Recent Events at Starr King School for the Minsitry

Except for a couple of private communications, I’ve been silent about this. Now, however, it has been widely published publicly, and so I fee free to speak publicly.

Starr King is where I learned to be a minister. Starr King is where my heart began to open to its flawed humanity. Starr King is where I became an adult. Starr King is where I began the conscious journey to discover myself as a spiritual human being. Starr King is my alma mater, my spiritual mother, and I will always love it as such.

It breaks my heart to see how broken it has become in such short order, but brokenness is what reminds us that neither individually nor together in community are we called to perfection. We are called to be human, and being human involves faults, mistakes, being broken and the breaking of others. There is a dark side to being human as well as a bright side. To deny this is to perpetuate darkness.

As I read about the events, I see that mistakes, serious and pain-producing mistakes, were made on all sides. The first of these, of course, was the distribution of confidential material. It is less important to me who did this or why or how. What is important is that it happened, that it led to a cascade of further errors of judgment and action, and that good people have been injured as a result.

There are deeper, unaddressed, issues at play here as well. It appears that this action is the culmination of a history of distrust and alienation at least between the student body and the Board, and perhaps also involving the administration. It is naïve in the extreme to suppose that these deeper issues can be addressed simply by solving the immediate, culminating problem. It will not happen.

To address the deeper issues, it is necessary for both (or all three) sides to speak honestly and from their hearts to one another. The corollary of that, of course, is that all sides must also listen to each other honestly and from their hearts. Each must be aware that they made mistakes, that they are responsible for those mistakes, that they must be willing to make recompense for the mistakes they made, and that they must be willing to forgive the mistakes committed against them. I doubt that any of this will happen as long as the recent events remain unresolved, and these events will not be resolved as long as the disclosing email remains anonymous.

Perhaps the disclosure of confidential information was done as an act of civil disobedience. If so, it is incomplete. Civil disobedience cannot be done anonymously since it requires that one accept responsibility for the action. As long as the offending email remains anonymous, the act is not an act of civil disobedience and whoever sent it has not helped to bed the arch of the universe toward justice. On the contrary, all it has done is to further divide the community.

And so I call on those involved in the disclosure to come forward. I further call upon the Board and the administration to treat this coming forward as an act of reconciliation and begin to take steps toward the resolution of the deeper issues. Nothing else will serve the cause of justice.

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