Friday, October 03, 2014

Mark Driscoll and the power of the sob story: epilogue, Mark Driscoll in 2008 on female manipulation via ... sob stories?

Having established a bit of backstory for the sob story as a rhetorical tool and a controlling narrative in Mark Driscoll's history of Mars Hill as mediated by his own story, there's something that might be worth bringing to mind.  That would be Mark Driscoll's February 2008 Spiritual Warfare teaching session for leaders at Mars Hill.  It's important to stress this was never preached from the pulpit but taught to the leaders in the leadership team, which might in itself tell us something.
Spiritual Warfare part 2, The Devil
February 5, 2008

about 50 minutes in to the 1 hour mark.

How about this one? Idle gossip and busybodying. 1 Timothy 5:11-15. This one is amazing. Ladies this one is especially for you. Some of you say, "Oh, it's not me." Yeah, it is. 1 Timothy 5:11-15, but refuse to enroll younger widows for when their passions draw them away from Christ they desire to marry and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith.  Besides that they learn to be idlers

Women learn how to make a lot of free time. Going about from house to house. Well now it would be from email to email and from phone call to phone call. Technology makes idle busybodying far more effective than ever.

And not only idlers but also gossips. They like to talk about people. How are you doing? What are you doing? And this isn't sisterly accountability, this is "I need to know what everybody's doing because I like to know what everybody's doing and then I can tell other people what other people are doing and then I can say, `Hey, you need to pray for so-and-so.' and I can make it sound spiritual so that when I'm gossiping and busy-bodying I'm doing so in a way that seems really Jesus-like." And busybodies, they need to know what everybody's doing. They need to know what everybody's doing, saying what they should not. So I would have younger widows marry, bear children and manage their household, right? Stay busy, and give the adversary (that's Satan) no occasion for slander. For some have already strayed after Satan. Hmm.

A woman who's a gossip and a busybody; a woman who has to put her nose in everybody's business and knows what everybody's going on; know what they're doing, she's working with Satan. Now I know most women would say, "No, no, no. I'm not Satanic, I'm concerned. I'm not Satanic, I'm an intercessor. I'm a prayer warrior. I'm not Satanic, I'm an accountability partner.  I'm not Satanic, I'm a concerned friend."  Okay, you're a Satanic intercessory prayer warrior accountability partner concerned friend but just start the whole list with "Satanic" so that we don't misunderstand your job description. 

Now there's a difference between someone inviting you into their life and saying, "I want to be friends, I want to have an accountable  relationship." and you pushing yourself into everyone's life, okay?  I'll tell you, in the history of Mars Hill, I mean, I have had to put up a firewall, a moat, guard dogs, and a high wall with barbed wire on top, and snipers behind it, around my wife. There are certain women who, they just need to know what Grace is doing and they are determined, they say things like, uh, "Hey, we need to have dinner with your family." [slight chuckle] No you don't. "Hey, we need to have coffee." No you don't.  "Hey, phone number." What? Nope. "Email." Nope.  Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope.

"Oh, come on." Nope.
"But I thought you were our pastor."
I am and my first lesson is to tell you you're Satanic.
"Oh, come on, in our last church the pastor's wife [sob] she was my best friend and I got to talk to her all the time."

Well, she was Satanic, too.  Give me her number, I'll call her and tell her. We'll help her out.
You ladies KNOW these women. Right? How many of you ladies know these women? They will try first with the hyper-spiritual, "Oh, praise the Lord! I'd love to pray for you. Let's get together. Let's do Christian community. Let's go to heart." If you decline, then they emotionally manipulate, [inhales, sobbing voice], "I thought we were friends, I thought you loved me. I don't have anybody to talk to." It's all manipulation. It's FEMALE manipulation.  Some of you ladies, right now? You think, "I can't believe he said that." It's all true. It's Satanic, Satanic.
So it would appear that Mark Driscoll was explaining (and this becomes far more evident if you're able to hear the audio) that one of the forms of female manipulation was the ... sob story.

That could make Mark Driscoll's repeated reliance on the sob story as an explanation for why he ended up doing and saying so many controversial things all the more ironic. 

Thursday, October 02, 2014

a rhetorical question ... if soft words produce hard people and hard words produce soft people ...

... then let a reader ask whether what Wenatchee The Hatchet has been writing would, with Driscoll's understanding of the aim of hard words, be "hard" or "soft"?  This is worth saying in a small post all its own that what we're discovering about Mars Hill in general and perhaps even about Mark Driscoll in particular is that they are supremely uncomfortable with taking what they have spent decades dishing out. 

Now is not the time to presume that what has happened is only some kind of Satanic attack, Mars Hill.  Did not someone like Luther say that even the devil is God's devil?  And Calvinists tend to be even more comfortable with meticulous sovereignty than Lutherans ever could be. Remember that God let Satan ruin the life of Job on the basis of a bet to prove a point, no matter what your theology may be.  Be careful not to assume that spiritual attacks or spirits sowing discord would not be directly authorized by God to punish corrupt rulers, because that's probably the majority testimony of the OT

All those years at Mars Hill where guys said that sugar-coating the truth isn't speaking in love can turn around.  What if speaking only positive words of encouragement to leaders is precisely the thing to be avoided?  After all, did not Driscoll himself repeat the adage that soft words produce hard people?  Then let those words be a judge of what may be said now.  But if hard words are shared to invite an opportunity to repentance and restoration (and if resignation is required along the way, so it goes) then the most loving voices, if Mars Hill's historic taxonomy of "speaking the truth in love" still holds, may be the ones that on the surface might appear to be harshest.  

Mark Driscoll and the conundrum of markulinity
William Wallace IIMember
posted 01-06-2001 09:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for William Wallace II   Click Here to Email William Wallace II     Edit/Delete Message

I love to fight. It's good to fight. Fighting is what we used to do before we all became pussified. Fighting is a lost art form. Fighting is cheaper than medication and more effective than counseling. Fighting always wins over compromise. Fighting is what passionate people do instead of killing. So log on, fight away. And if you are reading this and talking to yourself log on you coward and get in the ring.
It would be difficult to fully discuss something like "Pussified Nation" in particular or William Wallace II in general without understanding them in terms of the history of Mars Hill and of Mark Driscoll, but as a combined history rather than in the atomized way bloggers and journalists have so far discussed most of the above.  Too little attention has been given to the substance of what was published and still less attention has been paid to the time and place in which the pen name was taken up.

Mark Driscoll has spent the better part of his career inveighing against irresponsible young men who decline to grow up.  He preaches against "boys who can shave" or "adultescents".  These are men who may exist less in real life as much as in the rhetorical imagination of Mark Driscoll.  Then again, there's been a neo-Calvinist decade of hand-wringing over men putting off "maturity" and by "maturity" it would generally be construed as adult males getting jobs, taking wives, and making babies.  The paradoxical scenario is that in spite of progressives fretting about a Mark Driscoll's views on women or gays (we'll get to the latter group later on) Driscoll was particularly stern toward men but single men.

Which is why it's necessary to point out that in the history of Mark Driscoll's real estate he had a less than stellar credit history and that, for as many spare rooms as he could in his house at the dawn of the century, single guys and in some cases young married couples paid enough in rent to cover some of the Driscoll mortgage.  That was discussed in a bit more detail over here. It's a bit tough for Mark Driscoll to have ranted against irresponsible single guys not manning up and taking wives and buying real estate if his own credit history at the time of William Wallace II was just poor enough he had to lease-to-own and could later joke he could only afford to rent a port-a-pottie.  Ah, so that makes complaining about single guys sorta okay, but the main thing was there needed to be a few of them in the spare rooms paying just enough rent to cover some of the Driscoll mortgage.  It is here that hints of a pattern emerge. 

But the pattern is not necessarily that Driscoll has shown he's fallen sway to the temptation to game systems to get things he wants at various points in his life, true though that seems to have been.  No, this pattern is less direct and more subtle.  While Driscoll has in the past lamented he didn't have anyone to help him carry the burden of pastoring Mars Hill this was observably not the case. It simply wasn't the case there was no team, as Driscoll at one point deigned to say.

It's worth pointing out (again) that during the period in which Driscoll would take up his pen name that:

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

[this season begins in early 1999]

page 120A 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. 
The lease-to-own option might not seem that unusual but it's worth pointing out that this was a pre-2008 bubble scenario.  Ambitious young guys at Mars Hill were known to get real estate that a group would live in and pay rent on that the owning guy might one day hope to be the with-wife house.  If we bear in mind that during this early 00's period a lot of people were getting home loans who would not have qualified in earlier epochs it may just be worth pointing out that guys like Mark Driscoll benefited from some lending practices and leasing arrangements that a young guy might not have today.  While Driscoll and other neo-Calvinist types fretted about what is a continuing trend toward later first marriage and a postponement of "adulthood", this has tended to get thrown back on the lack of ambition of the young men without any factoring in of changes in the labor market.  In the Puget Sound area in particular Driscoll's song and dance will have to account for the wage changes coming along and that teen unemployment is at a high. Telling young guys to man up when they can't take advantage of the lending and leasing practices you had fifteen years ago and don't have the same job market you joined (Heraclitus and the river, anyone?) it makes it tougher to sell the righteous indignation about young guys who won't man up.

But there's not just that, there's this other thing, which is that in some sense the history of Mars Hill includes the history of Mark Driscoll going to convince other people to give him the money for him to cast and realize his vision or dream, in some cases rather literally. Driscoll said he went to David Nicholas to get money for Brad Currah to have a salary.  Driscoll has also mentioned a few times he got a stipend from Antioch Bible Church in the earlier years. 

The larger pattern that seems worth pointing out here is that Driscoll has shared from the pulpit what being a man means.
Part 5 of Proverbs
Pastor Mark Driscoll | October 28, 2001


So, I’m loaded. I have money, money, money, money. So, I buy a car, and I start saving for college, doing my stuff. And with my dad – I thank God for my dad. My dad’s like, “You’re a guy. You work. You pay your way. Good. It’s good for you.” And you know what? He’s right. He was totally right.

But let's step back a moment.  That lease to own thing was because Driscoll didn't have the credit to just buy the house, right?  And in the later 1990s it was Lief Moi who actually bought and renovated what came to be known as the Paradox.  It wasn't Driscoll's credit history that was sturdy enough to accomplish that feat, it was Moi's.  While Driscoll eventually got credited as the founder of the Paradox.

At one point Zondervan described Driscoll thusly:
Mark Driscoll is one of the 50 most influential pastors in America, and the founder of Mars Hill Church in Seattle (, the Paradox Theater, and the Acts 29 Network which has planted scores of churches. Mark is the author of The Radical Reformission: Reaching Out Without Selling Out. He speaks extensively around the country, has lectured at a number of seminaries, and has had wide media exposure ranging from NPR’s All Things Considered to the 700 Club, and from Leadership journal to Mother Jones magazine. He’s a staff religion writer for the Seattle Times. Along with his wife and children, Mark lives in Seattle.
So for whatever reason Driscoll let Zondervan describe him as the founder of the Paradox Theater alongside founding Mars Hill Church.  Thing is, he co-founded this stuff and it wasn't his money.  That may seem pedantic but in light of the "you pay your way" ethic of masculinity espoused within the Driscoll family it's not really a mundane detail to note the times in which Mark Driscoll persuaded other people to pay the way for dreams he had. 

The gap between what Mark Driscoll on his own financial steam was capable of doing in buying or leasing real estate and what he actually did is worth noting because it is not, ultimately, a pedantic point. If Driscoll extolled an ideal of masculinity on-line and from the pulpit then it matters a great deal if he ever lived up to it himself.  After all, did not the apostle Paul write about the importance of how having preached to others it was important to not disqualify one's own self? 

Now a church start-up, it makes sense you would ask for support which is why this post elects to address just matters of the personal as recounted by Driscoll over the years, whether his own situation or things he personally did to realize goals.

A guy who extolls "you pay your way" ends up in a pickle if he needs single guys to cover even some of his mortgage while he's donning the pen name William Wallace II.  If Driscoll had really seen through his idea that being out-earned by his wife meant he'd denied the faith and become worse than an unbeliever he should have resigned from pastoral ministry as soon as he had that epiphany.  He didn't.  His "repentance" took the form of finding ways to get paid a salary and that kind of stuff involves appeals and negotiation.  In other words, it could look suspiciously like Mark Driscoll's repenting of his self-described failure to "pay your own way" involved petitioning other people to pay him. 

The gap between the ideal Driscoll extolled for a man's financial stability and the reality of his own life could be rather stark. If Driscoll had not spent so much of his career defining himself by rebuking and challenging the failures of men these failures would not have the meaning the cumulatively have.  You're not a hypocrite if you admit some flexibility about how certain things get done.  A complementarian like Jared Wilson isn't a hypocrite for having been a stay-at-home dad for a few years because he didn't make a specific application of the concept a make-or-break rhetorical or practical point the way the Driscolls have.

And then there's Driscoll on sex.

Listen to this sermon from the 2001-2002 period, from Proverbs, called "Lovemaking", if you dare.

Keep in mind that according to the narrative presented in Real Marriage (ten years later) ...

Real Marriage
 Mark and Grace Driscoll
 Copyright (c) 2012 by On Mission, LLC
 Thomas Nelson
 ISBN 978-1-4002-0383-3
 ISBN 978-1-4041-8352-0 (IE)
page 9-10

To be honest, fornicating was fun. I liked fornicating. To stop fornicating was not fun. But eventually Grace and I stopped fornicating, got engaged, and were married between our junior and senior years of college.

I assumed that once we were married we would simply pick up where we left off sexually and make up for last time. After all, we were committed Christians with a relationship done God's way.
But God's way was a total bummer. My previously free and fun girlfriend was suddenly my frigid and fearful wife. She did not undress in front of me, required the lights to be off on the rare occasions we were intimated, checked out during sex, and experience da lot of physical discomfort because she was tense.

page 121
... When we married, I (Mark) tended toward sex as god. I was a newer Christian who had accumulated most of his knowledge about sex from culture, locker-room talk, and sinning sexually with a few young women. Conversely, Grace was raised in a home that was religiously conservative when it came to sex, had sinned sexually, and had been sinned against sexually. She considered sex gross. For her I was too much sexually. For me she was too little sexually. We made very little progress for many years until we had spent considerable time talking through our sexual history and beliefs, working together through many hours in the Bible and Christian books to arrive at a unified view of sex as gift.  Once we came to the same place in our thinking about sex, we began to work as allies instead of enemies. Our marriage has never been the same since, and our sex gets better all the time.

When we got married, I (Grace) didn't understand the physical and emotional aspects of sex for men. It seemed with his high sex drive that was all Mark wanted from me and that he didn't appreciate anything else I did. His drive seemed to get stronger the less we had sex, and I wondered if it was an idol to him or if that was normal for me. I later realized it was partially a real physical need, not an obsession, since he wasn't masturbating  or getting relief some other way, which I am thank for. I read somewhere that if you have sex more, it actually decreases the necessity for frequent sex over time for most men. I tried that but it didn't seem to change anything for Mark.
And there was reportedly nobody to talk to, in spite of a list of name-dropped guys who might have been suitable possibilities.

Again, the contrast between what a person would infer from Driscoll's sermons circa 2001-2002 where he'd talk about men loving ear-nibbling or women's breasts becoming firmer during arousal might suggest he was speaking from some kind of first-hand experience.  It is here that the gap between the private reality and the public persona also matters, because if Driscoll spent the first ten years of Mars Hill preaching as though the sex was great when it wasn't how did that not mislead an entire congregation?

In other words, if in light of Real Marriage and Confessions of a Reformission Rev we learn that Driscoll didn't have the money to pay his own way without help from single guy renters and was bitter about the lack of sex he was having in his marriage during the William Wallace II years then what, exactly, was going on?

It looks like this was a man who talked a lot of talk that wasn't showing up in his actual life and the problem is not necessarily that he had a functional but not very fun marriage.   Lots of people have that situation.  The problem is that his pulpit persona suggested a thoroughly different story about how much fun sex was for him by implication.  The situation with single guys renting space was less about "Mark Driscoll can't afford to live in the house he bought" but "living in community".  Driscoll kept counseling young marrieds and single people about sex in spite of this being a problem by making him resent his own frigid wife even more.  All of this matters because if it turns out that Mark Driscoll made it as far as he did by convincing other people to help him cover the expenses of his home and was privately seething about a lack of nookie while implying a different story from the pulpit the problem is that Mark Driscoll's vision of masculinity seems like it didn't and couldn't happen in the real world.  The retroactive doubt cast upon the previous decade and a half of Mark Driscoll's stories about Mars Hill  that Real Marriage introduced would be difficult to overstate for those who were at Mars Hill from 1996-2006.

The crisis of the leadership culture within Mars Hill is not just about Global turning into Go or a failure to account for where all that money went.  To the extent that the defenders of Mars Hill are making a point of defending Mark Driscoll there are other basic questions about the guiding narrative that have yet to be asked.  If it turns out by Mark Driscoll's own account he had single guys renting space in his house that he couldn't afford outside a lease-to-own deal because his credit was bad; if he was secretly resenting his frigid wife while graphically preaching about the wonders of sex; and if he was petitioning outside money to pay the way for him to have a salary and relying on a co-founding elder to have the funds to buy and renovate The Paradox this all suggests a man who not only didn't live up to the ideal he espoused from the pulpit regarding sex but also regarding money.  Rather than paying his own way he was finding people who could help him pay his way.  Where are those people now?  Are they still at Mars Hill? 

It's not just that the full scope of the plagiarism scandal has not been acknowledged by Mark Driscoll or Mars Hill, it's that it must be considered as just part of a larger story and a larger question.  It seems as though Driscoll took some shortcuts to get things he wanted both before he was a Christian when he was looking for work and after he was a Christian in citation and sales generation.   It turns out the sex wasn't all that hot during the years when Driscoll preached sermons so salacious they were starting to get pulled within a week or so of being preached.  And while Driscoll admonished guys to man up and get real jobs he was working to get a salary while not exactly doing what most people would consider a real-world job, being a pastor and a church planter.

The question that needs to be asked is whether Driscoll has ever really lived up to the vision of masculinity he has urged everyone to shoot for.  A healthy definition of masculinity is not the same as markulinity, which may be impossible. 

Let's consider that book that officially sparked the plagiarism controversy in 2013.

January 23, 2013
Mark Driscoll on Instagram

Sitting down to write my next book, due in 8 weeks. Once I collect my notes and thoughts the books kinda just work themselves out, much like sermons. The title is a working title only at this point.
That can't even qualify as an annoying humblebrag, it's just a brag.  And, sure, maybe with a bit of help from some Barna and Pew stats; some ghostwriters; recycling things here and there; Docent Group research assistance; and a few less than thoroughly cited appropriations of the ideas of others, yeah, those kinds of books kinda would just work themselves out, wouldn't they? 

It turns out we know quite a bit more about how those books "kinda just work themselves out" now.  That's the problem.  It's another area where the gap between how Driscoll comes across and has presented himself as an author and how the books may have actually come together suggests an unsettling gap.

A healthy Christian understanding of masculinity is something that will be an impossibility to a secular reader, but for Christians at this stage there may be a nearly catholic agreement that markulinity won't be that healthy ideal.  If not even Mark Driscoll himself seems to have ever actually pulled off  the ideal masculinity he's extolled from the pulpit why should young men and old men have any reason to measure themselves and find themselves wanting by Mark Driscoll's rants? 
After all those years of sermons in which he said certain kinds of guys were just a joke who has been the punchline lately? 

HT Terry Teachout, Robertson Davies on the distinction between the wit and the ironist

“The ironist is not bitter, he does not seek to undercut everything that seems worthy or serious, he scorns the cheap scoring-off of the wisecracker. He stands, so to speak, somewhat at one side, observes and speaks with a moderation which is occasionally embellished with a flash of controlled exaggeration. He speaks from a certain depth, and thus he is not of the same nature as the wit, who so often speaks from the tongue and no deeper. The wit’s desire is to be funny; the ironist is only funny as a secondary achievement.”

Robertson Davies, The Cunnng Man

posted for no particular reason.

HT Throckmorton: Mars Hill Global gets re:branded as Mars Hill Go, Wenatchee advises people re:frain from donating until there's financial transparency

Surely they must realize that Mars Hill Go can be flipped around and transformed into a wish that the entire edifice would come crumbling down, right?  Branding/marketing folks didn't seem to anticipate that one.  In the last decade the only way to have a more unintentionally embarrassing turn of phrase in a promotional/branding project might be the South Lake Union Trolley, which arguably needs no further explanation.  It's like someone wanted the words to be instantly changed into "Mars Hill, Go" so that it could be a headline at Slog.

This has probably been a re:brand/re:launch that has been considered for a while since controversy boiled up about where the money has been going and it looks like this month the re:invention is official.  With the re:putation of Mars Hill Global in a less than flattering place this year it seem someone re:cognized that a re:novation might be re:quired. 

Still just as opaque about where the money went as ever but now with a shiny new and lamer type of branding.  It's like when the cartoon Teen Titans got brought back as Teen Titans Go, maybe, except that Wenatchee The Hatchet actually liked Teen Titans and didn't get into the follow-up, whereas Wenatchee The Hatchet would advise that in the wake of the re:launch of the ministry people re:frain from donating anything to the re:branded fundraising platform since there's likely to be no re:funds.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

about the Mars Hill Global memo on the sleeping giant ... the only power the rank and file member has is basically withholding money

It's bad.  As in Wenatchee The Hatchet feels obliged to write a post saying that it's unusually bad even for a lot of bad things associated with Mars Hill over the years.

And it's not as though Wenatchee The Hatchet hasn't seen and read a lot of damning stuff over the years, some of which won't get published here out of a sense of discretion and compassion for people thrown off and under the bus. 

In other words, the stuff that's coming to light is the stuff that's rising to the top of the pool.  You might not even have any idea what's under the water. None of us might.  Well, some might but they might have non-disclosure agreements.

Wenatchee has said this before and will say it again, the corporation known as Mars Hill Church is showing that its leadership at the top is not worthy of financial support and has shown itself completely unwilling to be financially transparent.  Don't give them a cent until they open all the books across the board.

At this point reconsider even giving to the local campus.  By now you can't be sure that even if you strictly designate your donations to go to the operating costs of just your campus that Mars Hill will pay any regard to that restriction request.  Wenatchee The Hatchet has met at least a couple of former members who discovered that gift restriction didn't stop MH from dumping things into the general fund for year-end letters.  Alas nobody is yet comfortable enough to speak up on record to that end but there's enough stuff that is coming to light that if you think the leaders are going to be faithful with the monies you donate think again.

IF they can't be honest about how they're spending the money and how they're soliciting money why give them anything?

Wenatchee The Hatchet avoids framing things in terms of moral outrage but this burgeoning stink with Mars Hill Global is despicable.  It's not like we're talking chump change here.  Wenatchee was given these quite a while back but sat on them because real estate acquisition and governance adjustments were higher priorities.  Global seemed a bit opaque (and now it turns out there was a reason for that!) and Wenatchee figured Throckmorton seemed to have that mainly under investigation.  So, here you go, some samples from the past to clarify that we're not talking nickels and dimes by now.

Mars Hill members, the leaders have said you ultimately have the power for them to give you as much "church" as you give them money to play with.

But if the church is a people and not a place you don't have to give them one cent any longer. 

Look, Wenatchee was once such a one, a member of Mars Hill faithfully giving year after year.  The news about how Mars Hill bought a boondoggle in Ballard was a rude awakening.  It has become apparent to WtH that nearly ten years later there is no sign of a significant improvement in fiscal competence or foresight with respect to expanding beyond the capacity to cultivate a healthy donor base.  Sure, some things improved but going from a yearly to a weekly budget for accounting intake is worthless if the fundamental approach to output doesn't change.  It doesn't matter how sacrificially you give, members of Mars Hill, you're in a culture where the leadership has shown at nearly every turn they are willing to spend more than you give and to gut the lower level employees to "meet budget" without disclosing how much the top pastors make or even where some of them live.  That Mark Driscoll has transformed into everything he preached against is easy to say but Wenatchee The Hatchet has spent a few years demonstrating how and in what ways that transformation occurred.  If you don't have the patience to track that, that's understandable.

In other words, it is ultimately our people, not our leaders, who determine how much “church” we are able to provide.

In light of the recently published memo what's no longer understandable is why a Mars Hill member would keep giving money and just "trust the elders".  Even if you trust your campus pastors you don't realize how much power Central has over whether or not they even get to have any of their people on staff. 

If the leadership of Mars Hill is only willing to tell members in the trenches how much power they have when that power has been used to withhold money leadership has used, then by the measure of Mars Hill leadership appeals, it seems the ultimate expression of power from the regular attenders of Mars Hill would be absolute withholding of money from Mars Hill the corporation until there's a full accounting of where all that money went. 

Mark Driscoll in a 2001 sermon on masculinity and shortcuts--shortcuts taken by guys who want the reward without the work, some potential warnings to heed in the present

It may be worth prefacing this set of lengthy excerpts from a later 2001 sermon by Mark Driscoll by noting that this was a couple of months before the first anniversary of his stint as William Wallace II by way of "Pussified Nation".  He was still clearly concerned that a lot of the men at the church were not stepping up.
Part 5 of Proverbs
Pastor Mark Driscoll | October 28, 2001


The world is filled – if there’s anything I see right now with young men at Mars Hill, it is complete avoidance of their masculinity.  They think that because they sing a few songs and they don’t do anything real bad, that they’re men. No. [emphasis added] These are guys who – I’ll just give you some pictures. Should we do that? Should we just take the fig-leaf off and speak for a moment? These are guys who, 30 of them pack into a studio apartment and pay $25.00 each a month for rent, and have no plans of changing that, because then they only have to work five hours a week at their dead-end job, and spend the rest of their time doing whatever it is that they want to do. These are guys who don’t pick careers. They don’t pick jobs. They don’t go out and cultivate anything. They’re not building businesses. They’re not building their spirituality. They’re not building ministries. They’re not building relationships. They’re not building families. They’re really not doing anything. They’re just avoiding it altogether. Okay?

Some guys are like that. They’re looking for a short cut, all the time, but there’s no short cut. There’s only the long, hard road. [emphasis added] And God did that intentionally to build into the man toughness, resilience, patience, fortitude, strength, to keep chipping away until it breaks. And some guys go, “Well, I don’t know. That looks like a lot of work. I might, you know, break my nail. I don’t – I’m going to go home now and I’ll pray about it.” So, there’s where you get guys who are on their eight-year undergraduate plan. What are you studying? “Nothing. But, my parents said they’ll give me money as long as I go to school.” Well, great. I mean, that’s awesome. You’re now in your 40’s. You gonna declare a major? Like, you gotta get somewhere. You gotta step-up.

These guys are just – they’re avoiding all their responsibilities. What they want, they want food without working. They want drink without working. They want sex without marriage. They want a house without a mortgage. These guys look at means and ends, and they want the ends but they don’t want any of the toil that comes with the means. So, they try and find a short-cut. [emphasis added] “Well, I’ll just steal his money. And I’ll drink his beer. And I’ll sleep on his couch. And I’ll sleep with that girl.” [Whistles] Good. Whoa, short-cuts. Praise the Lord. And Solomon’s looking at his son and saying, “This is just foolish folly. This is just dumb. This isn’t going anywhere. You weren’t created for this.” Here’s how they get there; something for us all to think about.

Then as the sermon moves along Driscoll recounts a few incidents from his teen years:

Proverbs 29:21, “If a man pampers his servant from youth, he will bring grief in the end.” These guys are pampered; totally pampered. Okay? And again, this is not a boasting on me. This is a – this is actually a tribute to my dad. I was eleven years old. I was going out for the little league all-star team, and I needed a new glove. My dad said, “Good. Go make some money.” I said, “Hey, dad, I’m eleven.” He said, “Well, you’re taller than the lawn-mower. I’m sure you’ll figure something out.” True. So, I get the lawn-mower, and I go and I mow lawns to get my glove. And I come back and my dad says, “You owe me gas money. You used my gas.” It’s the nicest thing my dad ever did. Up until that point, I didn’t know gas cost money. Now, I do. Now, I appreciate gas.

It comes to the point where I’m 15 and I wanna get a car. I said, “Dad, I need a car.” He says, “Good. Go get some money.” I said, “Okay, fine.” So, I falsified my birth certificate, I lie about my age, and I get a job at a 7-11 selling lotto tickets and liquor and cigarettes to people that are twice my age. I was not a Christian, so – I shouldn’t have done it anyways, but I wasn’t a Christian. And so, I’m 15, working at a 7-11 selling stuff. And I make a decent living, and I buy my first car, a 1956 Chevy that I should’ve never sold. That’s a whole other sermon. And – and so I’m 15, driving myself to work without a license, because I gotta go make money to pay for my car. [emphasis added] Okay? And again, I was not a Christian. Okay? So, I’m not saying, “Thus sayeth the Lord.”

And I realize that, since I was young and I was strong, I could make more money. And so I started dinking around trying to figure out where to make more money. And I find out that guys in unions make a lot of money. And – at least compared to me working at the 7-11. And I got tired of getting robbed and held-up, too. ‘Cause if you run a 7-11 behind a Déjà vu, somebody’s gonna put a gun at your head. And after a couple of those, you realize, “For minimum wage, I’m not taking a cap. You know? I’m not gonna get shot for, like, a pack of cigarettes. I’m not gonna do that.” So, I lied about my age. I falsified my birth certificate again, and told them I was 18. Got a job working long-shoring down on the docks in Seattle. And I would go throw 100-pound sacks of peas, and unload trucks, and work hard. And they paid me tremendous money. [emphasis added] At the time, it was like $10.00-something an hour. This was, like, in 1986 or ’87 or something. And I’d work 40 hours a week, and over-time was double-time. And none of the guys would wanna work over-time. Usually it was on Friday, ‘cause they had to get containers out, and those guys all wanted to go to the topless club.

And so, I would work all the over-time at $20.00 an hour as a 16 year old kid. This is in the mid-‘80s. Right? So, I’m loaded. I have money, money, money, money. So, I buy a car, and I start saving for college, doing my stuff. And with my dad – I thank God for my dad. My dad’s like, “You’re a guy. You work. You pay your way. Good. It’s good for you.” And you know what? He’s right. He was totally right. Thank God for my dad. My brother and my other brother and myself, we’re all doing great, making good money, doing fine. My brothers are all in management leadership running companies or businesses. It’s great. You pamper a guy from his youth, and he just – he gets this course of action. All of the sudden he feels like if his hands are dirty, or his muscles are sore, or if he put-in a long day, or thought something was tough, that’s unusual; that’s abnormal. And so, he avoids it.

That set of extensive quotes with emphasis added is building up to a point, which is that having warned young men to resist the temptation to take shortcuts and go the quick route, even back in the 2001 sermon the anecdotes about falsifying his birth certificate two different times and driving a car without insurance are striking.  Sure, it may be said by Driscoll's advocates, he wasn't a Christian at the time, but the observation here is that rather than wait until he was legally old enough to do the kinds of jobs he took he recounted that he was willing to lie about his age and claimed to have falsified his birth certificate to get work to make money.  Driscoll does not necessarily endorse how he went about things and stressed that he was not a Christian at the time.  Be patient, you know where this is going to go, but be patient.

Yet for those who can hear the sermon it's difficult to hear in Driscoll's voice an outright condemnation of his motive.  His actions?  Eh, a bit sketchy but he was a teenage boy and he had a lot of drive and it worked out okay for him, you know?  There's a kind of apologetic for the shortcuts because he wanted to work hard and get paid well for his work and he was willing to work overtime.  One might go so far as to say he may have thought that the sheer scale of his ambitions merited a commensurate reward, a reward he was apparently by his own account not entirely willing to wait for.

Thus fudging the birth certificate stuff, it seems.

Which at length gets us to the end of 2013 with the plagiarism controversy that rolled into 2014's Result Source Inc, controversy.  It turns out a lot of citation mistakes were made.  A lot of people who could have and should have been credited with their ideas and authorial work in first editions weren't acknowledged at all.  Warren Throckmorton has a lot of material documented.  Wenatchee The Hatchet has a little here and there that mainly refers to materials that were ostensibly written by Grace Driscoll but for which Mark Driscoll and On Mission, LLC own the copyright.  That it turned out some shortcuts may have been taken in attribution and in securing a place for the book Real Marriage on the NYT bestseller list makes it seem as though Mark Driscoll was willing to let a lot of shortcuts happen in his 2012 book.  He can't legitimately say that letting the Result Source Inccontract thing go through was going to spread the message of Jesus because the Bible is part of the public domain in a number of venerable English translations. 

Having preached against guys taking the lazy, cheater's route, it's still hard to shake the reality that by Mark Driscoll's own account he was in his teen years willing to lie about his age and falsify a document to get the kind of work he aspired to have.  Then he became a Christian and was changed by Jesus ... right?

So what was the deal with "mistakes were made"?  As Warren Throckmorton has managed to document "mistakes were made" across half a dozen books, including Real Marriage, for which Result Source Inc was engaged to rig a spot on the New York Times best-seller list.  This could lead a person to surmise that Mark Driscoll didn't just take some lazy shortcuts in how he put together the book to begin with but also by way of Result Source.  Real Marriage, two years on, can be seen as something of a sham not just from the standpoint of authors whose work wasn't properly credited in the first edition but also from the standpoint of having been bought a status it might otherwise have never rightfully earned.

And the scope of the plagiarism and Result Source Inc controversies may invite a further question, whether this level of shortcutting on the part of Mark Driscoll and his associates may not indicate at least the possibility that the Mark Driscoll of his 40s may not be as different from the Mark Driscoll in his teens as he or others may want to believe. 

Should this seem pedantic, pointing out that it's problematic for Mark Driscoll to have taken up shortcuts in his books isn't the only part of the Mars Hill history under consideration.  The questions that emerge in the wake of Warren Throckmorton lately publishing a memo about how Mars Hill Global was viewed as a sleeping giant of donations and what ways could be employed to cultivate that donor base ...

That suggests that both Driscoll as an individual and Mars Hill Church as a corporate culture may have some serious questions to answer about whether the quick and nimble innovation and content generation was worth the shortcuts that increasingly seem to have been taken up.

Now after all this Wenatchee The Hatchet would not suggest that Mark Driscoll's dreams of a Bible college or a music label or a book publishing imprint are at all bad things.  The problem is more that over the last ten years Mars Hill has tried and failed to get that school going.  Where is Capstone Institute these days?  Where's the Resurgence Training Center?  We can't be entirely sure how Mars Hill Schools will play out.  Then there's the music label.  How did Re:Sound pan out?  It fizzled.  There was a stand-alone Mars Hill Music that turned into a partnership with Tooth & Nail and word is even this partnership no longer exists.  These are high-minded ideas to pursue and could be feasible in a second or third generation of a movement but Wenatchee The Hatchet suggests that a pervasive temptation Driscoll and Mars Hill succumb to is living for a legacy in such a way as to need to see it with their own eyes.  If you walk by faith and not by sight then you can trust that whether or not there even IS a legacy that is left to divine providence, not rigging sales and taking shortcuts in assembling books that in the grand scheme of things fall under the warning at the end of Ecclesiastes, that of the writing of books there is no end. 

Why bring up things from the past?  Because understanding the past can be a way to understand the present.  It's not as though Mark Driscoll never shared enough from the pulpit to help us understand what his peculiar temptations might be, a temptation to take a few shortcuts of his own to get where he wanted to go because he had a vision and a plan to do something.  It's good to want to have your life mean something and it's even good to want a legacy ... but how much of Driscoll's legacy should be explicable by way of Docent Group, or ghostwriters (if applicable?) or Result Source Inc. or things like that?  The citation errors that happened in the 2009 Trial study guide could have destroyed the corporation known as Mars Hill Church if a publisher and a few editors decided to show no mercy.  It's worth noting that the 2011 trademark/logo scandal showed that Mars Hill was willing to let its lawyers send a cease-and-desist in the season in which the contract to buy Real Marriage a #1 spot was finalized. The problems in the leadership culture at Mars Hill seem acute, and it seems the leaders have been opting to hold themselves to significantly lower standards for themselves than they would have the rank and file live by. 

One of the things American evangelicals like to tell ourselves is that in Christ there is new creation.  Yet it would seem that that new creation is like a mustard seed and there is the disturbing fact that in the life of King David he did not seem to become a better husband or father as he aged.  The heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11 who get mentioned in the book of Judges?  They were, at least when mentioned by name, capable of some monstrosities and indeed those monstrosities tend to overwhelm their narratives in Judges in place of great acts and words of faith.  Gideon set up an ephod and the Israelite slide into apostasy began before his death.  Jephthah sacrificed his own daughter rather than rescind a foolish vow.  Samson sought to live as a Phillistine rather than to defend Israel against them.  The judges in Judges tend toward corruption and nepotism to a point where Israel may have simply wanted a king to make sure that a corrupt family dynasty was at least official. 

So when we consider the case of a man like Mark Driscoll we should be wary about assuming that just because a guy converts to Jesus means he is a new creation right away.  Progressive sanctification isn't that hard to understand, but what can be harder to understand within American evangelicalism is that the old man may stick around and keep on kicking and that the nature of our temptations change.  So Mark fibbed on his birthdate to get jobs that paid.  A lot of young guys with ambition have done that, right?

When decades later it turns out the not-so-young guy is embroiled in a controversy about whether everything in his books was really his thinking and whether one of those books was a legit best-seller in light of a contract ... maybe that's a warning to evangelicals that the story of life-change is one we should be cautious about.  It may well happen, but it may be that life-change as American evangelicals talk about it doesn't always happen as swiftly or as thoroughly as we'd like it to. Plagiarism in half a dozen books and a rigged spot on a best-seller list are not a small-scale as fudging a birthdate to sell Bic lighters at a 7-11.  It can look as though the temptations of Mark Driscoll might not have changed so much over time and it may be that the shortcuts taken were rationalized as worth it because of the greatness of the legacy desired.  But these may be the times to most remember that there is a way that seems right to a man but it's end leads to death, whether for an individual or a congregation. The things that have been coming to light aren't just controversies around a single man but around the entire corporate culture of the church he co-founded. 

There may be those who might defend Driscoll's drive to be productive and ambition to have a legacy as noble things, and they might have been if it hadn't turned out he was willing to take some shortcuts to becoming a bestselling author and forgot to have a few extra footnotes he should have had in his books along the way.  There's still the old axiom that the road to hell is paved with good intentions and a legacy and a future hope, as good intentions go, aren't that unusual.

There's a pragmatism amok in the leadership culture of Mars Hill, perhaps, and it may not just manifest in what Mark Driscoll was willing to let happen for his books to get more exposure, it looks more and more like it's what may have been a guiding motive in using Mars Hill Global as a way to awaken a "sleeping giant" of donors who would be invited to give to a cause of international missions when the majority of the financial expenditures and investments may have been much, much closer to home. 

Both Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill may have completely forgotten that Somebody said "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much."

Mars Hill Spokane moving forward amidst controversy in the Puget Sound area

Largely not stuff that hasn't already been observed, but since so much is happening it's worth noting that Mars Hill Church is planning to launch in Spokane.  Local coverage indicates that a lease to agreement has been set up.  For the moment details are "private information" but county records have a habit of having to be filed so we'll just have to see how things play out.

At Mars Hill Church in Spokane, however, pre-planning stages are in full swing.
Pastor Miles Rohde of Mars Hill Spokane said that since last fall, Mars Hill has been working toward building a core group of Christians to launch the church.

“Currently we have just over 120 adults, and their nearly 40 children who make up our core group,” said Rohde in an email. “We spent the entire summer going through membership classes, Community Group leader training and providing training for various volunteer positions we need to fill prior to launching as Mars Hill Spokane.”

Pastor Rob Bryceson of First Covenant Church in downtown Spokane decided to auction off their church building on Division Street in 2013 due to financial issues. Bryceson confirmed in a phone interview that Mars Hill church offered to purchase the building in a lease to agreement in October 2013.

According to an article in the Inlander, Bryceson said the church was going to sell its building to Mars Hill Church for $1.25 million.

When asked for confirmation of the amount, Bryceson refused to comment, saying it was “private information.” Rohde did not comment on the figure by deadline.
Probably refers to this article

Now for those who may not be familiar with Miles Rohde there's a post about him and his role on the Board of Elders over here.

W. Throckmorton: memo regarding MH Global fundraising and actual international activity--"This percentage should be flexible (not a "tithe"), and not communicated to the public. "

Just a few observations about the following:
Global Focus

The vision and activities connected to the Global Fund must focus on reaching the worldwide church. As a person sits in front of his computer in Qatar, London, Cape Town, or Sydney, he does not care about Mars Hill planting in Everett. As an international citizen, however, he cares greatly about global evangelism, global missions, global causes for Jesus, global church-planting, etc. Though the sentiment is rare among Americans, people abroad feel a sense [of] belonging kinship with the global community.

Flagship Projects
of the money that comes into the Global Fund, designate a fixed percentage internally for highly visible, marketable projects such as mission trips, orphan care, support for pastors, and missionaries in the third world, etc (ten to fifteen strategic operations in locations where Mars Hill wants to be long term). This percentage should be flexible (not a "tithe"), and not communicated to the public. Support for Mars Hill Global would be support for Mars Hill Church in general, but the difference and the draw would be that a portion of Global gifts would also benefit projects that spread the gospel and serve the needs of people around the world.

The litany of countries suggests a Sutton Turner era mindsight within leadership since nobody prior to Sutton Turner would have seemed to have any reason to mention the country as a possible residence for a Mars Hill Global audience.  Nor would a local-grown Mars Hill leader have even bothered to mention the general lack of solidarity American Christians tend to feel for Christians abroad.  So the memo, if authentic, would seem to date squarely in a stage no earlier than the formal kingship of Sutton Turner based on the writing style and the peculiarities of mentioning Qatar and the contrast between the mentality of American Christians vs Christians abroad (though, to throw the author of the memo a bone that is probably a point worth emphasizing even if not for the reasons the memo was getting at).

Which almost straightaway leads one to recall that Mars Hill Everett sure thought it was a big deal that monies from Mars Hill Global were put to use for their benefit.  In fact the thanks was so profuse (and the propensity of Mars Hill to purge content if ever Wenatchee The Hatchet quotes it in 2014 so common) it seems worth it to reprint the entire text of Pastor Ryan Williams' thank-you to Mars Hill Global.
Thank you, Mars Hill Global. Sincerely, Mars Hill Everett.

By: Mars Hill Church
Posted: Jun 05, 2014

Mars Hill Global is made up of 250,000 people around the world who tune in to the Mars Hill Church podcast on a weekly basis. You, our global audience, are praying and giving to Mars Hill Church to see more people meet Jesus, grow in him, and join his mission. One example of what your participation has done over the last year is the planting of Mars Hill Everett in their new home. This letter, from Everett’s lead pastor, Ryan Williams, outlines the specifics of the direct impact you are having on the church.

Thank you, Mars Hill Global.

The last twelve months here at Mars Hill Church Everett have been amazing! Twelve months ago we were setting up in a community college gym; now we worship in our own amazing building. Twelve months ago no one in the city that we minister to knew that we even had a church here; now we have a visible presence in the city we love. Twelve months ago paint fumes filled our Kids Ministry rooms; now the sounds of kids playing and learning about Jesus fill them. Twelve months ago we crammed our leaders into our tiny office space to train and lead them; today we meet in our own building with plenty of room to teach. So much has been happening and it couldn’t have happened without you.

In the last twelve months we have packed up our setup/teardown gear and moved permanently into the city we love! We moved into an awesome building that for more than 90 years was used as an armory for the Washington National Guard. Our auditorium was once filled with soldiers practicing drill; today it is filled with people praising Jesus. We are a predominately blue-collar congregation with great, amazing people. But we are by no means a wealthy church. Our people work super hard and are amazingly generous to the church, but we just did not have the income to fully fund our own down payment and renovation expenses.

There are many beautiful things about being a part of the church of Jesus Christ, but one of the most beautiful things about the church is that we love and serve one another even if we are not in the same local congregation. Paul speaks of this example in Romans 15:26: “For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem.” In this passage we see churches from around the region blessing and serving other churches in need. Mars Hill Global, that is exactly what you did for Mars Hill Everett and we thank you! Your generosity has allowed us to have a visible presence in our city and county. It has given us a building in which to love and care for hurting people and a place to hold services where the gospel will be proclaimed for, God willing, the next few hundred years.

God has blessed your generosity with many amazing stories of redemption. We baptized 28 people at the grand opening of our new building and then we were blessed to baptize 34 people on Easter. Many of these people became believers in our new building through the preaching of the gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit.

The good news of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection is continuing to be proclaimed here in Everett through Mars Hill Church. By God’s grace, many people are experiencing the new life found in Jesus Christ. Thank you for your prayers, love, support, and generosity.
–Pastor Ryan Williams

That sounds like a lot of stuff made possible by the funds of Mars Hill Global. 

It may be worth repeating that in the Jamie Munson era Mars Hill Global was pretty plainly put forth as a way to fundraise for global expansion projects that were identifiably in the United States, particularly the Resurgence Training Center, but that starting in the Sutton Turner era a strategic and perceptible shift in what Mars Hill Global was described as being and what it was described as doing took place.  Warren Throckmorton has discussed all of that in considerably more detail.

What Wenatchee The Hatchet wants to highlight is not simply that the appeal to poor kids in Africa made the Global fund come across like an international missions/resource network but that this was integral to the pitch for fundraising in a way that wasn't the case circa 2009-2011. 

It's looking more and more like all the books for Mars Hill Global need to be opened and subject to scrutiny not just because it is looking more and more like funds were solicited on the basis of misleading pretense but also because Mars Hill Military Mission was absorbed into Mars Hill Global Ministries, which may have mutated into Mars Hill Global, and that this could be a further avenue to explore in the not entirely wrapped up story about Result Source Inc. and how Mars Hill worked out all of those terms and conditions to land a #1 spot for Real Marriage on the NYT Bestsellers list.  We don't know for sure yet but if Military Mission was involved in bulk order distribution for the 2012 book before it was absorbed into Mars Hill Global then a thorough inquiry into Global may shed light not only on how monies have been allocated in general but may even shed some light on some of the behind-the-scenes mechanics of promoting Real Marriage along the way.

The Stranger picked up the word a few hours after Throckmorton published.

Some questions have naturally arisen as to where on earth this material comes from.  Pretty clearly leaked from some fairly high levels.  MH has already broached the problem of how just about everything that ends up in the Full Council of Elders feed on The City seems to get leaked and they haven't figured out who is doing this but they are in rebellion. 

Mars Hill has no idea how many people are leaking materials at nearly every level of the organization and that would be because nobody has a completely clear picture how many people are leaking how much.  Throckmorton's getting a lot of the most amazing leaks from clearly contemporary events.  Wenatchee left MH long enough ago and has had enough other things going on that while this blog is on MH we, uh, kinda dredge up the past people wanted forgotten while Throckmorton shines some light on new stuff.  Call it specialization. 

As to the breaking story itself, the way MH leaders discussed Global is skeezy.  If this were a memo circulated just at Central then Central comes across as looking pretty terrible. IF this was circulated to campus pastors then if they didn't put up a complaint the entire thing looks rotten to the core now.

former MH executive elder and A29 director Scott Thomas at conferences in Canada? Apparently

Something was brought to the attention of Wenatchee The Hatchet recently.  It's about 2014 activity by former Mars Hill executive elder, former Acts 29 president, and former 2007 Elder Investigative Taskforce head Scott Thomas.

If Scott Thomas wishes to clarify how a "conciliatory process" ended up looking more like a kangaroo court now might be a good time to say something, or anything.  Either that or let published correspondence at Joyful Exiles on the one hand and a leaked memo apparently attributed to Sutton Turner implicating a "Scott" for bad spending habits on the other

What's interesting is that Larry Osborne also had something going on up north.

So a member of the Mars Hill Board of Advisors and Accountability that briefly featured Paul Tripp,  [which in later 2013 featured Michael Van Skaik, Dr. James MacDonald, Dr. Larry Osborne, Mark Driscoll, Dave Bruskas, and Sutton Turner) until he resigned, citing the impossibility of the  board being able to do as an external board what could only be done internally. To date Michael Van Skaik's public/intra-MH accounts have not necessarily made sense of or gelled with statements by Paul Tripp but that's a topic for some other time.

The point for this post is that Larry Osborne had a clearly credited advisory role in the 2006-2007 re-org and is apparently still on the BoAA and has spoken at C2C events of some kind earlier in 2014, just as Scott Thomas has.

With respect to the Mennonite brothers and sisters up there, are they SURE they want the dna of Acts 29/Mars Hill/Mark Driscoll seeping further north?  Wenatchee The Hatchet is more the dour Presbyterian sort these days but in the spirit of ecumenical dialogue ... urges the Canadian churches to do some more digging on guys like Larry Osborne and Scott Thomas and their history of association with Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

on things overlooked in Leviticus like the whole book of Leviticus

It does not just so happen at church the pastors are starting up a series on Leviticus, about which Wenatchee The Hatchet is quite pleased.  Though it has been axiomatic that many a read-the-Bible resolution has gone and died at Leviticus this was not the case for Wenatchee, who has read Leviticus a few times.  No, the interminable sprawl of the census listings at the start of Numbers was skipped a time or two but Leviticus was kind of fascinating.

See, if Protestants hold to that priesthood of all believers thing and the book of Leviticus discusses what is expected of priests then surely there would be a few useful things to be gleaned from the book, right?

Which is not to say Leviticus is going to be user-friendly for a contemporary American reader.

That said, there are some simple, even rudimentary things that can be observed early on, such as the sliding scale of what sacrifices to offer for atonement and for well-being.  There's also a whole category of sacrifices to offer once you realize you have inadvertently sinned in some way.

Particularly in the last year for those who have been part of or are part of Mars Hill, the year in which Driscoll said "maybe I made a mistake" and stressed that a mistake is not a sin is one of those pitiful shortcomings in theology that need to be revisited a few times and brought to light.  If Driscoll thinks that the two dividing categories are "sin" and "mistake" then that's too simple and indicative of a potential problem.  Well, actually, Wenatchee The Hatchet made a point in 2008 of sharing with some leadership that Mars Hill in general seemed to have a problematic and truncated hamartiology in which there were only those sins which were done "with a high hand" and done knowingly.  In real life most of the ways we harm each other (i.e. sin against each other) are often inadvertent.  Rather than everything being boiled down to "pride" (whatever that means tending to be defined strictly by the one most eager to wield that catch-all) rather than other things being considered such as ignorance, fear, envy, etc.  If you want to go back and read an old post Wenatchee The Hatchet published called "pride is the stem cell of sin" then have at it.

And as Leviticus outlines what steps to take when you discover you have sinned through an oversight perhaps we can consider whether one of those oversights is reading the book of Leviticus more than once in our Christian lives. ;)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Mark Driscoll and the power of the sob story: a survey and a proposal

You will not be able to read this analysis adequately without first having read the other posts in the tagged set that this post is part of.  Please go back and read the previous posts in this series, if you would, so that you can have a narrative framework for this piece.  Or, of course, you can read this first and go revisit the other parts in whatever order you see fit.  The point is that this analysis won't make sense and shouldn't be considered as a stand-alone analysis. It presupposes a working knowledge of all the materials tagged in this series of posts.

There have been many stories from former members and some former staff and elders about their time at Mars Hill.  There have been a number of high profile writers and bloggers who have attempted to shed light on things at Mars Hill.  In many cases this has been done through sharing the stories of those who have been hurt by practices or teachings people encountered, or in some cases believed they encountered, at Mars Hill Church.  Those stories, to be sure, have value and are worth bringing to light as people feel comfortable and confident going on the record.

But there's a problem with this that may not be apparent to people embroiled in the midst of reading all these stories.  A story like Andrew Lamb's is informative but not necessarily normative. That is to say that it showed us a great deal about how things could play out at Mars Hill under certain circumstances but might not be indicative of everyone's experience.  Joyful Exiles is a personal narrative told through some very impersonal means, correspondence and documents as well as intermittent flashes of narrative.  Then there are websites like Repentant Pastors and We Love Mars Hill and others and these are all valuable for the contributions they are working to make to inform people about the history of Mars Hill.

There is, however, a substantial limitation to these avenues which is that they are many and Mark Driscoll is one.  Rather, they are a variety of blogs and platforms that are sharing dozens of stories spanning campuses and years while the story of Mars Hill has increasingly been the story of Mars Hill has told by Mark Driscoll about Mark Driscoll. 

When Wenatchee The Hatchet published various writings of William Wallace II (better known as Mark Driscoll) earlier this year one of the aims was to bring back to public consideration the actual content and discussion that happened on the old Midrash so that people would no longer have to read about what Mark Driscoll said he said under the pen name William Wallace II and have an opportunity to go see for themselves what he actually wrote. 

One of the things that is worth mentioning about how Driscoll has engaged Mars Hill and his audience at large is to observe that one of the key ways he has done this is through telling the story of his own life, of his marriage to Grace Driscoll, and telling that story as a way to sum up and define the history of Mars Hill overall.  This has particularly been the case at certain controversial moments or periods in the history of Mars Hill. 

One of the reasons sharing individual stories or trying to highlight individual stories that critique Mars Hill or Mark Driscoll is that these stories simply don't disseminate along avenues swift or forceful enough to gain traction in most cases.  An individual story has to shed some light on systemic problems in the corporate culture of the church or corporation known as Mars Hill to gain any traction.

But at a more fundamental level you can't fight fire with fire (unless you're Prince Zuko having a showdown with Princess Azula).  Most Driscoll critics have simply failed to fully grasp the way Mark Driscoll has controlled the public narrative because it's so simple and so obvious, he simply controls the public narrative.  Driscoll has been able to rhetorically position himself as a sensible centrist against whom liberal secularist pagan heathens on the left and uptight fundamentalist anti-charismatic non-missional wingnuts on the right can all be presented as foils.  To the extent that critical media attention focuses on the persona and person of Mark Driscoll he has not only been able to cope with this he has arguably thrived on it.  Negative attention actually plays a crucial part in a long-running narrative technique Driscoll has practically used to define his career in public ministry.

No, it's not the incendiary stuff, not by itself.  It's not stuff like William Wallace II.  No, that's the inciting first-stage way of defining the narrative.  The far more important secondary stage is how the public narrative really gets defined by Mark Driscoll in the history of his public career.

You may have already guessed it but if you haven't, it's the sob story.

Even going back to William Wallace II we can see that Mark Driscoll framed the emergence of that pen name as a reaction to the ways women were being treated by lazy, irresponsible, selfish and immoral guys.  William Wallace II may seem a knight errant at best and a thug and a fool at worst but William Wallace II presented himself as a knight in shining armor challenging immature adultescent men to find their pants and man up already.  It's worth noting that when the persona had consequences that literally met Driscoll where he lived he was swift to say "lighten up" and invoke the emotional distress of the wife and child.

Sure enough, guys can't take a joke or figure out that William Wallace II was just a character and someone troubles the wife and kid.  This is a small-scale form of a sob story.  At no point did Driscoll seem to step back in the moment and imagine that perhaps he wouldn't get weird antagonistic people shouting at him at 3am if he simply never bothered to write under the pen name William Wallace II and publish what he published to begin with.  Sure, later, sorta, in 2006 he could admit he sinned and cussed a lot but he was still saying God somehow drew a straight line with the crooked stick that was Mark Driscoll, even to the point of indicating that gay guys were going straight in the wake of his yelling at them to man up. 

There were nods here and there at the end of Confessions of a Reformission Rev about the travails of Mark Driscoll in earlier 2006 but the heights of pathos were attained in the November 8, 2007 letter he wrote to Mars Hill in the wake of the re-org and the controversial firings.  Here we saw fretting about death and a sense of tragedy tucking the Driscoll kids into bed at night.  Grace summed up the moment by crying and saying "It's good to have you back."  This was possibly the zenith of the sob story as a rhetorical technique to define the narrative of Mars Hill around Mark Driscoll's personal woes.

But at no point did Driscoll seem to get that nobody told him he had to be president of Acts 29 Network, president of the Resurgence, president of Mars Hill and chairman of the board.  There was no inherent reason he needed to be writing books (in 2006, it turns out, he had mostly finished the book that would become Death By Love, an overview of 2005 atonement sermons he preached the year before) while he and Grace had their fifth child and even that fifth child has to be considered in light of the fact that, according to Mark Driscoll, Grace was ready to be done with pregnancy after four C-sections and a miscarriage but it was Mark Driscoll who declined to do anything permanent to prevent the possibility of another child.  So even when Mark Driscoll has leaned on the travails of Grace via childbirth he can seem to soft-pedal his own decision as having a bearing on what she went through (scroll down to the part that quotes Death by Love if you're so inclined).  To be sure the born baby is such a joy to behold the mother forgets her agony.  The Puritan Richard Baxter once wrote that the miseries and agonies of marriage and motherhood are often so severe he speculated that had God not given women an inherent yearning to bring children into the world no woman should ever choose a married life.  Go look it up in the Christian Directory.

So in 2007 Driscoll shared how rough it was being president of Acts 29, president of Resurgence, legal president of Mars Hill, and how poor his health was and how many services he preached and yet at no point does it ever seem to have crossed his mind he voluntarily took all these things on.  At times Driscoll even seemed to indicate he threw himself into ministry and fatherhood as a distraction from the problems in his marriage relating to Grace but this is getting ahead of the narrative curve.

In 2007 Driscoll made a point of saying he feared he would die if things at Mars Hill didn't change.  He was also indicating that he needed Grace to not be in any kind of ministry so that she could be there for him.  In spite of saying in 2007 that he made a point that Grace Driscoll's photo would not be on a MH site, by 2012 and beyond ... well ... she's in photos with Driscoll these days.

Back in the 2007 period the sob story was about the travails of Mark Driscoll and if the travails were the result of him taking on too many things and bringing misery on himself that may not have been material to members or staff.  The core of the sob story was simply that Driscoll had it so rough and if you pointed out it was self-inflicted travail you might have just found yourself under the bus.

By later 2011 with the "ten lessons" and God's Work, Our Witness, the nature of the sob story had changed a bit.  Now the problem was Driscoll was doing all the big work alone and had not managed to raise up leaders to help him carry the burden.  Never mind how simply it can be proven Driscoll was the runt of the litter and had the lowest amount of practical ministry experience or formal theological education.  Never mind Doug Busby or David Nicholas or Antioch Bible Church or any of those people.  Driscoll was alone and had not raised up leaders to help carry the burden.  Except that he was raising up leaders like Tim Smith and Jamie Munson.  He was telling people he'd had dreams about them working with him.  He'd made a point of soliciting David Nicholas for money to give Brad Currah a salary.  The idea that Driscoll didn't have a team of elders backing him up from the start and that the elders were all young and new and green is difficult to square with Driscoll's own previous narratives. 

But for a sob story, well, the sob story didn't need to depend on the pesky details of Mark Driscoll's own previously published accounts.  Most of that stuff was on websites that weren't even live any more and in spite of the relish with which Mars Hill leadership poured mountains of data onto the internet it's as though not a single one of them ever thought that tools as simple as the WayBack Machine or members holding on to Driscoll content might ever come back to cause any inconvenience.

If up until late 2011 the sob story Driscoll used to curry sympathy from his church and fellow evangelicals revolved around his own travails a signal shift came in 2012 with Real Marriage and beyond.  At this point the sob story stopped revolving around Mark Driscoll as an individual and focused more on Grace Driscoll and to a lesser extent the Driscoll kids.  Rather than revisit what he wrote as William Wallace II as having anything at all to do with angry or unstable young men looking to fight, Driscoll could unleash "The Hardest Part of Ministry" as a litany of all the evil, crazy, terrible things his critics shored up not only against him but his kids.  When Driscoll did the video announcing the eviction of Mars Hill Orange County (for those who remember that video) he had two blonde tots in tow who at different times smiled at the camera while Driscoll talked about how Mars Hill Orange County looked like it was about to be homeless.  This was one of those moments that Wenatchee The Hatchet considered to be craven and mercenary.  Mars Hill Orange County getting evicted was not the kind of thing that needed little Driscolls in front of a camera for while Mark Driscoll claimed he wasn't sure what the deal with the eviction was.  This was a small way in which Driscoll kids could be integrated into the sob story at a level that would be almost subliminal for someone who was still inside the cultural system.

When chapter 7 of Real Marriage unfolded it told us very little about what actually happened to Grace Driscoll but packed in a startling amount of information about the developing Re:Lit line of books.  While in Real Marriage it seemed as though Grace Driscoll recounted "an" incident in which she turned out to have been sexually abused in a 2013 film "Stepping Up" Mark Driscoll recounted that there were several times where Grace had been sexually assaulted, raped and abused before he met her. At the risk of making an observation that will likely rankle some readers, it's possible part of the reason the entirety of mainstream Christian publishing and journalism didn't spot the startlingly obvious use of Dan Allender ideas and material in chapter 7 of Real Marriage that got no citation or credit in the first edition is because of, well, the story of Grace Driscoll.  If we consider the possibility that the sob story is a through-line for Driscoll as a public figure then adding Grace Driscoll and her story of abuse may be construed as a story of woe within the larger sob story Mark Driscoll has told as a way to define the narrative of his role as founder/leader/visionary of Mars Hill.

And from 2012 the sob story, if you will, of Mark Driscoll began to reorient itself toward the troubles of Grace Driscoll.  Her story became the reason so many controversial decisions and changes had to happen in 2006-2007.  The miserable state of the Driscoll marriage for apparently the stretch of 1996-2006 did not invite a question as to whether Mark Driscoll was ever fit to be in ministry to begin with but rather invited sympathy.  What was striking about the 2013 video "Stepping Up" was how Mark Driscoll took the entire narrative of 2007 as he recounted itself and cast it aside in favor of what he "had" to do to be more emotionally present for his wife. 

That fifth child and the challenges of Grace Driscoll working through her root issues (that kept Mark Driscoll from having as much sex as he wanted) became a big deal and a cause for ... rewriting the bylaws and the constitution of Mars Hill.  Why?  Just because Mark Driscoll said so, never mind that this flew in the face of the emphasis on Mark Driscoll nearly dying and being overworked by all the things he voluntarily took on up through 2006.  The new narrative moving from 2012 forward was about the wife and kids and how Driscoll wanted to be there for them.  And this is not an inherently "other" path than the 2007 invitation to pity Mark Driscoll himself.  If anything it's more potent because it takes the form of Mark Driscoll eliciting sympathy on behalf of his wife and children as a way to draw sympathy from readers toward Mark Driscoll himself as husband and father who also happened to be legal president of the corporation known as Mars Hill Church. 

As Wenatchee The Hatchet has noted before Mark Driscoll has shown that he's willing to filter sermons through the prism of daddy-daughter narratives--he made a point of sharing from the pulpit that Esther could have and should have said "no" to the Persian collection of virgins because Ashley said she would have said no.   This can be interpreted as another variation on the sob story, the story of the Driscoll family troubles and convictions, in the sense that you can't quite get through to the exegetical and historical problems of Mark Driscoll's take on Esther without negotiating with the story about Ashley Driscoll's gut reaction as to why Esther ought to have had a different path.  And for a 21st century American teenage girl, sure, that makes a certain type of sense ... but Esther wasn't a teenage American girl and it was intellectually specious of Mark Driscoll to leverage a story about his daughter as part of a rhetorical rather than scholarly case for his contentious reading of Esther.  But as a public incident in a larger rhetorical strategy through which Mark Driscoll defines and redefines the nature of Mars Hill around himself and the history of his family it could be seen as "all part of the plan", to borrow a line from a movie.

But perhaps the new zenith of the sob story as a way Mark Driscoll has invited sympathy was "The Hardest Part of Ministry", which has since been purged from the net.  It doesn't matter.  Wenatchee The Hatchet has had the full text sitting around for months ready to publish should the original content be pulled, which it seems it has been lately.  It's part of this series.

In the October 2013 tour de force of garnering sympathy Mark Driscoll explained that the most soul-aching part of his ministry was all the trouble his family encountered because he preaches the Bible.  Wenatchee The Hatchet has discussed a number of specific statements in that litany of difficulties and believes there is at least some evidence to indicate that Mark Driscoll shared events that really happened but neglected to mention some noteworthy details that former members of Mars Hill might consider to have been mitigating variables.  If a crazy guy comes looking to fight at 3am in response to the discovery that Mark Driscoll had been fuming under the pen name William Wallace II that surely DOES influence how a person interprets a Driscollian plea for sympathy that sometimes these crazy wingnut guys show up at his house looking to brawl.  It's not that the Driscoll kids don't deserve to be undisturbed, they surely deserve to be undisturbed--it's that the sum of historical evidence and documents available does invite a reader to wonder whether Driscoll's own close to twenty years of public trolling and intra-church explosions may not have brought at least some of the troubles his family has encountered upon them.

All of this is to make a suggestion, that those who would critique Mark Driscoll in the public sphere need to be cautious and careful in articulating a distinction between an objection to the substance of what Driscoll says and the way in which he says it.  If you fail to do this and react at a visceral emotional level then you're in some sense feeding a troll. Lamenting the visceral vitriol of the critics who just don't get it or can't take a joke or don't love Jesus or take themselves too seriously is part of the Mark Driscoll shtick.  In fact for as long as progressives and cessationists leaned on their usual hobby horses all they did was give Mark Driscoll a far more abundant reserve of words and experiences upon which to further build the sob story.  People who keep trying to make the problems of Mark Driscoll about the views and not about the products, the literal products, of Mark Driscoll's proverbial pen, will be missing the point.  We did not reach this point in the public discussion of Mark Driscoll because progressives and cessationists kept beating their drums about Mark's views on gays or women or speaking in tongues.  We got to the point we're at in the public discourse because someone compared books to books and found out how one of the books was promoted. 

In other words, people approached the subject of Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill in a way that could not and did not simply feed into the narrative frame of the sob story.  Once Driscoll was shown to have used a pile of materials written by other authors without giving them credit there was no refuge to be taken in the old sob story of how hard it was to be Mark Driscoll.  Once the Result Source Inc. contract was discovered, and the extent to which Mark Driscoll may have relied on Docent Group research and recycling his own material was discovered, it was no longer possible to take Driscoll at his word about how fast he did or had to crank out books for his publishing projects.  Some even wondered aloud who on earth thought it was a good idea for Driscoll to be publishing books in the first place.

And for all of that it seems no one has attended to the narrative of Mark Driscoll closely enough to wonder when on earth that vomit-inducing nightmare happened except Wenatchee The Hatchet.  If people continue to insist on making a point about what Mark Driscoll says about gays or women or other things they're missing the real point.  Study the books, study the narrative, ask where things came from, where they are going.  What Wenatchee The Hatchet has concluded is important is to consider the various ways in which the basic narrative of Mars Hill as mediated by the stories Mark Driscoll has told about himself and his family is a microcosm of Mars Hill and about Mars Hill as a social system.  Too many people have wanted to jump straight into the scandal-mongering stuff without turning an eye to the mundane things like real estate acquisitions or associated leadership appointments.  People have, to risk boiling things down too much, been taken in by the sob story or unwittingly contributed to it.  There's no way even the most striking story of an individual former member or elder or deacon of Mars Hill will, in itself, be capable of competing with the brand of Mark Driscoll.  But what is possible, that Wenatchee The Hatchet at times labors to show, is that if you carefully examine the narrative you can see where and how it changes.

What is striking about the sob story as a rhetorical device that may guide what Mark Driscoll says about himself, his family, and about Mars Hill, is how utterly simple it is.  It works, or it has worked, and it plays upon a natural inclination to offer empathy or sympathy from many.  What is also striking about the use of the sob story as a rhetorical/narrative tool is that as controversy has ratcheted up surrounding Mark Driscoll the sob story has shifted from Mark Driscoll pleading for sympathy to Mark Driscoll pleading for sympathy for his family.  It is, in fact, possible to extend sympathy to the Driscoll family while noting that for Mark Driscoll to plea for that sympathy while also rationalizing his own approach to public ministry is so craven and mercenary that it would be beneath the contempt of Wenatchee The Hatchet if it didn't seem at this stage so necessary to point out the longevity and pervasive use of this rhetorical/narrative tool.  Perhaps Mark Driscoll or someone close to him may have even shared this possibility with him, because now it looks like "The Hardest Part of Ministry" has become yet another 404 in the web presence of Mars Hill. 

POSTSCRIPT 10-15-2015
Whoever got the assets and information of The Resurgence has republished a lot of the material that was once at the resurgence site. So "The Hardest Part of Ministry" is up again.