Thursday, October 23, 2014

Driscoll at Gateway on the 8-year old son with no concept of "media coverage" in spite of a mom who worked in PR and a dad who had the son on stage

from October 20, 2014 statement made by Driscoll at Gateway Conference. The transcript is courtesy of Warren Throckmorton's blog but the paragraph breaks are Wenatchee The Hatchet's.
would you mind if I shared a story or two? Uhm, is that okay, like? Um. I, I’ve cried a lot lately uhm er it’s been a rough season for the family. I guess you could take a seat. Um, (laughter) and um, and for those of you, I would say don’t overlook your family as first ministry. Uhmm. And for me we’re just really appreciate your prayer for our family. We’ve got five kids, three boys, two girls, ages 8 to 17 and uh we’ve moved three times now for safety issues. Uhm. People arrested at our home, death threats, uh address posted on-line, all kinds of things and uh more recently it’s gotten very severe. We came home from break. There was rusty nails all over the driveway.

We uh, we uh we had a night where the kids wanted to sleep out in the tent and uh I got a call that um my uh address was posted on-line by the media and um so, we, we, we went out of town for a few days, came back uh the kids said ‘no, we gotta sleep in the tent so I didn’t sleep. But we, we were in the tent all night and uh, woke up in the morning about 6:30or so and huge rocks about the size of baseballs come flying at my kids uh 8, 10 and 12 years of age. Call the police. Flee into the house for their safety.

Uh a few days later. I think it was, I don’t remember, the media flies overhead with a helicopter and is trying to flush us out for a story. And uh that night uh we’re hiding in the house, my 8 year old son comes down and he’s wearing a military jacket, he’s loading up his Air Soft rifle (laughter)and he uh (MD chuckles) he looks at me and he says ‘hey dad is this uh is this jacket bullet proof? (soft laughter)and I just started crying and said, ‘why’s that little buddy?’ and he said, ‘Well it’s bad guys in the helicopter coming to shoot the family, right?’ He didn’t have any concept of, of media coverage, he thought it was bad guys coming to kill his family and he was gonna defend his sister (faint laughter) and so uh praise God he’s finally sleeping in his bed again, but it’s been a while to get him to do that with night terrors and so, there’s just a lot going on for our family.

I appreciate Pastor Robert and the team here. I just want to come here to uh sing, to pray, uh to learn, to grow, uh to repent, to heal and uh uh God is surrounding me with some great pastors and friends, and if I could just say anything, it’s ‘every pastor needs a pastor’. And and, uh you pastors, your family needs you to be their pastor. ...

Let's consider for a moment the specific claim by Mark Driscoll, that his 8-year old son had no concept of media coverage.  The son thought that a helicopter for a news station hovering about the house was, in Mark Driscoll's account, equated with bad guys coming to kill his family.

Considering the number of times Mark Driscoll has touted both his own professional credentials and those of his wife in broadcast media contexts this story being told at all seems to signal a potentially massive parenting fail moment, not least because all of the Driscoll kids were on stage with Mark Driscoll a couple of months ago when he announced his leave of absence.
Even if we grant that some 8-year old kids won't understand media coverage let's consider what Mark Driscoll has publicly said about his credentials and those of us wife with respect to media.

Let's start with "A Blog Post for the Brits"
 I have a degree in communications from one of the top programs in the United States. So does my wife, Grace. We are used to reporters with agendas and selective editing of long interviews. Running into reporters with agendas and being selectively edited so that you are presented as someone that is perhaps not entirely accurate is the risk one takes when trying to get their message out through the media.

Degree from a top program in the country.  Ditto the wife.  Driscoll said "we" had gotten used to reporters with agendas and selective editing.  Let's not forget that at one point Ashley Driscoll had blog content that was showing up at Pastor Mark TV. Back in later 2011. Seeing as the original was taken down the WayBack Machine version may have to suffice.  It seems important to Wenatchee The Hatchet to quote from the old post as preserved by the WayBack Machine because Harris' objection highlights something people unfamiliar with Mark Driscoll may need to know. With apologies to Harris if the post was voluntarily removed but this seems important in consideration of the welfare of the Driscoll kids and your point was salient.

We’ve all heard pastors use family anecdotes to illustrate spiritual lessons. The pressure of pastor family branding and temptation to pastor worship is enormous, even in tiny churches. Families crack beneath the pressure or calcify into plastic people with painted smiles and a 35-year supply of C.S. Lewis quotes for their Facebook statuses. There’s a reason PKs have a reputation for going insane.

But this is a whole new level of using your family for spiritual props. This blows the already-big problem of celebrity pastordom to potential Gosselin-Palin proportions. It’s not just Driscoll who’s achieving celebrity or his wife (who had the privilege of not being a minor when she got into all this) but his barely teenage daughter and yes—Driscoll dangles the promise—his other children later, too.

If Driscoll is the one elevating his children to celebrity status, he’s inviting people to invade their privacy. When you use your 14-year-old daughter as a model for how young women should follow Jesus, you lose the ability to plead for grace when she, well, doesn’t follow Jesus quite like everyone thinks she should. If your daughter is blogging about modesty, all her clothing choices are up for debate. If she’s blogging about dating, her offline choices in boys are open for criticism. This is absolutely not right for people to do—I undoubtedly would have needed even more years of therapy if my high school clothing had been open to public criticism—but they will do it. When you turn your children into celebrities you have forfeited your ability to protect them when people treat them…like celebrities.

So when Driscoll wrote this:
Add to this the safety issues posed by technology. I cannot fathom allowing my two teenagers to be on social media for fear of the venom they would receive. When my kids have to report on current events at school, they’ve learned to ask before they click on to news sites, since I never know who is saying what about me where.

It's important to bear in mind that at one point Mark Driscoll not only had Ashley blogging at Pastor Mark TV but was evidently also hinting at the possibility that other Driscoll kids might also eventually do some blogging there, too.  That was, fortunately, reconsidered and eliminated but that Driscoll let it be considered at all and that material went up should be a reminder that while Driscoll has made a plea for sympathy on behalf of his family (and they have reason to be concerned) Driscoll has sidestepped altogether his own apparently active role in not only vaunting himself into the public figure role but having made some effort to enlist his kids into the public blogger on Christian issues.  The possibility that the 8-year old has no concept of media coverage if his older sister had a brief stint as a blogger seems a bit ... fuzzy.

As for Grace, her credentials have not been touted quite so much as Driscoll's but at least one blogger got the impression that Grace Driscoll, before she took to motherhood, had a promising career in front of her.
I have it on very good authority that Grace Ann Driscoll is an intelligent and highly capable person who was on her way to a stellar career in the secular job market when she decided to say home and be a mom. So when I listened to the opening remarks in this clip from the Stay at Home Dads Q&A session, I was suffering some cognative dissonance when she made an allusion to 1Tim. 5:8 to support the Driscoll view on gender roles.

One thing we can be absolutely certain about. This passage says nothing, zero, about stay at home dads or wives who go to work.

Grace Ann Driscoll is certainly smart enough to understand this. If she had sat down with her English bible and taken the time to read a chapter or so of the context it would have been very plain that the issue here is how to minister to widows in the early church. There is no mention of bread winners or housewives. The two groups involved are widows and family. The only gender roles in this passages are widows and the pressing question is what qualifies a woman to become an official widow in the church, supported by the church.

So I suspect that what goes on in these Q&A sessions after Mark Driscoll's sermon is a sort proof texting of the party line. We have an official MHC position on house husbands and we have our list of proof texts. No one dares to actually do any exegesis. That would be dangerous. You might come up with the wrong answer.
But as impressive as her credentials were Mark Driscoll has not really enlightened us much as to what she actually did.  He has, however, made the rather clear claim he worked as a professional journalist in high school and college.  We'll get to that, but first, let's see what Driscoll said about his stint as a professional journalist.
Mark Driscoll
December 2, 2013

I’ve taken on editorial duties at Resurgence, at least for a season. This means I’m reviewing nearly every blog article before we post it and giving content feedback in an effort to help our writers get their message out even further.

I don’t pretend to be the world’s greatest writer. But I did start writing professionally as a journalist in high school, paid my way through high school and college writing articles and editing my college newspaper, got a bachelor’s degree in Communications from the top-notch Edward R. Murrow School of Communication, and have written blogs and articles for everyone from CNN to the W
Washington Post to Fox News.
During his time at Wazoo ...

Radical Reformission
ISBN 0-310-25659-3Mark Driscoll
copyright 2004 by Mars Hill Church
page 14

... So I married Grace, began studying Scripture with the enthusiasm of a glutton at a buffet, and started preparing myself to become a pastor who does not go to jail for doing something stupid. To pay the bills, I edited the opinions section of the campus newspaper, writing inflammatory columns that led to debates, radio interviews, and even a few bomb threats--which was wonderful, because the only thing worse than dying is living a boring life. [emphasis added]

Keep in mind that when the book was published in 2004 Mark Driscoll was wistfully remembering the bomb threats that came his way after Ashley was born.  Age may temper a man, of course, but Driscoll made it impossible to misunderstood the pleasure he took in angering some people enough that they made bomb threats.  If Driscoll has come to see that the threats of violence are less easily worn as a badge of honor when family is involved that's merely a part of a larger equation.

A serious question to ask in the wake of the Gateway stories is how it is that an 8-year old child of two parents who got communications degrees; the child of a megachurch pastor who was evidentlye encouraging his children to take blogging roles on Pastor Mark TV; the child of a man who just a few months ago had all his kids hug him on stage; somehow, amidst all that, really believes that a news helicopter showing up above the Driscoll house is "bad guys" who were out to kill the Driscoll family?  With the media-savvy couple Driscoll assured us had seen a lot of serpentine interviewers by the time they got to Justin Brierley that story about the 8-year old seems a little ... odd. 

Driscoll has a demonstrable history of leaning hard on stories about the Driscoll kids in statements made in front of audiences.  Consider this contentious reading of Esther that hangs its closing argument not on an exegetical or historical consideration of the book of Esther so much as on a story of Mark Driscoll talking with Ashley.   That particular sermon got a series devoted to it.

The trend for histories of Mars Hill and of Mark Driscoll has shifted in the last seven years from Mark regaling members with how close he was to death to regaling the public with the travails of his family.  Unfortunately Mark Driscoll has a history of neglecting his active agency as a public figure and provocateur as having anything at all to do with those travails.  If a Driscoll kid at the age of 8 truly believes that a press helicopter would show up to kill his family then Mark Driscoll presents a baffling portrait of family life Wenatchee admits to not understanding. 

1 comment:

Mike said...

Should we have reason to fear for the safety of the kids? It sounds as if they are absorbing the paranoia of at least one of the parents.