Monday, January 25, 2021

At Hyperallergic, Noah Fischer makes an argument that the art world needs a non-pejorative definition of populism but that since Trump's election populism has been cast in strictly negative terms

In short, these have been victorious years for anti-populists, who maintained their economic status quo while successfully rebranding exclusive cities, companies, and cultural institutions as the frontlines of progressive struggle.  But what is populism, anyway?

Just about four years ago, President Obama said: “I’m not prepared to concede the notion that some of the rhetoric that’s been popping up is populist.” He was referring to Trump’s racial-bullhorn campaign rallies, and still believed the term to be contested — that it could mean standing with the people in their struggle against financial elites — the rhetoric he’d employed in his 2008 campaign.  But after the 2016 election, US populism has been pulled into line with Europe’s decades-long use of the term to mean basically, nativism — and the hazardous and cynical manipulation of an ignorant populace by authoritarian leaders.

This negative framing of populism isn’t new to contemporary art. While major museums have long tipped their hats to popular tastes with exhibitions on Star Wars or motorcycles, skepticism of the general populace is embedded not just in the art world’s proximity to the one percent of one percent, but arguably in the socially vulnerable nature of the avant-garde. In the late ‘90s, for example, NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani deemed the YBA “Sensation” show which had travelled to the Brooklyn Museum, “sick stuff,” focusing on Chris Ofili’s “Holy Virgin Mary” (1996) painting as an offence worthy of defunding the museum.


One of the points I've made here at Wenatchee The Hatchet since Trump got elected is that it's been troubling to see arts journalism define populism in strictly pejorative terms.  Since Trump's election it has been easy for well-established critics at venerable journalistic institutions to come up with patently idiotic appraisal of the most boilerplate liberal messages in mainstream popular level films.  Take Richard Brody's claim that Brad Bird promoted authoritarian populism in The Incredibles 2, for instance. This was the same Brody who claimed that Lady Susan Vernon didn't break any of the "important" rules of ethical behavior in Whit Stillman's Jane Austen adaptation Love & Friendship, which anyone who has even passing familiarity with Austen's writings knows is not the case. The possibility that something can be popular and have a populist aim without being "authoritarian" has seemed difficult for arts journalists, whether fine arts or performing arts, to even consider.

Fischer added:
In his short book What is Populism, German political philosopher and Princeton professor Jan-Werner Müller calls populism “the permanent shadow of representative politics.” His book argues that populism wherever it is found, is based on narrowly defining “the people,” so that populists always oppose pluralism. And yet, anti-populism conveniently justifies the rule of a benevolent elite, tasked to defend the nation against the uncouth, messy, and dangerous impulses of its masses. The book was assigned for the incoming Princeton class of 2021—an appropriate first instruction for a stratum preparing to helm the nation’s top institutions.

In a representative democracy, elites do, to some extent, have to contend with the voice of the street. Anti-populism therefore depends on incorporating popular imagery and language —even including the language of uprising— into the walls of their impenetrable institutions. The instruments of art, academia, and public relations/advertising are called on to perform this incorporation. Georgetown philosophy professor Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò explains how the concept of “elite capture” can be used to describe, “how political projects can be hijacked — in principle or in effect — by the well positioned and resourced.”  ...

This being an article at Hyperallergic the end goal is a left populism for the author but the points are worth considering across the spectrum of political and economic theories--why did it become so easy for arts institutions to cast all forms of populism as revanchist nativism?  Does a focus on representation within arts production make things better for Americans who are not working in the arts?  

Personally I don't have any problem writing about Wenzel Matiegka's guitar sonatas and Nikita Koshkin's 24 Preludes and Fugues for solo guitar on the one hand and then turning around and writing about Batman: the animated series on the other. I wrote years ago that it's one thing for film critics to complain that Hollywood keeps recycling the same old franchises and another thing to provide some feasible explanation for why this happens, and I proposed that if we actually look at which franchises keep coming back or staying around there's a pattern--that the franchises that stick around in Hollywood tend to be utopian or dystopian touchstones of pop culture in the JFK/LBJ "Camelot" era of the American civil religions or the Reagan era.  Thus "Nostalgia and the Anxieties of Empire: Toward a unified theory of American sci-fi movie nostalgia

Pointing out that the sci-franchises America keeps recycling cluster around the Camelot and Reagan era political mythologies is at least a theory as to why Hollywood is not merely "running out of ideas" but why they keep drawing from Star Trek, Star Wars, Planet of the Apes or trying to riff on Robocop.  The theory could even potentially explain why some reboot attempts keep failing to gain momentum a la Charlie's Angels.  None of which is to say that The Exorcist can't come back in some form, I was playing more with the basic idea that we should move beyond the critical bromide that "Hollywood has run out of ideas" to see if we can find any patterns in what franchises keep coming back.  If you factor in the 1980s and how G. I. Joe and Transformers were toy lines then you have to consider that the playtime kids had with those toys is  inextricably bound up with the films. 

Even Richard Brody could claim he enjoyed moments in the Bay-formers movies for replicating the experience of being a kid dumping all the toys out of the box to play some chaotic scene with them.  Right, Brody's still wrong to claim George Miller doesn't give or have as much fun as Michael Bay but if Brody can "get" the idea that he brings his memory of his own playing with toys as a kid to cut Michael Bay any slack as a film-maker he's at least tried to think about why anyone would greenlight the Bayformers films.  But then Brody could turn around and describe Brad Bird's Incredibles 2 as "authoritarian populism".

If the only kinds of populism that can exist are the kinds that American arts journalists and musicians the Western world over think will just vote for Trump then that cedes the whole concept of any kind of populism in the arts (and politics) to people like Trump and I would think that liberals, progressives and leftists would want to question why that has to be the case.  The article I've quoted from Hyperallergic clearly shows a writing who identifies with the left asking why this conflation of "populism" with "reactionary" has been so easily embraced in the arts.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

theme with variations: 1-6-2021 and would-be spectrum-spanning survey on social media tech oligarchy being how much of what happened has been mediated to us

Because I think the United States is past its shelf life as a viable global hyper-power I am probably not the person to ask whether or not something like this is over the top because I think Americans are generally incurably over-the-top and because we have been so, basically, since the start.

I am reminded of something that John Murray wrote in The Imputation of Adam's Sin about how many modern Westerners who claim they don't get how "we" could be held responsible at a symbolic or also meaningful level for the sins of one person.  Murrays' rejoinder was to point out that imputing comprehensive guilt to nations and political parties happens in American politics all the time and no one bats an eyelash about it but if it's a theme transposed into systematic theology then, well, suddenly people raise objections.  

It's easy for me to remember that certain people have been bloviating bullhorns no matter what side of the blue or red they're on, such as Frank Schaeffer's gently nuanced and subtle  "AS A FORMER EVANGELICAL LEADER I BLAME THE WHITE EVANGELICAL VOTER FOR EVERY SINGLE MASS SHOOTING"  

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Will Classical Music see a Renaissance? Bryan Townsend asks and it's a topic I've thought about for a while .... it depends on what we mean by classical music

Like many of you  I've been watching some of the streaming concerts from Europe and North America and I've started to wonder what the classical music world will look like after this pandemic crisis is over. And when will it be over? These are questions that are difficult if not impossible to answer at present, but we can do a little speculating.

I have read in a few places that perhaps 30% of professional musicians have simply left the business as there was no work for them. If the current crisis lasts another year or a good part of the year as it seems it might, then wouldn't it be likely that another 30% or more might leave the business?

We might also ask ourselves which musicians in particular are least likely to survive the crisis? It seems obvious that it would be the ones that are most vulnerable: the part-time musicians, the players in the smaller regional orchestras, the musicians that were already struggling to start or sustain a solo career, and most of all, the local musicians.


Reading, say, ArtsJournal or SlippedDisc on a weekly basis it could be easy to get a sense that classical music as we've known it has been in peril for some time.  Yet there was last year's debate about Philip Ewell's comments about the white racial frame of music theory in United States music theory, too. 

In comments at The Music Salon it got mentioned that album sales are dipping, even in the realm of digital download albums.  That got me thinking about how a musician friend of mine tried putting together a program for an album and discovered the licensing costs were more than he could tackle for the repertoire he wanted to record.  That, right there, might account for why there is a more robust indie rock scene than an indie classical scene in terms of recorded music.  At the risk of putting it too simply and briskly, what's the Bandcamp scene for new chamber music for string quartet compared to someone with a guitar and a band?  

One of the things that seems to be the default assumption in questions about the future of classical music is its future as a profession, the future of classical music as a form of cultural and participatory activity that people get paid to make.  The idea that classical music might continue in an avocational or amateur form doesn't seem to come up in "serious" conversations about "serious" music yet it seems as though, despite or in having to deal with the reality of arts funding and cultural policies in the United States, for instance, that's something we might want to keep in mind.  "a renaissance for classical music means a renaissance for humanity" wouldn't require that renaissance to be one of jobs in classical music.

But as Ted Gioia put it in Music: A Subversive History, the powers that be (they, etc) have pivoted from classical music to pop music in the last sixty odd years. The elites may have favored classical music a century ago but since the Jazz Age and the emergence of rock `n roll the elites have favored American popular styles. There are, of course, some folks who have felt that classical music must be allowed to die at spots like NewMusicBox but there's an element of bad faith to that proclamation inasmuch as the call was to contemporary composers and musicians to create alternative communities who would not be bound by established conventions ... and that's just the Romantics and Wagner all over again and, as Charles Rosen has put it, breaking free of the real or perceived strictures of "tradition" is as much a part of how traditions get renewed as the ostensibly "rigid" aspects of traditions.  

To put this aphoristically, every new generation has a temptation to think that we have seen things clearly in a way that nobody before us has and there's always a seed of accuracy to it along with some significant delusions of grandeur.

But, as is also so often said, it's easy to imagine things have always been getting worse when they're staying the same. I am skeptical about that approach to things now, too, because I find much wrong with Gioia's parade of dualisms to the effect that music history has "always" been about cycles of dualisms that can never be reconciled since before there even was music history as anyone can functionally know it. Adorno was right to snipe that the more modern the sensibility the more ancient it insists on being--the Enlightenment built on the Renaissance; the Romantics looked back to medieval eras for cohesion and then the ancient Greeks and Romans; and via Stravinsky's Rite of Spring ancient or pre-historic humanity became the new reference point. Gioia distills that general trend by going all the way back to a "rupture" allegedly caused by Pythagoras (and Confucius, too, even if the latter is basically only useful as a reference point for the kind of top-down totalitarianism in cultural norms that was more indicative of "our" era than many an earlier era).  Things can get worse in real world terms because if they weren't nobody would be worried about whether orchestras can survive the era of covid-19 if concert life is gutted via medical restrictions over the next two or three years.

Maury's comment at The Music Salon about how music has been devolving to an individual rather than a social activity is a fair concern. I hope that doesn't mean that a whole bunch of musicians are going to be home studio types who turn into Jacob Colliers!  On the other hand, perhaps that's not something that should surprise us if that's something that does happen.  

Owing to the curious history in the United States of post Cold War arts policies (or lack thereof) and the persistence of our military adventures abroad I have floated a theory that in the United States the arts might have something like a Thirty Years War situation in which arts policy wasn't and isn't a concern where "highbrow" is concerned.  I mention the Thirty Years War as a Heinrich Schutz fan to suggest that like Schutz composers and musicians might want to take as given the reduced possibilities and resources and compose for the resources we have rather than the ones we wish we had.  

It's why, in a nutshell, this guitarist composer hobbyist composes primarily for guitar now.  I like the idea of a cycle of chamber sonata pairing the guitar up with woodwinds, strings and brass, for instance, but in the era of covid-19 finding chamber musicians able and willing to tackle chamber music is challenging and people may find you rather than you finding them.  Whereas in the era of lockdown you can find out what you can do just you and your guitar.  The irony of that being cosmetically similar to the lone Romantic solitary art-bro-genius is not lost on me and I find it loathesome!  But we may find this to be the situation we're stuck with in classical music or postclassic music in the second decade of the 21st century. These don't promise to be another Roaring Twenties like the Roaring Twenties that featured the creation of so much music I admire form the last century.

I was reading Composing Capital by Marianna Ritchie in the last few months and although reading about gentrification and theories about neoliberalism and fumbling attempts to imagine musical life apart from capitalism was, well, sort of interesting it was also sort of predictable and I have noticed that within the confines of classical music criticism and scholarship right alongside popular music criticism and scholarship there's a tendency to stay in one's lane.  The possibility that what could revitalize the ruts that both classical music and popular music have lapsed into since, let me just make this polemical point unavoidably clear, the rise of the commercial music industries is a synergistic interaction of the classical and pop traditions is not something that tends to come up among academics, perhaps for reasons so obvious they don't even need to be written out on the page.  

I agree with Richard Taruskin's observation that since Rachmaninoff's time there has been an increasing gap between the academic canon in classical music and the repertoire canon, a gap between what scholars say you have to study and what concertgoers pay money to hear because they want to hear X in a concert. Yet the gap between the repertoire canon and the academic canon is probably not as wide as the gap between the repertoire canon and the pop musical canon even though the repertoire canon of classical music can overlap with the pop musical canon in pops concerts.  I have heard, for instance, The Pink Panther theme at pops concerts and why not? It's a fun theme.  Just because I listen to choral music by Xenakis or Messiaen or Tallis or Byrd doesn't mean I can't turn around and enjoy what Shirley Walker did composing soundtracks for Batman: the animated series or notice the probable influence of Theolonious Monk on musical cues in Blue's Clues.

One of many reasons I wrote Ragtime and Sonata Forms last year was to show that we have available the theoretical and conceptual tools in music theory and formal analysis to melt down the boundaries that supposedly exist between American popular or vernacular styles and "classical" music. It is possible, and I would argue desirable, to find out how much classical and popular styles can synergistically revitalize each other as compositional and performance traditions. If people want a renaissance of their preferred musical style it's hard to see how that's going to happen during pandemic years but after twenty years of feeling like both the classical and popular sides of Western music have had some ruts I think dispensing with a bunch of counter-productive dualisms is more likely to help things than to stick to them. 

That is why the post-Idealist German art-religious impulse is something I regard as ridiculous and as something that needs to be dispensed with.  I don't view the arts as sacramental, however much I love the arts.  Taruskin has been right to point out that George Steiner was wrong to imagine that the humanities would humanize.  I am, alternatively, skeptical that a renaissance for classical music will mean a renaissance for humanity. I'm too Reformed to take that view seriously.  If sacralizing highbrow art and music keeps people from imagining that it is possible or desirable to compose ragtime sonatas or to write a fugue that could draw inspiration from Wilson Pickett or Thelonious Monk then sacralizing highbrow music has to go, alongside sacralizing musical canons.  I can appreciate what Ethan Hein wrote a few years ago when he said he's not against canons as such but against canonism and by "canonism" I venture a guess that the legacy of German Idealism in which the arts are the new true religion is as good a working definition as any.  

I've been revisiting the Swiss Reformed theologian Emil Brunner's books The Mediator and Man in Conflict (Jim West says Man in Contradiction is a better translation). You don't have to be a neo-orthodox Swiss Reformer theologian to appreciate that Brunner's take-down of how the German Idealists re-engineered religious ideas from Christendom into a kind of panentheistic self-congratulatory cultural project could be a useful reference point for anyone who wants to take the Matthew Arnold style art-religion down a few pegs.  Brunner's work isn't going to be interesting for most, maybe, but I found his description of how liberal white Germans in the 18th and 19th century basically reverse engineered their idea of transcendence to kind of fit themselves to be an interesting polemic.  It might be germane to more recent American scholastic criticisms of the arts that were canonized in the proverbial long 19th century as a theological critique of the metaphysical confidence of European philosophers during the times when Beethoven was transformed into a god.  But that might have to be a post for some other time, maybe in tandem with a discussion of Mark Evan Bonds on The Beethoven Syndrome.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Mark Driscoll and daughter Ashley Chase have published new book Pray Like Jesus

Dale Coulter has an article at Firebrand that is a good overview of the neo-charismatic/New Apostolic Reformation scene that has gained momentum since the Obama and Trump administrations

One of the weirdest things, as someone who has tried to keep track of theological ideas, is that there's been a new branch of charismatic Christianity in the last forty years that retained all of its Pentecostal ancestry on pneumatology but has added a post-Rushdooney post-millenialist cultural mandate, which, for this formerly Pentecostal Presbyterian is what I'd personally describe as the worst of both worlds (the untethered "I have super-powers" pneumatology combined with the post-millenialist entitlement mentality that was an element in Manifest Destiny).  The article can be read at the link below 

it's a good introductory piece on the last forty years of neo-charismatic/New Apostolic Reformation Christianity in the U.S. to read alongside Julia Duin's recent work on how a failure to distinguish between these groups just mentioned and evangelicalism can lead to sloppy reporting on which evangelicals have been backing Trump. wjocj upi cam read be;pw.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Ethan Hein on Wellerman, sea shanties, and folk idioms gives me an excuse to mention the most famous pirate tune you probably only heard as a shape note hymn

So the sea shanties thing has been happening and Ethan Hein has discussed Wellerman recently.  The ex-choral singer in me can't resist writing a few things that I hope may be of interest about the sea shanty genre.


Harmony is not the only thing that makes this sound like a folk song. The Longest Johns’ untrained singing style contributes to the folkiness too. Their backing vocals use some “bad” counterpoint and voice leading. For example, at the end of the chorus, on “take our leave and gooo,” the four singers all converge on C in octaves rather than spreading themselves out across C, E-flat and G. If I wrote counterpoint like this in graduate tonal theory, I would have flunked. But this tune would not be improved by “correct” voice leading. Classical-style choral arrangements of folk songs like this can sound smoother and prettier, but without the rough edges, the music loses its soul.


To this I can add a few first-hand observations about singing a variety of styles of choral music.

in light of Haynes' dissertation on Mars Hill musical culture, there's a book called Holy Hip Hop in the City of Angels that caught my eye

"Punk Rock Calvinists Who Hate the Modern Worship Movement": Ritual, Power, and

White Masculinity in Mars Hill Church's Worship Music


I finished Maren Haynes' PhD on Mars Hill musical culture and hope to write about that some time in 2021.  I wasn't too surprised, having spent so much time at Mars Hill myself from about 1999 to 2009 and in connection to people there through 2013, that the Mars Hill musical culture defaulted to grunge, indie rock and white hipster bro sounds.  But ...

updated version of the reading list from November 2020 on exorcism, diabology, Jesus as exorcist, spiritual warfare, and associated themes

Updated list, titles in blue are books I've finished

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Ethan Hein on two classic tunes by Thelonious Monk: "Straight, No Chaser" and "Rhythm-a-Ning"

Since I am a Monk fan I could not resist linking to some of Ethan Hein's recent blogging. Since he chose two of my favorite Monk tunes I kinda have to write something. :)  

Alan Jacobs had some posts on types of dualisms where he pit Obama against Kendi but in a way that seems sloppy, a sloppy prelude to a possible future post on the default of spiritual warfare manuals in pop U.S. Christianity to a white racial frame

Barack Obama:

The point I’ve always made to Ta-Nehisi, the point I sometimes make to Michelle, the point I sometimes make to my own kids — the question is, for me, “Can we make things better?”

I used to explain to my staff after we had a long policy debate about anything, and we had to make a decision about X or Y, “Well, if we do this I understand we’re not getting everything we’re hoping for, but is this better?” And they say yes, and I say, “Well, better is good. Nothing wrong with better.”

Ibram X. Kendi:

There’s no saving America’s soul. There’s no restoring the soul. There’s no fighting for the soul of America. There’s no uniting the souls of America. There is only fighting off the other soul of America.

Obama and Trump did not poison the American soul any more than Biden can heal it. Trump battled for the soul of injustice, and the voters sent him home. Soon, President Biden can battle for the soul of justice.

Our past breaths do not bind our future breaths. I can battle for the soul of justice. And so can you. And so can we. Like our ancestors, for our children. We can change the world for Gianna Floyd. We can — once and for all — win the battle between the souls of America.

This morning I’m doing my weekly reading of the news, and I’ve just read these two stories, from the same magazine, back to back. The contrast is illuminating. One sees politics as the hard slow work of improving the world; the other see politics as the movement towards a final confrontation, on the plain of Megiddo I suppose, between the forces of Righteousness and the forces of Evil.

The United States of America has long had a two-party political system, but it now has a two-party social system also. The social system is not divided between Republicans and Democrats but rather between Manichaeans and Humanists. The Manichaean Party is headed by Donald Trump. He works in close concert with Ibram X. Kendi, Eric Metaxas, Xavier Becerra, and Rush Limbaugh, but really, the Party wouldn’t exist at all without him. The Humanist Party, by contrast, doesn’t have an obvious leadership structure and doesn’t make a lot of noise; its chief concern is less to enforce an agenda than to make it a little harder for the Manichaeans to enforce theirs.
The Manichaeans say, all together and in a very loud voice, You are wholly with us or wholly against us! Make your decision! I don’t know when I’ve had an easier choice.

Jacobs might feel perfectly comfortable bracketing Metaxas and Kendi into paradoxically being on the same team.  But if Kendi's dualism even "can" be compared to the spiritual warfare mentality of Jericho March types or Eric Metaxas, then Jacobs could more studious about explaining overlapping methodologies in a way that could account for the obviously real differences between someone like Metaxas and someone like Kendi.  Most people can differentiate between ideologues who are "left" and "right" or "progressive" and "reactionary" and one of the problems with Jacobs' hasty taxonomy is that I don't think he can sustain a case that among the ideologues we're looking at people who are functionally totalitarian.  An ideologue might have a litmus test in which anti-racism must manifest in support for reparations, which Kendi has indicated in some writing in the past, but that's not the same as casting doubt on the legitimacy of electoral processes and simultaneously claiming a divine mandate for Trump's victory.  Maybe some Trump supporters THINK Kendi has done that but I haven't sensed that Kendi has!  

But Kendi's language does suggest that there are progressive and conservative voices who have no problem invoking what in traditional theological talk would be known as the language of spiritual warfare.  Kendi has definitely invoked and evoked the idea of a Manichaean struggle between forces of good and evil, I'll grant Jacobs that much.  But whether or not Obama's proceduralism is necessary a healthy alternative to Kendi's activism I am not entirely sure about.

I don't think it's actually wrong, writing as a Christian, to simply state that white supremacist mentalities should be considered demonic strongholds in Western cultural history and that racial supremacist views can and should be considered "doctrines of demons".  There, just put that in print for the record.  I don't have to agree with several specific "how" elements of Kendi's policy recommendations or approach to historiography to agree that the "what" of white supremacist defaults is something that should be combatted.  

Having just slogged through John H Walton and J Harvey Walton's mostly time-wasting book Demons and Spirits in Biblical Theology: Reading the Biblical Text in Its Cultural and Literary Context, one of the things I found annoying about the book, besides the authors' sloppy and vague definition of "conflict theology" and a reticence to just admit their real target is Greg Boyd's open theistic conception of spiritual warfare is that they misrepresent, I think, Jeffrey Burton Russell's five books' project on the history of Abrahamic religious thought about personified evil as though the eruption of functional dualism is, however unbiblical the Waltons think it is, is something that has to be best battled against by exegeting demons out of every proof-text ever used by Jews or Christians with respect to evil spirits.  The irony of such a project is that within ostensibly secular or mainstream progressive, liberal and exvangelical scenes invoking spiritual warfare language has been overt in the liberal/progressive wing of Christianity (a la Greg Boyd) even more so than within evangelical contexts (although not at all that subset of evangelicalism known as Pentecostalism but I'm saving the topics of forty-plus books on spiritual warfare, exorcism, diabology, the Watchers tradition in 2nd Temple Judaism and the like for some other time!)

Take this podcast title "Powers and Principalities".


Powers & Principalities, a new podcast series from Blake about the systems and institutions that propagate white evangelical & Christian nationalist sociopolitical power. Debuting in late August 2020.

Follow along in the Exvangelical feed, or subscribe to the new show directly on Spotify. (The feed is new, and will appear on other platforms soon.)


That's openly using Ephesians 6 language about powers and principalities to describe the systems and institutions that propagate white evangelical Christian nationalist power.  That the white evangelicals were merely aping and aspiring to the power they saw the mainlines have before them seems to not come up so much in discussions of evangelicalism.  If, as is easily done, evangelicals are punchlines about how uncreative they are then do mainlines and progressives think that evangelicals are solely guilty of Manifest Destiny ideas or have evangelicals in the early 21st century become, possibly, a useful scapegoat for still embracing ideas that they parasitically absorbed from the mainlines they were extracting themselves from between the last 100 and 50 years? 

After all, check out the index of episodes.

Now even as a moderately conservative Calvinist I've been bugged by what I'd have to call the default "white racial frame" in pop level spiritual warfare books.  It's a topic I do hope to actually blog about later this year.  I'd add books on the topic of spiritual warfare by African American theologians and am open to recommendations that ... aren't Charisma House or in that orbit.  I've got some articulate and thoughtful books by African pastors and theologians I'm working through right now, actually, and added some Andrei Orlov to my list recently, too.  All that is a tangent with a theme, which is to say that I think American Christians may benefit from perusing through spiritual warfare manuals at the pop and even academic level and thinking about what someone like Merrill Unger was getting at in his dismissive remarks about "ethnic demonology".  

By the way, I am not intending to castigate the Waltons in a categorical way.  I have heard some folks say positive things about John Walton's work but I am reminded of something Jim West blogged a decade ago about how Walton seemed eager to rescue the text from something rather than just exegete it. 

Meanwhile, I refrained from blogging about this stuff last month because I was determined to be on a blogging vacation but this is something I wanted to blog at least something about for a few weeks.  It would be one thing for Jacobs to stake out an overtly and explicitly anti-utopian stance, as Richard Taruskin has done for decades, regardless of where the utopians formally land on a spectrum (I can't forget Taruskin's very sharp-edged observation that it doesn't matter how far "left" or "right" you go in European history seeing as in both extremes somehow people agree that the "solution" is to kill more Jews!).  That reminds me of something my Native American relatives used to tell me about how the American Civil War worked, that there were white racists in the North fighting white racists in the South about how to treat black people and after that sorta ended they agreed that they all wanted to gang up and kill Indians!  

Maybe it's because I gravitated into the realm of the hair-splitting Reformed scene but Jacobs' "two-party system" seemed far too pat.  It doesn't mean I plan to stop reading Jacobs over that, I read people I don't always agree with, I even read people with whom I have vehement disagreements on a semi-regular basis.  

The other thing is, I've read enough progressive and leftist writers to get a sense that using Obama as the example of a counter to Kendi has a flaw in it, which is that the history of injustice can often enough be masked by the appearance of reasonable proceduralism ... the trouble with that being that it's kind of like "witchcraft". Susan R. Garrett, in her book The Demise of the Devil in the Gospel of Luke pointed out something simple and obvious but necessary, that generally witchcraft is less a cohesive, definable set of practices than a polemical accusation.  Alan Jacobs treating Kendi and Metaxas as somehow combined into the second party in a "two party system" seems comparably sloppy. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Simply Seattle store broken into early Saturday morning, local coverage, a post-Mars Hill update on things for former executive elder Jamie Munson

from January 9, 2021

It's been a while since there's been news in connection to former executive Mars Hill elder Jamie Munson but there has been some news, break ins at Simply Seattle have been frequent according to reports from KOMO and KIRO from September 2019 and earlier this week.  That Munson has purged any traces of his Mars Hill involvement from his LinkedIn would only be obvious to someone who had a Mars Hill connection between its founding and dissolution but it's a point of consideration since this blog, at one point, chronicled a mountain range of stuff about the megachurch. 

Downtown Seattle has been boarded up in all sorts of stretches for months.  Even CrackDonalds (let the Seattle readers understand) was boarded up and non-operational for months last year.  Break-ins have become more frequent, per coverage above.  While there's not been a tag for Munson specifically, there is one now, and tags are included at the bottom of the post that cover topics pertinent to Munson's era as legal president of Mars Hill. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

At Get Religion, Julia Duin has a piece on a civil war among American charismatics & Pentecostals about DT that is not getting much coverage in the mainstream press

 Nearly by definition if something is getting covered at Get Religion it could be because it's not getting substantial coverage in other outlets.  Julia Duin had a piece a few months back on the significance of Jericho March participants being more charismatic/Pentecostal than "other" evangelicals. Regular readers may remember this one:

There is a massive cat fight going on right now among evangelical and Pentecostal Christians that mainstream religion reporters have all but ignored.

Other than one story by Religion News Service — that ran mainly because famed Southern Baptist Bible teacher Beth Moore has gotten involved — there’s been little coverage on the schism between two evangelical camps as to whether President Donald Trump won or lost last month’s election.

That Pentecostals can be identified as evangelical (not fundamentalist as a general rule) but that charismatics are not necessarily evangelical (since charismatics can be Catholic (Mark Driscoll emphasizes this point in his more recent books, in fact) or Episcopalian/Anglican (which is also not necessarily evangelical) is something mainstream reporters are not particularly good at distinguishing.  

For that matter even among the Mars Hill diaspora I'm not convinced people who were there are much good at keeping the categories clear.  That there has been a contingent of evangelical never-Trumpers is not something that the press seems interested in keeping track of because, well, if I have to make a guess it's because many journalists are deliberately religiously illiterate to the point where they bracket Paula White, Beth Moore, Franklin Graham and any white Christian who is or seems conservative into a single bracket.

Being an ex-Pentecostal who ended up being a Presbyterian (i.e. Reformed) I admit to paying attention to these kinds of details.  It is significant that the now supposedly no longer Calvinist Mark Driscoll's soteriology can be categorized as Amyraldian ("limited unlimited atonement") because few Reformed denominations would let that fly if he had bothered to train in a traditional denominational context. I'm not against Amyraldianism, by the way, but that's yet another reason why I'm part of the laity.  

I say all that by way of example that if you're going to wade into these waters it helps to have some knowledge of what you're talking about.  So I'm not surprised by Duin's reporting that since the last few weeks' worth of events there is a civil war brewing within Pentecostalism and that some who prophesied Trump's re-election are publicly admitting they were wrong.

Last week’s riot at the U.S. Capitol has ignited a civil war among many Christians.

Whereas white evangelicals are being creamed in the media for their (nearly) unwavering support of President Donald Trump, their Pentecostal/charismatic cousins have hardly been mentioned. The latter is an evangelical subset little known to the media, and many of its adherents remain fiercely pro-Trump.

Why is this important, besides the fact that Pentecostalism is the fast growing form of Christian faith in the world? Well, for starters, its most famous leader here in America, the Rev. Paula White-Cain, is Trump’s personal pastor.

White-Cain, by the way, is someone I considered a Word-Faith prosperity teacher heretic even back in my Pentecostal days.  But then White-Cain as a stumper for Trump is not unlike Frank Schaeffer as a stumper for Obama.  


Some have said that these charismatic and Pentecostal leaders are part of a New Apostolic Reformation, described in Holly Pivec’s and Douglas Geivett’s 2014 book. It’s not a creedal movement, but its basic tenet is that God has restored a cadre of apostles and prophets to lead worldwide Christianity in the 21st century.

Things are rocky, right now, among the NAR crowd. There’s a war going on in that group concerning the “prophets” who have set the tone for much of Pentecostal America. These are individuals who claim to have foretold Trump’s 2016 victory. For the past few years, almost to a person, their prophets said God had planned a 2020 repeat victory for Trump.


Cracks are showing. Charisma magazine openly calls the election “stolen” in its interview with Rodney Howard Browne, the first pastor in the country who was arrested for having mask-less services. But others are confronting those claiming to be prophets.

There’s hell to pay right now and folks are angry. This makes great copy and even greater interviews. I haven’t even gotten to Denver evangelist Loren Sandford’s Jan. 7 apology, a video of which which is at the top of this page.

Now if I'm right, that Loren Sandford is the son of John and Paula Sandford, who have been known in charismatic/Pentecostal circles as specialists on deliverance and inner healing (which are related but not necessarily equivalent concepts to exorcism and spiritual warfare). Sandford has issued an apology for getting things wrong and botching a prophecy.  Having read some of the Sandford's books over the years I am not surprised that among charismatic/Pentecostal clergy a Sandford would issue a mea culpa about a bad oracle.  That might be the exception that proves the rule.  

That false prophecy abounds across the spectrum is not really a surprise.  People who anticipated a Trump victory look to be catastrophically wrong but the likelihood of them changing their minds, if they aren't already admitting they were wrong, is low.

Here we are in 2021 and was Frank Schaeffer really right about the Obama administration?  If he was then how, exactly, did we get Trump?  As an ex-Pentecostal who doesn't disdain everything about that tradition but who is not in the scene as of decades ago, I think it can be easier for people to remember the dubious oracles they provide because they claim overt oracle access, whereas some blowhard like Frank Schaeffer can be forgotten or maybe forgiven since he switched from religious right to backing Democrats even though he's still as bellicose and strident as ever.  Frank Schaeffer is someone I regard as more a propagandist and an agitator than a thinker.  

I regarded Trump as in that category of propagandist Jacques Ellul described as the populist agitator, someone who doesn't have a set of coherently attainable policy goals so much as an eagerness to appeal to a standard of living or way of life, and that this sort of figure shows up in the United States (and, of course, elsewhere). But even though I'm an evangelical, moderately conservative, and not technically a cessationist, thanks to those categories a whole bunch of people might presumptively bracket me in with Jericho March types.  I thought Gulf War II was a bad idea and not defensible in terms of responsible foreign policy or international relations, like anyone should really care what I think about that but I mention that to say that, for instance, I could say I think the United States is the latest iteration of Leviathan or Babylon the Great and it wouldn't matter. :)  Thanks to the way people often behave on social media I find people now behave worse than people in the 2003-2008 period of Mars Hill and I don't say that as hyperbole or merely for effect. 

Particularly as I watch people I've known from my Mars Hill days, there's a temptation in some quarters to scapegoat a generically defined "evangelical" as to blame for the rise of Trump rather than, say, trawl through the electoral shifts on Rust Belt Catholics or ask why ANY black or Latino people voted for Trump.  I was surprised to hear one of my black friends explain at some lengthy just why he voted for Trump and also why, had Sanders gotten the nomination instead of HRC, Bernie probably could have won.  So despite living in Seattle I can say that at least one of my black friends cheerfully voted for Trump for reasons that I disagree with.  Among former Mars Hill members, however, I have seen a temptation to broad brush all of evangelicalism for the cumulative sins of white mainstream culture.  My issue with that, as someone with half-Native American lineage, is that it wasn't the fundamentalists who were running the Native American boarding schools, was it?  

It's a bit too easy for contemporary progressives, especially recent converts to progressivism in the 21st century, to not do any serious study on how overtly white supremacist progressivism from a century ago often was or how selectively a progressive might entertain an African American man as a guest of honor while regarding Native Americans as beneath consideration.  We're living in an era in which, as I've complained before, white progressive and conservative pundits have made an industry of scapegoating each other as a way to agitate their respective bases.  That there are evangelicals who have always regarded Trump as a dubious demagogue and regard the kinds of prophetic claims on his behalf as heretical is probably not going to exist in any practical sense among those who see in evangelicalism in general but white American evangelicalism in particular (never mind what it even is, just use it as a general slur) in ways that make it seem like a shibboleth and a slur.  

I won't miss Trump when he's gone but it does sometimes seem as though when the Russian angle didn't stick that scapegoating white evangelicals rather than consider why POC or Rust Belt Catholics might have turned the electoral tide is the easier thing to do.  

That there's a civil war brewing within charismatic and Pentecostal groups in the United States may not get much coverage at all.  If the would-be prophets for Trump turn out to be wrong then that's something none of us should want to forget.  I think they were wrong, by and large, before they decided to endorse him but four years on it's not like I have an especially big readership compared to the final two years of the late Mars Hill.  I've been disappointed to see the ways in which people trying to distance themselves from that scene are still acting in the same ways but for different teams but that's probably a topic for another post at another time.  

UPDATE 1-13-2021 7.07PM

Sunday, January 10, 2021

links for the weekend, variations on themes of elite over-production PhDs in US and the cult of smart vs. the cult of genius

So this weekend there's a general theme in the links, what writers across the West regard as the over-production of elites, specifically in the humanities. Quite a few of these were links I read last month but didn't blog about because I was taking a vacation from blogging.

What's interesting is that the first link, by Noah Smith, has a headline and subheader that proposes that "we just need to create the jobs to satisfy them."  That will led me at length to some riffs from Malcolm Kyeyune I read last month but first, the first link and a sample:

Friday, January 08, 2021

At Slipped Disc Norman Lebrecht links to an excerpt from an Estonian composers "quasi Beatles" piano sonata, and takes some shots at Dave Molk in the same week

It’s a crafty, copyright-avoiding conconction by the Estonian composer Jaan Rääts who died last week, aged 88. ... So cool, Jaan.
Lebrecht links to just the second movement.  The whole sonata is so short, however, why not let’s just link to the whole thing? It's at most seven minutes of your time. 

Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Ourkouzounov-Toryanse Tales film with read along score, one of my favorite of his works written for solo guitar

I admire Atanas Ourkouzounov's music; have said so from pretty much the beginning of this blog back in 2006; and this work is one of my favorite pieces, so it's a treat that there's a video of a performance with a read along score.  Toryanse Tales appeared on the album Autoportrait, for those of you who want to know which album this work appeared on.  To be clear, Autoportrait rather than Autoportrait II.

Matanya Ophee once warned in his lecture "Repertoire Issues" that, contrary to a popular belief within the (classical) guitar scene, there has never been a golden age of the guitar in ages past.  With that I agree.  It's too bad Ophee isn't still with us and I would venture that if there "is" a golden age of the guitar it's more likely we're living in it now than that it existed in the early 19th century, despite my respect for the legacies of Sor, Giuliani, Matiegka, and even Diabelli (Molitor I confess to being really on the fence about).

So I hope you enjoy Toryanse Tales.  If you're not already a classical guitarist I could say that what Atanas does is take guitar composition in directions that prog rock could go in if it was more distilled and organized than the pile-on-the-riffs-past-the-cognitive-bandwidth-of-the-listener approach that is the reason I generally can't stand the band Yes. Ourkouzounov's music is complex on the surface but he doesn't forget to have the underlying structures of his works guided by an elegantly simple set of forms.  

Also, if you haven't checked out Cycling Modes on the Naxos label give them a listen.  I do plan on discussing Ourkouzounov's five guitar sonatas down the road and the Kostas Tosidis recording is magnificent!

Sunday, January 03, 2021

crossing the threshold of 2020 to 2021--the deaths of Claude Bolling and Eugene Wright, some thoughts on jazz-classical synthesis during the Cold War

The French bandleader, pianist, composer and jazz-classical fusionist Claude Bolling died on December 29, 2020.

Claude Bolling, a French pianist, composer and bandleader who became one of the most successful jazz musicians in Europe and gained a devoted following across the Atlantic with his pleasing fusions of the jazz and classical traditions, died Dec. 29 in Garches, a suburb of Paris. He was 90.

A devotee since childhood of Duke Ellington, Fats Waller and other eminences of American jazz, Mr. Bolling grew up listening to their music on the radio until World War II intervened. “Jazz was all but banned by the Nazis in my country,” he told the Hartford Courant. “So I got most of my jazz from 78 rpm recordings.”

Mr. Bolling said Ellington took him in “as part of his family” when they met in the 1960s, by which time the Frenchman had embarked on his career as a bandleader. Describing the effect of Mr. Bolling’s music, trumpeter Louis Armstrong was reputed to have declared that “my heart will never forget the sounds he made.”

Those sounds were not daring — Mr. Bolling generally hewed to traditional jazz — but they won him steady audiences in Europe and the United States for decades.

Saying that Bolling's sounds were not daring is both true in the sense that jazz had moved away from Ellington's baseline of style and that cool, free jazz and other styles have developed by the time Bolling had formalized his style.  But at another level it might also be true to say that Bolling's sound could be thought of as almost indistiguishable in some ways from Dave Brubeck.

Tuesday, December 01, 2020

a haiku with a Christmas music theme

the band Air Supply
never rocked harder than when
they covered "Sleigh Ride"

Of course, they didn't rock as hard as the 1948 recording of "Sleigh Ride" ... but would we expect Air Supply to have done that?  

This is one of the classics of "light classical" and, frankly, I always heard this version when I was younger and admit to feeling that adding lyrics to the music was basically a mistake.  

I'm still kind of vacationing from blogging in terms of what I normally write but I can throw in little poems here and there.  

Saturday, November 21, 2020

On an Overgrown Path, The Music Salon, and recent blog posts on the scam of "big break" label deals for classical and an admission by Norman Lebrecht he chucks a lot of those solo recital releases ...

 Okay, so I am technically trying to take a vacation from blogging to stockpile writing for future projects but I still read blogs and news online ... and between On an Overgrown Path and The Music Salon blogs some stuff has jumped out at me that cross references with other stuff I've been reading this last week.  I'll start with pliable's post.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

considering a little vacation from blogging, some long-incubating writing projects probably work better by being offline for a while, some guesses at directions for 2021 if this "vacation" takes.

 It's not that I run out of material, exactly.  I still want to blog about the Wenzel Matiegka Op. 31 guitar sonatas; the Dusan Bogdanovic guitar sonatas; the Atanas Ourkouzounov guitar sonatas; the Ferdinand Rebay guitar sonatas; Nikita Koshkin's two big sonatas for guitar solo; the magnificent solo guitar sonatas of Angelo Gilardino; German Dzhaparidze's 24 preludes and fugues cycle for solo guitar ... but that's twenty-seven solo guitar sonatas and an entire cycle of preludes and fugues (I haven't ruled out Rekhin altogether but, alas, literally no one has seen to it to record that entire cycle whereas literally all the other works I've mentioned have been or are likely be recorded.

And then there's this ...

Justin Dean has shared more on the record about his Mars Hill years and there's stuff in the Bad Christian podcast that is of interest to anyone chronicling the history of the late Mars Hill.  The picture of the late Mars Hill comes across more and more as a meticulously micromanaged to death top-down cultural system in which it turned out Justin Dean was basically, by his account, prevented from being able to do his  actual job for a while.  Having written many critical appraisals and citizen-journalistic chronicles about Mars Hill Dean's interview deserves some more detailed discussion, especially with respect to his past on-record interactions with Throckmorton and, as longtime readers know, I reviewed Dean's book PR Matters a few years back.  

I do not take it as a given that anyone is lying or even exactly "spinning".  The stuff that Dean has shared checked out with stuff Turner shared and while I have, ahem, obviously, had my differences with both of those men I have never once had any reason to doubt their statements ... which is more than I can say about another guy but even that guy probably really believes the stuff he says as best I can tell.

All that noted in the most cursory way, I was thinking back on the blogging that I have done this year.  A twelve-part updated analysis of Koshkin's 24 Preludes and Fugues Volume 1 is about 29,000 words. Ragtime and Sonata Forms is 53.800 some words and while it took years to do all the reading and citation assembly and preliminary research the writing itself, minus two chapters, I basically blazed through and wrote in a single week.  Covid-19 lockdown has a lot of bad things about it but the silver lining for me has been discovering how much I can really write when I set my mind to it.

The third really big long-form project was the nine-part "what did they say?" survey of former Mars Hill executive elders and while it took months to listen to about twelve to fourteen hours worth of podcasts and prodigious reference to transcripts (thank you Sutton Turner!) the 29,000 word nine-part series was something I wrote through in a single weekend.  Fifty-six single-spaced pages in a weekend is a kind of creepy amount of writing even if fully half the material is citations.  Between those three blogging projects I wrote 230 pages; while the later 2014 66-part juggernaut on Mark Driscoll's 2008 spiritual warfare teaching session transcription with analysis might be the single longest project I've tackled I don't know that for sure.  A lot of those individual posts were fairly short.  This year I wrote three projects that don't necessarily have a high number of posts but they're projects that have to be read as continuous long-form arguments.

Part of me wants to keep on keeping on and writing here at the blog about music and the significance of 2020 top-level leaders of the former Mars Hill sharing stuff; and I haven't even finished Maren Haynes Marchesini's PhD on the history of music at Mars Hill ... which I'm about halfway through and am finding fascinating ... 

part of me feels like a bunch of stuff could wait a while .. .maybe not as far out as 2021 but wait a while. 

There's also that giant reading list,  and when just one of the books on that list is the unabridged The Christian in Complete Armour by William Gurnall (which I must confess I just might not finish) blogging could take up time that could be spent reading or writing offline.

Sometimes I get this inspiration to write and discover after I've written what I want to write I've cranked out 46 to 130 pages when I stop and look at what I did ... and sometimes I feel like hanging out with a buddy and watching Star Blazers 2199 or re-watching Venture Bros is okay, too.  When another season of the adventures of Ladybug and Cat Noir makes it on to disc (I hope) I plan on watching that, too.  That ... of course ... reminds me I haven't blogged about animated anything in a long time and French language animation could be its own topic (Long Way North, Persepolis, Miraculous, etc). Yes, I live on the West Coast of the U.S. and I even got to attend one of the only legal screenings of Mamoru Oshii's Angel's Egg but there's more to cartoons as an art form than the U.S. and Japan.

Ugh ... which reminds me ... I never did finish that extended series on Justice League Unlimited for Mockingbird. :(  The Green Lantern chapter was something I was looking forward to writing because between John Stewart Green Lantern and Samurai Jack Phil LaMarr is up there in the pantheon of spectacular voice actors for me ... but life happens.  

And blogging too much makes it harder to write music.  I, er, blogged in years past about how I was writing 24 preludes and fugues for solo guitar and that project is done and there's a second set of 24 preludes and fugues that I'm working on that will draw more from the examples of Anton Reicha, Rodion Shchedrin, Michelle Gorrell, Nikolai Kapustin (of course!) and, yes, Koshkin, too (because he's one of my favorite contemporary guitarist-composers), than the Bach/Hindemith/Shostakovich/Castelnuovo-Tedesco/Rekhin approach I took earlier.

I'm also close to done with a two-dozen cycle of compositional studies exploring what's possible using natural harmonics on solo guitar. I cheat in one study with an artificial harmonic but I'm getting close to 45 minutes worth of material where everything is composed using natural harmonics on the guitar--eighteen little character studies and a projected six sonata forms.  You didn't misread that part, six sonata forms for solo guitar using only natural harmonics.  I really am the sort of person whose idea of a fun weekend is writing tens of thousands of words about stuff I care about or working out how it's possible to compose a post-Mississippi John Hurt version of "All Creatures of Our God and King" with a ragged rhythm imitative /canonic call and response episode.  

Doing that kind of thing is how I have fun during what looks to be a ramped up covid-19 lockdown phase in Washington this winter.  I'm going to keep missing friends and family I won't be able to see ... but such is 2020.

While I want to write about Ephraim Radner's latest book and my friend Wendy Alsup's latest book I'm reaching a point where I realize that I've been blogging here at Wenatchee The Hatchet since 2006.  I'm the kind of person who kind of "has" to write but I might not be doing so much of the writing here for a bit.

I kind of want to write some kind of book on sonata forms and fugue geared specifically for guitarists but since I'm not an academic in music theory I've got zero odds of being able to put such a book together and running it by a publisher as things currently stand.  But that a book about fugue specifically for guitarists ought to be written is something I think needs to be done because the Koshkin cycle deserves a book-length analysis of the entire cycle which I will totally do (practically speaking) when the second volume gets recorded.  The Dzhaparidze cycle isn't published but it should be!  If there are any classical guitar publishers who read this blog I encourage you to go look up the recording of the cycle and consider publishing it.  I'm eventually, I hope, going to write an analytic series on the Dzhaparidze cycle.  

I don't think we guitarists need abstruse theoretical books on fugue drawing from keyboard literature or choral traditions (former choirboy though I am). What I think guitarists would benefit from is a compendium that analyzes the actually published preludes and fugues of contemporary guitarists.  I'd even be willing to use, um, my own cycle since there's only a grand total of six cycles of preludes and fugues for solo guitar across the entire planet at the moment, so if I took the otherwise cheeky approach of discussing my own work alongside Koshkin's and Dzhaparidze's the resulting survey could be a book that covered literally half the large-scale contrapuntal solo guitar cycles that have been written in this century. 

I know Dusan Bogdanovic has a great book on counterpoint out there and I've got it, but I have wondered whether guitarists might find it useful to have a book on fugue, specifically, geared to guitarists.  I don't think we should feel too sheepish about having didactic fugues when so few fugues exist for the guitar.  I can think of a candidate for a didactic fugue idea that could not just be a didactic fugue but which could demonstrated techniques for fugal composition and do so in a way that would lend itself to jazz guitarists.  

To just come out and say this, I am sketching out a fugue in three voices in B minor based on The Lick.  I know it's one of the biggest cliches in the history of jazz but it became one of the biggest cliches in the histor yof jazz because it is a great lick, particularly because the melodic contour lends itself so readily to modal mutation and if you've ever sat down and really looked at it ... the beauty of The Lick is that its dorian aspect means that you can go full Schoenberg and use it in prime, retrograde, inversion and retrograde inversion and the underlying dorian element of the implied harmony in The Lick means it works in literally every direction you play it.  Another wonderful thing about it is that you don't have to assume The Lick starts on the root of the scale, it could start on other scale degrees and by now, however many people may be reading this post, you might be getting a clearer sense of why I am thinking of taking a vacation from blogging.  

There will ... eventually ... be more detailed discussion of Win Your War itself and as part of the glut of spiritual warfare books that have been cranked out in American pop level Christian publishing for the last, oh, sixty years.  One of the reasons I haven't reviewed the Driscoll book yet or discussed it is because I really am having fun reading dozens of book on the topic of exorcism, spiritual warfare, diabology, The Watchers traditions, and stuff like that but not just from a theological/seminary approach.  I'm also planning to read political/sociological monographs like ... 

Passing Orders: Demonology and Sovereignty in American Spiritual Warfare

I know Jessica Johnson, who wrote pretty much the only book about Mars Hill Church that, to date, I think you should read, knows about Passing Orders so those of us who have documented the late Mars Hill have a book that's coming up we want to read, at least two of us.  A whole lot of spiritual warfare and revivalist talk has struck me over the last twenty years as more explicitly than implicitly Americanist and maybe even more implicitly than explicitly has what, on a completely different topic, Philip Ewell described as the "white racial frame" of music theory.  It's way, way more explicitly a white racial frame on the topic of spiritual warfare in United States pop publishing, which is why I was very excited to read the Ghanaian theologian and pastor Esther Acolatse's work on the topic because back in my college days I had a number of African Christian friends and, to keep a sprawling post within some boundary of wrap-up, I have too many Christian friends across the world to think there's any business, literally or figuratively, in American Christians thinking of us as some Special Land.  Babylon the Great or The Beast seems more apt to me ... 

but anyway ... it may have taken the rise of heretics like Paula White for academics to start catching on that MAGA was a goal within a lot of American and charismatic and New Apostolic Reformation scenes for a generation or two before Trump ran on an official MAGA hat slogan.  I've merely touched on this here and there and not necessarily here at this blog but I recall telling Jessica Johnson that Mark's whole approach to spiritual warfare seemed to not draw on the Puritan tradition of learning spiritual disciplines that let you do battle with your own vices, he had more of a demonize the groups you don't agree with.  Now, sure, that does happen in religious traditions but a lot of spiritual warfare manuals at the pop level ... well ... for the handful of readers who come here maybe we can "all" read Passing Orders and compare notes later at some other time when I try to blog about it in 2021?  Or not.  I'm reading the book for sure.  

There's a big pile of writing about music I want to do and it's starting to seem like it makes more sense to take some down time to do some of that writing.  I've shifted the blog away from Mars Hill stuff over the years and the plan is to keep tackling music, music analysis and associated topics but I really didn't expect the executive elders and Justin Dean to all go on record this year ... it was almost like five years after the corporate dissolution of the company was the threshold of some non-disclosure agreement or something, I don't know, Turner or Dean could maybe field whether or not there were actual non-disclosure agreements.  Either way I am actually grateful guys like Sutton Turner, Dave Bruskas and Justin Dean are sharing stuff on the record.  Maybe they're slowly coming to terms with things that someone like me struggled with 11 to 12 years ago when I decided I couldn't be part of that organization any longer.  

So after all this I might take a break and it might not even last that long.  Little breaks followed by explosions of writing have been known to happen here but I get to find out.  Either way, I hope that readers have a safe an pleasant holiday season as much as possible.  I've got pages with tags and posts and while that Matiegka Op. 31 No. 3 analysis is on my to-do list I might take the short vacation to go through the other three sonatas so as to have a complete series.  

Sonata Forms for Guitarists; Contemporary Prelude and Fugue Cycles for Guitar; and A Primer on Fugue for Guitarists seem like books that really need to be written.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

45's spiritual advisor Paula White declares "victory" for him, Julia Duin asks who's covering this at GetReligion and asks whether Pentecostals are behind Trump's refusal to concede

Ex-Pentecostal though I am for many reasons I'm finding this is a weirdly apt period in which to be reading on the topics of spiritual warfare, diabology, exorcism and their connections to American cultural activity.  It's something that indirectly cropped up in reading Anthony Heilbut's books on Gospel music where in The Fan Who Knew Too Much he pointed out that more traditional evangelicals have not been as prominent in the Trump administration as Word Faith and prosperity teachers such as Paula White.  I.e. while an increasingly religiously illiterate mainstream press has tended to fixate on the evangelicals who were regarded as having put Trump in office Heilbut has tracked Pentecostal music for enough decades to know the differences between white conservative evangelicals of the Graham variety and the more Pentecostal/charismatic types like T. D. Jakes, Creflo Dollar or Paula White.  The prosperity teachers are still regarded as heretics by more traditionalist evangelicals (and for that matter old school Pentecostals across white and black Pentecostal church movements if memory serves).  

Julia Duin has written at moderate length about the significance of the kind of charismatic/Pentecostal movement Paula White is part of here:

Sunday, November 08, 2020

links for the weekend: old stuff from The Bellows on a double horseshoe theory of class conflict and academic guild behaviors; John Gray on American solipsism; Wilsonian handwringing; and a withdrawal from ECFA

Living in such curious times as we do some writing projects take more time and focus than I have had lately. This being early November 2020 with me living in the United States I trust I don't have to explain too much as to why.  Musical analysis and music blogging has been temporarily on hold, as has blogging about things connected to the history of a former 501(c)3, although I want to mention that on that orbit of topics Justin Dean had a fascinating (for me) conversation on the Bad Christian podcast I want to eventually blog about.  But for this weekend, links for the weekend will suffice.

As an attempt to explicate class warfare Lind's proposal seems to have some merit. I'm reading deBoer's The Cult of Smart and also Lind's The New Class War lately. Reading Lind reminded me of a willfully ridiculous set of jokes in Whit Stillman's Metropolitan about the difference between a titled aristocrat and an untitled aristocrat with a member of the latter saying the former are "the scum of the earth". Lind proposes that the underclass is basically not relevant to an examination of the political battles within the overclass and that the competing interests and allegiances of the professional bourgeois and the small business bourgeois can help us get a clearer sense of what neoliberalism in its progressive and reactionary forms has been up to in this millenium.  As Lind puts it:

At the risk of being overly schematic I would suggest that the “center,” “left” and “right” of America’s top-thirty-percent politics can be mapped imperfectly onto the managerial elite, the professional bourgeoisie and the small business bourgeoisie. In particular, both DSA progressivism and Tea Party conservatism can be understood as different strategies for enlisting the power of government to stave off the proletarianization of the constituents of the two bourgeoisies

The goal of so-called progressivism in 2020s America is to expand employment opportunities for college-educated, center-left professionals, while adding new wings to the welfare state that are tailored to their personal needs. The slogan “Defund the police” is interpreted by the bourgeois professional left to mean transferring tax revenues from police officers, who are mostly unionized but not college-educated, to social service and nonprofit professionals, who are mostly college-educated but not unionized. The enactment of proposals for free college education and college debt forgiveness would disproportionately benefit the professional bourgeoisie, not the working-class majority whose education ends with high school. Likewise, public funding for universal day-care allows both parties in a two-earner professional couple to maximize their individual incomes and individual career achievements by outsourcing the care of their children to a mostly-female, less well-paid workforce at taxpayer expense.


The upper horseshoe schema explains American political factions in terms of different combinations of its elements. When the professional bourgeoisie allies itself with the Managerial Elite, you get Clinton-Obama-Biden left-neoliberalism. When the small business bourgeoisie allies itself with the Managerial Elite, you get George W. Bush-Paul Ryan-Nikki Haley right-neoliberalism.