Happy Anniversary to Me #14

Fourteen years ago today, I started this blog with these words:

This is a test, nothing but a test. A test of your routine blogcasting network.

I didn’t know what I was doing, but with the encouragement of my former pastor Byron Harvey, I launched into the wild world of blogging. I started out on the old Blogspot platform and then moved to WordPress in 2006. I moved from there to Patheos in 2013, just in time to cover the demise of Mars Hill Church and Gospel for Asia. When Patheos decided I was too hot to handle, I moved really quickly back to this independent format on WordPress. Since 2005, I have written 4,865 posts according to WordPress backroom counter.

Maybe when I hit some milestone like 15 years, I’ll throw a party. For now, I noticed the date while looking up some old posts and thought I would quietly remember the occasion. Some readers have been along since near the beginning and some more recently. Perhaps regular readers could indicate when you started following the blog and what story or topic brought you in. I appreciate you, your tips, and feedback.

64 thoughts on “Happy Anniversary to Me #14”

  1. I have shared this story before here. In my case it started one summer day in 2014 when I got bored and started thinking up of things to Google just to see what came up in the results. The term “Repentant Pastor” came to my mind as something that should be far more common then it actually is. Google soon took me to RepentantPastor.com which was a site set up by former Mars Hill leaders who were sorry for the things that they had participated in. That made me interested in what actually was happening there. So Google soon led me to here and Wartburg Watch as two blogs that were reporting on the shenanigans still going on inside there at that time. I was impressed by many of your posts on them and that is when and where it started for me.

  2. Congrats Dr. Throckmorton.

    I started reading you through a referral article on Box Turtle Bulletin (another blog site that is now defunct and sorely missed) when they were wishing you a quick recovery from the close call with your heart. At that time I actually read through all your archives up to the (then) present. I’ve been with you since; through three platforms. Your work is always informative and honest.

    I don’t think it is too much to say that you represent Christ/Christianity in a way that is so sorely lacking in the rest of the American Evangelical landscape.

    Keep up the great work.

    1. Thanks, I didn’t realize Jim wasn’t blogging. We are from the same home town.

      And thanks for your kind words.

  3. I found your blog during the Patheos shake-up in 2018 — not sure how I missed it before that.

    Why I read your blog: A significant portion of my career as a minister has been devoted to helping congregations recover from clergy misconduct, and your reporting of clergy misconduct, past and present, has been a useful resource for me as I continue to try to understand what motivates misconducting clergy, and how congregations manage to turn a blind eye to their abuses. (FWIW, the congregation where I currently serve as an assoc. minister experienced had a misconducting pastor from 1974 through 1990, and the effects of that misconduct are still being felt.) I am particularly interested in your reporting because most of my professional experience has been cleaning up after sexual misconductors, while you cover clergy who have abused power and engaged in financial misconduct.

    Why your coverage of misconduct is important: Clergy misconduct is a critical issue for all church goers for the very simple reason that at least some of the well-publicized flight from organized religion in American society today is motivated by people who are (rightly) disgusted with the inadequate response to clergy misconduct by denominations, congregations, other clergy, and lay leaders. In one example, if you dig into the data, formal religious affiliation in Massachusetts dropped significantly as the clergy abuse scandal in the Catholic church became public (yes, I know this is correlation not causation, but it is something we have to pay attention to). In this context, it is worth noting that the Catholic clergy abuse scandal may be the best publicized, with clergy misconduct scandals in evangelical megachurches a distant second, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. A representative of Church Mutual Insurance once told me (off the record) that their insurance company alone averages one new claim each week of child sexual abuse in some congregation; then you have to add in the many clergy who abuse their trust through sexual misconduct with adults, abuse of authority (e.g. anger, harassment, etc.), or financial misconduct (e.g., embezzlement, nepotism, misdirected funds, etc.); in short, we’re looking at a huge number of clergy who are engaging in misconduct, and all too many denominations and lay leaders who are looking the other way.

    Finally, in the future I would love to see blog posts from your perspective as a psychologist on what motivates misconducting clergy; and blog posts on the psychology of congregational leaders turning a blind eye to clergy misconduct. I would also be interested in hearing your perspective as a psychologist on how congregations might heal once they get rid of misconducting clergy. While I have my own half-baked theories on all these things, some of which are based on family systems theory, I would love to read a psychologist’s take.

  4. Congratulations! I first encountered your blog several years ago, early in your Patheos years, when I was dealing with (struggling with, really) some personal church hurt following a difficult church situation. Searches on the topic of “church hurt” and “church abuse” also pulled up a bunch of material on Mars Hill (unrelated to my own church situation), and I just accidentally stumbled across your blog through that connection. As a politically moderate evangelical, I appreciated the tone and perspective with which you were writing on subjects related to faith, church dynamics, the increasing politicization of faith, etc., and I have been regularly following ever since.

    1. Church can be so much a mixed experience. Helpful in the best ways but also so harmful. I am glad the articles here have helped. Thanks!

  5. I love your blog, Warren – a place of honesty, accountability, and humility. Thank you for modelling that for us. I started following your work during the Mars Hill fiasco and will continue to check in here for a reliable voice on “public policy, mental health, sexual identity, and religious issues.” I’m sure I speak for many when I say you’ve earned our trust.

  6. Congrats.

    I wasn’t aware the original blogspot posts (and comments) still existed. I thought they were lost in the various moves. Thanks for the link.

      1. somewhere around there yes. I found your blog while researching NARTH. You had been scheduled to speak at one of the conferences and received an award (for the SIT framework as I recall).

        I’m glad to see the old comments from Michael Busse were preserved. Some useful history on Exodus in there.

        1. I received an award from Narth in 2000 I believe, but was slated to speak in 2005 on the SIT framework. They were not going to give me an award for that. I didn’t go because of the racially insensitive comments in a NARTH article by G. Schoenewolf. It took them forever to retract and so I said no to the meeting. Dave Blakeslee and a few others quit too as I recall.

          1. What was the award for then? I know NARTH mentioned an award in the blurb about the SIT Framework. However, they were never known for the clarity of their statements πŸ˜‰

            And I do remember the whole Schoenewolf fiasco as well.

          2. The award was for my peer reviewed publication in 1998. It was the first of its kind for about 10-15 years. Honestly, NARTH was so hungry for people with earned doctorates who weren’t psychoanalysts to help their credibility, you didn’t have to do much to get an award. I didn’t know at the time just how thin the whole thing was. I also got some support from older members of the faculties of my alma maters at CMU and OU. They wanted to be more public in their support for change therapy but they didn’t feel they could in the academy. I was a Christian college and so I had more freedom to do so. How ironic it all turned out to be.

  7. Congrats Warren. Like a lot of readers, I started back during the demise of Mars Hill, so that would be just before Fall 2014. Wow. I’m guessing it was something that I read over at Right Wing Watch that prompted me to ‘check this Throckmorton guy out.’

    I haven’t identified as a Christian for many years now, yet I appreciate your valuable reporting as a watchdog of the church. I feel like there’s been a huge decline in “church integrity” over the last couple of decades, and it’s refreshing to see your willingness to call the church out for it.

    One would think it would be easy and effective for many influential church leaders / ministries to do the watchdog work that you do, but, no, they recognize the necessity to look the other way as an act of self-preservation in order to protect their own little turf (and their own big bank account). Thank you, sir.

    Also, one final thing: if Mark Driscoll happens to read this comment… “Howdy Mark!”

    1. RWW does a pretty good job and we often cover similar ground. What a strange world, eh? Thanks for the good words. And yes, good day Rev. D.

  8. Happy Anniversary, Warren. Blogging for fourteen years on the trot is no mean feat. I’ve tried a number of times over the years, but never got more than a few weeks in before running out of steam.

    I started following you during your Patheos years, so it’s been a while, and even on the rare occasion I might disagree with you, I always know that your opinions are sincerely held, and that you always conduct you work with integrity — another rare feat in this day and age.

    All the best for the next fourteen years!

  9. Happy Birthday! I can’t give you an exact time I started reading you, but it had to be around the time you changed your mind on SSA. When Googling about the case for and against gay marriage, you always came up in the results and I appreciated to no end how clear and easy to read you were/are. I also read the 2011 NYT article, Living the Good Lie. The results were a greater understanding (and a more charitable one) of why Christians were/are so against it. The same goes for David Barton, Metaxas and others you have called to account.

    I’m with Jeff Sharlett when he said, “Throckmorton has allowed data and evidence to shape his views β€œin a way very few people of any ideological or political stripe would.” [From The evangelical professor who turned against 'reparative therapy' for gays]

    1. Thanks! That’s one of my favorite quotes and one which I am most humbled by.

  10. Happy Anniversary Switzerland! I believe I started reading around 2005 or 2006, almost from the beginning. It was to oppose your views on ex-gay issues. After a while, I found that you were willing to engage with reason and you cared about the facts – a rarity in that venue (or any at this point). It took some time but trust was established and I’ve found you to be a man of great character who is willing to go where the truth leads. We have not always agreed on issues, but that is irrelevant with a person of integrity – you challenge me to think. Your college is lucky to have you.

    1. RI-Cola!

      Thanks, I could say many of the same things in reply. You have given me lots of good information to challenge me over the years. 2005/06 is around the beginning so that’s starting to sound like we’re old in blog years.

        1. /2007/06/20/switzerland-r-us/

          The individuals mentioned represent the real buffoons of the ex-gay, anti-gay world back then.

          1. I haven’t kept up with LaBarbara’s activities in a long time. Bennett always struck me as a pure opportunist. There was an element of that in many of the ex-gay operators, but some were simply aware of money to be made with the dog and pony show. He wasn’t very good at it.

    1. Now that’s a blast from the past. /2007/06/20/switzerland-r-us/

      Edit: Oh, I just saw that David R. enlightened the group. Thanks. I will bet most current readers came in after the reorientation wars.

        1. Thanks, I agree. /2009/08/12/thoughts-on-the-status-of-the-reorientation-wars/

  11. I became a regular reader (and commenter) around 10 years ago. It was that frightful anti-gay bill in Uganda that brought me here originally … Some of the posts (and comments) regarding that particular fiasco were read with interest by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

    Happy Birthday, Blog! Looking forward to next year’s party!

    1. He was truly one of the warriors in that battle, wasn’t he. None of us here experienced the kind of personal threat or tragedy that those in Uganda did, but Warren’s work had a great impact on the issue.

      1. Yes he was!

        And yes we didn’t! And things are still not good in Uganda, of course …

        And yes I’m sure it did, not least because those who were in a position to do something appreciate credible information and sound reasoning.

    2. Frightful indeed. Richard was a warrior with a velvet glove. Don’t get in a scuffle with RW, he will slice and dice and you won’t know it until it is too late. Remember Maazi (?) – wasn’t that his/her name? Oh my, you had your way. Thanks for being a great ally in that effort.

      1. Thank you Warren: it was great to fight alongside you on that one.

        Oh yes, Maazi … It was useful in a way to have him around – he gave some interesting insights. I wonder what he’s up to these days; he was certainly no slouch intellectually.

  12. I found you just as you started covering the Mars Hill debacle. I was trying to make sense of my own abusive church situation and your blog really helped in that endeavour. Thanks!

    1. Many people came along to try to make sense of MHC. Glad this effort was a help. Thanks!

  13. Several years into the future, historians and theologians will study the rapid collapse of U.S. Evangelicalism under White Nationalist Authoritarianism. Dr. Throckmorton’s blog posts will account for one of the lone voices of dissent. Throckmorton may be among the last generation of Christian intellectuals, at least within the U.S.

    1. If that happens, I will be surprised. John Fea, Chris Gehrz, and others (forgive me for not listing all) will also be studied. I appreciate the kindness in your note and the thoughtful comments you make here.

  14. Enjoyed your work on Mars hill, as my daughter and SIL were going there through the destruction. lost you for awhile, and then there was some Willow Creek stuff, which I enjoyed because I knew Hybels from old an knew what a pathetic liar he was..More Willow Creek updates are always welcome..

  15. Congratulations! I’ve been reading since about the time the collapse of Mars Hill appeared on the horizon. Thank you for calling out a number of people who deserved, and continue to deserve, to be called out frequently.

    1. Thanks, many called but few are chosen. I suppose some I call don’t want to be chosen.

  16. No one knows “how to do a blog”, as a new media format they’re works in progress. That said, you do it very well indeed.

    Now, as for a 15th anniversary party, will there be beer?

    1. Thanks. When did you start reading?

      Not sure how to do beer online but I was thinking about blog bingo or a drinking game. I could make up bingo cards and whenever I mention certain regular topics (Barton, Driscoll, court evangelicals, etc.), you mark off that space on the bingo card. Winners get to choose their own favorite beverage. A drinking game would work similarly. Each day’s post would have a trigger word for a sip of one’s favorite beverage. Each mention merits a sip. Of course, any reader could institute self-celebrating at any time.

      1. I’ll take that last option.

        As for how long I’ve been following the blog, I’ll have to wrack my brain. I’m guessing five years?

    2. Thanks. When did you start reading?

      Not sure how to do beer online but I was thinking about blog bingo or a drinking game. I could make up bingo cards and whenever I mention certain regular topics (Barton, Driscoll, court evangelicals, etc.), you mark off that space on the bingo card. Winners get to choose their own favorite beverage. A drinking game would work similarly. Each day’s post would have a trigger word for a sip of one’s favorite beverage. Each mention merits a sip. Of course, any reader could institute self-celebrating at any time.

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