Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Wenatchee The Hatchet was not at the protest ... and a few thoughts about the blogging reactions to William Wallace II

ABOUT THE PROTEST AND WHY WENATCHEE WASN'T THERE

and has been considering for a while now writing about why Wenatchee didn't show up.  The first simple reason is there were better things to do on a Sunday than head out to Bellevue where the protest was. Wenatchee The Hatchet went to church. 

Now for those who went, that's fine.  If you went, dear reader, you went and that's fine. The liberty to do so is part of freedom of speech and freedom of the press.  Since someone asked in the wake of the protest if Wenatchee The Hatchet was at the protest it might be pertinent to answer that question--no.  Wenatchee The Hatchet went to church instead.

There are a couple of reasons Wenatchee The Hatchet didn't go (no disrespect intended to those who did):

First, Wenatchee is not the sort of activist type to get near protests or even parades if other options are available. 

Secondly, what other options are already available to Wenatchee?  This blog, chiefly.  A protest is a protest and a document is a document.  It seems more useful for Wenatchee The Hatchet to document the history of Mars Hill and the way that history has kept changing over the years than to be at a protest.  Preserving the history of Mars Hill and of Mark Driscoll's public statements and teachings is simply too important a task for WtH to set aside to participate in a more activist event, especially considering the astonishing rate at which Mars Hill has been purging content, almost as fast as Wenatchee The Hatchet has managed to quote it as accurately and in-context as possible. Given that set of circumstances, attending a protest would not really add anything to what Wenatchee is trying to achieve.  To put it in terms that are more "Christianese" or theological, the body has many parts.  Wenatchee the Hatchet is not necessarily one of the parts of the body, if you will, that shows up at protests covered by media.

Believe it or not, just keeping on top of the shifting sands of Mars Hill common narrative is not always easily done.  It hardly helps that historically there are incentives for those to the left and right of Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll on matters of religion or politics to run with in-group identity concerns and shortcuts.  There's almost as much groupthink in opposition to Mars Hill as there is within the social unit known as Mars Hill Church.

In light of the numerous shortcomings in factual accuracy when secular/progressive bloggers and journalists try to field the history of Mars Hill, Mark Driscoll and their associated controversies, sometimes doing what some call watchblogging involves correcting factual errors and popular misrepresentations of Driscoll and Mars Hill when it seems necessary.  There have been some popular but erroneous tales and assumptions floating around about Mars Hill, most of which coalesced into an article published by Valerie Tarico earlier this year.  Wenatchee the Hatchet took some time to fact-check and correct some factual errors in the piece.

http://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2014/04/valerie-tarico-publishes-article-on.html

Tarico came by and clarified that the factual errors in the articles did get fixed in the following comment.

http://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2014/04/valerie-tarico-publishes-article-on.html?showComment=1399438463428#c2810371090880703646

In the last year there have been more angry comments at this blog from Driscoll critics than from Driscoll supporters and this has tended to be in reaction to WtH clarifying by reference to primary source statements quoted in context that, no, in fact, Mark Driscoll didn't say some of the things that have been credited to him.  Mark Driscoll has certainly said many silly things that he regrets, his entire career as William Wallace II deservedly being among them, but the idea that he said anything about Gayle Haggard letting herself go has yet to be proven more than half a decade later.  On the other hand, as Warren Throckmorton has been slowly and steadily documenting, it's beginning to look like from Mark Driscoll's first published book he's been using the ideas of others without being particularly fastidious about giving credit where it was due. 

Now, after all that, there is a third reason Wenatchee didn't go to the protest.

In the midst of accomplishing a task there can be a wide variety of alliances.  Protests can occasionally be coalitions of convenience in which the only uniting variable is opposition rather than sharing a positive, unified vision of what a group is working toward.  People can be united in pressing toward a common goal without necessarily sharing common values or sharing the same concerns about what methods may be accepted. 

Along the way toward that, whatever "that" may be, we should be careful of alliances of convenience and opportunity when we could aim for something better, alliances that are formed through shared principles.  There were some positive things about my time at Mars Hill that I look back on and one was the sheer diversity of political and social conviction that existed in the community around a shared evangelical confession.  Not everyone who has opted to sound off on things at this point has any significant familiarity with what has been going on. Not everyone who offers solidarity to former Mars Hill members of staff has evinced any familiarity with what has transpired. 

ON REACTIONS--CHRISTIAN PIATT'S 180

One of the things that obviously came to pass was Matt Rogers taking a chance to lament that good men were slandered by protesters.  This was the sort of thing Wenatchee anticipated happening.  The term "professing Christian" that Rogers used was dubious since as documented by coverage not everyone who was at the protest even self-identified as theistic.  But that, too, could simply play into a sweeping generalization about the generally less-than-truly-Christian nature expected by some at Mars Hill of those who protested.  Sure, you could point out that this is just another example of "No true Scotsman" but that won't matter.  Depending on who was at the protest there were probably complementarians and egalitarians, Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives on theological issues, and the like.  The protest might have been unified in what it was against and perhaps what it was for, but what it was for could be thought of as an alliance of convenience, one that could easily already be over.  Given the post that Jim Henderson wrote about why he protested and why he was done, the alliance may have already served its purpose and former Mars Hill members are tackling whatever may be coming next. 

And that's as would be expected.  But the protest emerged in the wake of the publication of "Pussified Nation" and some other writings by William Wallace II.  It is Wenatchee's opinion that most commentary offered by outsiders in the wake of that publication has been generally lazy and opportunistic. 

Specific examples come to mind.

Christian Piatt, for instance, decided to write about how Mefferd seemed to be going for the jugular obsessively.  In a November 28, 2013 piece called "Mark Driscoll's Plagiarism Witch Hunt" Piatt took Janet Mefferd to task:

http://www.redletterchristians.org/mark-driscoll-plagiarism-witch-hunt/

My greater concern here is that it seems Ms. Mefferd  was mining for a juicy story and, when she did not get the dramatic response from Driscoll that she had hoped for, she pressed on in an attempt to create drama where there was none. Ultimately, she ended up wrongly accusing Driscoll of  talking during the interview and insulting her by hanging up, which he did not apparently do.

Chances are that Mark Driscoll and I will not be starting a bowling team together anytime soon. I probably won’t make it onto his Christmas card list, and that is just fine. I don’t care for much of what he stands for, how he treats women or the visceral anger he demonstrates on a regular basis toward those who disagree with him.

But he is a human being. He is an imperfect one at that, as we all are. And I would hope that, if he was in Mefferd’s position and I was in his,  he would offer some modicum of dignity and grace toward me, especially if I offered an apology for any offense I may have committed.
Stealing intellectual property is no small transgression, but neither is aggressively attempting to humiliate another person in the public eye in a desperate attempt to grab ratings to be the first to break a juicy new story.  Mark Driscoll deserves better.

- See more at: http://www.redletterchristians.org/mark-driscoll-plagiarism-witch-hunt/#sthash.YLrNUTsX.dpuf

How juicy was that plagiarism story?  Maybe three to four gallons of Dole orange juice. 
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2014/02/20/mark-driscolls-citation-errors-at-a-glance/

By August 6, 2008 Christian Piatt looked to be singing a very different tune.  It was no longer about asking that the witch hunt by Mefferd against Driscoll stop.  Piatt published "Five Reasons Progressive Christians Secretly Love Mark Driscoll."

Anyone who reads my stuff with some regularity probably already knows that Mars Hill pastor Mark Driscoll isn’t exactly on my speed dial list, and I’m probably not in his. From his misogynistic quips to his hellfire hyper-Calvinist rants, he and I see almost all social and theological issues as differently as two people could and still call themselves Christians.

Add to that the recent plagiarism scandal, compounded by the fact that he effectively bought his way onto the New York Times bestseller list (and it turns out he may have used church money to do it), and I question the man’s fitness for ministry. ...

So once the "witch hunt" turned out to reveal that Driscoll has made use of the works of others without giving adequate citation in at least seven or eight books Piatt has started singing a different tune.  Whatever "better" Piatt thought Driscoll deserved in 2013 doesn't seem to come out much in 2014. 

Piatt doesn't miss a beat plugging a new book of his along the way.  Self promotion is the way of authorship ... but still ... plugging the book at least twice in a piece ostensibly addressing the topic of Mark Driscoll is a generous sample.  The recent protest that happened at Mars Hill might itself belie  Piatt's sentiments "He gives us causes to rally around." and "He gives us a common enemy." don't make sense.  The reason they don't make sense is that while John MacArthur and Christian Piatt might agree Mark Driscoll is a problematic public figure this does not mean the two would agree on much else.  An anti-charismatic conservative Protestant and a progressive aren't really going to be truly united by Driscoll's public career and it is not a given that even progressives would be given a common enemy in the form of Mark Driscoll.  Rallying around Driscoll merely proves Driscoll has been adept at getting people to react to him, not that the people who rally around or react to Driscoll have any shared history or goals, whether those on the "left" or the "right". 

After last year's lament about Mefferd's "witch hunt" Piatt's tune this year seems too abrupt a change to be convincing. 

ON REACTIONS--EVANS' SOUNDING OFF (AGAIN) ON GENDER AND NOT PLAGIARISM

Considering others on the progressive-ish side Rachel Held Evans had an opportunity to sound off on Driscoll's plagiarism as far back as 2012 if she had read the book and found things in the book problematic.  She didn't seem to evince having spotted any of the plagiarism and focused on Driscoll the bully and misogynist.  Meanwhile, 2012 came and went and both Mark Driscoll and Rachel Held Evans published what amounted to stunt books under the banner of Thomas Nelson.  It's hard to see the two writers as actual opposites of each other regardless of the public posturing either might take about a variety of issues.  Had Evans wanted to make a difference with a public critique of Driscoll she could have tackled the plagiarism head on.  Then again ... not many Christian progressives read the sorts of things Driscoll writes for personal edification so the plagiarism scandal was one that had to erupt into the news cycle and the public sphere from within the evangelical/conservative Protestant camp which is, in fact, how things played out.

The progressive Christians have distinguished themselves largely by failing to have even kept up with the scope of the scandals.  Evangelicals and conservatives broke the scandals dealing with plagiarism and sales rigging.  It's convenient for Rachel Held Evans to have sounded off on the circulation of "Pussified Nation" but where was she in 2012 when Real Marriage first came out?  Promoting her own book published through Thomas Nelson A Year of Biblical Womanhood.  For those of us who were networking for years to compile and present the materials written by William Wallace II to preserve an interesting and colorful part of Mars Hill history the contributions of writers like Evans and Turner have made a show of understanding that is largely just show. These are not people who have shown much evidence of being familiar with the history and people of Mars Hill and it matters when an Evans or Turner attempt to address Mars Hill from their platforms.

ON REACTIONS--MATTHEW PAUL TURNER.

Aka, after spending an entire year refraining from identifying Andrew Lamb to the world via internet, it would have been nice if Turner had acknowledged that Wenatchee The Hatchet published the contents of "Pussified Nation" two days before he did.  Selling books is what authors do and all but basking in the glow of calling attention to "Pussified Nation", material that he may not even have known existed unless Wenatchee The Hatchet referred to it, is a little ... disappointing.

Why?  Simple, Turner tried his best to make the story of Andrew Lamb as anonymous as possible but one solid weekend on the internet visiting the social media feeds of a number of Mars Hill staff and the Mars Hill website and blogs by a few people connected to the place made it pretty simple to establish what basic connection Andrew Lamb had to the family of James Noriega.  It was also possible to establish that by the time James Noriega had joined the elder team at Mars Hill he was a convicted felon who was newly into a second marriage in 2006 when he joined the elder team  after having agreed to let Mars Hill assimilate the Doxa real estate into becoming what is now Mars Hill West Seattle.  Once Matthew Paul Turner mentioned the words "Ballard" and "stepfather" everything else fell into place quickly.  If Turner lacked the familiarity with Mars Hill history to realize that even the most skeletal telling of Andrew's story was going to broadcast the identity of Lamb to the world then he got quite a story, but he may not have realized how impossible it would be for everyone to go back to what once was. For particularly alert readers it may come to mind that the story of "Amy" was one that Wartburg Watch actually opted to not run with for reasons they have not explained to the public.  Turner's role in discussing anything to do with Mars Hill can be chalked up at this point to the sheer circumstance of two former members deciding to share their stories with him.  That has something to contribute to the public discourse ...

but Wenatchee The Hatchet made a point of not discussing the mountain of information pertinent to Andrew Lamb and the Noriega family during the entirety of 2012 even though it was easily available for public discussion because it was apparent Lamb was making an effort at anonymity even if Turner's writing had made this impossible.  So, finally, we get to Turner mentioning Pussified Nation on July 29, 2014.  Readers may already be alert to the fact that Wenatchee The Hatchet initially published the contents of Pussified Nation on July 27, 2014 and reverted to draft for a day or so to try to solve some formatting problems (the massive composite screen caps got reduced to postage stamp lesser images by blogger, alas). 

http://matthewpaulturner.com/2014/07/29/mark-driscolls-pussified-nation/

Not just at my blog. But at lots of places. You can read the backstory about “William Wallace II” here.

The material has since been restored to original publication format.  It would have been nice if Turner had phrased things in some way besides "Not just at my blog" since Wenatchee The Hatchet published not only the contents of "Pussified Nation" but also provided a substantial background for the social and real estate history surrounding the material and the pen name.   Seeing as Wenatchee The Hatchet was willing to not publicly ID Andrew Lamb for the entirety of 2012 and Turner knows this ... it would have been ... polite ... for Turner to have mentioned that Wenatchee The Hatchet has referenced the existence of "Pussified Nation" as far back as 2010. 

MISSING THE WALLACE FOREST FOR A SINGLE TREE

While there's been a storm on the net in the last month about the writings of Mark Driscoll as William Wallace II very little of that storm has included any attempt to frame the rants in a social or historical context.  The aim was not to try to understand where Driscoll might have been coming from but to sound off on the existence of the material.  Whether defenders saying Mark said he was sorry years ago (which isn't, technically speaking, actually true) or detractors saying it was proof of how unsettled Driscoll's mind was the substance of what Driscoll was saying was not necessarily ever getting engaged.  Wenatchee The Hatchet is of the opinion that the reason publishing the William Wallace II writings was necessary and useful was to establish that there is a continuity of theme and substance between the Mark Driscoll of 2000 and the Mark Driscoll of 2012.  Compare "Can We _____?" from Real Marriage to William Wallace II's "Using Your Penis" and you may find that though the tone has been toned down core concepts have remained steady. 

For instance, for those who actually read Real Marriage and read the part where Driscoll said he tended toward sex as a god or who read Grace Driscoll's words about how she wondered if Mark had made an idol of sex, the writings of William Wallace II might lend some colorful and illuminating background to these rather cryptic statements in the 2012 book. 

How many people from the left who opted to sound off on "Pussified Nation" even know that there was a thread called "Using Your Penis"?  Or that it features this content from William Wallace II:

William Wallace II
Member   posted 01-18-2001 11:13 AM             
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Christian pornography. Christian phone sex. Christian cyber-sex. Christian lap dances.
Someone recently asked me about these issues. And, they are quite valid.

The problem with many unfaithful unmanly unmen is that they have heads filled with desires and dreams, but they marry a Christian women raised on a steady diet of gnosticism (so she hates her body) psychology (so she thinks too much before she climbs into bed) and guilt ridden don't have sex because it's a dirty nasty thing that God hates and makes you a slut youth group propaganda from hell/Family Books.

So the poor guy is like a starving man who is told he can only eat once ever couple weeks and his restaurant only has one crummy unspiced bland item on the menu and he either eats it or starves to death.

Bummer for that guy.

What the guy wants is to see a stripper, a porno, and have some phone and cyber sex. What the guy needs is a good Christian woman. The kind of woman who knows that men like unclothed and sexually aggressive women. Why? Because they are breathing. As long as a man is alive he is ready for sex every minute of every day.

Ladies, listen closely. The guy will never get the big dreams out of his head. He can either explore them with his wife, become bitter and sexually repressed, or sneak off to Deja Vu or log on to the net and escape in a moment of adventure. Birds fly, ducks float, dogs bark, and men think about sex every minute of every day because they have a magical ability to continually think of two things at one time, one of which is always sex. Any man who denies this is a liar or has broken plumbing.
So it would behoove a good godly woman to learn how to strip for her husband. Some nice music, a couple of drinks, candlight and a wife who has thrown her youth group devotionals to the wind would be nice. Most women do not do this because they are uncomfortable with their bodies. Know that for a man there are two variables with a woman's body. One, what does she have to work with? Two, how does she use it? Now I will tell you a secret, number two is the most important.

How about a Christian guy who wants to watch porno? Maybe his wife should get a Polaroid and snap a few shots of her in various states of marital undress and bliss and sneak them into his Bible so that when the guy sits down to eat his lunch at work and read some Scripture he has reasons to praise God. Or, maybe if the lady would plug in a camcorder and secretly film herself showering, undressing, making love to her husband etc. she could give it to him when he's on the road for weeks at a time, or maybe just so the poor guy can see his wife as some undressed passionate goddess. I have yet to find a wife take me up on this be rebuked by her husband.

And what guy breaking his stones on the job every day wouldn't like a hot phone call from his wife now and then telling him in great detail what awaits him when he gets home. Or how about the occasional instant explicit message from his wife rolling across his screen giving him some reasons to expect that dessert will precede dinner that night.

Do you know why the adult entertainment industry is raking in billions of dollars? Because people like to have sex and have fun. Does it lead to sin? Yes. Can it lead to worship. Of course. If you resist this message, please stay single until you get your head straightened out. If you are married and fully constipated, bummer for you and your upcoming divorce.


THE LAST YEAR'S SCANDALS ABOUT MARK DRISCOLL AND THE FAILURES OF PROGRESSIVE CHRISTIAN WRITING

It's not that progressives have no reason to sound off on Driscoll.  Evans, Turner and Piatt can write what they want.  The problem, coming at all of this as a Seattleite who spent a decade inside the church, is that nothing they say is going to amount to more than a perfunctory and even opportunistic occasion to sell books and expand their respective brands.  Whatever may be said of the protesters who went to Mars Hill Bellevue weeks ago, those were people with a reason to be there.  While Wenatchee didn't join the protesters those protesters were very likely across the board people who saw from the inside things they wanted changed or have enough roots in the Seattle area to have an incentive.  Though the protest itself may have been an alliance of convenience it's unlikely those who were there treated Driscoll as the kind of convenient shibboleth progressive Christians have found Driscoll to be recently.

When the plagiarism scandal began to gain momentum there were progressives who opted not to comment about the plagiarism but about Mark Driscoll's views on women and gays.  Okay, so it goes, again, but after nearly two decades in the public sphere to bring things back to views that however objectionable are still views that are within First Amendment rights to express are not the same thing as the questions that have emerged about Mars Hill Global, the reams of citation errors in Driscoll's published books, the consolidated powers in the by-laws granted to executive eldership, the Result Source contract issue, the gag orders, or the history of purging media content and of Mars Hill taking steps to enforce copyright claims while having spent about a decade being more cavalier about the intellectual property of others.

What can be lost in the shuffle of recent commentary about the plagiarism scandal is that there was exactly one book connected to Mark Driscoll where it was admitted there were citation errors and MH PR attempted to shift the blame for those citation errors passive-aggressively onto Mark Driscoll's research aids.  But, crucially, the Trial study guide differed in one vital respect, it was the book with a copyright owned not by Mark Driscoll as an individual but by Mars Hill Church as a corporation.  To date neither Mark Driscoll nor Mars Hill have public said anything about the use of Dan Allender's work by the Driscolls in Real Marriage without so much as a single footnote's credit in the first edition of the book. Given Driscoll's boasts about the power of his long-term memory and twitter activity showing he and Grace were working on the book back in 2010 it simply beggars belief that all along that process nobody at Thomas Nelson could have gotten the idea to include a footnote even if against all general self-witness from the Driscolls they forgot to make a nod to one of Grace Driscoll's favorite authors.

And, again, for these controversies we would do well to note they were reported not by a Turner or an Evans but by Warren Cole Smith and Janet Mefferd and Warren Throckmorton. 

The reason that many (though not all) Christian progressives are simply not in a strong position to sound off on Driscoll on women and gays yet again is that they were simply not the ones breaking the stories about plagiarism, sales-rigging, real estate, gag orders, by-laws revisions, and the like.  In fact the voices that have seen fit to sound off on Driscoll in the wake of the circulation of "Pussified Nation" sometimes seem to have been more committed to shilling their own wares then doing any diligence to keep track of what has been going on.  Not all, mind you, but there has been more heat than light from progressive Christian authors than should be where journalism about Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll is concerned.  A history of Driscoll saying contentious things about women is old news, it isn't even news.  A history of Mars Hill real estate acquisitions and associated leadership appointments ... ?  No one has bothered to tell that story so far so Wenatchee The Hatchet has made that a project.  Let's just say for now that it wasn't until WtH opted to start sharing that story that leadership at Mars Hill began to take notice. 

What we don't need more of now are alliances of convenience.  Far preferable would be actions taken not out of pragmatism but principle.  It's not that a protest is inherently a bad thing, it's that if protests are taken up pragmatically by those who are just against Driscoll but not united by anything else that's not something Wenatchee The Hatchet would sign on for.  It is also too easy for the anti-charismatic Team Pyro crowd to congratulate themselves for things that are also not necessarily getting to the substantial troubles besetting the culture of leadership at Mars Hill.  As a certain irascible writer quipped, if there's a John MacArthur study Bible that's not the best precedent for complaining about Mark Driscoll having a cult of personality around him. 

Given the tenor of public discourse there's the same kind of wagon-circling from the "left" and the "right" that Wenatchee The Hatchet objected to in a rambling guest piece at Internet Monk.  It's too easy for the echo-chamber and groupthink of the respective groups that want to sound off on Mars Hill to stick with what they think they know.  That Mark Driscoll did not in fact ever actually say Gayle Haggard let herself go is something progressives don't want to be corrected about, just as some Christian conservatives who had considered Driscoll okay up until recently were mortified by "Pussified Nation".  That was relatively tame compared to "Using your penis" as discussions of moving body parts went.

There are people who find it useful to sound off on Driscoll now because doing so lets them sound off on things they've already been wanting to talk about.  That's what Driscoll did with the Haggard scandal, used it as an opportunity to sound off yet again on subjects he was going to talk about anyway. 

What we have an opportunity for now if we choose alliances of convenience would be an alliance that is pragmatic and opportunistic; an association of temporary convenience because of a common opposition rather than a unifying shared ethical or social vision.  What would be likely to happen after the nebulous goals of such a movement were even possible to achieve?  The coalition would devolve back into the disparate streams of activism that were never united about anything except being critical of what Mars Hill currently is and has been for about seven years. 

Pragmatic alliances of convenience should probably be avoided for another reason, if as some have worried over the years, Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll have been characterized by a pragmatic willingness to align with whatever might have the best payoff for long-term growth then an alliance of pragmatic convenience in the pursuit of shared protest goals paradoxically exemplifies the kind of ad hoc coalition-making-of-convenience some have privately or publicly worried that Mars Hill has a history of doing. 

We should avoid taking the approach of saying the ends justify the means.  In the past Wenatchee the Hatchet has mentioned that there have been some questions about the credibility of some of the public critics of Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church.  Comments in the "oh please, shoot the messenger" vein were left up but those comments reflect a problem, a pragmatic opportunistic commitment to the notion that anyone at all who has bad stuff to say about Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill must be accepted at face value.  The problem with that is that it may well embody the same mentality of those devotees of Driscoll who are willing to defend him in spite of a decade of preaching in which the Driscoll sermons of ten years ago could be interpreted (and have been interpreted) by former Mars Hill members as paradoxical warnings of the kind of public figure leading a religious corporation Mark Driscoll has become. 

What we could attempt to do at this point is not continue the echo-chamber reinforcement of our respective teams, whether left or right, whether mainline or evangelical, whether theist or atheist, but to look at how and why entities like Mars Hill come into existence.  Getting to the bottom of what the facts are regardless of whether they go where we want them to go or not should be more important than a particular partisan commitment.  Just because in the last year progressive Christian writers have all but completely missed the boat on news of controversy with Driscoll doesn't mean they don't have things to contribute.  But if they're going to contribute they have to contribute something besides self-congratulatory bromides and the same can be said about the anti-charismatics who have sounded off on Driscoll in the past.  We're dealing with a community that has a history that is not strictly reduceable to a bullet-pointed list of ideological or doctrinal talking points. Even if everyone could possibly agree that Mars Hill displays a cult of personality merely noting that in a Captain Obvious moment does nothing to further conversation about how a personality cult can be impeded or diminished or prevented.  Phillip Zimbardo's proposal that the continual appeal of cults and their popularity in the United States should not be seen as signs that Kool-aid drinkers will always drink Kool-aid but that cults appeal to genuine social desires and needs in ways that "normal" society doesn't. 

Let's look at the drum Mark Driscoll has kept beating, get the young men and get them to man up and become husbands and fathers who live for a legacy.  By appealing directly to young men who have anxieties about their, uh, let's just call it socio-economic utility to whatever place they find themselves in society, Driscoll and company offer a social meaning for individuals that extant individualism has been incapable of providing.  Let's face it, if individual agency alone were good enough young guys wouldn't join athletic teams or go on dates. The question is not if there is someone who won't drink the proverbial Kool-aid, absolutely everyone will drink gallons of Kool-aid for the cause or person they find suitable.  As Wenatchee has written in the past, if you cannot diagnose within yourself how you are yourself a symptom or capable of being a symptom then it is imprudent to diagnose the disease you presume to be in someone else.  It's not just people inside Mars Hill who can have this problem, it's a problem we all have, every last one of us. 

What will happen to Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll remains to be seen but if we don't ask questions that go beyond just Driscoll and Mars Hill that also go into how star systems work in our culture and what things we'll condone or condemn in our stars if they embody the ideals we admire then we won't get very far in understanding Mars Hill or Driscoll--this is a case study not simply of a particular type of hero-worship, but an opportunity to explore the apparatus through which such a hero or public figure has taken shape.  It would be wrong to assume that there isn't a progressive Christian equivalent of a Mark Driscoll, whose foibles and flaws are as forgiven by the religious left as they are condemned by the religious right.  We should consider reaching for the point where we don't just consider the heroes of the "other" team capable of being monsters but of "our" team as well whatever our team may be.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

The main impetus behind the protest? The 30 minute "lamenting" video by MD himself in which he lamented not being able to reconcile with those he has hurt because they are unknown and "remain anonymous."

The largest signs at the protest were eight feet long and said,
Dear Pastor Mark & Mars Hill: WE ARE NOT ANONYMOUS!

The vast majority of the protesters were former MH members. The amount of non-MH affiliated persons you could probably count on both hands - although it would be a mistake to think that the greater Seattle area (and neo-reformed Christendom) was not affected by the event.

The MH spinmeisters tried to steer the rhetoric to discredit the protest by saying it was by disgruntled femnists and egalitarians. Nothing could be further from the truth - although every person there would agree that MD's history of coarse jesting and lurid comments have been very degrading to women.

Although there was some concern just before the protest, which was planned long before WTH broke the story about William Wallace II, that the WWII revelations would sidetrack the issues behind the protest - that did not happen.

The WWII revelations only enhanced the litany of offenses that cry out for justice, repentance, and reformation - while making it abundantly clear that MD is disqualified. Pray that his eyes, and the rest of the church's eyes, will be open and they will be convicted to the point of true repentance.

So keep up the good work. Fight the good fight. And keep the revelations coming!