Leaked letter from Ed to Becky

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August 22, 2005

Dear Becky JDSN:

It grieves me to write this, but after much anguished prayer, I decided that to do this in writing would be the best.

In Daegu, I challenged you on what I believe to be evidence of how much you have changed for the worse over the years, and your unhealthy leadership. The issues I addressed in Daegu has to do with your dangerous self-understanding; lack of commitment to truth telling; your cynicism toward the Word, and ministry; your excessive, nearly-addictive playing of Bbong personally, and with your staff and at the pastors meetings, and what this reveals about your leadership; your self-understanding as a person of special status (e.g. prophetess, apostle, etc); your secularized lifestyle; your family idolatry, and nepotism; the queen-like, high-maintenance person you have become; and your defining many of these negative changes as the new spirituality which all BBCs should follow.

The main issue is the last one. If I am free to criticize you, and disassociate myself with what you are doing, and refuse to follow, then it’s less of a problem. If you were honest that these are negative changes in you, and you appropriately downgrade your self-understanding, and your role in BBC, then, again, it would not be a problem. But you want all of us to justify all you do, all the ways in which you have changed; whatever you do must be baptized in spiritualized rhetoric. You expect all of us to not only swallow the absurd justifications, but also impose the same on our sheep. It is too much “moo-li.” (무리) I can no longer do the former, and refuse—as I should—to do the latter. In other words, my problem is not with just your character problems. I do not demand perfection from you as my leader. I can accept you with all your faults. But I cannot deny your faults, or rationalize or spiritualize them for you. This is unhealthy for me, for you, and for our church.

Somewhere along the line, I stopped trying to convince myself with rationalizations for your behavior. I began to call (inwardly, to myself) your behavior and character whatever it would be called by neutral objective observers: self-fascinated; selfish; hot-tempered and verbally abusive; princess-like; unable to take criticism; never repenting for anything; bragging; elitist; secular; self contradictory (as when you say that you are the busiest woman immediately after having played Bbong for days); chaotic; dishonest; manipulative; political. But the problem is that no one can ever call it what it is when it comes to you. With anyone else, we would be roundly critical; with you, we have to beautify it, spiritualize it. This causes people’s inner faculties to be broken. No pastor should demand this of his flock.

Again, at the risk of being redundant, the main problem is your insistence on your nearly-inerrant role as a Pope-like figure. Since you can do no wrong, when you DO (and you do, indeed!), we must justify it. Often, you provide your own rationalizations, and we must accept them (and suffer inner damage), and pass them on to others, and crush any who don’t accept it. This is morally wrong. Anyone else who do what you do, say what you say, and have the kind of character flaws you have will be rejected as a spiritual leader. Yet, in the strange and warped BBC pastoral world, the reverse must happen. You become exempt from all normal criteria of evaluating persons; you become above the law. Up becomes down, right becomes left, wrong becomes right.

The irony of our situation is that a few years ago, the Korean dept. leaders were severely rebuked for not challenging \[Pastor1\], since even before the adultery was discovered there was so much that was troubling about his leadership in the final 2 years or so.

I had been praying for some time now for God to do something by the 25th anniversary. I had no intention of initiating anything in our Boston meetings or in Daegu. But I resolved to be honest. I told one of the other pastors in an email: “I just want to survive the Daegu meeting.” But you began by calling \[Pastor2\] “satan.” I had to step in and tell you that most of my reservations about your leadership and character have nothing to do with what \[Pastor2\] told me, but based on things I directly observed. And so it all came out.

I meant everything I said in Daegu. I know it must have been traumatizing for you to hear all of it like that, but I had hoped that you would recognize the truth in what I was saying.

I went to Irvine with this hope. The first night, you spoke for about 7 hours straight. Your entire speech, containing many details revealed for the first time, basically was “My Life with Pastor Paul.” It started with your honeymoon, how awful it was, how cheap he was to get second-rate places, “inns,” rather than “hotels.” You went on and on about how frustrating it is to daily deal with such a person as P. Paul, and that \[Pastor2\], and me, two people with happy marriages would not understand. You also went on to attack Kelly as a child raised by a widow, that most families would not have welcomed such a person as a daughter-in-law. You wondered if we would be in this place if I had married someone else. So odd that you should try to interpret the serious issues I brought up by wondering if the issues would not have been brought up if I had married a more frustrating spouse. And you said things similar toward \[Pastor2\], mentioning some unsavory thing about his father. (You like the word “noble.” I think this was quite ignoble of you.) You went on and on about how the rich do not understand the poor, and how, similarly, the happily-wed do not understand those with bad marriages. Oddly, you seemed to be saying that to be unhappily married qualifies people for greater spiritual leadership. You punctuated your speech with a refrain, repeated throughout your monologue: “Could you not have a bit more mercy on me?” But this was said in a tone of bitter and mocking sarcasm.

I felt so disappointed by such a display of unwarranted self-pity. First it was not relevant, since my concerns had to do with your very real, official, public, and dominant role throughout BBC as something like our Pope; Second, it was a display of the kind of self-pity quite at odds with our message and values. At no point during our Irvine meeting did you ever acknowledge any wrongdoing, or any truth in anything \[Pastor2\] and I said in Daegu. You continued to defend and justify, and occasionally, sarcastically admitted some small character flaw of yours here and there—“yes, I have a bad temper, but it’s because I deal with people’s sin.”

I proposed at the end of our meeting that we talk one on one, since these large group meetings are not all that fruitful. You rejected this, saying that it will most likely result in mutual hurts. Then \[SMN1\] came up on Monday to talk to Kelly. It was a very frustrating conversation. She evaded direct questions regarding what she thought of specific things you did, which we thought were very very clear examples of wrong. She was lawyer-like in her ability to evade, saying, for example, that all the movie watching, Bbong playing was just a “phase” we are going through, which would soon end, but she refused to say if it was a negative phase or a positive phase. She brought word from you that you are now ready to talk with me, because many things became organized (“jung-li”) (정리) in order in your mind during your flight back to Boston.

Again, with some hope, I called. After our telephone conversation later that night, I was once again very disappointed.

You began by saying that on your plane ride back from Irvine, you kept thinking about one thing I said: “you disapprove of my ministry.” You said that the word disapprove kept coming back, and that through this one word, you were able to enter into my mind/heart, and understand me and Kelly. You said that we must feel so very “ug-ool-hae,” (억울해) and that I am right to feel this way. You said that we did “nothing wrong,” that all we did was work hard at our ministry, and that now, we are being criticized for some minute differences. You said that of all the pastors, Kelly and I are the ones you are the most thankful toward. (It was disorienting to hear such words of flattery after all the terrible expressions you used to criticize Kelly in Daegu, and then again in Irvine, just a few days prior.) You said that none of the other pastors know what is actually going on because you consulted me exclusively on many sensitive incidents, and I was the one who handled them with you.

I am sorry to say, but JDSN, I felt that much of the conversation was inauthentic on your part. You were speaking words designed for impact—to melt my heart—without a strong commitment to truth. This became clear when you said that on your plane ride back, you had to ask yourself the question: “Do I indeed (“Gwa-yun”) (과연) disapprove of Eddie’s ministry?” But the fact is you have been disapproving of me, and Berkeley ministry openly to many others (never directly to me!), including Boston campus staff, for many years now. So you were lying to me when you said that you had to ask yourself this question--unless you are genuinely out of touch with yourself, and all the things you have done for years to make me feel “ug-ool-hae.”

You said that your own answer to this question was that you might have slightly disapproved of my ministry with respect to the course 101 vs. John 1-1 issue, a very recent development. The fact is, however, your disapproval of me and my ministry has been a long-standing practice. And as I told you during our conversation, I have gotten used to it. I think it is your right as my leader to do this. Of course, it violates covenant faithfulness toward me to do this before the younger ones, behind my back, even to those currently under me, and at the mission field, but this kind of disregard for proper boundaries has been characteristic of you in all sorts of ways. It really drove \[Pastor1\] crazy, as I recall, when you undermined the legitimacy of all that he was doing, criticizing him and his ministry to many people under him, and to us (\[Pastor3\], me, and the rest of the English dept. staff.)

You then went on to brutally criticize \[Pastor4\] with harsh words. You said that when \[Pastor4\] called to ask you about the Irvine meeting, you yelled at him, saying, “What do you know? etc” and refused to talk to him. (I actually doubt that this is exactly how it went.) Again, this is something you have done many times. Criticize \[Pastor4\], or \[Pastor3\], or \[Pastor5\] in front of me, with harsh words--especially \[Pastor4\]. You usually couple this with statements that flatter me. This is one of the reasons that I once told you that you are the “most divisive person at BBC.” It insults me that your view of me is such that you think it would delight me to hear you harshly criticize Andy for no apparent reason.

Finally, you told me in a soft, confiding tone, that there is something you had not shared with anyone. You went on to say that you are very worried about \[Pastor2\], that you think he is emotionally unstable, that this is due to the fact that \[Loc1\] ministry has been hard, with \[Sister\] dying, divorces, etc. (\[Pastor2\] said in response to this that being at \[Loc1\] has been much much better than being in Boston. I think he said “thousand times.”) Your solution was to have him leave for Th.M at somewhere like Southwestern. He can leave immediately, before the fall semester. But, you said, this means that I have to take on \[Loc1\] ministry. I could not believe what you were saying to me. You were actually offering me greater territory! You made sure that I understood what you were offering me by adding that \[Pastor2\] would not return to \[Loc1\], but to \[Loc2\], to begin a new ministry at \[School1\], since he did well at \[School2\], and he is an \[vocation\].

All of this was insulting to me, that you would think that by flattering me, and by offering me greater territory--all of \[Loc1\] --that I would be happy and appeased. I am sure you would protest your innocence, but I just cannot interpret it in any other way. And I realized that you just don’t get it. I felt hopeless. It’s as if a son told his dad, “Dad, please stop drinking, because when you come home drunk, you are violent and you frequently beat mom.” And the dad’s thinking process is: humm… why is he saying this? What does he want? And he responds to his son by saying: “Hey, do you want me to buy you a new car?”

The sad conclusion I reached after the Irvine meeting was confirmed by this phone conversation. I lost all hope of genuine dialogue. After I refused your offer of \[Loc1\], I sat there bewildered, disappointed once again, but much more resolved and clear as to what I need to do.

Our church has become sick. The sickness of your character has infected our entire BBC organism with a deep sickness. You have diminished many who were loyal to you, who trusted you, who gave you so much faithfulness. You have been unfaithful to your own messages; you have betrayed many people; you have corrupted them; you have weakened their sense of judgment; you turned all of them into “hwa-toe-koon-dul” (화토꾼들) "pro" hwa-toe players, a disparaging term (as most Korean people will, in all fairness, call all of us); you drink up all of their loyalty (in contrast to King David, who poured it out before the Lord) to self-aggrandize; you manipulate others into expressing adoration toward you, and you quote them to further your own spiritual mystique. While your life has become less and less admirable, your own self-concept had become greater and greater. Now, the gap between the reality of who you are and the rhetoric surrounding you is so huge that those of us who try to fill that gap with our “trust” have been done so only by having our inner faculties damaged, or our ethics compromised.

One of the things that surprised me in the aftermath of the \[Pastor1\] incident is your blindness to your own sinful contribution to his downfall. You had your long list of villains. I heard you say more than a hundred times that the 2 who were most responsible were P. Paul and \[SMN2\]. You had your dramatic way of saying this. “\[Pastor1\] mahng-ha-gae-han jang-bon-in-dul.” (\[Pastor1\]를 망하게한 장본인들) You never included yourself. But I was there from 1993. I saw you undermining \[Pastor1\], and using all sorts other lowly tactics, talking to people under him, for e.g., to delegitimize and aggravate him. I also saw the extreme frustration he felt toward this entire process; his sense of injustice; his anger; but him feeling stuck, unable to openly speak against you. Clearly, you belong high up on the list of those who contributed to his downfall. But you never repented. You tried to make restitution by helping him, but you never repented for what you did—all the inappropriate and maddening things you did to drive him absolutely up the wall! If you had repented back then, instead of taking solace in Bbong addiction, we would not be in this place today.

Instead of repenting for your wrongs, and the deep character defects from which they arose, you used the entire \[Pastor1\] incident to paint a picture of vindication by God, and personal victimization. You emerged from that incident as a victorious warrior—full of wounds for which we should all admire you, and full of pride that you were the victor. I realized then that I was serving a blind leader who does not know how to repent.

Since 1999, it has been slow torture for me. Increasingly, I knew you had gone awry. But I kept trying to see good in you. Your love for people; the fruit in your ministry. But even here, I saw that your love for people was often inconsistent and elitist. And the fruit of your ministry often produced people who were emotionally dependent on your approval. Still, I struggled. I reminded myself of the past; my spiritual indebtedness to you; the times when I felt genuine fondness toward you. And I prayed and hoped that I would be wrong, or that you would repent. But you kept getting worse and my inner conflict grew.

At times I felt I was perpetrating a hoax upon the world; I felt that we were all conspirators engaged in a huge fraud upon our congregation; if they knew what went on, if they were familiar with the true dynamics of the pastoral staff meetings, the ancient-royal-court-like politics of Berkland life, if only they had a camera to see and hear our meetings, what would they think?

Taking care of the Korean Dept, and fighting the San Leandro rebels, getting the building back, all of this was a welcome break from all of this. I could talk to you again over the phone, and we had something to talk about, and we were united against the common enemy. But the issues I had about your leadership, character, and the unhealthy dynamics of our pastoral politics were only put on hold temporarily.

Because you often quote me inaccurately, I want to reiterate in writing some of my problems with your leadership, and the strange, warped world you have created. I do so in the earnest hope that you will take it to heart.

Narcissism.

\- I remember those days in Berkeley, and the early days of Boston, when you were genuinely humble. You were our teacher, our leader, but you did not hold yourself as such a special spiritual specimen (“prophetess” or “apostle”), and the distance between us was realistic. Now, this distance has become very very unrealistic. You are the inerrant pope, and we are just peons. We (the other pastors), for our part, play dumb and dull, but the whole thing smacks of the unreality and false ritual of ancient king-to-advisor relationships.

\- Another evidence of your narcissism is your pattern of having long monologues—uninterrupted, unchallenged, the theme of much of which is: “How great, special, bold, insightful, artistic, interesting, unique I am.” It is actually quite “min-mahng-hae” (민망해) for me to see you talk on and on while all of us sit and listen without saying a word, just providing an audience for your self-fascination. (In fact, many are dozing off, and many others are surfing the net, reading news, checking email, swapping music, etc.) You would think that we would have active discussions among us, sharing our observations from the frontlines of ministry, discussing different approaches, spiritual or biblical insights etc. Instead, there is just your monologues.

\- You interpret all events egocentrically. Your birthday, the years of significant events in your life, how they correspond to world events, etc. You even interpret other people’s lives according to yourself, even people whose lives intersected with yours briefly, so that the ups and downs of their lives are, at some deep level, due to how they treated you, for example. And you sincerely seem to believe this, and you narrate examples of such things to further your—and our—sense of what a specially anointed person you are. This is a serious imbalance in self-concept.

\- You over-encourage people to give you adoration. You quote with great approval people who have complimented you a long time ago. It’s a wonder you don’t blush when you do this. You get so upset when credit is not given to you by name. Berkland pastoral practitioners know this very well, so that we scrutinize each testimony to be given at events where you are present to be sure there is sufficient mention of your name.

\- You are selfish. Your insistence that others live according to your very strange schedule of staying up all night, and sleeping until the afternoon (although for many, they need to work the next day) is very selfish and inconsiderate. You talk about detailed love