Saturday, July 12, 2008

The End of the Trinity Fest Part 4: “celebration as a central component in the culture wars”

In reflecting upon the untimely and unannounced demise of the Trinity Fest, we have considered the rather novel approach to history that Pastor Douglas Wilson of Christ Church, Moscow, has taught himself; and we have seen his remarkable efforts at concealing from Kult, community, and all his potential recruits the existence of a serial pedophile, who had his way with the lambs of the flock for 18 months as Wilson fought one culture war after another, starting with the vital doctrine of chattel slavery as they practiced it in the antebellum South. In our third installment we witnessed an incredible stroke of providence that defies the imagination: Two days before Wilson secretly pled with Judge John Stegner to show leniency on Steven Sitler, a Latah County magistrate issued an arrest warrant for one of Wilson’s Greyfriars disciples for sexual abuse of a minor.

The timing of these two events — Wilson’s secret letter to Stegner and the arrest warrant for Jamin Wight — in conjunction with the first annual Trinity Fest is mind-boggling.[1] And I suppose this is a supreme advantage of hosting a fully documented anonymous attack blog. I mean, think about it. If I didn’t fully document these facts, would you have believed me about these two predators? If you didn’t see duplicates of the original documents with your very eyes, would you have believed it possible for so much sin and iniquity to overrun such a “formidable” church pastored by the man chosen (and “anointed”) by God to call the evangelical church out of her exile?

The answer to these questions probably accounts for Wilson’s bizarre pastoral decisions — i.e. his cover-ups — during these dreadful calamities. If you want the world to believe that your church is “formidable” and “potent,” it behooves you to hide its flaws, such as two convicted child molesters, even if it’s to the detriment of your congregation, which was the case here. Wilson never warned his flock about predation; he never stood before his church to identify these two criminals as predators; and he waited until both of his criminal-disciples had run their courses through the court system before he ever said anything to his congregation. He made sure everything was all sewn up nice and tidy before delivering extremely limited comments about them. He couldn’t let anyone, not even his own sheep, know about his weak spots. And as long as we’re on it, I wonder if he teaches this cover-up technique in his Greyfriars Hall ministerial classes — you know, “Cover-up 101: How to Conceal the Existence of Dangerous Criminals From Your Flock.” After all, what they don’t know can’t hurt ’em — right? These facts are beside the point, however, because the point is that he’s leading the 21st-century church into a new reformation, and what’s more important — protecting the children in your care or calling the Church to repentance? Let me ask it another way: what’s a greater priority — fulfilling the duties of a pastor or pretending to be a modern-day prophet?

If you think you’re a prophet, then I suppose pastoral duties take the back seat to the higher calling of a prophet. And if you take his blog post titled “Extended Deadline” at face value, then you must conclude that Pastor Douglas Wilson of Christ Church, Moscow, really believes that God appointed him to some kind of modern-day prophetic office so that he could call the evangelical church out of her exile. Moreover, Wilson really believed the Trinity Fest would be the means to call the church out of her exile. Okay, sure, it sounds crazy, but then so does all the child-molester stuff. Sounding crazy, however, doesn’t make it untrue. Read for yourself:

The reason for Trinity Fest in the first place has not been to have just a [sic] another random party, but to do so in the context of calling the evangelical church out of her exile. Repentance and joy are not mutually exclusive, but rather go together like ham and eggs. But of course I am not talking about the grim joy of the pietist, or the macabre repentance of the self-absorbed. I am talking about the joy of those who have realized that individualistic autonomy is a death trap, the joy of those who have been brought out of darkness into the perfect law of liberty. (“Extended Deadline”)

“The reason for Trinity Fest in the first place . . .” At some level Wilson believed that God called him to this extra-biblical office of orchestrating the Trinity Fest to call the Church to repent of its sins. Obviously God’s call on his life placed him in a gut-wrenching moral dilemma though: Either he must obey God and call the Church out of her exile, or he must pastor his congregation through the agony caused by two child molesters. Douglas Wilson took the high road — he obeyed God. And I seriously doubt he ever thought twice about it. In fact, a cursory glance at his blog post shows that the mighty man of God cleverly redefined the word “repentance” to purge all sorrow and remorse from it. It was party time.

We cannot forget, however, that the prophet Wilson was throwing a party even though “God’s hand of judgment” was heavy on Christ Church, at least according to Wilson’s standards:

Violent rape is a judgment of God upon a people. . . Violent rape is God’s judgment on a culture, and individual women who are part of that culture are included in the judgment. . . . We see the same judgment at work in disintegrating cultures: “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil” (Eccl. 8:11). Here the rape is not being perpetrated by foreign soldiers, but is the result of citizens turning on one another. (Douglas Wilson, Fidelity: What It Means To Be a One-Woman Man [Moscow: Canon Press, 1999] 82, 83)

I don’t think that rape can get much more violent than when a grown man physically violates a helpless infant, as in this case, which Steven Sitler repeated over and over again for 18 months on numerous children in Christ Church, Moscow (in writing this, I do not intend to disparage the awful pain of any rape victim; I only want to note the profound vulnerability of these dear children and the unspeakable aggression perpetrated against them). These historical facts bring us to one of Wilson’s sales pitches for the third annual and final Trinity Fest. I republish the post in entirety sans graphic:

Worship Right, Work Hard, Study Deep, and Play Harder
Shameless Appeals
One of the measurments [sic] for God’s blessings we can use around here is how many times I am compelled to resort to making a Shameless Appeal. When I first added that category to this blog, it was occasionally used, but now it seems to me that I am always telling or reminding you about something or other. This one has to do with our third annual Trinity Fest.

One reminder, and then the appeal. Reminder: the date for getting the early registration rates is June 15, which is a week from this Friday.

The appeal is this. One of the emphases that we have sought to cultivate in our ministry here is the idea of celebration as a central component in the culture wars. We do this directly when we hold Sabbath dinners in our homes, and when we worship the Lord on His day in covenant renewal. But we also do this indirectly, when our celebrations as a worshipping community spill out into public. This is what Trinity Fest is designed to display, and to do. We want to be neo-Puritans — not the Puritans of the common caricature, or those neo-Puritans who want to revive the dour caricature. We want to be Puritans in the “worship right, work hard, study deep, and play harder” category.

The first two celebrations of Trinity Fest have been wonderful, and we are looking forward to the third being the same kind of thing. We wish you were coming. But you haven’t registered yet. I checked.
Posted by Douglas Wilson — 6/6/2007 1:20:23 PM | Link to this post

In this post Wilson put the stamp of Puritan nobility on the subject of “culture wars” and tied those wars to the Trinity Fest:

One of the emphases that we have sought to cultivate in our ministry here is the idea of celebration as a central component in the culture wars. . . But we also do this indirectly, when our celebrations as a worshipping community spill out into public. This is what Trinity Fest is designed to display, and to do.

I must confess, however, that the only wars he’s ever fought in Moscow had nothing to do with the typical culture wars of the Christian right. Wilson limited his battles to defending the biblical rights of antebellum slaveholders to mansteal; resisting his legal obligation to pay property tax; violating the Zoning Code in the heart of downtown Moscow; and threatening the Latah County Commissioners (I wonder if, when he threatened the commissioners, he meant to threaten physical harm against them or some sort of legal action; perhaps he could draw us a picture). Oh, and maybe some of that middle-aged “pendulous-bellied” Trinitarian skylarking, which the Bible calls sinful folly. Obviously none of these scandals are your standard right-wing hot-button “culture war” issues. In fact, to the extent that Wilson lost each and every one of these battles, his defeats were to the improvement of Moscow. This is because they were “Doug’s wars” not “culture wars.” Regardless, in this blog post he raises the specter of celebrating in public while waging culture war. This was a polite way of saying that for one week each year he really wanted to gloat in the face of his enemies, the so-called intoleristas, as his one-man carnival in the name of the Trinity stretched far and wide across city limits.

But there’s a terribly sick irony here that you cannot miss if you ever want to understand his psychosis. Pastor Douglas Wilson wanted to celebrate in public as he waged culture war against his neighbors in Moscow, but he wanted to do this in the same hour that God’s hand of judgment weighed heavily on the culture that Wilson planted at Christ Church, Moscow. Don’t be confused. There are not two things happening here, only one. It’s inner fantasy vs. external reality. And the reality is that there is no culture war in the community of Moscow, despite Douglas Wilson’s inner fantasy and his endless blustering. The only culture war is inside Christ Church. Its citizens have turned on one another in the most horrible way possible — rape. Even worse, its pastor responded to these attacks by defending the rapists. To be sure, he defended the most fearful predators known to society — pedophiles and child molesters — every mother’s worst nightmare. He never warned his church about these criminals; he simply welcomed them back into the fold. And he defended these evildoers because he needed to reintroduce them back into the covenant community as smoothly and as quietly as possible so that no one would know the true state of his church — he needed to cover it up. But by hiding them and their iniquity he insured the complete destruction of the culture he planted at Christ Church. In short, when Wilson covered-up for the two rapists, he declared war against his own congregation. So while he invited the Christian church to celebrate with him in Moscow as he waged culture war, the sick reality is that the celebration could only take place because he waged culture war against Christ Church.

Douglas Wilson pretends he’s a prophet calling the church out of her exile, but the reality is that God has exiled him to a world of delusions. He redefines repentance to look like Fat Tuesday, but the reality is that he needs to repent in sackcloth and ashes if he would ever see the kingdom of God. He celebrates his personal wars against his “enemies” in the center of town, but the reality is that he had to make enemies of his sheep before he could fight his other “enemies.” The mad prophet is so blind that he cannot see the culture he planted is completely disintegrating before his very eyes and it’s falling apart because of him. As I said, it’s a sick irony, because in the end the Fearless Leader fiddled as the lambs of his flock passed through the fire.

Thank you.

[1] For those of you just joining us or if you need a refresher, here is the documented timeline of events: And during this whole period no one at Christ Church knew about Sitler or the damage he wrought.


Anonymous said...

"The reason for Trinity Fest in the first place has not been to have just a [sic] another random party, but to do so in the context of calling the evangelical church out of her exile."

So it isn't "just" another random party, it's a random party to call the Church out of exile?

Sounds like the party's over.

Mark T. said...

Or as Dandy Don Meredith used to sing during the original Monday Night Football broadcasts, “Turn out the lights . . . the party’s over!” (Sung with a Texan twang.)

David Gadbois said...

The danger in building up these kinds of postmillennial visions is that good Christian folks connect their faith to it. And when the postmill utopia doesn't quite work out, their faith takes a hard blow. I will assert that it is, indeed, pastoral cruelty.

God promised to bless his church, and to expand his kingdom through Word and Sacrament, not festivals.

Mark T. said...

Hi David,

One of your comments triggered this series because you seemed unaware of the high post-millennial value Wilson placed on the TF. He really believed that the Big Doug Jamboree was the essence of Christian culture. Speaking of pastoral cruelty, I think the price of admission for the TF takes the cake.