Thursday, October 08, 2015

Atlantic: "When Amazon dies" ... don't forget that your streaming options are indefinite rentals not "ownership".

When everything's on the cloud and the cloud dissipates everything goes with it.  The era of the internet may make it easier than ever to believe that online culture has a potentially unlimited shelf life but it isn't necessarily so, obviously.

authors discuss why famous women don't self-identify as feminist ... when being merely a "humanist" isn't enough.

In an interview with Porter magazine, Oscar-winning French actress Marion Cotillard criticized feminism, saying, “We need to fight for women’s rights but I don’t want to separate women from men… Sometimes in the word feminism there’s too much separation.” And her sentiment was echoed this week by none other than Meryl Streep, who declared in Time Out London, “I am a humanist, I am for nice easy balance.”

Listen, I’ve learned to roll with the punches for Marion. Let’s not forget that this is a woman who could be described as both a 9/11 attacks truther and a moon landing denier. I love her movies, and short of a reveal of a secret racist or anti-vaxxer past, I plan to see every movie she makes from here on out. But I’m not about to subscribe to her political newsletter any time soon.

But Meryl… girl I am surprised at you. You, Mary Louise Streep—you are not a feminist? You, the star of Silkwood and A Cry in the Dark? You, who leap out of your seat every time another lady beats you for an Oscar? You, who are campaigning Congress for the creation of an equal rights amendment? You, who railed against Walt Disney last awards season for being a “gender bigot?” Self-described feminist Maya Angelou said that when people tell you who they are, believe them. So OK, Meryl, fine. You’re not a feminist. You’re only starring in a movie literally called Suffragette to fight for awareness of gender-neutral humanism.

Protestations about feminism as being “too separatist”—as Cotillard puts it—are no surprise coming from young starlets who have yet to get curious about the world beyond their success, but coming from women like Streep and Cotillard, the usual refrains about wanting balance and not wanting to cut men out are confusing. These are women whose careers and whose lives have clearly benefited from feminism, and who clearly seek out extraordinary women to portray in their work.

So what is it that’s so undesirable about the word feminist? Why does the myth of separatism persist? Women like Meryl Streep are supposed to be our base, not our swing votes. If we can’t convince Meryl Streep to call herself a feminist in public, how are we ever going to reach women?

While Gwyneth Paltrow is certainly able to claim that nobody is worth the amount of money Robert Downey Jr. may have who is worth the amount of money Paltrow has, for that matter?

Something that is a recurring theme at publications like The Atlantic or Slate or New Republic is the riddle of why women who are successful and well-known in a given field of activity do NOT self-identify as feminists.  Well, maybe one possibility is that even if a person spends decades self-identifying as being for women having opportunities in a job market or artistic field all that status can be retroactively revoked in symbolic fashion by people on the internet based on one interview and the statements therein.

Take Chrissie Hynde, for instance.

As The New Yorker discussed not too very long ago, there's also been a breach between generations of feminists on whether the transgendered can ever count as women.

For at least older generations of feminism male privilege can essentially be something you can never lose even if you get gender reassignment surgery. Even if you try to give it up you can't really do so.

The LGBQT side of things has revealed, over time, that feminists have not all agreed on those issues across the last forty years and newer generations of feminists writers may (and often have) combined causes into a single totalizing approach. Your credentials as a feminist, whatever they may have been in the past, are contingent on whether you additionally sign on for other causes as well. It's not that feminists from earlier generations ever stopped being feminists, really, it may be that newer generations of feminists have added additional categories that may or may not have any essential connection to feminism. What gay men do would seem to have nothing at all much to do with women overall but a contemporary feminist may well be expected to be sympathetic to the cause even if gay men may simply be part of the patriarchy.

Hanna Rosin has been writing at various intervals about the disconnect between feminists writing online about the obstacles they face to getting what they want and what anyone else who doesn't make a living from writing might run into.
In the real world it’s hard to find a young woman who spends her time scanning for sexist insults. But on the Web it’s a steady job. And you can, if you look hard enough, find some sexist bastard at a tech company or a hedge fund or a frat who says insulting things every day. But this doesn’t mean that the patriarchy is thriving. The satire response to my piece from the Cut, “The 39 Things We’ll Miss About the Patriarchy,” includes a handful of genuine, timeless horrors such as rape and honor killings but also dozens of minor ones such as juice cleansing and vibrators shaped like cupcakes. See what I mean? Look hard enough, and you’ll never run out of examples.

One of the potential conundrums for those who are celebrities identifying or not identifying as feminist now or in the past (and we could just non-randomly consider a Taylor Swift) is that even with entrenched sexism in the entertainment industry some of the women who some feminist authors think "should" be feminists make more money in a year than many another woman (or man) may make in ten years. It's difficult to not recall what Joan Didion coldly proposed back in 1972:
July 30, 1972
The Women's Movement
To  make an omelette you need not only those broken eggs but someone "oppressed" to beat them: every revolutionist is presumed to understand that, and also every women, with either does or does not make 51 per cent of the population of the United States a potentially revolutionary class. The creation of this revolutionary class was from the virtual beginning the "idea" of the women's movement, and the tendency for popular discussion of the movement still to center around daycare centers is yet another instance of that studied resistance to the possibility of political ideas which characterizes our national life.

"The new feminism is not just the revival of a serious political movement for social equality," the feminist theorist Shulamith Firestone announced flatly in 1970. "It is the second wave of the most important revolution in history." This was scarcely a statement of purpose anyone could find cryptic, and it was scarcely the only statement of its kind in the literature of the movement. Nonetheless, in 1972, in a "special issue" on women, Time was still musing genially that the movement might well succeed in bringing about "fewer diapers and more Dante."

That was a very pretty image, the idle ladies sitting in the gazebo and murmuring lasciate ogni speranza, but it depended entirely upon the popular view of the movement as some kind of collective inchoate yearning for "fulfillment" or "self-expression," a yearning absolutely devoid of ideas and therefore of any but the most pro forma benevolent interest. In fact there was an idea, and the idea was Marxist, and it was precisely to the extent that there was this Marxist idea that the curious historical anomaly known as the women's movement would have seemed to have any interest at all.

Now some authors, like Amanda Marcotte, have noted that, hey, things have changed a whole lot since then.

It may be one of the recurring faultlines within progressive thought, that if anything is finally achieved groups within the progressive wing can conclude that the goalposts need to move to the next goal. Now that those gay men and women who choose to can get married, some progressives hope to redefine what even a marriage and a family may be.  Divest marriage of the tendency to accumulate private property, for instance.

The more utopian the vision of the ideal society, the more totalitarian the means of reaching toward it often tends to be. The historic pitfall of the left and the right over the last ... well ... more than a century really, is that whether we're talking about groups Richard Taruskin has described as utopians of nostalgia or utopians of a future society, they both have shown in the last century just how totalitarian they are willing to be to work toward that utopia. 

from New Republic, a slightly surprising "case against free college" and from the Atlantic doubts about the obligatory bachelor's degree

Of the two it's more surprising to read anyone making any case against free college at The New Republic since someone over there was writing in the last month about how every family should have a smart phone. Nobody reads maps printed on paper anymore?  Nobody uses a compass?  Nevertheless, there's a case at tNR against free college and once I saw the case (which is that the people angling for free college tend to be already better off and don't see how free college will exacerbate income inequality in the long run) I was less surprised. "Free college" still costs somebody something and the case is that working class taxpayers will not benefit in the same way those who make more money will,.
...The main problem with free college is that most students come from disproportionately well-off backgrounds and already enjoy disproportionately well-off futures, which makes them relatively uncompelling targets for public transfers. At age nineteen, only around 20 percent of children from the poorest 2 percent of families in the country attend college. For the richest 2 percent of families, the same number is around 90 percent. In between these two extremes, college attendance rates climb practically straight up the income ladder: the richer your parents are, the greater the likelihood that you are in college at age nineteen. The relatively few poor kids who do attend college heavily cluster in two-year community colleges and cheaper, less selective four-year colleges, while richer kids are likely to attend more expensive four-year institutions. At public colleges (the type we’d likely make free), students from the poorest fourth of the population currently pay no net tuition at either two-year or four-year institutions, while also receiving an average of $3,080 and $2,320 respectively to offset some of their annual living expenses. Richer students currently receive much fewer tuition and living grant benefits.

Given these class-based differences in attendance levels, institutional selection, and current student benefit levels, making college free for everyone would almost certainly mean giving far more money to students from richer families than from poorer ones. Of course, providing more generous student benefits might alter these class-based skews a bit by encouraging more poor and middle-class people to go to college or to attend more expensive institutions. But even reasonably accounting for those kinds of responses, the primary result of such increased student benefit generosity would be to fill the pockets of richer students and their families.

Student benefit campaigners tend not to focus on these sorts of distributive questions, preferring instead to gesture towards a supposed student debt crisis to prove that those who attended college really are a hurting class needing higher benefits. While there are certain extreme cases of students with very high debts, and certain college sectors such as for-profits that are truly immiserating specific groups of students, the reality remains that college graduates are generally on track for much better financial outcomes than non-attendees. Even in the wake of the Great Recession, which hit young people harder than anyone else, those with bachelor’s degrees had median personal incomes $17,500 higher than young high school graduates. Just one year of this income premium would be enough to wipe out the median debt of a public four-year-college graduate, which currently stands slightly above $10,000.

I would have thought that the case that given the way standardized tests tend to filter based on socio-economic and even racial lines that someone might be able to make a case that even "if" college is free for everyone the entire testing regime will still be stacked against people who aren't more upper crusty anyway and that this could be a secondary effect not anticipated by relatively well-off white people who want free college because they haven't considered it as even being part of their white privilege.  That wasn't actually sarcasm there, by the way. One of the more brilliant moves by South Park in sending up the social justice warrior element is that they're presented as uniformly white frat boy bros who are busy checking other peoples' privilege while basking in their own, namely college education.

Over at The Atlantic there's a piece raising doubts about whether the bachelor's degree should be the "necessary" step to a middle-class life.  If there's another case to be made against free college that seems more compelling than even the case that free-college-for-all would exacerbate income inequality it's that there's no reason a college degree should be a prerequisite for "normal" economic life that's construed as "middle class".
It is because of this belief that general-education requirements are the center of the bachelor’s degree and are concentrated in the first two years of a four-year program. The general-education core is what distinguishes the B.A. from a vocational program and makes it more than “just training.” It is designed to ensure that all degree holders graduate with a breadth of knowledge in addition to an in-depth understanding of a particular subject area. Students are exposed to a broad range of disciplines and are pushed to think critically about the social, cultural, and historical context in which they live. It is supposed to guarantee that all graduates can write, have a basic understanding of the scientific method, have heard of the Marshall Plan and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and know that iambic pentameter has something to do with poetry.

While few would challenge the importance of general education, both to students and to a well-functioning democracy, there is good reason to question why it has to come at the beginning of a B.A.—and just how general and theoretical it needs to be. The pyramid structure of the bachelor’s degree, which requires that students start with the broad base of general requirements before they specialize, is what makes college unappealing to so many young people.

It doesn’t have to be this way. There is no iron law of learning dictating that students must master general theories or be fully versed in a particular historical or cultural context before learning how to do things. Some students will do well under this approach, but ...

Apparently the oft insufferable first two years of often time-wasting "general education" hasn't gone anywhere in the last twenty years. What made those general education courses seem so idiotic was that during high school I'd get told that I was getting a well-rounded general education to prepare for a career and/or college and then I got to college and was told the general education was a requirement.  Wasn't college supposed to be for more specialized study, finally?  Ah, yeah, just those last two years of the undergrad degree and then you do two MORE years for a master's.  There was no room for actually using more than "maybe" half of those four years JUST studying the stuff you wanted to study.  Not that I exactly regret going to college but sometimes it seems like American higher education has mutated into some gigantic con job.  You can learn plenty if you're working with teachers who want to actually teach rather than secure tenure or play the status/honor game of scholastic prestige ... but in the last ten years or so I've advised younger friends to not bother with college unless they are certain they can't get a job in a career they're interested in without the formal credentials associated with a degree.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Rebecca Mead at the New Yorker on the new Muppets, "... that's the recipe for Muppets humor: take champagne and add sugar. Not salt."
Not that the Muppets are strangers to innuendo. Charles Grodin’s lust for Miss Piggy, in “The Great Muppet Caper,” is legitimately steamy—though it’s never implied that they actually have sex. What the new show misjudges isn’t some kind of moral standard but what makes the Muppets funny in the first place. They exist in the rude, recognizable world of adult humans but are too innocent to notice. It’s funny, in a cheap way, to joke about Zoot being in Alcoholics Anonymous. (“It’s not that kind of meeting,” he’s told in the pilot.) But it’s a lot funnier when Fozzie, at a London nightspot in “The Great Muppet Caper,” says of his champagne, “You know, if you put enough sugar in this stuff, it tastes just like ginger ale!” Maybe that’s the recipe for Muppets humor: take champagne and add sugar. Not salt. [emphasis mine]

It’s a testament to Jim Henson and Frank Oz that the Muppets sensibility has been so tricky to get right without them.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Short Fuse on a biography that describes Engels as pretty literally the world's first "champagne communist"

Among the most memorable words Karl Marx ever wrote — up there with “A specter is haunting Europe” and “Workers of the world unite” — are these, on the advantages of the world that communist revolution would bring about: “Communist society,” he predicted, would enable “me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, shepherd, or critic.”

This is from “The German ideology,” published posthumously but written by Marx in his twenties. The image of freedom expressed is an unmistakably youthful one, conveying more about recreation than vocation, and providing no remotely plausible basis for any society, revolutionary or not. If cattle rearing occurred only in the evening, there’d be neither beef nor dairy. If hunters and fishers were active only when the mood took them, we’d all be vegans, except that vegans would starve, too, since what Marx said about hunting and fishing was meant to apply just as strictly to farming, nut gathering, and apple picking.

This utopia of an early Marx consists of aristocratic pastimes, diversions, games. It is a vision of a global human retirement community, of our species relaxing after the terrible toil of history. If such idyllic circumstances could be achieved, what would the critic find to “criticize after dinner”?

But there are substantial weaknesses in Hunt’s account. Hunt does a fair job of describing the various intellectual disciplines that were fused into Marxism. There was, above all, the Hegelian dialectic, Germany’s seminal contribution to Marxism. That was joined with the tradition of French revolutionary activism, and with English analyses of economics.

But Hunt never steps back to contemplate the inherent problem of such grand syntheses when bought to bear on human life. To seek a unified field theory in physics is one thing. If found, it would not lead to gulags or concentration camps, the way ersatz unified field theories of human activity seem always to do.

Hunt writes: “Was Engels responsible for the terrible misdeeds carried out under the banner of Marxism-Leninism?. . . the answer has to be no. In no intelligible sense can Engels or Marx bear culpability for the crimes of historical actors carried out generations alter, even if the policies were offered up in their honor.”

But throughout this biography, Hunt himself seems divided on this issue. He writes, for instance, about one purge of communist ranks carried out by Marx and Engels: “What the next 150 years brought in terms of expulsions, denunciations, and political purges within left-wing parties is grimly foreshadowed” in this instance. There are many examples of such foreshadowing.
Marx once dreamed about a world that allowed for going from “one thing today and another tomorrow.” The intellectual weaponry he and Engles forged for their successors led, contra their youthful hopes, to the opposite.

It's seemed to me over the years that Marxism was just a secularization of the postmillennialist optimism of the era within nominalist Christendom and the real deal proselytizers. It's the apocalyptic expectation and hope that one day the lion will lay down with the lamb but by dint of a different kind of pamphlet writing, the kinds that don't eventually get canonized into a biblical text that imagine that it's more likely a supernatural creator-god will create such a utopia than the observably improbable contribution of the humans who formulated the kinds of economic systems in which oppression and poverty are never necessarily gone.

a series or two may be incubating here

Between that Robert Morris comment and the old Samuel D James remarks and even the "court of Google" stuff from Leithart, it just seems like a long-form case for the viability of what people call watchblogging may be in order.  You know, draw on the precedent of OT case law and the Torah; draw upon the precedent of the prophetic literature; draw upon explorations of prophetic office and activity as studied by Reformers like, oh, maybe Heinrich Bullinger; talk about theories of the press and how they play out in public commentary about the legitimacy of "platform".

You know, stuff like that. If neo-Calvinists and Robert Morris types are so relentlessly revealing their ignorance of biblical literature and writings from the Reformation then maybe it's worth taking a lay person's shot at overviewing some of the literature. It won't be a categorical defense of "all" watchblog activity, but a case for the restraint and constraints within which there is a scripturally and historically defensible precedent. As you can guess from that summary that's not going to be a swiftly developing project.

Another project is more a musicology meets history of ideas thing. Not much to say about that just yet.

I also haven't forgotten writing about the DCAU but that's tabled until next year.  This was supposed to be the year to return to blogging about animation and while we're not close to done venting about the artistic failures of Legend of Entitlement, better know as Legend of Korra, there's time to vent about the tokenism of that show later this week, maybe.

Ridley Scott making more Prometheus sequels that will "eventually" tie back into the Alien franchise?

well ... I read somewhere Scott said the xenomorph is pretty well played out and maybe with a recent advertisement over at CBR highlight Alien vs Vampirella ...

Sunday, October 04, 2015

The Dreher/Wilson thing continues

The gist of Doug Wilson's defense (which, it seems inevitably, continues) could be summed up a la Han Solo "It's not my fault".  Sure, Wilson went ahead and got the two parties married because, well, maybe it was gonna happen anyway and there's nothing for it.  After all, in the end there was nothing that Wilson could have necessarily done or said to have stopped it.  Wilson's defense of his approach amounts to "capitulation was the only realistic option because if I didn't capitulate they were going to do their thing anyway".  If that's the case then not capitulating may not have stopped two people from entering into a potentially ill-advised marriage but it would preclude the possibility of Doug Wilson having this thing called culpability.

It's as if advising a guy to live a life of celibacy in light of his convictions (for crimes, not the other kinds of convictions) was never even on the table for Doug Wilson, or was it?

Had Wilson not spent decades seeking a role as a public figure preaching and teaching on how people ought to behave, and doing so in a way that made him a lightning rod, he wouldn't be dealing with any of this. Mark Driscoll at least came to an appreciation that once you have sought out and attained a certain level of celebrity you become the kind of public figure about whom a great deal more can be said than could be said about a private citizen.  Had Doug Wilson not spent so many decades publicly sounding off on all the things he considered suitable and unsuitable regarding the sexes and sexuality, things he did or didn't do or say in the past wouldn't be "on the table" for consideration this year. If Doug Wilson's going to keep blogging about how he's at the gallows in a court of cyber-opinion it's not like anyone forced him to walk up to the gallows.  He seems to have run up there himself and said "Look, I got something I just have to say for the public record."

a blog post quoting Morton Feldman on indeterminate music--"An indeterminate music can lead only to catastrophe. This catastrophe we allowed to take place. Behind it was sound--which unified everything."

“An indeterminate music can lead only to catastrophe.”
 —Morton Feldman

It’s a catchy quote, coming as it does from one of the founders of indeterminate music—but to be fair, we should perhaps let the tape run a little further: “An indeterminate music can lead only to catastrophe. This catastrophe we allowed to take place. Behind it was sound—which unified everything.”

To Feldman, indeterminacy was a means to an end—a way to break through the walls of traditional composition in order to reach the pure physicality of sound beyond. Just as Wittgenstein had dismissed his Tractatus as a ladder to be thrown away after it was climbed, Feldman climbed the ladder of indeterminacy and, having reached the top, discarded it.

So indeterminacy can theoretically be assessed as if it were saying something about the cosmos as a whole but we can look to a statement by someone who helped pioneer indeterminacy in music and see that it was a means to an end, a recalibration of our understanding for and appreciation of sound as the foundational physically perceived sensation from which we make music. 

Whether we're looking at Stravinsky's assimilation of Russian and Ukrainian folk songs into his early works; T. S. Eliot going back to Dante and metaphysical English poets; or even Cage with Zen and Feldman with indeterminacy seeking to recover sound as the foundation of musical perception in place of a mental lexicon of aural syntax, there may be a sense in which any avant garde is always is in some paradoxical sense a move backward to something an artist believes we have missed in whatever our path to the present was moving forward.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

HT Phoenix Preacher--Carl Trueman response to a Doug Wilson post on "why Christian women are prettier" Wilson presents himself as a prototype for the rhetorical style of Mark Driscoll 2000-2012

HT to Phoenix Preacher
Posted on Wednesday, September 23, 2015 by Carl Trueman
Over at his blog, Douglas Wilson has an interesting post on why Christian women are prettier.  [that was Tuesday, September 22, 2015] I was particularly struck by this paragraph:
"Unbelieving women either compete for the attention of men through outlandish messages that communicate some variation of “easy lay,” or in the grip of resentment they give up the endeavor entirely, which is how we get lumberjack dykes. The former is an avid reader of Cosmopolitan and thinks she knows 15K ways to please a man in bed. The latter is just plain surly about the fact that there even are any men."
So there you have it.  That is Mr Wilson's sophisticated take on the psychology of non-Christian women: they either aspire to be sex mad prostitutes or, failing that, turn into butch lesbians.
I guess he must be describing my mother because she is not a Christian -- but I am not sure at what point in her life she quite fitted this description.  I must have missed it.  When she married, still chaste, at 20?  Throughout her 46 years of faithful, devoted marriage to dad?  When she patiently and lovingly nursed him through his long, final, painful illness, administering his meds, lifting him on and off the toilet, attending to his most basic and undignified bodily needs? During the years since his death when she has been faithful to the memory of 'the only man I will ever love', to use her phrase?
To be sure, she is not a Christian.  She needs Jesus as her saviour.  But I suspect the reduction of non-Christian women to whores or lesbians says more about the psychology of the writer than it does about my mother.  And maybe other mothers too?
Wilson, for his part ...
Thursday, September 24, 2015

Well, you’ve gone and put your foot in it now, Wilson. Why, what have I done? It’s all very well to aspire to become the bad boy of Reformed letters, but there are supposed to be limits. But this piques my curiosity. To what might you be referring? Yes, you pretend to be ignorant, but you know very well what you have done. Well, yes, I actually do know. I did toss a cinder block into the goldfish bowl.

As I mount the gallows and look out over the crowd gathered for the festivities, the chaplain accompanying the hangman asks me if I ever thought it would end this way. Well, kinda, I did, but to be honest, I hadn’t anticipated that it would be for believing that Christian women were prettier.
Monday, September 28, 2015
The issue before us is a simple one. Does the Lordship of Jesus Christ extend over absolutely everything? And, if it does, does it make any difference to the good?

At this point the line of influence between Doug Wilson and Mark Driscoll should be pretty easy to observe, even for those who don't want to observe it out of a sympathy for some of Doug Wilson's ideas.

The breezy tone, the jovial self-description of someone senselessly being set up for pot shots.  Boiling everything down in the wake of a provocative cyber-statement into a single question so abstracted from anything that was in the original statement it begs a person to agree with the initial statement by default.  Yes, it does seem as though its going to be fairly easy to observe the parallels between the Mark Driscoll rhetorical approach from 2000-2012 and the Doug Wilson approach that has taken shape before that.

I've said before that Mark Driscoll's views on sexuality and gender roles could be construed as taking the ideas of Doug Wilson on the same, pumping them full of steroids, and then sending them off to the gym.  Consider Mark Driscoll's official response to the kerfuffle at Liberty University from 2012.

Lately, I’ve been busy with something you may have heard of called Easter. So, I’ve not been on the Internet much but instead busy with church and family. However, rumor has it there is a bit of mushroom cloud of controversy over my planned trip. So, I asked our community relations manager, who gets to enjoy reading blogs about me while eating breakfast every day (it’s amazing he holds anything down), to give me a summary of this kerfuffle. (Henceforth, we will officially refer to this situation as “The Kerfuffle.”)

The trouble started with a Southern Baptist blogger . . . yes, you should have seen that one coming. Now, to be fair, the blogger quoted an anonymous “source.” And, we all know that almost everything bloggers say is true. But, when they have something as solid as an anonymous “source,” then you can rest assured that when Jesus talked about the truth over and over in John, this is precisely what he was referring to. I have a degree from Washington State’s Edward R. Murrow College of Communication and worked professionally as a journalist, and I can assure you that The Kerfuffle is a very serious matter to be taken with the utmost sobriety and propriety. In fact, one anonymous “source” I spoke to said that Watergate pales in comparison.

Or consider "Pussified Nation".  We've discussed the influence of Wilson on Driscoll's ideas and style at some length.  To provide a parallel that's more recent than 2000 ...
This week the Christian blogosphere worked itself into a frenzy over a Facebook status posted by Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. The status, which was later removed, read, "So, what story do you have about the most effeminate anatomically male worship leader you've ever personally witnessed?"
The Issue Under a Lot of Issues
Mark Driscoll

Gender. Is it a socially constructed reality or a God-given identity?

That’s a significant question, and how you answer it has massive implications. The question of gender underlies many current cultural conflicts and theological controversies that go beyond even the long standing debates about whether or not a woman can be a pastor and whether or not a man is to function as the head of his home. ...
By now it's going to be difficult for admirers of Doug Wilson to not see a direct and substantial influence by Wilson on both the style and substance of Mark Driscoll's history of talking about sexuality and gender roles.  Whereas Mark Driscoll, once his writings as William Wallace II were brought back into public view, issued an apology for them and repeated that he came to regret what he said under that pen name, Doug Wilson's approach seems to not merely be doubling down on what he said and how he said it, but to playfully present himself as being brought up to the gallows via social media for just saying stuff.  He brings things back to it being about some foundational basic question of an idea within Christian thought reduced to such a basic level you couldn't possibly object to such a generalization. 

What's striking about all this breezy writing from Wilson is that it was up days after ...

Leithart's public apology regarding his role in the case of a pedophile who was greenlit to marry ...

Now might not be the greatest or wisest time to even bother with the assertion that Christian women are prettier to begin with, let alone providing a case study in how Doug Wilson's style and substance could be construed as paradigmatic for Mark Driscoll's public persona in the last fifteen years. 

But, hey, Doug Wilson can publish what he wants.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Mark Driscoll shares how he's learned more about love, life and leadership [since he quit Mars Hill] than any season in his life.
In recent months, I’ve learned more about love, life, and leadership than any season of my life. God is a great Father who has proven incredibly faithful to my family and me. On a few occasions this week, Grace and I became teary as we recounted the ways God has been so good to us lately, including some wonderful people he has brought into our lives.
Mark Driscoll has learned more about leadership in recent months (since he quit being a pastor last year) than any season of his life? It sounds like quitting Mars Hill was the greatest thing that ever happened to Mark Driscoll when he puts it like that.

Throckmorton: Robert Morris calls blogs Satan's hit list

So ...
Transcript of Robert Morris and Mark Driscoll from the Gateway Leadership + Worship Conference
on the evening of Monday, October 20, 2014, as broadcast live via DayStar Television:
Robert Morris:
 Uh, it was publicized that we cancelled him; that’s not true, we did not cancel. I’m speaking of Mark Driscoll. We did not cancel him. He and I decided together uh that he was going to step out of ministry for a season and get some healing. [emphasis added]

remember the guy who said last year that he and Mark Driscoll agreed he ought to step aside from ministry for a season has lately declared blogs that mention Christian leaders are somehow "Satan's hit list".

But, but I have to say this, um, I’m really concerned about how much time people spend on the Internet. I’m extremely concerned about it. Extremely concerned about it; here’s one thing, just even the blogs that mention Christian leaders, and I’m one of ‘em. Praise the Lord, I’ve made the Satan, Satan’s hit list now you know, but here’s what blows me away.

You wouldn’t listen to gossip, but you’ll read it. I mean, I have a friend of mine, that made a comment a while back, and it just blew up on the Internet. It blew up. Like he was “changing” his theological position. And really he was saying, ‘our methods are evolving’ but he had to clarify later, ‘my theological position’s not evolving on this issue, but our methods in dealing with people who are in bondage to sin, those are evolving, we’re trying to learn to deal with people who-who suffer with this’.

But on the Internet, everybody had already judged him. And he’s a pastor and he’s a friend of mine. And what upsets me is Christians read filth on the Internet. And they believe it.
And, I, um, you can’t imagine how many people have told me, that ‘this is true,’ “How ya know it’s true? ‘Read it on the Internet’

Anybody can write on the Internet. And the people who write on the Internet are people who would not have a platform, unless they put my name, or Bill Hybels’ name, or T.D. Jakes’ name in it, they wouldn’t have a platform, if they didn’t put someone’s name who already had a platform. Boy, I’m just fired up, I’m telling ya.

People who write on the internet are people who would not have a platform unless they put Robert Morris or Bill Hybels or T. D. Jakes by name on something?

What about Warren Throckmorton?  What about Tony Jones? What about anyone who has a blog where they can put their own name on it and say whatever they want because they can pay for their own internet access and have a modicum of assurance that there's this thing called the First Amendment? What does Robert Morris mean by a "platform"?

blogs as Satan's hit list ... and here I was thinking this week of writing about how there's a case to be made from the writings of Henrich Bullinger on the office and activity of the prophet for a legitimate place for what some people call watchblogging.  But who cares who Bullinger was or what influence he may have had on the Reformation, eh?

if you have leads for full time work or more clients ... Justin Dean's looking for that and has mentioned it on Twitter
I'm in need of full time work and/or new clients. If you have any solid leads I'd appreciate the help.
for an overview of what Dean's been up to this year, you can follow up on posts with the tag "Justin dean".  

Saturday, September 26, 2015

REM and Survivor filed suits against Trump/Cruz and Kim Davis for unauthorized use of their songs
Washington, DC — The band R.E.M has filed a $2.5 million lawsuit against Donald Trump and Ted Cruz over the unauthorized use of its music.

The incident happened Wednesday
on the steps of Capitol Hill as Trump walked to the podium with R.E.M.’s 1987 hit “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” blaring in the background.
Salisbury, NC — The band Survivor has filed a $1.2 million lawsuit against Kim Davis and Mike Huckabee over the unauthorized use of its hit song “Eye of the Tiger.”

Davis, the Kentucky clerk who was jailed after refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, was released Tuesday
 morning, after serving six days in prison, to the sound of Survivor’s classic song “Eye of the Tiger.” The song played in the background as she, her husband, and Mike Huckabee celebrated her freedom in front of thousands of supporters.

It's instructive to consider that what happened when the Mark Driscoll plagiarism controversy was brewing in 2013 through early 2014 is that the publishers just went back and fixed the passages that were brought to the public space and then journalists began to write later about how the plagiarism was alleged. Driscoll's advocates, here and there, made a point of saying Driscoll hadn't done anything like embezzling money or cheating on his wife. But at this stage we have to observe that if you consult first editions of Driscoll books the case that Driscoll's books had uncredited use of others' ideas was easily made.  Whether it was due to his own oversight or the failure of a battalion of editors may never be known.

What's instructive is that the Christian publishing industry made the problem go away rather than let things get to the point where parties felt aggrieved enough to resort to litigation.

Meanwhile, if Grace Driscoll keeps putting herself out in the public sphere here use of Allender's work without citation in the first edition of Real Marriage might come up again. 

and since Film Crit Hulk on superhero films got mentioned, here's Film Crit Hulk on them in his vent of frustration about Birdman

mild language warning here for folks who've never read FILM CRIT HULK before




At the risk of quoting myself, I've already gone exploring the idea that even for the billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne being Batman, where pop culture has gone with him in Batman: the animated series and Nolan's Batman trilogy ...

Particularly in the by now classic animated series Batman wasn't just beating the snot out of crooks. As Bruce Wayne he played a role in giving criminals who were trying to transition back into regular society day jobs.  There's a particularly memorable story arc for Arnold Wesker/The Ventriloquist toward this end.  We see Bruce Wayne struggling with the idea that he WANTS to believe that someone like Pamela Isley can truly be reformed but can't reconcile himself to it being reality, then we see Bruce Wayne giving Wesker a chance to build a new life for himself after he's put Scarface behind him.  As FILM CRIT HULK was saying, the best superhero stories do actually dig into the questions of the use and nature of power.  Even in the case of the rich guy Batman, we can still get a Bruce Wayne who can recognize that some people turn to crime not because they want to be bad but because they have mental illness that needs treating or lack the opportunity to do legal work with their limited social experience--and in BTAS, we'd get a Bruce Wayne who wouldn't "just" beat up the bad guys, he'd offer to get them the psychiatric help they needed. 

So, yeah, not hard to be sympathetic to FILM CRIT HULK's frustration about the reflexively dismissive attitude some people have about genre work. Eve Tushnet had some quote years ago about how realistic fiction is something for those who are assuring themselves their view of the world is realistic and the rest of us make do with genre ... but the precise wording eludes me.

from The New Yorker, Doctor Who as a summation of Western liberalism and conservative in general but of British culture in particular

I read somewhere that the show has a peculiar appeal to the middle-aged, the people who are old enough to have reached the top of where ever they're going and to see that not everyone "made it" and not everyone "will", and also recognizing that it's in some sense going to be "downhill" from here. You do the best you can, but recognize it probably isn't going to be enough.

Well ... maybe that makes Doctor Who a parable of Western civilization as a whole?
“Doctor Who” is, unavoidably, a product of mid-twentieth-century debates about Britain’s role in the world as its empire unravelled. It is also one of the stranger means by which British culture has reckoned with the horrors of the Second World War, the apocalyptic doomsaying of the Cold War, and the lasting madness of twenty-first-century terrorism. Superman, who first appeared in 1938, thwarted gangsters and thugs and criminal masterminds. But Doctor Who, created in the postwar, postcolonial, atomic age, inherited the agony of helplessness: he believes he can use his power to travel through time and space to undo unspeakable slaughter, only to find that, very often, he cannot. “Imagine you were in Pompeii and you tried to save them but in doing so you make it happen,” he says, trying to explain to a woman who is about to die in a nuclear explosion that he is powerless to prevent it. “Everything I do just makes it happen.” (He tries anyway. Moments after he saves her life, she kills herself.)
“Doctor Who” is a chronicle of the impossibility of rescue. Yet it contains within it both a liberal fantasy about the heroism of the West in opposing atrocity and a conservative politics of self-congratulation, which, in the end, amount to the same thing. “You act like such a radical,” an alien said to the Doctor, not long ago, “and yet all you want to do is preserve the old order.”
Bear in mind, I haven't actually seen the show, but you don't need to have seen the show to get the pre-nuclear post-nuclear stuff. 

David Sims on the problems with prequels, let's call it the endlessly open canon dedicated to answering questions that didn't need to be asked, and that's Amerian pop culture these days.
Prequels take one of the most engaging and imaginative aspects of fandom—obsessing over the inconsequential details that give a fictional world its character and texture—and move it off of message boards and onto Hollywood back lots, turning it into something poisonous to the art of storytelling. Plot points become pedantic info dumps, drama is diminished by the audience's awareness of stories taking place in the future, and writers and filmmakers end up rehashing the flashiest superficial elements of their source material while draining of it of mystery and metaphor. Whether it's Prometheus, the Star Wars prequel trilogy, or DC Comics' thoroughly unnecessary line of miniseries filling in the back story of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons's pointedly self-contained Watchmen graphic novel, the projects have the visual hallmarks but cast aside the tensions, themes, and tone that made the classic works resonate.
Prequels like Prometheus make the mistake of assuming that knowing could ever be as exciting and psychologically powerful as not knowing. The xenomorph in particular is resonant because it is so very alien—we don't know exactly what it is or where it comes from, and its life cycle and physical form upends our expectation of safe, easily understood gender binaries. Its very existence calls into question the significance of mankind, which is at least part of the point of the first Alien film, which presented a lonely, melancholy vision of vulnerable humans traveling through a cold, indifferent universe. Even if the apparent engineers of humanity in Prometheus turn out to despise their creation, the film insists that humans are special after all.
Given that 33 years have passed since the release of Alien, it is understandable that Ridley Scott may want to say something very different in Prometheus. It's possible that his view of man's place in the universe has become slightly more optimistic. This is giving him the benefit of the doubt, though. In recent interviews, Scott speaks of his fascination with the space jockey, and his urge to unpack that idea seems more rooted in fannish enthusiasm than in the urge to express an idea. This is pretty much always the case in stories focused on expanding on throwaway bits of plot—whether it's a writer, a filmmaker, or a fanboy, the compulsion to explicate is entirely disconnected from an understanding of the poetic aspects of storytelling. It's all science, and no fiction. It's not hard to grasp why fans and creators alike would want to return to familiar fictional worlds—it's just fun, really—but this practice suggests that many geeks have absolutely no insight into the power of the fiction they love and would rather watch the film equivalent of an elaborate Wikipedia entry.


It seems that franchises get rebooted and that's the norm, not the problem.  The problem isn't the reboots themselves, it's what they may signal.  James Bond needed that reboot.  So did Batman. Spiderman didn't.  Transformers won't get a reboot even if it may need it or it may have just gotten a soft reboot.

Star Trek got rebooted and it may well have needed it.  But the larger theme seems to be that Americans want their pop culture franchises like they may want their religion, with an open-ended canon that's never closed and is open to contemporary glosses and drastic reinterpretations, what comics fans would call retroactive continuity.

Given the history of the United States retroactive continuity was clearly necessary to correct the degrees to which the presumption of race-based slavery was built into the Constitution. 

Last year I wrote about Noah Berlatsky's complaint that American sci-fi is not coming up with anything new.

Then I cross-referenced some of his other writing about trends in dystopian genre lit and suggested that the franchises Americans keep coming back to and rebooting were characteristically franchises that took hold of popular imagination during, broadly speaking, the Camelot and Reagan phases of American history, i.e. moments of peak self-satisfaction for Americans about the nature and scope of the American empire.

We keep coming back to those franchises, perhaps, not because we don't have any new ideas but because we don't want the empire/franchise moment to end.  It doesn't even have to be Star Trek or Star Wars.  Why do Buffy and Firefly keep going?  Because there's an actual artistic "need" being met?  No, because the fans don't want the franchises to end.

Some franchises can withstand the generational reboots.  It's worked out for Bond and it worked out for Batman in the mid-aughts.  Whether you loved or hated Nolan's Batman films, though, he gave the story an end point that explicitly repudiated the possibility of a continuation or a reboot.  In the age of superhero films we have now, with the dozens of Marvel films on the front and back burners, Nolan choosing a concrete end that precludes franchise spin-offs may prove to be a real anomaly.

Now if there's a coherent, unified story line going somewhere rebooting or continuing a franchise in a new direction can be great.  Observe the shift from Batman: the animated series through Superman: the animated series to Justice League and Justice League Unlimited.  But then there's The Last Airbender series and the travesty of ret-con storytelling that was Legend of Korra (which I now refer to as Legend of Entitlement).  If the guys who created those shows were as smart and daring as they seem to think they are they'd be Dwayne McDuffie. But they're not. I'll get back to the problems with Korra later.  For now this is just playing with the idea that our franchise reboot obsession could be a sign that we don't want the sun to set on the American empire while in other lands other pop culture franchises could be said to have more directly engaged the reality of imperial decline.

But Doctor Who as an emblem of that probably deserves its own post.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Friedersdorf on a situation at Wesleyan University, "The contradiction at the core of these activists’ behavior: they characterize themselves as marginalized voices even as they resort to force to achieve their ends."
The latest exemplars of this misguided faction are students at Wesleyan University, a highly selective liberal arts school with a student-to-faculty ration of 8 to 1. Simply put, these activists are unwittingly harming Black Lives Matter, undermining liberal values, and mistreating fellow students who’ve done nothing wrong. Their error is rooted in an increasingly common misunderstanding of power in America. And Wesleyan’s student newspaper, The Argus, is their primary target.

Last week, its opinion section published an op-ed that critiqued the tactics of the Black Lives Matter movement. “Is the movement itself actually achieving anything positive?” the author asked. “Does it have the potential for positive change?” As he saw it, “They need to stand with police units that lose a member, decrying it with as much passion as they do when a police officer kills an unarmed civilian.”

He declared that insofar as the movement vilifies cops, “then I will not support the movement, I cannot support the movement. And many Americans feel the same. I should repeat, I do support many of the efforts by the more moderate activists.”

The column provoked fury––and not because it had a few factual errors.

In response to it, scores of students began trying to strong-arm the newspaper. They began by seizing its issues and throwing them into recycling bins as soon as they were distributed on campus. Then, “during a Sunday
 night forum held by the university’s student government, the Wesleyan Student Assembly, a petition was introduced to boycott and revoke funding of the 147-year-old paper,” the Boston Globe reports.

The petition called for new limits on the newspaper’s autonomy and declared that student activists will keep “recycling” copies unless their demands are met. (The newspaper readily agreed to various racial-diversity demands, including the publication of an issue without any white writers, but is loath to surrender its editorial independence.)

As a frequent, public critic of law-enforcement abuses at the national, state, and local levels, I have particular contempt for the action of these censorious students: They are undermining the very norm that prevents police officers and their supporters from responding to articles of mine that they don’t like by stealing The Atlantic from newsstands or targeting its website with denial of service attacks. And of course, they are holding the newspaper to a bizarre standard. As a staffer put it, to penalize the paper for publishing an unpopular opinion “sets a dangerous precedent in which the difficult, messy work of having to argue against... points is set aside in favor of simply trying to make sure those points are not heard.”

The contradiction at the core of these activists’ behavior: they characterize themselves as marginalized voices even as they resort to force to achieve their ends.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

At Mark Driscoll Ministries, Grace Driscoll asks "What is a Friend?" and observes "Unfortunately, few people know how to be a good friend in this day and age"
Unfortunately, few people know how to be a good friend in this day and age.  As Christians, we have a prime opportunity to help others understand what a godly relationship can look like.  This certainly doesn’t happen over night, in fact it takes years to develop a true friendship and not all women want to or will walk through all seasons of life with you.  I have learned how to be a better friend over the years by failing, sinning, repenting, encouraging, listening, being teachable, and allowing the Holy Spirit to mature me in areas that I needed to grow.

That may well be. If Grace Driscoll is stepping back into the public sphere and making use of a mass media/social media platform such as blogging at Mark Driscoll Ministries, let's revisit a story shared at Joyful Exiles by Jonna Petry.
Shortly before Paul was confirmed as a pastor/elder, I was invited to a dinner to celebrate Grace’s (Mark’s wife and my friend) birthday. There were a dozen or so women in attendance and I ended up sitting next to Karen Schaeffer, who was Mark’s administrative assistant - a lovely, older, godly woman whom I greatly respected. Sitting next to us was an elder’s wife who was close in age and who also had quite a bit of previous ministry experience. The three of us enjoyed great conversation – alive, encouraging, as iron sharpens iron. We ended up being the last three to leave the restaurant and as we walked to the car decided we should  pray together for some of the things that had been shared. We got in the car and ended our time together praying for many things, including the elders, our families and the church.

The next morning I heard from the elder’s wife, the one Karen and I had so enjoyed - that she had shared our conversation with her husband and he felt that it showed “disloyalty” on Karen’s part, was gossip, and that it needed to be brought to Mark, which he did. Karen was fired. The gist of what she shared that was branded “disloyal” was a heart of thankfulness that my husband, Paul, was being made an elder because Mark needed strong men around him who could handle and stand up to push-back. When I found out what this elder and his wife had done, I called Mark immediately in tears and asked him to forgive me for my part in that conversation. Looking back, I’m not sure that Karen or I really did anything wrong, but I was sure afraid.

Shortly after this meeting, in my praying for the church that God’s will would be done in the upcoming changes, I sent a letter to the elders’ wives inviting them to join me in prayer, along with Scriptures I had been meditating on. Mark, who reads Grace’s emails, was livid about it and verbally lambasted the elders at their next meeting for not keeping their wives in line.
In the first week of December 2007, over a month after we resigned our membership, the church elders voted to “discipline” Paul and published a letter instructing MHC members to shun him.

The shunning document was published on the members’ website and letters were mailed to members as far away as Colorado.

I remember that day well, as my heart sank to the ground on reading the text a friend had emailed us. I could hardly breathe. In great anguish I thought to myself, “I can’t just do nothing. How am I supposed to respond to this?” I was reminded of the words from Scripture, “Bless those who persecute you. Bless and do not curse…” So mechanically I went to the store and bought beautiful potted poinsettias and some generic but thoughtful Christmas cards that I lovingly signed and then personally delivered them - trembling and in tears - to the homes of several elders, including Mark Driscoll, Brad House, and Jamie Munson. At the Driscoll’s, Grace’s father and one of the children opened the door, Grace was coming down the stairs and when she saw me she said my name and hurried to the door, hugged me and cried too. No words were spoken.

Just  yesterday we revisited how Mark Driscoll once said "I'll tell you, in the history of Mars Hill, I mean, I have had to put up a firewall, a moat, guard dogs, and a high wall with barbed wire on top, and snipers behind it, around my wife."

To read more on what Driscoll said in addition to that ...

To the extent that Mark Driscoll stressed what lengths he went to protect Grace and the extent to which he considered at least some women who sought to befriend her as being Satanic busybodies, it might have been tough to maintain friendships in circumstances like that, maybe?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

a new chapter for the Driscolls, "This week, Grace enjoyed a lot of meetings with pastors' wives ... " compare that to Driscoll in 2008 on the white/black list of her email and the Satanic women who wanted to be Grace's friends

Mark Driscoll's still on the road here and there, doing the teaching thing.  Even though he's not exactly a pastor since he resigned last year, and even though it's not confirmed that he and his family are members of a church yet, the speaking engagements continue. Ecclesiastes is back in rotation this year and perhaps that's to be expected since it was a book he preached through in the first decade of his public career, revisited in his second, and seems to be returning to as he looks toward the possibility of a third.  As genres of biblical literature go the wisdom literature, though he has yet to display a particularly compelling command of its complexity and nuance, may be the comfort food for Mark Driscoll. 

That's not what's of particular interest, it's this.
This week Grace enjoyed a lot of meetings with pastors’ wives and godly women around the Phoenix valley. We’ve met some truly wonderful people. She has been to more women’s events, Bible studies, and conferences lately than any season of her life.

It’s been wonderfully encouraging as her husband to see the warm welcome she has received from numerous godly older women.

Compare the above to what's been made available by way of Driscoll's teaching and preaching in the past  It's worth revisiting some things Mark Driscoll wrote back in 2006 about Grace's earlier attempts to be involved in ministry in the first decade of Mars Hill:

Confessions of a Reformission Rev
Mark Driscoll, Zondervan 2006
ISBN-13: 978-0-310-27016-4


page 101-102
During this season my wife, Grace, also started to experience a lot of serious medical problems. her job was very stressful, and between her long hours at the office and long hours at the church, her body started breaking down. I felt tremendousy convicted that I had sinned against my wife and had violated the spirit of 1 Timothy 5:8, which says that if a man does not provide for his family he has denied his faith and has acted in a manner worse than an unbeliever. I repented to Grace for my sin of not making enough money and having her shoulder any of the financial burden for our family.  We did not yet have elders installed in the church but did have an advisory council in place, and I asked them for a small monthly stipend to help us make ends meet, and I supplemented our income with outside support and an occasional speaking engagement.

Shortly thereafter, Grace gave birth to our first child, my sweetie-pie Ashley. Up to this point Grace had continuously poured endless hours into the church. She taught a women's Bible study, mentored many young women, oversaw hospitality on Sundays, coordinated meals for new moms recovering from birth, and organized all of the bridal and baby showers. Grace's dad had planted a church before she was born and has remained there for more than forty years. Her heart for ministry and willingness to serve was amazing. But as our church grew, I felt I was losing my wife because we were both putting so many hours into the church that we were not connecting as a couple like we should have. I found myself getting bitter against her because she would spend her time caring for our child and caring for our church but was somewhat negligent of me.

I explained to Grace that her primary ministry was to me, our child, and the management of our home and that I needed her to pull back from the church work to focus on what mattered most.  She resisted a bit at first, but no one took care of me but her.  And the best thing she could do for the church was to make sure that we had a good marriage and godly children as an example for other people in the church to follow.  It was the first time that I remember actually admitting my need for help to anyone.  It was tough. But I feared that if we did not put our marriage and children above the demands of the church, we would end up with the lukewarm, distant marriage that so many pastors have because they treat their churches as mistresses that they are more passionate about than their brides. 

Although I was frustrated with both my wife and church, I had to own the fact that they were both under my leadership and that I had obviously done a poor job of organizing things to function effectively.  And since we did not yet have elders formally in place there was no one to stop me from implementing dumb ideas like the 9:00p.m. church service.  So I decided to come to firmer convictions on church government and structure so that I could establish the founding framework for what our church leadership would look like.


page 120
A friend in the church kindly allowed me to move into a large home he owned on a lease-to-own deal because I was too broke to qualify for anything but an outhouse. The seventy-year-old house had over three thousand square feet, seven bedrooms on three floors, and needed a ton of work because it had been neglected for many years as a rental home for college students. Grace and I and our daughter Ashley, three male renters who helped cover the mortgage, my study, and the church office all moved into the home. This put me on the job, literally, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, as the boundary between home and church was erased.

We ran the church out of my house for nearly two years, including leadership meetings and Bible studies for various groups on almost every night of the week. It was not uncommon to have over seventy people a week in our home. Grace got sucked right back into the church mess. She was a great host to our guests. But I started growing bitter toward her because I was again feeling neglected.

Notice that the source of bitterness was recounted as feeling neglected because Grace was immersing herself in ministry service and activity.  The emphasis from the 2006 account to the 2012 shifts substantially from a Mark Driscoll recounting how his failure to plan and lead adequately, and his wife's love of service in ministry, led to some seasons of tension to the 2012 Real Marriage account, where Mark Driscoll may have explained more specifically what he may have cryptically meant by "we were not connecting as a couple like we should have."

Bear in mind the above quotes from Confessions cover the time when Ashley was the only child Mark and Grace Driscoll had.  What may have taken place in the 2012 narrative was an expansion or compression of seasons of tension that were described as intermittent stages of frustration  in an otherwise happy marriage as recounted in the 2006 into a troubled and bitter marital relationship presented in the 2012 book.

That's just a guess.

Meanwhile, from 2006 to 2012 here are excerpts of how Driscoll described his connection to Grace and his thoughts about women who sought to be friends with her from teaching and sermons given in 2008.
About 2:01 into the YouTube clip, assuming it'll still be available:

It would start about 33:50

... and this is an ENORMOUS part of my relationship with Grace.  I mean I still remember when I first started seeing her she, uh, she went off to college, I was still in high school and they ran out of housing so they put her in a guys' dorm. And I was like, "What!?" so I got in the car and I drove to the university and I knocked on all the doors of all the guys on her floor. "Hi. My name is Mark. I love this woman. If anyone touches her, talks to her, thinks about talking about touching her I will beat them. Literally I threatened twenty guys. Just knocked on every door. No way she's gonna get messed with. No way.

[to go by the audience laughter Mark Driscoll threatening twenty guys with assault was both chivalrous and funny, disappointing, to put it nicely]

Later on when she transferred to another university, WSU, she's five hours away. And she moved out there and her phone wasn't hooked up yet and we didn't have cell phones. And I told her, "When you get there, go to a pay phone. Call me. Let me know you got there safe."  Well she ... didn't call so I got in the car and I drove there. Five hours.  The day I had to work. And I knocked on the door. She answered it and I said, "Whu, you didn't call." She said, "I forgot." I said, "Are you okay?" She said, "I'm okay." So, okay, good, I got in the car and I drove home. Just checking. Six hundred miles.  Who cares? It's Grace.

[this has been commented on by others and so it's merely worth noting that a cumulative ten hour road trip because Grace didn't call him sounds weird]

... even emotionally, people send her nasty emails, text messages, talk trash about me, leave the church and want to take parting shots at her. She has nothing to do with any of it. So I even put a white/black list on her email and some people so some people can email her and the rest come to me. Delete. Delete. Delete. Delete. Delete. Delete. Delete. So that she doesn't have to feel bad because people are taking shots at her. That's my girl. No shots. That's the rule.
Spiritual Warfare part 2, The Devil
February 5, 2008

about 50 minutes in to the 1 hour mark.

How about this one? Idle gossip and busybodying. 1 Timothy 5:11-15. This one is amazing. Ladies this one is especially for you. Some of you say, "Oh, it's not me." Yeah, it is. 1 Timothy 5:11-15, but refuse to enroll younger widows for when their passions draw them away from Christ they desire to marry and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith.  Besides that they learn to be idlers

Women learn how to make a lot of free time. Going about from house to house. Well now it would be from email to email and from phone call to phone call. Technology makes idle busybodying far more effective than ever.

And not only idlers but also gossips. They like to talk about people. How are you doing? What are you doing? And this isn't sisterly accountability, this is "I need to know what everybody's doing because I like to know what everybody's doing and then I can tell other people what other people are doing and then I can say, `Hey, you need to pray for so-and-so.' and I can make it sound spiritual so that when I'm gossiping and busy-bodying I'm doing so in a way that seems really Jesus-like." And busybodies, they need to know what everybody's doing. They need to know what everybody's doing, saying what they should not. So I would have younger widows marry, bear children and manage their household, right? Stay busy, and give the adversary (that's Satan) no occasion for slander. For some have already strayed after Satan. Hmm.

A woman who's a gossip and a busybody; a woman who has to put her nose in everybody's business and knows what everybody's going on; know what they're doing, she's working with Satan. Now I know most women would say, "No, no, no. I'm not Satanic, I'm concerned. I'm not Satanic, I'm an intercessor. I'm a prayer warrior. I'm not Satanic, I'm an accountability partner.  I'm not Satanic, I'm a concerned friend."  Okay, you're a Satanic intercessory prayer warrior accountability partner concerned friend but just start the whole list with "Satanic" so that we don't misunderstand your job description. 

Now there's a difference between someone inviting you into their life and saying, "I want to be friends, I want to have an accountable  relationship." and you pushing yourself into everyone's life, okay?  I'll tell you, in the history of Mars Hill, I mean, I have had to put up a firewall, a moat, guard dogs, and a high wall with barbed wire on top, and snipers behind it, around my wife. There are certain women who, they just need to know what Grace is doing and they are determined, they say things like, uh, "Hey, we need to have dinner with your family." [slight chuckle] No you don't. "Hey, we need to have coffee." No you don't.  "Hey, phone number." What? Nope. "Email." Nope.  Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope.

"Oh, come on." Nope.
"But I thought you were our pastor."
I am and my first lesson is to tell you you're Satanic.
"Oh, come on, in our last church the pastor's wife [sob] she was my best friend and I got to talk to her all the time."

Well, she was Satanic, too.  Give me her number, I'll call her and tell her. We'll help her out.
You ladies KNOW these women. Right? How many of you ladies know these women? They will try first with the hyper-spiritual, "Oh, praise the Lord! I'd love to pray for you. Let's get together. Let's do Christian community. Let's go to heart." If you decline, then they emotionally manipulate, [inhales, sobbing voice], "I thought we were friends, I thought you loved me. I don't have anybody to talk to." It's all manipulation. It's FEMALE manipulation.  Some of you ladies, right now? You think, "I can't believe he said that." It's all true. It's Satanic, Satanic.

Paul says, "Don't be a busybody, stay busy." Right? Your husband, your kids, your family, your home, Jesus Christ. You got things to do.

Busybodies stay busy inserting themselves into everyone else's life. In some churches there are certain women, if you call them, they'll know everything that's going on because, somehow, they know everything. There's a difference between being a woman who is invited into someone's life for friendship, prayer and accountability, and a woman who emotionally manipulates and is pushy and is sometimes hyperspiritual and demanding and forces herself in because she's a drama queen and has to be at the center of all the drama. That is a Satanic woman.

You need to believe that and the worst thing you can do is accomodate it. Okay, we'll have you over for dinner once. And then, the next month, it's "Okay, buddy, we haven't been together in a month. We need to get together again. I'm sure a lot has happened in your life and I don't know what it is and I need to know because I need to know everything. I have a God complex of omniscience. I want to know everything about everybody." And what you find with these people, Paul says, they tend to be gossips, meaning you don't just talk to them, then they talk to other people.  "Well, did you know their marriage is struggling? Did you know that she's depressed?  Did you know that  she's post-partum?  Do you know that, sexually, her husband's impotent?" These are conversations I've heard in this building. Really?

Sometimes womens' ministry is the cesspool that this kind of activity flourishes in. Some have asked, "Why don't you have womens' ministry?" The answer is we do, but it's, you have to be very careful, it's like juggling knives. You put the wrong women in charge of womens' ministry, the drama queen, the gossip mama, all of a sudden all the women come together, tell her everything, she becomes the pseudo-elder  quasi-matriarch; she's got the dirt on everybody and sometimes the women all get together to rip on their husbands in the name of prayer requests. Happens all the time. Happens all the time. We have worked very hard so that the women who teach here are like Wendy Alsup who I really love and appreciate and respect. She's not like that. It is not that no woman should lead, that no woman should teach, that no woman should in a position of authority over other women  under the authority of their husband, Jesus and the elders it's just that the wrong women tend to want it. The wrong women tend to want it and they tend to want it for the wrong reasons. And sometimes it's the humble woman, who isn't fighting to be the center of drama, control and power; who doesn't have to be up front; she's usually the one who is most capable and qualified.  

And for you single men as well I would say be very, very careful because if you're on staff at Mars Hill  (everything I say sounds terrible, this will just be added to the pile) there are certain women who will tell you, "I want to marry a pastor." Really? You should want to marry a Christian who loves Jesus, loves you, loves your kids should God give them to you. I've lectured enough Bible colleges and seminaries, the young women who come up and say, "I want to marry a pastor"  my immediate default question is, "Are you a gossip? Are you a busybody? Are you a drama queen?" "No. No, I feel called to serve the Lord."  Well, you can serve the Lord without being called to be a pastor's wife in fact, take it from me, it's easier to be a woman and serve the Lord than being married to a pastor.   You single  guys, you gotta be careful, man. There are some women, they want to marry a pastor so they can be the center of power, authority; they can be the first lady;  everybody knows them, everybody wants to be their friend, everybody wants to tell them everything; and they can be the center of all the drama. Run for your life. Run for your life. Run for your life. It's Satanic.

See?  I need you women to really search your own heart. Are you Satanic? Is this still part of your flesh, this sick desire in you to know everybody's business? I'm not saying you don't have friends but how much are you on the internet? How much time do you spend emailing? How much time do you spend crying nad freaking out and knowing everybody's business and on the phone and having to meet with people because, "Did you know so-and-so did such-and-such and so-and-so is feeling this way and did you?" Are you the center of LOTS of activity? Why? It's Satanic. It's Satanic. I think I've made my point.

So, compared to the way Mark Driscoll was talking about women who wanted to be friends with Grace in 2008, announcing to the world that Grace Driscoll has been meeting with pastors' wives might be an improvement.  It's not that difficult to take at face value Mark Driscoll's recent statement that "She has been to more women’s events, Bible studies, and conferences lately than any season of her life."

Monday, September 21, 2015

not entirely auspicious relaunch of The Muppets
The show, co-created by Bill Prady, a muppeteer from wayback, finds Kermit and his pals plagued by work stress, day-to-day irritations and relationship problems. It is set behind the scenes of Miss Piggy’s late-night show, Up All Night With Miss Piggy, where Kermit is the executive producer, Animal plays drums in the house band, Gonzo is the head writer, Statler and Waldorf are perpetually in the audience, and so on. It melds the backstage set-up of The Larry Sanders Show or 30 Rock (fans of which will recall that Kenneth the Page already thought everyone on that show was a Muppet) with the mockumentary tricks of The Office: the talking head interviews, the glances at the camera. The resulting comedy is knowing, self-referential, low-energy, and a little jaded, perfectly promising qualities in a new sitcom, unless that new sitcom stars a green frog beloved for self-identifying as a “lover and dreamer.” The Muppets turns the rainbow connection grey.


Miss Piggy has always been a high-maintenance diva, but in the sweeter environs of past Muppet entertainments, her bad behavior was milder. Even at her worst—hitting Kermit all the time, for example—she was the sour powder slathered onto the Muppet gummy bears: the lip-puckering tang that made them taste so good. In recent years, Piggy has even become a kind of feminist icon, authoring a piece for Time, “Why I am a feminist pig.” On The Muppets she is, it’s true, a woman with a late-night show, but otherwise she’s a real boor.

The first two episodes orbit around Piggy’s bad porcine behavior. In the first, Kermit insists on booking Elizabeth Banks as a guest despite Piggy’s protestations. He and the crew spend the episode tip-toeing around Piggy, who they believe doesn't like Banks for petty reasons. It turns out she just doesn’t like her for inappropriately personal ones. In the second, she’s been in a hellacious mood for days—the crew hides beneath their desks, rather than risk eye contact—because she doesn’t have a date to an awards show, and only a famous person will appease Piggy’s ego. Eventually Kermit hooks her up with Josh Groban, whom she tries to impress by forsaking her own tastes and going highbrow, pushing to interview some authors even though she’s never read a book. Kermit only breaks Groban’s spell over Piggy by playing to his ex’s vanity. Bossy, shrill, hysterical, irrational, moody, and all the other condescending words that are disproportionately used to describe and police women’s behavior, all truly apply to this iteration of Miss Piggy. (Except frumpy. Even this Miss Piggy is not frumpy.)

I am aware, as I write this, that Miss Piggy is not a real person. But this is exactly why she is such a potent symbol. Miss Piggy is not a human being, but she is controlled by human beings, human beings who have hung her out to fry: You can almost smell the bacon. The original Miss Piggy is a forerunner to the complicated female protagonists TV continues to provide, characters from Liz Lemon to Hannah Horvath, from Skyler White to UnReal’s Rachel Goldberg, deeply flawed women not primarily, or even particularly, concerned with being likeable. But it’s hard to get past this iteration of Miss Piggy’s unpleasantness because that’s all there is: She’s not a fully developed moi, just a set of high-maintenance tics.

Making Missy Piggy so awful has dour ramifications for the rest of the Muppets: Why are they working so hard for this pig, who can’t even deign to remember Fozzie Bear’s name? Have they no self-respect? Nothing more joyful to do? The Muppet who comes off worst is Kermit, who spends his days sneakily managing Piggy’s moods, working up the nerve to disobey her, a mild-mannered middle manager. His voice, previously so adorable, began to sound to me mealy and weak, like the vocal equivalent of pleated khakis.

A reasonable person already cauterized to the indignities reboots can visit upon beloved intellectual properties would remind you that The Muppets may very well improve, and, even if it doesn’t, these are still the Muppets: a gang of spastic goofballs who will remain good company so long as the Swedish Chef is still spouting charming Swedish-inflected nonsense. But who wants to be reasonable about the Muppets? The first movie I ever went to see in a theater was 1984’s The Muppets Take Manhattan. I was 3 years old. Late in the movie, Kermit gets hit by a car. My mother looked over to see if I was okay, but I was gone, out of my seat, halfway up the aisle and heading for the door. I was not going to sit there and watch anything awful happen to Kermit the Frog. It’s hard to imagine anyone feeling so strongly about this version of Kermit. The show has already run him over.

Noah Berlatsky's piece about Miss Piggy being a physically abusive pig is dutifully linked to in the above piece.
Kermit Has a New Girlfriend? Good. His Last One Was a Domestic Abuser.

Perhaps it's a paradoxically artistic casualty in the era of tales of microaggressions.  Then again, didn't there happen to be some press release where Kermit and Piggy said they'd have nothing more to say on the matter unless they got the right offer?  When even the Muppets are jaded ours may be a bitterly cynical age indeed.