Showing posts with label St. Dysfunction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label St. Dysfunction. Show all posts

Monday, August 27, 2018

Bob Malm’s Micro-Aggressions: Part of His Malevolent Games

For those of you unfortunate enough to still have to deal with Dysfunctional Bob and his little games, I have a tip for you: Look for his micro-aggressions.

A favorite tactic of persons with narcissistic personality disorder, micro-aggressions are the petty slights and offenses that, taken individually, seem innocuous to a third party, but viewed as a pattern over time, are a form of spiritual and relational abuse. Bob excels at these games, and like a narcissistic sorority girl, puts a great deal of time and effort into these tawdry behaviors. I believe that these behaviors, in fact, are a favorite of his, because they allow him to feign innocence if called onto the carpet.

Nor are these inadvertent. For example, in the case of the parishioner who has boundary issues with children, to my knowledge Bob has never approached him about the issue, nor taken any formal action to keep children safe. Instead, Bob gives this person the cold shoulder whenever they are in church, pointedly pretending he doesn’t see him. (He has confirmed to Leslie Steffensen, too, that he does this.) Not exactly a healthy way to deal with problems, and if there is an issue of child abuse in the parish, this is a strategy that is unlikely to find favor with the court. But then, Dysfunctional Bob will probably seek to have the matter heard in his imaginary Commonwealth Court by his equally imaginary magistrate, so who knows? With the honorable judge Robert Hiller Malm presiding, he might just win.

In my case, Bob’s antics ran from yelling at me in meetings, to getting the cold shoulder at events, to pointedly sitting in silence when vestry members engaged in inappropriate conduct. And, of course, the straw that broke the camel’s back was when he, despite my warnings to knock it off, sent me his famous email, “Speaking of keys....” in which he asked me to turn my keys over to the building. (By way of context, Bob never does that and there are literally hundreds of sets of keys floating around among past wardens and altar guild presidents; indeed, if you know where to look for them, to this day the keys and alarm codes for the building are readily accessible. Instead, it’s a tie-in to an effort by Lisa Medley to bully me by asking for my keys back as part of a fictional “key audit.” In response, I pointed out that there was a huge box of unsorted keys in the parish administrator’s office, and she should knock herself out. Needless to say, nothing happened with the box of keys.)

Of course, since then, Bob has run the Jolly Roger up the mast, including his bogus police report. Thus, by coming into the open, he proves that my allegations about micro-aggressions were well founded. Moreover, the fact that he’s even willing to go after a dying woman shows that there are virtually no boundaries when it comes to Bob’s bullying and bad conduct. If he thinks he may win, it’s no holds barred.

Entwined in this issue, of course, is the question of whether Bob Malm is a real priest, or one in name only. But any priest who thinks that bullying is acceptable, including trying to push around a dying woman, doesn’t even qualify as a bogus priest. In fact, I can think of a number of terms that do apply, but for now, the word, “dirtbag” works just fine.

PS For a good discussion of micro aggression, see:

For a good discussion of how persons with personality disorders use microagressions to inject toxicity into their relationships, see:

See for Yourself: Bob Malm’s Multiple Lies and Evasions Under Oath

In the attached interrogatories, which Dysfunctional Bob answered under oath, Bob told several lies and repeatedly evaded answering legitimate questions. In addition, several of his responses are logically inconsistent.

That begs the question: If Bob really felt threatened, why not lay his cards on the table? Why the fun and games? And why, if he fears I wouldn’t honor an agreement in resolution of this conflict, did he just send over a settlement proposal? “I was threatened. Now just quit blogging and we’re cool.”

Doesn’t work that way.

Moreover, Jeff “Sugarland” Chiow, by endorsing and supporting Bob’s evasions and untruths, has undercut the church’s moral authority in this matter. Readers can quickly see that the church is morally bankrupt. And it’s not just one minor issue—throughout this matter the church’s conduct has been outrageous and appalling, including trying to subpoena a dying woman. All I can say is I hope Bob’s mom didn’t have to deal with asshats like this as she was dying.

First, Bob’s lies:
  1. Meetings were NOT repeatedly cancelled between him and various family members. Mom never asked to meet Bob, nor would she. (To use the phrase from “A Home of My Own,” she’d rather swallow cat um, urine.) One meeting was canceled between Bob and my friend and relative, Liz, after Bob informed her at the last minute that he couldn’t keep the appointment as he’d planned for several weeks to be out of town. Given that she was already on the road, the meeting simply wasn’t doable, and Bob’s lack of prior notice was, at a minimum, rude. But what else would you expect?
  2. As he well knows, his daughter Lindsey has repeatedly blogged about the matter. Yet he claims it’s only his wife.
  3. Dysfunctional Bob claims he didn’t lie when we met with the bishop. This is flagrantly false. The exact words of his lie: “Having resigned from the vestry, you were no longer eligible to serve as a trustee.” To which I replied, “Why, then, are none of your current trustees vestry members?” The fact that Bob can look his own bishop in the eye and lie is appalling.
Second, his inconsistencies:
  1. Where’s the penitent in all of this? Just because a priest is in the room doesn’t mean something is confidential. Sorry to spring it on you, Chiow.
  2. Bob says that the voice of my blog and Mom’s blog is similar, yet he claims in hers that it’s shifted to being angry. So which is it?
  3. Bob says he doesn’t think I’d abide by any agreement, yet he just offered to settle. Huh?
  4. Bob uses the word “terror” repeatedly on the church blog, as well as the phrase “white supremacist.” If mere use of a word is a threat, Bob is seriously threatening, as is the church, and is a white supremacist to boot. But then, given his efforts to shut down First Amendment rights, I wouldn’t be surprised. Heil Malm!
  5. Bob claims that clergy disciplinary proceedings are confidential, yet he disclosed earlier proceedings against him to Jeff Aaron and Jeff “Sugarland” Chiow, as well as church staff. How does that work?
Needless to say, Dysfunctional Bob’s not only not a real priest; he’s got some other issues as well.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

See for Yourself: Leslie Steffensen’s Irrational Email About Me

One thing about clergy at Grace Church: They have very few qualms about making statements of questionable veracity when it comes to their parishioners.

In the attached email, Leslie Steffensen makes a series of false statements, including:
  • That Mom’s blog is mine (and content in it), despite the facts that:
    • Mom had repeatedly made clear that she is the publisher of her blog.
    • I don’t have children and have never claimed to have children; nor do I want any.
    • I am not female.
    • I don’t drive a minivan.
    • I don’t have pets.
    • I don’t travel to Northern VA from the Midwest.
    • I haven’t been to Manhattan in many years.
    • I don’t refer to myself in the plural.
    • I don’t hang out in Del Ray, except to leaflet or protest.
    • I don’t hang with other family members when they protest or afterwards and have never claimed to do so.
    • The day folks were at The National Cathedral was a day I was at work the entire day, and I have time records and numerous other forms of documentation to prove it, including dozens of witnesses, several of whom have prepared notarized affidavits.
    • I have not been to The National Cathedral in more than seven years; it was shortly before the earthquake. Thus, I have been nowhere near her office, and frankly don’t care to be anywhere close to anything with the word “Episcopal” in it anyway. Nor do I want to be anywhere close to Bob Malm or Leslie Steffensen; if I choose to hang out with clergy, it will be with those who evince some indication that they adhere to Christian values.
    • Nowhere in my blog, or in Mom’s blog, does anyone mention adopted children. Nowhere. 
    • I have witnesses and documentation to prove all these points.
  • That I have made false statements about her. My only comments have been about her comments made during my background check; I have published the transcript here  and that clearly indicates that Leslie has stated that she is “not sure [I] can be trusted with money,” along with other statements intended to damage my reputation. Additionally, I have commented on the well-documented fact that Leslie was fully supportive of Dysfunctional Bob’s efforts to shun us, including denying us access to our own church. The email confirming that also has been published here; a copy is below.

  • That the events in question were, at the time of her email, three years prior. They were not. They dated to 2015, including the latter months of the year and, of course, continue to this day.
It’s these sorts of sneaky, ad hominem attacks behind the scenes and untruthful/inaccurate statements that are how clergy at St. Dysfunction respond when criticized. Never mind that Leslie has never had the integrity to address her concerns directly with me. At a minimum, you’d think, as clergy, Leslie would make damned sure of her facts before writing a stupid and un-Christian email like this. (While Leslie’s talking with her legal counsel, she should be sure to discuss defamation and the phrase “reckless disregard for the truth.” Also, “false statements of fact.”)

But then, given that Leslie once told me (and later repeated her claim in front of others), that she has seen an apparition in the hallway outside the clergy  offices at St. Dysfunction, Kirk Steffensen’s comments about “spewing delusional crap” may strike rather closer to home than he intended. Or perhaps the word “hallucinations” applies. Or maybe this is a case of paranoid schizophrenia. I don’t have any way to know, but I am increasingly concerned for my safety, given Kirk Steffensen’s comments about Mike’s employment, the irrational nature of Leslie’s comments, and her statements about seeing apparitions of the dead. In fact, sounds like an implied threat to me.

The fact that behavior like this is acceptable for clergy in The Episcopal Church speaks volumes as to why The Episcopal Church and St. Dysfunction are dying. Nor are these behaviors all that unusual in churches—they are exactly how abusive Catholic priests respond when someone reports them. Smear the victim, try to discredit the victim, everything except for the sort of accountability that Jesus modeled. Even when Leslie wrote to my Mom to ostensibly apologize for her conduct, she couched things in terms of her “inexpert response” as a new priest. My take, though, is that when it comes to manipulative behavior and refusing to be accountable for her actions, Leslie’s far from inexpert. Indeed, she’s quite adept, and appears to have issues with deep-seated but well-concealed anger. (Just ask her to tell you about her numerous fistfights in high school.)

Saturday, August 25, 2018

See for Yourself: Email Between Kirk Steffensen and Bob Malm

Check it out! The love of Christ overflows as Kirk Steffensen refers to “spewing” “delusional crap.” And I can tell you that the redacted parts are pretty good, too, LOL.

And yes, the First Amendment still applies, much though Bob Malm may wish otherwise.

Heil Malm!

See for Yourself: Email from Heather Wishart-Smith to Bob Malm

Not too much noteworthy here. A fairly even-handed email from Heather, and Bob’s response.

See For Yourself: Email Between Leslie Steffensen and Bob Malm

Interestingly, here we see two linked concepts, and one conspicuously absent. 

True to form, Bob complains about protesting, and sees a protective order as a solution. But nowhere does he see anything about a threat. Which, of course, there isn’t any threat, which is why Bob later starts to weave in references to “threats already made,” even though he can’t name what they are.

See for Yourself: Email from Kelly Gable to Senior Warden Lorna Worley

Here is an email from Kelly Gable to Lorna Worley about this conflict. While it’s characteristically verbose, it’s interesting in that Kelly takes a much more rational approach than most members of St. Dysfunction, and avoids the usual ad hominem attacks. 

There’s also a notable reference to transparency in the email. As I’ve said many times, one big issue for the parish is transparency. Bob loves the whole, “Well, I see the financials,” routine, as if that is somehow reassuring, or absolves vestry members of their fiduciary obligations under the law. Meanwhile, it’s hard to retain members when they feel, as evinced here, that there only job is to keep their mouth shut, worship, and send money. 

See for Yourself: Correspondence Between Chris Byrnes, Bob Malm, and Bishop Shannon

Gotta love a Tabor education; apparently, logic is not high on the list of priorities. 

Here, we see Bob Malm asserting that he’s never met my mom, and thus her blog cannot be hers. 

Non sequitor, anyone? Or should we class this as a fallacy of ignoratio elenchi? Your call.

See for Yourself: Bob Malm Lobbies Diocese to Initiate Legal Action to Shut Down Criticism

This is a great email. In it, we see Bob Malm, never a fan of free speech, try to talk the diocese into doing what he cannot, which is to develop a legal strategy to suppress First-Amendment protected criticism of Bob, the church, and the diocese. Meanwhile, Bob tries to trade on the tragedy in Florida to make his case.

Sounds to me like Bob Malm is right in there with the Donald: The First Amendment only applies to media you deem not to be “fake news.” 

“We can’t allow...?” Since when did Bob Malm have authority over free speech rights in Northern Virginia? So what? Next the brown shirts show up at my door? And note how Bob proposes to silence critics other than me via a “proactive strategy.” 

Scary stuff, more suited to the Russian Federation or Nazi Germany than to the United States.

See for Yourself: Bishop Shannon Letter With Multiple Falsehoods

Here is a copy of the letter that Bishop Shannon Johnston sent to Grace Church some time ago. It’s notable for several reasons:
  1. At the top-most level, the bishop expresses suppport for clergy who have engaged in shunning and retaliation; the latter is now specifically grounds for clergy discipline under church canons. You’d think a bishop of all people would hold to a higher standard, but you’d be wrong. No wonder things are a hot mess at Mayo House and Bishop Shannon is headed for the hills.
  2. The letter falsely claims that these matters were investigated and resolved long ago. That’s facially untrue. The intake officer has no investigatory authority, but may make such inquiry as is needed in order to “understand the matter complained of.” (That is the exact wording.) Having dismissed my complaint outright, having failed to provide the pastoral response required under the canons, and having allowed Bob Malm to disclose the matter to Jeff Chiow, Jeff Aaron, and others in violation of the canons, the matter also was not resolved. Not from the perspective of canon law. Not from a practical perspective.
  3. Given that Bob out-and-out lied at one point during our meeting with the Bishop, I’d hardly say he’s to be commended. His exact falsehood: “Having resigned from the vestry, you were no longer eligible to serve as a trustee.” Too bad none of the trustees have been vestry members (nor should they be, as a practical matter).
  4. In my one-on-one discussions with Bishop Shannon, he acknowledged that the matter was not appropriately handled. Yet here, he claims that it was and everything is copacetic. So which is it? Sorry, you can’t have it both ways.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Systemic Narcissism, Toxic Systems, and Grace Church

Speaking of dysfunction, there’s a good article on systemic narcissism, toxic systems and church on Chuck DeGroat’s website. For those not familiar, Chuck is a professor at Western Theological Seminary. Much of what Chuck writes is applicable to both the church as a whole, and to the specific dynamics of Grace Episcopal church.

In relevant part, he writes:

The church is waking up to the nature of systemic sin, the embedded narcissism of institutions, the impotence of those called to govern and hold leaders accountable. This time it’s not just about the man – it’s about an entire system.
We’re slow to wake up. When I consult with churches entrenched in narcissistic systems and led by narcissistic leaders, I often see a kind of collective “Stockholm Syndrome” among staff and leaders. If I pull a thread and things begin to unravel, I watch as one-by-one they awaken to the toxic waters they’ve been immersed in. Narcissistic leadership in the church is especially toxic because, unlike politicians, we tend to believe that the pastor is saintly. Narcissistic pastors are adept at waving their magic spiritual wands, putting those that follow them in a trance. It is gaslighting, plain and simple, as followers, staff, and leaders question themselves well before they question the omnipotent pastor. When the thread is pulled and the systemic narcissism begins to unravel, the wake-up can be abrupt and deeply painful. Those around the narcissistic leader will question themselves, their faith, even reality as they’ve known it. This experiential crisis is the only hope for lasting change in the church.
Clearly, this applies to St. Dysfunction, aka Grace church. It’s amazing, too, that Bob Malm is able to wave his magic spiritual wand, trot out the clergy-speak, “John tells we can know,” yada, yada, yada, and people like Jeff Chiow and the vestry lose all sight of what is right, Christian, or ethical. I have seen the internal emails, and some of the comments made about this situation have absolutely nothing to do with Christianity, and several are from people who should know better, including former friends of mine.
The same is true at the diocesan level. Bishop Shannon has, time and again, shown that the welfare of the people entrusted to his care is of little consequence—but boy, he sure is worried about how criticism of the diocese might prove to be destructive. But if the church is so frail that it cannot withstand criticism, is it even worth having? Is it living out the truth of the Gospel if its primary concern is to protect itself as an institution?
As I’ve said before, the church is further hindered by a flawed forgiveness theology. Reconciliation takes more than saying, “I’m sorry.” It involves turning from one’s sin and making restitution—neither of which I have seen at any point in this long and sordid saga.
If organized religion is to survive, it needs to get over the notion that there are winners and losers, that its reputation is the most important thing, and that there is any role for exclusion in the church. Jesus hung out with the prostitutes, tax collectors, and sinners; he worked to free others from oppression. Bob Malm and Jeff Chiow try to use their roles in the church to exclude and oppress people, including those who are dying.
In short, St. Dysfunction, aka Grace church, has become the whitewashed building that Jesus despised. Pretty on the outside, reeking and corrupt on the inside.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

See for Yourself: Bob Malm’s Campaign of Shunning and Harassment Continues to Erode Church Participation

The Episcopal Church’s national offices, often referred to as “815” after the building number of church headquarters in Manhattan, recently published figures from the 2017 annual report, which must be filed on a yearly basis by all parishes in the church. The data reveals that Bob Malm’s campaign of shunning and harassment continues to negatively impact the parish.

Reviewing the report, attendance at Sunday services (ASA) remains down by about 17%. Total giving remains static, which masks the fact that the church has lost approximately 120 pledging units. The difference has been offset by two factors:

1. Increases in individual pledges
2. Generous end-of-year giving of appreciated stock by several key families.

Here’s the relevant chart:

Nonetheless, assuming a steady $880,000 in annual pledge and plate giving from 2015 through 2017, the church has lost $30,084.93 in purchasing power, or 3.4% of total, which is due to the compounding effect of inflation. This trend has accelerated in recent months, attributable to what Bloomberg reports is the fastest growth of inflation in the previous six-year period.

This trend is even more starkly illustrated when one examines the issue from a ten-year perspective. Assuming a steady $1 million in annual pledge and plate income (in reality, the average is a little lower), one sees a loss of $182,201.39 in purchasing power from 2007 to 2017, a cumulative decline of 18.2% of the baseline.

These issues are compounded by the aging demographics of the parish. My back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that more than half of the active congregation is over age 65, with a sharp drop-off in active members below age 40. Thus, the following factors suggest that the church will face increasing challenges in the coming years:
  • Ongoing conflict, both within and connected with the parish
  • Lack of strategic and tactical planning and direction
  • Inability to address conflict in a healthy manner
  • Excess compensation of the rector, Bob Malm
  • Changing demographics
  • Lack of accountability for clergy and staff
  • Feckless leadership, particularly from the rector
  • Use of resources to support unwarranted litigation
In short, future prospects for the church are, at best, uncertain, and survival will require strong leadership and a clear vision of the future, including a transition from a consumption-based cost structure to one that correlates cash flow and savings with future organizational needs.

Monday, August 6, 2018

See for Yourself: Disgraceful, Inflammatory Rhetoric from Jeff Chiow

That’s the thing about this case: Just when I think Bob Malm and Jeff Chiow have truly outdone themselves in their efforts to hit a new low when it comes to lack of professionalism and ethics, they come along and do something that surpasses their previous efforts.

For example, in his Motion for Reconsideration, Jeff Chiow refers to my mom’s blog as a case of “domestic terrorism.” No matter how you parse it, that sort of rhetoric is inflammatory and unprofessional and unsuited to an officer of the court, which is what Jeff Chiow legally is as an attorney.

Not to be outdone, however, Jeff then attempts to mislead the court by taking a quote from mom’s blog that uses the word “terrorism” out of context. By omitting the language before and after, Jeff fails in his duty of candor to the tribunal. Not good.

Of course, the whole situation with Jeff representing St. Dysfunction Grace Episcopal Church and Dysfunctional Bob is a variation on the old adage about the attorney who represents herself has a fool for a client and an incompetent for an attorney. By being too close to the issues, Jeff Chiow has lost sight of his larger obligations, and I believe lacks the objective perspective needed to be an effective attorney.