Saturday, May 07, 2016


things have been more laconic or dormant here at Wenatchee The Hatchet lately.  There's plenty to write about but it's not getting written just yet.  My friend Wendy's been writing about some stuff I hope to get around to addressing but it may take some time to get to that.  There's a small hill of background reading I'm doing revisiting prophecy and divination as political speech in ancient near eastern contexts and what might not seem to be a related survey of the way the magisterial Reformers defined prophecy in the 1520s and 1530s. Then there's also reading I'm doing in the Bible itself here and there as to what prophecy is described as being in the Bible itself. What I'm finding from a few too many people is that they seem eager to hinge a set of arguments on things said about the Bible rather than by the Bible itself and that this nexus of second-hand cases taken as coming from primary sources has revolved around things like what "prophecy" is and whether what is now known as an elder or pastor fits into that rubric. 

As I've written in the past, I do not consider myself either an egalitarian or a complementarian. These seem less like sincerely held Christian precepts to me than American political ideologies interpolated on to biblical texts to settle disputs about who should have access to what levels of institutional power within American Christian non-profit networks.  I am leaning toward the belief that because the nature of those power structures has been misinterpreted or misrepresented as to what the biblical texts say about the authority roles invoked that neither side is necessarily doing more than having a pissing contest about who can appropriate (and impose upon) biblical texts to rationalize a contemporary concern.

This is, in a way, what people from the New Perspective proposed must be borne in mind about the Reformers themselves.  The concerns of the Reformers may not have been the concerns of the biblical authors whose literary works were subject to such heated sixteenth century debate.

That gets at two, sort of, projects.  A third that may draw on the reading done for the first two may be what actually gets written.  On the whole I have not seen those who have taken up the activity known as watchblogging writing about watchblogging in a way that seems to make a case for its legitimacy on scriptural, historical or literary grounds.  It's not that such a case cannot be made.  I am certain that it is possible to take the sum of the scriptures, work from the magisterial Reformers, a brief overview of theories of the press, and a few other things to formulate a defense of the legitimacy of watchblogging with some necessary caveats as to the strengths and weaknesses of the enterprise inherent to its nature.  But that will take time. 

To the extent that Mark Driscoll bailed on Mars Hill and restorative discipline and has gone off to do his thing in Phoenix he has, paradoxically, given me a great deal more time to do more analysis of what happened (i.e. this year's series of posts using Ellul's writing on propagandists and propaganda to highlight how Mark Driscoll is not a pastor but a propagandist) and to get around (I hope) to formulating a case for the legitimacy of watchblogging with the benefit of no longer feeling quite so urgently obliged to chronicle things now that the twenty years of Mars Hill draws more definitively to a close. Because we seem to be in an era in which there could be more rather than less watchblogging and because Michael Spencer and Frank Turk's debate from 2009 ultimately, I believe, centered on a debate about the basis for any legitimacy of what is now called watchblogging, I feel some obligation as a former member of Mars Hill and as a reader/sometime contributor to Internet Monk to see what I can do to potentially illuminate this set of topics.  So, all that's to say that by deciding to quit when he did the way he did, Mark Driscoll did Wenatchee The Hatchet a favor.

Because as alert regular readers will know, I've been fairly happy to get back to writing about the kinds of stuff I was writing about before things went watchblog.  Music, cartoons, comics, stuff like that.  There's still posts I've been meaning to write about the music of Ferdinand Rebay, for instance.  There's stuff I've been wanting to write about regarding Leonard B. Meyer on romanticism and cross referencing that with Daniel Kahneman's Thinking Fast & Slow.

There's also a slow-incubating project in which I mean to consider Meyer's work in tandem with Francis Schaeffer's work on cultural decline and artistic directions.  I appreciated Schaeffer's work when I was a teen and in my twenties.  Now that I'm, er, more middle-aged I think that evangelicals who have relied upon Schaeffer as a kind of shortcut substitute to their own engagement with the arts need to find ways to move past his work.  Schaeffer has some useful things to share about the limits of the arts but there's a lot about the arts and their history he got spectacularly, embarrassingly wrong. As a stick-in-the-mud Presbyterian sort I think that in some sense this will be more gently and easily done "in house" within a Reformed context because when the fiftieth anniversary of a certain trilogy comes along the awkwardly obvious legend of WASP decline in Schaeffer's trilogy will not get soft-pedaled by progressives, least of all Frank Schaeffer.  I sometimes feel that the completely un-nuanced and confrontationally binary approach of the father has been carried on by the son.  Yes, there's valuable ideas and concerns in there ... but ... well ... we'll get to that later.  That's another project in the incubation process. 

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