immigrant experience.

The “Interest Continuum”

Where are you on the “interest continuum”?

Think of the “interest continuum” as ranging from “1” meaning “perpetually distracted by different interests” to “10” meaning “so single-mindedly focused on a particular interest as to lose sight of everything else”.

As my preference for cross-training and the range of topics on the Humble Blog illustrate, I’m a 3 or 4, but wish I was more of a 7 or 8. Which is kinda too bad, because self-acceptance is key to a life well lived.

Somewhere around 8 or 9 on the continuum, a person reaches a point of diminishing returns, meaning their singleminded interest creates blindspots that negatively affect their relationships and quality of life.

When it comes to interests, I contend depth > breadth. Which makes me think, like a cluttered garage in April, maybe my pea-brain is need of spring cleaning. Maybe I need to “toss” some interests that don’t spark sufficient joy. Or maybe that’s too linear an approach. Maybe 7’s or 8’s just get so caught up in one or a few interests, that they don’t have the time or energy for additional ones.

Here’s what I’m left wondering. How to avoid distractions? How to limit one’s interests? How to get so caught up in an activity as to lose track of time? How to experience flow?

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Assorted Links

1. No rules recess. “Parents don’t tend to sue schools.”

2. In Fight Over Science Education in Idaho, Lawmakers Move to Minimize Climate.

Today’s science lesson—apparently, there are lots of invertebrates in the Idaho state legislature.

3. What $1.4m buys you in London.

4. Has a Civil Rights Stalwart Lost Its Way?

“William Jacobson, a law professor at Cornell and critic of the SPLC, says the group has wrapped itself in the mantle of the civil rights struggle to engage in partisan political crusading. “Time and again, I see the SPLC using the reputation it gained decades ago fighting the Klan as a tool to bludgeon mainstream politically conservative opponents,” he says. “For groups that do not threaten violence, the use of SPLC ‘hate group’ or ‘extremist’ designations frequently are exploited as an excuse to silence speech and speakers,” Jacobson adds. ‘It taints not only the group or person, but others who associate with them.'”

5. Will Millennials Kill Costco?