Wednesday, August 27, 2014

a linkathon and a theme

Brian Auten on the Sunbelt argument and the rise of Christian reconstructionism

If you want to read a brief polemical piece that will only make sense if your idea of a fun evening is reading about theories of imputation ... .   Wenatchee The Hatchet found reading about and considering traducianism to be fun so don't get too excited about this link. ;)

An old article, one about Lance Armstrong, with the fascinating idea that what got Armstrong in trouble was not that he cheated as a cyclist but that he cheated in his narrative of being a hero.  He presented himself as someone he wasn't.  People going to considerable lengths to present a narrative about themselves that turns out to be untrue or partly untrue wouldn't apply to other realms of discussion ... .

Back to links in which the gap between a hero for evangelicals in image and in life ...

Moving away from one visual medium to another, in February 2014 Dahlia Lithwick wrote "Woody Allen vs Dylan Farrow: The Court of Public Opinion is Now in Session."

Someone famous said earlier this year "Enabled and protected by the freewheeling and often times anonymous nature of the Internet, people have become comfortable concocting hate-filled and libelous tales about my professional and personal lives."

For those who read Wenatchee The Hatchet for a narrow sub-set of topics that was not uttered by anyone in any way associated with Mars Hill.  Nope, it was Terry Richardson.   Richardson has been accused of, well, if you wish go read for yourself.  Wenatchee The Hatchet has met a handful of people who have worked in modeling and, well, the guy has an informal reputation. 

Then there's Bill Cosby ...

and earlier this year Miyazaki's film The Wind Rises made waves either for doing too much to celebrate a man who designed warplanes or for betraying Japan, depending on who was angry about what.  The possibility that the film was and is more ambivalent than that may have escaped the attention of partisans who aren't aware of Miyazaki's ambivalent mixture of fatalism/pessimism with an eye for the beautiful. 

There's a theme here, of the puzzle of how in one sphere or another men who are alleged to have (or actually have) done terrible, nasty things have continued to thrive.  Regardless of the truth or falsehood of the allegations the rhetoric of the defense can often seem ... a bit ... uniform. 

It seems imprudent to cynically assume the worst any time phrases about how the anonymous nature of the Internet inspires people to concoct hate-filled and libelous tales but it is possible at times to exaggerate the degree to which the internet confers true anonymity on anyone.  Who by now imagines that the NSA can't find out what it wants to about your online activities if they wish to?  More to the point, it may be too easy to assume that men with power always abuse it or that men in positions of influence will always be assailed by envious haters.  It may be that neither is exactly true.    As Lithwick wrote earlier this year about the court of public opinion, it's not the same as investigative journalism. 

With respect to Mars Hill and its recent controversies, don't imagine that everything (or even anything) about the corporation will be settled in the court of public opinion. Long ago a teacher once said that in journalism you'd be a fool to think you don't have biases but that if you're committed to finding out what the facts are, to finding out what the truth is, you should be willing and able to follow where the facts lead even if they go somewhere you don't want them to go, and you may find they may not even lead anywhere certain.   Had you asked Wenatchee The Hatchet a year ago if it was even possible that Mars Hill contracted with Result Source Inc that would have been a non-issue because it had never even crossed the mind of Wenatchee The Hatchet. 

As noted earlier this week, there is an underlying crisis that is merely hinted at in the news coverage that has emerged about Mars Hill the corporation and its president Mark Driscoll, that there are struggles within the corporate culture about how much the leadership can be trusted in terms of judgment and in some cases relational practice.  Having been flamed by a few commenters at the Wartburg Watch in the last few years for pointing out that some people assume Mark Driscoll said things he never actually said, Wenatchee The Hatchet has become aware that the court of public opinion has partisans who don't care what the facts are, even if you can back it up with primary sources (that have since been deleted and scrubbed with robots so that not even The WayBack Machine can be cited any longer as evidence that Driscoll never said Gayle Haggard let herself go, ever).  But in the court of public opinion he "had" to have said that, just as for defenders of Mark Driscoll the only people who have any criticisms of Driscoll oppose the Gospel and are pro-gay, pro-feminist heathens.  Well, John MacArthur could and should take umbrage at that sort of characterization.  In fact it has been precisely because even evangelicals and conservatives have begun to express their frustration with certain aspects of Driscoll's approach that the scandals of the last year emerged.

Whether in film, in art, in comedy, in athletics, in music or in preaching there have been quite a few scandals and Wenatchee the Hatchet has noticed there's kind of a broad theme that can be detected in them, a simple one--we are continually grappling with the question of how great an achievement are we willing to use as the basis for excusing the flaws of a real or perceived titan in a field?  In Terry Teachout's biography about Duke Ellington he wrote about the uncountable number of women Ellington had sex with who he wasn't married to, and wrote about how Billy Strayhorn's nickname for Ellington was "Monster".  Yet Ellingtono is rightly celebrated as a champion of composing jazz, even as debate about the degree to which he composed his band's music in one tradition or another has sprawled across the net in the wake of Teachout's book being published.  Looking over to politics we can keep revisiting the question of whether Kennedy's achievements in politics really offset his personal foibles with drugs and women, or whether Reagan's mental competency wasn't a variable to consider in how he handled some policy issues and (if you're familiar with Joan Didion's rather sedate rants against Reagan, if he was ever even all that conservative to begin with). 

Kennedy and Reagan, particularly, have become late 20th century icons for party politics almost regardless of what the men in office actually did.  If someone does something important enough we might excuse or overlook Martin Luther King's alleged plagiarism and womanizing because of what he is considered to have achieved in civil rights.  But should we?

Or maybe, rather, we can get back to the question asked in Miyazaki's film The Wind Rises, would you live in a world with or without the pyramids?  It is a rhetorical question, of course, and perhaps the question we must continue to ask is not whether we will ultimately overlook an injustice in the interest of a pragmatic but idealized cause but what cause that will be and what price we are willing to pay or ... perhaps even more distressing, what price we're willing to make others pay so that we can see a particular dream realized. 

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