Friday, May 22, 2015

a musician needs to stay close to the instrument, on Mark Driscoll having a crowd to work in lieu of actually being a local church pastor

Among musicians it is a commonplace that the time you spend away from the instrument will not take away from your understanding or mastery of music, but it will take away your body's ability to easily execute what you were once able to do.  Your body has to be trained and kept in discipline or you lose an important part of your art.  You need to stay close to your instrument. You need to be able to play at regular intervals to assess where your skill is at, what your limitations are, what you've mastered, and what has become second-nature.
 
Which gets us to Mark Driscoll.  Some have said the recent return to the stage is an attempt to control the narrative.  There's that possibility, too, of course, but a master violinist needs a fiddle to play.  Let's propose that Mark is going back to basics. He spiraled down hard in the wake of two year's worth of controversy surrounding his books, that a book was bought a place on a bestseller list and that his books were riddled with what have been euphemistically referred to as "citation errors".  Driscoll by now has to understand that the written word might as well be a toxin to him, at least for now.  
 
But he needs a camera and a microphone to get back on his feet.  He needs a crowd to work and as we're seeing there are crowds willing to let him work them over to make sure his playing hands still got it.  Mark Driscoll got a degree in speech communications and his wife trained in public relations.  Selling pep talks and branding isn't exactly in blood for this couple but it's what they've trained for, both of them, even if it doesn't always seem that way.  That, however, is a chamber in the heart of the sell, acquiring the ability to come off like you're not actually out there to just sell something.  As Alastair Roberts invoked Mad Men to describe the Ad Man's Gospel, the pertinent quote could be "You are the product, you, feeling something." 
 
It's less important to whatever crowd Driscoll speaks in front of that there are four distinct narratives for how and why he resigned from leading Mars Hill.  For the crowd that listens to him there's a ready-made proposal that, well, there are the three synoptics and John, right (and unbelievers question those, too)?  So the changes in Driscoll's story in the last year won't matter to whatever crowd he's talking in front of.  They don't care.  They don't need to.  They're not there in that audience for a footnoted history of Mars Hill Church and Driscoll's public ministry. 
 
The more Driscoll gets in front of a camera and takes a microphone the more he provides evidence that when given the choice to just be a local church pastor or to be a celebrity he not only chose celebrity when he resigned in October 2014, he's now added to that decision a retroactive clarification that that choice was vetted by a divine memo.  Had Driscoll truly been told God said it was okay for him to quit he could have led with that in his October 2014 resignation letter. 
 
The violinist can't be away from the violin too long without losing the touch.  From the sound of things, Driscoll's still got the ability to work a crowd and over time he's revealing that he's going to stick with what he knows. There's a good possibility that by the time the Driscolls talk with Brian Houston they'll have both refined the current narrative and that we're going to have a chance to hear the beta-versions of it throughout this year.  Driscoll's got an incentive to regain control of the message but in order to do this he needs to return to his medium.

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