Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Context for A Call for Reconciliation: Part 7

Part 7: Where the leader goes (and what he does), the rest may follow

As I have attempted to demonstrate the recent stories came to light in the media due to what look like intra-Martian activity. Andrew wouldn’t have known about the escalation letter unless someone with access to The City sent it to him. This suggests that the underlying tension may not be how former members feel about church discipline, it may be that within the church itself there are some who are no longer convinced in the competence or equity of the process. If so that “might” explain why “A Call For Reconciliation” is addressed first of all to Mars Hill and only secondarily to former members or members who might be under discipline. [more after the jump]

Now “In roughly six years” is not encouraging, either. After all, in Real Marriage Mark Driscoll shared how just before Ashley’s birth he had a dream and in this dream he saw Grace cheating on him, in explicit detail, with some other guy in a setting that indicated the early months of the Driscoll’s dating relationship. This dream was so traumatizing for Mark that he woke up, threw up, and stayed up all the rest of the night in order to interrogate his wife as to whether this thing he dreamed about took place. Grace relates that it did took place, years and years earlier. Driscoll relates that had he known this about his wife he would not have married her. Grace for her part shared that she felt Mark was right to be angry that she did not tell the truth about this over the years.

Now if the spiritual head of Mars Hill had discovered from Grace that the dream he dreamed didn’t correspond to anything that actually happened would the dream have been a revelation of Grace’s past sins? Since the dream occurred shortly before the birth of Ashley was the dream “only” about Mark’s latent fear that Grace, too, was unfaithful? Or could it also have been an expression of an anxiety about fatherhood that would go with that?

Furthermore Mark Driscoll's public conduct in the last few months on things unreleated to any disciplinary case can be taken as troubling:

Driscoll made a point of saying, "It felt like a personally offended critic had finally gotten his chance to exercise some authority over me." Asking questions about statements you made on record is not exercising authority, unless being asked what you said on record and why you said it constitutes authority. If it does you have to have some unique ideas of "authority".

Now did this pre-emptive attack on Justin Brierley's character and theology by Mark Driscoll actually correspond all that much to this?

It might appear to detached listeners that Driscoll's reaction to Justin Brierley asking questions of him might look like a "magnitude gap". That's to say Mark Driscoll decided on January 12, 2012 that what happened was more traumatic than he seemed to think it was during the actual interview by most accounts.
Now in victim stories and perpetrator stories there is often what Roy Baumeister has called a "magnitude gap". See Evil: Inside Human Violence and Cruelty chapters 1 and 2 for what I'm discussing. When people began to look at and listen to how the interview actually went it became less clear that Driscoll's interview Justin Brierley was the one who was being adversarial.

At another level, Driscoll's reaction to the Brierley interview may be informed by yet another level of context, the confessions in chapter one of Real Marriage. Well, about that going public thing consider that your lead teaching pastor just shared in a best-selling book about a dream he had about his wife sinning against him sexually. If Driscolls can consider Mark’s reaction to a dream about something that happened to have happened justified, even justified to the point of publishing it in a best-selling book, does it do really make sense to ask former members to avoid any public discussion of things that happened roughly six years ago?
So when we come to the phrase “in roughly six years” in A Call for Reconciliation this may look, within the larger cultural and historical context of public statements by Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill as a possible “magnitude gap”. For people harmed by Mars Hill there’s not necessarily going to be a swift or easy way to “get over it”. For Mars Hill the perspective seems different, more like, “Whatever we did to you can’t be so bad that you’d go public with it.” Yet the Driscolls are totally okay with presenting their sexual histories inside and outside marriage in a best-selling book. Is it impossible to ask that such people could find it in themselves to be a little more thick-skinned?

With a leader like this sharing a great deal of personal history in a best-seller during the time when Mars Hill is publicly urging former members to not go to the press, isn't there a "tension" here, to borrow an old Mars Hillian catchphrase? Has no one in Mars Hill ever heard of this thing called a double standard and how it can harm communication? Mars Hill may want to have private meetings but by now they need to reconsider whether “private” can mean ‘off the record”. By now the track record of Mars Hill people keeping things truly private is not demonstrably awe-inspiring and the amount of public sharing the Driscolls have done do not suggest that Mars Hill can look to its own lead teaching pastor as an example to follow either in keeping things private or in responding charitably to disagreements. A pre-emptive strike by Driscoll against Brierley is hardly a great move just a couple of months before issuing "A Call for Reconciliation". 

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