Saturday, June 07, 2014

because this wouldn't be Wenatchee The Hatchet without an occasional comics reference ...

And this is when I found out that Bill Watterson is not comfortable with scanners or Photoshop or large email attachments. In fact, by the end of the process, I was left with the distinct impression that he works in a log cabin lit by whale oil and hands his finished artwork to a man on a pony.

So I did just manage to not pee my pants laughing at this paragraph. 

Friday, June 06, 2014

Sabrina Peters has a blog post on MH groupthink, a proposal about what the groupthink may really entail

One of the more pervasive ideas about groupthink in association with Mars Hill is about how it is in some way anchored to the leadership.  Wenatchee The Hatchet has, to be sure, had some fairly specific as well as wide-ranging critiques of the leadership culture at Mars Hill Church as it has changed over the years.  But groupthink was evident in the readers of AlterNet and Salon when Valerie Tarico published her early April 2014 article on Mark Driscoll.  "groupthink" is most pernicious when we presume it applies ever and only to the others and not ourselves.

Some of the people who have raised their voices in response to Mars Hill Church and Mark Driscoll were among its most ardent public and private defenders.  What can be easily forgotten by those who have never set foot in a service at Mars Hill or in some other voluntary organization is how readily and willing we all are to "drink the kool-aid".  For some it might seem to be Mars Hill, for others the Democratic party, for others the Republican party, for others it might be the music of the Beatles.

But the thing is in 2014 Mark Driscoll and plagiarism has not been the only controversy in the headlines.  Let's not forget Woody Allen or the older controversy about a coach at Penn State.  Terry Teachout's fine biography on Duke Ellington has sparked debate about whether Ellington was basically a plagiarist and quite a bit further afield of things we might consider high art, some photographer in the fashion industry has been accused of doing some pretty sick stuff to models.  If you don't already know who that is spare yourself.  An idea that's been incubating for this blog for a while is that when there are scandals about how monstrously men have behaved toward people in music, in film, in the church and in college athletics there's a much, much bigger question we're looking at across all these scandals and that question is the degree to which we will rationalize monstrosity for the sake of something we consider noble or beautiful.  There was an incredible and intractable animated film by a Japanese filmmaker on this very topic that got released in the US earlier this year.  The grim reality is that we will all find a way to justify the building of a particular pyramid and the question we need to ask ourselves is not "if" we will consent to it but which sacrifices we will consent to tolerate in the making of a particular pyramid.

So in a sense to discuss "groupthink" at Mars Hill we should ask what kind of pyramid is being built and who thinks they're building it.  The pyramid would appear to be designed by Mark Driscoll, of course, but one man cannot build such a pyramid.  Countless people have to be convinced the pyramid ought to be built by the person who's designing it.

One of the great pitfalls that many would-be critics of Driscoll fall into is mistakenly thinking that if they attack the formal ideas and theology he espouses from the pulpit they're accomplishing anything at all.  Attacking complementarian ideas is useless.  Attacking Calvinism accomplishes nothing.  What too many of Mark Driscoll's self-appointed observers have often failed to grasp is that taking a stand against the ideas that Mark Driscoll articulates is in some sense irrelevant.  Many people stayed at Mars Hill because writers at Salon or Slate or the New York Times took shots at the ideas espoused by Mark Driscoll from the pulpit.  Now, to be sure, some of those ideas are absurd and dangerous (or all of them, depending on your convictions) but that is in a sense, not the point.

Wenatchee The Hatchet has had a few constructive criticisms to make of Mars Hill pulpit teaching and nobody paid any attention, it seems, whether outside Mars Hill or especially inside Mars Hill.  It seems like nobody cared what Wenatchee The Hatchet had to say until the topics turned to the history of publicly documentable acquisitions of real estate and which leaders began to gain power and prestige in the wake of those acquisitions.  Nobody cared much about Wenatchee The Hatchet was bringing up for discussion until questions about the infringement of intellectual property began to come up.  And then all of a sudden some people wanted to talk to Wenatchee The Hatchet at the blog and in some other contexts. 

But an alert and long-time reader will already know Wenatchee The Hatchet left on wonderfully and mutually good terms with campus leadership years ago.  Wenatchee The Hatchet is not particularly against Mars Hill as an evangelical Protestant community (to the extent that it still is that, and it undoubtedly is in a lot of ways).  The tone of participating commenters in the last three years has shown what I hope is a shift toward people in Mars Hill appreciating that the public critique and scrutiny is in no way intended to be an attack regardless of how many times Wenatchee The Hatchet publicly expresses the opinion that the foundational competence of Mark Driscoll to handle a basic biblical text has now come into question. 

Now here's the part, dear reader, you may simply refuse to believe and that might be the most important reason to consider it--when you come across someone who is speaking up on behalf of Mars Hill Church they are not necessarily defending Mark Driscoll in the wake of the plagiarism scandal about seven of his books having "citation errors".  They aren't defending Mark Driscoll, really, in the wake of the revelation that Mars Hill's Sutton Turner signed a contract with ResultSource.  They aren't defending that, either. 

Let's say for sake of consideration that what people are really defending when they defend Mars Hill Church is their own emotional investment of their identities into the culture.  Sure, to the unobservant person they will just seem to be defending Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill leadershihp as "not perfect" but "spreading the Gospel".  Well, that's not necessarily it.  Imagine if you will that the halo effect brought them in and the sunk cost fallacy keeps them there.  They will generally be committed to evangelical Protestant beliefs, they will have both been persuaded by Mars Hill leadership and their own interpretations of their own experiences that there are no better or comparable options being an evangelical Protestant in the Puget Sound area, and, crucially, they will double down on what they have invested of themselves into that time, culture and experience.

It's not that none of them have concerns. Many a former member had private reservations about weird stuff like Mark Driscoll saying that if he went without sex for a period of about three days he'd get "wiggy".  But when sloppy reporting in a venue like Salon happens the people in Mars Hill will dig in their heels and stand their ground and talk about how they have been misunderstood and misrepresented. And in the case of coverage from venues like AlterNet and Salon this is actually absolutely true!

But you might be hard pressed to find an average Mars Hill attender who would actually say it's not a big deal if it turns out a pastor has plagiarized in seven of his books.  The average Mars Hill attender would probably not say it's an ethical thing to rig sales for a book to get it a place on the New York Times bestseller list.  On the other hand, the culture of Mars Hill is more than those things just as the culture of the United States is more than just the history of racial segregation between whites and blacks or the way American Indian tribes were decimated by colonial expansion. 

At one point, and for a long time, Wenatchee The Hatchet was part of Mars Hill Fellowship that has sort of mutated into Mars Hill Church.  I came to a point where I realized that the WHAT I believe was not necessarily tethered to the WHERE I believed it.  The positive things I can affirm as a Christian in no way depend on Mars Hill, let alone imagining that in some way Mars Hill is the only game in town as church goes.  Even the very idea promulgated by Driscoll over the years about how few evangelical churches there are in Puget Sound is a bit dubious.  And once a person is able to disentangle convictions from the necessity of those convictions being tethered to a specific setting, leaving Mars Hill becomes not exactly easy but easier and easier to do in a way that is not disrespectful of those with shared values and experiences at Mars Hill.

I didn't just leave Mars Hill because I saw it had a whole raft of problems, I left because I realized I had a lot of those problems myself and that I could change from that path if I was still there.  It's hard to repent of a bunch of stuff that so many others in the same church are also susceptible to.  It's not that I don't have a bunch of those flaws still, it's that I came to realize that blaming Mars Hill was not a particularly respectful or responsible thing to do.  There are failures you simply have to own as your own and if there is a bad habit I've seen Mars Hill departers sometimes have it's blaming the culture of Mars Hill for problems they often brought in with them.  I had a number of character flaws I brought into my time at Mars Hill and a couple of them were things I was confronted about by people within Mars Hill.  I could be a cold-blooded jerk to a lot of people.  I can still be pitiless and pedantic.  Well, hey, if you've read even this one blog post ... .

And I realize that even as I had reservations about a lot of things in my time at Mars Hill I just didn't want to tell myself that I was sinking all of my social and personal identity into this association.  And for young guys who have even a dim grasp of how disposable they are in contemporary post-industrial societies the promise that is implicit and explicit in a setting like Mars Hill Church is that young men matter.  Driscoll made a point of targeting young men with uncertain futures and a history of anxiety about purpose.  As he's said many times, if you get the young men you get everything, the women, the real estate, the culture, the money and if you don't get the young men you get nothing.  But what Driscoll has rarely said that may be the bitter caveat for many young guys who invest their identities in Mars Hill over the course of eight or more years is that Mark Driscoll doesn't necessarily want all those young men, just the ones who will go "upstream" and "influence culture".  Driscoll may have a great deal of use for mini-Marks but those men who turn to Mars Hill for community and a sense of social purpose and friendship might want to take the pulpit promises with a grain of salt.

I don't regret any of the friendships I have made through Mars Hill.  I love my friends whether they are at Mars Hill or not.  We might substantially differ on a few things but after a decade inside and years on the periphery of Mars Hill my hope is that I can express my differences in a way that is respectful, if at times a bit sarcastic and acid.

And one of the big wake-up moments for me was not the firings of Petry and Meyer in 2007, it was realizing how much money Mars Hill had sunk into a piece of real estate it probably should never have bought to begin with.  It began to seem to me that there was a lot of presuming upon the grace of God in making some stupid decisions purchasing real estate.  And everybody, including some of the men who were eventually fired, was apparently on board with some of those ill-advised property acquisitions. 

What came to bug me in the culture while I was there was what might be described as a mentality of assuming the book as a whole is just fine even if there are questions here and there about parts of the book and what is or isn't in the footnotes.  Long-time readers may have spotted what just happened there.  Well, let's remind ourselves that Jesus said that those who are faithful with little are faithful with much.  To be faithful in the writing of a whole book you have to care about all the footnotes, otherwise it's an open point for debate if you really care about the books at all.

I have come to care about the many people I met at Mars Hill and as individuals who I happened to meet at Mars Hill, not as some undifferentiated group of people who just "drank the kool-aid".  My path out of Mars Hill didn't come from people insisting that Mark Driscoll is a terrible man and anyone who keeps attending Mars Hill is approving of rather vaguely described moral evils.  I began to see that I had character flaws that Mars Hill couldn't help me find freedom from because we had these flaws in common.  I began to find that many times the loudest voices raised against Mars Hill could have the same damned character flaws.  I also began to realize that what I needed to discover was a way to separate what I believe as a Christian from necessarily being tethered to the cultural narrative of Mars Hill and that this cultural narrative is not merely a top-down decree from the upper leadership, it's also a bottom-up investment of the selves of many individuals who once they have sunk a great deal of their identity into this shared experience that is Mars Hill either don't want to or really feel that they can't extricate themselves from all of this stuff without paying a price that is higher than they are emotionally, socially or even economically willing to pay. 

Keep in mind, too, that membership was habitually likened to a marriage relationship and when you have that language in place and, ahem, marry it to the evangelical belief that divorce is nearly always wrong, it's not a surprise that at a ground level people will be loathe to leave Mars Hill even if they might feel like they're in a proverbially abusive marriage.  And to stretch that analogy well past its breaking point some people unsurprisingly conclude the real solution or alternative is, so to speak, celibacy. 

If you're a reader who chooses to be at Mars Hill, okay.  Wenatchee The Hatchet would urge you to reconsider your commitment in light of a book's worth of material here but the most that can be done here is give you enough information to make as educated a decision as possible.  But there's ultimately nothing in terms of historic Christian profession you'll find at Mars Hill that is anywhere near as unique, even within Puget Sound, as so many of us at Mars Hill convinced ourselves was the case.  You may want to be at Mars Hill for a lot of reasons that will make perfectly good sense but you don't really need to be at Mars Hill if you want to find a place where evangelical Christians gather.  When I was in my 20s and early 30s it was exciting to see Mars Hill as an interesting hybridization of Baptist approaches to sacramentology and a vaguely Presbyterian approach to ecclesiology.  But then I figured out I was basically Presbyterian and friends of mine who figured out they were Baptist went their way and I went mine and we kind of moved into a new direction.  A friend of mine once said that in a way Mars Hill Church is kind of like high school, it's not necessarily terrible to be in high school for a while (even if you find high school kind of terrible) but at some point you graduate.

But rather than lambast those who stay at Mars Hill Wenatchee The Hatchet would rather document the history of what leaders have said over the years about other leaders and to the flock.  What many have assumed, that is very wrong, is that the rank and file members always know what they're getting into.  Wenatchee The Hatchet was only made aware that an executive elder was willing to lie to a member about what was really going on in the 2007 firings in 2012, years after the events transpired.  If people consider Wenatchee The Hatchet any kind of informed authority on the history of Mars Hill let that be a warning to you, the reader.  If even Wenatchee The Hatchet could go for years not knowing some things or having heard narratives that have turned out to be false it means you're not immune either.  If there's anything about the headlines in the last seven months or so about Mars Hill Church and Mark Driscoll it's that there's a LOT most of us didn't know that was going on in the last four years.

If there's a potential "cure" for "groupthink" it isn't simply contesting this or that ideological or theological idea, it's in asking some pointed questions about the shared narrative.  I had to start asking myself a lot of questions about whether this shared narrative of what we called Mars Hill added up to what we said we stood for.  Over time I came to the conclusion that all too frequently it didn't but I made a point of not demonizing the Christian community there on my way out.  As has been said here a time or two, there's a difference between the people as a social group and the many individuals.  Or to get more old-school Pentecostal about it, there's a people and then there's a principality.  It's entirely possible to love one while offering a critique of the other.

If we do not understand how prone each of us are as individuals to groupthink and be watchful against it in our own hearts we'll be blindsided by it when it bursts forth in ourselves. 

Warren Throckmorton: John Catanzaro prepares defense in license suspension situation, describes self as special advisor to Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church

John Catanzaro, a naturopath whose license was suspended earlier this year in the wake of allegations that he misled cancer patients into taking vaccines that were not approved, has been preparing for his hearing in August and has been building the case for his defense in media activities.

Warren Throckmorton links to materials Catanzaro has made available and notes that Catanzaro describes himself as having been special advisor to Mark Driscoll and to Mars Hill Church.

The part about being on the Advisory Board Council might be something to investigate further but there's a blog post already available noting how significantly publicly listed statements about the governance of MHC in 2012 and 2013 have been. 

Throckmorton has noted that Wenatchee The Hatchet has documented that Catanzaro's contributions to The Resurgence have been pulled and that Catanzaro is no longer a featured writer.  What Throckmorton didn't mention that is worth repeating is that The Resurgence website now has robots.txt so that all the links Wenatchee the Hatchet had via The WayBack Machine to Catanzaro's contributions no longer work.  However, as recently as a January 2014 interview Mark Driscoll was making reference to the second naturopath he consulted and cumulatively the case seems to be from the last eight years of Driscoll statements that John Catanzaro was his naturopath. That "John" who was a naturopath and a minister Driscoll referenced would seem to be Catanzaro.

To date there's no indication that Mark Driscoll has acknowledged since the suspension that he's even had a naturopath.  Something that could use some clarification is that there are two John Catanzaro LinkedIn profiles Wenatchee The Hatchet has found and one of them has "a" John Catanzaro mentioning Deepak Chopra

There are, in fact, multiple John Catanzaros but if the two linkedin profiles were for one and the same naturopath in the Bothell area it's weird to think that Mark Driscoll's naturopath made any linkage to Chopra, who was one of the people Mark Driscoll debated in 2009 on the existence of the devil.

What is not clear from Catanzaro's recent reference to himself as having a special advisory role to Mark Driscoll and an Advisory Board Council role is how formally he was contracted as a member.  That would "seem" like a good guess, that he was in some capacity a contracted member, and yet in 2014 MH has stressed that the Board of Advisor's and Accountability has men who are not actually part of Mars Hill in any fashion now and that this means they are not as likely to be beset by conflicts of interest.

Evidence for that claim has not, as yet, been produced.  In fact in the overall history of Mars Hill Church it would seem more that the members of the BOAA may not only be historically interested parties through personal contact with Driscoll or MH pastors, but have played advisory roles in the past or are active and current executive elders.

While Mark Driscoll has mentioned from the pulpit about how grace toward leaders is a good thing and that everyone makes mistakes if this approach were applied to the relationship Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll seem to have had with John Catanzaro the massive purge of materials Catanzaro contributed to Mars Hill associated websites wouldn't have happened, would it?  Not only did Mars Hill associated websites purge every active trace of John Catanzaro they've even got robots.txt active so you can't even use archive resources to find what Catanzaro published under the umbrella of Mars Hill Church and with the endorsement of Mark Driscoll.  If Mark Driscoll got the same treatment from Mars Hill for his seven books with verifiably plagiarized content in them that Catanzaro seems to have gotten merely for the ALLEGATION that he has misled patients (Catanzaro does still have time to clear his name here in August 2014) would Mark Driscoll even be a pastor?  Driscoll can talk from the pulpit about how leaders and public ministry figures need grace all he wants but until his apparently former naturopath gets a comparable extension of "grace" from Mars Hill it seems as though there could be a double standard at play here in which Driscoll talks about getting grace and people who have advised him over the years get scrubbed away from the public history and internet presence of Mars Hill.

Not that that's never happened before.

Warren Throckmorton reports of departing volunteer elder and elder candidate

Warren Throckmorton has been reporting that Phil Poirier is out of Mars Hill as well as Phil Smidt.  Wenatchee The Hatchet has not been blogging about these things so much because things are busy here.  Smidt does appear to be gone and fundraising has been done for him and his family.  While WtH believes in the long run it is impossible for Smidt or others who were in leadership during 2007 to avoid publicly dealing with their participation in the 2007 firings, trials, and post-judgment events of Bent Meyer and Paul Petry sympathy for families in hardship is still something Wenatchee the Hatchet can extend to people on their way out from Mars Hill.

Throckmorton has reported more recently that "Ballard non-staff (meaning they were volunteers) elder candidate Tim Klassen and volunteer elder Pastor Aaron Mead have now resigned. My sources tell me that other resignations are coming."

Read more:

Thursday, June 05, 2014

on ten painful lessons from the early days of Mars Hill, lesson 2 "lead from the pulpit" having no team meant everyone expected Mark to be there ... except there was a team
Pastor Mark Driscoll
December 6, 2011

2. Lead from the pulpit.

Another problem that came from not having built a great team is that everyone expected me to be their pastor in a therapeutic model where we had 1-on-1 meetings every week. In a smaller church, this works because, as the average church is 70 to 80 people, the pastor has time to meet with everyone and still lead the church’s vision. As a church grows, however, it becomes physically impossible for the pastor to meet with everyone for coffee and still lead the church through vision. For our church to grow and for me to survive, I needed to transition from being everyone’s pastor to being a missiologist preacher who led the church from the Bible in the pulpit.

well ... according to Mark Driscoll in a book he published in 2006

Confessions of a Reformission RevMark Driscoll, Zondervan

page 54

... The church started as an idea I shared with Lief Moi and Mike Gunn. Lief is a descendant of Genghis Khan and his dad was a murderer, and Mike is a former football player. They proved to be invaluable, except for the occasional moments when they would stand toe-to-toe in a leadership meeting, threatening to beat the Holy Spirit out of each other. Both men were older than I and had years of ministry experience, and they were good fathers, loving husbands, and tough.  [emphasis added]...
That looks curiously like a team.  It seems that Mark Driscoll by late 2011 not only forgot that there was a team at the start of men that he'd personally recruited, but that by late 2013 Mark Driscoll was starting to say stuff from the pulpit about how there was no kids' ministry at Mars Hill because there were no kids in spite of having publicly declared  that Mike Gunn and Lief Moi are fathers.  Did Driscoll forget the co-founding team members and their children to boot?  That seems a bit incredible if that's what happened.

Meanwhile, from an earlier Driscoll account in which he seemed to remember who his co-founding pastor/partners were ... :

page 69-70

... Lief was running a construction company, and Mike was running a campus ministry at the University of Washington, so I was the only person focusing full-time on the church.  I really wanted to just take the pulpit and figure out how to preach by doing it every week, but I also wanted to respect these older, more seasoned, and very godly men. In time, they sat me down and said that they believed in me, wanted to cover my back, and wanted me to take the pulpit and lead the church.

... To some degree I had been wrongly allowing Mike and Lief to shoulder the burden because I feared failure and hoped to share the blame if things went poorly. [emphasis added]

Learning by doing isn't the best way to approach homiletics.

Setting that aside now that it's mentioned, Gunn and Moi were both heavily involved enough in things more closely resembling stable day jobs compared to Driscoll at the time that they may not have had the time to spare for preaching anyway.  After all, if they were full-time employed and raising families while Mark and Grace Driscoll were a recently married couple with no children Driscoll would have had the time to spare, in theory, even if not entirely in practice.  And he was already the vision-caster by having come up with the idea of planting what became Mars Hill Fellowship and later Mars Hill Church.

But that sentence, set in bold, is striking.  If Mark Driscoll didn't have a team according to his late 2011 account of things, then what's with the 2006 account about the early years of Mars Hill where Driscoll said that he feared failure and hoped to share the blame of that failure if things went south with Mike Gunn and Lief Moi.  Was ... that actually a rationale for letting Gunn and Moi preach early on as Mark Driscoll recounted things?

The statements Driscoll made in chapter two of Confessions of a Reformission Rev could be construed as Driscoll saying that Gunn and Moi were doing preaching at the time and that Mark Driscoll wanted to be able to just take over the pulpit entirely and preach every week so he could learn how to actually preach.  Driscoll has sometimes come across as the guy who "learns by doing".  In any event, it was, according to Mark Driscoll in his 2006 book, when Gunn and Moi sat him down and basically said "You can do this" that Driscoll started doing all the preaching.  The second of ten hard lessons from the early years of Mars Hill could be interpreted as another case of Mark Driscoll describing in 2011 some tough spots he encountered not because there was no team but because the team was made up of guys who were already very busy and the guys apparently let Driscoll do what he wanted even when it was not a particularly good idea.

It's not exactly as though in the last three years a leadership team backing up Mark Driscoll somehow replicated that pattern in the case of an executive signing some contract with ResultSource to ensure a #1 NYT bestseller spot for a book that had some citation problems, is it?

Or maybe the recent controversies and problems associated with Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill highlight not that this explosive recent history is entirely anomolous but that in some broader sense it's a fractal in a larger pattern that goes back to the foundational moments and relational dynamics in the history of Mars Hill Church. 

It's at least a possibility to consider.

Thus we've surveyed the first two points in the Top 10 list of hard lessons from the early years of Mars Hill with Mark Driscoll.  The list was produced alongside the launch of the series God's Work, Our Witness, a documentary created by the then Mars Hill Creative Team.

on ten painful lessons from the early days of Mars Hill, lesson 1-"create a team" offers a fuzzy account of how lacking in a team and support Driscoll was in the early years of MHF.
Pastor Mark Driscoll
December 6, 2011

This week, we launched our new sermon series at Mars Hill Church, “God’s Work, Our Witness,” which is a kind of documentary-meets-reality-TV-show-meets-sermon experience that looks back over the history of the church and reflects on the amazing work God has done over the last 15 years.
On Sunday, we showed the hour-long documentary, shot and edited by our amazing creative guys, which shared the story of God’s faithfulness in the early days of Mars Hill. In the coming weeks for this series, we’ll show videos of sermons preached at various Mars Hill churches on four defining values of our church: gospel-centered theology, complementarian relationships, Spirit-filled lives, and missional churches.

Driscoll went on to list the bits of his list

1. Create a team.

For the first five or six years of Mars Hill, I was the only paid pastor on staff and carried much of the ministry burden. I was doing all the premarital counseling and most of the pastoral work as the only pastor on staff. This went on for years due to pitiful giving and a ton of very rough new converts all the way until we had grown to about 800 people a Sunday. At one point I literally had over a few thousand people come in and out of my home for Bible studies, internships, counseling, and more. My phone rang off the hook, my email inbox overflowed, my energy levels and health took a nose dive, and I started becoming bitter and angry instead of loving and joyful. It got to the point where either something had to change or I was going to go ballistic and do something I really regretted.

Through much prayer and study of the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit impressed upon me that I’d done a poor job of raising up leaders along with me to help care for his church. I was carrying the burden myself and was not doing a good job because it was too much. I needed to transition from caring for all the people to ensuring they were all cared for by raising up elders, deacons, and church members. This spurred me to make some dramatic changes to increase membership and train leaders.

It is documentable that within the first six years of the founding of Mars Hill there was a lot of activity but there aren't many details in the Pastor Mark TV account from 2011.  There's more detail in the film God's Work, Our Witness from minute 48-51.  Circa 1999 the church lost its offices, the Driscolls had people living in their house (more on this later), Mark and Grace's friendship began to wane.  Exactly what was happening would be hard to sum up. 

However, thanks to a book Driscoll published in 2006 we can get some idea of how far back Mark Driscoll had a team helping him found Mars Hill Church and how soon and for what reasons he began to wish to handle all the preaching and teaching.

Confessions of a Reformission Rev
Mark Driscoll, Zondervan 2006
ISBN-13: 978-0-310-27016-4

page 69-70

... Lief was running a construction company, and Mike was running a campus ministry at the University of Washington, so I was the only person focusing full-time on the church.  I really wanted to just take the pulpit and figure out how to preach by doing it every week, but I also wanted to respect these older, more seasoned, and very godly men. [emphasis added] In time, they sat me down and said that they believed in me, wanted to cover my back, and wanted me to take the pulpit and lead the church.

... To some degree I had been wrongly allowing Mike and Lief to shoulder the burden because I feared failure and hoped to share the blame if things went poorly. [emphasis added]
So it would appear that there was some kind of team, even if the other two co-founding pastors of Mars Hill Church were older men who had full-time employment and activity.  Driscoll was by his own account chronically underemployed in this period and wasn't making enough money to feel that his wife could stop working so they could start a family.

page 98
The church still was not paying me, so I was living off of outside support from another church. I was not making enough money to pull my wife out of work and start our family. So I started traveling a lot to speak at various conferences, hoping to help serve other Christian leaders and supplement my income.

page 101-102
During this season my wife, Grace, also started to experience a lot of serious medical problems. her job was very stressful, and between her long hours at the office and long hours at the church, her body started breaking down. I felt tremendousy convicted that I had sinned against my wife and had violated the spirit of 1 Timothy 5:8, which says that if a man does not provide for his family he has denied his faith and has acted in a manner worse than an unbeliever. I repented to Grace for my sin of not making enough money and having her shoulder any of the financial burden for our family.  We did not yet have elders installed in the church but did have an advisory council in place, and I asked them for a small monthly stipend to help us make ends meet, and I supplemented our income with outside support and an occasional speaking engagement. [emphasis added]

Shortly thereafter, Grace gave birth to our first child, my sweetie-pie Ashley. Up to this point Grace had continuously poured endless hours into the church. She taught a women's Bible study, mentored many young women, oversaw hospitality on Sundays, coordinated meals for new moms recovering from birth, and organized all of the bridal and baby showers. Grace's dad had planted a church before she was born and has remained there for more than forty years. Her heart for ministry and willingness to serve was amazing. But as our church grew, I felt I was losing my wife because we were both putting so many hours into the church that we were not connecting as a couple like we should have. I found myself getting bitter against her because she would spend her time caring for our child and caring for our church but was somewhat negligent of me.

I explained to Grace that her primary ministry was to me, our child, and the management of our home and that I needed her to pull back from the church work to focus on what mattered most.  She resisted a bit at first, but no one took care of me but her.  And the best thing she could do for the church was to make sure that we had a good marriage and godly children as an example fo other people in the church to follow.  It was the first time that I remember actually admitting my need for help to anyone.  It was tough. But I feared that if we did not put our marriage and children above the demands of the church, we would end up with the ukewarm, distant marriage that so many pastors have because they treat their churches as mistresses that they are more passionate about than their brides. 

Although I was frustrated with both my wife and church, I had to own the fact that they were both under my leadership and that I had obviously done a poor job of organizing things to function effectively.  And since we did not yet have elders formally in place there was no one to stop me from implementing dumb ideas like the 9:00p.m. church service. [emphasis added] So I decided to come to firmer convictions on church government and structure so that I could establish the founding framework for what our church leadership would look like.

So in Driscoll's earlier account he explained that there were co-founding pastors but no elders formally in place who could play a role in stopping him from implementing stupid ideas. 

page 119

[this season began in early 1999]
I had worked myself to near burnout and was still the only paid pastor on staff although there was  enough work for ten people. [emphasis added]

This was 1999.  It's also not quite done yet.  Read on.

page 120
A friend in the church kindly allowed me to move into a large home he owned on a lease-to-own deal because I was too broke to qualify for anything but an outhouse. The seventy-year-old house had over three thousand square feet, seven bedrooms on three floors, and needed a ton of work because it had been neglected for many years as a rental home for college students. Grace and I and our daughter Ashley, three male renters who helped cover the mortgage, my study, and the church office all moved into the home. [emphasis added] This put me on the job, literally, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, as the boundary between home and church was erased.

We ran the church out of my house for nearly two years, including leadership meetings and Bible studies for various groups on almost every night of the week. It was not uncommon to have over seventy people a week in our home. Grace got sucked right back into the church mess. She was a great host to our guests. But I started growing bitter toward her because I was again feeling neglected.

I began working seven days a week, trying to save the church from imminent death. I had decided to go for broke and accepted that I would either save the church and provide for my family or probably die of a heart attack. I lived on caffeine and adrenaline for the better part of two years, ate terribly ,and put on nearly forty pounds.  [emphasis added]
There a couple of things to note.  By his own account Mark Driscoll couldn't afford to get the house he ended up getting that became Mars Hill Church by default when Mars Hill had no choice but to vacate the Laurelhurst location (if memory serves).  It's worth noting that there were three male renters who helped cover the mortgage.

During the 2000-2003 period of Mars Hill history leaders began to talk about how guys should get married and get houses.  For those who recall lending practices in this period, what may have happened during this time was that young married couples who didn't strictly speaking have the credit history or assets to have obtained home loans were able to do so because of peculiarities to housing lending practice at the time.  To offset the lack of resources they had at their disposal, a young married couple in a nascent church plant might rent out as many spare rooms to single people as they felt they could safely do.  These renting tenants might collectively pay enough rent to cover the cost of the mortgage.  This was occasionally referred to as "living in community" and as a positive thing.  Married people got to have houses earlier than they otherwise might and single people got to have a place to stay with people they already knew or trusted.  By having it within a nascent church community it seemed pretty win-win to a lot of people at the time.

But the lack of financial resources to ensure that Grace didn't have to work at all and could focus on being a homemaker would have to have gotten to Mark over those years.  And hosting the church in a home eliminated any distinction between "life together" and life together. 

A family counselor might suggest this desperate financial/real estate scenario for Mars Hill as a social system or hybridized family might potentially lead to what's called an undifferentiated ego mass. 
And, not entirely surprisingly, Mark Driscoll's health took a nosedive in this period.  What Mark Driscoll presented in the documentary/fundraising film God's Work, Our Witness as a continuous decade of depression and frustration may have been more of a cyclical pattern that persisted over ten years rather than being one steady stream.

And it was not necessarily because there was no team as such but there was not necessarily a team that was invested, by Mark Driscoll's own account, with the formal authority and capacity to shoot down his dumber ideas whenever he decided to implement them.

For as much as Driscoll has referenced his burn-out it's worth revisiting that by his own account he actually wanted to have complete ownership of the pulpit from practically the dawn of Mars Hill Fellowship but felt it would be disrespectful to Gunn and Moi to just act on that or say that plainly.  Eventually Gunn and Moi, by Driscoll's account, basically gave Mark Driscoll what he wanted, uninterrupted access to the pulpit.  That Driscoll would go on at one stage to preach five to seven services on a single Sunday week after week might have become grist for Driscollian narratives of frustration and burn-out but it's worth remembering that by Mark Driscoll's own testimony in his published work doing all the preaching was what he actually wanted.

He could have delegated a lot more of the preaching to other leaders within Mars Hill Church at a variety of times.  It's not necessarily that there was no team in place, it's that the team Driscoll had recruited, by Driscoll's own account, basically let him do what he wanted even when he had stupid ideas and was doing things in a way that was detrimental to his health and that this was going on as far back as 1998-1999. 

in an exceptional case, WtH links to something at Desiring God

Shockingly, for quite a while loving money and hating God can actually look to others like devotion to God. This is what is unnerving about Judas.

Even while still at Mars Hill Wenatchee The Hatchet heard a lot of praise for John Piper at Mars Hill and found John Piper to be underwhelming.  Let's not bore you, dear reader, with the various reasons for that.  No, instead there's a teaser quote for an interesting little rumination on Judas' role among the Twelve, as the keeper of the shared purse. 

That someone who turns out to betray Jesus presents an image of being the one Jesus personally entrusts all the money to on behalf of his followers could be grist for a lot of reflection and writing but that's not necessarily what's going to happen here.

It may just be enough to note that among Jesus' hand-picked people who were called to follow Him the guy who complained the most about the poor stewardship of others who could have used that money to help the poor was the thief who betrayed Jesus to his death for the sake of some money.

There hasn't been too much new content at lately, though Jeff Bettger has shared his story, which is worth reading.

But something that's come up recently is another site, where former Mars Hill members share their stories.  It can be found over here.

Mars Hill: Thank You Mars Hill Global, Sincerely, Mars Hill Everett

Wenatchee The Hatchet has documented statements Mark Driscoll made from the pulpit in 2009 about the general aim and goal of Mars Hill Global, to raise funds for Mars Hill Church global expansion and development.  Informally, and on some blogs, there have been questions raised about what the "global" part of Mars Hill Church is.  This may have reflected a misunderstanding about what "global" was referring to, what Mars Hill Church was doing around the globe.  It would seem as though that could be included under the umbrella of "Mars Hill Global" but the recent shout-out to MHC from MHEVT suggests that the reality is otherwise, and Driscoll's 2009 sermon (now removed) could have been kept up to alleviate potential misunderstanding--Mars Hill Global seems to exist to promote the expansion of Mars Hill Church globally first and while other projects may be taken up overseas the big E on the eye chart, in historical Driscollian parlance, is to ensure that expansion of MHC can be funded, whether it was the Resurgence Training Center or renovations for Everett.

For those who want a little review from Mark Driscoll in 2009 about what Mars Hill Global was for ... :

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Alastair Roberts on the politics of Pentecost in Acts

Because, hey, it's been a while since Wenatchee The Hatchet linked to something by Alastair Roberts and because those planned blog posts on his ruminations on a certain book from 2012 never have materialized!  :(  Sorry Alastair, but perhaps you'll understand that documenting a few things in the Puget Sound area kind of took precedent over your excellent discussion with Rebecca about a book that didn't really address the biggest problems in a certain book.

a few jabs at new Calvinists from Darryl Hart at Old Life (hint, if you guess he's more "Old Calvinist" ... )

... I for one don’t think that Double T (though I haven’t read much) captures the precariousness of our Christian lives. Simply to say everything is forgiven (if that is what Double T suggests) doesn’t wrestle with gravity of sin and its penalty, the idea that my sins sent Christ to the cross. But neither do the “obedience boys,” as Bill Smith calls them, capture this precariousness, that even the best of what we do is inferior to God’s righteous standard and comes mixed with a host of selfish and confused motives.
So perhaps the way forward is to read more Lutheran ethics — not the oxymoron that some experimental Calvinists think it is.

If the reader doesn't understand what Double T means this blog post isn't for you, dear reader. :)

Because this one's going to be even worse for esoteric humor:

... Let Scottish Presbyterians be Scottish Presbyterians. But why Calvinism is responsible for this social outlook when we on the other side of the Atlantic regularly hear about Calvinism’s market friendly and individualistic ways, I don’t understand. Could it be that Calvinism is just as plastic as evangelicalism? The seer sees what she wants to see.

Of course over on this side of the Atlantic Calvinism has also caused every evil an Arminian Baptist couldn't even fully imagine but some of these so-called Calvinists are Amyraldians who decided to crash the truly Reformed party, perhaps?

HT Jim West: Divination, Politics and Ancient Near Eastern Empire, pdf book is available to download from the Society of Biblical Literature

Ooh!  This looks like it could be a lot of fun!

There's still all that blogging about Barry Webb's fine commentary on the book of Judges yet to do.  And then there's more to blog about Martin Shields' fascinating and helpful commentary on Ecclesiastes and ... Matiegka sonatas for guitar should have been mentioned a while back and ...

seriously, some rants may emerge about the recent Spiderman film in connection to comics continuity and canon.  There's a lot percolating and sometimes it feels like there's not enough time to write about it all.  And unlike some gigachurch pastors Wenatchee The Hatchet doesn't have some assistance from the Docent Group to rely on to get all the writing done!  No offense meant to the folks at the Docent Group by the way.  :)  There's a difference between having a research assistant who helps you assemble stuff while you're doing real research and writing of your own ... and a research assistant who assembles stuff that some guy who watches a football game on a weekend spends maybe an hour skimming over before recycling it into something that some people pretend to themselves is a competently developed sermon.  A research assistant shouldn't be used as a replacement for your own research and you surely should not use a research assistant as a convenient and implied semi-anonymous scapegoat if it turns out a book with your name on it has plagiarism in it!

Uh ... maybe Wenatchee should dial things back a bit for now.  Ahem ...

Anyway, the book about divination, politics and ancient near eastern empires looks intriguing! 

Jamie Munson now lists himself as former co-president of Storyville Coffee Company


Storyville Coffee Company

Privately Held; 11-50 employees; Food & Beverages industry
January 2012May 2014 (2 years 5 months) Seattle
A premium coffee brand that does same-day roasting and shipping of the highest-quality beans to our customers. Opening its first retail location at Pike Place Market in 2013.
So it would look as though Jamie Munson is no longer a co-president at Storyville Coffee Company.

It may also be that Kris Rosentrater is also now a former co-president if this is his Google+ profile
Kris Rosentrater

a few more thoughts on what some call watchblogging, find out what the illusion of asymmetric insight is and be mindful of it

You don't necessarily have to go over to You Are Not So Smart (which Wenatchee The Hatchet discovered courtesy of Mockingbird) to learn what the illusion of asymmetric insight is ... but if you're into podcasts (as Wenatchee only intermittently is) ... .

For the rest, the illusion of asymmetric insight can be summed up as the delusion you have about yourself that you understand others more profoundly than they understand you and possibly also even themselves. 

This is easily one of the most pernicious and pervasive mentalities going around about the subject of Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll on the internet.  In the past Wenatchee The Hatchet has gotten comments from people who wonder why Wenatchee just doesn't get how evil Mark Driscoll is or how and why Wenatchee hasn't managed to see clearly how wrong things are over there.

Ahem, not to be too blunt about things but Wenatchee The Hatchet broached the subject of Mark and Grace Driscoll potentially plagiarizing Dan Allender on the 4th of July in 2013.  Compiling direct evidence of an overlap of wording and concepts came in September.  Wenatchee The Hatchet also managed to find out where Mark Driscoll's house in Snohomish county is and has spent months documenting the breath-taking media purge of Driscoll content.

See, how readers and lurkers feel about Mark Driscoll in particular and Mars Hill in general is not necessarily a concern of Wenatchee The Hatchet.  There are some wonderful, beautifully kind people at Mars Hill Church.  There have been people at Mars Hill Church who have generously helped Wenatchee The Hatchet through some very difficult times.  There are people who have given money, job leads, time and friendship and prayer.  These are not all people who have necessarily left Mars Hill Church. 

There was a teacher long ago who said some things about editorial writing that Wenatchee The Hatchet recalls with some clarity.  The teacher said that there's a huge and common misconception among those who read and even write editorials, which is that anyone at all has any reason to care what you think about a subject.  To paraphrase some, the teacher said, "Even editorial writing should still be journalism. Nobody cares what you think.  People want to know what the facts are."

One of the most important things Wenatchee The Hatchet can do hinges a lot on what Wenatchee The Hatchet opts not to do a lot of the time, attempt to explain the motives of others.  This temptation to explain the "heart motive" of other people is so rampant in Christian blogging it's nearly insufferable but suffer it one must if one's going to read any blogs of any kind, Christian or otherwise.  People line up on teams and simply must pontificate about how terrible those other people are.  This has particularly been the case about Mars Hill in general and Mark Driscoll in particular.  Wenatchee The Hatchet has been pilloried more by Driscoll critics in the last five years than by anyone affiliated with Mars Hill.  There was a season (another dreadful bit of Christianese, that word) where more people INSIDE Mars Hill were financially assisting Wenatchee The Hatchet than critics of Mars Hill.  A number of them undoubtedly knew they were supporting Wenatchee The Hatchet during some periods of rather intense investigative activity.

The stalwart avoidance of judging the motives of others is arguably an important and necessary part of what some call watchblogging, the part that is probably most impossible to find in many settings.  It's not the business of Wenatchee The Hatchet to even bother assessing the "heart motive" of people who are for or against Mars Hill Church and Mark Driscoll.  It's not that Wenatchee The Hatchet doesn't have some opinions, thoughts and feelings about all that stuff, it's that this blog (when it's on this orbit of topics) is not really about sharing feelings or even personal stories.  There has until recently been too little serious journalistic work on Mars Hill Church for the understandable reason that a sea of people have not felt comfortable sharing things on the record. 

Wenatchee The Hatchet has also sat on a variety of things that could have become grist for blog posts but hasn't discussed those things and doesn't plan to.  For those who may have been tempted to say that men who sign gag orders are cowardly these people need to at least consider an idea that we've discussed here at Wenatchee The Hatchet once a non-disclosure agreement got published--a man who has spent years in ministry at Mars Hill and is offered conditional short-term medical coverage and severance pay for his wife and children "could" say "no" and then face the financial and social consequences for his entire family or he might feel obliged before God and his family to do his best to support them responsibly and agree to sign the "gag order".  Now you may, dear reader, sincerely believe that would be the wrong decision but you succumb to the illusion of asymmetric insight in at least a few cases if you presume that cowardice is the only possible explanation.  After all,it's easy to tell someone ELSE to trust God will provide in the same way that it's easy for some guy to say that any Christian guy can take any Christian gal and make a marriage with her work so long as it's not HIS daughter we're talking about. It's fascinating how differently people handle things when the stakes are literally more personal.

It is necessary to have some skepticism not merely about the motives others but especially of one's self.  It is also important when attempting to investigate things that have so often been overlooked by journalists and bloggers to take things in an open-ended way.  As I've explained before, on things Mars Hill this is a process-oriented blog more than a goal-oriented blog.  Documenting the history and development of Mars Hill as accurately as possible from primary source materials seems more necessary and valuable than sharing opinions and feelings.  And it is important for the sake of accuracy to not presume more about the motives of others than strictly necessary.

And there's something to be said for the old axiom that actions speak louder than words.  It's a bit surprising sometimes to observe that Mars Hill has been obliterating so much Driscoll material that was once freely available to quote for public consideration but Wenatchee The Hatchet can document this without having to speculate as to precisely why Mars Hill is doing this.  Contracted and tithing members, however, may potentially feel obliged to ask what on earth is going on, why it's being done, and whether they are sufficiently supportive of this stuff to continue doing what the leadership has historically called "giving sacrificially" for "Jesus' fame". 

By now that the contract with Result Source that was signed in the months before Mark Driscoll scolded Mars Hill Church for their lack of generosity to the mission has been easy enough to document. Precisely what the executive leadership of Mars Hill Church actually thinks and how they explain or defend their decisions connected to Real Marriage to the congregation of Mars Hill is not even a matter worth speculating about.  That's something for everyone at Mars Hill Church to get a direct and detailed answer about if they're willing to collectively raise that question and consider withholding financial contributions until they get an answer.  The journalistic coverage and blogging up to this point should never be considered more than the tip of a potentially giant iceberg.  Wenatchee The Hatchet works hard to not harbor any illusions about having spotted what may be the small tip of a giant iceberg that others may one day be able to more fully and thoroughly explore.

stories of anger and poor health followed by new governance, a supportive wife, and new health ... 2007 and 2014 at Mars Hill

Mars Hill Church is nearing the twenty year point and this year has seen more controversy connected to it and its president than possibly at any time in its history.

Ever since Janet Mefferd accused Mark Driscoll of plagiarism on air there has been a cascade of controversy and inquiry into what has been going on at Mars Hill Church from both outsiders and insiders (it seems). 

In the last few months Mars Hill Church has been scrubbing away a decade's worth of preaching that at one point was easily accessible.  In a post such as the following:

Wenatchee The Hatchet was able to compare what Driscoll shared from the pulpit to controversies that were brewing within the church that were not fully brought to light for public consideration in at least one case until the emergence of Joyful Exiles. Even if you could look up and listen to "The Rebel's Guide to Joy in Anxiety" from the Phillipians series from 2007 it comes across now less as an expository sermon on a passage from a Pauline epistle and more as a Driscollian gloss on that particular moment in Mars Hill history and his own anxieties about controversies within the church and about the church.  And the sermon, of course, is gone from the Mars Hill media library.

So is everything prior to the Doctrine series in 2008. 

One of the trends Wenatchee The Hatchet has documented about the history of Mars Hill leadership has been to note that it's possible for someone to be a convicted felon on his second marriage and still get rather quickly into a significant leadership role within Mars Hill Church after helping play some kind of role in getting to Mars Hill real estate Mark Driscoll said from the pulpit he had wanted for Mars Hill for ten years.

For those who don't follow every link:

Mark Driscoll on November 4, 2007

... The last one is James. He was running a drug and alcohol treatment center, I think for the Union Gospel Mission. He was an elder at Doxa Church in West Seattle. He and Pastor Bill were there and I approached them and said, “I think we should partner together,” and turned that building into Mars Hill West SeattleI don’t know what the building’s worth – $4 million, whatever.  He said, “Well what’s the deal?” I said, “Give us the building, resign as elders, work through the membership process, work through the eldership process. I guarantee you nothing – no power, no job, no eldership. If you meet the qualifications and the men vote you in, we’ll make you an elder, but I guarantee you no job. Nothing. If you believe it’s right for Jesus, give us the building, resign, give up all power of authority, give up your position. Walk away from it all for the cause of Jesus.

He said, “Okay, I think it’s best for Jesus.” He resigned, voted to hand us the building and the people. Humbly went through the eldership process. After he finished the membership process, oversees our drug and alcohol addiction recovery. We just voted him onto the Board of Directors. Why? Because God opposes the proud and he gives grace to the humble.

Part 26: One Body, Many parts
1 Corinthians 12:12-26
Pastor Mark Driscoll
July 30, 2006

… In the meantime, we also picked up another miracle. This is West Seattle. This is on 35th at the top of the hill in West Seattle as you head toward White Center. I grew up in this neighborhood. This is a church building that is an absolute miracle. I’ll tell you the story on this space. I tried to launch Mars Hill Church in that building ten years ago, and we were rejected, and I’ve always wanted to be in there since. And what happened was, is we were growing. I went to Pastor Bill Clem, who was leading that congregation. He planted it for Acts 29 Church Planning Network [emphasis added], him and James Noriega, who is the other elder there and I said, “We’re maxed out. You got a fat building, 50,000 square feet, 1,000 seats.:” It’s a bigger building and the one you’re sitting in right now. I said, “Is there any way we to use it?” They said, “Well, we wanna reach as many people in West Seattle as possible. How about if we give it to you and work together?” we prayed about it for a second and said, “Yes.”

That is a $5 million gift. That is a $5 million gift, right? And I don’t know if you’ve been tracking the real estate market, people aren’t giving away a lotta real estate right now in Seattle and so we have – we’ve taken Pastor James and Pastor Bill on staff at Mars Hill. We have taken their members through the Gospel Class and they’re now members of Mars Hill. [emphasis added] They’ve been meeting as a core group over there. As we speak, there is $1.5 million of construction going on at the West Seattle campus, with the intention of opening in October in time for our ten year anniversary, and we want to expand over to West Seattle as well. We were thinking, “Well, we can borrow $8 million from the bank. We can spend $3 million and for $11 million, we can open up a 40,000 square foot location.” Well, we can now open more square feet for $1.5 million. So obviously, you take that opportunity.

The two cool aspects of this particular campus is one, is already zoned as a church, so we don’t need to fight use permits. We don’t have to bring it up to code. We can just walk in and use it immediately and it saves us, literally, a few years of permitting. Secondly, the lot that it is on is only zoned for 15,000 square feet of building and it already has 50,000 square feet, and because as grandfathered in, we could use it all. We could never build this building today as it exists.  And the cool thing with this building, a very Godly church that loved the Bible – started this church, built it, their denomination went liberal, dropped the doctrine of the inerrancy or perfection of Scripture and this building went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and was the test case for who owns the church building, the congregation or the denomination. The congregation lost and these people actually bought their own building back, because they refused to drop the authority of Scripture as their value. [emphasis added] And so, there were some Godly older saints who paid for this building twice. It then went into decline but there is still a core of these people, like in their 70s and 80s, that are now members of Mars Hill. Grandmas tithing, waiting for us all to show up and fill that thing up again, and they’re praying us in. It’s a really cool God story and what God has done is pretty amazing.
Now in other church settings there would have been some debate about whether Noriega was ready to be a pastor, let alone a pastor in charge of recovery/addiction groups with a history of felonies and only a few years into a second marriage.  True, he converted to Christianity in 1998 but he may have been fast-tracked too quickly into leadership.  Then again, precisely how, when and why Jamie Munson was qualified to be the legal president of Mars Hill as a corporation never really got an explanation, either.
But let's consider what Driscoll had to say in a letter from November 8, 2007 about where he was at in late 2007.  He was willing to explain at least some things.
... My wife and I are closer than ever and she is the greatest woman in the world for me. I deligth in her, enjoy her, and praise God for the gift that she is. She recently brought me to tears by sweetly saying, "It's nice to have you back," as apparently I had been somewhat gone for many years. [emphasis added]Our five children are wonderful blessings. I love being a daddy and am closer to my children with greater joy in them than ever. ...
The past year has been one of the most difficult of my entire life. It has been painful to see a few men whom I loved and trained as elders become sinful, proud, divisive, accusatory, mistrusting, power hungry, and unrepentant. It has, however, been absolutely amazing to see all but one of those men humble themselves and give up what is best for them to do what is best for Jesus and our entire church. In that I have seen the power of the gospel, and remain hopeful to eventually see it in the former elder who remains unrepentant but to whom my hand of reconciliation remains extended along with a team of other elders assigned to pursue reconciliation if/when he is willing.  Furthermore, sin in my own life has been exposed through this season and I have also benefited from learning to repent of such things as bitterness, unrighteous anger, control, and pride. As a result, I believe we have a pruned elder team that God intends to bear more fruit than ever.  This team of battle-tested, humble, and repentant men is now both easy to enjoy and trust.
Emotionally, I told our Board of Directors recently that I felt like I walked Mars Hill down the aisle and married her off so that she could be best cared for and loved in the next season of her life. I remain her father who loves and cares for her and is vitally involved in her growth and well-being, but now trust the elders to take good care of her thanks in part to a structure that enables her to be loved well. [emphasis added] Subsequently, for the first time in my tenure at Mars Hill I am able to work in my area of gifting with men I trust on a mission I believe in with church members I love and a Jesus I worship. That harmony is priceless. 
So let's revisit what one of the signal events was that Mark Driscoll said was a positive change in 2007.
"Jamie Munson is head of the elder board. Jamie Munson is executive pastor. He is legal president of the organization. And for me, to be honest, it was the most freeing, liberating thing I could have dreamed of because now I don't have all that conflict of interest. I can be friends with someone but I don't have to fire them, do their performance review, and decide how much they get paid. It's just too conflicting for me." 
What conflict of interest was Mark Driscoll referring to, since he made a point of using those specific words? What about appointing Jamie Munson as head of the elder board, executive pastor, and legal president of Mars Hill as an organization freed Driscoll up from conflict of interest?  The above explanation invites more uncertainty than certainty.  Why?
Because Mark Driscoll became legal president of Mars Hill at some point in later 2011 or early 2012.  If the process of letting Jamie Munson draft bylaws that made himself legal president was likened by Mark Driscoll to walking Mars Hill Church (as though it were his daughter) down the aisle to marry her off to a good guy then what did Mark Driscoll resuming legal presidency of Mars Hill Church indicate
Something about the more recent internal communication from Mark Driscoll posted on The City that was republished by Warren Throckmorton is worth noting. 
Personally, I find all of this relieving. the pressure and pace has increased every year since I started in 1996. [WtH what about the previous quote about the hand-off of 2007?] I don't want to be burned out or angry, and I want to become more like Jesus every year. I want to teach the Bible, love well, and run at a pace to finish my race many decades from now. My health is actually in the best place it has been in recent years [WtH--no word from Driscoll about John Catanzaro, still]. I have a skilled and unified team that loves you and can handle more responsibility [WtH--like the one alluded to in 2007?], if I can free up the time and energy to love them and invest in them.  Grace and the kids are doing very well, and my family is still my joy and my priority. This year we will have three of our five kids as teenagers, and our oldest will be a senior preparing for college. I don't want to miss this season, as these are years I can never get back. If I am going to err, I want it to be on the side of guarding too much time and energy for family and church family rather than not enough.
To be clear, these are decisions I have come to with our Senior Pastor Jesus Christ. I believe this is what He is asking of me, and so I want to obey Him. The first person I discussed this with was our first, and still best, church member, Grace. Her loving agreement and wise counsel only confirmed this wonderful opportunity to reset some aspects of our life. I want to publicly thank her, as it was 26 years ago this week that we had our first date. She is the greatest friend and biggest blessing in my life after Jesus. When we recently discussed this plan to reset our life together, late at night on the couch, she started crying tears of joy. She did not know how  our life more sustainable, and did not want to discourage me, but had been praying that God would reveal to me a way to reset our life. [emphasis added] Her prayer was answered, and for that we are both relieved at what a sustainable, joyful, and fruitful future could be. As an anniversary present, I want to give her more of her best friend.
I have also submitted these decisions to the Board of Advisors and Accountability. They have approved of this direction and are 100 percent supportive of these changes. It's a wonderful thing to have true accountability and not be an independent decision maker regarding my ministry and, most importantly, our church.
And yet Grace Driscoll herself, as Mark Driscoll quoted her in early 2007, was willing to tell Driscoll to his face that the person in the book of Ruth he most resembled was Elimelech.  Since, of course, all the Driscoll sermons prior to 2008 aren't exactly available at these days ... :
January 7, 2007
Redeeming Ruth
Part 1: God's Hand in Our Suffering
Ruth 1:1-1:22

Let me wrap all of this up. As your pastor, who loves you very much – I say that sincerely – would you be as honest as Naomi today, and would you acknowledge that your life and mine are like Naomi and Ruth’s stories in which the providential hand of God is at work, in which he calls us to be honest and to run to him and one another as God’s people, to work out those parts of our life that we consider afflictions, but not yet have received them as sanctified? And would you identify yourself with someone in the story – who are you? How many of you, you’re Elimelech-ish? You’re Elimelech-ish. Elimelech is the guy – Everything falls apart. It looks dark. It looks bad. He takes a poll. He makes a plan. He decides Moab has a lower cost of living. Moab has more vocational opportunity. Moab has food on the table – I will make a plan. I will be the sovereign. I will take care of everything. Trust me, I know what I’m doing. He leads well. He plans well. He tries to be the sovereign. Everybody dies anyways.

I am Elimelech. I asked my wife, “Which one am I?” Oh, my wife – she didn’t even breathe. Didn’t even take a breath. “Oh, you’re Elimelech.” And his name means what? My God is King! That was me. If you ask me, Jesus, sovereign, Lord, King, God, and if I ever need ‘em, I’ll call, but I don’t think I do ‘cause I got this all taken care of. Elimelech-ish.

And then there's this old nugget:

When the Lord isn’t talking to this man, kiddingly called a short-fused drama queen by his wife, his critics are blogging about him. Some of the sharper barbs make it difficult for Driscoll to hide the hurt.
Mark Driscoll presented a narrative of how he used to be angry but everything is better now that a new governance system has been put in place before.  It happened in 2007 and it seems to have happened again in a more piecemeal fashion through 2012-2014.  Only back in 2007 no one had produced evidence that Mark Driscoll had plagiarized anyone else's work or that anyone at Mars Hill had signed a contract with an entity like ResultSource to secure a place on the NYT bestseller list for a book that turned out to use the ideas of others without giving them credit in the first edition.
There was no controversy about the extent to which executive leadership was aware of or ignored city zoning ordinances with respect to a Mars Hill campus.  Well, actually ... there kind of was about the 50th street building.  Which may be a sober reminder to people who have at some point called Mars Hill Church home that the more things change the more some things, even after all this time, might still be the same.

Monday, June 02, 2014

HT Mockingbird--misogyny and nerd culture, with a rabbit trail into an Atlantic piece about how assortive pairing entrenches inequality

A little piece riffing on a piece about nerd culture and the expectation on the part of some males that if you jump through all the right hopes the hot wife will be yours.  Interesting stuff in its own right but it reminded Wenatchee the Hatchet of this ...

... We used to live in a Mad Men world. Few men went to college, even fewer women did, and not many women, period, worked outside the home—not that they had many opportunities if they did. In 1960, 42.5 percent of married women hadn't graduated from high school. 39.6 percent had only done that. And just 37.7 percent of all women had or were looking for a job. The stereotype is that men married their secretaries, if their wives did work, and there's something to that—though highly-educated people did still pair up at high rates back then.

And that stereotype gets at what is called "marrying down", which is marrying someone in a lower social or economic strata than the one you're in.  When marriage was a business venture entered into for the purpose of long-term preservation of a family line or a family business or even in cases of "true love" the idea that you had to marry your soulmate did not mean your soulmate was in any sense broadly recognize as having to be your equal.

Sure enough, Matthew O'Brien puts this  point across explicitly:

... That made marriage a different institution back then. Men weren't looking for a soulmate, let alone someone to help pay the bills. They were looking for a good wife and mother. So they were willing to marry "down." Now, it doesn't look like that if you focus on how disproportionately likely college-educated men and women were to trade I-dos. But take another look, this time at the shaded areas. Men with a college degree were about as likely to marry women with only a high school degree as you'd expect by chance. And men with a college degree or more were twice as likely to marry a woman who hadn't finished college. This meant there were almost twice as many college-educated men married to women who weren't than were for the simple reason that many more women hadn't graduated from college than had.

To take even a cursory glance at writings about mating and dating, even among conservative Protestant circles, is to be struck these days by the primacy given to what may be dubbed status-matching.  Another way of putting it is to call it "assertive pairing":

5) More assortative mating. Take a look below at the same chart breaking down marriage by each partner's education, but updated for 2005. The first thing you'll notice is how much more likely high school dropouts are to marry each other than by chance. But look again. Every group is disproportionately more likely to marry someone like themselves than any other.

O'Brien winds up to an observation that all the things about marriage that make it more egalitarian with a newer set of expectations are precisely the things that entrench income inequalities.  Merely blaming Wall Strett wouldn't suffice, it's that college-educated sorts, regardless of formal political affiliation, tend to want to pair off with someone at their own level.  People are less like to marry down these days. 

Shootings even partly inspired by men who feel spurned by the women they believe should have embraced them literally and figuratively may not just be reflections of weird cultures in which men expect to jump through hoops and land a hot wife; men and women who feel they don't measure up may lash out against the culture for sending what seem to be signals that they aren't worthy enough to have a romantic partner and that not having a romantic partner is basically the same as saying one has not attained full and complete humanity.  Of course nobody will say it that bluntly but then if we have a culture in which some people want the movie Frozen to have a sexual subtext that crashes headfirst in the text of sibling relationships our culture may reveal how determined it is to boil everything down to the power of eros even when we're discussing a film about sibling conflict and affection.

warning to people who only read this blog for Mars Hill stuff, music will make a return

How could I not write about the grand guitar sonatas of Wenzeslaus Matiegka?  It's gotta happen eventually.  Maybe not right this second, though. :)

but you've probably seen that this blog is not as prolific as it once was.  Sometimes life happens.  A mere mortal can only accomplish so much, after all.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

per earlier post, Pastor Mark TV now has robots.txt to prevent WayBack Machine crawls

Noted in the earlier blog post before this one, but this observation is worth having a blog post of its own.  James Duncan linked to content at Pastor Mark TV that he considered evidence of campaigning to get Real Marriage promoted.

Now for those who may remember, about December 18, 2013 Mark Driscoll issued a statement that was disseminated via The City.  This was eventually posted by Stephanie Drury to Twitter on New Year's Eve of 2013. 

Mars Hill | New Discussion Topic

Pastor Mark Driscoll
From Pastor Mark Driscoll:
Dear Mars Hill Church,
In light of some recent controversy that you may or may not be aware of, I wanted to communicate with you, our church family. Earning and keeping the trust of people in our church that I love and have given my adult life to matters very much to me. It has taken us some time to provide a statement, and it was because we wanted to do the right thing, in the right way, with the right heart, and that required time.
For those who have been patient and prayerful, thank you. I am genuinely grateful for the grace I receive from the people I am honored to teach the Bible to week in and week out.
I am sorry for any concern this may have caused some of you. Because this matters greatly, it has also weighed on me heavily.
Lastly, I would encourage you to not feel any need to defend me. Our job is not to win arguments but to win people to Jesus Christ.
A full statement on the matter from my publisher and me is posted online.
A nobody trying to tell everybody about Somebody,
–Pastor Mark

Let's note that at no point did Driscoll mention the controversy was about plagiarism.  Driscoll mentioned that it took time for "us" to provide a statement because they wanted to do the right thing, in the right way, with the right heart, and that required time.

December 19, let's recall, was basically an entire month after Janet Mefferd accused Mark Driscoll on the air of being a plagiarist and subsequently provided evidence for her assessment.  In reaction to that Mars Hill conceded that citation errors did exist in the Trial study guide for the 1 & 2 Peter series (now completely removed).  But they also claimed that Mark Driscoll did not assemble the book by himself and that the work included a team of people which included a research assistant.  Mars Hill spent some time making statements and then altering or retracting statements in November/December 2013

For those who didn't see what was posted at the pdf download point in the wake of the Mefferd/Driscoll dust-up.

In 2009, Pastor Mark preached through 1 & 2 Peter in a sermon series called Trial. To help our small groups, a team of people including a research assistant, put together a free study guide that was produced in-house. About 5 years later it was brought to our attention that it contained some citation errors. We have discovered that during the editing process, content from other published sources were mistaken for research notes. These sentences were adapted instead of quoted directly. We are grateful this was brought to our attention, and we have removed that document from our website to correct the mistake. Additionally, we are examining all of our similar content as a precautionary measure.
All that's gone now and the pdf will be tricky to find.

What's more Mars Hill scrubbed away Mark Driscoll's old 2009 open letter referencing exactly which people had helped on the Trial study guide.
and ...

the Tyndale statement did not address what turned out to be the majority of books in which Mark Driscoll seemed to make use of the ideas of others without properly citing them
and ..

So if Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll took time before issuing even a strictly internal statement about a press release and said they wanted to take time to do the right thing in the right way with the right heart how on earth was MH PR passive aggressively shifting blame to Mark Driscoll's research team doing any of that?  How was subsequently scrubbing away any trace of Mark Driscoll's public shout-out to his research help doing the right thing?  How exactly did any of the above actions on the part of Mark Driscoll or Mars Hill culminate in doing the right thing in the right way with the right heart?

Appearing to passive aggressively blame other people for citation problems in the Trial study guide that was eventually pulled and then never issuing any apology for doing so and, further, scrubbing away all of the content from the sermon series and scrubbing away any formerly publicly available evidence that Mark Driscoll gave props to his research team that worked on the Trial book doesn't seem like doing the right thing in the right way with the right heart to Wenatchee The Hatchet.

Let's not forget that the Docent Group publicly defended Justin Holcomb as having provided the citations necessary for the citation errors to have been avoided.  Wenatchee The Hatchet reviewed the "battle plan" last year and came to the same conclusion independently of Docent Group statements.  Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll have never once publicly apologized for anyone over there having even hinted that anyone but Mark Driscoll (whose name was on the introduction to that study guide and his alone) was ultimately responsible.  By the time the plagiarism controversy emerged Holcomb wasn't even AT Mars Hill Church any longer and because the copyright for the Trial study guide was to the corporation known as Mars Hill even the passive aggressive attempt to pin blame on Holcomb (which is the opinion of WtH of how MH reaction to Mefferd's accusations came across) what was the point in even mentioning there WAS a research team if a number of them were no longer even part of Mars Hill leadership?  Where did the Mark Driscoll go who claimed that headship means it's your responsibility even if it's not your fault?

And by now, well, Mars Hill Church and Mark Driscoll have a host of websites that have robots.txt so that the WayBack Machine and comparable cache/search systems can't be used. 

If earning and keeping the trust of the people at Mars Hill Church is important to Mark Driscoll the cumulative reaction of the Mars Hill Church executive elders and the Board of Advisors and Accountability through the entirety of 2014 in the wake of evidence that Mark Driscoll plagiarized in seven of his books and that he was invoiced by RSI for securing a spot on the NYT bestseller list for Real Marriage (which only eventually included a credit to Dan Allender's work after the plagiarism controversy gained momentum and evidence mounted) suggests that the main point MH and its BOAA want to emphasize is that Driscoll may have made some mistakes but there's nothing to worry about.  But the people who have been leaving MH in the last two years, whether Bill Clem or Dalton Roraback or others, do not suggest that the people jumping ship from Mars Hill Church can realistically be dismissed as disgruntled former members who were already under discipline or not in good standing, as was popular to propose in 2007.  Mars Hill has been losing people from the leadership culture (like Jeff Bettger) who actually have respect, credibility and standing among even some of Mark Driscoll's sternest local critics.

Wenatchee The Hatchet has been quoting Driscoll and other leaders at Mars Hill Church as accurately as possible, as in-context as possible, and has even labored to correct popular and pervasive misrepresentations of them that have circulated in blogs and the press.  And yet it seems as though quoting Mark Driscoll accurately, in context, and considering the sum of his public teaching and his actions and the actions of Mars Hill Church has turned into the last thing Mark Driscoll, Mars Hill Church and at least a selection of their fans and attenders want.  That doesn't seem like even attempting to do the right thing at the right time with the right heart to Wenatchee The Hatchet ... but Wenatchee The Hatchet might just be "some blogger" to those sorts of people. 

If Mark Driscoll wants things to be done in the right way at the right time what's introducing robots.txt to Pastor Mark TV so that James Duncan can't quote Driscoll on how Real Marriage was promoted inside of Mars Hill Church going to do to accomplish that?