Friday, April 27, 2018

a short review of Koshkin's 24 preludes and fugues is up at nmz.de

https://www.nmz.de/artikel/interessante-repertoirebereicherungen

So it's nice to discover that there is at least one review of the Koshkin cycle up in some language.  There's been brief mentions online of the cycle being published but up until recently I couldn't find any official reviews or write-ups about the cycle.  If you can read German (of course) this link will be easy to read.  Not even close to a fluent reader of German myself.

But since I finally started blogging through the preludes and fugues one prelude and fugue at a time this wweek and plan to keep going through the whole cycle it's encouraging to see it's not an isolated thing.  Somebody out there is writing about the cycle besides yours truly.

At the rate I'm going if I manage to discuss two of the preludes and fugues from the cycle each week that will be a blogging project that can keep me busy for a decent chunk of this year. 

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Charisma House video promoting Mark Driscoll's pending Spirit-Filled Jesus book now has no likes or dislikes, no comments, and comments are disabled for the video



For those who never before laid eyes on this video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLiJsH4yuiI

We discussed it briefly the day after it went up in a post on April 3, 2018.

https://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2018/04/mark-and-grace-driscoll-discuss.html

For all 25 minutes of the video the announcement was something we'd looked at a couple of weeks earlier, the pending publication of Mark Driscoll's new book Spirit-Filled Jesus.

Now for those who don't remember the update from April 4, 2018.

4-4-2018
06.40pm

At about 923 views with seven upvotes and twenty-five downvotes it's not looking like the video from Charisma House is going viral. 

For those who may have watched the video and wondered what comments referencing Driscoll's comments about women as "penis homes" could be, go over here.

...
we can go see that the video now has 2,645 views and ZERO comments as well as ZERO upvotes and downvotes for the video.  You also can't vote that you like or dislike the video and you will notice that, unless things change between right now at 6:33pm PST and whenever you read this, comments are disabled.

Now 2,645 views is a lot more than the 923 we documented above (though, alas, without screen captures) on April 4, but for someone who was once as "big" as Mark Driscoll was 2.6k is still not exactly viral momentum.  Considering he's listed as having 528,000 followers on Twitter the cumulative fan base could probably do better than 2,645 views in the 24 days since the video announcing Spirit-Filled Jesus went up.  Although ... back in 2014 ...

we looked at the steady ascent of Driscollian Twitter followers and noted that someone sent along something from socialbakers.com that indicated that as little as 38% of Driscoll's Twitter followers were both real and active on Twitter.

https://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2014/08/the-rise-of-mark-driscolls-twitter.html

at the time the metric sent our way indicated that 20% of Driscoll's Twitter followers were fake and 42% were inactive. 

About a week-ish ago there were forty-some downvotes and about forty comments.  All that's gone.

For that matter, it might be tough to find that interview Mark Driscoll did with Sheila Walsh last year which was up and down pretty quickly. 

There is, however, a place you can go besides Driscoll's site(s) where you could potentially view the interview now.

https://www.lightsource.com/ministry/life-today/mark-driscoll-a-journey-of-forgiveness-587424-full.html

and if you want to go back and read an extensive analysis of that interview transcript that establishes that for just about any given word of that transcript it took seven to explain what was actually going on, you can go over here.

https://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/search/label/walsh%20Robison%20interview

The short version is that Driscoll finessed enough claims and details about what was going on at the time of his resignation it was necessary to document divergences.  Walsh and Robison could not have been expected to either know or care about what was true and what was emotionally charged rhetoric.

Meanwhile, the newer video from this year, it seems Charisma House has disabled comments and voting on this video, though not necessarily any of their other videos so far as can be discerned, but we could be mistaken. 

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Nikita Koshkin's 24 Preludes and Fugues: Prelude and Fugue in C major

Prelude and Fugue in C major
Fortunately for this one we have a video performance, which you can watch here.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5RURKrp1nY

Prelude (start of video)

This has a mid-tempo feel to it but is like a brisk walk (quarter equals 132 bpm).  After a single measure introduction the lilting, rising gesture of B, C, D, E in quarter notes appears in measure 2, followed by a  small leap to G and a descent from G through F and E in staggered and repeating rhythms.  That this central motto begins on a leading tone rather than a tonic is the crucial element of this motto throughout the prelude, because it allows Koshkin to introduce mercurial modal mutations by manipulating how this motto is presented in terms of modal mutation on one hand and in terms of harmonic juxtaposition on the other.

No sooner has this opening motto (five measures) in C major been presented, Koshkin presents a new form of it in E flat major.  Even this E flat major phrase mutates into parallel minor in enharmonic spelling.  Though this is a little prelude there's a dramatic arc at play.  The third phrase on the motto turns it into a two-measure sequence of quarter notes that brings us back to C, but C minor.  Koshkin's used his second phrase on E flat to move quickly back to the tonic key but in its parallel minor, building up to a climax that has us in the "wrong" key for a prelude in C major, the climax of the movement in terms of being the literal high point of the melodic journey and by being in C minor rather than major.  Koshkin makes a swift yet gentle descent through passage work that evokes Bach's Bourree from BWV 996 without actually quoting it.

As he continues to wind down with descending melodic activity Koshkin has some interesting harmonic pivots I'd write more about if I were writing, say, a treatise.  Instead I'm going to note that he wraps things up with an augmentation (in half notes) of his initial melodic motto and ends with a semi-half cadence that prepares the way for the fugue.

Fugue (starts at 1:22)

As fugues go this subject has an unusually large ambit, a compound fifth.  The fugue is what is known as a "white" fugue, a fugue in C major in which no accidentals or chromatic alterations occur anywhere in the piece.  Given how unstable and prone to modal mutation the prelude was, composing a "white" fugue could seem as though it can't effectively be "preluded" by what we've just heard.  But there's a unifying element, you can see it in the score and hear it, the prelude and the fugal subject are defined by mottos that lean on the leading tone and third degree of the tonic chord.  This allows for even the "white" fugue to retain a faintly jazzy air by having a subject that outlines a C major seventh chord in its opening two measures. 

The fugue has three voices (tenor, alto, soprano for choral thinking).  The entrances can be described as follows
1. Subject enters in alto on the tonic
2. Answer enters in tenor on the dominant
3. Subject reprised in soprano on the tonic.

There isn't exactly a countersubject but if there is one then the countersubject candidate in the initial voice is a gesture that is freely inverted when it appears under the third entrance of the subject.  Since countersubjects can appear either in prime or inversion form that's worth noting as we start blogging through all of these preludes and fugues. 

Since it would be difficult to try describing episodes in fugues even to people already familiar with fugal writing I'll stick to commenting about something that's easier to hear and identify in a score.  There are a number of middle entries in this fugue.  Middle entries are moments in the fugue in which the subject is presented in its full (or fully identifiable) form before proceeding to episode development. The first appears at measure 44 and is in E minor.

The second middle entry is in G major and is at measure 48. What makes this middle entry interesting is the subject is presented in canon against itself.  The episodic material is rather extensive moving along from here and the next middle entry is in F at measure 60, followed by another canonic middle entry at measure 62 and in this case the canonic relationship is switched.  In the first canonic middle entry the lower voice starts first and is followed by the upper, while in this second canonic middle entry the upper voice begins and the lower voices responds. 

The climax of the fugue could arguably be at measure 64, where the subject in the alto is supported by the tenor (i.e. bass) and is answered in the soprano by a free inversion of the subject as a quasi-stretto passage where the subject is answered by an inversion.  

As fugues go this one is elegant and simple.  Starting with a "white" fugue has precedent enough in the Shostakovich cycle and Koshkin has indicated that Shostakovich and Stravinsky are among his inspirations. The juxtaposition of a harmonically violent prelude and a gentle "white" fugue is a nice way to start this cycle. 

Nikita Koshkin's 24 Preludes and Fugues: Prelude and Fugue in A minor

Prelude and Fugue in A minor
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nUuvxGdLGk

Prelude (starts at 0:20)

The prelude here is an aggressive, relentless perpetual piece with running sixteenth note activity throughout, that starts in the bass line.  A somber quarter-tone melody floats above the perpetual motion. Perhaps the simplest way to describe this menacing but charming prelude is as a march in a strophic/binary form. The marching chorale tune appears in the treble strings in the first half and in the second half in the bass strings while the perpetual motion switches from being in the bass strings to the treble strings.  Being in the relative minor to the preceding prelude and fugue in C major this companion piece in the cycle is ominous and agitated where the C major dyad was calm and serene.  Each half of this prelude has a tonic and dominant phrase that gets rounded off with a cadential push into the next phrase.  In this case the prelude ends with an attaca, incomplete cadential gesture that leads with a very brief pause into ...

Fugue (starts at 1:54)

This fugue opens with an ominous and languid subject that moves by fifths across the root, fifth and ninth. For those who don't have the scores at hand this subject seems like one where some kind of written description will help elucidate what you can hear at the start.

A E B F (pause) B C D | C G D A (pause) D C B | A E B F (pause) B C D | C G D A (pause)
fourth measure closes with what can be thought of as a locrian flourish in sixteenth notes.  

This is another fugal subject with a fairly wide ambit, an eleventh rather than a twelfth. While in more parochial terms this could be considered a difficult fugal subject what makes the large ambit work is that although the subject has a large range it is spacious, particularly at the tempo Koshkin calls for. There's a lot of room for rhythmic variety.  This will become audibly clear as the voices enter in the exposition.

This is, like many of the fugues in the cycle, a three-voiced fugue. There are, however, four statements of the subject.  One of the many things you can do with a fugal exposition is introduce additional entries of a subject before completing an exposition if you have a subject that lends itself to an extra statement.

So we have the following:

1. Subject appears in tenor
2. Subject is answered at dominant in alto
3. Subject appears in soprano
4. Subject appears in tenor/bass at the dominant.

In this case the parallelism of the four measure phrases builds a momentum that I think needs to be respected, and Koshkin respects it.  The reason for this has to do with the harmonic movement in the subject.  Despite the quintal activity in the subject the root movement progression is between the minor tonic and the major mediant. Given the ambiguity possible in a subject so anchored to mediant root movement, offsetting that potential for ambiguity by reinforcing the tonic dominant relationship in the entries of the fugal subject within an extended exposition is a very wise compositional move.  It also lays down what I'd call a kind of rock and roll momentum for the subject at hand, because if anyone's hear The Police song "Message in a Bottle" this has a comparable kind of vibe in intervallic terms, though Koshkin's subject is more menacing and substantially less repetitive.

This fugue also introduces what I would call a true countersubject, the descending minor third in sixteenths that leads to a briefly repeated tonic or dominant pedal tone depending on whether we're in a statement of the subject or its answer at the dominant.  That this countersubject is dropped in the fourth entry of the subject, the second entry of the subject at the dominant, is a signal that the exposition is wrapping up and the development of the fugue is beginning, which is also a fine compositional move. 

After the episodic work begins at about 2:30 we get to a very fun passage at about 3:12 where Koshkin introduces material that is derived from his subject and countersubject that is in the whole tone scale.

At 3:33 we get the first middle entry, in E minor. This is followed immediately by another middle entry in the tonic key.  Now among those who teach counterpoint for any instrument but the guitar there might be a complaint here that if you observe the old Baroque ideal sometimes called a "tour of keys" model for fugal composition nobody should be getting back to the tonic key so quickly.  Sure, there's that theoretical and philosophical complaint that could be made, but seeing as so few guitarist composers the world over have composed cycles of fugues I honestly don't see this as something to be pedantic about unless you're willing to compose a fugue in A minor with a middle entry in B flat major.

So there are just a couple of middle entries in the dominant and tonic keys before a structural climax is achieved in the 90s measures.  The subject and countersubject re-appear in climactic form at 4:19.  This is followed up by a number of flourishes on the locrian riff from the end of the subject.  At 4:51 (measure 102) we hear the subject enter at the dominant in the lowest voice and get answered at the tonic by the upper voice. 

By this point the fugue, though formally having three voices, has had a two-voiced texture in many areas.  As George Oldroyd put it in The Technique and Spirit of Fugue one of the mistakes contrapuntists make at the student level is wrongly assuming that once you introduce X number of voices that X number of voices must always be active throughout the duration of the fugue.  Koshkin does not make that mistake here.  Given the liveliness of his countersubject it makes sense to let the spacious subject be offset by an active countersubject and let two voices convey a contrapuntal richness that the guitar can certainly imply but cannot necessarily execute in a flesh and blood performance.

Now at 5:04 Koshkin introduces another stretto point.  He's not composing grand stretto passages but what he does introduce here is the subject in the upper voice which is answered in imitation by the inversion of the subject in the lower voice. After this closing stretto passage Koshkin presents the subject in augmentation with percussion effects.  Then the augmented quintal subject is presented again with its tonic to mediant harmonic movement as a kind of grand chorale (though one that relies on the natural resonance of the instrument to convey its effect rather than attempting to present all of these stacked fifths as a single harmonic/melodic moment.  There's a brief semi-comic semi-menacing pizzicato passage, and then Koshkin closes the fugue on a gentle A major chord, bringing a fugue full of agitation and gloom to a paradoxically sunny, gentle conclusion. 

So, we're finally blogging through Nikita Koshkini's 24 preludes and fugues for solo guitar

I've been meaning to do this for at least a year, no, more than a year.  Starting this weekend I've finally started into that project. 

Given the sheer length of such a project and the complexity of writing about the first published polyphonic cycle for solo guitar to have been composed by a guitarist I can't realistically try to knock out everything to be said about any paired prelude and fugue in blog posts.  That said, I'll try to blog about them in posts where I can pair up discussions of a major key prelude and fugue and a minor key related prelude and fugue.  So I'll start with C major and A minor. 

Where possible, of course, I'll link to video performances so that you can listen.  This will only be possible for a fraction of the entire cycle, however. Since much more of the first half has been made available online it will be easier for those who do not already own the scores for this cycle to read the blog posts where video performances are already available.  Where practical I'll try to describe what happens that I find interesting along the way in each of the pieces.  But if you don't have the scores yourself there's only so much I can do.  Since, however, I am intending to advocate on behalf of this cycle I can at least write something and publish it here at this blog.  On account of this blog having a ... history of discussing and presenting information about more controversial topics like the history of a religious movement within the Puget Sound I hope readers who may be new to reading this blog can appreciate why the default position here is all comments are moderated and may not get published.  Now that the blog is finally roaming about toward topics that aren't constantly connected to Mars Hill that doesn't mean I've reached some epiphany that insists that people are well-behaved on the internet. :) 

So, with that caveat in mind, if you feel inspired to comment about this series of tagged posts discussing Koshkin's contrapuntal cycle you're welcome to comment, even if I can't exactly promise that comments will be moderated or published right away (if at all). 

"how lies spread" on social media, a few thoughts on sociological and horizontal propaganda

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/08/opinion/sunday/truth-lies-spread-online.html

...
Surprisingly, Twitter users who spread false stories had, on average, significantly fewer followers, followed significantly fewer people, were significantly less active on Twitter, were verified as genuine by Twitter significantly less often and had been on Twitter for significantly less time than were Twitter users who spread true stories. Falsehood diffused farther and faster despite these seeming shortcomings.
 
And despite concerns about the role of web robots in spreading false stories, we found that human behavior contributed more to the differential spread of truth and falsity than bots did. Using established bot-detection algorithms, we found that bots accelerated the spread of true stories at approximately the same rate as they accelerated the spread of false stories, implying that false stories spread more than true ones as a result of human activity.
 
Why would that be? One explanation is novelty. Perhaps the novelty of false stories attracts human attention and encourages sharing, conveying status on sharers who seem more “in the know.”
 
Social media can be fairly easily identified and classified as horizontal propaganda at one level and sociological propaganda at another level.  Ellul's book on the subject has been pretty helpful to me in the last few years so we'll let him define the terms and see whether they could be applicable to social media.

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) 1965 by Alfred A Knopf Inc.
ISBN 0-394-71874-7


page 64
Sociological propaganda springs up spontaneously; it is not the result of deliberate propaganda action. No propagandists deliberately use this method, though many practice it unwittingly, and tend in this direction without realizing it. For example, when an American producer makes a film, he has certain definite ideas he wants to express, which are not intended to be propaganda. Rather, the propaganda element is in the American way of life with which he is permeated and which he expresses in his film without realizing it. [emphases added] We see here the force of expansion of a vigorous society, which is totalitarian in the sense of the integration of the individual, and which leads to involuntary behavior.

from pages 64-65

Sociological propaganda expresses itself in many different ways--in advertising, in movies (commercial and non-political films), in technology in general, in education ... All these influences are in basic accord with each other and lead spontaneously in the same direction; one hesitates to call this propaganda.  Such influences, which mold behavior, seem a far cry from Hitler's propaganda setup. Unintentional (at least in the first stage), non-political, organized along spontaneous patterns and rhythms, the activities we have lumped together ... are not considered propaganda by either sociologists or the average public.

And  yet with deeper and more objective analysis, what do we find? These influences are expressed through the same media as propaganda.  [emphases added] They are really directed by those who make propaganda. To me this fact seems essential. A government, for example, will have is own public relations, and will also make propaganda. Most of the activities described in this chapter have identical purposes. Besides, these influences follow the same stereotypes and prejudices as propaganda; they stir the same feelings and act on the individual in the same fashion. These are the similarities, which bring these two aspects of propaganda closer together ...

... Such activities are propaganda to the extent that the combination of advertising, public relations, social welfare, and so on produces a certain general conception of society, a particular way of life. ... the individual in the clutches of such sociological propaganda believes that those who live this way are on the side of angels, and those who don't are bad; those who have this conception of society are right, and those who have another conception are in error. Consequently, just as with ordinary propaganda, it is a matter of propagating behavior and myths both good and bad. Furthermore, such propaganda becomes increasingly effective when those subjected to it accept its doctrines on what is good or bad (for example, the American Way of Life). There, a whole society actually expresses itself through this propaganda by advertising it's kind of life.

By doing that, a society engages in propaganda on the deepest level. ... [emphasis added]

It would seem that the very nature of social media fits the description of sociological propaganda.  Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc can be thought of as instruments and media for sociological propaganda.  However, that said, what arguably makes social media as potent as it is comes from the fact that this is not "just" sociological propaganda.  Social media arguably combines the power of sociological propaganda, which seems to spring up and go viral from the ground level, so to speak, with that "horizontal" element--horizontal propaganda is the next category we get to:

page 81
This propaganda can be called horizontal because it is made inside the group (not from the top), where, in principle, all individuals are equal and there is no leader. ... But the most remarkable characteristic of horizontal propaganda is the small group. The individual participates actively in the life of this group, in a genuine and lively dialogue.

page 82

Vertical propaganda needs the huge apparatus of the mass media of communication; horizontal propaganda needs a huge organization of people.
...

A member of a small group must not belong to other groups in which he would be subjected to other influences; that would give him a chance to find himself again and, with it, the strength to resist.

page 84
Horizontal propaganda thus is very hard to make (particularly because it needs so many instructors), but it is exceptionally efficient through its meticulous encirclement of everybody, through the effective participation of all present, and through their public declarations of adherence. It is particularly a system that seems to coincide perfectly with egalitarian societies claiming to be based on the will of the people and calling themselves democratic [emphasis added]; each group is composed of persons who are alike and one actually can formulate the will of such a group. But all this is ultimately much more stringent and totalitarian than explosive propaganda. Thanks to this system, Mao has succeeded in passing from subversive propaganda to integration propaganda.


Horizontal propaganda could have been a proverbial "whisper network" in the past, gossip inside an organization perhaps, but social media can be thought of as a kind of bullhorn for what in the past might have been confined to a more literal whisper network.
 
We now live in an era in which thanks to social media horizontal propaganda is now powerfully, almost effortlessly easy.  Mars Hill's use of The City and php discussion boards; Mars Hill leadership encouraging members to jump on everything social media ranging from Myspace (yes, that was a thing in the 2007-2008 period) through Facebook to blogging and Twitter; Mars Hill had a leadership culture and a general culture that embraced social media use and attempted to innovate and being on the cutting edge of technology application in this realm.  The City can be thought of as an instrument for sociological and horizontal propaganda.  I don't doubt that the people who designed it were not thinking in terms of those categories when they were working on it.  If they had been they might have had some qualms about the nature of the endeavor but the past is the past. 
 
As I look back on the twenty some years of what used to be Mars Hill one of the defining traits of the culture was its interest in mass and social media in particular.  Driscoll made a point of deploying as many forms of social media as possible.  Justin Dean has a book out in which he essentially insists that if you are a pastor or a church community and you are not using every social media tool available to you then you're already "losing" in terms of public relations
 
We don't just live in an era of urban legends, we also live in an era of supermyths, myths that are promulgated and entrenched by scholars. While scholars and academics would like to believe they debunk myths Ellul has pointed out that propaganda doesn't work well on the truly uneducated and illiterate, it has its greatest power over the educated who regard themselves as such and want to make sure they are up to date.  But that's arguably another topic for some other time. 
 
In sum, when we look at social media we're looking at a compound propaganda platform.  We're not just looking at something that allows for sociological propaganda but also for horizontal propaganda.  The question of how lies spread is in some sense the "wrong" question, the question should perhaps first be about how anything is spread on social media by way of its technique.  Then we can get to the secondary question lf whether what's distributed through social media is true or false. 

if Alan Jacobs is considering a blog-through reading of Ellul's Propaganda I say, feel free

Alan Jacobs has mentioned reading through Jacques Ellul's Propaganda lately.

http://text-patterns.thenewatlantis.com/2018/04/revisionist-blizzard-of-alternative.html#comment-form
...


Maybe I should blog a read-through of Propaganda.

Having blogged a bit on Propaganda as a book that can illuminate and elucidate a whole lot of what was going on in the culture of Mars Hill I say go for it.

I'm not sure that "emergent propaganda" quite convinces me here.
http://text-patterns.thenewatlantis.com/2018/04/propaganda-and-social-media.html

That horizontal and sociological propaganda could be outsourced, so to speak, to bots would not, I think, change the basic nature of what category or level of propaganda they're used to create.  But it sounds like Jacobs is reading through and not at the "has read all of" Propaganda as yet.

Jake Meador on the crisis of Christian discipline has half as many categories as seem germane to our moment.

Among a strata of American and British Reformed thinkers ... there's been a crisis of or about church discipline for about twenty years. 

Over at Mere Orthodoxy Jake Meador has written about the crisis of Christian discipline. Much of what he has written is stuff that, if you're familiar with Mere Orthodoxy already, I probably don't have to really unpack or explain.  I'd rather not cover ground Meador covers well enough himself. 

That said, he lists a mere three categories ...

https://mereorthodoxy.com/church-discipline-liberalism-and-the-benedict-option/
...

Second, the obvious failures of our existing institutions raises further questions about discipline as it relates to spiritual and theological formation and as it applies to major institutions.

We can see the failure of evangelical institutions under three main headings.
§  Sexual Failings
§  Race-related Failings
§  Dogmatic Failings
... 
 
Just those three?  I’d say that’s missing a fourth and fifth and sixth category.  These failings do not seem any less significant, though I hardly want the above three categories to be treated lightly, either.
 
4 Financial failings
5 Intellectual failings
6 Misuse of power (either in terms of application of acquisition)

Not coincidentally these three additional categories are available from consideration for how things went down at the late Mars Hill Church.

FINANCIAL ISSUES-who gets how much for what?

For those who are not already familiar with the late Mars Hill a financial controversy was over the transparency and purpose of Mars Hill Global.  When Mark Driscoll announced Mars Hill Global in 2009 it was clearly a fundraising approach, inviting any and all who were consumers of Mars Hill products of ministry to financially support the expansion of the Mars Hill brand. If you listened to podcasts and sent money in that would go to support Mars Hill's global expansion.  How that would be implemented was not really a question. During the Sutton Turner era, however, more Global fundraising was done with an eye toward promoting foreign missions and resource distribution yet the distribution in practice had not changed.  One of the crises associated with Mars Hill Global concerned questions about the ethics and clarity of using images of kids in Africa to raise money for Mars Hill Global if it turned out that only a fraction of the monies raised were ever actually going to overseas activities. 

While those who did and would defend Mars Hill Global as having been entirely above board have protested that everyone who gave knew their money was going to get used where ever Mars Hill leadership thought it was needed that's not exactly the point of the objections.  Non-profits have some expectations and requirements that fundraising activities have something observable to do with the means of raising.  The gap between observable means and applied ends made Mars Hill Global a controversy because some, even many people, felt that the use of African children to raise money for expansion that would involve getting real estate in the state of Washington was not of a piece with African children.  Had the Mars Hill elders made films petitioning people to give to Mars Hill Global so that Mars Hill could land some sweet real estate in Bellevue or Tacoma or Spokane would that have been as powerful a marketing tool as using African children?  No, perhaps, but it would have arguably been more honest fundraising.

Then there was, of course, the Result Source controversy in which it was revealed that Mars Hill Church contracted a company to secure a number 1 spot on the New York Times bestseller list for Real Marriage. Not too much needs to be said about that by now.

On the whole, the financial controversies of Mars Hill could be summarized as concerns about the fiscal competency and viability of the financial practices of the church.  When I stopped being a member about 2008 my concern was the church was committed to an expansionist policy that was not going to be fiscally solvent in the long run.  I was also not convinced Mars Hill leadership was competent enough of transparent enough to be trusted.  So that's a sliver of my own story in connection to this whole category.   Where your treasure is your heart will be also and arguably way, way too many celebrity Christians are not transparent about how much treasure they have here and now or about where their hearts might be with these earthly treasures. 

Which, I suppose, gets me to another controversy within the culture of Mars Hill.  When Driscoll kept talking about the challenges of urban ministry in Seattle it was not a small deal that it turned out he had been living in Woodway for a year or two, an expensive city to live in that wasn't even in King County.  A Mark Driscoll who could afford to live in Woodway who still hectored members about needing to give more sacrificially was trying to avoid transparency about his own location.  Sure, he cited safety reasons but that's not entirely separable from his public persona (hint, William Wallace II).

INTELLECTUAL ISSUES-wanting to be taken seriously as thinkers using second and third-hand thoughts (without always giving credit where it's due)

As for intellectual issues, Driscoll's plagiarism controversy alone should suffice for that but I'm surprised how many evangelicals and socially conservative Christians don't regard the intellectual property issue with Driscoll as ultimately salient.  But Driscoll is not even the only celebrity Christian for whom intellectual integrity by way of intellectual property could be a concern.  It's not as though Doug Wilson and Randy Booth didn't have a failure of scholarship with A Justice Primer.  Comparing the plagiarism controversies of Mark Driscoll and Doug Wilson was something we looked at over here.

https://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2016/01/comparing-and-contrasting-plagiarism.html

To avoid rehashing a lot of old material, Doug Wilson may be a grandstanding soapboxing hack in a way similar to Mark Driscoll, but Wilson has gone a long time without singularly alienating his own support base.  That he had to retract A Justice Primer after it was shown to be riddled with plagiarism didn't hurt his intra-group reputation, apparently.  The irony that a book that was praised by the likes of Kevin DeYoung as relevant to the question of justice in the age of the watchdog blog was retracted after being shown to be full of plagiarism by a watchdog blog of sorts would be hard to overstate.

To the extent that evangelicals may ask where the Christian intellectuals are the answer to that may be there won't be any for as long as Christians assume that the kinds of plagiarism scandals that surrounded Mark Driscoll and Doug Wilson are not indicative of intellectual and moral failure.  If you think that Doug Wilson made a couple of boo boos but that he's basically defensible in the wake of retracting A Justice Primer then you're most likely not the kind of person who care enough about scholarship to become an intellectual, Christian or otherwise. 

But this is not just a failure of individuals, it's also a failure of industries.  The more I waded through Real Marriage and the more I and Warren Throckmorton and others went through the plagiarism issues with Driscoll the more I realized that without publishers to not be bothered to flag this stuff down before publication the plagiarism controversy as it played out with Mark Driscoll simply could not have happened.

The young, restless and Reformed crowd and the neo-Calvinist, new Calvinist crowd have become so insular overall that the odds that they can introduce any intellectual heft seems ... remote.  The insularity of the neo-Calvinist scene is something I've written about before and I'm not even the only person who's taken this up.  But ...

https://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2016/06/at-mere-orthodoxy-jake-meador-on.html


As for misuse of power ... there's a litany of blog posts with the tag "governance" that you could consult.  Misuse in the accumulation and application of power will basically get you to all the aforementioned categories of sin.
 
It’s not that Meador’s wrong to highlight the first three because those are all important.  An evangelicalism that confronts sexual sin, racial animosity and false doctrine will also have to confront financial abuses, scholarly incompetence and dishonesty and the power brokering that so often is associated with defending those entrenched habits of mind and heart.  Meador's list of failings is both sexy and obvious, the stuff that's fairly easy to say publicly we need to tackle because we do, but what if we propose that those kinds of sins are the acne that is a reflection of underlying skin issue that led to the acne?  Skin-deep analogy, I suppose, but it's what I have at the moment.  Meador's mere three categories could look like a desire that the zits go away without addressing the skin condition. 

Now, of course, Meador would likely argue that if we had real church discipline that had teeth we really could deal with the underlying issues.  Yes, I suppose we could.  But that's also why I'm proposing the additional three categories that weren't in his litany.  Jesus, as I'm sure Meador knows, is someone progressives have described as being more confrontational about the acquisition and use of money and power more than about sexuality.  There's something to be said for that even if the way progressives tend to handle things is itself also dubious.  The Hybels situation suggests the possibility that the egalitarian and complementarian divide that Anglo-American Christians fight over is a secondary or even tertiary concern.  If we're fighting over whether rock star pastors should be complementarian or egalitarian rather than rejecting the ethos and praxis of the rock star pastor then we've already lost the more significant battle.  Sometimes I get the impression that when evangelicals ask where the Christian intellectuals are too many of them mean they wonder why we don't have more rock star pastors.  They don't put the question that directly, of course, but a perceived crisis of a lack of individuals we could call "intellectual" seems denotative and connotative of rock star rather than scholar. 

I have been feeling for the last five years that both the religious left and the religious right in Anglo-American scholarship, as well as the critical theory scene, too, have all reached points where the way to describe them is ... insufficiently dialectical. ;)  The insularity of the neo-Calvinist scene or new Calvinist scene seems to be such that they're never actually going to matter but they can certainly hope that they will.