1. Appreciate this thoughtful article, Stephen, and your “bonus” answers to the objections raised to Part One.

    Just one question in regard to your comment about shunning: “However, that does not mean the [Corinthians] could not get together with [the man who had his father’s wife and was put out of the church] on their own. Or say hello in the market (while shopping for meat-not-sacrificed-to-idols).”

    How does this fit with 1 Cor. 5:11, which lists a number of serious sins committed by professing believers and clearly says that not only must Christians not “associate” with such people, we should “not even eat” with them?

    * * *

    Getting back to the Christian conference situation, though, which I agree is not the same as a church and doesn’t operate by the same principles — I can see why it would be hasty and perhaps even unjust to shun a person for the whole remainder of a conference based on a single act of misbehaviour on, say, Friday. Until the conference organizers have looked into the matter, talked to any witnesses, and decided what kind of response is appropriate, it’s not fair to treat the accused person as though they’re already convicted.

    However, if a man (or woman for that matter) has behaved sinfully on multiple occasions before that particular conference, and no disciplinary action has been taken, it may be wise for those aware of the problem to warn others about that person. As part of the children’s literature community, which has recently gone through its own struggles in this area, I know that sometimes the only thing that protects newcomers from being exploited by a long-time predator in a position of power (such as an agent, a publisher, or an award-winning author/illustrator who likes to take conference attendees under their wing and “mentor” them in hopes of gaining sexual favors) is the “whisper network” of those have witnessed or personally experienced that person’s misbehaviour and are anxious to protect others from suffering the same fate.

    Some may say that this kind of warning falls under the heading of gossip, but I don’t believe that it does. Gossip is done carelessly and/or with malicious intent, and often betrays information that people have legitimate reasons to keep private. Whereas warning is about protecting the unwary from predators, who are relying on people’s ignorance to exploit them. And if no disciplinary action has been taken yet, that “whisper network” may be the only hope that a new or uninformed attendee has of not becoming the predator’s next victim.

  2. Travis Perry says:

    Great article, I appreciate your points, even the bonus stuff.

    That’s true even though I happened to be the person who pointed out that the Publisher’s Weekly article could be produced without them engaging in any real investigation. Though I also said an investigation could have happened, a PW article isn’t proof that one did.

    Yes, I appreciate that wheels have been rolling for a while on these things, but I felt it was important to mention to people that unless someone has considerably more information than what I’ve got, we shouldn’t presume we really know for certain what happened. If feel that’s simply fair and just.

    But yes, I agree the content of your article holds up well under all and any circumstances. Kudos on that.

    • Mary DeMuth says:

      I happen to know that that PW article included nearly exhaustive investigation.

      • Mary DeMuth says:

        Oops, that didn’t sound right. It was an exhaustive investigation that took many, many hours, calls, lawyers, rewrites, etc.

        • Travis Perry says:

          Ok, Mary, how do you know that? Please share if you can.

          By they way, I have previously heard someone tell me that. When I asked how he knew, he said, “Someone who knows more that me told me,” without telling me who. For me, him telling me that he knew someone who knew is not verifiable or reliable information–even though the person who told me this is someone I like and trust–because human beings make mistakes and spread false information too easily.

          • In principle, a reputable media publication will take great care publishing the names of someone accused of this kind of behavior. This covers them legally as well as ethically. Exceptions, of course, include severely biased media and/or super-high-profile figures in actual or potential positions of power. (What was that guy’s name in the news? … Some kind of judicial position?) In this case, I think it’s worth noting that Publishers Weekly has given all kinds of press, all friendly from what I’ve seen, to books by two of the accused persons. That, to me, seems another point in favor of them not simply going out for slanders.

            • Travis Perry says:

              E. Stephen, I’ve already addressed the issue that the kind of story PW ran pretty much only requires that PW make certain the names were right and the accusations were real. That isn’t the same as a real investigation, though more info may be known.

              In fact more information WAS known, as some comments by Anne Byle on the Speculative Faith Part 1 post made clear. She said these comments in just the past 12 hours or so, which I saw just a few minutes ago for the first time.

              So I retract everything I have said stating that the publication of the article perhaps was not significant. It seems Publisher’s Weekly indeed did do more research than the minimum. Note I stated I thought it might be possible they had done more, but now it’s been made plain that they did. Which is good to know.

  3. If I had a character making arguments against the existence of God I would want them to sound good. Unless the person was known to be a crank. But a knowledgeable professor should sound knowledgeable and have more than straw man arguments to offer.

    The dialogue would sound pretty secular. I read about a vicar who complained to the magazine serializing The Screwtape Letters. He asked them to cancel his subscription since “many of the suggestions offered are erroneous if not downright diabolical.”

  4. Stephen, thank you for writing these articles. They are well-researched and thoroughly grounded in scripture. (by researched, I mean biblical research). They have clearly taken a great deal of effort, and, I imagine, emotional challenge.

    Like everyone, I’ve been shocked and very saddened by recent events. I’ve said next to nothing online about it. Partly because of my geographical distance, having never met another Realmie in person, but mostly because I’m still thinking through what I think, and how to react to it all.

    Your writings here have definitely helped me in my process and have probably even pulled me out a little of the naivete you described in point 10.

    So thanks again. The articles can’t have been easy to write, but I believe that they, and the discussion that has followed them, are a great resource during these troubling times.

What do you think?