Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Mars Hill altered statement about Trial study guide, credits(blames?) assistants on research, Docent Group states Mars Hill given sufficient information to properly cite sources

Since Warren Throckmorton has established that Mars Hill Church changed its statement in response to alleged plagiarism in the Trial study guide for 1 & 2 Peter there's little that needs review on that specific point.  It's worth mentioning because rapidly clarifying a clarification was what happened when MH PR discussed elder terminations in the wake of Andrew Lamb's situation in 2012.  Trawl through Wenatchee The Hatchet at your leisure for that, though.

While Mars Hill's initial statement, as documented by Throckmorton, had it that the church never sold copies of the study guide Wenatchee The Hatchet quoted, just yesterday, from an archived page of The Resurgence as to when, how and why The Resurgence sold bulk copies of the study guide. 


December 19, 2010 capture

From now until the start of Mars Hill Church’s Luke series, you can purchase copies of the Trial Study Guide by the case. Only twenty cases are available, so order soon if you’re interested. The book is a 200-page overview of 1 & 2 Peter (paperback, 5-1/4 × 7-7/8). It features over 30 small group lessons and an extensive day-by-day family discussion section. The Study Guide was originally written as a companion piece for Mars Hill Church’s sermon series Trial: 8 Witnesses from 1 & 2 Peter. The book is written by Pastor Mark Driscoll and Pastor Brad House, who oversees Mars Hill community groups. [emphasis added] It was distributed for free at Mars Hill campuses during the sermon series, and in order to recoup some of the printing expenses, we are now selling cases of the book at cost, plus shipping and handling ($95 per case; each case includes 66 books; not authorized for resale). You can also download the PDF version of the book for free. To purchase copies, please submit the online order form and the payment details that follow: Click here for the Trial Study Guide Order Form - See more at: http://web.archive.org/web/20101219223717/http://theresurgence.com/2009/09/01/trial-study-guide-on-sale#sthash.MhKWIfXv.dpuf

So The Resurgence, part of Resurgence Publishing, LLC, the for-profit venture associated with mars Hill Church executive leadership, began to sell left over copies of the study guide they had printed for the 1 & 2 Peter sermon series to recover printing costs for the project.  The books were sold at cost, according to the content quoted, so they weren't being sold for a profit.  The books on the books should bear that out easily enough, right?

At Christianity Today Andy Crouch has weighed in with a few thoughts. 

The most notable one to pop up is the question of why Driscoll's name was the one on the study guide if Justin Holcomb and Crystal Griffin were credited with helping assemble the material.

... But there is something truly troubling here, in my view. Not that "Pastor Mark Driscoll" carelessly borrowed a section of a commentary for a church-published Bible study, but that "Pastor Mark Driscoll" was named as the sole author of that Bible study in the first place. In fact, when Driscoll introduced the series on Peter to his church in a 2009 letter (quoted by Religion News Service's Jonathan Merritt), he forthrightly credited two researchers: Justin Holcomb, who worked for an outside research firm called the Docent Group, and Crystal Griffin, a deacon at Mars Hill. (Glenn Lucke, founder of the Docent Group, told me his firm's records show that Holcomb provided Mars Hill all the documentation needed to properly cite the IVP commentary.)

The second notable point is that Glenn Lucke, founder of the Docent Group, has stated that the firm's records show Holcomb provided Mars Hill all the documentation needed to properly cite the IVP commentary. 

Throckmorton has recently posted that there was some kind of "battle plan" and provides yet another link that is going to be dead-on-arrival.  Wenatchee The Hatchet has gotten used to links affiliated with Mars Hill Church or The Resurgence being dead on arrival after a post gets published.  So here's a link that does work, for now [as Bane put it in The Dark Knight Rises] You can also try this one or this one. Throckmorton's link to the pdf may be dead but Wenatchee The Hatchet has some experience trawling through older resources associated with Mars Hill.  Check out the pdf materials while you still can. Throckmorton brings attention to page 143 on and mentions lean research notes but that's to be expected.  What the pdf comes across as to someone who's been in Mars Hill is not an academic draft of anything but a working later draft of citations that could be added later in the editing process.  October 31, 2008 is months, literally, before Driscoll would announce Holcomb had joined the Mars Hill crew. 

Throckmorton didn't mention what are arguably more important pages in the battle plan, pages 19-21 about branding.   This looks, overall, more like a mock-up copy of basic materials awaiting citation notes but also lacking a unified visual style of the sort the finished product would later have. The documentation would be pretty lean if pages 19-21 were explicitly brainstorming a general look and discussing branding. 

Given the discussion so far at Christianity Today, from Warren Throckmorton, and from seeing some of the material Throckmorton refers to it's not convincing for Mars Hill Church to attempt to shift any blame on research assistants who had a role in assembling background material for the Trial study guide. Their names didn't end up on the book in any event and the copyright of the book was registered to Mars Hill Church.  Glenn Lucke of the Docent Group has stated that Holcomb provided enough evidence for proper citation and has stated this to Christianity Today.  The battle plan version of the study guide Throckmorton refers to does provide some interesting details about how Mars Hill approached the development of the publication and it's interesting to see the branding segment and an unusually large amount of red text. 

Let's bear something in mind from early 2008 that Driscoll said in a question and answer session about how and how much he reads. After all, if an email between Driscoll and Holcomb at the end of 2008 is going to come up let's consult what Driscoll said about his working memory, reading habits, and approach to citation was earlier that year.

At the risk of recycling material already published on this blog ...

The question about how much he read in a week shows up about halfway through minute 16 and the explanation of how and how fast he read books is something Driscoll fields in the start of the 18th minute (if we've cited the right audio file):

... I'm not necessarily the guy who sits down and reads a book because every book has things in it that I don't need at that time.  But I'll read a chapter of this book, half of this book, page of this book ... hundreds of pages a week. ...

I read very fast and I have, I don't know if it's a photographic memory but I have a very effective memory; so much so that,uh, I can remember whole quotes from paragraphs of books that I read in the late 80s that I haven't touched since then. And so even, like, writing a book like, uh, Vintage Jesus has I think, like, six hundred footnotes--I would sit down and write the manuscript and just put in the bra[cket], the parentheses for my research assistant, like, `That's in Generous Orthodoxy', that's somewhere around page 160.' Now I haven't read that since,, like, `92 but I remember the quote, I remember the book, I remember the author, I remember the publisher, and I remember roughly where it's at in the book and so then she goes and finds it and makes all the footnotes. And so that speeds things along.

My wife isn't like that. She reads slow. It's laborious, it's prayerful, it's careful and so for her to work through a book takes a long time and I tend to go through books like chicken wings. ...

Well, Mark Driscoll reading through books like he eats chicken wings might explain some stuff.   It looks like Mars Hill Church no longer has the option of just implicitly blaming the research assistants now that their names were so easy to look up and the founder of the Docent Group has stated that Holcomb provided enough documentation for proper citation of Intervarsity's published work to be credited.  If there's a point of confusion or a lack of clarity it's more likely to be on the side of Mars Hill, which told Slate in early 2012 that it was due to "unclear communication" that a letter about former member Andrew Lamb ended up on The City to begin with.  It was also Mars Hill Church that ended up clarifying it's clarifying statement, a detail that Christianity Today caught last year if memory serves.  Earlier this year Justin Dean stated that Mars Hill Church had something to do with the Lifelong Aids Alliance that turned out to not quite be true. 

And, again, since Mars Hill Church owns the copyright and Mark Driscoll is the legal president the fact that Holcomb and House are gone and that Driscoll has described himself in 2008 as instructing his aids on where he found stuff makes it hard to see why Driscoll would have reversed the process and made himself entirely beholden to research assistants without explaining why he did this.  Setting aside that you can't throw people off the bus who aren't on there anyway attempting to blame people who are research assistants still avoids the fact that Mark Driscoll's name is on the book and the book is copyrighted by the corporation known as Mars Hill Church and that by its own account The Resurgence did sell the Trial study guide at cost to recover printing costs. That Warren Throckmorton caught the abrupt and obvious shift from Mars Hill on whether or not they ever had copies of the book sold is worth noting again.

First Things is back on the topic, too.


Also WORLD magazine