Saturday, August 11, 2012

a blast from the past: Linda Holmes on Scott Pilgrim vs the Unfortunate Tendency to Review the Audience

"Scott Pilgrim versus the unfortunate tendency to review the audience", by Linda Holmes, is one of the most enjoyable and interesting bits of meta-critical writing I've read in the last few years.
The single sentence that I think encapsulates where Linda Holmes went with this piece is here:

It's not aiming to be liked by all; it's aiming to be adored by many. 

I'd share more of the piece but instead I'd urge you to follow the link and go read it.

The Availability Bias

To put this in the bluntest, crudest, most simplistic terms the availability bias is a trick of associative memory our brains play on us.  If A happens in an unusually memorable way we are apt to think that it is likely to happen again even if the odds of this happening are remote.  The availability bias is a good chunk of why people choose to get lottery tickets even though the actual odds of winning are so remote as to be ... well, I'll just refrain from stating that opinion as starkly as I could.

Appealing to the availability bias is the basis for a lot of sales pitches.  Against all actual odds "you" turn out to be the lucky winner of some huge undisclosed amount of money from some foreign national who supposedly mentioned you.  If you work from the supposition that this thing never happens in the real world at any meaningful level then the standard scam of selling you on your untold millions becomes harder for you to be taken in by.  This doesn't mean you can't ever get conned, just that once you know how absurd the real odds are it's tougher to be taken in.

I would propose the availability heuristic is at the core of presenting certain things as innately plausible. For instance, I've met a few guys who may think that because some guy they thought was average-looking ended up marrying a widely renowned beautiful woman in the community that this should happen for them, too.  I'm not going to say where I saw this happen a bit because regular readers don't need to wonder where.  I saw this a bit.

I heard it a bit, particularly after a couple of attractive friends of mine got married.  There were some guys who didn't think through that a ten to thirteen year age gap between themselves and the woman they thought they had "something there" with was not prima facie evidence that something was gonna happen.  Then there was the lack of likelihood of pairing due to divergent interests and values.  But the availability bias, arguably, had kicked in within the brains of these men.  They saw that so-and-so married so-and-so and the first so-and-so was deemed "average" in looks, therefore ... .  The first so-and-so is a funny, loyal, and interesting guy.  The other so-and-so's who deemed the guy average were simply considering themselves to be at least or more worthy than the married so-and-so of getting the hot woman.

For the guys who think the situation is just a matter of finding a woman they like enough to make a deal with they forget that this thing about the buyer's market is omnidirectional.  Years ago I was conversing with a guy who, as I've mentioned before, declared that he thought it was sinful to consider any woman out of his league.  He seemed to be thinking in terms of an availability bias.  There was never any question what he had to provide a woman that would be an incentive for her to be with him; the guy's mind was on the subject of settling on which attractive lady he would bestow his attentions and interest.

Honestly I can't feel bad for the guy in his unwavering bachelorhood. When he saw a discussion about whether worldly definitions of beauty were informing how some Christians viewed beauty and attraction the guy told me that he noticed it was the less attractive women who got up in arms about that sort of thing.  When a guy talks like this it makes it impossible for me to take him seriously as someone who will end his run as a bachelor by getting a girlfriend or a wife.  Should we flip things around and say that it only tends to be the unattractive and shallow men who complain about the shallowness with which women obsess about things that are supposed to be shallow? But I digress.  The availability bias may well be what permits any person in the dating scene to have hopes that are tantamount to winning the lottery.

I also suggest that the availability bias would be at the heart of anyone who would actually believe that if X gives Y to organization Z that X will necessarily keep his/her job having givin Y to Z.  If Z sells this as a possibility then X is even more likely to believe it but this does not make the outcome more likely.  If Z proposes that A gave B to Z a few years ago and now A has a great job this is omitting the rest of the aphabet who may or may not have been knowingly involved in the process who don't have jobs or access to the benefits of B once A gave it to Z.  To borrow a line from Phoenix Preacher here is where you can make your own application.

and prison 3 is up, for those keeping track of the three prisons

HT Mockingbird: Raising Successfull Children

Parents also have to be clear about their own values. Children watch us closely. If you want your children to be able to stand up for their values, you have to do the same. If you believe that a summer spent reading, taking creek walks and playing is better than a specialized camp, then stick to your guns. Parents also have to make sure their own lives are fulfilling. There is no parent more vulnerable to the excesses of overparenting than an unhappy parent. One of the most important things we do for our children is to present them with a version of adult life that is appealing and worth striving for.

If this is true could it be said the entire point of Baby Boomer anything was that the children of men and women who fought in World War II and settled down looked at their parents and declared that that form of adult life was neither appealing nor worth striving for?

Link: The Humanities and common sense

Twenty years ago I (and no small part of my generation) would have reflexively said that a college education was vital for getting a decent job. Not a great job, not a dream job, a decent job.  Sure, you could get a dream job with a college degree, so the thinking went, but if you didn't get a college degree of some kind you were wasting your potential.  Or at least that was the implicit story and cultural value I heard.

So I went to college.  Figuring out what I'd study took some time. All the things I have loved most, I knew, were useless things in terms of normal workaday society.  Now pastors will object that a love of biblical literature and theology with an occasional interest in philosophy isn't useless, it gets at issues of worldview and how we live.  I agree with that but the reality is that if you have a seminary degree and you apply to a job as a production line manager or (more likely?) an administrative assistant will the fact that you even know who Schleiermacher is matter?

I have never once felt called into ministry and did not feel a burning in my bosom to be ordained in a specific denominational context and so I decided swiftly that seminary wasn't for me.  Looking back on that process twenty years on I believe it was one of the best decisions I made.  I didn't make it by myself.  I had some valuable advice from a couple of people.  One of them included the late William Lane.

Something Lane shared with me years ago was a concern that in American biblical scholarship, particularly in the Ivy League scene, too much of the scene was possessed by a guild mentality.  The scholars did their work for each other and to impress each other more than they did their scholarship to be a service to the local, regional, let alone global church.  It wasn't that no scholarly work of note was done, it was that in this sort of academic setting seminarians had this habit of conflating scholastic work on the biblical literature with an actually personal faith.

I still believe in the value of education but I have changed a lot in my thinking about how much of that education has to involve what is often called higher learning.  I want my younger friends to keep a love of learning without having to net themselves tens of thousands of dollars (or more) in debt.

I can more than sympathize with Roger Berkowitz proposal that collegiate education seems to be giving students things they don't necessarily need or want.

During the 1990s, or was it earlier, there began to be scholars of pop culture in a formal sense.  There have been scholars of television shows.  A friend of mine in college was simultaneously excited and annoyed by this back when he and I were college undergrads ourselves.  He was excited on the one hand by the possibility that popular culture was getting some academic attention and that it might warrant that.  He was frustrated, however, by the question of what the point would be of just having a scholar specializing in pop culture because, surely, pop culture can't possibly be valuable on the same level as actually classic works in the humanities.  Both concerns were as true twenty years ago as they are now and we are not quite such young men as we were when we were roommates.

Now it's no secret I have written quite a bit about Batman.  I have spent a good chunk of time discussing the nearly twenty-year old classic cartoon Batman: the animated series.  I've read a few attempts at a scholarly discussion of Batman over the last few decades.  Marxists observations about the inherently hegemonic nature of Thomas Wayne's violent defense of property rights in Kane's story is an example of academic scholarship about Batman that we don't particularly need, even if someone happened to actually be a Marxist.  People declaring that Christopher Nolan advocates fascism is also needless.  The reality is that the classics of literature were generally not produced in times and places where what we believe should be the obligatory representative democratic republic across the world even existed.  The classics of world art can be appreciated in a modern liberal republic but most of us would not have fit in that well in the time and place in which the classics were made.

I suppose I conceivably could have gone on to further formal academic life but I don't regret not managing that anymore.  Ten years ago I would have, probably.  Over the last eight years, though, I began to wonder what I would or could do as a scholar and how it could be served by adding more educational debt to myself.

Let me frame it in terms of Batman.  Academics who decide to discuss how Marxism provides a critique of the assumption of property rights that led to Thomas Wayne's death is moot.  That is using Batman as a pretext to discuss Marxism, not Batman.  If you want to do something scholarly with Batman try taking Batman seriously on his own terms as an artifact of pop culture and attempt to draw out what makes him appealing to Americans despite the assumed "fact" that a Marxist critique of property rights means that Thomas Wayne shouldn't have defended his wife and child against a mugger the way he did in the earliest Batman comics.  Pop culture creators have shifted the nature of that origin story to the point where in Nolan's Batman that Marxist critique of the original story is completely irrelevant because it's not the one emblazoned into the memories of hundreds of millions of people who have watched Batman movies.  Ditto for the Burton film.

In a way what I do when I write about Batman: the animated series is to just take a scholarly approach to a now classic cartoon a lot of kids grew up watching.  I'm just old enough now that the show that premiered the year I got into college was a show that my younger friends grew up watching as children and this show shaped their understanding of Batman.  The show did this, mind you, for a generation of kids who never read any of the comics and even for people in my generation who STILL don't read comics.  See, that is a powerful level of influence that can't be measured.

What we can do is to take that influence seriously and find a way to discuss the stories as, if not classics in anything beyond a strictly television meaning of the term, a kind of "literature".

But the last thing we probably need are official scholars doing that.  If we just get more American scholars talking about what kind of politics Batman has to represent during an election year then we might as well be doing the same thing about Shakespeare.  Neither the Bard nor Batman directly influence the real world concerns of people looking for jobs and getting into dating relationships or raising children.  When the Nolan brothers explain up front that they drew inspiration for their last Batman film on Dickens then it makes sense to "read" The Dark Knight Rises in light of that and not in terms of Nolan having to be "fascist" just as it retroactively shows us that reading The Dark Knight as a defense of Bush's war on terror is equally imposing a political agenda on to the work of a British film maker.  I've already mentioned the narcissism inherent in American political readings of Batman films made by a British director before.

That can not only be said to be a problem with American reviews but of the American collegiate system which, over the last twenty years, has given us the kinds of American film reviewers who keep doing these kinds of stupid things.  Obviously I think there is an alternative path for discussing Batman in film and on television and I could present my own writing as an alternative to what I see academic/critical handling of a pop icon like Batman has been.  I have undertaken to interpret Batman within the framework of Christian ethics, thought, and tradition.

I would propose that while critics and scholars wax tedious about Batman's political implications or how the sign signifies valence of reading we could be more direct and point out that what makes Batman special in America pop mythology is that it is possible for there to be equally legitimate readings of Batman's ethos as having either a Christian or secular foundation.  Bruce Wayne's journey can be seen as informed by the filial honor endorsed by the Decalogue or by the observation that once a life is lost it cannot be regained and Bruce Wayne is informed by a desire to stop the innocent from being killed by those who sacrifice others on the altar of their own agendas.  Denny O'Neil used to say that Ra's al Ghul was right about the environment and Batman was wrong but Batman was still right that sacrificing billions of lives for the sake of purifying the global ecosphere is still wrong.  Ergo Batman remains the good guy while Ra's al Ghul is the bad guy.

Which is to present the thumpingly obvious point that a Christian and a secularist can both agree Ra's al Ghul is wrong.  Now I've seen people try to make a case that Batman espouses a philosophy of self-reliance and picking yourself up by your bootstraps.  This is probably more the fault of Denny O'Neil than anyone else because in many iterations of Batman Bruce Wayne relies on an unseen army of allies, friends, and mentors.  Let's remember that as of twenty years ago O'Neil's vision of Batman in the 1970s and 1980s took a backseat to the animated series, to Batman in Justice League, and to Nolan's Batman who surrounds himself with mentors who share his father Thomas Wayne's values.  The modern-day Nolan version of Bruce Wayne was never truly a loner, Batman was the result not merely of Bruce Wayne's anger and altruism but the cumulative development of a value system within a family legacy and its circle of friends and partners.  And, obviously, given the final shot of The Dark Knight Rises the ethos and legacy of Bruce Wayne as a member of the Wayne family informs the possibility of someone else becoming Batman.

I've read a few of the reviews of Nolan's latest Batman film and while it "is" a popcorn film and a blockbuster if we choose to read it and experience it in just that way and not as part of a completed trilogy with a variety of ideas then we've let a popcorn film be a popcorn film.  And maybe in most cases that's as it should be.  But at a different level, the one in which we theoretically discuss the value of education and the humanities, what have we said about education?  That education permits us to watch a Batman film and decide that we either like it or don't and then move on?

When I read Edelstein's review of The Dark Knight where he pointed out that the whole scene with Batman and the Scarecrow was pointless it was an attention-getting moment.  The scene wasn't pointless for people who actually paid attention to the first film.  That Scarecrow had disappeared and no one had caught him was one of the most conspicuous loose ends from Batman Begins.  We're told specifically that Scarecrow and the inmates of Arkham were beyond immediate hope of capture.  Batman tells Gordon that they will get caught and in the first hour of The Dark Knight we see that Batman finally makes good on his promise to Gordon.  Now if people just don't like superhero movies, okay, that's fair enough.

But what seems to happen with some reviewers is they don't realize that today's entertainment assumes a level of sustained attention and attention to detail in narrative and character development that is either shared or not.  For instance, I could read critics talking endlessly about the symbolism of scenes in Mad Men or The Sopranos or other shows on HBO.  The critics talk about this stuff and its meaning and import.  Okay, but for those of us who don't even have basic cable how does this add up?  To put it another way, people who can devote that level of attention to identifying recycled or reversed footage in episodes of shows on HBO who, if applicable, don't get the plot points and plot twists in the latest Batman film because they weren't paying attention to the previous one "can" pay attention.  They just didn't.  Again, if you don't like the genre that makes sense.

At the other extreme are the upset comics fans who think it's lame John Blake knew Bruce Wayne was Batman.  How did Bane know Bruce Wayne was Batman?  It's just thrown out there.  Bane was told by someone in the LEague of Shadows who already knew the truth.  The League of Shadows was led by Ra's al Ghul.  Did we ever get an explanation in Batman Begins for how Ra's al Ghul knew that Bruce Wayne was Batman?  Nope, and people were conspicuously not complaining about that because that was in the comics.

The two pitfalls in any attempt to have a scholarly (real or otherwise) discussion of pop culture is that the two extremes end up being the same, nerdy digressions into the minutiae of presentation that don't explore the core of the story or characters and which reflect pre-committments about material. That can be okay.  If a gay writer declares that only the Adam West Batman was any good to him and that because of its camp and that all the other Batmen are rubbish then he's said what he wanted to say.  He's arguably not really a Batman fan at a broader level but that's the thing about Batman, there are dozens of versions and each version is capable of meaning something to different groups over time.

In scholarly circles what happens is that it's possible to set aside a debate about whether "if" a writer has said something important and discuss what that is and how we can interact with it. I've met more than a few people who loathe the writing of Hemmingway or Austen or Dostoevsky or Kafka or Shakespeare but the point is that from a scholarly standpoint it's possible to discuss what those authors were getting at without having to be won over to their work.

In pop culture, clearly, this sensitivity is often of no value to critics.  A reviewer may feel beholden to know and understand a Hemmingway or Twain or Eliot and not like them but for pop culture the jock and nerd paradigm sticks around.

I could try for a more cohesive way to end this but I'm going to end on a deliberately irascible note.  I suggest that critics and scholars might benefit from taking kids' entertainment and popcorn movies more seriously but this needs to be done by attempting to see what these things present.  Marxist readings on a Batman origin story that is seventy years old isn't as salient as considering the core of the  character's appeal.  A scholarly engagement with Batman or Star Trek as pop mythologies is going to be more relevant to the lives of non-scholars then putting together, I dunno, some treatise on the writings of William Vollmann.  Batman and Captain Kirk can tell us quite a bit about the values and ideals of Americans.  That this could move a scholar through the perilous waters of Adam West and William Shatner does not mean the waters cannot be navigated.  I suppose the original series Star Trek might be a useful stopping point.  It is possible to take the ideas we stand for seriously without taking anything else seriously and perhaps the question of the relevance of scholarship in the humanities touches on this.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Internet Monk review of Steve Jobs biography by Isaacson

I could write a lot but I realize much of it would be recycling material I wrote earlier this year considering the death of Steve Jobs.  So without further ado:

Cinemagogue discusses The Dark Knight Rises

We knew this was going to happen, yes we did.

And we waited until all the links went up to present them all in a neat little row.

remembrance of things past

what's this? ...

Chaplain Mike refers to one of Driscoll's lessons from baseball at Internet Monk, the one about cutting overpaid vets

This week Chaplain Mike over at Internet Monk posted an entry called "Why `Leaders' Are Not the Church's Greatest Need".  After a significant wind-up the pitch, so to speak, was observing how Mark Driscoll's lessons from baseball about leadership came off as very corporate in its mentality.  Chaplain Mike could have emphasized that competitive athletics in the professional and collegiate sphere have become so competitive regarding money and prestige that in some cases scandals have arisen because valuing the protection of brands and institutions over people has led to some legal situations. I'm not going to rehearse all of that beyond allusions.

Now the thing about the specific lesson Chaplain Mike chose is that the title suggests corporate speak and sports speak all at once.  Cut underperforming, overpaid veterans:  leadership lessons from baseball is dramatically announced with just the word "cut" and then a giant scroll-down gap before you reach the rest of the title.  In page layout terms this is the show and tell headline.

The entry is quote short:

Every team has older veterans whom the fans love but who can no longer catch or hit a ball. The General Manager has a tough call to make. Do they cut them and let new talent take the field, even though they will lose money and their fans will be unhappy, or do they let them take the field, thereby taking away an opportunity from another player and causing the team to lose? If there were a solely Christian MLB team run by a church, it would have highly paid, broken old veterans and lose every game; but, it would have a small and devoted fan base, along with a well developed theology of suffering to make it all seem spiritual. Teams, organizations, and churches have to cut the underperforming, overpaid veterans who are hurting the team. Even if they remain leaders, they have to be given another position without a salary and go find another job to pay the bills. The Mariners fielded this team a few years back and although the fans loved the broken-down, overpaid old lineup, the team could not have won a wiffle ball tournament at a retirement home. The old GM lost his job and the new GM fired every one of them and started over. 

There's an axiom if there ever was one, cut under-performing, overpaid veterans.  How does this get defined?  It's one thing to say that every team has older veterans whom the fans love but who can no longer catch or hit a ball.  But, really, what does this even mean?

Now let's camp out briefly on the indefinite plural pronoun here.  "They" has a tough call to make.  I'm not aware of any General Manager who is more than one sentient personality in the real world.  Now in the land of comics I totally get how Two-Face or the Ventriloquist could be "General Manager" while having two distinct personalities but I would not generally recommend Batman villains with split personality/dissociative disorders as ideal pastoral candidates.  They aren't real people anyway.

The other obvious point to draw out from Driscoll's use of "they" is that "they" will never be women if the church is modeled after the kind of leadership Driscoll says churches should be run by.  So there are potentially two levels of ambiguity where clarity would be better.

Now I'm aware that some people would say that we need to read these words of Driscoll in the spirit in which they were meant.  That's not hard to do but that's also the essential problem.  Driscoll wrote those words in 2010 and there's no intimation he has any thought that one day the overpaid, under-performing veteran who doesn't know how to catch or hit a ball is going to be him one day.  Driscoll's words suggest a pragmatism that, were he one day to be on the receiving end of it, might not feel so pleasant.

Let's consider momentarily how one might define veterans in a religious institution as young as Mars Hill for a moment and consider who would qualify as a veteran? What defines being a veteran in a church like Mars Hill?  For such a young church a veteran would be hard to find, unless we automatically defined founding elders as veterans by now.  Thing is, the other two co-founding elders of Mars Hill are nowhere to be seen or heard of at Mars Hill now.  "Veteran" may be a relative, even indefinite term.  The lesson from baseball has the appearance of wisdom but it says more, ultimately, about Driscoll's interest in baseball to me than it can say anything about church leadership.  The lesson might be pregnant with meaning and birth babies of insight for someone else, though.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Mars Hill Downtown, Tabella, up for sell as "former union hall"

2333 Western Ave

aka Mars Hill Downtown

You know, that property that was purchased without the members being informed about it until the bid was done.  The $3.95 million bid on a roughly $2.3 million property.  That one where I asked how many executive elders were in place when that September 2007 bid mentioned by The Stranger was made.

Well, looks like it's for sale, if you'd like to buy it.

Church Advisors lists it as a "former union hall."  What kind of union may be hidden in the mists of time.

Well, here in the Emerald City the place Tabella was before Mars Hill bought it was not as a union hall.  Well, maybe unions happened there but they wouldn't have been or the sort that churchgoers might approve of, assuming those kinds of unions happened.

Permit the Seattle Times to elucidate.

Check out picture 2, of one of the bouncers at Tabella.

And if you want further clarification about what Tabella was ...

Pretty well removes all doubt, doesn't it?  When Mars Hill moved into the Tabella as the Downtown campus for the emerging multisite paradigm it made the news. Now that Church Advisors is putting the building up for sale the big sales pitch for the property is that it's a former union building.

This week's news about Mars Hill leasing an old Methodist church got me wondering, "So Mars Hill must have put up the old Downtown for sale, right?"  Turns out that is the case.  Mars Hill Downtown is one of the sales closed by Church Advisors.  See below.

Note the deals they've done for Mars Hill.  They did more than one.

The long-term lease on Mars Hill Bellevue
The sale of Mars Hill Downtown for $3.95 million
The sale of Mars Hill Ballard for $7.3 million
Then there's Anchor Baptist Church, formerly known as Mars Hill Lake City for $2 million
$13.25 million is a lot of money

Sale date: 01/31/1996
Price: $0
Sale instrument: Quit Claim Deed
Sale reason: Other
Sale date: 07/17/2006
Price: $2,000,000
Sale instrument: Statutory Warranty Deed

Read more:

For earlier entries discussing Mars Hill Downtown in the real estate series go here:

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Brian Auten discusses the Sikh temple shooter, religious labeling, and coverage

The piece is a worthwhile read.

I could write a number of things reflecting on Auten's observations about the Sikh temple shooter and of how certain pundits seized upon Breivik as an example of Christian terrorism but I don't feel like actually going that.

Congratulations to Brian, though.  I understand from the comments he's made at the BHT that it's nice to have something to have blogged about that's not on "that" topic.  As far as "that" kind of subject on what things tend to be of "that" variety I can appreciate that. ;-)

Mars Hill Downtown to move from old Tabella to ...

One of the region's newest and fastest-growing churches will soon take up residence in one of Seattle's oldest church buildings.

Mars Hill Church plans to relocate its downtown branch this fall from Belltown to the former First United Methodist Church at Fifth Avenue and Marion Street.

Here's a bit more from the article:

Mars Hill Church, a nondenominational, evangelical Christian congregation, has outgrown its location in the former Tabella nightclub, said Tim Gaydos, lead pastor of the downtown church.
Gaydos said the church holds five weekend services for about 1,500 people and was looking for a larger venue downtown that would allow it to continue its ministries to the homeless and to young women caught in the sex-trafficking trade.

"Our heart has always been not just for a great church but for a great city. Being in this location allows us to serve and love Seattle better," Gaydos said.

The deal almost didn't happen. Mars Hill looked at the First United Methodist Church building a year ago but Daniels didn't want to sell or completely relinquish control, said Tom Graff, commercial president of Ewing & Clark Real Estate. [emphasis added]

Graff said he got Gaydos and Daniels to talk directly, and they agreed on a five-year lease. "With a lot of hard work, the deal came together," Graff said.

Almost didn't happen, eh?  Mars Hill started looking at the building a year ago but Daniels didn't want to 1) sell or 2) completely relinquish control of the property.  The lease has made the news as of this week.

Now the next thing that is worth mentioning ...
On September 27, 2011 Michael Mukasey wrote:

• The Mars Hill Church congregation may soon be packing their Bibles and leaving Belltown. Sources say that aside from rocking out, condemning the gays, and putting women in their place, Seattle's bigoted hipster misogynist church is in talks to land-swap its downtown building in exchange for a Seattle Athletic Club in Northgate. Mars Hill hasn't replied to requests for comment.

Aw, was this a failure of intel?  Maybe not, The Stranger turned out to be on the money about Mars Hill Downtown the first time.  You may peruse the following at your leisure if you haven't already.

The question of how many executive elders there were at Mars Hill in September 2007 when the bid on Tabella was made is one that remains unanswered. If it was less than four it was less than the number required by the bylaws that were in effect at the time.

What is apparent now, of course, is that Mars Hill Downtown is sticking downtown.

So let's back up a bit to the part in yesterday's news (well, technically, Monday's)  that explains that the deal nearly didn't go through.  We're told that Daniels didn't want to sell or completely relinquish control of the building Mars Hill Downtown will be moving into. When Mars Hill bid on Tabella it was news because the bid was reported in the media before members or non-executive elders even knew what was going on, it seems.  In this case the deal is a five-year lease and not a purchase.  Before the 2008 housing bubble Mars Hill was more interested in buying.  Mars Hill bought Tabella for approximately 70 percent more than it's valuation in 2007.  2008 came and the real estate bubble burst.  The property that was once Tabella took a million-dollar dive in value.

This situation of leasing rather than buying isn't a suprise.

Driscoll already suggested that churches could ask if they could become a part of Mars Hill in April this year.

Sutton Turner wrote in January this year that Jesus just stepped on the gas.

Mars Hill launched campuses at Portland, Orange County, Rainier valley, and Sammamish in January 2012, which coincided with the publication of Real Marriage, which made it to the New York Times bestseller list.  It's understandable why Turner might have written something called "Jesus just stepped on the gas".

Then in late January the story of Andrew broke.  The Mars Hill public reaction cast a great deal of doubt on Andrew's character and truthfulness without actually doing anything other than vaguely gesturing toward the idea that there are "two sides to every story". I'm not going to rehearse all that at this point.

In March Paul Petry went on record with what happened to him during the 2007 firings.  Mars Hill has not publicly reacted even to the point of acknowledging that any of the materials exist.  Don't expect them to.  What did happen a week after Joyful Exiles went up was that Scott Thomas, according to Matt Chandler, told Chandler that he felt God had released him from leading Acts 29.  Duly noted.

But it was in June that Mars Hill Orange County was served an eviction notice:
from June 5, 2012

Building and planning officials with the city say Mars Hill needs to find a new spot to sing praises to the Lord, because the venue is not in a zone designed for churches.

Jay Trevino, Santa Ana's executive director of the Planning and Building Agency, reportedly told The Christian Post that the city welcomes Mars Hill, but the fellowship is "conducting a church under our zoning ordinance. Churches aren't allowed in that zoning district, but are allowed in many other zoning districts."

Church leaders aren't exactly happy with the city's answers, so they are looking to God, and lawyers, to provide some. Pastor Mark Driscoll, founder of the Seattle-based network of Mars Hill churches, said on a video posted to the church's website that the concert venue gets packed out on Sundays, and there are no traffic or parking problems.

"So, we're not exactly sure what the problem is," Driscoll said. "We've been asking and the truth is we're not getting a lot of answers."

Driscoll said the church has hired lawyers to look into the matter, and "if we do find that we're just getting bullied by a political discriminatory agenda against Christianity and the church, we'll hold our ground. If we find out as well that it's just somebody on a council somewhere with an axe to grind against Christianity, we'll hold our ground.

And if we do, in fact, find that somehow we're violating laws and rules that don't make a lot of sense to us, then we'll obey the governing authorities like the Scriptures say."

This was the sermon where the Church Update was given.

If in January 2012 Sutton Turner was saying Jesus had just stepped on the gas the eviction of Orange County and in June Driscoll shared about the eviction, systemic deficits, a mass lay-off, and the decision to not plant new churches this year does that mean Jesus slammed on the brakes?

But whoever stepped on the brakes the bus has not stopped. Perhaps the driver was reminded by some cops that there's a speed limit. and the rules of the road need to be observed.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

HT City of God: Sports coffins?

Okay ... I admit this was sort of trippy.  So having yourself buried in a coffin with your favorite sports team on it; having a headstone at your grave indicating which sports team you were a fan of ....

Comics nerds have been put down by jocks decade after decade but, I ask you, can someone point me to a dead comics fan who has his or her favorite comic book character emblazoned on the headstone?  Is there a dead person out there who has Wolverine on his tombstone?  I'm not asking that rhetorically, actually.  Such a person may have already existed or may yet exist.

Whether this indicates that sports is a religion in the way Dan was discussing at City of God earlier remains to be seen but I guess both Dan (and now myself) have to concede that when sports makes it into the burial rituals of people that "might" count as playing a religious role.