Sunday, June 9, 2019
Well, protests today on Russell Road were fun. The usual smattering of parishioners pretending not to see me, Mary Stewart rolling through to take photos (which, when you’re 100 feet away, rather puts the lie to Dysfunctional Bob’s claim that people are “terrorized” of me. Just saying.), and one parishioner giving me the One-Gun Salute to Jesus. (He was probably humming, “They’ll Know We are Christians By Our Love.”)
But the latter raises an issue: If people at St. Dysfunction are actually learning to act like Christians, what will become of my video, “God’s Grace for All II”? I was really hoping for a few more One-Gun Salutes to Jesus. ;-)
Meanwhile, true to form, Dysfunctional Bob takes center stage, as his little tantrum thus far qualifies as my keynote. Gotta love a priest who jumps out of his car and starts screaming.
Wednesday, May 8, 2019
I was chatting online recently with a friend who remains active at St. Dysfunction, aka Grace Church. As the conversation unfolded, he complained about the upcoming Spring Fling Golf Outing, although it seems that he plans to attend. The conversation produced a moment of epiphany though, which is that folks at Grace appear to becoming increasingly tired of the lack of change at the church. This does not bode well for the parish.
It’s interesting, too — things have gotten so skewed at Grace that they view the HVAC product as change. Actually, it’s not—it’s simply restoring what’s there. But so little effort goes into maintaining the building on a normal basis that this seems like a big deal. In fact, the original systems were installed so badly that it was only a few years ago that things got done that should have been part of the 1994 building renovations, like insulating third-floor ductwork.
The problem, it seems, is that Dysfunctional Bob doesn’t like change. Indeed, he’s fallen into a very comfortable cycle, with his month at the beach every summer, followed by Shrine Mont, the program year, then Thanksgiving (another week off), Christmas (more time off), then Easter and the end of the program year.
The challenge, of course, is that what worked in the 1980’s is starting to feel tired, dated and rote. Been to one Shrine Mont, been to 30 of them. And the pace of change in society is accelerating, with more focus on social media, the rapid flow of data, and more. Yet St. Dysfunction’s sole concessions to the times are a Facebook page and a Twitter handle, with the latter lamely announcing when new sermons go live.
At a higher level, the parish is challenged by the fact that it has no strategic plan. Everything just revolves around keeping existing programs running and staying (barely) afloat financially. That’s a shame — the high level of compensation Bob Malm enjoys should warrant some meaningful leadership on Bob’s part, especially in light of Bob’s appointment of the executive committee. In short, if Dysfunctional Bob is going to control governance within the parish, it would help if he would not be so, well, dysfunctional.
My bet is that we are going to see Grace church really start to crumble within the next 10 years, as the years of Bob’s indifference and sometimes outright hostility to strategic planning and effective governance increasingly take their toll.
Tuesday, December 4, 2018
Amidst Lisa Medley’s claims that no one else has complained about being bullied at Grace Episcopal Alexandria, aka St. Dysfunction, I have already supplied written evidence that her claims are a falsification, a lie. But there is additional evidence out there.
Earlier, I posted about the ridiculous and childish antics in the altar guild, when a senior member of the altar guild launched a year-long episode of the silent treatment towards the then-chair of the altar guild after the latter announced that members were free to wear — or not wear — the blue smocks the ladies had traditionally worn. This policy, which was approved by Bob Malm, angered the senior member of the altar guild, who apparently disagreed with the decision. Tellingly, there is no evidence to suggest that Dysfunctional Bob said, “No mas,” despite the fact that altar guild members serve at the pleasure of — you guessed it — Dysfunctional Bob.
The person on the receiving end of this bullying, after largely being ignored by Dysfunctional Bob, went to Anne Turner for guidance, possibly because of the existing relationship that parishioner had with Anne from her time as assistant rector at Grace church. In subsequent conversations with me, Anne shared that she too had also been on the receiving end of inappropriate outbursts from staff during her time with the church, but had not realized that others had had the same experience. Anne’s experiences date from the 2007 timeframe, so problems at St. Dysfunction go back more than a decade. Yes, more than a decade.
So, there are three additional examples of bullying and abuse of power:
- Shunning/bullying within the altar guild, and for truly stupid reasons.
- Inappropriate outbursts by staff towards clergy.
- Repeated failures by Bob Malm to establish behavioral norms for volunteers and staff members.
The upshot is that the Lisa Medleys of the world can lie all they want, but there is ample evidence on multiple fronts of abusive behavior and inappropriate responses to conflict within Grace Episcopal Church, and not just in Bob Malm’s decision to try to drag a former parishioner and a terminally ill woman into court based on his weird claims that terrorists are out to get him, or in Jeff Chiow’s abusive and misleading court pleadings containing multiple fabrications.
Folks, this is one toxic priest, and one seriously toxic church.
Friday, November 23, 2018
Monday, October 29, 2018
Check it Out: Medical Doctor Comments After Seeing Bob Malm’s Written Claims of “Domestic Terrorism”
Attached are screen caps of comments a physician made after reviewing Bob Malm’s written comments in which he accuses me of being a “domestic terrorist.” Note that I express no opinion about her remarks, nor whether they apply to Bob Malm.
Wednesday, October 24, 2018
Not Bloody Likely: Grace Episcopal Church Is Hoping to Get a Commercial Loan for HVAC Capital Expenses
There was a time, not that many years ago, when churches were every commercial loan officer’s dream come true. Flush with cash and regarded as an integral part of the community, churches were like Ma Bell — regarded as a ridiculously safe investment, and one where banks had very few questions that even needed to be asked when a loan application came across the desk.
These days, Ma Bell is dead, killed off by her greedy progeny. As a result, telecoms is a very different market environment, with much higher levels of risk. And so it is with churches, where declining attendance and giving, a dwindling role for churches in the community, and a rising tide of foreclosures makes even the most generous loan officer review church loan applications with a jaundiced eye. This, in a commercial loan market that does not have the benefit of Fannie and Freddie lurking behind the curtain.
Into this mix comes Grace Church, poster child of dysfunctional church governance and inept management, looking for more than $500,000 in loan proceeds to get the HVAC back on in the complex. My assessment: It’s going to be an uphill slog for the church, and any commercial loan it might get likely will not be on favorable terms. Here’s why:
Looking first at the numbers, things appear daunting. Since 2014, the church has shed more than 120 pledging units, and we are seeing a sustained drop in Sunday attendance, with no plan in place to address either. Troubling signs to be sure, but not dispositive.
Things then turn to free cash flow, or source of repayment, where things don’t look good either. The church is running a deficit, despite the loss of one full-time exempt employee and the related costs of her compensation. True, December is often a lucrative month for the parish, marked by generous gifts of appreciated stock, but not all income is created equal, and a competent loan officer will ask the question, “What if those year-end gifts don’t happen?” Either way, the church will have difficulty showing how it can cover monthly loan payments. Even a commercial loan with a balloon payment at the end — a hazardous proposition, indeed, in light of rising interest rates and inflation — would require demonstrated ability to cover more than $5K a month in payments.
Banks also will look at unrestricted cash reserves, which in Gracespeak, means funds other than those held for others. (Contrary to Bob Malm’s statements in prior vestry meetings, restricted solicitations, such as those for the columbarium or altar flowers, cannot be repurposed without the express consent of the donor. To do otherwise is to commit fraud.) In this space, the target is to show that the church has enough funds on hand to cover 90 days of operating expenses; in Grace’s case, this would be $250,000. Needless to say, the church has nowhere close to those funds, but rather is periously low on cash reserves. Nor is the Trust a solution: much of the 4 percent maximum draw has already been spent on the HVAC project, and with maintenance and repair already seriously underfunded from income, there’s not much free cash.
Liquidity becomes even more pressing an issue when the church looks at the need to deal with myriad other capital expenses, including:
- Repaving the parking lot.
- Replacing energy inefficient outdoor lighting fixtures.
- Replacing failed double-pane windows.
- Addressing accessibility issues.
- Replacing the failing new narthex roof, now beyond actuarial life expectancy.
- Restoring the stained glass.
- Replacing rotting wood trim and rake boards.
- Addressing interior finish that is at end of life.
Keep in mind, too, that when depreciation and amortization are factored in, Grace Church has been running a deficit for many, many years.
Other factors also are problematic. For example, the church is not incorporated, meaning that members, including clergy, can be individually liable, both in tort and in contract. That’s not good, given the church’s penchant for imagining terrorists behind every blog post out there, as well as its propensity for trying to drag its former members into court. Nor are loan officers likely to look with favor on a prospect that claims to be the target of “domestic terrorism,” for this injects risk into an already difficult equation.
Similarly, according to the vestry’s own minutes, church management has been slipshod at best. For example, when Beth Calaman came on board, the vestry’s minutes reflected the fact that financial reporting was problematic going back at least three years. That raises the question: Why was this allowed to happen in the first place? Similarly, BB&T has repeatedly complained about discrepancies in the church’s bank deposits, but there is no evidence, prior to Beth coming on board, that the church took this issue seriously.
Banks also look at whether a church adheres to its bylaws and canons. Here, Grace Church has issues, given that Bob Malm chooses the executive committee, in violation of church canons, which require that the vestry elect its officers. (As I have said many times, an up/down vote for a single slate of candidates only counts as an election in Cuba, and these days, not even there.) Moreover, to the extent they are aware of it, banks, which are subject to the anti-retaliation priovisions of Sarbanes-Oxley and Gramm-Rudman, are likely to regard Bob Malm’s unilateral efforts at retaliation, as well as his purported authority to unilaterally remove parish officers, with a jaundiced eye. That is all the more the case when these behaviors occur in conjunction with allegations of harassment, as happened in my case.
Nor is the lack of annual audits helpful, or the inferior internal controls. During most of Dysfunctional Bob’s reign, the church hasn’t even been in compliance with the denominational requirement of a current finance manual. Even potential major expenditures, such as the restoration of the stained glass windows, demonstrate a lack of institutional memory; it is well-documented that the windows were examined by Willet-Hauser in 2014, and restoration and repair discussed at that time.
Of course, hand-in-hand with the lack of institutional memory is the church’s feckless approach to budgeting. Every year, it’s another bit of fun and games. One year, rosy predictions on the income side; next year, it’s optimistic predictions that expenses will suddenly decrease. The reality, however, is that the building is more than 70 years old, in some cases very poorly maintained, and with virtually every major infrastructure component at or beyond actuarial end of life. That’s why I shake my head and roll my eyes when people say that the surge in HVAC repairs was unexpected, or that this year’s deficit is caused by the numbers used in the current budget. The latter certainly is true, but it misses the key point, which is that the numbers in the current budget were never realistic, and there have been ample prior warnings to all involved that this was the case.
Then there’s the issue of transparency. Essential in building donor confidence, Grace Church makes far too many of its decisions either at the executive committee, or via Dysfunctional Bob. Vestry members, when was the last time you saw financials with a line-by-line breakdown, for example, of compensation? When was the last time you published financial information on the website? Why can’t the church track donor restrictions on designated offerings? How many of you knew that, in 2014, Bob Malm owed the church $200K, and that the church wrote off $100K of those funds? Parishioners, how many of you knew that the church gave Bob Malm a $100K bonus?
Same for efforts to shift health care insurance premiums back to employees. While some cost sharing is a best practice in benefits management, diocesan policy forbids shifting all costs to employees. And even if this were possible, this sort of regressive internal tax, where poorly compensated employees pay a higher percentage of their earnings for insurance, is unethical. Nor should vestry members be unduly optimistic about next year’s premiums—given the aging demographics of senior clergy throughout The Episcopal Church, it’s a safe bet that costs will continue to escalate sharply.
At the same time, the church has made no effort to save for the future. Years ago, the fig leaf of $5000 a year, or one-half of one percent of gross revenue, being set aside for capital repairs was abandoned, and the church has been drawing on management reserves for ridiculous things, such as Chris Byrnes’ retirement party. Sorry, kids, paying for parties from savings is stupid.
Similarly, the good times continue to roll with the upcoming gala to celebrate the church’s time on Russell Road and more. These are drains on the financial ability of church members to support the parish at a time when they already are stretched thin trying to cover the loss of 120 pledging units, and things are about to get much worse. Even if the church goes for a loan from the school, or borrows against the trust fund, there is reason to conclude that the church’s finances will continue to decline in light of the church’s aging demographics and the fact that Dysfunctional Bob must, as a matter of canon law, fly the coop in less than 5 years. Such a change invariably spells declining attendance and revenue, and all the more so when we’re talking about a rector who has been around since the late 1980’s. They may not have been good years in terms of growth, the quality of management, or the quality or extent of pastoral care, but still, Dysfunctional Bob is the status quo, and it’s a given that churchgoers don’t like change.
On top of everything, banks are suprisingly sensitive to reputational issues, so the wave of negative publicity that Bob Malm has engendered for the church in recent years, including his effort to drag a dying woman into court, probably doesn’t help matters much. Banks increasingly tend towards relationship banking, and wanting to work with people they know and trust, and Bob’s antics don’t do much to inspire the latter, no matter how you parse things. And let’s not kid ourselves: The first thing any good loan officer does is to Google a loan prospect in order to get the lay of the land. Sugarland, here we come!
In short, Grace Church is a hot mess, and there’s very little sign that Dysfunctional Bob, the vestry, or the diocese recognizes the depth and breadth of the problems the church faces. All of this will factor into the decisions banks will make when it comes to reviewing loan applications from the parish.
Below is an excellent article discussing the requirements facing churches when they apply for a commercial loan:
Tuesday, October 23, 2018
The recent sentencing of former Catholic priest Wayland Yoder Brown, who was convicted of raping multiple boys while serving as a Catholic priest, brought to light an interesting quote from prosecuting attorney Duffie Stone. The latter says of Brown:
“He not only violated the trust of children, but violated their faith. He used the Catholic faith against them,"
While Bob Malm is not accused of sexual misconduct, his weaponization of faith by attempting to force parishioners out of the church as part of his vendetta makes him almost as reprehensible as Brown.
Needless to say, my advice to others is to not give the Dysfunctional Bobs of the world power over you. Any clergyperson who would abuse the power differential inherent in the relationship between clergy and laity is an abuser, pure and simple.
Sunday, October 21, 2018
One of the best ways to deal with a bully is to make public his or her actions. So, in light of Bob Malm’s inflammatory legal pleadings, drafted by Sugarland Chiow, here is my newest piece of signage.
I also plan, later this week, to leaflet areas around the church with similar messaging.
If Dysfunctional Bob and Sugarland Chiow thought they would intimidate me or embarrass me, they surely misjudged. And for the record, I don’t give a red rat’s rear end what people think.
Friday, October 19, 2018
A family member of mine works professionally in the study of corrupt organizations. This means that he studies organizations on behalf of the government that either were formed for an illegal or corrupt purpose — like the Cosa Nostra — or have become a corrupt organization. The latter may be independent groups, like a bank that launders money, or parts of a larger organization, like the local chapter of a nonprofit that has been turned from charitable purposes to unethical or illegal purposes.
That raises the question: Is Grace Episcopal Church a corrupt organization? While I will leave it to the reader to form her or his own conclusions, there are some startling similarities between the traits of a corrupt organization and Grace Episcopal Church, aka St. Dysfunction.
For example, corrupt organizations often:
- Are built around one central, charismatic figure, even when, on paper, offering allegiance to a larger organization or principle. In Grace’s case, I believe this would be Bob Malm.
- Have broken lines of authority, in which boards and other persons or entitities have little real power. In Grace’s case, Bob Malm appoints the executive committee in violation of church canons. By controlling the executive committee, Bob ensures there is little independent oversight of his conduct. Moreover, Bob de facto claims the right to, for example, terminate membership in the parish in contravention of church canons.
- Operates to the benefit of a small, select group of people, or one person. In Grace’s case, Bob Malm’s outrageously generous compensation package, which consumes about 20 percent of all church revenue, is an issue. Further, within the parish there is a real awareness of who’s “in” and who’s not, with some even going so far as to refer to an “A list,” “B list,” etc., — the very thing Jesus would have deplored.
- Are quick to exact revenge on anyone who questions the organization, whether through shunning, legal maneuvers, or illegal conduct. In Grace’s case, Bob instructed staff to exclude us, engaged in smear campaigns, and even went so far as to try to drag my mother, dying of COPD, into court.
- Act in ways counter to their professed values, while seeing no disconnect between the two. In Grace’s case, shunning, bullying, mobbing, and bullying a dying woman stand in marked contrast to the church’s purported values of compassion, humility, and kindness. Similarly, Bob Malm’s sermons ask questions like, “Will our children have faith?,” while he seemingly evinces very few real Christian values, and his wife and adult children even fewer such mores.
- Engage in showy expressions of triumphalism. In Grace’s case, just listen to Bob Malm’s ludicrous video, made during a joint event with the local Methodist church, about how what makes Grace “so amazing” is how it cares for everyone. Hate to spring it on you, folks, but that should be normative for a church, and I doubt if you asked Mom she’d say that Grace Church or Bob Malm have shown any care for her.
- Make claims about how members are participants are part of a special group. In Grace’s case, Bob Malm even talks about “taking a part of Grace with you,” but as with triumphalism, there is nothing special about the parish, at least not in a positive way.
- Appeal to the senses via showy displays of weaponry, clothing, or belongings. In Grace’s case, the extravagant altar flower arrangements, the showy altarware, and at one time impressive vestments all operate to impress and create a sense of exceptionalism.
So, if you are thinking about pledging this year, or are sizing up Grace Episcopal Church as a possible church home, be alert to the possibility that all that glitters may not be gold. Or highly polished brass, for that matter. And ask yourself if you really want to subside a clergy compensation package of almost 200K a year, and more than a month’s annual vacation, at a time when the church is running a deficit.
Wednesday, October 3, 2018
There’s a great article on ECF Vital Practices this month about the importance of financial transparency to these success of churches. The article, found here, also illustrates why Grace Episcopal Church is in serious financial and spiritual trouble.
In the article, the author correctly notes that the vestry legally is responsible for establishing and supervising internal controls; the rector, vicar, or priest in charge is responsible for implementing those policies.
The challenge for Grace church is that the church not only has next to no internal controls, but there is no vestry overnight of Bob Malm’s role in the church. None. Nada. Zip.
To make matters worse, Bob actively resists any supervision. Indeed, if you push his too hard, Bob will trot out the comment, “I’ve tried reaching out to you, but the anger and criticism continues. So you can either decide to be happy, or resign your positions....” You get the drill. But true to form, that overlooks the reality that Bob reports to the vestry, not the other way around, and he has no legitimate business trying to push people out of the church.
Nor is there any meaningful financial transparency. Line item detail for budgets and financials is conspicuously absent, and vestry members are asked to take Bob Malm’s word on the results of the annual pseudo-audit. In addition, details of compensation arrangements are kept secret from vestry members—which in one case, resulted in Richard Newman being overpaid, and being forced to repay the overage. (Not that he is over-compensated, by any measure.) So much for transparency.
And, of course, there is the more than a decade of absolute bedlam in the s***hole that was the parish administrator’s office. Hoards of paper, disorder, chaos, and facially obvious errors in financial reporting, not to mention repeated issues with the church’s bank deposits. Yet Bob Malm, compensated at a level consistent with many Episcopal bishops, adamantly refused to address these issues for years.
Then we come to the ugly matter of Bob’s bonus. Leaving aside the fact that bonuses should be reserved for employees who, at a minimum, meet job requirements, the $100,000 lump sum was negotiated not even by the executive committee, but by the senior warden and treasurer, and largely presented to the rest of the vestry as a fait accompli. Indeed, the only argument came from one vestry member who wanted to write off the other $100K. Talk about throwing good money after bad!
In short, transparency, accountability, strategic planning and adherence to church canons are all in desperately short supply at Grace Church. So, this fall, as members think about their pledges for the coming year, I encourage them to ask tough questions like:
- How do I know my money will be used appropriately?
- Why didn’t we save the money for the HVAC work, instead of now talking about borrowing it?
- When was the last time Bob Malm had a meaningful performance review, including being held accountable for his actions undertaken as rector?
- Do I understand how my money is being used?
- Why aren’t the budget and financial reports made publicly available?
- Why can’t I see a copy of the “audit?”
- Are internal controls adequate, and how do I know they are being followed?
- What does it mean for the vestry to act as a fiduciary?
- Why has the church experienced so many issues with its financial reporting over the years, and how do I know that these issues are really resolved?
- How did Bob Malm manage to unilaterally get into a conflict with former church members? Was the vestry involved in the decision to remove Mike and Eric from church membership roles? Or did I find out about that after the fact? And what does this situation tell me about internal controls and decision making at Grace Church?
- When independent third parties, like commenters at The Wartburg Watch, say things like, “That is one seriously toxic church you have, Eric,” why do they say that, and what might this be telling me about governance at the church?
Until these questions are answered, I encourage church members to withhold their funds. Members have a right to transparency, accountability, and Christian conduct by Bob Malm, the vestry, and church staff, and so far they are getting damned little of any of these items.
As always, I’ll be protesting at least two days this week. So far, days will be today, Wednesday, during drive time, and Friday, also during drive time. I’m also hoping, weather permitting, to get in a round of leafleting, most likely in Potomac Yards.
More to come!
Friday, September 7, 2018
Dr. Thom Rainier, an expert on church organizational dynamics, has a great article on signs that your church is dying. Titled, “Eight Signs Your Church May be Closing Soon,” seven of the signs undeniably apply to St. Dysfunction aka Grace Episcopal Church. Those interested can find the article at https://thomrainer.com/2017/05/eight-signs-church-may-closing-soon/
Here are his key points;
In addition I’d add a few of my own based on my experiences with Dysfunctional Bob and Jeff “Sugarland” Chiow:
- Assistant rectors repeatedly leave early.
- Members talk about one another in unhelpful ways.
- Does not know how to respond to conflict in a healthy manner.
- Has lost sight of the Christian values that are supposed to be the foundation of a healthy church.
- Resorts to legal and other strategies to address its challenges, versus a Christian perspective.
- Follows a personable clergy person, versus Jesus.
- And one component that integrates all of these: Displays organizational narcissism.
In short, you have to hand it to Dysfunctional Bob: It increasingly looks like he will be successful in killing off a church that has thrived for more than 150 years. And you know what? Bob won’t care. As long as those retirement checks keep coming from the Church Pension Group, he’s going to hang out at the beach, play golf, drink beer, and jog.
Or, as Bob once said to me, “Why should I give a f___?!” (Yes, there were witnesses.)
Thursday, September 6, 2018
Nothing like having your priest conduct himself in a manner that reflects the knowledge and love of God, right?
Monday, September 3, 2018
I have some free time later this week, and will be leafleting broad swaths of Alexandria. You can see the leaflet below.
For the record, and before Jeff “Sugarland” Chiow and Dysfunctional Bob falsely claim that this activity violates the existing court order:
- Nothing in the court order addresses First Amendment protected activity such as this, nor can it.
- Nothing in the flyer is threatening (Bob Malm can spare us the “my wife thinks this is him making good on his threats,” lies and distortion).
- No flyers will be handed out within 1000 feet of Bob Malm, his home, or the church.
- I will at no point come within 1000 feet of Bob Malm, his home, or the church.
See for Yourself: Bob Malm Tries to Overcome First Amendment by Portraying Protests as a Form of Threat
Here’s a great email from Bob Malm, in which he deliberately tries to conflate First Amendment-protected protests on public property with threatening speech. At the same time, he tries to keep his posturing at arm’s length, by assigning the issue to his wife, Leslie, and unnamed “others.”
Of course, deliberately mischaracterizing aspects of this conflict is part and parcel of the whole Dysfunctional Bob and Jeff “Sugarland” Chiow bag of tricks—just check out Jeff’s most recent motion with the Alexandria Circuit Court in which he lies and claims I have violated the protective order. Attorney ethics issues, anyone? Christian ethics issues?
Bob Malm and Donald Trump: The First Amendment only applies to speech they like.
Wednesday, August 29, 2018
In Jeff Chiow’s most recent pleading, there are a number of false allegations, including whether I was licensed as an attorney and whether I have served as a police officer. Below is documentation that proves both of these allegations to be false.
First is a copy of my attorney lookup from Pennsylvania, which correctly shows that I have retired:
Second is one aspect of my service in law enforcement, which is a newspaper article recognizing my time as a volunteer police officer with Arlington County:
That’s the thing about Jeff—there’s no level to which he won’t stoop when it comes to his personal vendetta against me. Nothing like those Naval Academy or Corps values, eh Jeff? Just one more layer of proof that neither Jeff, nor St. Dysfunction, hold any meaningful Christian values.
Nor does he take the time or effort to verify the content of his pleadings, which is not exactly a recipe for long-term success in the practice of law. Credibility is key, and Jeff’s hodgepodge of inaccurate information, distortions, misrepresentations, inflammatory remarks and other examples of questionable ethics would make reasonable tribunals give very close scrutiny to any representation that Jeff might make.
Monday, August 27, 2018
For those of you unfortunate enough to still have to deal with Dysfunctional Bob and his little games, I have a tip for you: Look for his micro-aggressions.
A favorite tactic of persons with narcissistic personality disorder, micro-aggressions are the petty slights and offenses that, taken individually, seem innocuous to a third party, but viewed as a pattern over time, are a form of spiritual and relational abuse. Bob excels at these games, and like a narcissistic sorority girl, puts a great deal of time and effort into these tawdry behaviors. I believe that these behaviors, in fact, are a favorite of his, because they allow him to feign innocence if called onto the carpet.
Nor are these inadvertent. For example, in the case of the parishioner who has boundary issues with children, to my knowledge Bob has never approached him about the issue, nor taken any formal action to keep children safe. Instead, Bob gives this person the cold shoulder whenever they are in church, pointedly pretending he doesn’t see him. (He has confirmed to Leslie Steffensen, too, that he does this.) Not exactly a healthy way to deal with problems, and if there is an issue of child abuse in the parish, this is a strategy that is unlikely to find favor with the court. But then, Dysfunctional Bob will probably seek to have the matter heard in his imaginary Commonwealth Court by his equally imaginary magistrate, so who knows? With the honorable judge Robert Hiller Malm presiding, he might just win.
In my case, Bob’s antics ran from yelling at me in meetings, to getting the cold shoulder at events, to pointedly sitting in silence when vestry members engaged in inappropriate conduct. And, of course, the straw that broke the camel’s back was when he, despite my warnings to knock it off, sent me his famous email, “Speaking of keys....” in which he asked me to turn my keys over to the building. (By way of context, Bob never does that and there are literally hundreds of sets of keys floating around among past wardens and altar guild presidents; indeed, if you know where to look for them, to this day the keys and alarm codes for the building are readily accessible. Instead, it’s a tie-in to an effort by Lisa Medley to bully me by asking for my keys back as part of a fictional “key audit.” In response, I pointed out that there was a huge box of unsorted keys in the parish administrator’s office, and she should knock herself out. Needless to say, nothing happened with the box of keys.)
Of course, since then, Bob has run the Jolly Roger up the mast, including his bogus police report. Thus, by coming into the open, he proves that my allegations about micro-aggressions were well founded. Moreover, the fact that he’s even willing to go after a dying woman shows that there are virtually no boundaries when it comes to Bob’s bullying and bad conduct. If he thinks he may win, it’s no holds barred.
Entwined in this issue, of course, is the question of whether Bob Malm is a real priest, or one in name only. But any priest who thinks that bullying is acceptable, including trying to push around a dying woman, doesn’t even qualify as a bogus priest. In fact, I can think of a number of terms that do apply, but for now, the word, “dirtbag” works just fine.
PS For a good discussion of micro aggression, see: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microaggression
For a good discussion of how persons with personality disorders use microagressions to inject toxicity into their relationships, see: https://thoughtcatalog.com/shahida-arabi/2016/06/20-diversion-tactics-highly-manipulative-narcissists-sociopaths-and-psychopaths-use-to-silence-you/4/
In the attached interrogatories, which Dysfunctional Bob answered under oath, Bob told several lies and repeatedly evaded answering legitimate questions. In addition, several of his responses are logically inconsistent.
That begs the question: If Bob really felt threatened, why not lay his cards on the table? Why the fun and games? And why, if he fears I wouldn’t honor an agreement in resolution of this conflict, did he just send over a settlement proposal? “I was threatened. Now just quit blogging and we’re cool.”
Doesn’t work that way.
Moreover, Jeff “Sugarland” Chiow, by endorsing and supporting Bob’s evasions and untruths, has undercut the church’s moral authority in this matter. Readers can quickly see that the church is morally bankrupt. And it’s not just one minor issue—throughout this matter the church’s conduct has been outrageous and appalling, including trying to subpoena a dying woman. All I can say is I hope Bob’s mom didn’t have to deal with asshats like this as she was dying.
First, Bob’s lies:
- Meetings were NOT repeatedly cancelled between him and various family members. Mom never asked to meet Bob, nor would she. (To use the phrase from “A Home of My Own,” she’d rather swallow cat um, urine.) One meeting was canceled between Bob and my friend and relative, Liz, after Bob informed her at the last minute that he couldn’t keep the appointment as he’d planned for several weeks to be out of town. Given that she was already on the road, the meeting simply wasn’t doable, and Bob’s lack of prior notice was, at a minimum, rude. But what else would you expect?
- As he well knows, his daughter Lindsey has repeatedly blogged about the matter. Yet he claims it’s only his wife.
- Dysfunctional Bob claims he didn’t lie when we met with the bishop. This is flagrantly false. The exact words of his lie: “Having resigned from the vestry, you were no longer eligible to serve as a trustee.” To which I replied, “Why, then, are none of your current trustees vestry members?” The fact that Bob can look his own bishop in the eye and lie is appalling.
Second, his inconsistencies:
- Where’s the penitent in all of this? Just because a priest is in the room doesn’t mean something is confidential. Sorry to spring it on you, Chiow.
- Bob says that the voice of my blog and Mom’s blog is similar, yet he claims in hers that it’s shifted to being angry. So which is it?
- Bob says he doesn’t think I’d abide by any agreement, yet he just offered to settle. Huh?
- Bob uses the word “terror” repeatedly on the church blog, as well as the phrase “white supremacist.” If mere use of a word is a threat, Bob is seriously threatening, as is the church, and is a white supremacist to boot. But then, given his efforts to shut down First Amendment rights, I wouldn’t be surprised. Heil Malm!
- Bob claims that clergy disciplinary proceedings are confidential, yet he disclosed earlier proceedings against him to Jeff Aaron and Jeff “Sugarland” Chiow, as well as church staff. How does that work?
Needless to say, Dysfunctional Bob’s not only not a real priest; he’s got some other issues as well.