Friday, January 25, 2013

A Confluence of Situations: Andrew Lamb's disciplinary case at Mars Hill, part 13

In investigating whether Andrew’s claims were basically credible or not I found that the overall story is credible.  Andrew’s reluctance to fully self-identify was a big reason all the above material has only been published now and not back in May 2012.   Lamb and Turner were able to confirm the basic reliability of what I was able to work out and provided some background on other details Wenatchee had not quite worked out.  The rest was blogged and tweeted by the Noriegas, reported in papers, or preached from the pulpit at Mars Hill.

So, to sum up Andrew’s story via MPT:  He was a member and a volunteer at Mars Hill Ballard in 2011.  James Noriega was a pastor there who had remarried and had a stepdaughter. Both James Noriega and his daughter/stepdaughter attest to an “Andrew”, and Kaitlyn mentions being engaged to an “Andrew” at her own blog.  Her mother refers to wedding shopping in November and a dead link on her blog links back to her daughter’s blog with a post title “An Unused Wedding Dress”. If this is all thought to be merely circumstantial evidence it’s a pretty remarkable set of circumstantial references to a person named “Andrew”. 

As to what exactly New Reformation Press was told was “incomplete at best and likely deliberately misleading” it would be tough to know what that would be. In the Mars Hill lexicon being labeled a “wolf” is certainly bad and people took pains to say Andrew was a liar.  One anonymous woman was willing to imply the possibility that Andrew passed along a venereal disease to his girlfriend.  That’s a pretty strong implied accusation.  Meanwhile, Mars Hill advocates essentially avoided the question of whether Andrew’s girlfriend might have lied or had an incentive to lie. 

By Kaitlyn’s account, one of the stories she shared with “Andrew” was about her lying about her sexual history in her earlier teens. 


… When I was in seventh grade, I went to a very popular private school. I did not fit in at all. I had a few friends who were considered popular. The main conversation was always around sex. Kids were talking about how far they had gotten (which I now know to be a lie). I can never do anything on a small scale, so to bump up my status, I concocted my own lie. A lie that made me popular. Sort of.

I told a few choice people that I had slept with a youth pastor and might be pregnant. This spread like wild-fire. I thought my plan had gone off flawlessly. Until two things happened. A girl in my class called me a slut and I got called into the principals office.


I knew instantly what it was about. My parents were called in and I sat between them while the guidance counselor and the principal looked at me and told me I was dangerous. That I needed  help. That I wasn't allowed back at the school until I had gotten help.

This is part of my dad's and my story. This is where I saw him defending me. This is where I saw him as dad. But for years I struggled with this. Fear that I was really dangerous. Shame over what I had said. …

While defenders of Mars Hill and critics of Andrew have made it plain they believe Andrew was and is dishonest the question of honesty and credibility is one that fans out in every direction.  What Mars Hill has failed to fully appreciate is a point Wenatchee has made a few times in the last year, that even dead links tell a story.  If the aim of Mars Hill was to preserve the privacy of the Noriega family that was doomed to failure from the years 2004 to 2011, thanks almost entirely to the culture of Mars Hill itself and the direct participants in the events that involved Andrew’s disciplinary situation. 
That Andrew has publicly stated his identity has simply meant that everything else that had already been sitting in plain sight, can be easily produced to show that the basics of his story are not only credible, but permitted a pretty detailed process of identifying the other parts.  Maybe now we can understand why so few Mars Hill advocates and representatives either contested or even addressed the most basic details of Andrew’s story, it would have been too easy to identify the parties involved.  But the parties had for the most part identified themselves publicly even before the disciplinary situation became a news item.  Mars Hill advocates can criticize Andrew Lamb’s motives as much as they like, it looks like his story, a year later, checks out.  His willingness to identify himself to the world has meant that he's simply the last in the immediate group of parties to have done so, it seems. The rest was sitting in plain sight under the noses of bloggers and journalists and Mars Hill.
What Wenatchee The Hatchet wrote about last year in more cryptic terms is now spelled out with direct citation of primary and secondary sources.