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Pat Gundry

Note: Ten previously posted comments were accidentally deleted during site updating and have been restored below. They were posted originally on the dates and by the individuals indicated.

Pat Gundry, site maintenance person who goofed.

Originally posted on September 8, 2006 by Carlos

I never had you for a class but I have seen you plenty of times in the hall and at LaGrave Church. I am sorry this happened to you. I only heard good things about your class.

I transfered out of CAlvin mainly because I was tired of hearing lectures from one of the professors on how homosexuals were this generation's form of Nazis. He pretty preached how we (for I am gay but was in the closet at Calvin) were spreading diseases on purpose and how our goal was to convert heterosexuals into homosexuals. Anyway I am in a far happier place here at Chicago Theological Seminary.

Originally posted on September 12, 2006

Ruth,

I appreciated your reflections on this difficult experience in your life.

I am a graduate of Grand Rapids Theological Seminary and the former manager of Kregel Used Books. My family and I have recently experienced some heartache with the little Baptist church we attend which seems to parallel some of your experience although it is also a very different set of circumstances. However, your post section on God Talk seemed to identify exactly the commonality in our experiences. Interestingly enough, we attended a much larger Baptist congregation this past Sunday and heard a sermon on the ninth commandment which also crystalized what I perceive as an all too common experience among Christians these days--truth-telling in love.

I don't want to get into my particular circumstance but merely thank you for sharing yours as it, strangely enough, encourages me by letting me know that others are struggling with life in a similar fashion (and our struggle goes beyond just our recent experience) and challenges me to follow God's call to be truthful and loving in my relationships rather than succumbing to the way of the world and the flesh.

Thanks, Ruth, for your honesty and your writing ministry over the years!

God bless your future ministry as I am sure you will continue to be a servant of God greatly used.

In HIS Service,

Scot A. Schieferstein

Originally posted on September 12, 2006, by rkoekkoek

as an outsider looking in two things came to mind. first,politics,politics,politics.as a past student at calvin i often found that the most "wild" students were the pk's. why,i don't know,but they were raised by crc preachers. you were dealing with these ind. every day.second,sex.you turned down advances by the men in charge and you paid the price. they knew no one would believe you if you accused anyone of the "good ole boys"

Originally posted on September 12, 2006, by The Dutch Mother Underground

It deeply hurts me to read your story. As a life long member of the Christian Reformed Church, I am saddened although not too surprised. Institutionally the denomination and the different agencies within the denomination are set up for such a system failure. When one looks at the board of each agency - they are representatives often elected through their local classis. Too often from my experience have I found that the boards are pretty clueless when it comes to the day to day or even deeper critical issues as you have shared with us. My guess is that CTS board leadership heard a very watered down version that cast CTS leadership in the best possible light and portrayed your accusations as without merit.

Often times non profit boards are simply there to rubber stamp the work of the agencies - not fully realizing that as board member they are elected to be representative of the community that gives these agencies legitimacy. They report to no one but us - the stakeholders and body of the denomination. However, board members often have too weak a stomach in my personal experience (10 years of nonprofit management), to deal with the nasty business of dealing with the critical decision-making that must occur when the community is the ultimate share holder. To be fair, there are many organizational “happenings” that board members are simply not privy to. And board members are there enough or involved enough to figure these things out. They are busy doing other things like making money which for the most part usually qualifies them for service on most boards.

So it might be of some value for you and your friends to read an essay called Groupthink by Irving Janis. As you sit perplexed wondering why this all occurred Mr. Janis might give you some insight. In fact, as you look over your case it is quite evident the extent for which group think played itself out. For example here are the symptoms of groupthink:

Illusion of Invulnerability - From your description of events it appears as though the administration was prepared or equipped to deal with your well documented account of events

Belief in Inherent Morality of the Group - You referenced how CTS administrators used the guise of God in their decision making process.

Collective Rationalization -You describe how members of staff obviously thought the course of actions to be bizarre but ultimately sided with administration out of trust.

Self-Censorship - Although there is nothing laid out directly to address this one must assume that staff members and a vast majority of them censored themselves from critical dialogue with administration regarding the matter

Illusion of Unanimity - One reference to this was the situation regarding a professor that administration took counsel with and gave the illusion that he supported administration's actions

Out-group Stereotypes - Your second evaluation with more negative criticism of you clearly illustrates what happened and what was allowed to be recorded once you moved from the positive in-group to the negative out-group.

Direct Pressure on Dissenters - One can only assume that some degree of direct pressure must have been applied to those who dissented with administration. This can probably be evidenced by the lack of outburst or cries for justice beyond your own.

Self-Appointed Mindguards - The obvious mind guards to the board were administration. They acted as insulation mollifying the extent to which this was an issue. They used all the other "ammo" such as the illusion of unanimity and the belief that they were morally correct to re-enforce their pre-determined course of action.

In fairness to CTS, I don’t know the whole story. You might have done some things to merit your dismissal. However, from a management perspective; CTS administration was grossly negligent in putting together a solid case for dismissal. And from an individual with non-profit board experience, the CTS board was also grossly negligent in not holding CTS administration more accountable for their action.

As the final stakeholder – a member of this denomination, I am sorry for what we should have said but we didn’t. I am sorry for what we did say that we should not have said. I am sorry for the pain that my denomination has put your through, I am sorry for the sadness and hurt that you feel and the loss of your identity. As a graduate of these institutions, I learned to work towards social justice, I am sorry for this injustice placed upon you. I hope that justice will follow. Grace and peace be with you.

Originally posted on September 12, by Daniel J. Luke

"I have thought long and hard about seeking justice through the state and federal courts, but I have no intention at this point to go that route"

I do not believe that decision to be the best one. The environment that allowed this to happen will not change unless there is some confrontation (beyond what has already happened). The obsession with attempting to keep everything "confidential" is the giveaway. Unless there is extended public scrutiny, the inertia of the institution will help to keep things the way they are.

I think it would be good for CTS (and the CRC) to face some earthly consequences for their actions.

Originally posted on September 13, 2006, by Lainie Petersen

I am truly sorry to hear of this: Given your excellent publishing record and reputation as a scholar, it is a true loss to Calvin and the wider community.

At the same time, I am not surprised. It seems that many evangelicals are closing ranks against women in positions of leadership. I fear that you have been the latest victim in this crusade.

Originally posted on September 13, 2006, by sdanielmorgan

just wanted to say that I'm sorry this happened to you.

I also wanted to say, "Thanks!" for helping to dispel the misconceptions surrounding apostasy -- I really liked the speech you gave to the Freethought Assoc of West Michigan in 2001 on Oct 24, highlighting the "Big 5" myths concerning those who walk away from the faith.

Thanks for what you do, and I hope justice is served in your case. Best regards!

-Daniel

Originally posted on September 13, 2006, by John W. Loftus

'm sorry to have to say this, and I know this isn't what you want anyone to conclude, but the Christian community sometimes treats members within their community as do people on opposite sides of the political fence. Such a shame. Those who are outsiders to the Christian community ask themselves why they should ever be a part of it in the first place, if Christians don't act any better with the Holy Spirit than those who don't have his help. But this is just how human being act with or without the claimed help of the Spirit.

Originally posted on September 13, 2006

Dr. Tucker,

I was horrified to learn of the deep reproach you have endured. Just today, I was reminded of your book "Walking Away from the Faith," and how great -- though subtle -- it's influence has been on me. Thank you for your contribution to my spiritual development.

Blessings,

Richard

Originally posted on September 17, 2006, by Sarah

I have never had the privilege of taking one of your courses, but I have been a long-time overseas admirer of your books, particularly 'Women in the Maze', 'Walking Away' and 'God Talk'. I have passed your books on to many friends who have also been fascinated and inspired by your writing.

American Christian seminaries in the midwest don't have a brilliant reputation in Britain for gender sensitivity, but knowing that you taught at Calvin raised my estimation of the school and made me wish that some day I could get a chance to take a class with you. I assumed that the people who hired you would have read 'Women in the Maze' (published in 1992) and realised that you are a highly articulate woman who is not afraid to make strong comments on issues based on your in-depth research. I am so glad you kept good documents during this ordeal, which is in keeping with your careful and measured documentation of your writing. From the administrations altered statements and insistence on confidentiality, it sounds very much like one of the key administrators held a grudge about something and made sweeping statements that didn't reflect the specific nature of the complaint. Instead of admitting the mistake, the administrator fought like a fox in a corner so he wouldn't ha ve to admit to poor judgment. Not only does this behaviour not reflect Christian humility, but it does not promote the sort of freedom in Christ that should exist in an ideal Christian environment. A Christian environment should be more accepting and comfortable than other workplaces, but this is often not the case, since so many judgments are based on employer assumptions, not written codes of conduct as is standard elsewhere. An unspecific charge of 'ungodliness' is merely baffling to the accused person, not helpful.

If students need administrative approval to become a minister in the church, they might have to put their careers on the line if they fight for justice on your issue; I can imagine it's not easy for them to speak out, particularly if they have any inkling of the irrational way the administration have handled the case so far. I strongly agree with the female student who said that the seminary will never be able to move ahead on women's issues until this case is dealt with (not shoved under the carpet).

If this case is left unresolved, the administration's behaviour will set a terrible precedent for any other woman they might hire in the future. Either the administration will 'learn their lesson' and not hire women in the future (conforming to overseas stereotypes of such a college), or they will hire a woman who has to work in fear, not knowing exactly when to censor herself because she is unable to judge her behaviour against that her male colleagues. If her behaviour is judged by a different standard, she should be made aware of this in writing before she is hired, and with the college's biblical arguments to back its requirements. Most likely, the results of this case, if not resolved, will be that truly great female professors will look elsewhere for work, and both the reputation and teaching of the college will suffer. Any woman who would take a teaching job would know that she was taking it on as a missionary to the college. How the college can expect to have a wel l-rounded curriculum with an almost entirely male professorship is beyond me.

If the administration decides to humble itself and admit they were wrong and that further work is needed to right the situation, this would be an excellent opportunity to address the issues and make clear policy for the future. If the administration are willing to take training in gender issues, it will be a positive sign that faculty see learning as an ongoing life process. But it sounds like the administration, so far, are sticking to their position, no matter how absurd. How sad. ...Please do keep us updated!

tammy

I'm glad you're brave in speaking out, not keeping secrets. There is strength in honesty, for all of us.

Joseph Nkemdi

I am truely sorry you had to go through such a terrible trauma.
I pray that the Almighty who heals all wounds will surely touch you.Please do not refuse another appointment because of what has happened,rather allow others to benefit from the talents the Lord has given you, especially when you realise that you are a steward of the gifts of God and what shall separate you from the love of God?
Definetely not the Neals of this world.
The Lord will bless and sustain you and your loved ones.

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Update

  • It's been a good year.
    See my site, "River-Rat Reflections," for life away from CTS.

SUMMARY

  • I began teaching at Calvin Theological Seminary in 2000--the first full-time woman professor in the school's 125-year history. In 2003, less than 3 months after Cornelius Plantinga, Jr. was installed as the new president, I was, without warning, removed from tenure track and given a terminal appointment. I have repeatedly asked that all the evidence be opened only to be blocked by a dishonest cover-up. When independent mediators were retained by the seminary board in 2005, they called for "retroactive pay to 2003," among other things. That report was buried. I finished my second terminal appointment on August 31, 2006, and shortly thereafter published this blog
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