The Duck vs Dragon Test

There’s a humorous story people are familiar with about how to tell if something is a duck, and it involves a series of questions:

  1. Does it look like a duck?
  2. Does it walk like a duck?
  3. Does it sound like a duck?

If the answer to these three questions is “yes”, then odds are good you’ve got a duck on your hands.

A variation of the “duck test” is when a person is confronted with something that looks like a dragon, acts like a dragon, sounds like a dragon – and is told in no uncertain  terms “no, that’s a duck”.


This kind of behavior is a form of gaslighting that Andreas hinted at in his post The Politics of Restructuring. The Urban Dictionary defines gaslighting as:

A form of intimidation or psychological abuse, sometimes called Ambient Abuse where false information is presented to the victim, making them doubt their own memory, perception and quite often, their sanity. The classic example of gaslighting is to switch something around on someone that you know they’re sure to notice, but then deny knowing anything about it, and to explain that they “must be imagining things” when they challenge these changes.

In the context of the LCC Restructuring process membership has been confronted with a “duck” and a “dragon”.

What do I mean by this?

A “duck” process is one that is open and transparent, the reasons and motivations are on the table, an appropriate amount of discussion and debate takes place as people work through the various issues. The end result is either an agreed-on resolution or a “good enough” agreement.

By comparison a “dragon” process is almost diametrically opposed to the “duck” process  and generally looks like this:

  1. There’s an important decision on the table, various positions have been taken by the different sides, with the perception that there are certain rules of how things will proceed.
  2. One group hints or states something is seriously wrong with a proposal or position.
  3. There’s hinting or out-right stating that the issue will result in dire consequences. The specifics of those consequences are never clearly identified.
  4. The information needed to make a good decision is withheld, buried in technical language and documents, made incomprehensible, and otherwise kept from the people making the decision,
  5. Pressure is applied for a decision to be made in a compressed time frame without due time for consideration.

A “duck” process is what one would expect from a Christian organization that is working through an issue in a Christian manner. A “dragon” process is the kind of back-room political tactics used by one side of an issue to try and compel their opponents to do what they want, advance their agenda, and avoid having to submit to any accountability.

During the recent LCC Webinar on Restructuring where First VP Astley stated the restructuring working group wasn’t trying to “ram this through” and wanted “all the delegate questions to be answered” (at Convention).

The question at hand is if his actions are in line with his stated objectives? In other words, are we dealing with a “duck”, or are we looking at a gaslighting situation of a dragon being presented as a duck?

Having outlined the characteristics of a Duck and a Dragon  I’ll now review what’s happened in recent times:

  1. At the last minute the BOD ambushed the CCMS / Consultant with the allegation that the proposed structure was DOA at the Convention.
  2. Various reports allege that the reason the result of 15 months of effort was “DOA” was because the Synod Lawyer couldn’t sign off on the document and some East District pastors had objections to it. To date the only publicly available objections are from the Niagara Circuit and Christ Harrow, while the alleged legal concerns have not been communicated to the general public.
  3. This, of course, raises some questions – (a) why the Synod legal counsel neglected to  raise their concerns with the CCMS and (b) why the BOD didn’t communicate the reported concerns as they became aware of them before declaring the work-product DOA?
  4. The alternative presented was to replace the Articles and Bylaws developed over a period of 15 months with a structure developed by a working group from both the BOD and the CCMS over a period of 2 months.
  5. The justification for forming a joint BOD / CCMS working group vs having the CCMS do the work with a changed mandate has never been communicated.
  6. All this happened at the last minute, there’s been minimal input from the membership, the resulting document were released without accompanying explanation for the proposed changes beyond a line-by-line comparison, there’s been a sales-job webinar, and a general resistance to be accountable to the membership.
  7. The specific reasons the BOD declared the proposed Articles and Bylaws DOA with a follow-on course change has never been made public. Commentary that I’ve seen so far are that requests for an explanation have been met with a response of “We’re not going to debate before the Convention.”
  8. The proposal has been handed to the Committee #1, who will not be available until 2PM Friday.
  9. The Convention delegates will only have a single day of the Convention to ask their questions and consider their vote.
  10. There’ve been issues of communications – while the pastors know each other and have established informal communications channels they use to discuss topics like this, the laity do not and Synod has not provided the delegates with other delegates contact information giving a “privacy policy.”

Is the current state of affairs a “duck” or a “dragon that’s being called a duck”?

I know what  I think – what do you think?

As a footnote – it should be noted that while the BODs input is certainly valued, the Constitution as it currently stands does not give them a role in the restructuring process – that work is given to the CCMS who is tasked with reviewing the organizational structure and then submitting its report to Synod in Convention for disposition,  not the BOD.

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