Remember when I posted the comment by a parish employee about how Bob Malm, aka Dysfunctional Bob, not only permits inappropriate discourse, but tacitly endorses it, by engaging in a certain amount of it himself? Well, in addition the the spectacularly bad example he and Sugarland Chiow have established in dealing with me, the reality is that, right behind the scenes, there’s lots of ugly discourse at Grace Church.
To be fair, if you just show up on Sundays and hang out at coffee hour, you may never run into it. But I assure you, it’s alive and well. And its presence serves as a bellwether for the overall health of the parish.
A few good ones that I’ve heard:
- Comments and speculation about one parishioner having a penile implant. (Seriously.)
- Rumors about a recently married parishioner actually being gay — which is interesting, because that person is not a particularly good choice when it comes to defamation. I’ll leave it at that.
- The endless speculation about infidelity and adultery in the parish.
- Leslie Steffensen’s comments about me and money. Needless to say, I know who the source of those comments is.
- Kemp Williams’ stupid comments about me.
Then there’s the use of gossip as a weapon, as I observed first-hand with Alison Campbell’s efforts to cause problems for me within the altar guild. And Lisa Medley’s post on The Wartburg Watch about my alleged $.02 donation. Yes, there was such a donation, but no, it was not mine, and it was not to the church. One would hope that Lisa would at least get her details right.
That said, the upshot is that when people use gossip as a weapon, that’s telling, for it’s only an effective weapon if people are receptive to it. And those who engage in it clearly have little concept of the damage they do to the church as a whole.
Sadly, it only takes a few to cause lasting harm to the parish.