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Messages - Commencement2020

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1
Your Turn / Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
« on: December 31, 2020, 08:57:38 PM »
Sometimes it seems to me that the Missouri Synod tries to have a governance like what is perceived as "Vatican style" governance employing what is perceived as "Baptist style ecclesiology"

There is an explanation for how this happened. The degree of natural hierarchy in a social system inversely correlates with its prosperity:

1. The economy in Germany was not the greatest at the time the philosophical system which Missourian governance is based on was developed.

2. The economy in the United States was excellent at the time Missourian ecclesiology was developed.

Another saying similar to yours is repeated within WELS: that the "LCMS practices the WELS position, and the WELS practices the LCMS position" or some variation of this. This is true in the dysfunctional sense, like if a simoniac with a dark personality gets more involved, the line of control quickly turns hierarchical in a way that is un-WELS and is more suited to the Vatican.

But the WELS saying may also reflect certain small matters; such as that the WELS equivalent of DCEs (be they male or female) are never, ever to assist in distribution, while this is common in the LCMS and has been so for decades. Or consider that I once attended an LCMS Sunday morning service (without communion) led by just the deaconess, while in the WELS if you listen long enough you'll find some (maybe most--I'm not sure--but certainly not all) pastors accepting that women's ordination and women pastors are acceptable [but such ministry would need to be confined to a convent or women's prison].

Your comment also reminds me of Jaroslav Pelikan's insight about how the LCMS was turning Baptist and the other Lutherans were turning Methodist.

He was of the opinion that epistemological divides were unsolvable. On page 113 of his book, From Luther to Kiekegaard he wrote "a repristination of classical Lutheran Orthodoxy was impossible after Kant, he had destroyed the epistemological presuppositions upon which Orthodoxy had built its system.”

So he ended his Baptist/Methodist soundbite by saying he would die in the bosom of the Orthodox Church.

It was shortsighted of him to give up on the epistemological divide as an irreconcilable difference. What he could have done instead was to come up with a system to navigate between the different thought patterns. Such a system could have been a guide to help translate ones' thought patterns into other ways of thinking. It would have made it immediately clear which apparently theologically differences were actually secular in nature. It also would have provided a gateway into the academic literature concerning the origin of the differences, so that people could see how each one developed. Altogether it would have been a stabilizing influence to prevent both schisms and shallow-rooted ecumenism (which is inherently unstable).

Baptists are typically subjectivist leaning Kantians or existentialists of some sort, while Methodists are Hegelians. Missouri Synod Lutherans (mostly) are objectivist-leaning Kantians, as are conservative Reformed Christians. This makes them closer to Baptists than to Methodists. In contrast, WELS and ELCA are both Hegelian; the difference being that WELS is right-Hegelian and ELCA closer to left-Hegelianism. Missouri moderates are also Hegelians, but somewhere in-between.

The epistemological evolution of the LCMS:

  • Objectivist-leaning Kantian (Walther, solidified in the Predestinarian Controversy against the Hegelian-compatible position of the Ohio Synod)
  • Hegelian Right (with the election of John Behnken in 1935)
  • Shifted closer to the Hegelian Left until Seminex in 1974 when half of them left as the AELC.
  • Objectivist-leaning Kantian (post 1974)

Although WELS did not have a Seminex, the Stoddard Controversy in the Protes'tant Conference was a similar schism. As most Protest'ant congregations eventually ended up as ALC, you could say the WELS did have an AELC-style schism via the Protest'ants. In WELS the Hegelian faction became the dominant one especially following the departure of the Kantians (which today make up the CLC).

The common theme is that the culture of the nation was undergoing an epistemological shift towards Hegelianism, emboldening like-thinking people in each denomination and initiating the schisms. To oversimplify the dynamic of what happened when the denominations experienced the intense cultural shifts of the counter-cultural period:

  • For the WELS, Hegelians took control and Kantians left
  • In the Protest'ant Conference, Christian Exisitentialists (Hensel/Albrecht faction) took control and Hegelians left
  • In the LCMS, Kantians took control and Hegelians left, but only half of them.

Last March, Dave Snowden wrote a public message concerning a "Numinous Program" which it appears the ELCA is starting. He was contracted for professional development purposes. I was glad to read this, because his Cynefin Framework is a method of intentionally sorting through epistemological differences without talking past each other. If ELCA is serious enough about it, this could be a stabilizing influence and help to prevent future schisms.

Cynefin alone is not enough to solve theological differences; instead it is a help. To solve the theological differences, you need to trace each position back to its source. Secular works like Cynefin or C. West Churhman's Inquiring Systems can serve as a general inspiration that the basic discrepancies between the epistemologies are not completely and fundamentally irreconcilable and incompatible--but instead become complementary when used properly.

Some instead use the same basic approach Aquinas used when he unified the Aristotelian Dominicans and the Platonist Augustinians: He asked different questions. And when people think using new questions the old differences get papered over. This can work, but at the expense of depth; you make people stupid by training people to put form over substance. For example, Luther in his contra Henricum criticized the Thomist method for causing theological shallowness: http://anglicanhistory.org/lutherania/against_henry.html

Alternatively, you can use a system like Cynefin, Inquiring Systems, or a history of philosophy approach to categorize all differences among Lutherans. This includes the written theological disagreements, matters of practice, and informal internal culture idiosyncrasies. Then, you can line them up and see how all the diverse differences are really, put together, just a single difference. This in turn becomes a mirror to show us our crypto-secularism... just how bad its gotten.

2
Your Turn / Re: Basic idolatry
« on: December 31, 2020, 07:37:57 PM »
I invite you to read about teleology in Biology.

Any writing in which the author implies that things are good or will end up good has a teleology compatible with Christianity. Nearly all biological works are written this way, for both secondary and tertiary sources. People who personally are in opposition to this teleology are often unsuited to scientific research. For more on why this is the case, read about the Merton thesis, which though a historical concept, also describes an effect that is timeless. The teleological implication I described is not overt, it is implied in small ways here and there.

Reading biological works can be a spiritual exercise. I have found the most spiritual benefit from when it is highly technical and challenging to understand, yet the circumstances demand that I must understand it at a high level. In contrast, much of newsmedia is written with various levels of mild deception, political bias, and insincere sensationalism.

As for scientific works including overt teleology, you can find them at public libraries; they are not uncommon in material authored for a "popular" audience.

3
Your Turn / Re: Basic idolatry
« on: December 30, 2020, 11:54:40 PM »
With respect to methodological naturalism, no method is assumed to be perfect. So you can call it error if you like, but the teleology bleeds into their work anyway. Methodological naturalism, then, is a goal and a standard, but it is not perfectly achieved. (And some like it that way, even if it is not socially acceptable--and will socialize about it in an honest way if they feel safe enough.)

There isn't even a law of gravity itself. If you want to know why, read Kuhn. (The "thing-in-itself" is a Kantian concept. Something else you can thank your Missourian heritage for. Had you grown up Episcopalian that thought process may not have been part of your upbringing and, if so may have been harder to acquire later on in life.)

(I forgot to add in Jews to the list earlier.)

4
Your Turn / Re: Basic idolatry
« on: December 30, 2020, 10:31:02 PM »
There is no "Evolution itself" once you add observers, analysts, etc.

Also, it is not just my experience; you've probably come across comments circulated along the lines of "If you want to find godless academics, go look in the Anthropology department". This is because in comparison, biology departments can be expected to have more mainline Protestants, Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox in them. There is no conspiracy about it. (E.g. Francis Collins is public figure and his writings on religion are not a conspiracy.)

"It's not a matter of socially acceptable, it's a matter of appropriate subject matter for the scientific method."

There is no single scientific method, rather, there are a variety of such methods. Most which can be traced back in their lineage to Kant's influence. (Being raised LCMS is likely to train you in Kantian thought patterns, and more so than for your typical US child.)

Prior to about 1950ish you are more likely to encounter teleology in respected academic writings concerning evolution. There is nothing about the topic of evolution per se which makes it incompatible with teleology. The rules changed. They sometimes do. And if you don't believe me, read The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. (Which by the way, was resisted due to its Hegelian character, which is contrary to most dominant scientific methods.)

5
Your Turn / Re: Important announcement
« on: December 30, 2020, 09:56:04 PM »
There is an explanation for the gan ainm / main nag issue. It vicissitude, or negative serendipity. Well in the past I was a culprit for negative serendipity:

1. I visited a Lutheran church I didn't really like and usually didn't attend due to a circumstance beyond my control. (Also I had not the most restful sleep the previous night.)
2. There was a substitute pastor there that I recognized, but I did not expect
3. I uttered one line to him after the service in a polite and private manner which was critical in nature, but not unfounded.
4. He invited me into his car, parked somewhere and berated me for an hour. I repeatedly assured him that I was not going to write to Christian News about it. That didn't seem to satisfy him, he went and sent emails about me to other clergy. (One which later told me about it.)

Nothing good happened. I had negative serendipity, and so did he. In retrospect he may have thought it was a co-ordinated mobbing (it wasn't). After all, why did I even show up there?

That said, Rev. Engelbrecht's description of mobbing as partly consisting of weird petty comments circulated between a group is spot on. It really happens like that--a group keeps track of comments and incidents from the past and then tries to bring them up in a coordinated manner which only appears serendipitous.

But there are also occasions where it is bad luck / negative serendipity / vicissitude etc. It comes from the devil or demons, who probably think mobbing is a hoot and are willing to tempt people into saying things that wouldn't ordinarily drive someone wild, but due to unusual and unintended circumstances, do just that. This seems to be an uncommon occurrence to me: for someone who is being actively mobbed, I would expect that the majority of the bothering comes not from negative serendipity / vicissitude but instead from planned pettiness.

And yes, it goes both ways: I shouldn't have said it, and he was not right to take my comment the wrong way.

There is more than one way to get rid of negative serendipity. it is useful to turn to the Michaelmas section of the hymnal and sing the hymns, or better yet, memorize them. When you feel a stinging sensation the negative serendipity will go away, especially if you don't touch the sensation and let it go away on its own. If singing doesn't work, try something else, like repenting or getting enough sleep.

Job had a large negative serendipity problem; when he acknowledged God's greatness and humbled himself, the devil quit bothering him. Several things (besides his blameless life) could have attracted Satan to Job, including his governmental participation at the gate (Job 29:7), his bad wife, his sacrificing for his children, and his bad friends. These things did not pertain to Job's own guilt--he did not do any specific sin which merited his trials. Even just association with unclean things or evil people can sometimes lead to negative serendipity. It is an unavoidable part of life; scrupulosity doesn't make it go away. Rather, like Job, accept God's sovereignty and do what you can to set things straight again.

6
Your Turn / Re: Basic idolatry
« on: December 30, 2020, 09:24:20 PM »
Evolution describes the diversity of life and the mechanics which contribute that.  It's that simple.

It is not that simple:

Ask around at any secular institution hosting professionals who teach and research evolution. They do believe in teleology. They just don't publish it in their academic research journals. This would not be socially acceptable. You have to get to know them to learn it, and how they relate it to their profession.

Because of this, evolution (& also, biology in general) has a crypto-teleology attached to it.

So you can't relieve yourself of the problem of teleology by endorsing evolution. The questions remain; there are a variety of answers.

7
Your Turn / Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
« on: December 30, 2020, 07:01:23 PM »
I think death, metaphorical and literal, must take place

This is what the theory of collective narcissism indicates. On one hand, the forty years in the wilderness offers hope that collective narcissism may abate in future generations. And nonprofits in general are known to sometimes fail in a spectacular way when expenses outstretch income. (I lived through one of these situations once as low-level part of a secular institution. It was wild. Employees were spending big money right and left on pet projects. But really they were cannibalizing their once-sizable endowment fund in a manner carefully hidden from them by two men at the top. When the endowment ran out they publicly defaulted on debt and the party ended.)

On the other hand, the US Prohibition Party still exists (and even worse; it split into two parties due to an internal feud. Neither of the two parties would probably exist if it wasn't for someone who endowed the original one.) What keeps American Lutheranism from turning into a Prohibition Party? I don't have a good answer for that. Such an undead American Lutheranism would be financially dependent on sources that are bad for its spiritual health.

Although the membership numbers have been sinking for a long time now, the monetary side still expanded, masking the decline. Years ago I attempted to forecast when Lutheran institutions would be most likely to collapse. I came up with 2030 as the start of this period. (Now I question whether it was too late.) Looking at baptisms and deaths of members, I realized that membership would stabilize once the baby boom generation passed:

For your particular area, take the peak of the baby boom (by raw births, not rate), and add the life expectancy. Depending on exactly when the peak occurred and the sort of life expectancy figure you use, you get a year roughly from 2035 to 2045. Whenever it happens, it will be the worst year for losses. Continued losses or stabilization depend on the direction of the future birthrate; if it is too low, stabilization may not happen.

(Side note; for the baby-boom era LCMS and WELS, the youngest year in each synod was 1959 [as measured by dividing the baptized members by the confirmed members] Following this, the next peak is the echo boom. For WELS it is in 1989, for ELCA, 1994. For LCMS I don't have enough data. The echo boom is a much smaller peak; it represents a small, relatively level lull before the present decline in baptisms. US life expectancy from 1989 is 2064. From 1994 it is 2070.

After the worst of it passes, the membership figures should stabilize. Decline will continue, but it will be less decline each year after the peak until the start of the echo boom approaches the grave roughly around 2054. Then decline may pick up a bit until 2064-2070 ish. Because the year-to-year changes in births during the echo boom period is not as large as during the baby boom, it is more likely that future births may eclipse the dent their exit makes on the membership figures.)

What happens financially is less clear. I don't know is how many estate gifts can be expected. Another cushion (for urban areas) could be disruptive technology: Regus and Liquidspace are already AirBnB mimics for businesses wanting to rent offices or conference rooms. If one of those companies expanded into churches they could seriously reduce congregational physical plant costs. This seems inevitable to happen if tax privileges for places of worship are eliminated. Even under the current tax system, it would be interesting if a non-profit church AirBnB mimic could make a go of it. Especially districts would gain from such a platform because they could rent out defunct churches; old church buildings can be time-consuming to sell and costly to maintain. And churches which don't rent out their properties might have better luck getting loans from local banks; such banks may consider the rentability factor as a basis for lending.

For financial trends, it is possible to create your own inflation index using a locally relevant expense or price. It could be anything as long as you have yearly data for it. I made one for the WELS by using the first-year salary of a parish pastor as the basis of the index.

8
Your Turn / Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
« on: December 29, 2020, 10:50:52 PM »
Thank you, Mark Hofman for your recent posts. I forgive you for your self-pitying post.

(the following is in general & not specifically to Mark)

No one wants to wait for hindsight. Less than a decade ago I read an interesting article in which a Church of England vicar described how he had an unusual and vivid dream which symbolized taking his megachurch and separating it off into small worshiping groups. Then, after they organized and prepared for this, serious electrical issues were uncovered at the facility they had been using and they were immediately without a place to worship. Of course they followed through with the multi-site strategy right away. The vicar believed this was God's will.

Recently I was struck with a three-part dream, each part was brief and appeared to be like a movie trailer sampler: 1. People on earth ascending into heaven, especially Jesus. 2. A scene from Shackleton's voyage 3. Some Lutheran church bureaucrat talking on a screen

From this I realized I needed to write on ALPB Your Turn about how to pull off a "Shackleton" to so speak. I didn't understand the first part of the dream; now I think it symbolized "Thy Kingdom Come". (Due to a possible relationship I had with a previous dream years ago when I asked an (unanswered) question of "Where should I go?", I checked to see if people are allowed to relocate to South Georgia island. Fortunately they are not so thankfully I am not expected to interpret this part literally.)

So I spent more time posting than normal and I do not regret it. People here responded more than I expected; my posts usually do not generate responses because they often don't fit the conversation in the first place.

So to make decisions, besides doing the demographics and finances and such you can search the Lord and ask Him for answers. Contemplating the demographics and finances can be part of this searching the Lord. Searching is especially good for those in leadership roles who have already imbibed the collective group spirit. To get strong dreams, it is possible to do things like tent camping, (or if this is not possible, leaving the window open at night), fasting, and praying. Not being sleep deprived, not consuming any more alcohol than what is distributed on Sunday, and having a good conscience is necessary. This may take awhile but eventually you receive an answer. Or if enough people try this, then some will receive an answer and can share it with those who don't. (If you have a habit of following your advice from dreams, in time it becomes obvious which source(s) are trustworthy. And if they aren't you tell it to go to hell so it stops.) And if you aren't sure or it is too symbolic you can keep up the search for discernment.

Once I wrote up some theological-ish stuff on this so copy-and-paste is good. If you think I am a wacky charismatic this is supposed to legitimatize me.

Theologians

Aquinas-Whether divination by dreams is unlawful?

(an argument against the interpretation of Dt. 18:10 applying to all dreams. I believe the Vulgate mistranslates it to include the interpretation of "dreams" as one of the things forbidden)

(copy and paste this into your browser if you want the entire text http://bit.ly/HqeTWN )

Quote
Now dreams are sometimes the cause of future occurrences; for instance, when a person's mind becomes anxious through what it has seen in a dream and is thereby led to do something or avoid something: while sometimes dreams are signs of future happenings, in so far as they are referable to some common cause of both dreams and future occurrences, and in this way the future is frequently known from dreams. We must, then, consider what is the cause of dreams...

The spiritual cause is sometimes referable to God, Who reveals certain things to men in their dreams by the ministry of the angels, according Num. 12:6, "If there be among you a prophet of the Lord, I will appear to him in a vision, or I will speak to him in a dream....

Accordingly we must say that there is no unlawful divination in making use of dreams for the foreknowledge of the future, so long as those dreams are due to divine revelation, or to some natural cause inward or outward, and so far as the efficacy of that cause extends. But it will be an unlawful and superstitious divination if it be caused by a revelation of the demons

Luther-LW Vol. 7 Lectures on Genesis Ch. 38-44, p. 139

Quote
Dreams sent by God are impressed on the dreamers in such a way that they are conscious of keener feelings than is the case with the common dreams of other men and also of animals. Pharaoh had the same feeling, and God moved his heart to take note of the dream, especially when it was repeated.

Luther's Commentary on the Sermon on the Mount, Volume 21
(older translation from http://bit.ly/HqeTWN)

Quote
There is no man which shall do a miracle in my name that can lightly speak evil of me.

Answer: That is true, as I have said, that God does not allow miracles to be done by bad men, unless they are in public office; because God does not give miracles on account of their person, but of their office.

But if real miracles are done by a single person, that person must certainly be pious, as some are, who have special revelations, through dreams, visions, etc.; but these miracles must have the tendency to praise and further Christ and the gospel.

Thus you have two kinds of miracles that are good and honest, first, those which are done by pious persons who are Christians; then also those done by wicked persons, who yet are in office and teach correctly; but that we are always to judge according to this sure test, which is to be applied to all kinds of persons, whether pious or impious, in office or out of office, whether the miracles have the tendency to praise Christ and to strengthen your faith. But if you discover that they are pointing you in a different direction, as to go upon pilgrimages, pray to saints, deliver souls from purgatory, and in short, to rely upon your works and establish a righteousness of your own; then say: If you would perform all miracles for me, so that I could see and make sure of them, I would still not believe you; for Christ has sufficiently warned me against that.

Historical examples

Martin Luther, Table Talk, http://bit.ly/17qWV0K

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The dream I had lately, will be made true; `twas that I was dead, and stood by my grave, covered with rags. Thus am I long since condemned to die, and yet I live.

Katie Luther

http://bit.ly/19LLC2R (Google Books) and http://bit.ly/190tPWb (website, same text)

Quote
To George Spalatin

Four young noblemen, who blamed Luther for their sister's escape from the convent, were lying in wait to murder him.

November 11, 1525

Dear Spalatin — Gladly would I be present at your wedding to rejoice with you, but a hindrance has come in the way, which I cannot overcome, viz. the tears of my wife, who believes you would be deeply grieved were my life imperiled. She has a presentiment that my life is in danger, having dreamed last night that murderers were looking out for me on the way. I think this not unlikely, since I hear that the rescue of the Freiberg nuns has roused the wrath of the nobles in Herzog George’s lands.

Although well aware that, wherever I may be, I am under the Almighty’s protection, without whom not a hair of my head can be injured, still I am full of pity for my dear Kathie, who would be half-dead with anxiety before I returned. So do not grieve that I cannot be with you on the occasion of your wedding. May God’s grace and blessing rest on you.

Frederick the Wise -- I will just link Rev. Webber's website, which features it at the bottom of this page: http://www.angelfire.com/ny4/djw/lutherantheology. smithprophecies.html His dream is more symbolic in character. It is discredited by Schaff ( http://tinyurl.com/ln92ftp ), on the grounds that it is not mentioned in historical texts prior to 1591. The "original manuscript" that Walther referred to when he reprinted this dream in Volume 4, issue 4 of the 1847 Der Lutheraner was, according to the librarian, a copy made much later.

Dreams in the early Missouri Synod
Here are two dreams published while Walther was editor of Der Lutheraner:

By Meuer, in Der Lutheraner, about the dream of Myconius in 1546:
http://tinyurl.com/lfj6n26 (same) http://tinyurl.com/p4kf8vl

Published by C.H. von Bogatzky about a letter of a noble woman who left with her six children to a Luthearn area in 1703 (also in Der Lutheraner):
http://tinyurl.com/nbvw89a

This ( http://tinyurl.com/ls82reo ) is a precognitive dream from Katie Luther, interpreted by Melancthon, and later described by Martin Luther. It predicted the death of their 14-year-old daughter. (Melancthon wrote about dream interpretation in his De anime.) It was reported in the 1917 Lutheran Witness: http://tinyurl.com/lwbtcwp .

[Side note: Melancthon also had a precognitive dream about his daughter's death. In his case, his daughter was grown and came to visit him with his grandchildren. His dream was darker in tone than Katie's dream: http://tinyurl.com/mo33gak

Melancthon had a four part classification of dreams:

1. Natural dreams, related to your emotions or what you think or see

2. Prophetic dreams, which "are effected by the stars which awoke inborn prophetic powers." ( http://tinyurl.com/koffn6r )

3. Divine dreams inspired by God

4. Satanic dreams inspired by the devil

For Melancthon, the dreams recorded in Scripture were either of divine or prophetic origin. One had to evaluate dreams based on the context of the dreamer to try to figure out which ones were really #1 or #4 in origin. For an example of a #4 dream, he believed that an angel guarded a Christian's bedroom to keep the devil out, but when this failed, the devil caused nightmares. On the other hand, dreams which appear to convey God's Word were to be regarded as from God if they agreed with Bible and were not contrary to either Law or Gospel. Even then, Melancthon did not always presume to be able to interpret visions, such as the one reported by the honest men of Brunswick ( http://tinyurl.com/m7dgf5k ).

For Luther, these categories would be the same except I don't think he would have agreed with #2 due to his voluntarism and his rejection of astrology (which was a result of his voluntarism). Rather, he would have counted such dreams as divine. Unlike Melancthon, Luther didn't try to explain any of the dreams of the patriarchs as prophetic but instead considered them all divine miracles.]

Modern example

Jeannelle is a member of this Missouri Synod church ( http://bit.ly/1aNZvvf for directory info) in Klinger, Iowa . She was diagnosed with Bipolar II, is a grandmother, has taught Sunday School, and identifies as a Lutheran. She was Baptist before she married her Lutheran husband. Her blog, http://midlifebyfarmlight.blogspot.com , has many examples of dreams, including precognitive ones. I liked this one:

http://bit.ly/1dg7l4z

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The following dream story happened in late summer of 2005: One morning, as I was waking up, a strange dream scene came and went. In it, a thing which looked like a watertower tank was flying low over our field by the road. The tank then landed across the road, in our neighbor's cornfield.

Again, on this morning, I happened to tell Husband about the dream, once I got to the barn. The following day, Husband, one of our sons, and my stepdad were up on the roof of our house, putting new shingles on. Suddenly, Husband hollered for me to bring the binoculars to him.......he said two police cars had just speeded by on our gravel road. (We live 1/4 mile off of it.) From up there on the roof Husband could see commotion on the road over by our neighbor's place. Pretty soon we heard and saw an ambulance go wailing by. Husband kept watching, and eventually said that it appeared a cement truck had gone into the ditch and overturned. Husband could see that the cement mixer's tank had rolled into our neighbor's cornfield! He looked down at me from the roof and said quietly, "Your dream." I hadn't even thought of that yet.

It turned out that the cement truck driver had lost control on loose gravel; he probably had been driving a bit too fast. Our neighbors rushed to the overturned truck's cab and found the driver conscious, but with his arm was pinned. It took the emergency workers 1-1/2 hours to extricate him from the cab! He had a badly broken arm and broken ribs, but no injuries that were life-threatening.

9
Your Turn / Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
« on: December 28, 2020, 04:23:17 PM »
too much responsibility on our seminaries to form, supervise, and then certify pastoral candidates. I think that role should belong to district presidents.

While both seminaries and District Presidents have honor and power, the balance of the honor is more in the seminaries, and of power more in the District Presidents:

                                Honor?
                            Yes             No

Power?       Yes     Yes/Yes      Yes Power
                                            No Honor

                  No      Yes Honor  No/No
                            No Power

Yes/Yes - Honor is accompanied by power; this is a good situation; honor serves to legitimize power and also as a check on it. If power is abused, honor could be jeopardized.

No/No - This is when there is no leader or follower

Yes Power / No Honor -- Without honor, there the use of power may be challenged as legitimate; but if this is customary, then power may be abused. A good example of this is when the soldiers at Abu Ghraib who were put in power of deciding what to do to punish the prisoners of war lacked the customary rank to make such decisions. They even lacked endorsement or oversight by others of higher rank. So when it became abusive, blame rested on the lower level soldiers. (Yet the blame was also systemic.)

Yes Honor / No Power -- this is like a figurehead, a puppet king, or maybe even C.F.W Walther in his last few years. There is nothing wrong with this per se. This can go badly in that they may draw honor away from people who actually need to use it, or even worse act as an institutional shield for someone who wields power and not honor. As such they may endorse things that they shouldn't because they are afraid of risking their honor. Or they may overly risk their honor in an attempt to get power, like with elderly Linus Pauling promoting Vitamin C as a cancer therapy.

In churches, a pastor may have honor but cede power to one or more wealthy members. In nonprofit organizations, a president or CEO may take honor but cede power to a donor, whose identity may even be kept secret which is even worse. What happens in these situations is that there is probably a lack of "checks and balances" overall, with the divorcing of honor and power being just one of them.

Some district presidents increased their honor by increasing the district budget, which creates a prestige of success. And in the English District, televised messages from the DP give greater honor to the top executive than in the typical district. On the other side, the seminary real estate purchases leveraged the honor of the seminaries towards greater power--that of property development. Your plan (quoted above) would help to make these things less desirable, because seminaries would share some of the honor involved in candidate formation with the District Presidents.

Mobbing is an expression of power; their is no honor in it. Even when pastors are doing the mobbing, they do not risk their honor through the tactics used. So there is no legitimatizing factor to check it from getting out of hand. A bully may or may not have honor; for those with honor it can serve to check their vices. Standards may vary by situation and profession involved.

It seems to me any social pressure can be seen as bullying or mobbing

Balancing power and honor is one way to keep social pressure from becoming bullying or mobbing.

Another criticism that can be leveled against the one who was mobbed is that he or she was in a co-dependent relationship. This is very similar to the opinion that any devout Catholic or faithful Jew, etc. is never a whole person because that is part of living such a lifestyle (e.g. John Bradshaw). The rebuttal to these both is that modern psychology's focus on complete independence and autonomy is destructive and unsuitable for community, church, and family life. And relationships formed only after "complete" independence and autonomy have been established are likely to accomplish less, be less satisfying, and be more dispensable. This in turn leaves the supposedly independent and autonomous person seeking fulfillment elsewhere, and not in a good way.

Social pressure keeps the weak safely within the herd and strengthens the strong with some resistance.

Rev. Pres. Benke brought up conflict levels:

https://achurchforstarvingartists.blog/2018/03/23/church-world-how-to-survive-a-level-3-or-4-conflict/

The difference between level zero and level one complements your description of healthy social pressure. At level one that social pressure dynamic is allowed to work naturally. The degree of co-dependency keeping the weak within the herd is not excessive in such an environment.

So one way to evaluate the fruits of social pressure and the resultant co-dependency is "by their fruits". It isn't independence vs. co-dependency per se which is bad; it is the lack of wisdom in navigating between them.

not all conflict is mobbing, but all mobbing is rooted in conflict?

If conflict involves Eric Berne style mind games, mobbing is Berne's level 2 and level 3. Ordinary conflict would only be Berne's level 1 if it involves mind games at all.

A good overview of Eric Berne style mind games:
https://ecommons.luc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2464&context=luc_diss (see pdf pagination pages 246-253, earlier than that is irrelevant)

Also good resources:
http://www.listeningactivity.com/newsletters/GC_News/GC_Vol_02/GC_V2N03.pdf

https://ellesmerecentre.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/GamesTraineePowerpoint2020.pdf

Rev. Engelbrecht's mobbing article describes an MMORPG except that it isn't online. This is supported by culture, where webforms like this one enable role-playing. Role playing can lead to useful tools like Reddit and Wikipedia, which are MMORPGs of a sort. What makes them MMORPGs? Because people play roles that they either don't have in real life; or if they do, it is separated from it. And church, if you don't believe in it too much, is also an MMORPG, though normally offline. Engelbrecht describes mobbing as being a "destructive, triumphalist game". He also describes it as reflecting neo-orthodoxy--which is another way of saying that it turns church life into a game. MMORPGs are their own little worlds; they are self-referencing and impervious to outside criticism similar to neo-orthodoxy's fideism.

In the WELS and LCMS there are different levels of understanding:

Basic newcomer language & what is taught to small children

What you learn in confirmation or Adult instruction

What you learn at some of the better Lutheran high schools, or even at a church-run college

Seminary instruction & experience

Practical pastoral knowledge during one's ministry

... but in the WELS, there is an extra level that most clergy are not in on. Some are to varying degrees. This sort of instruction can happen bit by bit starting in Prep school, or can instead come from personal research. It may also be passed from student-to-student. It is not overtly taught in seminary. This is the understanding that the doctrinal system used by the WELS derives from Hegelian philosophy. A further understanding is that the LCMS distinctives instead derive from Kantianism, and that it was the Seminexers that in some ways were more like WELS. From the perspective of a pastor understanding this, it is evident that Hegelianism is superior. (Some secular literature supports this: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Perrys-Model-of-Intellectual-Development-Adapted-from-Perry-Jr-W-G-1999-Forms-of_fig1_328064077 Here relativism is shown as a more developed manner of thinking; Hegelianism is a form of partial relativism; meanwhile Kantians are regressive, stuck in the two earlier columns. On the other hand, there are other frameworks (besides the one I linked to) which do not posit a lifetime development but instead attempt to guide interactions between different forms of thought.)

The downside to having a special gnosis is that it can enable narcissistic tendencies in those who are already prone to it. And it could contribute to seeing church as an MMORPG, because interacting with others who don't have the full truth necessarily involves condescension. The gamification aspect is symbolized by the gemutliches Abend tradition. Those who buy into it may treat their ministry accordingly, while others have mixed feelings about the rituals.

Instead we had members who enjoyed weekly Bible studies

A particular pastor who was active in mobbing explained how the purpose of his Bible studies was so that he and certain others would have the social license to exercise control over others attending the Bible study. He did not list any other purpose; I believe he stated this both because it was true and to express anger that I sometimes enjoyed Bible studies. Another example from this was that when we got to the rape of Dinah, we learned that Simeon and Levi did the right thing--not a standard teaching in either WELS or LCMS. The good news is that every other Bible study I've attended has been better than that.

have it reviewed, and submit it for publication
I tried this once for a system to solve and prevent conflict, but was told there was zero interest. Yet there are good people with proper credentials working on it. Your article on mobbing helped me figure out very specific details from my personal experiences that had flown over my head. It is unlikely I would have understood what I do without your article. Even if some people think your article is insufficiently collaborated, it is the faith which moves mountains, and your article was written with faith.

Do you happen to have a link to the Klaus and Klaus report that you referenced?
The link is dead, but I have a copy which I emailed you. I misspelled it. It is Klaas and Klaas. I will fix the original post.

Since you are researching this, you might find it useful to put together a case study of the two kinds of Darbyites. They split early on from the same ethnic and doctrinal group--so like with comparing Haiti and the Dominican Republic what you get is the product of their polity and subsequent history. One group is the Exclusive Brethren, also called Closed Brethren or Plymouth Brethren. The other group are the Open Brethren. Both used to be reasonably good denominations until the 1970s when the Exclusive/Closed/Plymouth Brethren went seriously downhill.

I also emailed you another pdf that especially helpful for demonstrating that the trouble isn't just just the usual trouble with church bodies getting anecdotal amplification:

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A:1022920528072 (abstract only)

In this randomized survey of 411 Lutheran pastors from the ELCA, LCMS, and WELS, 34% (+-4.5%) pastors scored more than one standard deviation above the established mean for the lie test. The researchers reported that the 34% "were considered to be giving answers that were meant to protect and maintain vulnerable self-esteem, contaminated by socially desirable responses, and demonstrated a need for approval and to avoid disapproval." This contrasts to only 15.9% of adults who fail the lie test (15.9% being those of one standard deviation above the means.)

I took a lie test once, and I think it was the same one these two professors used, or very close to it. It has been around since the 70s. The way the test works is that it asks you how much you care about your reputation and what other people think of you, and how much you adjust yourself to expectations. Then it whips out a bunch of personal questions--questions that you might want to lie about. I was tempted to lie as well, but I didn't.

So either there is a selection effect at seminary for pastors failing the lie test, or pastors are trained into it during their ministry. When I shared my concern about the statistic to a CLC pastor, he explained that pastors have to please all sorts of people. That is a better sort of reason to be trained into it. The alternative is that mobbing and gaslighting results in traumatic bonding, also known as Stockholm syndrome. A longtime, respected Lutheran teacher who is no longer teaching explained to me that he knew about traumatic bonding, and he thought it was okay to use on students. I asked, "Under what circumstances" to which he replied, "Whenever there is a relationship."

This is an extreme example, but overall, the way we raise children, in the home and at school often rewards students who conform to external motivation. Yet there is another type of motivation, one in which people seek to grow due to a an impulse from within, not hoping for recognition of success or fearing condemnation for failure. These people are curious and interested in doing what they can, discovering new things, challenging themselves, and finding out what they can and cannot accomplish.

Luther explained ( http://tinyurl.com/ks3w7b7 ) that some think the purpose of shame is "improve, and you will have honor".

Quote
Some think it is good for young people that they be enticed by reputation and honor, and again by shame and dishonor, and so be induced to do good. For there are many who do the good and leave the evil undone out of fear and shame and love of honor, and so do what they otherwise by no means do or leave undone.

This I leave to their opinion. But at present we are seeking how true good works are to be done, and they who are inclined to do them surely do not need to be driven by the fear of shame and the love of honor

Luther warned ( http://tinyurl.com/pvoxoz2 ) against using honor as a motivation:

Quote
But what devil tells you to do a good work with the expectation of meriting the honor and favor of the world, which is uncertain and can soon fall away and be changed, and not to have a better object in view, namely God, for then it cannot be lost, as he will richly repay you, both now and hereafter?

Rather, the best motivation ( http://tinyurl.com/mj9uxzq ) is one that is neither about fear or hope, shame or honor.

Quote
if we believe in him, he will give us that free, undaunted spirit which fears neither death nor hell, which loves neither life nor heaven, but freely and joyfully serves God.

If we have a free spirit which motivates from within (not to be confused with what some falsely call Gospel motivation), what then is the purpose of shame ( http://tinyurl.com/q6k6dto ), since it is no longer motivating?

Quote
This, now, is the conclusion to which the prophet comes: Whoever believes on Him shall not be put to shame. When the Holy Spirit says, that they shall not be ashamed who believe on Christ, he gives us to understand what he has in view,—to wit, that he has already published and confirmed the sentence, that the whole world must be confounded and put to shame. Yet he would draw forth some out of the multitude, so that no one may escape the shame but he who believes on Christ. So Christ explains Himself in the last of Mark: "Whoever believes and is baptised shall be saved; but he who believes not shall be damned;" in which words, moreover, He accords with the prophets. So that Peter said well in the first chapter, that the prophets sought out the time, and diligently inquired after the salvation and concerning the future grace that was previously promised. So now Christ is to be preached, that He it is who has rescued us from this shame into which we were all plunged.

So the purpose of shame is to drive us to Christ, that we might not hope in our own honor, but rather in Christ to rescue us from sin. If pastors learn the purpose of shame, then they don't need to fail the lie test. They can give truthful answers instead.

10
Your Turn / Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
« on: December 26, 2020, 10:49:36 PM »
So take us out of the equation

Median career length is less than average career length. So a pastor who stays for 10 years changes the median figure just as much as one who stays as long as you. I cited a whole lot of papers and not all of the figures are directly comparable. Maybe if you squint.

Etc., etc.

Yes, and in some areas xenophobia becomes a factor. Some communities where Lutheran congregations located are used to seeing certain categories of people as being "fair game". This is not just a problem for pastors; many professions involve either being moved every so often or relocating once further from home. On one had getting civil servants from another town reduces corruption because they won't be related; on the other hand the local population resents being colonized. Mobbing then becomes a populist tool to regain control.

the perception is that the LCMS is more mobbed-up or mob prone than other Lutheran sectors.

Some years back someone in the WELS published statistics for teachers; the median career length came out between 2 and 3 years. [Note: This figure includes MLC graduates who never took any call, so it is not perfectly comparable to the public school & LCMS statistics.] There are some public school districts which roughly match this, but they are the rough ones. LCMS may be somewhat better given the "four years' figure from CUC. But that includes clergy and DCEs so I am uncertain. Both the WELS and LCMS do considerably worse than the national figure, which is reported on the pdf page 5 (paper page 26) of this document:
https://gseacademic.harvard.edu/~willetjo/pdf%20files/Murnane_Singer_Willett_ER88.pdf

This makes sense given the whole "you can't fire bad public school teachers" thing. (And I've heard a similar complaint about Catholic priests.)

As for pastors, the figures published well over a decade ago indicates ELCA pastors back then enjoyed a longer median career length. This may no longer be true post schism; I don't know.

If you go through a large enough list of denominations you will get to several which are around as bad or even worse off than the LCMS and WELS. One of my relatives was mobbed while pastoring in one of them. But most of them are not as bad off.

matches some of the research done about a dozen years ago

The "Klaas and Klaas" is what I'm thinking of. It was rather pessimistic, and painted a darker picture of the LCMS than the typical study of this sort would show.

always seemed to me more anecdotal than anything.  Why would there be a "genius" or demon in our denomination that enjoys hacking at other people more than other denominations enjoy it?

These range in quality from ones I am more confident about to ones that are more speculative:

  • Lack of support--although the LCMS has put good effort into solving this, individual churches or broader communities may vary widely
  • Trade-offs (with respect to seminarians)--The "bad apples" in terms of mobbing can be effective as professors and administrators. The same mild personality-disordered traits that make them prone to mobbing students or condoning mobbing between students also makes them otherwise good professionals as is typically defined. In the WELS they are called "hards" and are customarily expected to fill leadership roles. But they are at LCMS institutions too.
  • German culture--strong on consensus and a high degree of perfection. This is both a strength and a weakness depending on the circumstances. With respect to pastors' overall situation it is a weakness because they become "fair game" easier. Such a congregation goes straight from Conflict Level Zero to Level Three, and then back to Level Zero again quickly. To the best of my purely anecdotal understanding, LCMS pastors of ethnic minority congregations are less likely to be mobbed, especially when they are minorities too.
  • The oversupply factor: In history the nobility got rid of their surplus children by getting them to become priests, monks and nuns. There was an oversupply especially of the latter two, which caused monkish quarrels. Luther was at first considered to be another run-of-the-mill monkish quarreler. He was getting mobbed but instead he hid at Wartburg.

    Today, LCMS congregations who are especially grateful for their pastor are those who have longed for a minority pastor and finally get one. It follows that they will not mob him.
  • The "Four Ways to Spend Money" table on paper page 10, pdf page 11: https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/The-Opportunity-Costs-of-Socialism.pdf shows one factor. Congregations on the right hand side of the table might mob their pastor, but congregations on the left hand side will not. Most congregations fall somewhere in-between, but probably more on the right hand side.

    The Schmidt Family Church types can be healthy, if the family itself is and the pastor is a good fit. It would be in the top right hand corner. Endowment funded congregations fall in the bottom right hand corner if they are perfectly democratic in governance and there are no heirs around pretending it is still their money. Ideally a church will be both egalitarian in its funding and in its governance. As best as I can tell this was the model a long time ago when dues were assessed.

    The imbalance happens when the governance & funding shift, such can happen when a board makes more of the decisions or a single member or family pays a disproportionate amount of the bills. Then the church falls into the right hand side, where because the the money is being spent on someone else, they "don't seek highest value". Mobbing is one form of not seeking the highest value.

    It is not uncommon for secular nonprofits have issues with a dark workplace culture. They typically fall on the right hand side of the table; and for charities helping other people they are on the bottom right hand side. A notorious example was the now defunct Kids Company in Great Britain.

    You may have heard about a large LCD screen factory that was supposed to be built in southwest Wisconsin. They have had massive issues with dark workplace culture issues. The managers were spending "other people's money" on people they did not intend to retain but only hired to meet the subsidy quota. So they paid a lot of people to do nothing and collectively treated each other really bad. This factory also falls into the bottom right hand side. Because there was no future for them, they weren't even investing in themselves.

    A congregation on subsidy like Dave's once was can be healthy, but not all are. One factor is when strings are attached to the subsidy. This can work to convince members not to take ownership of the congregation. On the other hand the mission or congregation is spending the money on themselves, they will seek the best value (left hand side of the table).

    Some of the feelings I've seen between churchworkers and wealthy donors resemble the Chinese golden boat story. There is a story about a man who was given a jeweled & golden boat by his worst enemy, who eventually became emperor. It was given for the express purpose of making the man mad that he couldn't repay it with an even gift. There is a similar dynamic at work when a very wealthy man donates a great deal of money. The clergy hate him and indulge his vices. They hate him because they can never repay such a large gift. You wonder if he will go to hell because of his manifest sin. If he was loved, his pastor would correct him. But he is not loved, only feared and hated. Such bad emotions definitely expedite mobbing.
  • The mid-20th century stabilizing fluke that I mentioned in an earlier post: http://alpb.org/Forum/index.php?topic=7712.msg495268#msg495268 (When the clergy contracepted, but the laity still generally did not contracept.) This era was marked by clergy readily being given loans by secular banks. This shifted the power of governance more in the hands of clergy, which spent other people's money on themselves. They sought the best value. Maybe the bankers made them economize; I don't know. What I do know is that this era is unlikely to repeat itself. When it ended there was schism.

    So one factor with mobbing is that Lutherans once had an easier time avoiding conflict due to demographics, but that time is over.

    Could one recreate some of that fluke stabilizing effect by banning children of churchworkers from going into the ministry? That would be far better than instituting a "one child policy" to enforce stability. There is historical precedent for this sort of restriction from when the Catholics cracked down on the practice of creating lots of cardinal-nephews. I am aware of one Lutheran congregation which enacted strange bylaws specifically to keep the pastor's many older sons (he did not contracept) from voting. This restriction may have postponed the Level Four conflict, but it did not prevent it.

  • I get the sense that some pastors, especially in the WELS try to get their children to go into the ministry to help keep them from competing with their congregation member's children (or teens). There are only so many top spots in many communities, competition can be fierce and the pastor's children are outsiders. Some of the weird stuff described in the Klaas and Klaas study could relate to this. One solution is to send them off to prep school.

    The model for an Anglican pastor is George Herbert, who wrote extensively about how parish life should work in The Country Parson. He would have been a great man to have as both a pastor or a father. But today wouldn't he be a prime target for mobbing? Too strange, too many children who are better raised than the congregation members' children.

    How to solve this vulnerability? Some churches eschew contraception more or less, so they all have a lot of children and are used to the competition. Or if the pastor is already from the area the congregation members won't feel as threatened by competition from his children. I don't have a good response to this vulnerability for most situations though.
  • Tuition is another factor compounding mobbing. It cuts two ways: making new pastors with debt more vulnerable and by potentially compounding social class issues.

    Why is tuition so high at the LCMS seminaries? One factor is that it must be kept high as a gatekeeping measure. Since income is generally correlated with intelligence and good genetics, it follows that the LCMS pastorate can be made more elite by raising tuition. While this could be criticized as eugenics, it is not entirely a bad thing. Poor behavior can be caused by low intelligence. Marital faithfulness correlates with it.

    But what if there was another way to screen the incoming seminarians? As I understand, you aren't allowed to use IQ tests because they are racially discriminatory. Maybe use a random lottery instead to cull them to a proper number. Maybe ASVAB, ACT, or SAT scores or some other test would be another way. In the WELS, they keep tuition low, so instead a major screening factor is the senior thesis paper. (Side note: I've met a pastor who because of his learning disability, could not complete it. He did not graduate. Instead he found a community lacking any Lutheran church at all. He took a dishwashing job and told everyone he was starting a new church. He managed to start it and it grew large quickly. But then it joined ALC which he would not go along with.)

    There is concern that American Lutherans are not as intelligent as several other groups, such as from this study
    https://twitter.com/kirkegaardemil/status/1088579701944201216

    This study makes me question how the ELS can keep their seminary free because then they do not screen out the low income people. The theory (again, rejected by enough mainstream people that you can ignore it if you like) is that over the generations, urbanization and birth control reduces the heritable aspect of intelligence. The genetically smart people move to cities, where they don't have much children as the more fertile but dumber rural ones. An example: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/303857537_Evidence_of_dysgenic_fertility_in_China

    The ELS historically has had less contraception and less urbanization than the LCMS. Urbanization is my own assessment; the comparison of contraception comes here: https://www.ryancmacpherson.com/download/research-papers/els-demographic-history.pdf So it follows that they don't need to put up such a high bar to keep students out because they have less of them to begin with.

    Similarly, the DELTO program in the LCMS lowers the financial bar for ethnic minorities. But since they don't have as long of a history of urbanization and contraception as German Lutherans, the higher bar is not needed.

    The tuition factor may play a role in congregational dynamics. How many parishioners could realistically afford to put their children through seminary without debt? If not, it follows that the pastor is necessarily of a high social class. This distinction can be ignored when things are going well, but when things go badly it could be a compounding factor. If entrance into the pastorate was a strict meritocracy, this concern would be lessened. In such a case an incentive not to mob the pastor would be that members might aspire for their own children or grandchildren to become churchworkers someday.

There might be some other ideas about why mobbing develops, if anyone is still reading and still has some, go ahead and list them out.

11
Your Turn / Re: Coronavirus news
« on: December 26, 2020, 07:02:43 PM »
Rev. Johnson,

Higher particulate counts correlate with worse Covid-19 outbreaks. UV light breaks down Covid, but particulates block UV light. The polluted air in urban areas could explain some of it. At some level smoking is part of it too, but not the biggest factor.

Also, African Americans tend to trust health care professionals less than whites do. These are reasonable fears: If you bring your kid in they might say you let it go on too long and CPS you. If you personally go to a hospital or nursing home as a patient you are aware of the risk of Angel of Mercy type criminal behavior against you. And your family has no recourse because a professional (who is unlikely to be Black) will sign your death certificate claiming it was a natural death when it wasn't.

12
Your Turn / Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
« on: December 26, 2020, 03:26:42 PM »
last I heard, there were around 30 opportunities for service in Metro New York

If the metro New York is a good place to be a pastor and not get mobbed, the localized clergy shortage would explain why.

I don't think mobbing has much to do with clergy leaving one denomination for another. I would say much of the time it is genuine theological conviction, and among those who aren't particularly inclined to take a strong doctrinal stand it is more likely convenience for the sake of a job or congregation they love.

It is a major reason. Theological conviction is more socially acceptable when explaining it to other people. This is because the denominations are so very similar. If  you say you left because of mobbing it doesn't play well. That is because if denomination "A" mobs you, it follows that if denomination "B" is similar it might too. And it leaves little sympathy for the one who was mobbed if it happens twice (as can happen). Sort of like people don't feel very sorry for a woman who goes form one abusive husband to the next. So the mobbing aspect is concealed.

Aspiring churchworkers want to join churches where they will not be mobbed. Former WELS churchworkers don't join LCMS because they see that the environment is unlikely to be any more conducive to stability than WELS was. This reference supports my anecdotal understanding. Except it calls it "conflict":

Quote from: Kristin Stewart
The Lutheran report findings in Hoge and Wenger (2005) study indicated that the top involuntary motivations for leaving ministry involve conflict in the denomination or conflict with denominational leaders. When tallying the figures for pastors leaving, there is a notable assumption: it is the pastor’s responsibility

https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.454.8976&rep=rep1&type=pdf (pdf page 3, paper page 117)

Quote from: Len Sperry
Needless to say turnover is high

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Len_Sperry/publication/258193133_Workplace_Mobbing_Individual_and_Family_Health_Consequences/links/568bde0808ae129fb5cb8c60/Workplace-Mobbing-Individual-and-Family-Health-Consequences.pdf (p. 400, or p. 3 of the file)

It is impossible to maintain high turnover without having a ready supply of replacements.

This table shows that overall, turnover has been increasing in the US: https://www.bls.gov/news.release/tenure.t05.htm

The difference is that clergy are expected to take on more commitment and education than other jobs with higher turnover. And if the quote below is accurate, LCMS turnover increased much faster than the national average:

Quote from: Roland Lovstad
the average length of service of pastors will decline by approximately five years from 2006 to 2016.

 
from https://witness.lcms.org/2007/preparing-pastors-5-2007/

And now in the LCMS:

Quote from: Mark A. Waldron
At present the average tenure of a church worker in any congregation is, unbelievably, only four years


https://www.cuchicago.edu/globalassets/documents/concordia-experience/student-services/synodical-placement/13-14-synodical-placement-for-professional-church-workers-booklet.pdf
(page 19 or electronic page 24)

Yet a lower length of service correlates with increased burnout. If you have a more novice LCMS clergy roster, you have a roster that is on the whole, more burnt out:

Quote from: Mark A. Waldron
A three-way analyses of variance confirmed the hypotheses that loneliness, years of service, and spiritual well-being effected greater levels of burnout

from https://digitalcommons.georgefox.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1273&context=psyd paper page 63, electronic page 73

Likewise, for congregations:

Quote from: Thom S. Rainer
The average tenure is between three and four years. But, as our research has shown consistently, longer tenure is needed for church health.


from https://churchanswers.com/blog/dangerous-third-year-pastoral-tenure/

A more cynical clergyman might take calls more frequently, saving his career at the expense of church health. But a more committed man might stay and get mobbed. Over time, natural selection favors the cynical. One LCMS pastor told me that his number one responsibility was to "not lose" his "pulpit and baptismal font". He wanted to avoid mobbing. Yet the church needs pastors willing to be martyrs even as the policies work to weed them out of the system.

14
Your Turn / Re: Important announcement
« on: December 23, 2020, 07:58:49 PM »
Would you be willing to noindex all the webforums to keep real names off Google?

https://developers.google.com/search/docs/advanced/crawling/block-indexing

15
Your Turn / Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
« on: December 23, 2020, 06:20:48 PM »
I know these things very well from offline, personal relationships and experience. Rev. Pres. John C. Willie is former WELS having graduated from WLS in 1979 and colloquized in 1984. Preus only re-joined the LCMS after being made to leave ELS. What I meant by mentioning their names is that these men were welcomed in. And they are not the only ones; I'd rather not name lower profile names on the public internet. One wrote a highly detailed account of his mobbing and published it in a periodical. After reading it, I called him up and he was glad to talk with me. He is grateful to be in the LCMS now and to put the mobbing in his previous denomination behind him.

Some who cross the rivers may do it entirely of their own will. Others may be recruited after mobbing. (Mobbing also occurs in the LCMS ministerial education system. Maybe not all will call it that because there is no job loss. Yet the drama, power dynamics, banal behaviors, and outcomes are similar.)

If you leave the LCMS and join another denomination due to mobbing, it is wise not to be vocal about it. There is no good in it. Much better to focus on the idealistic aspects about what you've discovered joining your new denomination.

(My earlier post at https://alpb.org/Forum/index.php?topic=7712.msg495228#msg495228 gives context about how mobbing reduces intra-denominational strife by reducing the clergy oversupply issue. Any organization or nation which oversupplies candidates to the elite class risks strengthening counter-elite movements.)

As for my suggestion to close both seminaries while remaining open to colloquies, this is especially based off of a comment I have heard (in person, not online) repeated within WELS. This is a serious proposal and not rooted in anger or sarcasm and it runs along the lines of "We have so many uncalled people, we could just close down X and just issue calls from the remaining names for a while." The reservoir of uncalled theologically trained people in the other former Synodical Conference bodies is a proverbial goldmine of human resources. The LCMS should pirate it. And if you aren't interested, well, okay, but missing out on the next Willie or Preus is the opportunity cost of keeping the LCMS seminaries running.

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