on malice, predictable stupidity, and chess

King and Queen together on Chess Board

King and Queen stand together on the playing field, outnumbered by their opponent.

Malice breeds predictable stupidity. Humans will do and say ridiculous things to protect pride and power. When gossip and anonymous animosity pervade a political power structure, surrendering all desire to succeed within said power structure becomes an enlightened advantage, resulting in candid lucidity and articulated observation against which those who remain within the structure, constrained by their fear of exposure, must regularly defend and duplicitously connive. The rest is just playing chess… patient, calculating chess, because malice, pride, and self-doubt cripple an opponent into a predictable stupidity, and predictable stupidity is the one weakness that consistently leads to one’s demise.

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a note on dispute resolution within the church

There are three steps recommended in Matthew 18 to resolve a dispute within an organization, in this case the church. (See the note below regarding the difference between dispute resolution within an organizational/church setting vs. those outside of an organization.)

Matt. 18:15: “If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one.

Matt. 18:16: But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses.

Matt. 18:17: If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

Guardian Council

Members of the Guardian Council of the Islamic Republic of Iran discussing matters.

When involved in an internal dispute, first go directly to the person and try to resolve the issue. Do not gossip. Do not go to someone else. Do not whine in an advisory committee. Do not scheme to rally opposition against the person with whom you have a problem. Do not use your friendships with others to deprecate the reputation of your perceived opponent. Go directly to the person, act like a mature adult, and attempt to resolve the issue. If there is distance between you, call them. Email them. If you can, meet with them in person. Communicate your issue like an adult. Don’t talk to everyone but the one with whom you have an issue.

If the dispute is not resolved, take a few others with you to the person and attempt to resolve the dispute. Note that it does not say go to meet with others about the person, or convene a meeting in the absence of the other person, but in the presence of all parties at the same time. Let the differences be resolved together as one body.

If there is still no resolution and the dispute remains, take it to the entire church, again, in the presence of the person in question.

Note that in all three steps, the person under discussion is present to offer a defense of his/herself, to offer his/her opinion on the matter, or to offer an explanation. At no time in the process does a group meet in closed, private session without the person in dispute in the presence of the group. Meeting in the absence of the person in dispute is nothing more than collective gossip; those meeting about another person are not following the biblical precedent, but are participating in corporate gossip about another individual.

If an issue is not important enough to bring directly to the person in question, or if the one raising the issue is too much of a gossiping coward to approach the one with whom he or she has an issue, then the matter is not worthy of discussion; any other process is wholly unbiblical. Additionally, any eldership or church leadership that invites such behavior and meets with a known gossip in the absence of the person against whom a dispute is raised, and without attempting the three prescribed remedies laid out in Matthew 18, invites, participates in, and openly endorses a corporate form of gossip, which is not only unbiblical, but undermines the credibility of the pusillanimous leadership’s authority in the resolution process.

Authority and credibility are always enhanced by transparency and open communication, and are conversely diminished by secrecy and gossip.

Any church leadership that participates in or endorses – tacitly or explicitly – corporate gossip is worthy of consistent and scathing public condemnation and should expect as much.

“For you did it secretly; but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.” – 2 Samuel 12:12

Happy New Year.


(N.B. – If someone is actively committing a crime against you, call the authorities. This is especially recommended if the person a) is not a part of your organization and therefore under no obligation to adhere to your organization’s established system of dispute resolution (in this case, the church; cf. v. 15 “if another member of the church…“), or b) expresses no interest in reconciling with you. Likewise, if a criminal offender has demonstrated that anything you write or say to him/her in private will be taken out of context and relayed publicly or potentially used against you in a court proceeding, then deal directly with the police or appropriate authorities. The point is that one should deal directly and honestly with those with whom one has a dispute within an organization with established reconciliation procedures. If the one with whom you have a dispute has exhausted any semblance of professional integrity, then further private communication will most likely prove futile, and may actually exacerbate the situation.)

knowledge is power – on three levels

thinker by rodinknowledge is power. it is a time-honored adage understood more so by the wise than the foolish. but the power that knowledge possesses exists on three levels of increasing potency.

  1. accumulation of knowledge. the fastest way to increase power is to accumulate knowledge. the more you know, the more you grow, both in ability and in credibility. those who commit their lives to learning are better prepared for life’s challenges, respond better in crises, and over time, are looked to and admired for their advice and accomplishments. knowledge can be used for good or evil. this accumulation of knowledge is the primary level of power.
  2. transmission of knowledge (or, who you tell). the power that knowledge offers can be used to build up or tear down. thus, what one does with the knowledge one accumulates says much about a person. the application and utilization of accumulated knowledge is the second level of power. those who dedicate their lives to instruction and education choose the noble path. this dissemination of knowledge offers power and prestige to the instructor, which results from the appreciation of students and disciples for their education. this is the noble transmission of knowledge. education’s opposite, yet powerful relative is gossip, which is the transmission of knowledge intended to tear down, whether this detrimental act is intended or not. gossip is the irresponsible dissemination of knowledge. it is performed in secret, because the one gossiping understands that the power exercised in transmitting knowledge via gossip is unbecoming and destructive. everyone likes to know something, but the power that obtained knowledge possesses cannot be shown off to others unless it is transmitted. therefore, instruction is the power exercised by the public communication of worthwhile knowledge, while gossip is the power exercised ultimately to harm another. instruction and gossip are therefore polar opposites, both transmitting knowledge, both exercising power, but for completely opposite purposes.
  3. preservation of knowledge (or, who you don’t tell). the highest level of the power of knowledge rests in the preservation of knowledge. the preservation of knowledge can take the form of books written by knowledgeable and respected authors, or confidences, which are nothing more than the exercise of restraint of power by one keeping a secret. the keepers of libraries and those that control access to information are preservers of knowledge. however, one who can maintain a confidence, preserve a secret, or refrain from communicating priviledged information is the most powerful of all. it is for this reason that the greatest bits of information are often preserved as mysteries and the most important caches of accumulated wisdom throughout the ages are held by those responsible enough to disseminate this collected knowledge only to those of good character and tested heart. a trusted confidant is both valued and rare because the power of confidence is difficult to obtain. far too often it falls prey to the less disciplined practice of gossip. still, the one who can disseminate information publicly and properly, while keeping privy information in confidence is the most powerful person of all.
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