Baptist Blogger will continue posting those blogs that are already queued, which include the remainder of the “Rules for Radicals” series, a post on the inequity of SWBTS employment practices, an essay on Shakespeare and the SBC, and a historical reflection about the need for an intramural critique of the conservative resurgence. These posts should carry us until the Baptist Identity Conference at Union University, and to the Executive Committee meeting in Nashville, TN.

After that, I will be taking two weeks of vacation to read and write for other projects.  Baptist Blogger will shut down from Feb 20 until the next meeting of SWBTS trustee board this Spring.

We will blog about the SWBTS board meeting, and then suspend all blogging except for discussion of the SBC Nominations Committee report and an analysis of Frank Page’s appointments to various convention committees.  Blogging will resume in full force on May 1, 2007, for the run up to the San Antonio convention.

Rules for Radicals, Pt. 5.

“During a conflict with a major corporation I was confronted with a threat of public exposure of a photograph of a motel ‘Mr. & Mrs.’ registration and photographs of my girl and myself. I said, ‘Go ahead and give it to the press. I think she’s beautiful and I have never claimed to be celibate. Go ahead!’ That ended the threat.

Almost on the heels of this encounter one of the corporation’s minor executives came to see me. It turned out that he was a secret sympathizer with our side. Pointing to his briefcase, he said: ‘In there is plenty of proof that so and so [a leader of the opposition] prefers boys to girls.’ I said, ‘Thanks, but forget it. I don’t fight that way. I don’t want to see it. Goodbye.’ He protested, ‘But they just tried to hang you on that girl.’ I replied, ‘The fact that they fight that way doesn’t mean I have to do it. To me, dragging a person’s private life into this muck is loathsome and nauseous.’ He left.”

For Saul Alinsky, the decision to resist no-limits gutterball politics was easily made. There were other means of addressing his concerns and championing his cause than to start airing everybody’s dirty laundry. “Ethics,” Alinsky argued, is “doing what is best for the most.” In other words, utilitarian ethics. Alinsky’s next rule:

5. The fifth rule of ethics of means and ends is that concern with ethics increases with the number of means available and vice versa.

The man who is starving to death has little recourse but to steal a loaf of bread. In fact, it is this hierarchy of ethics that buttressed a monastic theology of concern for the poor. Franciscan friars, in general, and William of Ockham in particular, went to great lengths to develop a theology of property ownership that included provisions for the use of stolen goods to meet basic human needs. These principles of hierarchial and utilitarian ethics continue to influence our system of justice in the West, as well as the way we think about criminal behavior.

For instance, a fifteen year old boy stealing a bicycle so he can ride to the hospital and say goodbye to his father who has just told he has hours to live will hardly face criminal prosecution. And if he is prosecuted, it is unlikely that he will receive a guilty verdict before a jury. A woman who steals a gallon of milk to feed her hungry baby will not face the same public scorn as a president’s wife who takes furnishings from the presidential home on his last days in office.

Of course I’m talking about the Clintons. Who else would I be talking about?

The bicycle-stealing boy and the mother lifting milk have fewer means available to them to address their concerns. The wealthy president’s wife loading U-Hauls with institutional property has a number of other options to furnish his new home. Her theft is without excuse.

In the same way, Alinsky demonstrates, his decision not to use the naughty pictures of his opponent’s sordid affair was the correct decision — not because he wouldn’t have found the information politically useful, but because he didn’t need the information to advance his cause. Alinsky continues:

If I had been convinced that the only way we could win was to use it, then without any reservations I would have used it. What was my alternative? To draw myself up into righteous ‘moral’ indignation saying, ‘I would rather lose than corrupt my principles,’ and then go home with my ethical hymen intact? The fact that 40,000 poor would lsoe their war against hopelessness and despair was just too tragic. That their condition would even be worsened by the vindictiveness of the corporation was also terrible and unfortunate, but that’s life. After all, one has to remember means and ends. It’s true that I might have trouble getting to sleep because it takes time to tuck those big, angelic, moral wings under the covers. To me that would be utter immorality.

During the hottest days of the conservative resurgence/takeover, decisions were regularly made about the propriety of leaking information about men whose convictions had placed them on the other side of issues. At times, all sense of ethical concern was thrown aside and the rumor mill was cranked up in the blogs of yesteryear, The Southern Baptist Advocate and The Southern Baptist Journal.

When David Montoya recorded the Arkansas strategy session in which state convention leaders orchestrated the unsuccessful election for Ronnie Floyd to defeat Mike Huckabee for the Arkansas State Convention presidency, he soon discovered how far the fundamentalists would go to destroy a person. His life before he was saved was written up while allegations of drug use and other criminal mischief were raised.

When Lloyd Elder was holding onto the presidency of the Sunday School Board, rumors about his having a mistress were circulated among conservatives across the convention. The president of the Brotherhood Commission was accused of having a child out of wedlock. People were told they were “blind as a mole” if they didn’t see that Roy Honeycutt disbelieved the Bible. Duke McCall was accused of winebibbing, and the list goes on and on.

In the past year, it has surprised me the degree to which I have been handed documentation about mischievous little peccadillos and major moral failures. I’ve been given audits of megachurch finances and receipts from questionable reimbursements.But reading Saul Alinsky has taught me a valuable lesson.

There is no need to drop a few tons of nuclear warheads if a sniper rifle will get the job done. The collateral damage of airing some information is greater than the political victory to be gained. Telling everything accomplishes nothing. We aren’t looking to raze the Southern Baptist Convention, just to reform it.

So I’ve made a determination that I will withhold certain information in my hands about lawsuits and settlements and bankruptcies and harrassments and assaults and what-have-you because they do not involve the institutional resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. They are private sins that are better addressed in the context of local church discipline. If however, evidence exists that the integrity, solvency, and accountability of denominational resources have been compromised, I will address it.

That’s why I gave Marty Duren information about the $90 Million Dollar endowment fiasco at Southwestern Seminary. It’s why I’ve given C.B. Scott and Art Rogers documentation about administrative malfeasance. It’s why I turned over nearly 700 pages of documentation to Wade Burleson regarding the efforts to undermine Jerry Rankin’s presidency at the IMB, and it’s why I’ve requested a great deal of information from each of our Southern Baptist institutions.

Some corners of Southern Baptist life are as corrupt as Enron and about as sanctified as a Las Vegas brothel. But there’s no need to amputate our right leg if antibiotics will do the trick.

More confusion from SWBTS Trustee Chairman…

Southwestern Trustee Chairman Van McClain emailed Wade Burleson to respond to the question, “Did you vote for Sheri Klouda to teach Hebrew at Southwestern Seminary in 2002?” In that email, McClain told Burleson that the “vote for Klouda was not unanimous.”

McClain also alleged that Burleson’s blog concerning Klouda was “filled with inaccuracies.” Of course, Sheri Klouda has stated that the “information on Burleson’s blog is reliable.”

At least two men have now asked for the minutes of the April 2002 trustee meeting at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The production of these minutes is necessary to determine (a) if the vote that Van McClain insists was “not unanimous” was recorded correctly; and (b) to exonerate the seminary trustees of the “lax oversight” that Van McClain has alleged. If the minutes record a narrow margin vote for the election of Sheri Klouda, we can at least demonstrate that Sheri Klouda had reason to believe that tenure was never a real possibility. Of course, the seminary is still bound to provide the opportunity for tenure review to a tenure-track faculty member in order to follow its own policies and retain academic accreditation. But if the vote was not accurately recorded with the roll-call vote totals, then Van McClain has again misrepresented the facts.

Here’s what I mean.

The Non-Profit Corporation code of the State of Texas gives very explicit direction regarding the recording of dissent in corporate minutes. If a dissent is not registered at the time of the vote, then a dissenting board director must (a) file a written dissent with the board secretary before the meeting is adjourned; or (b) send a written dissent by registered mail to the board secretary “immediately after the meeting has been adjourned.”

If the director has not filed such written dissents with the board secretary, then he is “presumed to have assented to the action,” according to Texas State Law. Below is the relevant text from chapter twenty-two of the Business Organization Code concerning non-profit corporations.

(a) A director of a corporation who is present at a meeting of the board of directors at which action is taken on a corporate matter described by Section 22.226(a) is presumed to have assented to the action unless:

(1) the director’s dissent has been entered in the minutes of the meeting;

(2) the director has filed a written dissent to the action with the person acting as the secretary of the meeting before the meeting is adjourned; or

(3) the director has sent a written dissent by registered mail to the secretary of the corporation immediately after the meeting has been adjourned.

(b) The right to dissent under this section does not apply to a director who voted in favor of the action.

So if the trustee minutes do not record Van McClain’s vote as dissenting from the election of Klouda, and if Van McClain did not file a written dissent with the board secretary before or immediately after the meeting was adjourned, then Van McClain is “presumed to have assented” to her election to the faculty. The same is true for every other board member present at the April 2002 meeting in Fort Worth.

Where are those minutes, Van?

Or is somebody worried that they’ve been “lax” in their oversight, hmmm?