How NOT to Issue a Press Release: Lies, Misleading Statements, and Coverup at Emmanuel Christian Seminary

The scandal at Emmanuel Christian Seminary involving the attempt to (wrongfully) terminate Professor Chris Rollston appears to be much uglier and more mishandled than we first thought.

Thomas Stark, who first broke much of this story on the Religion @ the Margins blog, has posted a new story that at first seems too unlikely to be true. But after reading the story, and more amazingly, viewing the screen shots, it unfortunately appears to be all too real.

Emmanuel President Michael Sweeney apparently asked Thomas Stark to issue a press release for Emmanuel that addressed the Chris Rollston disciplinary action presently underway at Emmanuel. This is, quite frankly, insane! (With all due respect to Thomas Stark and the Religion @ the Margins blog.) Since when does a university president ask a blogger to issue a press statement on the blogger’s blog?  Does the Emmanuel President not own a computer and a website? And how is it that we STILL haven’t heard a single thing from Emmanuel on this issue (outside of Paul Blowers divulging the confidential business of a disciplinary action to the public on Facebook, and then writing an entire article to the B&I website discussing the situation publicly)?

Who taught these guys to deal with press? And who taught them to do damage control? Silence from the Emmanuel administration only further exacerbates the perception that they have committed a grievous crime and STILL haven’t even figured out how to begin to address it. The Emmanuel administration’s complete failure at damage control (i.e., Blowers’ self-serving, and quite unhelpful article at B&I, and nothing else?) and their inability to communicate to the public even an acknowledgment that something is, in fact, going on at Emmanuel, belies just how bad things are there.

(Side note: screaming “mind your own business” and “cheap seats” is not considered effective damage control.)

Not only is Emmanuel missing opportunity after opportunity to address and settle this matter in an expedient manner, now they have apparently taken to attempting to convince bloggers to release “official” statements containing numerous falsehoods on their behalf. That is, they appear to be trying to get bloggers to lie to the public for them. This is absolutely shameful.

Stark’s latest post offers examples of four misleading, incorrect, or false statements in the Emmanuel statement. Here is an example of just one of them:

A fourth and final problem with Emmanuel’s statement is this: “nor is a disagreement over the content of Dr. Rollston’s Huffington Post article an issue in our discussions.” This statement is, in no uncertain terms, false. It is not simply a mischaracterization; it is a lie. It is a very troubling lie, and it is a lie that could not have been unintentional. As revealed last Monday in the Inside Higher Education article, President Sweeney’s letter to Rollston does in fact bring up the Huffington Post article as one of the causes justifying termination proceedings against Rollston. A whole paragraph is devoted to the subject of Dr. Rollston’s Huffington Post article and his Facebook posts. In fact, the letter mentions the Huffington Post article more than once, and does in fact express disagreement with Dr. Rollston’s conclusions.

But of course, Sweeney’s letter resorts to obvious mischaracterization of Rollston’s conclusions in his Huffington Post article. Sweeney’s letter alleges Dr. Rollston’s article made the claim that “the Bible, as a whole, marginalized women,” and that its conclusion was, “we cannot put our trust in ‘biblical values.’” This is of course completely false. Rollston did not argue that the Bible “as a whole,” marginalized women. He argued that a majority of texts relevant to the question of women’s status in ancient Israel reflected patriarchy, while a minority of texts pushed back against this ideology in various ways. In the article, he identified eleven examples of such push backs. Moreover, he did not conclude that we cannot put our trust in “biblical values.” He concluded that patriarchy was one biblical value among many (and who in their right mind can deny this?), and that this specific biblical value is not something we ought to value. (Does President Sweeney wish to defend the patriarchal institutions established throughout much of the Bible, and argue that they should remain in force within modern Christianity?) Clearly Dr. Rollston’s article showed that he saw a clash of values within the Bible, and demonstrated that he found some of those values to be morally praiseworthy. President Sweeney and the experts in hermeneutics at Emmanuel should be defending him from those who have plainly misinterpreted his article, not engaging in the same careless and sweeping mischaracterizations themselves.

More to the point, clearly this displays that there was discussion of and disagreement over the contents of Dr. Rollston’s Huffington Post article in connection to disciplinary proceedings. So when President Sweeney releases a statement in which he flatly denies that any “disagreement over the content of Dr. Rollston’s Huffington Post article” was “an issue in our discussions,” we know he is lying. I have spent a great deal of time trying to imagine a charitable interpretation of this claim that does not amount to an intentional lie, and I have been unable to do so.

Unbelievable! But there it is. Not only has Emmanuel apparently begun termination proceedings against a tenured professor (wrongfully, I might add), but they have yet even to address the matter publicly, because their one attempt to quell the growing outrage from other scholars and former students against them failed miserably when the blogger they asked to release an official statement refused to do so because the statement was utterly false – falsehoods that were immediately confirmed by the publication of the Inside Higher Ed article.

Had Thomas Stark published the Emmanuel statement from President Sweeney as-is (like he was asked to do), Stark would have been roped into lying on behalf of Emmanuel, which based on the evidence, Emmanuel asked him to do!

Stark describes how he felt when he finally realized that he had been asked to lie for Emmanuel:

Then, when I was sent a deeply problematic “statement” described as “officially” from President Sweeney, to be published on my website, I had come firsthand into solid confirmation of my suspicions of incompetence. No matter whose idea it may have been, how incompetent would President Sweeney have to be to approve the publication of an official statement from Emmanuel, with his name on it, on my blog! Does this evoke a sense of direction? Does this communicate a sense of properly handling a potentially damaging scandal? What is more, to include in that statement a number of mischaracterizations, evasions, and an outright lie—a lie he should have known full well could be proved false at any time—I ultimately concluded that President Sweeney appears to be in over his head, and is having a great deal of trouble managing the combination of this financial crisis, this ideological controversy over the direction of the seminary, and now what appears to be the wrongful termination of Professor Rollston, in anything remotely resembling a competent manner. It seems to me that President Sweeney has made mistake after mistake after mistake, and in doing so, has put Emmanuel’s reputation and its viability in serious jeopardy.

IMHO, Emmanuel should settle this case ASAP. They should either drop this farce of a “disciplinary action” against Professor Rollston immediately, apologize, and perhaps open an inquiry into Professor Blowers’ activity in this whole mess, OR, Emmanuel should pay Professor Rollston his salary for the next bunch of years, apologize, part ways (I can’t imagine Dr. Rollston (or any other faculty member for that matter) wanting to stay at Emmanuel after this), and end this absolute nightmare before they end up in court and the national press picks this up. It’s only a matter of time. Emmanuel should go to their “six-figure donor”, ask him for the money to buy out Dr. Rollston (and avoid court), and then at least Emmanuel can claim a partial victory (the departure of Prof. Rollston). Professor Rollston can go to a school that will actually appreciate him, and the remainder of the faculty can watch their backs as the Paul Blowers thought police plays hall monitor in Johnson City.

Only time will tell if Emmanuel’s credibility and reputation are too damaged to recover from this inexplicable mess, brought upon their own heads by their own mismanagement.

iran to execute bloggers

Nikahang, a leading cartoonist and blogger, published another cartoon in which Ali Larijani, 2008 parliament speaker, is “executing a blogger.”

Nikahang, a leading cartoonist and blogger, published another cartoon in which Ali Larijani, 2008 parliament speaker, is “executing a blogger.”

Look out bloggers, Iran is coming for you. Iran is rounding up and arresting journalists and bloggers, and scheduling them for execution in the run up to their March elections. (See the State Dept. press statement here.)

Free speech is a beautiful thing, and men and women have fought and died to protect it. Making observations and comments (legally, that is, without criminally impersonating, forging, harassing, libeling, physically threatening, etc., others ) is fundamental to a free society. Likewise, dissent, free thought, and the discussion of various ideas must be maintained and ensured by our laws.

While many of us blog against religious fundamentalism, fanaticism, and the physical, psychological, and social oppression of others, there are many around the world who risk their lives daily by doing so. May those blogging and reporting in places around the world where they risk imprisonment and death for simply speaking the truth have the courage to carry on, and may we have the courage to support them.

where shall the bloggers congregate at sbl in sf?

Texting while eatingas we have not yet decided upon a place for bloggers to congregate to imbibe quaffable adult beverages and consume artfully prepared, yet affordable kickshaws, we must decide two things:

  • when (date and time)
  • where

as for the when, please comment what day (sat, sun, mon) and time you can meet up. i’m thinking something like between 6-8pm, so those who want to stay can stick around and those who need to get off to other meetings/dining obligations can still get away. remember, we can’t accommodate everyone, but we want to do what’s best for most folks. but we need to decide on the best day.

as for the where, i’ve done a little research. all suggestions below are within walking distance of conference hotels and union square, and i tried to keep them affordable.

please let me know if any of these sound good. or, suggest your own place.

The Irish Bank

The View (in the Marriott Marquis)

The Press Club

Johnny Foley’s

First Crush

Lefty O’Douls

Library Bar

or what say you? suggestions?

bloggers, please spread the word, and have suggestions come here. then, based upon what most people want to do, we’ll meet there.


AND DON’T FORGET, there are two SBL sections that bloggers should highlight:

S19-314 – Blogger and Online Publication
11/19/2011, 4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: Golden Gate C2 – Marriott Marquis

Robert R. Cargill, University of Iowa, Presiding

Robert R. Cargill, University of Iowa
Welcome and Introduction (5 min)

Alice Bach, Case Western Reserve University
Can Blogging at 3 AM Be Considered Scholarship? (25 min)

Madeleine Flannagan, University of Auckland and Matthew Flannagan, Independent Scholar
Blogging a Short-Cut to Peer Review: How to Do It Effectively (25 min)

Juhana Markus Saukkonen, University of Helsinki
Sense and Practicality: Building a Historical GIS Online (25 min)

Richard Price, Academia.edu
Academia.edu: The Past, Present, and Future of Scholarly Social Networking (25 min)
This session will conclude with a Q&A discussion period with Academia.edu CEO, Dr. Richard Price.

Discussion (25 min)


S19-320 – Engaging the “Wired-In Generation”: Knowledge and Learning in the Digital Age
11/19/2011, 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM
Room: 3000 – Convention Center

Theme: Hosted by the Student Advisory Board

Teresa Calpino, Loyola University of Chicago, Presiding

Mark Goodacre, Duke University
Pods, Blogs, and other Time-wasters: Do Electronic Media Detract from Proper Scholarship? (15 min)

Christian Brady, Pennsylvania State University
On the Internet No One Knows You’re a Grad Student, Or How Social Media Can Help You, Build You Up, and Tear You Down (15 min)

Kelley Coblentz Bautch, St. Edward’s University
Videoconferencing in the Classroom: Broadening the Horizons of Students through Interactive Scholarly Exchange (15 min)

Discussion (30 min)


cheers and see you in sf!

Bibliobloggers in Atlanta

Bibliobloggers in Atlanta

Bloggers in Atlanta

Bibliobloggers in Atlanta

fake lead jordan codices update

Scholars have identified a "stamp" used to impress text on a page of the so-called "Jordan Codices." The stamp is staggered to produce what appears to be a paragraph of text, but in reality is nonsensical text.

Scholars have identified a "stamp" used to impress text on a page of the so-called "Jordan Codices." The stamp is staggered to produce what appears to be a paragraph of text, but in reality is nonsensical text.

Thomas Verenna has an excellent update addressing the fake “Jordan Codices” on the Bible and Interpretation website. The evidence continues to pile up against the “owner” of the fake “artifacts.”

The evidence demonstrates that the otherwise nonsensical text of the codices is actually copied from an assortment of real objects dating to the Second Temple period. In fact, the team of scholars and bloggers that have been investigating the fake codices have identified a stamp that was apparently used to impress lines of text over and over again to give the appearance of long paragraphs of text. Unfortunately, the result of the text is nonsense.

This is once again an excellent example of the crowd sourcing power of scholars and astute graduate students on the internet, using their skills to debunk pseudoscientific claims and forgeries directly to the public.

So what should we expect from here? Should we expect David (or is it Paul) Elkington to double down and claim that they are, in fact, legitimate? Will he attempt to save face and claim that the Jordanian government has “reclaimed” the documents before he has had a chance to prove their authenticity? (Although I must warn Mr. Elkington against this tactic; if the Jordanians spend even an ounce of effort recovering these objects from Mr. Elkington, and they are indeed fake, he may face a problem or two with the Jordanians.) Will Mr. Elkington (and/or his duped followers) attempt to attack the scholars who proved his claims to be false and his “artifacts” to be fakes?

Only time will tell. But, apparent revelations about the man at the center of the fake codices are not helping his case.

evidence continues to pile up that the jordan lead codices are fakes

Jordan Lead Codices are fakes.Tom Verenna has put together an excellent video setting forth much of the evidence that the so-called “Jordan Lead Codices” are, in fact, fakes.

If you have not been following this case, Bibliobloggers (scholars and students who blog about matters pertaining to the Bible) were among the first and most vocal critics of this so-called “discovery,” and many have led the way in demonstrating their lack of authenticity.

You can check out the original Lead Codices press release, the Wikipedia page, as well as the Facebook page, whose editor/s (who many observers now believe to be David Elkington himself or someone close to him) have begun deleting comments questioning the authenticity of the find. The latest debunking of the case can be found here.

Like most unprovenanced “discoveries,” the Jordan Lead Codices are continuing to be exposed for what they are: a book-selling, documentary-pitching, money making, religious profiteering scheme, which uses a hungry media to prey on the faithful and the public, and employs the tried-and-true formula of 1) a sensational press release (without academic peer-review or scholarly evaluation), followed by 2) a pseudoscientific data dump that attempts to dilute and drown out the logic and actual science put forth by scholars responding to and debunking the claim (at least until the book gets released).

This formula to misuse archaeology to make religious claims for ideological and/or money making purposes works regardless of the faith of the huckster making the claim: Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical, Orthodox, Jewish, Muslim – peddlers representing all faiths and even some “alien enthusiasts” (all of whom are usually amateurs with no formal training in scholarship or archaeology) have used the formula to sell books, sell tickets, pitch documentaries, and attempt to proselytize the public and/or take its money. And, by the time actual scholars respond and debunk the story, the media have usually moved on (and if the media do publish a follow-up story, it is usually no longer a headline). Let’s face it: archaeological hucksters keep using the formula because it works (or at least always has), and it will continue to work in the future as long as scholars fail to respond to the false claims immediately and publicly.

(Keep in mind, the archaeological hucksters often get a little bent out of shape when scholars call them on their nonsense and criticize their claims, and the hucksters’ responses can often take the form of personal attacks coupled with unwarranted claims of religious/ethnic persecution (i.e., anti-Semitic, anti-Christian, anti-whatever). This is often followed by attempting to undermine the credibility of the scholar making the criticism by invoking made-up religious claims of their own (e.g., that a scholar was at some point an “ordained minister” or some similar fabrication that is not only false, but the mere thought of which offers the scholar and his colleagues hours of entertainment (i.e., “Could you imagine a church that would hire that scholar as a minister? Now THAT might be a fun church to attend. What would sermons be like? I’d love to hear the one on Creation, the Flood, and Balaam…” etc., etc.), as well as additional hours of conversation about the desperate lengths to which some archaeological hucksters will go to distract readers from the fact that they cannot defend their claims on the merits of the argument). But I digress. The best thing to do when this happens is not respond, and to allow the merits of the argument (or lack thereof) to speak for themselves.

This is what Tom Verenna has done in his video below. Give it a watch.

Founder and CEO of Academia.edu to speak at SBL (via Targuman / Christian Brady)

Chris Brady writes:


I am very pleased to announce that Richard Price, DPhil (Oxon) will be speaking at the Blogging and Online Publication session at SBL this fall. I had the chance to have a cuppa with Richard last fall in SF and he is a wonderful young philosopher who also has a keen sense of what is happening in the wired world. If you are not familar with Academia.edu it is somewhat like Facebook for academics. They describe the site in this way:

Academia.edu is a platform for academics to share and follow research. Academics upload their papers to share them with other academics in over 100,000 research areas. They can also follow other academics, and see new papers and other research updates from those academics in their News Feeds.

I know many in our community are already on the site. (If you like, you can follow me on Academia.edu.) It appears to be a promising platform for collaboration and collegial interaction without being barraged with cute kittens, total depravity, or Top 50 lists. Please do come for the whole session, we have great speakers lined up, but be sure to stay for Richard as well.

S19-314


Blogger and Online Publication
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
11/19/2011
Room TBD

Robert R. Cargill, University of Iowa
Welcome and Introduction (5 min)

Alice  Bach, Case Western Reserve University
Can Blogging at 3 AM Be Considered Scholarship? (25 min)

Madeleine Flannagan, Independent and Matthew Flannagan, A _Not Found
Blogging a Short-Cut to Peer Review: How to do it Effectively (25 min)

Juhana Markus Saukkonen, University of Helsinki
Sense and Practicality: Building a Historical GIS Online (25 min)

Richard Price, Academia.edu
Academia.edu: The Past, Present, and Future of Scholarly Social Networking (25 min)

This session will conclude with a Q&A discussion period with Academia.edu CEO, Dr. Richard Price.

Discussion (25 min)

excellent article on the portrayal of archaeological objects in the media by thomas verenna

Thomas S. Verenna has written an excellent article at Bible and Interpretation entitled, “Artifacts and the Media.”

The article discusses the media’s response to the recent fake lead codices that purported to be possibly the ‘earliest Christian texts’ and ‘the face of Jesus,’ as well as scholar-bloggers’ role in exposing those behind the sensational campaign.

Verenna states:

More scandalous is the complete lack of journalistic integrity, honest research, and thorough fact-checking.  These codices might never have been heard of if the authors of the reports for BBC and Fox News (among others) had just checked with the academic community before publishing the “find”.  At the very least, the journalists might have used less authoritative language, expressed more caution, and exposed the controversy rather than simply stating, as if doing so made it fact, that these codices were “the earliest Christian texts” and that they held “early images of Jesus.”

Give it a read.

chris brady’s call for scholars working in publishing and emerging technology

Digital Publishing

Targuman Dean Chris Brady is asking for names. Specifically, he’d like names of scholars and bloggers who are:

  1. working in publishing or libraries.
  2. savvy to other areas of emerging technology as related to biblical studies.

He’d also like to know:

  1. What areas of technology do you feel are or will impact our field(s)?
  2. Who in biblical studies is currently and actively engaging in such areas?

If you are one of these folks, please let Dr. Brady know here.

a ‘sketchy’ january 2011 top 10 biblioblogs (via The Biblioblog Top 50)

well this is quite an honor. i’m #2 this week. (of course, my sister has called me #2 for a long time.)
anywho, many thanx to daniel o. mcclellan for the caricature. i am drawn as a brooding middle linebacker.

January 2011 Top 10 Biblioblogs We had more votes this time around, but I know there are a lot more of you out there who aren’t voting. Don’t be afraid. Here’s your top 10 for last month, determined by you, the biblioblogging community. Since we did McGrath’s caricature last month, we’ll do #2 this month, the brooding Bob Cargill. 1. Exploring Our Matrix (James McGrath) 2. XKV8R (Bob Cargill) 3. Unsettled Christianity (Joel Watts) 4. Targuman (Chris Brady) 5. Paleojudaica (Jim … Read More

via The Biblioblog Top 50

call for papers for the ‘blogging and online publication’ section at the 2011 sbl annual meeting is now open

Biblioblogger logoThe call for papers for the ‘Blogging and Online Publication’ section at the 2011 SBL Annual Meeting in San Francisco, CA is now available. The meeting will be held November 19-22, 2011.

SBL members wishing to present papers should submit proposals on the SBL website here by March 1, 2011.

The SBL Blogger and Online Publication section invites proposals for papers for its 2011 annual meeting session. The open session calls for papers focusing on any area of blogging and online publication in relation to biblical studies, theology, and archaeology of the Levant. Special consideration will be given to those papers addressing:

  • the politics and etiquette of blogging professionals
  • issues dealing with anonymity, identity, and authorship
  • the utilization of blogs by professionals for creating, responding to, and redacting content for publication elsewhere
  • podcasting and video blogging
  • issues examining solo blogging vs. community blogging

For more information, or if you have any questions, please contact:

Dr. Robert R. Cargill
Center for Digital Humanities
UCLA
1020 Public Affairs Building
Los Angeles, CA, 90095-1499

or email cargill@humnet.ucla.edu.

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