Saturday, October 25, 2014

Matthew Lee Anderson: The Fatal Tensions of the Fight Churches--WtH considers the overlap between this and Markulinity

You know it's been so long since Wenatchee The Hatchet has linked to something at Mere Orthodoxy consider this a bit of, um, penance?  :)  Along the way Anderson references this, probably the touchstone of discussing "fight church" stuff.
... So let me write the obituary now, if only for posterity:  at the heart of the fight churches were both the strengths and weaknesses of the evangelical world. Its best and most reasonable proponents (which are featured in this film) were motivated by an interested seriousness to reach their neighbor with a message that has captivated them, yet were simultaneously unrestrained by any form of moral reasoning other than that which lies on the surface of the Bible and so unable to untangle their own praiseworthy motivations from the problematic and troubling practices which they took shape within.  The Christianity of the fight churches deluded itself into thinking it was strong, while it was actually weak, and into believing that in its battle for the world it had managed to overcome its brittle frailties. -

There's a form of manliness but the substance of it may be missing in the long run.  This has at length been one of Wenatchee The Hatchet's core critiques of Mark Driscoll's soapbox about masculinity.  Even if we somehow set aside the burgeoning reality that Driscoll preached a vision of masculinity that implicitly and at times explicitly set him up as the ideal of the masculine those immersed in the history of Mars Hill have had an opportunity to discover how woefully short of his own ideals of masculinity Driscoll has repeatedly fallen.

But beyond that, a thorough examination of Mark Driscoll's invocation of all martial metaphors and analogies has begun to open up a disturbing possibility, that Driscoll's concept of mixed martial arts or of the conduct of war in general are so impoverished they fall short not just of any actual soldier or athlete's understanding of what fighting may be as an art or a discipline; Driscoll's vision of manliness can't even account for things so basic that an interested civilian couldn't find them out.

Whether it's Matt Morin at The Other Journal explaining why Driscoll's concept of MMA shows he's got no grasp of how the sport works, or Wenatchee The Hatchet noting that Driscoll's use of the distinction between air war and ground war clearly indicates a man who has lacked the knowledge that no military campaigns in the history of humanity have ever been "won" by the air war; or Wenatchee The Hatchet's same post discussing how the clean manly evangelical faith Driscoll purported to stand for tends to only work if it's practiced by a pastor who is quite literally in the trenches with soldiers; it begins to seem more and more that Mark Driscoll has not given us a vision of masculinity that is more than the outline of a thing, a thing he has not necessarily lived up to for much of his time as a public figure.

The reason the gap between image and substance is not just as simple as the gap between reality and image, there can be said to be a more striking possibility about this gap. Cue an Adolf Schlatter quote.

Romans: The Righteousness of God
Adolf Schlatter, Hendrickson Publisers (c) 1995
page 40
The individual is godless if he fabricates religion in his own interest, for the sake of his own happiness. God must be worshipped for the sake of God. ... Paul emphasizes the absurdity of idolatry. It is absurd to put the individual, under the law of death, in the place of God, because in doing so it is not even the human and the animal that are worshipped, but only their likeness. This likeness is no reproduction of living beings at all, it is merely able to copy the outline of the form, the lines shaping their figure.
Schlatter wrote that the folly of idolatry was that the idol is not the thing that is made an idol but the image or likeness thereof.  Thus, perhaps, we can propose that the masculinity Mark Driscoll proposes men follow is not really masculinity so much as markulinity, an outline of the form of a type of masculinity that not only does not withstand scrutiny by evangelical critique, it turns out more and more to have been a version of masculinity Mark Driscoll himself may have continually failed to live out as he berated others for failing to meet its standards.

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