"The Dark Wall," Brantley Hargrove, August 29
Storm chaser/thrill seeker = non-story. The man was trying to make a "comeback" and died trying. Most of the "readings" he got didn't require driving into a tornado path.
Sorry, he's not a hero — just someone trying to keep his seven minutes of fame and get his TV show back and chase some thrills.
"The Prodigal Pastor," Alan Prendergast, August 22
I worked with Gil Jones for close to three years during his tenure at Pathways and certainly have a laundry list of issues — but at this point it's apparent to everyone who knows Gil or has read "The Prodigal Pastor" that there are serious offenses. As someone who saw behind the curtain and gave the benefit of doubt far too many times after addressing concerns directly with him, I know that the unfortunate reality is that what was written is only a small account of the depth of dysfunction and destruction. In twenty years of working within churches and ministries, I have never seen such deception, manipulation, duplicity and misuse of authority. The thing that makes it incredibly cunning is that he portrays on stage an ostensible transparency that is so alluring and attractive — appearing humble, therefore believable. And you want to believe him because you so desperately want to believe that there are authentic, sincere pastors who are not religious hypocrites. It's not difficult to appeal to this particular market of people in this postmodern, consumeristic society, people who want to give their lives to something of value and follow someone who appears authentic — yet it's a dangerous trap of continuing the systemic cycle of feeding a machine that is built on commerce, lies and ego. The problem is not just with Gil; it is also within ourselves and the structure we enable and empower that allows for opprobrious behavior. In an episode of Mad Men, Don Draper interacts with someone who challenges his ethics in manipulating the truth. Draper's response is quite ingenious and disturbing: "People want to be told what to do so badly that they'll listen to anybody."
I am to blame as well because I fed this deceptive machine, too. More than anything, I'd like to make two public appeals.
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1) Gil, it's apparent that after many requests you refuse to step down. Please, for the sake of what the gospel calls us to: surrender. Stop desperately trying to self-preserve. It's over. You have lied far too many times and have lost all credibility with those you used to call friends and loved ones.
2) More important, to the followers and supporters of Gil: I was a follower as well; many of us believed that if you could get enough support around him, he would change his behavior. But this proved false. An unhealthy addiction has been created that feeds ego: yours and his. You must stop reciprocating this fixation. Leave his church and allow him to step down from ministry.