[The portions in BLACK are the original text. RED
texts are current clarifications and additions]
2001--In his Nationally syndicated Column Date Janurary 7, 2001 [pmi-note that:
1. Dr. Dobson never quotes God's Word on the subject of tough love through confrontation.
2. Secondly, he promotes a secular process/organization.
3. Thirdly, the tough love confrontation that is Biblical-though not identified as Godly, and the nature of the problem-denial, that Dr. Dobson does mention are the same Biblical steps that he has so stubbornly rejected towards himself, for many years.
4. Fourth he suggests children can go for help without their parents knowing--isn't this the same principle he opposes about teens getting abortions without their parents knowlege?
5. Dr. Dobson send people needing help to this secular organization and not to God's body where they can get everlasting help and life.
God says leave this man alone and stop supporting him until he falls and repents...just like Dr. Dobson says should be done to alcoholics. Everyone who supports Dr. Dobson and Focus On The Family with money, gifts, verbal and non-verbal support contribute to his willfull sinning and the destruction of those who do not know better...May God have mercy on their souls...
ALCOHOLIC MUST BE CONFRONTED IN SPIRIT OF TOUGH LOVE, Dr. Dobson writes:
Q. My husband drinks excessively. Aside from getting help for my family, what should I do specifically for him? How on earth am I going to get him to go to Alcoholics Anonymous or some similar treatment program? He is deep in denial, and I'm not even sure he's thinking right now. He couldn't make a rational decision to save his life. How am I going to get him to cooperate?"
A: You’re right about the difficulties you face. Begging won't accomplish anything, r husband could be dead before he admits he has a problem. Indeed, thousands die each year while denying that alcoholics.
That’s why Al Anon teaches family members to confront with love. They learn how to remove the support systems that prop up the disease and permit it to thrive. They are shown how and when to impose ultimatums that force the alcoholic to admit his or her need for help. And sometimes they recommend separation until the victim is so miserable that his or her denial will no longer hold up. In essence, Al?Anon teaches its own version of the love?must be?tough philosophy to family members who must implement it.
I asked Bob, a recovered alcoholic, if he was forced to attend Alcoholics Anonymous, the program that put him on the road to recovery. He said:
"Let me put it this way. No one goes to AA just because nothing better to do that evening. Everyone there has been forced to attend initially. You just don’t say “On Monday night we watched a football game and on Tuesday we went to the movies. So what will we do on Wednesday? How about going over to an AA meeting?' It doesn't work that way. Yes, I was forced ? forced by my own misery. Pauline allowed me to be miserable for my own good. It was loving duress that moved me to attend."
Though it may sound easy to achieve, the loving confrontation that brought Bob to his senses was a delicate maneuver. I must re?emphasize that families should not attempt to implement it on their own initiative. Without the training and assistance of professional support groups, the encounter could degenerate into a hateful, vindictive, name-calling battle that would serve only to solidify the drinker's position.
Al-Anon Family Groups and Alcoholics Anonymous are both listed in local phone books. Also to be found there is a number of the Council on Alcoholism, which can provide further guidance. For teen?agers of an alcoholic parent there is Alateen. Teens can go there and share without their parents' permission or knowledge, and its free.
"Dr. James Dobson is NOT a member of a local congregation but attends several churches when in town" ConfirmedFocus On The Family spokespersons at 9:52 AM, October 12, 1999 and again at 10:00 AM October 13, 1999. When asked for their names for attribution, John ? [10/12] and Ann ? [10/13] I was told the staff are not allowed to give out their lastnames...therefore there are no steward of Christ's authority (local Church Elders) to which Dobson is in Biblical submission according to Matthew 18 and Hebrews 13. It appears Dobson has removed himself from from God's Body, and must be treated as a non-believer. -END- PMI 10/13/99
AS of August 1, 2000 (Chuck who sought the information from FOTF executives) is saying that "Dr. Dobson IS a member of a local Nazarene church but is not allowed to give out the name"--which functionally means there is still no biblical recourse to address using Matthew 18 and Luke 17. Dr. Dobson's shameful behavior continues and now includes his so called church since they do not hold Dr. Dobson accountable for his actions.
August 1, 2000: 11:18am CDT, upon calling many Nazarene Churches in Colorado Springs I found Rev. Zell Woodworth is Dr. Dobson's pastor at the Nazarene Church Eastborough 4123 E Pikes Peak Ave COLORADO - SPRINGS, CO 80909 719-596-1929 I will attempt to bring these issues to Eastborough ruling Elders for the continuing of Matthew 18-Third Step of "Telling it to the Church". http://www.eastborough.org and Pastor Zell's email is PastorZell@eastborough.org
August 1, 2000:2:28pm CDT Rev. Zell Woodworth wrote back saying,
"Dear Sir, Eastborough, nor it's Church Board, are interested in hearing about your dispute with Dr. Dobson.
His, Pastor Woodworth" Enough said
to now treat them as a non-church...Lord, Lord Lord...
The DOOR Magazine - November/December
Permission granted to PeaceMakers.net, Inc.
Call 1.800.597.DOOR (3667) for authenticated reprints
How A Nice
Christian Media Star
And His Nice
and His Nice
New Christian Wife
One Fine Mess
Commentary By Noel Becchetti
I. THE ASSIGNMENT
It all started so simply. "We want to do a media issue," the voice piped through the phone. It was Mike Yaconelli, senior editor of The Door.
"Who should we feature? Who's the biggest thing going in Christian media these days?"
He needed to ask? OK, maybe I never have listened to a single installment of the "Focus On The Family" radio program. But who hasn't heard of James Dobson? With his radio network, his audiocassettes, his videos, his film series. his books, his magazine`. his meetings with the President, and what-all else, he and his organization are far and away the best-known and most successful Christian media organization in modern history.
But I wasn't exactly anxious to pursue the lead. For starters, Dobson has been featured in just about every Christian print, radio, and television thing known to man. Even Christianity Today did a cover story on him, which is kind of an unofficial Protestant-version of a papal blessing. So what if Dobson was upset with the article? So what if he didn't like the side they took his picture from? It was a Cover Story. (And anyway, that's all hush-hush stuff. Forget you ever read it.) He'd certainly been exposed enough, in a controlled sort of way. What more could we sav or do?
Plus . . . well . . . Dobson has this reputation. Where? In the Christian Media Industry, at least. (And believe it or not, The Door is part of the Christian Media Industry. Shameful, but true.) What kind of rep? Let's just say that Dr. Dobson has certain standards, and he likes to see them met. Perfectly. Now Yesterday would be even better. And God help the poor slob who doesn't measure up. Focus used to think this was neat. They called it "spotlight management." (This differs slightly with The Door's style, which we like to call "through a glass darkly" management.) Suffice it to say that I was a little nervous at the thought of getting too close to that kind of intensity.
Besides, it's been mentioned that Dr. Dobson can get a wee bit upset with people who disagree with him, particularly if he feels they're attacking him or Focus. And it's not considered a real bright idea to get on his bad side. Why? Well, apparently when Jim gets mad, it's something to behold. It's been reported that even some of his close friends are a little afraid of him. And if you're an aspiring Christian speaker- or writer-type whom God is calling to a wider ministry (and to moving a few zillion units of your product in the process), it's wise not to alienate the head of the most powerful Christian media outlet in existence, even if you don't see one penny of royalties from the cassettes Focus On The Family sells (for $5 a crack) of the radio programs you were on. So no one complains. Well, one guy complained after he started adding up what Focus was making off of what he saw as his material. He got a nice reply, and was cut off cold by Focus until he got his mind right and said he was sorry for even asking. (And no, he didn't get any royalties. )
Last but not least, getting ahold of Dobson is just a tad more difficult than talking Gorbachev into swinging by for dinner the next time he's in town. The man is BUSY. Busy with Very Important Things. And spending time with outside media does not normally stack up in the Focus scheme of priorities as a Very Important Thing. It ranks somewhere between cleaning out the septic tank and going in for that root canal. So the odds of getting time with Dr. Dobson were right up there with hitting the Keno pot in Vegas. And Focus On The Family IS Jim Dobson. If we couldn't get with him, why bother? Not to mention that a little voice in my ear kept whispering that a Dobson/Door match promised to produce all the warmth, trust and camaraderie of a Soviet-Afghan mixed doubles tournament. After all, we've got a rep too.
But I'm nothing if not a trooper, so I figured we might be able to make a feature article work if we could get permission to hang around the Focus HQ for three or four days and blend in with the woodwork. You know, get the "feel" of the place, take the "pulse" of the organization, and generally make a "nuisance" of ourselves in hopes of getting a handle on what makes a giant Christian media entity like Focus tick. I was just starting formal negotiations with the front desk receptionist at Focus when we heard about . . .
II THE LAWSUIT
Now most large organizations collect lawsuits like my daughter collects stuffed animals. Everybody and their brother wants a piece of them. But the legal action outlined in the News section of the February 3, 1989, edition of Christianity Today had an interesting twist or three.
It had been filed by Gil Alexander-Moegerle, Dobson's ex-right-hand man and co-host on the radio program, and his wife, Carolyn. Apparently, Jim and Gil had been pretty close until the onset of a series of events that included the breakup of Gil's first marriage and his subsequent remarriage to Carolyn, who was also an employee at Focus. The Alexander-Moegerles were claiming a number of grievances, including invasion of privacy, wrongful dismissal (they were both forced out or voluntarily resigned, depending on whose version you took) and interference with their ability to make a living after departing Focus. Dobson, it for his part, referred to the suit as "baseless."
It was a pretty barebones, just-give-me-the facts-type news article, so it was hard to get much from it. But it did have a- nice picture of the Alexander-Moegerles, along with the standard portrait photo of Dobson you've seen on many of his books. The Alexander-Moegerles looked like a nice enough couple. What would drive them to sue a fellow Christian, which most believers would see as a biblical no-no?
It didn't take long to find out, because the next thing we knew, into our office came . . .
III. THE OPEN LETTER
A 25-pager, no less, written by Carolyn Alexander-Moegerle and s addressed to Evangelical Leaders. (I know, I know—don't ask me why we were sent a copy. ) Have you ever tried to read a 25-page letter? Open Novella might have been more like it. It was one intense document, too. Carolyn outlined in exhaustive detail the steps she and Gil had allegedly taken to settle their disputes with Dobson, and the unhappy results of each attempt. She then spent considerable time going over why they felt initiating legal action was an OK Christian Thing To Do In This Case, and wrapped up with an interesting question: Who is the Church for the parachurch—especially the powerful parachurch leaders? Now I'm an old InterVarsity Christian Fellowship man myself, so I know first-hand about the ups and downs of life in the parachurch. It's an environment that fosters both a refreshing amount of personal freedom and an alarming degree of personal autonomy. In IVCF, I had all the room I wanted to allow my personality, style, and outlook to expand as far as I was willing to push them. And if you knew anything about my personality, style, and outlook, you'd realize how terrifying a prospect we're discussing here. The point is, it's tough to provide checks and balances in parachurch organizations, 'cause they're such independent church/business hybrids. So accountability becomes difficult, and the potential for abuse of power is great . . . particularly because in such a vacuum, the most ambitious, driven, charismatic types tend to bubble to the top. Who was supposed to hold Dobson and the Alexander- Moegerles accountable for their actions? Apparently nobody . . . thus, the lawsuit.
And Carolyn was saying some tough stuff. If she was to be believed, some not-so-nice things took place—the kinds of things that stir my compassion- for- the underdog-biased Democratic-bleeding heart soul to the quick. But if truth be told, I was a bit skeptical. I mean, this letter was real intense. Taken at face value, Dobson's personal integrity and management style fell in somewhere between Genghis Khan and the defensive line of the Los Angeles Raiders. And there was this little matter of Gil's divorce and remarriage. The CT story had been a little hazy on the details. Not that I suspected anything, mind you. My pure, objective mind never runs along those lines. But I'm divorced, and I know from experience that these things can get emotional. So there were any number of potentially yucky reasons for the passion that fairly steamed from the pages of Carolyn's letter.
Hmmm . . . so what's an intrepid Investigative Journalist to do? I called an associate for advice. "Why don't you call the Alexander-Moegerles and try to get an interview, idiot?" he cheerfully suggested. (I knew that.) Now normally, once legal action is initiated, lawyers would sooner work for free than let their clients speak to anyone in the media, so I didn't hold out much hope. But what did I have to lose? I tracked down the Alexander-Moegerle's phone number and gave them a call. Much to my surprise, they were friendly, talkative, and delighted to meet with me—say, Friday? "No problem," said I . . . so I was off for . . .
IV. A DAY IN SAN DIMAS
I was born and raised in California, and to tell you the truth, I didn't even know there was a San Dimas. Well, there is. It's right next to Pomona (home of Focus On The Family HQ), and it's where the A-M's live. (From here on out, it's "A-M." You try writing "Alexander-Moegerle" around 800 times.) I wasn't sure what to expect, what with the lawsuit, open letter, and all. But as I pulled in front of a pleasant Southern California duplex, I felt hopeful. After all, they'd sounded like such nice people on the phone. And they were nice. Didn't look like my image of "lawsuit" types, you know what I mean? As we were getting acquainted, I found out that Carolyn had bigtime InterVarsity ties. So we were kind of like relatives already.
After a pleasant lunch, we settled into the living room. "Well, can we discuss what happened?" I asked. We could—for six and a half hours. (Yes, it was. I have it all on tape. ) Talk about intensity. We laughed, we cried, we got mad. My emotions bounced all over the place. Could what they were saying be true? How much of what I was hearing was colored by the intense emotions permeating the issues? This was a bitter divorce battle on several levels— between Gil and his ex-wife, Ruth; Gil and Jim; Carolyn and Jim; Gil and Carolyn and the Focus organization; Gil and Carolyn and the evangelical community at large— I was getting dizzy.
At the root, so far as I could tell, was the issue of power and how it affected the ability to resolve what the A-Ms saw as a personal dispute with Dobson that carried over into the workplace. According to the A-Ms, their attempts to achieve reconciliation with Dobson had been spurned, as had their offer to submit to binding arbitration. They'd rejected an offer of non-binding mediation. "Howcum?" I asked. "It goes back to power," Gil replied. "Non-binding mediation is just what it says. Everyone can take their ball and go home if they don't like what is decided." The upshot was that since Dobson was the head of Focus and they weren't, they were the ones who were looking for new jobs and trying to pick up the pieces of their careers and lives.
What was making things extra sticky and painful was the press release that Focus issued when the lawsuit was filed. The A-Ms, as you may have guessed, had had to deal with rumors about extra-marital hanky-panky. They took great pains going over with me the sequence of events that led to their marriage, and claimed that Dobson, in a private memo to the Focus Board, had verified that their relationship was on the up-and-up. The press release, however, worded things in a way that made it sound like Gil had left skid marks on his way out of his first marriage so that he could hitch up with his secretary. The A-Ms were, let's say, agitated about this.
"You're making some powerful accusations," I told them. "Do you have documents to support your contentions?" They did. "Can I see them?'' I asked. "I can't go with this stuff unless I can verify the accuracy of your statements." That was going to be a little trickier, they replied. But they'd check with their lawyer on it. "I've gotta try to talk to Dobson as well," I continued. "It's only fair to get both sides of the story, if he'll talk to me." Fair enough, said they. "As far as I'm concerned," Carolyn said, " a few hours together with Jim in January of 1988 could have solved the whole thing, and none of this would have had to happen."
I parted with the promise to keep in touch, motored back to the World Headquarters, and began to negotiate . .
V. A JOURNEY TO MECCA
Now getting ahold of anyone at Focus is a challenge. All 600 of them are very busy with Very Important Things. And I was trying to reach Peb Jackson, a senior vice-president, member of the Focus cabinet, and one of the nicest guys you'll ever want to meet, who is very, VERY busy.
Understand that you never talk directly to anyone in management at Focus. You call the front desk receptionist, who routes you to an assistant, who takes your message and (hopefully) relays it to your quarry, who responds to the assistant, who calls you back and has to leave a message 'cause now you're out of the office. So these things can take time.
But things sped up a little bit when I mentioned the possibility of trying to get some time with Dobson. Did they know we'd talked to the A-Ms? It was hard to know if everyone was on the same page, what with all the discussion through intermediaries. I didn't mention the lawsuit; no use getting everybody alarmed right away. But sooner than I expected, I was on the phone with Peb's assistant, setting up a lunch appointment with him and Rolf Zettersten, Focus's vice-president of communications. So I dusted off my one set of semi-decent clothes, hopped in the Plymouth, cruised to Pomona, opened the double doors, and stepped . .
VI. INSIDE FOCUS HQ
If you've never seen Focus On The Family headquarters, it's hard to communicate what it's like. (Feel free to visit, though—they offer guided tours. Honest.) Let's just say it's what you'd expect from Dobson—quality and style. Everything is prime—the architecture, the carpeting, the fixtures, the plants, even the people. everyone IS dressed to the teeth, and the women look like they just returned from a trip to the beauty shop. In fact, it's so nice that they've posted a disclaimer sign explaining that the money for all the neat stuff was donated by private parties, in case you were about to get steamed over who was paying for all this class. Oddly, though, the overall effect is one of intimidation—at least, it is to a slob like me. It's the kind of place that makes you feel that, no matter how many times you check, your fly is open.
I'd been to Focus HQ once before, to interview a visiting bigwig for our Youthworker Journal. Even in that unloaded situation (Focus helped me set up the appointment and donated an office for the interview), I remember feeling funny. In fact, I'd caught the tail end of an interesting exchange between two Focus employees while I'd been attending to nature's call in the lobby restroom. "—and I'm concerned over the image we're projecting," one of the gents was saying to the other (neither of whom I knew) as they came through the restroom door. "When you look around, all you see is beautiful people. What are we saying about what it means to be a Christian? That you have to be one of the 'beautiful people' to be right with God? I think we need to take this up with—" and they were back out the door. So I wasn't the only one
inside the Focus building who felt like the ugly duckling at a swan convention.
Given the nature of this visit, you can imagine my comfort level as I cooled my heels in the reception area and waited for Peb and Rolf to emerge. But after a few minutes, there they came, joined by Dean Merrill, an old coworker from my days at Christianity Today who was halfway through his first day as director of Focus publications. We exchanged pleasantries all around, squeezed into Rolf's car, and headed to a local restaurant for . . .
VII. THE LUNCHEON FIASCO
When you're an observant, alert, and generally nosy-type like me, you can pick up vibes. The vibes in our car as we headed for the restaurant could be described as Focused on Focus. We'd no sooner finished with the "How's the family?" stuff than they launched into showers of praise for Dr. Dobson—his generosity, how he helped lessfortunate brethren in the Christian media industry, how all-around great he was. This was fine . . .except it really hadn't been in context. We hadn't even been talking about him; it just kinda happened. And these guys love James Dobson. It's heartening to see such enthusiasm for a boss from his staff, but it made me wonder about what kind of a hearing I'd get when I got around to asking to see Dobson and brought up the "L-word."
It didn't take long for my worst fears to be realized. As the words "Door," "Lawsuit," and " Alexander-Moegerle " escaped my lips, a look came into Peb's eyes that resembled what I imagine I'd look like if I'd just been told that the IRS would like to sit down with me and go over my income tax returns for the last 20 years or so. I didn't help things along by somehow conveying the impression in my suave opening remarks that we'd already made up our minds that Dobson was a rat. (Just be grateful that I'm not in the U. S. Diplomatic Corps.) The Door? Biased? How could the thought have ever crossed their minds?
But I don't believe my ability to put my foot in my mouth was solely responsible for their reaction. I'd been told by sources that Focus perceives itself as a ministry under attack, persecuted from many sides. I'd noticed this tone in some of Dobson's recent fundraising letters (yes, I'm on the Focus mailing list), and I'd had a very uncomfortable experience watching the famous (or infamous, depending on your perspective) Dobson interview with about-to be-executed serial killer Ted Bundy. I'd dutifully shelled out my $25 "suggested donation'' for the 57-minute video and popped it into the VCR for a look as soon as it arrived. The interview itself was fine—powerful, actually, and I'm right there with Dobson on the negative impact of pornography. What surprised me was the first half of the tape. Before I ever saw Ted, I got 20-plus minutes of Dobson going on and on about the persecution he's experienced since he met with Bundy. He has been attacked— for doing the interview in the first place, for charging a "suggested donation" of $25 for copies, for possibly exploiting the final hours of a condemned man, even for being bamboozled by a manipulative psychopath. But I guess I figured that that kind of hassle goes with the territory when you choose to enter a controversial public arena (I'll bet Bush and Dukakis could give us earfuls on that score). It was embarrassing to watch Dobson moan about his trials to a quasi-reporter on his own video.
Back at the restaurant, the next 45 minutes were the business-lunch version of a Chinese fire drill. "Honest to Betsy, guys," I pleaded. "We haven't made up our minds on the lawsuit. We want to give everyone a fair shot at telling their story. And the lawsuit isn't our main concern. We're trying to explore the issue of power, its use in Christian organizations, and how it affects the resolution of interpersonal disputes. The lawsuit is just a compelling case study." No soap. "Our Board has set official policy that no one is to comment on the lawsuit," Peb said. Dean tossed in a word or two but sat back for the most part, and Rolf wasn't saying much at all as he applied his full focus (pardon the pun) to his lunch. Focus must be starving the man.
What got them really steamed was mention of the open letter. "A lie in every paragraph," was Peb's assessment. "In fact," he continued, "the angle you should pursue for your article is the story of an embittered ex-employee who wants to bring a ministry to its knees to satisfy his own twisted sense of justice." "That's why we want to talk with both sides," I persisted. "How else can we get an accurate assessment of what we're hearing?'' They didn't know that I'd been promised a look at the A-M documents, which included a personal communique from Dobson that Carolyn described in the open letter as "one of the most abusive, vicious memos ever written" (Carolyn's not one to mince words). Why should I tell them? Intrepid Reporters have to have some aces up their sleeves. And besides, I wasn't sure that I'd actually get to see the documents (or Documents, as they were beginning to loom in my mind).
I'll say this—the Focus guys were as confident of the outcome of the lawsuit as they were irate over the open letter. "It will never make it to trial,'' Peb said. "The judge will throw it out as soon as he reads it." This brought to mind a question that had been nagging me for some time. "If that's true, Peb—if your case is so airtight— why didn't you guys agree to binding arbitration? Sam Ericsson of the Christian Legal Society was willing to set it up. Gordon Loux of Prison Fellowship was willing to serve as the arbitrator. You'd have been in and out, with a binding solution, in one day. What made you refuse?''
His answer was my first glimmer of awareness as to what I believe really brought Dobson and the A-Ms to Lawsuit Land. "Binding arbitration implies that there's something to arbitrate, that you've done something wrong," he replied. "We did nothing wrong. There was absolutely nothing to arbitrate, no compromises that needed to be made."
Absolutely? Nothing to compromise? I don't know how many traffic accidents you've seen, but it's all in the corner you're standing on. Everyone sees it differently. And what's wrong with a little compromise? It's what makes the world go round and refrain from blowing itself up. I'd caught some of this same stiff-neckedness from Gil and Carolyn, although they seemed more willing, anxious even, to reach some sort of resolution. This would bear some pondering as I returned to the World Headquarters with my tail between my legs (albeit with the slightest of chances for an interview with Dobson still glimmering), and I began . . .
VIII. THE DOCUMENT AFFAIR
It seemed simple enough at first. Go to the lawyer's office, copy the documents, send the copies to Noel, go home. Easy, right? Except there was this little matter of the lawyer. "Our lawyer has some problems with your request for documents," Gil told me over the phone. It turns out he wasn't overly excited with Gil and Carolyn circulating the Open Letter while he was trying to prepare their case. For a lawyer, this kind of exhibitionism is not unlike your new spouse describing your honeymoon learning curve in great and hilarious detail to your extended family—it just isn't done. So he didn't respond with open arms to my request to have a little peek at every scrap of evidence he was using to build his arguments for the trial.
"I see his point," I responded, "but without those documents, I'm hamstrung. It's just your guys' word against Dobson." Thus began several weeks of back-and-forth negotiating that at times felt like a grade-B espionage movie—you know, like the Bond flicks with Roger Moore as the lead. All the while, I'm being stonewalled by Focus in my attempts to see Dobson. Given everyone's Very Busy schedules, these attempts include phone calls from the office, at home, in phone booths outside coffee shops, in airports, outside a Mormon museum in Nauvoo, Illinois, and on one of those wireless jobs you find on board a 727 (don't bother—it's like trying to talk on the worst phone ever built with your head inside a hair dryer).
Finally—outside the Mormon museum, as a matter of fact—I get the word: I can see the documents as long as I don't copy them or quote from them. By this time, I'm ready to transcribe them myself with a goose-quill pen, if that's what it takes. A day later, I get the Absolutely Final word from Focus regarding an interview with Dobson— Nyet.
Thus informed, I raced back into town, opened the door of my office, and on my desk—there they were! The Documents! The Holy Grail, The Dead Sea Scrolls, The Magna Charta! Right in my hot little hands! And I mean documents. Plural. Whole bucketloads of them. More documents than I expected. More documents than I ever dreamed of. More documents than I could read in a year.
But they don't call me "Bulldog" for nothing.
(Actually, they often call me other things, but we can't print them here.) I buckled down, put on my extra-strong reading glasses, and started poring through the unreproducable, unquotable batch of evidence. (One comment: Remember when the A-Ms claimed that Dobson wrote a memo to the Focus Board that exonerated them from any extra-marital wrongdoing? He did. I read it myself. )
As I moved through the pile of memos, letters, return letters, return letters to return letters, angry letters, vengeful letters, yucky letters, press releases, counter press releases, scurrilous press releases, ad nauseam, I began my . . .
IX. PLUNGE INTO DESPAIR
The more I read, the more depressed I got. There were documents that clarified Gil and Carolyn's grievances. There were documents that clouded the issues. There were letters that made Dobson look bad. There were letters that made Gil and Carolyn look bad. There were letters that the stationery they were printed on, had it had any say-so, would have opted to boycott. While the pain etched on each sheet of paper was deep, and the grievances for all parties heavy—after all, we're talking about people's reputations, livings, and lives here—I was struck with a feeling of . . . I don't know . . . pathos. Pathos that things could have sunk to such a level.
How could things have gone so bad? How could people who had worked together, sweated together, prayed together for so many years say such things to each other? Why couldn't they work things out, no matter how much pain they were feeling, no matter how strongly they disagreed on some issues? And now here they were, mired in depositions, court appearances, lawyers' fees, and all that crap. What a waste.
I'd hit the wall. I had no idea what to write, what could be said about the situation. It was time to call . . .
X. THE PEACEMAKERS
Early on in the process, Gil had given me a name—Bill Fields. I'd never heard of him myself, but he was a counselor and former Youth For Christ honcho who had supposedly been bounced from Focus's counselor referral list after a run-in with Dobson over the Bill Bright/ Tony Campolo heresy carnival (see Door #85, June/July 1985, or ask around). Since his exit from YFC, he was running a one-man counseling and reconciliation service called PeaceMakers.net. "You should talk to him," Gil told me. "He'll have some valuable insights on the situation." With that recommendation, I figured him for a charter member of the A-M fan club, and had avoided him to date. But I was looking for any help I could get. What did I have to lose? We set up an interview time, I hopped on a plane to Chi-town, and we got together to chew the fat.
I won't go into a lot of detail about the interview, as it's printed in this issue. If you don't read it, I'll be bummed, because without it, this article's just one Door goofball's twisted ramblings on why I really wonder how God puts up with evangelicalism sometimes. I will say this . . . I came out of that discussion a different person: more aware of my own failings, more committed to authentic relationships, more determined to seek reconciliation with brothers and sisters I've wronged, and less inclined to take potshots at every power-mongering, egocentric Christian bigwig who drives me crazy (well, kind of less inclined). Fields and his buddies aren't saviors. In fact, they're half-crazy—but for the right reasons. And if I'm given a choice between hanging out in the centers of evangelical power and spending time in the company of some dingbats who might be onto what God wants us to be about with each other, well . . . see you the loony bin.
to Part Two: Who You Gonna Call? PeaceMakers...
Shalt NOT Bare False Witness Against Thy Neighbor
Dobson In Danger As Non-Christian
The DOOR: Who You Gonna Call? PeaceMakers - Part Two
Interview: James Dobson's War On America
More Witnesses Dobson refuses Biblical reconciliaton