This, however, concerns local news from Ballard, Seattle. I always have wondered about Mars Hill Church, which is a few blocks away from our condo. Its charisma-free and unspiritual facade did not lure me in. It looks to me like a good place to store remaindered books.
According to documents obtained by WORLD, a Seattle pastor spent nearly a quarter of a million dollars of his church’s money to put his book on The New York Times bestseller list.
The documents indicate that Mark Driscoll, the founding pastor of Mars Hill Church, and one of the church’s elders, John Sutton Turner, paid ResultSource Inc. (RSI) $210,000 “to conduct a bestseller campaign for your book, Real Marriage on the week of January 2, 2012. The bestseller campaign is intended to place Real Marriage on The New York Times bestseller list for the Advice How-To list.”
WORLD reporter Warren Cole Smith told KOMO News that “[t]he idea was to make it look like all of these books were spontaneously bought by individuals.”
How did I already know these were scammers? That's a church? C'mon! Our tax money is busily at work, helping to support these opportunists.
I can always tell if people are abusers, and I stay away from them. It's a pretty useful skill. If an abuser manages to get close to me I cut off all contact. Apparently, some people can't do this. I don't know why. They don't seem to understand that the abuser is not going to stop the abuse but will escalate instead. There are a few people I know who have abusive tendencies, and I treat them in a friendly but guarded way and think of them as being on probation. I don't string these people along or have any belief that I can change them with my wonderfulness and goodness and understanding.
What brought this to my mind is reading what I think of as a biography of a family that was systematically abused and destroyed by one of its members. It's called The Splendid Things We Planned, by Blake Bailey.
Thanks to Wikepedia, I have learned that a quote I am especially fond of is from George Bernard Shaw. It goes, "A family is a tyranny ruled over by its weakest member." Weakness takes many forms, and the form it took in this family was the basic inability to control oneself, shared by all of them to a degree but most pronounced in the elder of two brothers. All of these people are the kind I avoid in real life: loud, reckless, fond of fighting, smoking, drinking while driving, throwing money around, shooting drugs, failing at school and work, often ending up in a state of dilapidation on the streets*...but to read about them is quite entertaining, kind of like looking at pictures of plane crashes and fatal car accidents. And for people who don't have a radar for abusive people, I think this book could be helpful.
Our picture of abusive people as successful is not accurate. Most fail. If they do succeed it's only because they have managed to recruit enough enablers to keep them going. This abuser's family and friends and girlfriends kept him going for years and years.
*Some of these people are victims, of course, but plenty of them are just abusers and simply impossible to deal with. When their families give up on them they can end up homeless. In my ideal world, each one of these people would have an assigned social worker and mental health worker who would provide a place to stay, food and clothing allowance, health care, pocket money, medications, etc. in return for which these people would take care of their personal needs and not trouble others. And no one would be obliged to deal with them who was not professionally trained and paid for their efforts in their behalf. That is the way they do it in Sweden.
Instead we expect families to take care of them. Family values, don't you know. And we don't want to pay to support homeless people but would rather be alternately sentimental and punitive towards them.
More: Having finished this book, I realize that this family was unable to solve its problems. At no point were they considered to be a family that needed outside intervention, I think because the father was well respected and they were financially well off. The whole laissez-faire philosophy that we Americans love and which works so well for most of us was exactly wrong for them. One of the children became the locus of the pathology and failed completely. It's sad.