Saturday, March 05, 2016

Ellul on propagandists as one of the true aristocratic classes of technological societies, revisiting Driscoll's ambitions for music label making, book publishing, network building and school founding

PROPAGANDA: THE FORMATION OF MEN'S ATTITUDES
JACQUES ELLUL
Translated from the French by Konrad Kellen & Jean Lerner
Vintage Books Edition, February 1973
Copyright (c) 195 by Alfred A Knopf Inc.
ISBN 0-394-71874-7


from footnote on page 252
... The propagandist is a technician and a member of an aristocracy of technicians that establishes itself above the institutions of a democracy and acts outside its norms. Besides, the employment of propaganda leads the propagandist to cynicism, disbelief in values, non-submission to the law of numbers, doubts on the value of opinions, and contempt for the propagandee and the elected representative; he knows how public opinion is fashioned. The propagandist cannot subject himself to popular judgment and democracy. Finally, the propagandist is privy to all State secrets and acts at the same time to shape opinions: he really has a position of fundamental direction. The combinations of these three elements make the propagandist an aristocrat. It cannot be otherwise. Every democracy that launches propaganda creates in and by such propaganda its own enemy, an aristocracy that may destroy it.
Ellul was, of course, writing about propagandists in politics.  But it's shooting fish in a barrel to talk about the applicability of his observations about the new aristocrats to the mass media or to politicians.  The proposal of who and what this newer sort of aristocrat the propagandist was seems like it needs to be broadened.  Ellul could have just as easily mentioned marketers as the technicians and aristocrats of the age.  Anyone in marketing could be construed as part of this aristocratic class.  Anyone who would say the content's no big thing and that the marketing and promotion is what matters could be said to either be "in" this aristocratic class or sympathetic to its power.

And within the era of unaffiliated self-contained megachurches, a president of a megachurch corporate entity can also be a propagandist, a self-selected aristocrat, master of a massively integrated multi-media platform.  So Mark Driscoll can be thought of not only as a propagandist but an aspirant propagandist who, perhaps most remarkably, never hid that this was essentially core to his ambitions from the start.

http://download.marshill.se/files/misc/20130123_pmd-social-media-content-adress_sd_audio.mp3

The presentation linked to above was from 2013.  Driscoll had managed to land the NYT best seller list through the as yet-unrevealed machination of Result Source. He'd also managed to get quite a following and gain a lot of influence.  If you listen to the entire thing you'll hear that it was a presentation on the imperative of content production, distribution, multiplication (read that as recycling the same content across every type of platform for higher impact) and defense.

Now we may want to take a little aside, as so often happens.  Back in March 2014 Driscoll was talking about how what Mars Hill had become was "not even close" to what he envisioned:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2014/03/14/mark-driscoll-addresses-mars-hill-church-about-best-seller-issue-church-discord/
http://wp.patheos.com.s3.amazonaws.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/files/2014/03/MHCletterMD.png

For those of you who have been around for a while, it is amazing for us to see all that Jesus has done. People often ask if our church today resembles what I had originally planned. Not even close. The smallest location of a Mars Hill Church is bigger than what my total vision was for the whole church when we started.
 
This claim was so dubious on its face to anyone who was part of Mars Hill from, oh, 1995-2013 and paid attention, it warrants a Driscoll-quoting rebuttal.
 
God's Work, Our Witness Part 1
Pastor Mark Driscoll

about 12:30 in
 
You know, and I thought, for sure, we’d probably tap out at two hundred. I thought if we can get this
thing to two hundred, that would be amazing.

And I had big vision for more. I put together a forty-page vision statement. I said, “We’re going to
start a school. We’re going to plant churches. We’re going to do a record label.” I had this whole vision, and I handed it out to, like, fifteen people, and they’re like, “Are you kidding me?” [emphasis added]

So I had big dreams. But to be honest with you, man, if we could just get up to two hundred, I thought that would be amazing.
 
 
Nearly ten years ago in one of his books Driscoll wrote the following:
 
Confessions of a Reformission Rev
Mark Driscoll
Copyright (c) 2006 by Mark Driscoll
Zondervan
ISBN-13: 978-0-310-27016-4
ISBN-10: 0-310-27016-2CHAPTER ONE: Jesus, Our Offering was $137 and I Want to Use it to Buy Bullets

0-45 people

from pages 53-54
So in an effort to clarify our mission, I wrote down on paper the first of what would eventually be many strategic plans. I shot for the moon rather foolishly and decided that our church that was not big enough to fill a bus would plant multiple churches, run a concert venue, start a Bible institute, write books, host conferences, and change the city for Jesus. I started handing out these goals printed on boring white paper without any graphics, colors, or cool fonts, naively assuming that it would all happen eventually just because it was what Jesus wanted.  [WtH--or what Mark Driscoll claimed Jesus wanted, at any rate]

To get leaders in place for world domination, I also spent time trying to articulate the vision in my head to good men who would be qualified to rise up as fellow elders-pastors. So, as Jesus did, I spent time in prayer asking the Father which of his sons should be trained for leadership. The church started as an idea I shared with Lief Moi and Mike Gunn. Lief is a descendant of Genghis Khan and his dad was a murderer, and Mike is a former football player. They proved to be invaluable, except for the occasional moments when they would stand toe-to-toe in a leadership meeting, threatening to beat the Holy Spirit out of each other. Both men were older than I and had years of ministry experience, and they were good fathers, loving husbands, and tough. ...
 
So as multiply attested by none other than Mark Driscoll himself, the goal he had in mind was to start something that would plant churches, make a record label, start an institute, and a few other things.  That's a vision of a fully integrated mass media enterprise spanning music and books and academics.  That kind of holistic interest in using all forms of technical use of media to drive home a single over-arching vision is kind of looking like that perspective of a propagandist, a little, doesn't it? 
If we're using Ellul's way of defining propaganda and propagandists then not just Mark but to some degree even Grace Driscoll, too, could be described as a couple that aspired to attainment in what Ellul called the aristocratic class that would control media and become a threat to the healthy function of democracy.  To go by the way governance inside Mars Hill spun out into what seemed to be an increasingly autocratic and secretive regime of a megachurch what Ellul had to say about propagandists in politics may have proven equally true of propagandists who are more officially called megachurch pastors.

Ellul on the use of propaganda to transform democracy from a mode of governance into an etiological myth and the totalitarian tendency in that process


PROPAGANDA: THE FORMATION OF MEN'S ATTITUDES
JACQUES ELLUL
Translated from the French by Konrad Kellen & Jean Lerner
Vintage Books Edition, February 1973
Copyright (c) 195 by Alfred A Knopf Inc.
ISBN 0-394-71874-7


page 244
... any operation that transforms democracy into a myth transforms the democratic ideal. Democracy was not meant to be a myth. ... Let us merely say that democracy cannot be an object of faith, of belief: it is expression of opinions. There is a fundamental difference between regimes based on opinion and regimes based on belief. [emphasis added]


To make a myth of democracy is to present the opposite of democracy.

page 247
We have seen how all propaganda develops the cult of personality. This is particularly true in a democracy. There one exalts the individual, who refuses to be anonymous, rejects the "mass," and eschews mechanization. He wants a human regime where men are human beings. ... To be sure, the object at this level is not idolatry, but idolatry cannot fail to follow if the propaganda is done well. Whether such idolatry is given to a man in uniform bursting with decorations, or a man in work shirt and cap, or a man wearing a business suit and soft hat makes no difference; those are simple adaptatio
ns of propaganda to the feelings of the masses.

It doesn't matter whether the cult of personality is around Trump or Sanders or Clinton or some other candidate.

page 249
... Once democracy becomes the object of propaganda, it also becomes totalitarian, authoritarian, and exclusive as dictatorship.

pages 249-250
... This really is the ultimate problem: democracy is not just a certain form of political organization or simply an ideology--it is, first of all, a certain view of life and a form of behavior. If democracy were only a form of political organization, there would be no problem; propaganda could adjust to it. ... But if democracy is a way of life, composed of tolerance, respect, degree, choice, diversity, and so on, all propaganda that acts on behavior and feelings and transforms them in depth turns man into someone who can no longer support democracy because he no longer follows democratic behavior.


Now in the 1960s it's hardly lost on any of us, half a century later, there was still a whole lot of racism and sexism and so on.  Even so, if we live in an era in which someone could wistfully pine for a world in which there could be sixteen consecutive years of all Republican or Democratic governance, if we have people who presume that whoever the other team has can't and doesn't have anything but bad ideas then in the age of the internet we've got people whose only acceptable understanding of whatever democracy is has calcified into a civic religion that is either red or blue.  Some of them will bend over backwards to ensure that whatever formal religion they espouse more adequately meshes with their economic and political convictions.  Ellul, though he may have dropped the ball in assuming just how tolerant people were, may have been forecasting politics in the age of Facebook with this next point.

pages 251-252
...
But the creation of the etiological myth leads to an obligation on the part of democracy to become religious. It can no longer be secular but must create its religion. Besides, the creation of a religion is one of the indispensable elements of effective propaganda. [emphasis added] The content of this religion is of little importance; these feelings are used to integrate the masses into the national collective. We must not delude ourselves: when one speaks to us of "massive democracy" and "democratic participation," these are only veiled terms that mean "religion." Participation and unanimity have always been characteristics of religious societies, and only of religious societies.


The narratives of the rise of the radical right or the left can serve as remarkably robust stand-ins for a Fall narrative a la Genesis 3.  Gather around children and let me tell you how the evil Democrats/Republics/socialists/capitalists destroyed a cosmic harmony that never really existed but that we will posit we could arrive at if you vote the way we think you should.  There may well be blue state and red state forms of civic Christianity but to those ends Christ has been invoked to underwrite a progressive or conservative aim that is thoroughly American in its interests.  To turn to Sanders or Clinton or Trump or anyone else at this point is to identify your idol. Americans who take to the internet seem eager, too eager, to ensure that the version of Jesus that is the real Jesus (however we'll define that) is one that fits their aims. 

But then a corresponding move happens even in completely secular terms. The god is replaced with confidence in mass behavioral paradigms, whether socialism or capitalism.  The core is not necessarily less totalitarian in emotional impetus for eschewing deities.

page 254-255
The individual is seized, manipulated, attacked from every side; the combatants of two propaganda systems do not fight each other, but try to capture him
.
... An additional effect of contradictory propaganda is that the individual will escape either into passivity or into total and unthinking support of one of the two sides.
 
It is striking to see how this current, which is the point of departure of totalitarian parties, is beginning to take hold in the United States. These two different reactions--passivity or total commitment--are completely antidemocratic. But they are the consequence of some democratic types of propaganda. He is the hub of the problem. Propaganda ruins not only democratic ideas but also democratic behavior--the foundation of democracy, the very quality without which it cannot exist.

It seems Ellul was right to warn that democracy is a form of governance would not be able to withstand regular deployment of propaganda, and that democracy as a form of governance might find its most terrible adversary not so much in alternative political paradigms in real-world practice but in the transformation of democratic life into a foundational myth. Democracy as a religious faith absent any belief in a deity might be the real problem. Everybody wants to believe in democracy until, as Ellul put it, people pick stuff that people with democratic ideals don't want.  Ellul dryly remarked that the people who seem most perplexed and incensed that anyone would pick something not democratic as they see it are the Anglo-Saxon democratic types.  Nobody was more shocked that not everyone wanted democratic life than WASPs.

Over the last twenty years I've heard some conservatives say that Bill Clinton was going to suspend the Constitution, declare martial law and declare a national emergency in which he'd be leader for life.  Of course Bill Clinton came and went.  Then George W. Bush ended up in office and as his time neared an end I'd hear some others say that Bush was going to suspend the Constitution, declare martial law and declare a national emergency in which he'd be leader for life. Somehow that didn't quite happen, either. But what did happen was that people on the red and blue sides convinced themselves that the other team was all set to transform America into a totalitarian state.

What if those are the kinds of people who in their emotional and intellectual lives are already making the United States, in some peculiar domain of the heart, a totalitarian state? The scapegoats may change but scapegoating doesn't.

page 256
... With propaganda one can lead citizens to the voting booth, where they seemingly elect their representatives. But if democracy corresponds to a certain type of human being, to a certain individual behavior, then propaganda destroys the point of departure of the life of a democracy, destroys its very foundations. It creates a man who is suited to a totalitarian society, who is not at ease except when integrated in the mass, who rejects critical judgments, choices and differentiations because he clings to clear certainties. He is a man assimilated into uniform groups and wants it that way.
 
... A man who lives in a democratic society and who is subjected to propaganda is being drained of the democratic content itself--of the style of democratic life, understanding of others, respect for minorities, re-examination of his own opinions, absence of dogmatism. The means employed to spread democratic ideas makes the citizen, psychologically, a totalitarian man. The only difference between him and a Nazi is that he is a "totalitarian man with democratic convictions," but those convictions do not change his behavior in the least. Such contradiction is in no way felt by the individual for whom democracy has become a myth and a set of democratic imperatives, merely stimuli that activate conditioned reflexes. The word democracy, having become a simple incitation, no longer has anything to do with democratic behavior. And the citizen can repeat indefinitely "the sacred formulas of democracy" while acting like a storm trooper.

Think of it, that was published in 1965 and Ellul hadn't even lived long enough to see people talking about politics on Facebook!

revisiting Driscoll's 7-21-2014 "we're not entirely sure who they are" in light of 2015 statements from Justin Dean and Sutton Turner suggesting they knew with some great detail who some of those people were

http://web.archive.org/web/20141031232443/https://marshill.com/2014/07/21/the-weekly-7-21-14
https://gist.githubusercontent.com/anonymous/b1dd5d1b6b3a14b6e7f3/raw/6c9dfc093dda78bb1a6b7ae29a9909045ad2a9e3/MHMW20140718

Mark Driscoll from a video statement July 21, 2014

"If I’m real honest with you, at first it was just a little overwhelming and a bit confusing. We, and I were not exactly sure what was happening and so it took a little while to sort that out... As well, one of the things that has been complex is the fact that a lot of the people that we are dealing with in this season remain anonymous. And so we don’t know how to reconcile, or how to work things out with, with people because we’re not entirely sure who they are [emphasis added], and so that has, that has made things a little more complex and difficult as well."

Then in 2015 at the Thrive conference Driscoll said the following:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2015/05/13/transcript-of-mark-driscolls-speech-at-the-thrive-leadership-conference-2015/
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1wYBTnRpPHRb8N1nqtgP2FcHcdnBeMIqCYy2SyQCEWBg/edit

Transcript | Mark Driscoll | Thrive 2015-05-01
See Links to Timestamps at the end of this doc. [these omitted here]

...

And I don’t want to take this opportunity to talk a lot about me, I want to take an opportunity to serve you. We had an eight year conflict that really went public the last year, but it’s been eight years, and some of you struck shepherds know what that’s like.  By the time everybody else knows, you’ve already been dealing with it for a long time. [emphasis added]

So somehow something changed between 2014 and 2015.  Mark Driscoll went from saying for himself and the leaders of Mars Hill that they weren't entirely sure who people were to reconcile with because things were done anonymously on the internet to telling people at the Thrive conference there was a conflict going back to 2007 that had been ongoing for eight years.  We'll have to get to two aspects of the initially quoted comment from Driscoll.  Were all the parties anonymous, first of all?  And were the parties making their grievances known through the internet or were they availing themselves of other avenues? There's a third element introduced by the Thrive narrative, which was Driscoll's claim that there was a conflict that lasted eight years that "really went public the last year".  It didn't go public in 2014 or 2013.  It was publicized by the Stranger in 2007 the year it happened, and Joyful Exiles was up as of March 2012. 


http://004f597.netsolhost.com/Vision/10%20Throw%20Them%20Off%20the%20Bus%201.mp3
http://joyfulexiles.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/preaching-paul_edits1.mp3

But we can even set that off to one side.  Consider, if the 2007 re-organization and firings were the controversy Driscoll was alluding to, whether or not it could be considered an eight year continuous conflict.  Driscoll didn't exactly sound like he thought it was a conflict anymore when he said "There is a pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus" in October 2007, did he? As the saying goes, you can't eat your cake and have it, too.  Either Driscoll knew who these unnamed parties were going as far back as 2007 or some other date, or he didn't.

Then there's the fuzziness of that "we" in the "we're not entirely sure who they are.  Who was that "we"?  Back on March 9, 2015 Justin Dean was willing to publicly taunt someone over the failure to produce a lawsuit, said failure to produce a lawsuit having lasted more than a year.  A screen cap and quote from Justin Dean's March 9, 2015 comment can be found here:

http://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2015/03/if-justin-dean-had-time-for-following.html
"... you haven't produced a lawsuit in over a year. In fact no one has filed a lawsuit."
No prize for who Dean was taunting, the marvel of that taunt was that it showed, in March 2015, that Justin Dean knew there was the possibility of a lawsuit and he knew of it being a possibility for more than 12 months before March 9, 2015. 

That timeline fits with about April 2014.
http://investyourgifts.com/mars-hill-global/
 Posted by Sutton Turner on May 5, 2015
 ...
During the past twelve months, an online petition calling for “greater financial transparency from the leadership of Mars Hill” was started and has since been signed by 507 people. While some of those who have signed the petition may have been donors to Mars Hill Global, the overwhelming majority (98%) of signers never gave to Mars Hill Global.


On April 4, 2014, parties whom were led by a former Mars Hill member sent a legal request for the preservation of documents to Mars Hill Church. This type of request normally proceeds a lawsuit, however a year has passed since Mars Hill received the legal notice. [emphasis added]Then in August and again in December, these parties threatened legal action against many of the former MHC leadership, including myself. They charge that former leaders misappropriated funds with regards to Mars Hill Global. There are however a few facts to consider:
...
4. The leader of this potential legal action has not been a member of Mars Hill Church since 2007. He is a CEO of a non-profit that participates in Africa, and Mars Hill once supported this non-profit. There are now four remaining potential plaintiffs listed in the most recent threat of legal action sent in December 2014


That "recent threat of legal action" sent in December 2014 may or may not have been ...

http://marshilllawsuit.com/files/2014-12-24_Fahling_MH_Mediation_Ltr.pdf
the law office of Brian Fahling
December 24, 2014
Karen Cobb
Frey Buck P.S.
1200 Fifth Avenue, Ste. 1900
Seattle, WA 98101
Re: Jacobsen, et al. v. Driscoll, et al.
Karen:


I have expressed to you since our first conversation regarding this matter last spring,
above all else, my clients’ desire to have their claims brought before a Christian mediator. ...

Last spring, in this case, looks like the spring of 2013.

In other words, Justin Dean seemed to know from the earliest contacts from Fahlings office who he was dealing. Sutton Turner even mentioned the date former members of Mars Hill sent a legal request to preserve documents with the mention of a potential suit. Sutton Turner knew since at least April 2014 that parties led by a former Mars Hill member had concerns.

Even if Mark Driscoll had insisted on using a royal 'we' to say "We're not entirely sure who they are".

http://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2014/10/publicly-dismiss-bloggers-in-general.html
Scott Harris sent Wenatchee The Hatchet a certified letter on December 4, 2013 that said, "I have seen a few of your blog posts regarding Mars Hill Church. I would love to sit down with you and talk about them."

That's not even counting an unsolicited email from another campus pastor from about October 2013.  A campus leader that could send a certified letter in 2013 to Wenatchee The Hatchet, who had stopped renewing Mars Hill membership around 2007 (and let's keep in mind that at this point Mars Hill attendance was in tens of thousands across the western US) how plausible is that that Mars Hill leaders couldn't work out who to reconcile with from among their own former elders and deacons, exactly?
Take all the statements from Mars Hill leadership in the last six years and other correspondence quoted above and read them as a continuous arc and it seems impossible to reach the conclusion that Mark Driscoll, Sutton Turner or Justin Dean had no idea at all who they might have been dealing with.  It's not like Brian Fahling didn't send letters.  It turns out from Fahling's correspondence some kind of overture of interest in mediation was made as far back as the spring of 2013.  Now Mars Hill leadership was certainly at liberty to decide they didn't WANT to meet for mediation but to say at any point in the last two to three years "we're not entirely sure who they are" comes off like a bold-faced lie..  The cumulative statements of guys like Justin Dean and Sutton Turner seem to indicate they knew pretty well who they were opting to not deal with. Driscoll himself couldn't have invoked references to a conflict from 2007 if he didn't have some idea there were parties involved whose time at Mars Hill even went that far back. 

So if by the account of none other than Sutton Turner it was possible to know who the interested parties were who had concerns about Mars Hill as far back as April 2014 how on earth would Mark Driscoll not know who those parties were?  Why would the secretary of the corporation know something and not pass it along to the president?  To put it another way, if the secretary knew why would the president not know? If the PR head of Mars Hill knew why would the president not know? If Driscoll could say in 2015 that a conflict that happened 8 years prior only became public in 2014 then even if we set aside the impossibility of that claim being true based on matters of public record, wouldn't that in itself imply that Driscoll did know some of who these people were?  That knowledge, if corresponding to whatever reality is, makes it all the more impossible for Driscoll to have honestly said "we're not entirely sure who they are".

Friday, March 04, 2016

ECFA clarified that it's not a party to the RICO suit, just a non-party co-conspirator to the Christian Post

http://www.christianpost.com/news/ecfa-lawsuit-mars-hill-church-mark-driscoll-sutton-turner-158855/
Leonardo Burr, Christian Post Reporter
March 2, 2016 11.27a

...
While Driscoll did not respond to a request for comment from The Christian Post by press time, the ECFA issued a statement to CP noting that the individuals bringing the lawsuit "have no direct knowledge of the ECFA's accreditation process" and are "wrong" about the ECFA's involvement with Mars Hill Church.

"Neither ECFA nor any of its employees are named as parties in a private lawsuit that has been brought against the leader of a formerly accredited ministry," said ECFA, which highlighted that it was not sued but was instead listed as a co-conspirator. [emphasis added]  "It also appears that the individuals bringing the lawsuit have no direct knowledge of ECFA's accreditation process and have the facts wrong regarding our involvement with the ministry in question."

That is technically very true.  ECFA's just named as one of the non-party co-conspirators not a party.
Since apparently plenty of people read about the 42-page filing rather than the filing itself perhaps we should consult it?

http://wp.production.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/files/2016/02/Filed-Complaint.pdf
...
C. Non-Party Co-Conspirators
12. Certain other non-party individuals and business entities, as set forth below, played roles, direct or indirect, in RICO Defendants scheme to defraud the Jacobsens, Kildeas, and other MHC members and non-members who donated monies to MHC in response to RICO Defendants’ fraudulent solicitations.
...
h. Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (“ECFA), Winchester, Virginia.
(1) On its website, ECFA states: “Founded in 1979, ECFA provides accreditation to leading Christian nonprofit organizations that faithfully demonstrate compliance with established standards for financial accountability, transparency, fundraising, and board governance. Collectively, these organizations represent over $25 billion in annual revenue.”6

(2) ECFA also claims that “[m]embership in ECFA contributes to the integrity and image of the entire Christian community. The greater the credibility of the individual member organization, the greater its contribution to the total membership. That the image of Christian ministry has been scarred by the actions of a few organizations is undeniable. However, membership in ECFA is a powerful statement that a ministry acts responsibly and honors its commitment to accountability.”7

(3) ECFA recognized that “[i]t’s not always easy to earn people’s trust. Just as people are more likely to trust an accredited college or a product with the Good Housekeeping seal, donors are more likely to share their resources with an organization they believe to be trustworthy. ECFA enhances trust in Christ-centered churches and ministries by establishing and applying ECFA's Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship™ to accredited organizations.”8

(4) In its 2012 Annual Report, MHC printed the following announcement by ECFA: “We are pleased to welcome Mars Hill Church as ECFA’s 1,700th member. By meeting the stringent criteria ECFA applies to all applicants, this certifies to supporters of the church and the public that Mars Hill meets the highest standards of financial ethics, faithfulness, and accountability.” (Quoting Dan Busby, President, ECFA)”9

(5) In a September 20, 2012 post to its website, ECFA featured MHC and this quote from Driscoll: “At Mars Hill, we are dedicated to utilizing the resources entrusted to us in faithful adherence to our mission to make disciples and plant churches in the name of Jesus. In proactively submitting ourselves to the scrutiny of ECFA, we openly state our commitment to proclaim Jesus to our communities with utmost ethical honor.”10

(6) At all times relevant hereto, from September 2012 forward, ECFA accredited MHC in spite of RICO Defendants’ ongoing and habitual pattern of racketeering activity involving RSI, the Global Fund, Campus Fund, and the Jesus Festival.

(7) ECFA’s accreditation of churches is, at best, a rubber stamp. In view of RICO Defendants’ fraudulent conduct detailed herein, it is inconceivable that ECFA would have accredited MHC and held it out to the public as meeting “the highest standards of financial ethics, faithfulness, and accountability.”

(8) As a result of ECFA’s ringing endorsement and declaration that MHC met the highest standards of financial ethics, faithfulness, and accountability, the Jacobsens, Kildeas, and thousands of other donors continued to be deceived, making donations to MHC they would never have made if ECFA had disclosed RICO Defendants’ wrongdoing, rather than making a “a powerful statement” that MHC “acts responsibly and honors its commitment to accountability.”
and so is Dan Busby, president of the ECFA.  But for that you should go read the whole thing for yourself.

Driscoll tells RNS "false and malicious allegations continue to be made against me" almost two years to the day after the MH BoAA confirmed the use of Result Source to rig the NYT best seller list

http://www.religionnews.com/2016/03/04/driscoll-responds-to-false-and-malicious-allegations-in-lawsuit/
...
“Unfortunately, false and malicious allegations continue to be made against me,” Driscoll said in an email to RNS Thursday (March 3). “I’m certain that the most recent examples are without any merit.”

That's pretty sweeping and lacking in nuance.  After all, it was back on March 7, 2014 the entire Board of Advisors and Accountability (which would have included Mark Driscoll, yes?) confirmed the use of Result Source to rig a place for Real Marriage on the New York Times bestseller list.

https://web.archive.org/web/20140311063444/http://marshill.com/2014/03/07/a-note-from-our-board-of-advisors-accountability

...

Result Source
In 2011, outside counsel advised our marketing team to use Result Source to market the Real Marriage book and attain placement on the New York Times Bestseller list. While not uncommon or illegal, this unwise strategy is not one we had used before or since, and not one we will use again. The true cost of this endeavor was much less than what has been reported, and to be clear, all of the books purchased through this campaign have been given away or sold through normal channels. All monies from the sale of Pastor Mark’s books at Mars Hill bookstores have always gone to the church and Pastor Mark did not profit from the Real Marriage books sold either at the church or through the Result Source marketing campaign. ...
 
It's not clear that Mars Hill leadership has ever disclosed the "true cost" of the project or why it was less than the number obtained from written agreements.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

some LLCs associated with Mark Driscoll and/or Mars Hill have expired in Washington and now exist in Arizona

A quick overview:

Mars Hill Church Investment Fund, LLC has officially become inactive.

https://www.sos.wa.gov/corps/search_detail.aspx?ubi=603353130
MARS HILL CHURCH INVESTMENT FUND, L.L.C.
UBI Number 603353130
Category LLC
Active/Inactive Inactive
State Of Incorporation WA
WA Filing Date 11/26/2013
Expiration Date 11/30/2015
Inactive Date 03/01/2016
Duration Perpetual


The Mars Hill Foundation for Planting Churches, is not inactive and doesn't hit its expiration date until much later this year.

https://www.sos.wa.gov/corps/search_detail.aspx?ubi=603349072
MARS HILL FOUNDATION FOR PLANTING CHURCHES
UBI Number 603349072
Category REG
Profit/Nonprofit Nonprofit
Active/Inactive Active
State Of Incorporation WA
WA Filing Date 10/30/2013
Expiration Date
10/31/2016
Inactive Date 
Duration Perpetual


President DRISCOLL, MARK 1411 NW 50TH ST
SEATTLE, WA 98107
Secretary BRUSKAS, DAVID 1411 NW 50TH ST
SEATTLE, WA 98107


Mars Hill Church itself is not yet listed as inactive.

https://www.sos.wa.gov/corps/search_detail.aspx?ubi=601677819
MARS HILL CHURCH
UBI Number 601677819
Category REG
Profit/Nonprofit Nonprofit
Active/Inactive Active
State Of Incorporation WA
WA Filing Date 12/22/1995
Expiration Date 12/31/2015
Inactive Date 
Duration Perpetual


Lasting Legacy LLC, isn't listed as inactive yet.  Its expiration date is currently ...

https://www.sos.wa.gov/corps/search_detail.aspx?ubi=603199549
LASTING LEGACY LLC
UBI Number 603199549
Category LLC
Active/Inactive Active
State Of Incorporation WA
WA Filing Date 04/17/2012
Expiration Date
04/30/2016
Inactive Date 
Duration Perpetual

Title
Name
Address
Member,Manager


DRISCOLL , MARK 23632 HIGHWAY 99 STE F441
EDMONDS , WA 98026 
Member


DRISCOLL , GRACE 23632 HIGHWAY 99 STE F441
EDMONDS , WA 980269211

OMCRU Investments LLC is still listed as active in Washington state

https://www.sos.wa.gov/corps/search_detail.aspx?ubi=603258278

https://www.sos.wa.gov/corps/search_detail.aspx?ubi=603258278
OMCRU INVESTMENTS, LLC

UBI Number 603258278
Category LLC
Active/Inactive Active
State Of Incorporation CO
WA Filing Date 12/06/2012
Expiration Date 12/31/2015
Inactive Date 
Duration Perpetual

On Mission Charitable Remainder Unitrust is the governing person.

What IS new, though ...

http://ecorp.azcc.gov/Details/Corp?corpId= 20491878http://ecorp.azcc.gov/Details/Corp?corpId=R20632652

R20632652 OMCRU INVESTMENTS, LLC

5550 TECH CENTER DR #303
 COLORADO SPRINGS, CO 80919

Entity Type:  FOREIGN L.L.C. 

Business Type:   
Incorporation Date:  1/22/2016 

Corporation Life Period:   
Domicile:  COLORADO 

County:  MARICOPA 
Approval Date:  1/28/2016 

Original Publish Date:   
Agent Name:  CAPITOL CORPORATE SERVICES INC 
Agent Mailing/Physical Address: 
815 N 1ST AVE #4
PHOENIX, AZ 85003

Agent Status:  APPOINTED 01/22/2016 
Agent Last Updated:  01/28/2016 

MARK DRISCOLL MANAGER
21001 N TATUM BLVD #1630-527
PHOENIX, AZ 85050
 01/22/2016 01/28/2016 


OMCRU INVESTMENTS MEMBER
CHRITABLE REMAINDER INVESTMENT
5550 TECH CENTER DR #303
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO 80919
 01/22/2016 01/28/2016 

Box 527?  That's different from the Box 434 of The Trinity Church but it is the box for Mark Driscoll Ministries.
So OMCRU Investments LLC in Arizona has the same mailing address as Mark Driscoll Ministries. 

http://ecorp.azcc.gov/Details/Corp?corpId= 20491878

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2015/12/13/mark-driscoll-listed-as-director-of-newly-incorporated-the-trinity-church-in-phoenix/

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

one for documenting breath-taking failures in journalism, Charisma magazine lists a plaintiff in the recently filed RICO suit against Driscoll and Turner as a defendant

http://www.charismanews.com/us/55552-new-mark-driscoll-lawsuit-alleges-pastor-ran-church-like-crime-syndicate
10:30AM EST 3/2/2016 Jessilyn Justice
...
The Seattle Times reports the lawsuit alleges Driscoll and Turner used church money to fund Driscoll's book Real Marriage.  

Defendant Brian Jacobsen launched a GoFundMe page last April to fund the suit. 

What's so ridiculous about the piece is that while Justice names Jacobsen as a defendant after having linked to the Seattle Times, the Seattle Times article said:

http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/mark-driscoll-accused-of-racketeering-at-mars-hill-church/
...

The lawsuit could set an interesting precedent. Brian Fahling, an attorney representing plaintiffs Brian and Connie Jacobsen and Ryan and Arica Kildea [emphasis added], two married couples, said he knew of only one other lawsuit involving racketeering allegations against religious figures.

I already thought Charisma was pretty much worthless in journalistic terms but this kind of mistake is breath-takingly bad even from them.


This article does quite a bit better.

http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2016/03/02/3755758/mark-driscoll-racketeering/

Although, there's no allegedly about the William Wallace II pseudonym Driscoll took up.

CONFESSIONS OF A REFORMISSION REV
Mark Driscoll,  Zondervan
copyright (c) 2006 by Mark Driscoll
ISBN-13: 978-0-310-27016-4
ISBN-10:0-310-27016-2
CHAPTER FIVE: JESUS, WHY AM I GETTING FATTER AND MEANER?
350-1,000 people

At this time, our church also started an unmoderated discussion board on our website, called Midrash, and it was being inundated with postings by emerging-church type feminists and liberals. I went onto the site and posted as William Wallace II, after the great Scottish man portrayed in the movie Braveheart, and attacked those who were posting. It got insane, and thousands of posts were being made each day until it was discovered that it was me raging like a madman under the guise of a movie character. One guy got so mad that he actually showed up at my house to fight me one night around 3 a.m.
Since contributors to Think Progress might understandably not have Driscoll books laying around that "allegedly" is a relatively safe way of phrasing things.  For those who want to read all of the preserved writings of William Wallace II that managed to be preserved there's a tag here for you.

http://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/search/label/William%20Wallace%20ii


and for the contents of "Pussified Nation" and a social/historical survey of what was going on here in the Seattle area at Mars Hill when Driscoll instigated the thread ... here's a set of tagged posts for that.

http://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/search/label/pussified%20nation

Or you can go back to posts from July 27, 2014 and read them in whatever order you like 
"Using your penis", which was in many respects crazier than "Pussified Nation", was published here on July 29, 2014

http://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2014/07/the-raw-text-no-pun-intended-of-william.html
it has a partial screen cap and the text was from a text file someone saved of the rambling conversation that Wenatchee The Hatchet preserved.

So there's no doubt Mark Driscoll took the name William Wallace II.  Since we've hit the tenth anniversary of Confessions of a Reformission Rev this year, it was worth pointing out earlier this month that while many have asserted that Mark Driscoll apologized for the stuff he said under the pen name William Wallace II this wasn't the case. He didn't actually say or write that he was sorry for what he said in substance, he may have expressed some remorse over his tone. The following post explored what Driscoll and others actually said about the Pussified Nation/Dead Men era and there was more talk about gay guys going straight; God drawing straight lines with crooked sticks; and Mark talking about the great stuff God did back in the day than expressing any regrets about the substance of what Driscoll said under his pen name.

http://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2016/02/nearing-10th-anniversary-of-confessions.html

While Christians have too often been skeptical about secular/progressive coverage (which has had more than its share of mistakes reporting things about Mars Hill, to be sure), it's shameful that Charisma could botch a statement about the recently filed RICO suit that's so basic anyone who actually looked at the filing could see Jacobsen was listed as a plaintiff and not a defendant.

irony alert--Mark DeMoss sounds note of objectiona gainst the bullying and insults of Donald Trump



 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2016/03/01/jerry-falwell-jr-s-trump-endorsement-draws-objections-from-his-late-fathers-confidant/
...
Mark DeMoss, who for many years served as chief of staff to Falwell Sr. and considered the televangelist a second father, said in an interview that it was a mistake for Falwell Jr. to endorse Trump. He said the Republican front-runner’s insult-laden campaign has been a flagrant rejection of the values Falwell Sr. espoused and Liberty promotes on its campus.

“Donald Trump is the only candidate who has dealt almost exclusively in the politics of personal insult,” DeMoss said. “The bullying tactics of personal insult have no defense — and certainly not for anyone who claims to be a follower of Christ. That’s what’s disturbing to so many people. It’s not Christ-like behavior that Liberty has spent 40 years promoting with its students.”


http://thetrinitychurch.com/support/

DeMoss is listed as a supporter of Mark "there is a pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus" Driscoll.  Now even if someone were to say that William Wallace II was all an act, a parallel between Trump and Driscoll isn't implausible.  Both men built careers as public figures sounding off on various topics via screens with a week or so for editing as an interval.  Anyone recall that in the earliest coverage of Driscoll he was willing to joke that he was to the right of Pat Buchanan on politics? 

Not that I'm particularly gung-ho about either Mark Driscoll or Donald Trump as public figures.  You can love `em both or find them both troubling but to pick one and not another?  It's possible ... but perplexing.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Mark Driscoll as propagandist: excerpts from Driscoll presentation from 1-23-2013 on social media content cross-referenced with content from Jacques Ellul's Propaganda--updated with audio link

Normally posts don't get republished/recycled here at Wenatchee The Hatchet.  Exceptions occur, however, and in this case  the exceptional circumstance is that the audio that shall be quoted below is available to download now so that you, dear reader, can compare notes of the transcription to the actual audio.

So without further ado, we'll return to the originally posted content, but this time you can download the audio and listen to Driscoll for yourself at the time markers indicated in the blog post.

http://download.marshill.se/files/misc/20130123_pmd-social-media-content-adress_sd_audio.mp3

Not so long ago Wenatchee The Hatchet was given audio from a January 23, 2013 presentation Mark Driscoll gave about content.  The core ideas were content aggregation, content creation, content multiplication, content distribution, and defending content.

In case you're wondering, you didn't misread any of that.  This was not a sermon of biblical texts or on a traditional Christian doctrine.  The presentation was entirely about marketing content. Actually ... the core of the message could be described as a seminar on propaganda, at least if we assess it's content in Ellulian terms.

Let's take a relatively early part of the presentation, and perhaps those who attended the event can confirm the reliability of the transcript if they have the audio handy. For sake of clarity the blue text indicates a quote from the Driscoll address and red text will indicate quotes from Ellul.

Pastor Mark Driscoll Address
January 23, 2013

14:15
... the hard thing is how to have enough fresh content to keep interest. It becomes very difficult.  Like, for me, I've got a weekly podcast/vodcast thing to fill; I've got my own website with a daily blog to fill; I've got Resurgence blogs to fill, I've got Mars Hill blogs to fill; I've got books to fill. I mean I've got Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and I don't even know where other stuff is because I never go on to those places but it's just a constant flow of content. So if you're going to open a communication channel then you have to fill that communication channel and it can get very laborious.

And what did somebody have to say about how once you turn on the faucet you have to leave it on?

PROPAGANDA: THE FORMATION OF MEN'S ATTITUDES
JACQUES ELLUL
Translated from the French by Konrad Kellen & Jean Lerner
Vintage Books Edition, February 1973
Copyright (c) 195 by Alfred A Knopf Inc.
ISBN 0-394-71874-7


page 46
.. Once again, we note that propaganda should be continuous, should never relax, and must vary its themes with the tide of events.


Driscoll's observation was that once you engage a platform you have to keep generating content for that platform. 

Perhaps one of the most ironic commentaries from Driscoll in early 2013 was the following:

22:15
I don't know if you know this but the majority of Christian publishing is owned by non-Christians. Rupert Murdoch bought Zondervan and now he's bought Thomas Nelson (I just finished up my deal with Thomas Nelson).  And there's good, godly people working at both of those organizations but they were bought by Rupert Murdoch, who doesn't love Jesus and what's happened then is they've been taken over by Harper Collins which means a lot of the Christian staff, marketing and editorial is getting laid off and then it's moving to non-Christians who are in New York.

23:10
and so we're going to have a real problem and crisis that's forthcoming very quickly in Christian publishing.  A very serious problem.


Has a crisis in Christian publishing materialized?  Did such a crisis have anything to do with Christian publishers being owned by non-Christians? Or was the closest thing we had to a crisis in Christian publishing the plagiarism and Result Source controversies that swirled up about Mark Driscoll? 

We'll move to some remarks Driscoll made about how in the wake of making a deal with Tyndale the stage was set for a new opportunity for content creators within Mars Hill.


24:05
So we've built this (and I've brought myself into that same negotiation. We're all in it together) to provide us a way of getting our content out in as expedient a manner as possible through as many channels as is possible.   And this is what Paul, I think, is alluding to in 1 Corinthians 9 when he says "I became all things to all men so that by ALL means, ALL means, I might save as many as possible." And in "all means" what he's saying is, "if there's a way to get the good news of Jesus out, I'm gonna look for that opportunity and I'm gonna take that opportunity." And so these are various opportunities but I would encourage you, you're now part of a system where if you are a content creator, and you build a tribe, and you provide good content there really is no limit (all the way to the New York Times best seller list) for an opportunity for you. I can't guarantee you anything but we can provide you an opportunity. ...

There wasn't any mention that getting to the New York Times best-seller list was obtained with some help from Result Source.  The invitation was that within Mars Hill there was an opportunity, though no promise, that if a content creator made good content and built a tribe there was theoretically no limit for an opportunity for that content creator. 

In Driscoll's handling a statement from Paul became a defense of using all forms of media to get a message out.  Driscoll would go on to describe how uniformity of messaging across every kind of media was something to shoot for.

Since this blog isn't ideally situated for audio clips we'll have to settle for transcription again. 

37:20
The key is have one primary content creator, other supportive content creators, and (to as much as possible) have some sort of unified theming through as many platforms as possible to multiply and embed the message. You need fresh content but you don't need fresh message. That make sense?  You need fresh content but you don't need, it's not like one huge earth-shattering idea every single day. People can't handle that much, right? ...


38.00
What's the big idea I'm sending out right now?  Identity. One big idea and it's a hook and then all the other ideas hang off that big hook. So for the whole 16-week sermon series there's one big hook called identity. All the social media, all the blogs, all the community groups everything's hanging on the hook. And then it's even consistent. So you walk in and you see "I am a saint" and, all of a sudden, the theming is consistent in the building. And so it's just, every medium, how do we communicate this message? And so for 16 weeks it will a concentrated content message on identity in Christ. But then once we're done with the series, let's say somebody gets saved in two years and walks in all of that content's available. [emphasis added]

Having recently reviewed Jacques Ellul's practical definition of propaganda let's revisit it again.

page 9
Propaganda must be total. The propagandist must utilize all of the technical means at his disposal--the press, radio, TV, movies, posters, meetings, door-to-door canvassing. Modern propaganda must utilize all of these media. [emphasis added] There is no propaganda so long as one makes use, in a sporadic fashion and at random, of a newspaper article here, a poster or a radio program there, organizes a few meetings and lectures, writes a few slogans on walls; that is not propaganda.


page 20
To begin with, propaganda must be organized in several ways. To give it the above mentioned characteristics (continuity, duration, combination of different media), an organization is required that controls the mass media, is capable of using them correctly, of calculating the effect of one or another slogan or of replacing one campaign with another. There must be an administrative organization [emphasis added], every modern state is expected to have a Ministry of Propaganda, whatever its actual name may be.

page 61
Propaganda is a set of methods employed by an organized group that wants to bring about the active or passive participation in its actions of a mass of individuals, psychologically unified through psychological manipulation and incorporated in an organization. [italics original]


So when Mark Driscoll extolled the integration of theming in sermons, podcasts, vodcasts, church blogs, and even the interior decorating of campuses of Mars Hill what he was describing was a fully integrated use from the top down of every form of mass and social media to communicate a single unified message that would direct church life.  That's a man speaking not as a pastor who studies and interprets the Bible and shepherds a flock, that's a man speaking as a propagandist. 

Ellul shared more than a few ideas about propaganda and specifically about propaganda in relationship to the church and to Christianity:

page 230
... Propaganda is a total system that one must accept or reject in its entirety.

If the church accepts it, two important consequences follow. First of all, Christianity disseminated by such means is not Christianity. [emphasis added] We have already seen the effect of propaganda on ideology. In fact, what happens as soon as the church avails itself of propaganda is a reduction of Christianity to the level of all other ideologies or secular religions.

This can be seen happening throughout history. Every time a church tried to act through the propaganda devices accepted by an epoch, the truth and authenticity of Christianity were debased. This happened in the fourth, ninth, and seventeenth centuries (of course, this does not mean that no more Christians were left as a result).

In such moments (when acting through propaganda), Christianity ceases to be an overwhelming power and spiritual adventure and becomes institutionalized in all its expressions and compromised in all its actions. It serves everybody as an ideology with the greatest of ease, and tends to be a hoax. In such times there appear innumerable sweetenings and adaptations, which denature Christianity by adjusting it to the milieu.

Thus reduced to nothing more than an ideology, Christianity will be treated as such by the propagandist. [emphasis added] And in the modern world we can repeat in connection with this particular ideology what we have already said on the subject of ideologies in general. What happens is that the church will be able to move the masses and convert thousands of people to its ideology. But this ideology will no longer be Christianity. It will be just another doctrine, though it will still contain (sometimes, but not always) some of the original principles and the Christian vocabulary. [emphasis added]

The other consequence affects the church itself. When it uses propaganda, the church succeeds, just as all other organizations. It reaches the masses, influences collective opinions, leads sociological movements, and even makes many people accept what seems to be Christianity. But in doing that the church becomes a false church. it acquires power and influence that are of this world, and through them integrates itself into this world.

As we watch the election cycle play out there are potentially two ways to read this warning from 1965.

Whether the form of American civic religion has a red-state or blue-state hue once Christianity is made subservient to American political ideological concerns it has ceased to be Christianity and has become an Americanized civic religion used to mobilize voters is one way you could put it.

But another take-away from this warning is that a church that consciously accepts propaganda as a "reality of modern life" and decides to appropriate it stops being Christianity and stops being the church.

As a former member of Mars Hill the application of Ellul's warning could be this, that by embracing the techniques of mass media in the way that he did Mark Driscoll stopped being a pastor a long time ago (if he ever was one to begin with) and became a propagandist. That he could give a presentation in early 2013 about content management to church staff as has been quoted in this post suggests that Mars Hill church by early 2013 was in key respects what Ellul would call a propaganda machine, and its devotees were potentially really Christians but in organizational and social terms they became loyalists to a brand, and that brand was Mark Driscoll.

If Mars Hill Church died it doesn't seem like too big a stretch on the warnings of Jacque Ellul about churches that it died because it had stopped being a church and had become a propaganda machine; once it became a propaganda machine it was no longer a true church and could not articulate a truly Christian witness even if all the usual vocabulary and buzzwords were there.  No matter how many times Driscoll's followers would say "It's all about Jesus" it was a Jesus that was a concept mediated and defined by Mark Driscoll.

The Trinity Church in Phoenix is currently a mailbox in a UPS store.  There aren't any attending members and yet there's staff.  There's no building as yet but there's Mark Driscoll Ministries with sermons and vodcasts and blog posts and audio as much as you could want.  This isn't a church, it's a corporation, a propaganda machine whose brand is not necessarily Jesus but fairly certainly Mark Driscoll.  After all, the ministry is named after him.

former deacons of MH file RICO complaint against officers of Mars Hill Church, Mark Driscoll and Sutton Turner, survey of coverage and some notes on how this was percolating since April 2014

Yes, there'd been rumblings and murmurs for a couple of years.  It wasn't worth writing about while it was just rumblings and murmurs.  Now that an actual complaint has been filed, however, there's something to write about.

In an earlier post we revisited an old Mark Driscoll tweet about forgiveness.

https://twitter.com/PastorMark/status/346683312452030465
Forgiveness is not covering up sin committed against us. If a crime is committed, you can forgive someone & still call the cops.
10:38 AM - 17 Jun 2013


Well, as of February 29, 2016 a RICO suit has been filed against officers of the non-profit corporation that was Mars Hill.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2016/02/29/rico-lawsuit-filed-against-former-leaders-of-mars-hill-church/
http://wp.production.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/files/2016/02/Filed-Complaint.pdf

http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/mark-driscoll-accused-of-racketeering-at-mars-hill-church/
http://www.seattlepi.com/local/politics/article/Ex-members-in-suit-charge-pattern-of-6861173.php
http://www.ballardnewstribune.com/2016/03/01/news/mark-driscoll-former-mars-hill-leaders-sued-fraud

http://www.religionnews.com/2016/03/01/mark-driscoll-reportedly-sued-to-find-out-where-tithes-went/
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/02/29/lawsuit-controversial-pastor-ran-mars-hill-megachuch-like-a-crime-syndicate.html

For those who may not have seen the headline ...

http://www.worldmag.com/2014/04/mars_hill_church_moves_to_destroy_documents

...
A group of 16 former Mars Hill members delivered a letter to the church earlier today, asking Mars Hill to delay or rescind the implementation of this policy. In the letter, obtained by WORLD, the group’s attorney, Brian Fahling, asked the church to “preserve electronically stored information that may contain evidence.” Fahling wrote that his clients anticipate legal action in which the church, Driscoll, and others in church leadership “will be named as defendants.” The letter lists anticipated litigation in the areas of “RICO [Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act], Fraud, Conspiracy, Libel, Slander, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress.”


WORLD magazine reported as far back as April 2014 that a RICO suit was being considered. So news coverage from nearly two years ago established that some kind of litigation was being considered.  For those who, against all odds, have never come across the upcoming statement before, back in 2014 Mark Driscoll said:
 “A lot of the people we were dealing with in this season remain anonymous, and so we don’t know how to reconcile or how to work things out with people because we’re not entirely sure who they are.”

That July 19, 2014 statement post-dated WORLD's coverage by a few months, obviously. Joyful Exiles first appeared in March 2012.  If campus leadership at Mars Hill was attempting to contact Wenatchee The Hatchet by certified letter as far back as December 2013 and WtH wasn't even a former staff member or leader, then surely during a season (May 2013) in which the BoAA sent letters to more than 100 former staffers it could have been possible to figure out who would have sent that letter from April 2014.

For those who read the 42 page document a good deal of content relates to Mars Hill Global.  For what it's worth, it might be worth noting that back in May 2015 ...
http://investyourgifts.com/mars-hill-global/
...
Unfortunately, Mars Hill’s attorneys have requested that I not blog. I have removed some of the financial information as well as other non-financial information in response to their request.

Now it's certainly possible to not trust what Turner wrote but by his account he was contacted by attorneys for Mars Hill and told to remove financial information related to the topic of Mars Hill Global, apparently. They also requested that Turner not blog. 

It may be something to keep in mind about how long things have taken to get to a point where a RICO has been filed, whether or not anything actually comes of the RICO being uncertain. 

So maybe for a guy like Mark Driscoll forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself to move on with your life, and maybe forgiveness still provides the liberty of calling the cops if a crime has been committed.  Well, in that taxonomy of forgiveness it may be possible to forgive someone but still file a RICO suit against them.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Shane Idleman's piece at Christian Post from 2-23-2016 in contrast to an interview with Dave Bruskas from 2-8-2016

Proverbs 27:17 NIV
Like one who grabs a stray dog by the ears
    is someone who rushes into a quarrel not their own.


It has been fascinating to read with some regularity in the last year and a half who has been willing to sound off on what took place at Mars Hill.  While some have noted that bloggers have deigned to write about things going on who never attended a service or were even a member, it has hardly stopped outlets like the Christian Post from letting people do precisely that.  There wasn't necessarily a complaint from those who have talked about "bloggers" when pastors who may have never set foot in Mars Hill decide to do guest pieces for the Christian Post, was there?  Perhaps there was.

Well, let's take a relatively recent piece by Shane Idleman for the Christian post. It may be provided as a case study for when a pastor who has no clear or obvious connection to the history of Mars Hill does what many a pastor is tempted to do, sound off in abstractions about a recent event that may or may not have any discernible connection to the soapbox points.

In general I find it impossible to take seriously articles in which numbered lessons are provided that we can learn from some recent event.  All too often it can seem that the lessons to be learned were axioms the author was going to lay on the reader anyway regardless of the month's headlines. 

http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/55246-5-lessons-we-can-learn-from-pastor-mark-driscoll-s-return
and a variant ...
http://www.christianpost.com/news/mark-driscoll-s-return-5-lessons-we-can-learn-from-church-planting-pastors-157938/
...
By Shane Idleman , CP Guest Contributor
February 23, 2016|7:40 am
...

In my case, I was allowed to make the most of my mistakes in the secular world before planting a church at age 41. Mark Driscoll was not afforded this luxury — he entered the pulpit in his 20s and had to work through anger, pride and control (by the way, most church planters struggle with these traits, myself included).

I'm not defending, or criticizing, I don't have enough information to truly speak to the issues on either side [emphasis added], but I want to remind all of us that Christians are fallible and make mistakes. We should consider the total portrait of one's life, character and ministry and evaluate on that basis.

A few poorly chosen statements, angry outbursts or controlling decisions made over the course of many years shouldn't define a person. One's life and character speak volumes as to the sincerity of his or her ministry. We should extend to others the same grace that we desire and be patient with others.

...

I am deeply saddened by the spiritual condition of many Christians. We love to be armchair quarterbacks and diss pastors and Christian leaders, yet we have no idea of the demands they encounter and the pain they feel. Our sinful tendency is to pull others down. We may think that somehow this makes us look better.
 
If we are truly concerned about the body of Christ, we will hold our tongue. Self-righteousness has no place here. But I'm not referring to sweeping corruption and deception in the church under the rug. Wisdom is needed here.
 
and ... sadly not on display. No one who was heeding the advice in the way it seems to have been intended could have, with much integrity, have both written and submitted that piece to the Christian Post for publication. Even if Idleman were someone with whom Driscoll himself had shared a meal at some point that wouldn't obviate the go-to-verse for so many Christians, Proverbs 18:17.  As it stands, the foolishness of the entire post announces itself to a person who has any familiarity with Proverbs. If you can't speak to the facts of any of the sides who participated in the history of Mars Hill then it's foolish to decide to use Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll as an occasion to cycle through content that doesn't need a news peg.  Those sorts of pious bromides don't need news pegs anyway.
 
If Idleman missed the stretch of later 2013 to early 2014 perhaps he missed the plagiarism controversy or the Result Source controversy.  Or perhaps Idleman wasn't aware of Joyful Exiles or Repentant Pastors or Tripp's comments that were made available for public consideration about Mars Hill having the most abusive ministry culture he'd ever seen.  Perhaps he hadn't noticed in 2015 that former executive elder Sutton Turner remarked on how he objected to Result Source but signed it anyway?  But, as previously noted, the kind of piece Idleman opted to write is the kind that can be plugged in for any suitable occasion. It isn't necessary to know any of the details or even the generalities of what happened.  If anything it's probably preferable to not know much at all so as to have a reason to publish something that, were a person to know more of the situation at hand, might otherwise seem reckless, like grabbing the ears of a dog as you're happening to walk by it.
 
By contrast, earlier in February 2016 there was a sprawling podcast interview that featured none other than former executive elder of Mars Hill Dave Bruskas. You'll have to skip way out to nearly two hours into the podcast but ...

http://audio.calvaryabq.org/static/morning/morning_20160208.mp3
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-morning-invasion/id1074069431
Dave Bruskas
01:48:45
...
It was very much like a death and I just want to say, right off the top, I'm so sorry, and I know that what happened at Mars Hill hurt so many people and a lot of people are disillusioned today about church. I know a lot of people left Mars Hill in Albuquerque and some found other churches, which we're really thankful for. There are some great churches in Albuquerque so we're certainly sorry that people aren't at North Church that have left but we're glad that they've found places. But I'm really concerned for the people that have just become disillusioned with church and moved on and I want those folks to know that I am so sorry.


What a lot of people don't know, just reading the internet and looking at other perspectives, is that the heart of the brokenness at Mars Hill was a leadership culture that was broken. And was really about leaders not learning how to do ministry the right way [emphasis added] and in a broken way. It certainly hurt so many people. So I am terribly sorry to people who aren't in church right now, who are wounded and hurt, who are without church. And I'm really sorry for people in Albuquerque that were part of other churches who felt the name of Jesus was being dragged through the mud because of what happened at Mars Hill. ...

So by Dave Bruskas' account the death of Mars Hill was severely damaging to a lot of people to whom he wanted to say sorry. Bruskas also described Mars Hill as dying primarily because its leadership culture was broken.  These were people who had not learned how to do ministry the right way and did ministry in a broken way.  Now you are free to dissent from Bruskas' account or have doubts about his sincerity but what even Bruskas considers beyond dispute at this point is that Mars Hill died because of a leadership culture that had become so toxic the death of Mars Hill was, as we've all seen, pretty much inescapable. 

Ironically, if Idleman wanted to make a point that Christians shouldn't read blogs or indulge "critical" statements about church leaders he may have picked the wrong case study.  Bruskas' description of how and why Mars Hill died is surprisingly congruent with Wenatchee The Hatchet's longstanding conviction that while there have been plenty of sincere and faithful Christians at Mars Hill who wanted to be a positive influence within the Puget Sound area the leadership culture had grown too toxic and dangerous for the institution known as Mars Hill Church to end up being a healthy institution or culture. 

Compared to Mark and Grace Driscoll in 2016 thus far, at least, Bruskas is willing to admit he was a pastor at Mars Hill. 

POSTSCRIPT 03-03-2016

For those who read the 42-page complaint this week, Bruskas is listed among non-party co-conspirators.