Thursday, February 09, 2012

Carl Trueman: Who Ordained You a Minister Over Me?

... The question, Who ordained you a minister over me? is an acute one, and likely to become more so in an era of information technology and hard-sell parachurch marketing.

The question may be most acute when we get an answer.  Of course any old preacher can answer the question "Who ordained you a minister over me?" with the answer "God" but of course a modalist or an Arian could say that, too, right? No, the question is a bit more temporal than that, isn't it? For people who don't like "cemetaries" or denominations the question stops being what institution grants authority and the question becomes a matter of state. In other words, if we work on the assumption that EVERY preacher assumes he or she has been appointed by God to preach then who vets God's decision in this realm?  The answer for a few of these preachers ultimately boils down to "me".  As in we're told God has ordained pastor X as an authority over us because pastor X said so and nominated himself for the job. 

Now, of course, we could suggest here that Paul faced precisely this problem of credibility in his own time and when he was faced with super-apostles who said he wasn't well trained in speaking, lacked forcefulness or charisma, or was getting things wrong Paul did make a defense but he made a defense via 2 Cor 10-13 in ways that would not be how modern-day self-described apostles and prophets so often write their own letters of recommendation. 

And since I read this link by way of Phoenix Preacher here's another linky link.

Seeing as I'm juggling a couple of free lance writing projects and a commission I'm not feeling inspired to really write a ton at this blog or field a ton of other things.  I am also still looking for something like a normal day job, after all.

iMonk: Coming Collapse of Excessive Evangelicalism

for now a linky link will do. 

a nerdy rumination on masters and apprentices

I'm not exactly a Star Wars fan now but I was a fan once.  Darth Vader arrives and tells Ben Kenobi that before he was the learner but now he was the master.  A master is known by the nature of his or her apprentice.  If we want some sense of who, say, Jakes is like as a master, let's consider the activities of an apprentice of his like Paula White.  If we want to consider the nature of a master like, I dunno, C. J. Mahaney, we might have to turn to a Joshua Harris.  If we wanted to look to the real legacy of a guy like Driscoll we'd have to look to an apprentice like Munson. 

Legacy is not just some list of things you accomplish.  The poem Ozymandias was written for guys who think their monuments to themselves and their unbreakable legacies can't be forgotten.  Jesus did not invest in monuments or legacies, did He?  He invested in people.  He invested in people who betrayed Him and denied Him.  Yet days after His death He restored Peter saying, "feed my sheep." What we know about Jesus we know from His disciples. As Jesus Himself put it, a student is not greater than his teacher. We do not need more mini-Jakes or mini-Mahaneys or mini-Driscolls.  Christians are to be mini-Christs. 

Some of the things that have been bustling in the internet are events where in the last three to four years we have been given the opportunity (dubious as it may be in some cases) to learn about a self-described master from the behavior of an apprentice. We're also learning things about which masters other self-described masters are vetting as an insight into what kinds of apprentices they want.  I'm not going to say these occasions are not sobering.

Anyabwile--Jakes' trinitarian rehabilitation not convincing, prosperity teaching still a problem

A link, which explains itself.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises, The Amazing Spiderman, The Wolverine ...

You know of those three titles two of them have the definite article in there for reasons that make sense.  The first title has the definite article preceeding a subject that does something.  The second has the definite article preceeding an adjective that purports to describe the subject.  We're not talking simple sentence like the first title but we're talking about a definite article where I can get why it's there.  In truth I get why the definite article precedes Wolverine but it comes off as dumb as it does when a similar construction is used for the Batman.  Yeah, even as a Batman fan I always thought that linguistic construction was dumb. 

Truth be told I've never been a Wolverine fan.  Batman and Spiderman happen to be my favorite unitard wearing crime-fighters since I was a kid.  I haven't changed my mind about that.  I've even grown to like Superman through the herculean writing efforts of Paul Dini and the late great Dwayne McDuffie.  But Wolverine?  A mash-up of every macho exploitation film stereotype from the 1970s?  Sorry, not my thing. 

Then again, given how terrible the last Wolverine movie was I suppose the franchise has nowhere to go but up.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

another new little project

This is another one where I think I'd rather discuss it after it's done.  You'll notice I've had a couple of those lately. It's a little musical project and one that is exciting for me. It will stretch me a little, too.

  Though I'm not telling you what it is I'll mention another project I've started that it's not, there's a trio for clarinet, guitar and bassoon I've begun working on in the last month that I'm also excited about. That's new but not a little project.  No, that's shaping up to be rather big.  After years (think double digits rather than single digits) of not doing anything with an older idea I had for clarinet and piano I decided to rework the whole premise of the piece and make it a trio for clarinet, guitar and bassoon.  Now I can't imagine going back and completing the piece in the old format.

But the higher, immediate priority is the as yet undisclosed project.

23 down, just the 24th to go

I've been working on 24 preludes and fugues for solo guitar for a number of years now.  The 24th and final piece in the series still needs to get finished.  Even though D minor would seem like an easy key in which to compose a fugue for solo guitar I have spent a long time getting this last piece prepared.  There are times when just doing the easy thing doesn't seem appropriate or satisfying. Add to this that I am anything but a virtuoso guitarist and it's not a big surprise (to me, at least) that this is a project that has taken a long time to get finished.  I'm no longer surprised my creative spurts were for the works in the unusual and unfriendly keys.  E flat major? Gotcha.  C minor? Knocked the prelude and fugue out in two weeks.  G major?  That took a loong time.  If anything the easier the keys the more slowly and carefully I have worked.

I have made some progress on the D minor fugue but new progress introduces new challenges. There's never just the textural or purely contrapuntal concerns in a fugue, there are also those big structural considerations. Most of the fugues I have composed are fairly short and for simple, obvious reasons.  You don't want to compose something outlandishly long in the key of F sharp major any more than you would compose something in three voices in such a key.  You could if you were Nikita Koshkin or Igor Rekhin writing for Vladimir Tervo but I'm not at that level of technical proficiency! 

Instead what I have leaned on, as I have mentioned at this blog a few times, is making my counterpoint fully invertible as often as possible.  There is more than one way to make a fugue a display of skill.  I'm not apt to lightning speed but I can demonstrate three contrapuntal lines that can be presented in every possible rotation.  Of course this is physically impossible in most cases but that's no reason to not create what is fully invertible counterpoint in principle.  Thanks to all those years I spent singing choral works by Byrd, Tallis, Sweelinck, Messiaen, Durufle, Mendelssohn, Bach, and Stanford I've got some practice thinking in terms of what it's like to be singing middle voice parts through the entirety of a long vocal piece.  As the old adage goes, you write what you know. 

I'm not sure how long it will really take me to finish all 24 preludes and fugues for solo guitar but my hope is to have the project finished this year.  I'm also looking into filming at least some of the works from this cycle and posting them somewhere while I'm at it.  Meanwhile long contrapuntal works by Beethoven and Bach are friends of mine.

James Sturms calls for a boycott of The Avengers movie

It's a longer than average article for Slate and involves the subject of how Jack Kirby got a raw deal by way of "work for hire" that notorious working arrangement in which you sign away the rights and money to your creations to the company you work for.  Work-for-hire is legendary enough within the industry as the basis from which a corporate shark screws over a hard-working artist or writer that it was incorporated into the origin story of a certain villain in Batman: the animated series. If you're a serious nerd about the show you probably figured out which villain I'm talking about just from that.  And if you didn't, well, you'll get a chance to figure out which villain I'm talking about when the next installment of "The Wounds of Discovery" gets published on Mockingbird.

William Feasley site updated

Bill's site has gotten updated.  I've been going over not only the CDs of the d'Amore Duo (more on this later, I hope) but also the works of Ferdinand Rebay.  Rebay is a composer I first learned about through the d'Amore Duo's recordings and seeing as Rebay's work has been plucked from virtual oblivion into the incomparably better status of obscurity I still plan to write about his work.  But for now, Bill's site is updated and ready for your perusal.  As a classical guitarist with my own obsession with chamber music I can't commend Bill's website enough. 

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Technology and the Illusion of Control

Let me warn you in advance this is going to be ridiculously long.

I recently put up a post contrasting the supposed mishandling of church discipline at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, and my own experience in a Lutheran congregation in Southern California. You can read that post here.
A friend on staff at Mars Hill read that post and reached out to me earlier this week. After a fairly lengthy discussion, I have decided to post this retraction and clarification. There is much more to the story than initial reports, including the ones I linked to, than it first appears. It is a classic case of
The first to plead his case seems right,
Until another comes and examines him. 

While being discreet to protect the identities of those involved, and avoiding many of the gory details, my friend laid out enough evidence to satisfy me that the initial accounts given by Andrew and those promoting his story are at best incomplete, and most likely deliberately misleading. Large parts are left out, including the the majority of action taken by the church to reconcile him. Also, Andrew’s case involves a confluence of several situations that it appears Mars Hill has properly and thoroughly dealt with. Because the details involve the sin of others that are not publicly known, the church has decided the best course of action is to remain silent to protect those people’s reputation and privacy. They did not divulge the identities of the people involved, or the specific details of each situation to me, but they gave me a rough overview of the pieces missing in various accounts of the incident now in circulation. In light of these facts it is only right that I publicly retract my former comments directed at Mars Hill. In the future I will keep Prov.18:17 clearly in mind, and heed the admonition of our catechism to put the best construction on everything.

I have elected to keep an edited version of my original post up on the blog. My point remains valid, and I personally know of a number of instances of abuse of church discipline. However, I no longer feel it applies to Mars Hill or their handling of this case.

When the situation with Andrew first made news I considered that we couldn't be entirely sure he was telling the truth or the whole story.  I also expressed uncertainty that the person leaking his story to Matthew Paul Turner even necessarily had good motives.  I tried to stick to observations that could be made merely in light of claims.  There were certain things that could be ascertained and asked if certain statements were true.  

But if it turned out these statements weren't true then a whole new line of thought would naturally emerge.  I have suggested that if Andrew's statements were true there would be legitimate grounds to ask whether or not the disciplinary protocols and precedents at Mars Hill could be tainted by nepotism, conflict of interest, double standards, and retaliation.  Yeah, I did write that here. 
Well, if Andrew's account was incomplete or deliberately misleading then none of those points apply.  If it be granted that Mars Hill is trying to cover its tail Andrew could certainly be trying to cover his even more.  This must at least be considered as a possibility since he hasn't gone public with his full real name, after all.  Since my real name is easy enough to figure out what one hand types the other can retract.  It may be Andrew may have more to hide than just his last name. I take rather seriously the idea that there are not necessarily any "good guys" in situations like this.  Or, to put it the way Mark Driscoll used to put it, there are no good guys, just bad guys in humanity.  The one good guy is Christ. 

Well, so it seems, now more than ever.  I've seen just enough remarks from members of Mars Hill via Facebook to establish that their understanding is that Andrew is a man-slut liar.  Given that Mars Hill leadership has chosen to be silent about the situation in public it's disastrous that Mars Hill members are willing to try to set the record straight on Andrew when leaders have decided to not clarify things on record.  Facebook comments from Mars Hillians attempting to clarify that Andrew's a man-whore do NOT, let me repeat, do NOT reflect the kind of public non-discussion the leadership has been trying to take in this situation.

What I say here does not depend on any assumption that Mars Hill leaders are covering something up or are being all above board--Mars Hill members, please feel free to shut up about Andrew on social media.  You're not helping at best and are doing nothing more than confirming people's worst suspicions about your church at worst. If Andrew is a man who can't keep his pants on or maintain any physical boundaries that avoid fornication (or tell the unvarnished truth) this would not be hard to learn from even the things he DID go public with. 
But regardless of that proposal, there is something else that warrants discussion.  Let me offer this as an unsolicited constructive criticism.  issuing a public statement to the local church on The City is a stupid way to notify the local church about a disciplinary procedure. 

Maybe it's because I've been writing for Mockingbird for more than a year but nothing shouts "the illusion of control" in a real and painful way quite like posting something to The City to keep it private and then finding out it's been leaked to the public via blogger.  Encryption isn't that awesome and it's a federal crime to tamper with someone's snail mail.  If you wanted to keep this "private" posting it on the internet is the absolute worst way to make a private notification.  At least if you snail mailed everyone a notice about a disciplinary situation then it would stay private for as long as it took to get through the postal system and would require several extra steps besides hitting the "forward" button on an email!

If something needs to be told to the whole local church in a region (more about this later) an e-blast may be cheaper but a snail mail is slightly less likely to get hacked or easily leaked to unwanted parties, at least while it's in transit.  How Mars Hill broke news about Andrew within the Ballard campus may not seem like a problem within the church but surely in light of leaks and counterleaks by a former member and members this should give the church leadership some pause about whether it's a good idea to use The City as a bulletin board for disciplinary processes and public shunning.  That the campus has grown so massive public discussion in person is no longer possible should be a huge consideration in itself.
That Andrew leaked his case to a blogger may be miserable proof that Mars Hill didn't really learn anything from the story that was sent to the press about fired pastors in 2007. It's easy to pin blame on one errant member or non-member but maybe a larger issue needs to be confronted, that mastery of technology and a home-grown social network provide an illusion of control, an illusion of control about information that Andrew's case disproves whether or not he's given us the whole or true story.  This is the SECOND STORY about a disciplinary procedure that leaked to the press because the gist of the disciplinary decision was posted for reading in an on-line social medium created by Mars Hill church.  Does there have to be a THIRD case before you reconsider the wisdom of the methodology or the weakness of the technology? 

I mean, don't take this the wrong way but this seems not only unfortunate but really, really dumb.  If Driscoll can poke fun at old guys in dresses preaching to grandmas we have permission to make fun of Mars Hill as a bunch of people who seriously believe, somehow, that posting something for thousands of people to read on a broadcast medium is "private".

Let's face it, the leak from 2007 did not have to be from an ex-member, just someone who still had access to the on-line community and was smart enough to cover his or her tracks.  If the case of Andrew breaking into the public proves anything it's that The City is no better at precluding an insider leaking information to an outsider than the old system was.  What do you know?  There's nothing new under the sun.  Isn't there a verse for that?

Given the few things Andrew said about his sexual behavior I wondered if he might have been keeping things too short.  Let me consider his incomplete anecdotal testimony with my own experience of months of meetings back when I was still part of Mars Hill. Months of meetings worked out very well for me when I met with a pastor over the course of months to work out a difficult situation with people who had become former members of Mars Hill.  In fact after I met with a pastor over the course of months about a difficult my situation ended in resolution, reconciliation, and a lot of mutual good will.  True story. 
Does this mean I agree with how Mars Hill handles a lot of disciplinary settings? Obviously not, but I'm not interested in a broad brush defense or attack of a church I called home for about nine years.  I still consider it deeply problematic that the pastor who helped bring reconciliation wasn't a counseling pastor.  It's really too bad that none of the counseling pastors were the ones who did anything but make a bad situation worse but, hey, I don't care if the pastor was an official counseling pastor now!  I care that the relationships were reconciled. 

Now for people who are dead set on viewing Mars Hill in the worst possible light none of that matters.  But it should matter.  It should matter whether Andrew has told the whole truth.  It should matter whether someone who is an ex-Mars Hill member is necessarily a proof of a problem in the church culture or a problem in the person.  Even people regularly reading and contributing to The Stranger think that Nicholas Francisco (then and now) was a deceptive jerk who did wrong by his wife and children. Not everyone who left Mars Hill is necessarily an admirable or honest person.  Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.  There may be people who choose to go public now who are honest, sincere people who have been hurt by a problematic disciplinary process.
But not everyone will necessarily fit into this profile. I've blogged months ago and further back that the woman who left Mars Hill and divorced her husband was someone we Mars Hill members were admonished to not shun, even though her conduct was not exactly above board.  We were told that she wasn't a Christian even though she'd been at the church for more than six or seven years.  As in signed the doctrinal statement and membership agreement a few times. As in members heard that after she left the church they'd heard where she was attending church afterward.  If she was claiming to have never been a Christian, some shared with me, she sure liked getting churched up.  Some members believed then that she pulled a fast one on the pastors. 

In any case, the gap between how Mars Hill members were urged to not shun this woman after divorcing her husband and how we were told to shun Paul Petry in 2007 was one of the big red flags some of us had about the issue of disciplinary precedent within Mars Hill.  These were two people who had signed membership contracts year after year.  What good is a contract if the people who are supposed to enforce it can't even clearly figure out who is or isn't even really on the same team?

Now should that woman seek a public audience in some form to say how she was mistreated by Mars Hill she's going to have some challenges.  Divorce proceedings are not exactly off the public record, and neither are associated custody battles. are they? If she won't even say whether she has custody of her own children consider that a red flag, folks.  There are men, obviously, who have been willing to speak on record, in public, and in their real names about what has happened to them.
If someone comes to you personally in some way using his/her real name, a real email, and their real name but wants to post anonymously feel free, I guess.  It's on you to prove they're not lying if public enquiry happens, though.  Remember that at that point the anonymous source has nothing to lose but you are risking your credibility if you take them at their word without further fact-checking. As I was blogging earlier on this subject, my journalism instructor said a person who wants to be an anonymous source may have his/her own tainted agenda and it's wise to not use them if you can build your story from on the record materials.  As the blogosphere has been demonstrating in the last month or so, there's plenty of material within the public sphere that is on record that anonymous stories are not really necessary, especially not now. 

Now that at least two former Mars Hill people have gone on record using their real names the bar has been raised. If some guy wants to talk about how bad Mars Hill was and how bad the women were he might not tell you that he had a couple of restraining orders issued against him.  If a woman talks about how she left her husband from her Mars Hill days because of his problems with alcohol she might neglect to mention how she cheated on him.  A person who talks about how terrible MH landlords were might neglect to mention a history of not paying rent on time.  A MH landlord defending his handling of tenants might not mention a lack of engagement with tenant concerns. As Proverbs warns us, the first side sounds true until the cross examination.  A man may consider his ex-wife a terrible harpy and not mention the parts about his alcoholism, history of violence, or other things about himself.

Of course people could point out that I use a pen name.  Yes, yes I do, but notice that just this last week I linked to two of my published works that list my real name.  A pen name chosen because it sounds cool doesn't mean I'm hiding my real identity.  I've hid neither my disagreements with Mars Hill on culture or disciplinary precedent any more than I have hidden the fact that I'm a fairly conservative evangelical Christian who agrees with Mars Hill pastors on core doctrines like the Trinity, the incarnation, the resurrection, and other core teachings of the Christian faith. 

As I've been saying for a few years, my desire is to offer constructive criticism from shared beliefs as a Christian.  Just because "Wenatchee The Hatchet" sounds cool doesn't mean my goal is hatchet work.  It just means I've read a lot of Marvel comics and grew up in the Pacific Northwest. If I'm going to eat crow (and at some point I'm sure I will) I figure I might as well be ready to eat crow on record. If Andrew turns out to be a lying man-whore then I'm glad I spent so much time saying we can't be sure his testimony is complete or necessarily trustworthy.

There is nothing as yet I've stumbled across that establishes that what Andrew has said is contradicted by any statements made by Mars Hill so if the church wants to establish Andrew's lack of crediblity they need to do more than just say they won't discuss things publicly.  At some point claims have to be disputed.  If not, then, well, all confirmation biases will persist and it is those confirmation biases pro and con I have found so frustrating over the years.  Oh well, some things really don't change, do they?
When people go on record in public settings about what happened to them at Mars Hill that led them to where they are, and led them to believe there are problematic disciplinary and cultural dynamics in the church this is to be preferred over anonymous accounts for all the most obvious reasons. At the risk of speaking for myself, Bent Meyer, or Kevin Potts--we have made public statements about things that happened to us.  If my experience ended up good overall that's still a sobering story, isn't it? It took one pastor undoing the damage done by three or four pastors over the course of about two years and I've got the story that has the happy ending!  Not everyone else has a story that ended as happily as mine. 

But I still realized at the end of that process that I needed to call a new church my home for theological and personal reasons.  The strike-out rate was too hurtful despite the one glorious God-guided home-run of one of those pastors in helping bring reconciliation and understanding into my situation. I also realized that how I handled myself that got me into that mess to begin with revealed that though I saw things that were unhealthy I had to come to the even more sobering realization that if there was a disease then surely I was one of many symptoms.
I'll be the first to say that when I spent months with a Mars Hill pastor meeting and discussing the relational difficulty I had he told me I needed to be open to the realization that I'd have things I'd need to apologize for and repent of.  I knew that going in and was open to it.  It was very hard and it was no fun but I really wanted relational reconciliation over looking like the good guy.  I'm grateful to report that thanks to the love and diligence of a Mars Hill pastor several relationships I have that are dear to me were restored.  It was also imperative I apologize for the things I said and did wrong. I did that and things worked out.

Yes, a few Mars Hill pastors deeply screwed up some already damaged relationships in my life but it was a Mars Hill pastor that trusted that beneath the hurt and anger these people and I ultimately wanted reconciliation.  When I consider all the pastors I ended up talking with before things finally got worked out it actually took probably two years to get things worked out. It was often miserable but I kept at it anyway even when some pastors said there was no chance at reconciliation. 
Why?  Because Paul wrote that love forgives all things, hopes all things, endures all things, and believes all things, that's why.  You know, that passage somewhere in 1 Corinthians. Love means working toward reconciliation and restitution when necessary because even though it hurts love spurs you on in a way that considers those costs to ultimately be less important than the person you love.  I'm not just willing to write on this blog about things I have considered troubling at Mars Hill I'm more than willing to share how I now consider myself to have been part of that trouble.

So public statements on record are of more value in contributing to a serious discussion of what is good and bad at Mars Hill as a church culture than anonymous tales. We need to have people whose stories can be in the public and, frankly, subjected to at least the possibility of scrutiny. As we're going to continue to discover not everyone who anonymously goes public with a story about time at Mars Hill may be on the level. We need to seek the wisdom to assess things on a case by case basis.
There aren't any good guys in a situation like this. To the extent that a person can speak up about a situation at Mars and have trouble saying, "I, too, have been part of that problem" have some caution.  I was most assuredly part of the problems I have now come to realize existed at Mars Hill.  If we don't find a way to seek repentance together this type of thing will continue.  If we don't seek a humility that not only grants wrongs were done but that we have been part of those wrongs things can't improve.  It's true that the first person to speak seems true until another comes and examines him.  But in light of that proverb this proverb may rebuke us both ways regardless of which side we're on. It can seem right to notify thousands of people through the internet by way of an internal social media site until things leak out into the public and other people point out there's a problem.

Six or seven years ago when Mars Hill members suggested using the Midrash to call out others' sin I said that was a stupid idea, an immensely stupid idea.  There is a time for the internet and there is a time for snail mail.  It won't have to be "the whole church" it could be to community group leaders.  Driscoll said that if Jesus died for us the least we can do is get on a plane because Jesus was willing to die for what he believed in.  Heh, okay, if you want to keep a church disciplinary action quiet the least you can do is not put it on the internet where there's no chance of keeping it private and instead spend the pennies it takes to print up a letter to snail mail to community group leaders who can then exercise their own judgment.
Even when we consider Proverbs 18:17 in this situation it doesn't merely warn us that Andrew may not be sharing the whole real story, it warns us that just because Mars Hill thinks they handled this in a smart judicious way doesn't mean they really did.  Perhaps we need to take more seriously the warning that there is no one who is righteous, not even one.  It's easy to say that in the abstract, eh?  It's easy to imagine that it will not be true of us.  But it is and very often when we have an opportunity to admit it it's no surprise that we don't and won't.  That hardly means we can't or shouldn't. 

Regardless of who is saying the whole truth about what has happened it sticks with me that on either side there may be a belief that blogging and media promise an illusion of control that is just an illusion. Anonymously leaking a story to the public by itself can't improve things any more than publicly stonewalling about what you know means you've exonerated yourself or that members of your church aren't breaching the non-disclosure policy leaders are trying to stick with.

But if there's anything that seems clear to me it's this--social media and on-line information systems will not keep things "private" when church disciplinary situations arise.  They didn't in 2007 with the Midrash at Mars Hill and clearly they haven't in the last three months with The City in the case of Andrew.  The City has turned out to not be the means by which to keep church discipline private but paradoxically the very means by which it was leaked to the public. "Tell it to the church" on the internet has turned into "The whole English-speaking world can look up something about it now." Technology merely provided an illusion of control. 

If you wanted to go for old fashioned church discipline Mars Hill couldn't you have tried something old fashioned like snail mail? Then it might have stayed private ... at least a little longer than if you'd posted something on The City.  Just the people who needed to know could have been mailed a letter, maybe just community group leaders or community group leader coaches.  If Mark Driscoll can jump on a plane to Elephant Room 2 to meet with T. D. Jakes can't Mars Hill church muster up enough money and time to send a notification of a disciplinary action to people through snail mail? Can they consider using snail mail as a more truly private alternative to an on-line social networking tool that has failed in exactly the same way its predecessor did? 

As I asked way above in this post, does Mars Hill have to encounter a third case like this one before it reconsiders its policies, if not for disciplinary procedures as a whole then at least its methodology for "tell it to the church"? This is, after all, the second time "tell it to the church" turned into "told to the English-reading internet world." The technology provided an illusion of control, an illusion that has now, clearly, been blown away. 

Internet Monk overview of 2 Cor 10-13

A few more links for your perusal.

It is in 2 Corinthians 10-13 that Paul defends his ministry against super-apostles.  These super-apostles had a way of commending themselves and their credentials.  Being a great and engaging speaker was important, as was testifying to one's academic cred. Seems to curiously resemble the remarks made by some guys about being apostles and prophets over the last five years and having insights and visions others don't have.  Well, Paul had to deal with those sorts of super-apostles who said he was timid and unimposing in person.  Paul found a way to boast that countered the boasts of the super-apostles Corinth was being bewitched by and it was boasting in his weakness and suffering.  I could write more but as you'll see I've had other things on my mind I've been mulling over and will post about soon.

Ken Stewart says influence of John Calvin on Reformed tradition over-rated

Ken Stewart makes a case that Calvin's influence has been overblown and oversold in proportion to his actual historic influence in the Reformed movement.  To put it in terms some of my blogging friends may appreciate, there's a difference between churches that are historically Reformed and Calvinstas who act as though Calvin accounted for everything.  Ironically some guys who pay fealty to Calvin will say he was wrong about infant baptism and regard for Mary but I don't feel like delving into all that in what's supposed to just be a link.  If I had money to pick up such a book as Stewart's I'd consider it.  I certainly have time to read it, but the truth is I've been reading a few other things lately.

The Stranger revisits Mars Hill

You knew I was going to link to this, didn't you?

HT Mockingbird: What's Wrong with the Teenage Mind?

Recent studies in the neuroscientist B.J. Casey's lab at Cornell University suggest that adolescents aren't reckless because they underestimate risks, but because they overestimate rewards—or, rather, find rewards more rewarding than adults do. The reward centers of the adolescent brain are much more active than those of either children or adults. Think about the incomparable intensity of first love, the never-to-be-recaptured glory of the high-school basketball championship.

... In the past, to become a good gatherer or hunter, cook or caregiver, you would actually practice gathering, hunting, cooking and taking care of children all through middle childhood and early adolescence—tuning up just the prefrontal wiring you'd need as an adult. But you'd do all that under expert adult supervision and in the protected world of childhood, where the impact of your inevitable failures would be blunted. When the motivational juice of puberty arrived, you'd be ready to go after the real rewards, in the world outside, with new intensity and exuberance, but you'd also have the skill and control to do it effectively and reasonably safely.

... At the same time, contemporary children have very little experience with the kinds of tasks that they'll have to perform as grown-ups. Children have increasingly little chance to practice even basic skills like cooking and caregiving. Contemporary adolescents and pre-adolescents often don't do much of anything except go to school. Even the paper route and the baby-sitting job have largely disappeared.

The experience of trying to achieve a real goal in real time in the real world is increasingly delayed, and the growth of the control system depends on just those experiences. The pediatrician and developmental psychologist Ronald Dahl at the University of California, Berkeley, has a good metaphor for the result: Today's adolescents develop an accelerator a long time before they can steer and brake.

...  For most of our history, children have started their internships when they were seven, not 27.

Lots of fascinating comments and observations in the above article. As I have blogged at a number of points here about men and disposability in society there are people who assume the crisis of young men is they won't grow up.  What if we flip it around and look at it the other way?  What if decades of fiscal policy and industry change and educational shifts have created an environment in which these young men (and not so young men) are lacking a role to play?  It's not so much that these guys are doing nothing because that's what they all want to do, it's because not everyone is an alpha male, not everyone is cut out to be some entrepreneur, and not everyone is cut out to go fill the jobs that are available.  The "mancession" was called what it's been for reasons.

Even an American Christian's attempts to speak about this in terms of "legacy" merely reflects a portion of the overall problem.  "Legacy" is something you're supposed to accomplish as an individual for yourself.  Legacy is not presented as something someone else gives you that you can continue, not in the circles in which I've heard presentations and conversations about legacy.  The internship that startes at 7 instead of 27 was a social and family setting in which you figured out what you were going to do because there was something immediately pressing to which you could be useful, if I hazard a guess.  The reality is that most of us have no legacy that will last or be known.  Ecclesiastes does not urge us to build a legacy, far from it.  We are urged to find joy in the work we have to do because that's our lot.  It's not in a legacy that will be forgotten as soon as before our deaths, if indeed we have legacies anyone remembers.

That the teenage mind over-estimates reward sure could make sense of a few things, couldn't it?

I never had a teenage first love or a high school achievement I felt incomparably proud of. There's nothing I wrote among poems or music from my teen years I make a habit of looking back on with pride.  I look back on things with amusement that is now a dual mixture of the amusement I felt at the time and the amusement I have now about how bad the stuff was.  We're never as awesome as we think we are, particularly as teenagers.

Don Carson, a little too polite to call Driscoll a troll

Considering how often Driscoll trolls for controversy and attention while pre-emptively (now) claiming to be taken out of context, Don Carson has been a little too nice in his response.  Then again, I'm not hugely surprised Carson would decide to take the high road on this particular point, or perhaps I would say the polite road.

Then again there's a dynamic of popularity at work between Driscoll and the old men who back him.  What he has to gain from being seen with old men with academic credentials he'll probably never have is saintliness and scholarliness by association.  If he's seen talking with R. C. Sproul or J. I. Packer or Don Carson Driscoll looks like he's even more important in the global church than he's likely to be.  What old guys get in exchange is to look hipper and more relevant even if they already really have nothing to gain in substance by hanging out with a guy who posted as William Wallace II and publicly wrote stuff like "This is all just gay".  And to be fair I'm sure more than a few of them may sincerely hope that if they hang out with the guy often enough he may behave more maturely in public.  Well, he might ... if he were actually like them.

James Harleman reflects on Haywire at Cinemagogue

Our resonance with movies like Haywire might have less to do with the enigmatic protagonist and more to do with whether or not we’re transparent enough to recognize we relate with the compromised people upon whom the wrath is poured out.

James and I share some things in common, we're Christians, and we both affirm that as criticism and analysis go there is no need to stick to the high or the low in artistic boundaries.  We could talk about a Dostoevsky novel or a Shakespearian sonnet.  Then we might turn around and talk about something like zombie movies.  We could talk about a passage in Ezekiel and then talk about Transformers.

Living with the arts is not merely about the stories the arts bring to you but the story you bring to the arts.  If you only consider one of these two poles it can blind you utterly from being able to reflect on the other. James and I may not agree that Superman represents a Christ type but we probably agree on what I just said.

I can just reiterate James' observation from one movie and agree that this is frequently what drives genre films, not the soul of the unstoppable force of nature but the frailties and foibles of those so often crushed in the hands of fate.  Nobody relates to Jason Voorhees, do they?  Nobody expects the xenomorph to do anything other than kill.   Nobody expects to sit down and talk with Godzilla about whether or not he appreciates the architectural philosophy of Frank Lloyd Wright vs Frank Gehry.  When Godzilla comes to town we know what's on his mind and we know exactly what he's come to do.

PsyBlog: the duck/rabbit illusion provides a simple test of creativity

An interesting little link from PsyBlog about research on creativity.  Some people see only the duck, others see the duck and the rabbit, while others can rapidly switch between seeing the duck and the rabbit. Whether a person can make this shift and how quickly they can make it has turned out to be indicative of their creativity.  It's just one test, of course, but it's interesting to read about.

Being able to interpret the same thing in more than one way "is" a pretty straightforward assessment of creativity.  It may suggest that if a person were to come to, say, a poem, and see only one possible meaning for a poetic phrase or image that that person is not very creative. 

Ah, but paradoxically that narrowness of mind can inspire nearly unlimited springs of creativity depending on what the narrowness of one's mind may hold.  Imposing one's hopes and dreams on a text to the point where it's made to say something it doesn't say can yield a single, overriding interpretation that, though it have nothing directly to do with what is interpreted, nevertheless displays a great deal of creativity and ingenuity to avoid a more simple interpretation that leaves ambiguity.  But the apricots from the apricot tree are not the immediate concern of this blog post.

Carl Trueman: Gnosticism, Nicea and Celebrity

I thought of the title "Carl Trueman does the Elliot Reid `I Told You So' Dance" but that seemed to lack the gravitas with which Trueman actually broached this subject.  So out of consideration for Trueman's tone I decided to just go with his original title in the link. But in my mind the pot Trueman wrote sorta resembles the Elliot Reid "I Told You So" dance from a Scrubs episode.

The differences between the actually Reformed and the people who simply say they are Reformed but are anabaptist TULIPS, sometimes former nominal Catholics who have adopted charismatic theology,  aren't exactly growing so much as becoming more apparent. 

HT Mockingbird: Freud: the last great enlightenment thinker

If Freud has been misunderstood, neglected or repudiated, he would have expected nothing else. He is rejected now for the same reason that he was rejected in fin-de-si├Ęcle Vienna: his heroic refusal to flatter humankind.

an amusing request, a story about the daughter of some friends of mine

Just go follow the link.  This is short and cute, I promise.

I was laying low for a week to celebrate the publication of my Guitar Sonata in F minor and of the latest installment in my essays on Batman: the animated series.  Well now I'm back to blogging again.  You'll see I've picked up a few knick-knacks along the way very soon.