Tuesday, July 29, 2014

a little clarification on the recent posts--a case for keeping Driscoll's contribution to public discussion within public access (even if Mars Hill would wish otherwise)

The Pussified Nation pages went up on Sunday but because of some formatting problems with the composite screen captures WtH reverted to draft to see if the problem could be fixed.  Not exactly.  Ended up cutting and pasting.  The massive composite screen caps assembled in the last week won't come up for you, dear reader. 

And it turns out that in the interval between taking things down to try to fix the problem and republication someone else has leaked the content and, uh, word has gotten around.

What may not have gotten around is the historical setting in which the pseudonym William Wallace II was developed.  What was Driscoll responding to, and, more literally, where was he in the time and space in which Mars Hill was emerging?  It matters because it may shed some light on why Mars Hill took the efforts it took to suppress "Pussified Nation" and other artifacts from the earlier days of Mars Hill.  Yes, Mark Driscoll mentioned that he cussed and sinned a lot in that period but a pertinent question that outsiders aren't capable of addressing across the history of Mars Hill (without some help) is whether or not there is a continuity of theme.  For those who read Real Marriage the signal quote may be this one.

Real Marriage
Mark and Grace Driscoll
Copyright (c) 2012 by On Mission, LLC
Thomas Nelson
ISBN 978-1-4002-0383-3
ISBN 978-1-4041-8352-0 (IE)

page 14
I grew more chauvinistic. I had never cheated on a girlfriend, but I never had a girlfriend who did not cheat on me. And now I knew that included my own wife. So I started to distrust women in general, including Grace. This affected my tone in preaching for a season, something I will always regret.

Well, yes, he regrets his tone that showed up in his preaching "for a season".

What about the substance?  Has he ever felt any remorse for the substance of what he has said?  It is entirely fair for readers to ask why anyone should go to the trouble of republishing "Pussified Nation" and other artifacts from Mark Driscoll's writing under the pseudonym William Wallace II.  The first is, in light of some words by someone named Jesus, out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.  It's important to observe over time whether or not the substance of Driscoll's ideas and focus have significantly changed and not just to consider his "tone".  He's managed to apologize for tone over the years without apologizing for what he's actually said.  Some Christians seem to get the idea that apologizing for tone is "repentance". 

Wenatchee The Hatchet has been looking for content from the earlier days of Mars Hill for, well, years.  That any of the content was preserved via The WayBack Machine, which by now anyone who's come to this blog has likely already discovered, was a bit of a surprise.  Not everything was preserved by that method.  Some of it had to be presented as raw text.  Some of the stuff was so difficult and time-consuming to track down that if one may indulge in the possible hyperbole of this statement, Wenatchee the Hatchet has felt like some of this stuff couldn't even have been found at all unless God wanted it to happen.  At any rate, pardon the blogger for expressing feelings in those terms if it seems uncouth, because it sure felt that way to finally find some of the long-lost content.

It is important to stress that the reason a lot of material came down from the marshill.fm site was that it was no longer being used.  The unmoderated Midrash really was spiraling out of control and many contributors were not even people who attended or were members of Mars Hill.  The lack of any obligation to use real names also inspired people to luxuriate in expressing vitriol.  The 2000-2002 period was a period in which Driscoll was cementing a relationship to David Nicholas to advance church-planting activity and this was possibly also around the time that Driscoll came into some kind of contact with Jon Phelps.  Beyond the clear and practical need to ensure there was a modicum of good behavior on the Mars Hill blogs there was also the practical and pragmatic concern of ensuring that the Mars Hill web presence was not going to be an utter embarrassment to those who would donate to the cause of Mars Hill. 

And beyond all that, many of us who were there at the time got the idea that with Gunn and Moi around to reel him in that Mark Driscoll was going to tone things down and mellow out with age.  Well ... arguably those of us who thought that were being optimistic, even na├»ve, to put it a bit mildly.  Purging that content signaled a new kind of Mars Hill web presence, one that was more polished, competent, restrained, and one that was more presentable both to the outside world and to those inside.  So please don't get the idea that Mars Hill purged the content "only" because "Pussified Nation" would make Driscoll look bad.  There's little doubt that Driscoll sincerely came to regret how he said a lot of stuff under the pen name William Wallace II.

It was frustrating to see that no sooner had the posts from Sunday gone up and gotten reverted to draft in the hope of revising some formatting issues that, well, the content took off.  The aim was to present the content here in a way that didn't automatically give away that things could be found at The WayBack Machine's tools because Mars Hill has spent the last four to five months introducing robots.txt to all their sites.  It's almost gotten to the point where Wenatchee has wondered if there's just someone whose actual job is purging any MH content that gets quoted here.  Here's hoping that's not the case because well, as you've seen lately, many of those efforts are thoroughly futile.  But at another level, the reason this unprecedented purge of Mars Hill content is disappointing is because if Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll want to give the world and Christians any evidence at all that he has truly changed a sweeping retroactive purge is not going to convince anyone of much besides the notion that somebody has so much to hide it's worth purging possibly an entire decade's worth of sermons.

We could chart the growth and maturation of Mark Driscoll more readily if stuff were simply left up and not redacted and excised or circumcised.

Finally, while Wenatchee The Hatchet can actually name the real names of a number of participants on the threads reproducted from the old Midrash don't expect that to happen.  Comments, as you'll have seen, have been pretty much closed all across the board.  This work of late has been work to preserve some of the history of the early Mars Hill and the early Mark Driscoll rather than an invitation to commentary from anyone, whether those against or for.  You all have the opportunity to do that elsewhere.  Conversely, if Driscoll and the Mars Hill elders are seeking to really repent then the more explicitly they live out the repentance urged upon everyone else the more ready some may be to believe Driscoll is turning over a new leaf instead of repackaging "father" branding yet again in 2014 after using that language to sell the re-org of 2007. 

Why share "Pussified Nation" and other writings from Mark Driscoll as William Wallace II now? Because it took a long time to find, and it was intended to be shared earlier (if possible) for one.  For another, the cumulative history of Driscoll as a public figure sounding off on men and women and sexuality suggests that he has repeatedly altered his tone without ever fundamentally changing the substance of what he advocates.  If a person has truly repented of what he or she has said or done then not only would we see remorse over how things were perceived, we'd see a substantive change in what is said not just how it is sold. 

Now it's not as though there isn't a legitimate concern that young men have difficulties embracing adult responsibility.  But there's a distinction that can be made between whether or not Mark Driscoll has ever accurately diagnosed the nature of the problem and whether what he proposes offers a viable solution.

All of the content published by Mark Driscoll under the pen name William Wallace II was originally aimed at being public discourse in addition to being a rallying point for internal discussion among the people who called Mars Hill Fellowship their spiritual home.  As discussed in the past here at Wenatchee The Hatchet, though conservative and evangelical in confessional/ethical aims and in spite of Mark Driscoll's occasional claims to eschew political discourse, "Pussified Nation" was a shot fired in favor of what evangelical/conservatives in America would, if they are honest, identify as a Social Gospel.  I've bounced this idea back and forth a bit with some of my blogging friends at City of God over the last five or six years. 

In bringing "Pussified Nation" and other writings by Mark Driscoll as William Wallace II to light at Wenatchee The Hatchet I want to state in the most obvious terms that I have not brought to light private discussions at all, I have brought back into public discussion something that always was public in practice and that was even intended by Mark Driscoll to inflame or catalyze a public discussion on the nature of gender in practice.  If you have trawled through all the material I've presented in the last three days you may see that Mark Driscoll has espoused a type of Social Gospel which can be summed up thusly--if you get the young males to behave right at young enough of an age the problems of society will be taken care of by default. 

What problem needs to be fixed?  The young men need to be yelled at so that they shape up and fly right.  They need to get real jobs, find women, marry them, make babies and do all this for Jesus' fame.  The possibility that many of those 20-something men won't find "real jobs" because of changes in the economy in a post-industrial context where "we" exported a lot of our unskilled labor overseas or a lot of unskilled labor is unglamorous drudgery "real Americans" don't want to do may not be on the Driscoll radar.  That neo-Calvinists lament the median age of first marriage has soared up to the highest levels we've seen in the last forty years may need to be offset by the observation that the last time that number got so high was during the Great Depression.  It may be people would like to get married but we don't have a housing or employment market of the sort where a bootstrap social conservative Social Gospel in the closet will work any better now than the progressive Social Gospel that, whether people may remember this or not, was more characteristic of evangelicalism over the last 150 years than contemporary political discourse might have us believe. 

For those who have any familiarity with the writings of Roy Baumeister he has proposed that the nature of male social identity and economic identity is that males are valuable because they are disposable.  What Mars Hill explicitly and implicitly offered young men is the opportunity to be part of a social structure in which they would not only not be disposable but in which they were told in a variety of ways their contributions and presence were necessary.  American culture has had a propensity to focus on individual rather than social identity and in the kind of socio-economic setting in which young males (or anyone) can discover how big the world is it can be easy to see how replaceable a cog you ultimately are anywhere you go. What Mark Driscoll's sprawling flame wars can be seen as attempting to do, particularly if you read the materials in which he transitioned into what came to be known as Dead Men, was to join Mars Hill leaders in inviting young males to have a social identity. 

So when people rhetorically ask why anyone would join, let's throw out an excerpt from Phillip Zimbardo here: "Who would fall for such appeals? Most of us, if they were made by someone we trusted, in a setting that was familiar, and especially if we had unfulfilled needs." Pretty much, and since Mars Hill promised to give young males without any social or economic moorings  who grew up in latchkey homes with problematic family backgrounds it could be suggested that Driscoll and the co-founders of Mars Hill made a point of explicitly targeting those young males looking for a social as well as individual identity as the future Establishment that could be won over.  As Driscoll has been saying off and on for years if you get the young men you win the war.  Pointing out that the "war" Driscoll has had in mind since possibly the beginning of his public career can be framed as an evangelical/conservative Social Gospel is just pointing out the obvious.  That by 2013 Mark Driscoll was willing to acknowledge the political and social aims in his message regarding young men could be telegraphed by bothering to show up on Glenn Beck's show at all and by things said in the removed interview with Janet Mefferd.  Had it not turned out that Mark Driscoll was a plagiarist, let's recall, Janet Mefferd said there was a lot in Driscoll's ideas about society and life she could agree with. 

What Driscoll and others at Mars Hill may not have grasped is that focusing on male identity in particular without a corresponding balance in "feminine" ways of social cohesion as would be popularly defined by evangelicals would in the long-run paradoxically dehumanize males in individual identity even more by doing a couple of things 1) tethering male social identity quite literally to the use of the penis and 2) introducing the abjection of all forms of gendered identity that didn't fit into markulinity rather than to more open-ended working definitions of gender and identity not only from those with more progressive sympathies but even from those who would self-identify is evangelical or social conservative.  Driscoll was prescient as William Wallace II to label "Pussified Nation" as an experiment in the law and any good Lutheran would by now probably point out what Chris Rosebrough already has, that Mark Driscoll is skilled at "Law" without ever getting around to what has colloquially been called "Gospel".  That by turns Real Marriage and other confessions in Confessions of a Reformission Rev suggest at least the possibility that the social, economic and sexual ideals espoused by Mark Driscoll in the persona of William Wallace II were ideals not even he was living out in his own life and marriage may have been overdue.  As some even on the "manosphere" have pointed out, the good news of Mark Driscoll can be seen as a suffocating gospel of alpha male ascendency even by people with socially conservative Anglo-Catholic sympathies.  Not even the apostle Paul or the prophet Jeremiah could live up to Driscoll's markulinity ideal.

So in preserving and re-presenting materials Mark Driscoll wrote as William Wallace II and from his 2006 days on gender Wenatchee The Hatchet hasn't done anything more than attempt to preserve Mark Driscoll's writings as William Wallace and his purged public offerings at Resurgence circa 2006 as a way to keep in the public discourse things that were originally put by Mark himself into the public discourse.