Friday, March 03, 2006

A Disappointment. . . So Far

After several weeks of almost total silence from the IMB trustees who voted for the new policies on prayer language and baptism and for the recommendation to remove Wade Burleson as a trustee, one trustee has finally spoken up. Jerry Corbaley, a trustee from California who supports both the new policies and the removal of Wade, started his own blog this week. When I visited his blog I eagerly anticipated seeing someone finally provide some reasons in support of the IMB actions, but so far Corbaley's blog has been a disappointment. Instead of saying anything that might support the IMB actions, Corbaley has tried to justify the silence of the trustees on these issues. While this is disappointing enough for those of us who believe that an explanation is warranted, the greater disappointment comes from the attitude conveyed by Corbaley in some of his remarks. I'll provide some brief excerpts, but to get the full flavor you need to read Corbaley's posts and the comments in their entirety.

I posted this comment on Corbaley's first post:

Jerry,

I appreciate seeing another one of our IMB trustees posting their own blog. The best way for our trustees to demonstrate their accountability to the SBC is for you to communicate with the people of the SBC regarding your actions (with the obvious exception of matters that must remain confidential for security or legal reasons). I think it would be great if every trustee of every SBC entity had his or her own blog. Then we would have a greater understanding of the issues facing the SBC.

While I have been strongly opposed to both the new policies and the recommendation to remove Wade, I have repeatedly called on those on the other side of these issues to explain their case. I look forward to your subsequent posts.
Apparently, Corbaley did not care for my suggestion that all trustees start their own blogs. But I'm not certain because, to be honest, his response did not make a whole lot of sense to me:
Tim,

Every trustee of every institution having their own blog? Every Southern Baptist expressing a different opinion on everything?

Have you run this idea by Stephen King? You could terrify movie-goers everywhere and make a bundle.

You may be right about the future though.

Why did you have to put this thought in my head?

Ow! Ow! Ow!
Then, in a response to an anonymous missionary who suggested that it might be a good idea to have some formal means for missionaries to voice their opinions on issues regarding the IMB and to evaluate the work of the trustees, Corbaley invoked my name while making it clear that he did not find any merit in the missionary's suggestion:
Evaluate the Trustees?
Evaluate the Trustees?
Is this Tim Sweatman?

Ow! Ow! Ow!

Evaluate the Trustees? Interesting idea. Don't think it around inflamable liquids.
Again, Corbaley's comment did not make a whole lot of sense. This guy is either a smart aleck or falls woefully short in his efforts to be humorous. I pointed this out in my response, and I also made it clear that whenever I make a comment on his blog he will know it is me.
Jerry,

I don't know if you are trying to be funny or trying to insult people, but the tone of some of your comments comes across as arrogant and condescending. It seems that you are offended by the concept that the trustees of SBC entities should be held accountable to the SBC. You also seem to suggest that there is no room for disagreement in the SBC, although I couldn't tell for sure if your remark was intended to be serious or sarcastic.

Oh, you can be assured that if I post on your blog, I will always do so under my name. Unlike our missionaries and employees of our entities, I have no reason to be afraid to speak my mind openly on the issues of the day.
One thing that was clear from his other comments is that Corbaley is perfectly comfortable with the board operating in a secretive manner. This is what I was referring to in the second sentence of my first paragraph. I also made reference to this in a comment on Corbaley's second post:
On another note, your remarks and comments on both of your posts seem to indicate that you believe that Southern Baptists should get our noses out of the trustees' business and let you operate behind a veil of secrecy. Do you not realize that it is this atmosphere of secrecy and closed-door maneuvering that enable gossip and innuendo to spread? If the trustees were so concerned about "gossip" and "slander" and "loss of trust," then why not resolve these matters in the open from the start?
Again, these are just some brief excerpts from Corbaley's blog. They do not convey the full essence of what has (and has not) been said. But I do think they make it clear that Corbaley does not welcome the recent scrutiny that the board has brought itself under.

DISCLAIMER: My remarks merely represent my understanding of and/or my responses to what Corbaley said on his blog. As such, they may not reflect what he actually intended to communicate. PLEASE read his blog and the comments so you can develop a fully informed perspective. Also, keep in mind that Corbaley has to approve any comments before they are posted, so it is possible that some of my comments will not appear on his blog. This is one reason why I quoted myself here instead of simply referring you to his blog.

11 comments:

Wade Burleson said...

Tim,

Welcome to my world :).

BTW, my father asked me, "Who is that Tim Sweatman? That guys is really, really sharp! I love reading his blogs."

Keep up the good, balanced, fair approach to asking questions that demand answers.

Eventually we will get there.

Kevin Bussey said...

They have learned how to spin with the best of them!

Bowden McElroy said...

I was disappointed with Jerry's response to a comment I left him. So, I sent him an email and he answered my email and apologized for the misunderstanding.

At this point, I'm willing to believe that I just don't get his humor.

I think Jerry sees the IMB as a wholly owned subsidiary (my words, not his) of the SBC and in a legal sense is accountable to itself.

This may or may not be accurate; but to me it doesn't matter. What matters is the board has a moral obligation to all members of SBC churches.

I also have come to believe that Jerry views the controversy and chaos of the past few months as 'the problem'(again, my words, not his). I see the controversy as a 'symptom'.

Any health care professional will tell you that treating the symptoms without treating the underlying pathology will not work in the long run.

I would say the underlying problem is an archaic corporate culture that places too much emphasis on protocols and decorum instead of transparency and openness.

andrea said...

You have a unquite talent of being able to capture the essence of what was said, and re-state, when comments were "misunderstood." I thank you! Keep it up!

Paul said...

I was somewhat hopeful at first, but I am becoming less so. I have bent over backwards to be gracious in my comments to him, though I have asked some tough questions. He's posted one out of four.

It's his blog and he has that right, but I was hoping for greater openness.

GuyMuse said...

I personally find Jerry's writing style and thought processes hard to follow. I affirm what he is attempting to do, and think his intent is correct in trying to do some clarifying on the BoT issues.

Why not stop right now and pray for Jerry, Wade, Tom, and the rest of the BoT, along with the thousands of M scattered around the world who are slowly beginning to realize the full significance of what is taking place? Pray that Jesus would be glorified and His Kingdom advanced throughout the world.

Jenni said...

I think he was trying to be funny. It's hard to write funny, especially when you aren't used to blogging or the idea of blogs or even the idea of e-communication. It's quite likely, although I'm not sure, that this guy is of a different generation. I think that's why he writes alot of flowery language and thinks he's said something and we genXers read it and think he's trying to use the flowery language to cover up not having said anything.

Wes Kenney said...

Tim,

I wanted to email you, but I couldn't find an address. I've done some research on what the convention can do with regard to entities and I thought you would be interested.

Thanks for your great writing.

Tim Sweatman said...

Wes,

Thanks for checking into that. You know that I've been harping on this accountability thing since this mess started. Glad to see there are some options, even if they are a long shot.


Jenni,

I don't know about the generational issue, but I can relate to the difficulty of conveying tone in an e-format. (I get into trouble for this myself.) I do have to give him credit for being willing to acknowledge that at times he says things in a way that doesn't come across very well.


Guy,

I agree that he probably has good intentions, but he just doesn't seem to be comfortable with the idea of openness about the board's work. And he is hard to follow at times.


Paul,

I posted a follow up comment about your request for him to give the reasons that he personally supports the board's actions, and he basically ignored what I said (but he did post it).


Andrea,

Thanks for the compliment. In this case it was quite difficult to get at what he was trying to say.


Bowden,

I noticed that his most recent comments directed toward you were quite gracious. I'm guessing that he is a far more effective speaker than writer, because much of what he writes seems like it would be clear if he could use body language, tone, and inflection.

I agree with your assessment of how he views the board. He really does seem to believe that the trustees are accountable to the board itself rather than to the SBC. (Yes, I'm assuming that all trustees see their primary accountability being to God.)


KDawg,

They may be putting on the spin, but they certainly don't rank up there with the best spin-meisters. The more they try to spin this thing, the worse they look.


Wade,

I'm used to this kind of stuff. I have to deal with our church's deacons. ;)

Some of the discontent I expressed in my most recent comments on your blog is related to some personal issues. I can usually keep them separate, but I think in that case it all combined to come out in a general statement of frustration.

BTW, your father's comments show that he is a man of great wisdom and grace. It's easy to see where you get it.

art rogers said...

My impression of Jerry's blog is that he is not trying to engage in a discussion, but trying to be a voice in the blogashpere without actually saying anything commital. Again, we are not allowed the "secrets" of the IMB.

What Jerry doesn't understand is that a blog is a conversation and that you must allow others to speak and treat them with respect or they will not treat you with respect and will, in fact, quit reading your blog.

He is getting some heavy traffic, now, because of who he is and because Wade and Marty both have listed his blog on theirs, but I predict that all will soon weary of being talked down to and not really engaged in conversation. He has be congenial to me in private email, but I haven't bothered to post on his blog. I don't feel he is genuinely interested in what I have to say.

He told me that he found my blog and would be reading it, so I assume he can get my point of view there and if he wants to discuss it, he can email me or post there.

Actually, I get the sense through some statements, like when he asks who has leaked the information about the minutes of the meetings, that he is doing two things. I think he is insinuating that Wade leaked information and that he is trying to bait people into saying something that can be used against them or Wade later.

Don't you?

Tim Sweatman said...

Art,

"I think he is insinuating that Wade leaked information and that he is trying to bait people into saying something that can be used against them or Wade later."

On your first point, I got that impression as well. There definitely was an accusatory tone to his statements. I do have to admit, however, that if I were in a situation where I saw in a public forum information that I knew to be privileged then I would be upset. But I would hope that I would exercise great caution in making any statements that could be construed as an accusation that someone had leaked the information. Corbaley admitted that he should have contacted Marty before making any public statements about the matter. (Of course, all of this could have been avoided if the trustees had dealt with things openly.)

On your second point, I'll just say that such a move would not be unprecedented. I can't get a feel for what Corbaley's motives are.