Saturday, October 11, 2014

was it 44 years ago today ... ?

that Mark Driscoll was born.  Correct?

44's not necessarily a milestone in itself but since 2013 things have gotten challenging for Team Driscoll.  Not just the plagiarism and Result Source scandals.  There's the detail that many Driscoll critics won't know or care about, Grace's father Gib Martin passed in 2013.

Wenatchee offered condolences to the Driscoll and Martin families.  While Wenatchee The Hatchet may have gotten some kind of reputation as a critic of Mark Driscoll this is hardly to say there's no room for the niceties of civil participation in the public sphere.  For instance, there was this piece in April where Wenatchee made a point of correcting popular misrepresentations and misunderstandings about Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church.  If the mainstream and indie press were better about being accurate this blog would be much less about the history of Mars Hill and more about things people don't want to read about. 

Well, happy birthday, Mark.  It's been up and down a lot but surely we can agree it has never been dull. 

a couple of links for the weekend and a preview of a possible coming attraction

The 10,000 hour rule is apparently nonsense.

While the Metaxas biography of Bonhoeffer has been considered to have shoe-horned Bonhoeffer as "evangelical", some reactions to a more recent biography (i.e. Frank Schaeffer) try to draw a bit more out of a life than may have been there.

Meanwhile, Wenatchee The Hatchet will try to get a post about Mars Hill Sammamish out.  This piece of real estate has a somewhat trippy story over the last decade of changing hands over and over in transactions that involve $0 and renovations.  It wasn't in a good way when it was added to the Mars Hill roster, from the look of things, and if rumors that it has been sold are true the sale probably can't do much to alleviate the current fiscal crisis.  Given the annual budget of Mars Hill Church at this point even if they somehow magically sold the corporate HQ, the U-District and the rumored Sammamish (for which, so far, there's no documentary evidence yet across the board WtH knows of) how much time does that buy them?

A few weeks, maybe.  After all, if Turner gets any severance compensation at all (and he shouldn't if severance pay is for lay-offs rather than quitters) then Mars Hill will have only bought themselves a few weeks in which to make a few desperate behind-the-scenes pleas for money.  They know better than to post those pleas on The City by now.  Sutton Turner may have resigned formal eldership but he has not reportedly resigned his membership.  He could still do a lot behind the scenes recruiting financial giving from major donors if he's still around.  Whatever the Lucas Group is, if it really exists, could consist of the kinds of high end donors who could be relied upon in a financial crisis to salvage a potentially sinking ship.

But sometimes a weekend may be a weekend, so Wenatchee The Hatchet can provide some preview thoughts for a campus that seems worth writing about but WtH may just have a weekend and someone else might have stuff to write.  We'll see. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

after being "done" 2 months ago Jim Henderson comes back with another blog post about MH and MD (just admit you can't quit the topic, Jim :) ) --updated and expanded

It's difficult to be certain the investigation is going to even find the formal charges credible at this stage.  It's possible, though, since theoretically anything is possible.  Whether or not it is likely remains to be seen. 

But at this rate if attendance and giving keep nose-diving it may not even matter whether the BoE finds the charges against Mark Driscoll credible or not, and it may not even matter whether the BoAA takes the conclusions presented seriously. 

It's tough to tell whether there will be a Mars Hill in 2015. 

In spite of having protested and said he was "done", Jim Henderson has another post

Always six there are, no more, no less, would Yoda say?

The math seems compelling but it seemed compelling about seven years ago when Wenatchee The Hatchet found out that MH dropped 1.5 million on a piece of real estate that was zoned for industrial use without doing much homework.  Here we are nearly a DECADE LATER.  It's true the financial numbers suggest death is near but "the math" became a problem due to other things.

But as Wenatchee The Hatchet noted at the start of 2014, that while MH giving shows that the number of non-givers had gotten higher ...

there also appeared to be some ramped up giving from the mid-tier and major donor brackets.  Henderson may be a bit optimistic.  We can be moderately sure giving while have tanked and people have left but Wenatchee The Hatchet's guess here is we need to see another FY report, the one for FY2014.  What we may find is that the mid-tier and high end donor giving has stayed relatively static and that the below mid-tier donations have tanked even more.  Why?  Because the higher end donors may just not want to admit they've thrown good money after bad even at this late stage in the game.  For the rank and file there's likely no benefit but for people in the cultural levels where they can net business deals or real estate the incentive to stay loyal may never have been so great as it is now, even in spite of the controversies. 

For #2, the elite, Henderson might have picked the wrong Sun Tzu axiom.  Nathan Burke retweeted a proverb that might be more pertinent. While Henderson quoted, “the one incalculable in war is the will of the people" that might not be the most apropos proverb.  Try this one:
When the officers are too strong and the common soldiers too weak, the result is collapse

retweeted by Nathan Burke, who would surely have been in a position to know how applicable the proverb was!  Still, the Sun Tzu axioms are both applicable.

But unless Mark DeMoss officially throws in the towel and washes his hands of Driscoll and Mars Hill it's probably not accurate to say the cultural elite won't defend Driscoll.  The fact that the publishers of the works that Driscoll cribbed from over six books have not opted to sue him or Mars Hill might also be a suggestion that while some cultural elite aren't going to defend Driscoll they haven't seen a reason to take action in public.

And Wenatchee The Hatchet will believe all 'cultural elite' have abandoned Mars Hill and Driscoll when Jon Phelps, founder of Full Sail University, removes his membership in a way that could be publicly verified.

For number 3, well, Wenatchee The Hatchet has grown cynical about the cynics who talk about "follow the money" stuff.  Where your treasure is there your heart will be doesn't just have to be a saying that people have their treasure in money; it could also be construed as a sign of investment.  The things you treasure you will throw money at whether or not anyone values them.  Wenatchee The Hatchet isn't going to advertise what it cost circa 2002 to get the scores for the complete string quartets of Shostakovich but it wasn't cheap.  Was more gainfully employed back then, relatively speaking.

But a point raised within Henderson's 3 can still be presented thusly, there are reasons for people who have given to Mars Hill to doubt the sustainability of their investment.  As tempting as it is for some to view this motive in a strictly cynical light the failure of MH leadership to competently engage in real estate acquisition a decade ago was a bigger deal to Wenatchee The Hatchet in 2007 than the still murky account of the firings.  Why?  Because someone named Jesus said something about how those faithful with little would be faithful with much and how those dishonest with little would be dishonest with much.  If Mars Hill leadership wasn't going to cop to buying a $1.5 million boondoggle in 2005 then it wouldn't be so big a stretch if things were being spun in 2007.  The lack of fiscal accountability and competence was beginning to show even as far back as 2005.  The numbers were starting to tell a story for those who have an interest.

Anyone can complain about American consumerism while having books they promote. :)  No offense, but it's kind of surprising how many people who have decided to sound off on Driscoll and the company have had books to promote along the way.  Will Henderson have one, perhaps?    It's not that books about Mars Hill can't or shouldn't be written.  Wenatchee The Hatchet could probably write three books about Mars Hill but is not sure that's worth bothering with. 

On 4, the leak.  Well ... no ...
4. The Leak
They committed the unpardonable sin by using “helpless” orphans in Ethiopia to raise money to pay off Driscoll’s WoodWay Mansion. Then they hid the memo. Then someone leaked it. Current staffers have lost confidence and are wanting to clear their conscience.

The "sleeping giant" memo dealing with Mars Hill Global was published, according to Warren Throckmorton, in November 2011 and this was around the time Sutton Turner became official first "king"

Mars Hill Global, back in the Munson era, had been designed to fund capital expansion and resource development for Mars Hill in particular.  This is not up for debate.  Wenatchee The Hatchet quoted extensively from a 2009 sermon in which Driscoll explained what Global was about in 2009 as headed by Munson.

And even this memo published by Throckmorton

Seems to make clear the Global Fund may have a few sketchy or potentially legally problematic aspects in terms of what was used in solicitation vs what was done with the money (i.e. pictures of African kids and money got used to get campuses in WA state) but claiming Global funds were used to buy a Driscoll house might not only be impossible to prove it might give Mars Hill a chance to DISPROVE the claim.

As for where the money to buy the house came from, the previously linked-to sermon will suffice again.  Driscoll hoped one of his books would "pop", after all, and said so from the pulpit.  Perhaps with the use of the kind of side company Driscoll said he didn't have in 2009, the royalties from a book like Real Marriage could have generated enough revenue in royalties for a house to be bought, maybe?  Wenatchee The Hatchet has charted the arcs for the RSI contract on the one hand and the purchase and development of some real estate on the other.

There may be some questions as to all the details of how the house we remodeled and what the final cost really was (MH has a leadership culture that can be infamously bad at low-balling final and real expenses and making mis-steps on zoning issues, after all) but it remains to be seen.  It seems dubious to imply or outright say that Mars Hill Global funds were ever used to buy real estate. 

So that's a set of problems specific to the claims in their specific form as made by Henderson.

But there's also a more general problem, and this may get back to some historic misconceptions in popular imagination about Watergate coverage and the media, kinda.  People have wondered who Deep Throat is and if there's a "Deep Throat" for Mars Hill it is a probably large informal web of former and current members (and likely staff).  Wenatchee The Hatchet has better ways to spend a weekend than naming sources.  It's not as though Mars Hill leadership didn't send a certified letter to Wenatchee The Hatchet last year.  Mars Hill has known for years who Wenatchee The Hatchet is and only in the last calendar year made some overtures at contact.  But who is Wenatchee The Hatchet that anyone should care to meet with WtH?  Besides, as a matter of journalistic blogging ethics there's no way WtH would divulge even one of a dozen or more sources. So the problem Mars Hill is facing is that there are multiple leaks at virtually every level of leadership within the church.  The reasons are simple, a lack of trust in the honesty and integrity of the culture.

Speaking of which ... here's a case where Driscoll deserves, perhaps, a bit more credit than critics would want to give him.

5. The Addict
Just like an addict, Driscoll has let his church take the hits for him while he “reflects” in his bunker. He hides while his church dies. Mars Hill deserves to disappear. There are no leaders left to lead anymore. They followed their king over the cliff.

Let's recall that stuff didn't hit the fan until accusations of plagiarism erupted in the media.  Let's also bear in mind that when Mefferd produced evidence of plagiarism in The Trial study guide for the 1 & 2 Peter series that Mars Hill PR passive aggressively tried to shift blame to the research help.   But ...

in spite of the problem that MH PR tried to shift blame to others besides Mark Driscoll for plagiarism that had Mark Driscoll's name on it the end result was conceding a significant failure without accepting blame for plagiarism as such.  Why does this matter?  Well, look, if you've actually read up on all the citation/plagiarism issues across all books with Mark Driscoll's name on them this was the one time we got anything like a public mea culpa.  Why?  Because the Trial study guide was the only book in which the copyright was owned by Mars Hill Church as a corporation rather than Mark Driscoll as an individual or Driscoll as an individual via the proxy of an LLC.  That matters because that shows that when the plagiarism scandal had the potential to damage Mars Hill Church the corporation, give or take some unscrupulous and cowardly blame-shifting, team Mars Hill took action.  If Driscoll is "like an addict" and "has let his church take the hits for him" then why was so much time and effort spent by Driscoll, Mars Hill and Tyndale to actually ADMIT something went wrong?  Wenatchee The Hatchet probably has a reputation as a Driscoll critic but in this case Henderson's assertions come across as ignorant and unfounded.  It may seem generally true and have the force of an axiom but the problem is in the details of actual events.

Finally, there's whatever this is.

6. The History 
Barbara Tuchman wrote; “history is a series of miscalculations”. Smarter people than Driscoll have been caught by history. Just before the fall comes the proud face. Disgraced Ex President Richard Nixon said it best, “I’m no crook” and then… he was gone.

If history is a series of miscalculations we'll just have to wait and see if Henderson's prediction is right.  As journalists have been putting it since the identification of Deep Throat we now know that it wasn't the press that took down the Nixon administration, it was the Nixon administration.  We shouldn't fool ourselves into thinking that people in the press or in blogging have done more than we have.  Wenatchee The Hatchet has done more than most but would hesitate to say that what has been done is all that much in the long run.  We don't know yet whether Mars Hill may not survive.  It may be "dead" in the taxonomy of Mark Driscoll circa 2006 but even Driscoll said of that kind of "dead" church that it could limp on for generations. 

now that it's closed, too, a brief survey of posts discussing the history and changes of Mars Hill Downtown

As one of the older entries in the history of Mars Hill multisite there are more posts than these that deal with Mars Hill Downtown.  At seven years it had a significantly longer run than Wedgwood/Lake City.

We'll try to get to Mars Hill Sammamish later this weekend or early next week.

Now that MH U-District is closed, revisiting a revisitation of promoting A Call to Resurgence

At this point the irony has to be pretty bitter.  There's been so much going on with Mars Hill this year Wenatchee The Hatchet may be revisiting old material and adding some tags.  "real estate and mars hill" is a tag that now spans 83 posts.  That's too much for readers who may want to read about a specific campus.  So WtH is going to see about adding tags that specify which campus of Mars Hill would be under discussion for easier background research.  This might take a bit of time. 

Meanwhile, in revisiting what was fodder for reading earlier this year, it's ironic that having talked about getting the real estate from a church that didn't love Jesus and that there was a hope and a future "after the funeral" that Mars Hill U-District is no more.

Here's the material from a September post.

Mars Hill University District
4554 12th Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98105
Let's set aside for the moment that in this video Driscoll was talking above sludgy amplified guitar riffs and talking about how the average person doesn't do anything until ticked off, pertinent though that late 2013 statement is for Mark's assurances that his "angry young prophet" days have ended at the tender age of about 42.

Naw, let's focus on the real estate in the shot in the promotional video. The transcript presented starts with that passage about anger but Driscoll elides seamlessly into which church he's on the way to circa later 2013.

The average person doesn't do anything until they're really ticked off. You gotta get to a certain point where you're just frustrated, you're annoyed by it, it's gotten under your skin, you're a little sick of it, you can't do it anymore and something needs to change and then all of a sudden you move to action. That's the point of the book.

We're on our way to a church that was part of Christendom's civil religion. It was all about good works and not very much about good news . That church died and in God's grace we obtained it just a few years ago, and I want you to see tonight what happens after the funeral. There is, in fact, a future as where people who were not worshipping Jesus, tons of young people are meeting Him, and you're gonna meet some of them tonight.    

That slow-motion shot of Driscoll walking up to the campus ... which campus?
What does that look like?

There's a resemblance.

And Mars Hill U-district was acquired a few years back, per the comment from Driscoll in the video promoting A Call to Resurgence.


So it is with this context in mind, that it's possible to more fully appreciate Dave Bruskas' announcement this morning.
By: Pastor Dave Bruskas
Posted: Sep 07, 2014

Downtown Seattle & U-District

Throughout the day today our pastors at Downtown Seattle and U-District are informing those churches that they will be soon be consolidating with Mars Hill Church Ballard. The first Sunday that all three churches will meet together at Mars Hill Ballard will be October 12.

It's not even a year later since the promotional video and before the first anniversary of the promotional video for A Call to Resurgence ... and the campus closure has been made official.

Dave Kraft "What I have learned and am learning from my experience at Mars Hill"---the possibility of a corporation addicted to the "dream" stage at the expense of the "reality" stage.

Kraft outlines a few basic problems in the culture:

1. lack of accountability in practice (vs on paper) for leadership
2. leadership culture characterized by lack of real confession and a lot of blame-shifting
3. a culture in which top level leaders were not honestly open to outside input or dialogue
4. commitment to an unsustainable pace of growth

While Mars Hill Church seems more and more like it's in the death stage, and more and more like a corporation that may really need to die in light of the systemic problems outlined by so many, it may be worth suggesting something here about the history of Mars Hill as a corporate culture and about Mark Driscoll.  For those who read the linked post discussing the stages 3 and 4 consider that Driscoll described stages 1 and 2 as the "dream" stage and the "reality" stage respectively in Confessions of a Reformission Rev.  That got discussed a tiny bit over here:

Let's propose for sake of consideration that Driscoll has been hooked on keeping Mars Hill in stage 1 as long as possible and only staying in stage 2 long enough to get back to a grander version of the "dream" stage.  Suppose, perhaps, Driscoll is in some sense hooked on the social system/corporation known as Mars Hill always and ever existing in the dream phase.  This is one of the only ways to make sense of how someone like Thomas Hurst could say Mars Hill Bellevue was in a "core" stage after 8 years.  That suggests a culture in which no matter how old the organization really is its leadership keeps convincing itself it is still in the "core" stage are should be in the "core" stage, regardless of what reality may have in store.

A commitment to always being in the dream stage could also potentially explain why Mars Hill has stayed committed to starting some kind of school and a music label repeatedly over the last ten years and since the dawn of the church.  The problem with the "not even close" statement Driscoll made about how what MH has been in 2014 isn't close to what he imagined is that it has only been in the last year or two with the nascent Mars Hill Schools, Resurgence Publishing, and the apparently former Mars Hill Music that Mars Hill was truly getting close to pulling off the things that Driscoll had envisioned Mars Hill doing since before the formal launch in 1996.

To have claimed "not even close" in March 2014 Mark Driscoll had to play so fast and loose with the history of Mars Hill it was pretty much begging to get a corrective.  Of course Wenatchee The Hatchet obliged.  It's simply not acceptable to let such a revisionist form of Mars Hill history go without any corrective at all.  It's important to establish that since the start of Mars Hill Mark Driscoll has wanted it to set up a publishing company, host conferences, start a music label, and a Bible school.  Driscoll and company have stayed committed to these dreams regardless of whether or not reality was on their side in terms of finances or infrastructure. 

Whether Mars Hill is in the "failure" or "death" stage remains to be seen.  Death seems more and more likely.  But it seems to Wenatchee The Hatchet, as already explained, that Mars Hill and Driscoll in particular might just be hooked on the "dream" or "vision" stage.  The reality is that you can't stay there and you can't keep going back to it as though when you've hit 10k attenders you're still somehow this scrappy start-up church with a dream.  Mars Hill may not survive long enough to reach a full twenty years at this point.  If it fails it may be in part because the leadership from the top down committed to a growth strategy that may ultimately have just been a variation on "too big to fail". 

Thursday, October 09, 2014

in case folks are curious MH HQ is still listed as "pending", as it has for a couple of months

Not much new to add. 

Mark Driscoll in 2007, "The Biblical Man", "... most guys are just simply frustrated, that I have talked to, because they're not getting enough sex."
The Biblical Man

Sexuality, the big issue for many men. What will you have experimented with? How often are you intimate? What things are different? How have you changed physically, sexually, you know? Losing weight.  You want her to grow her hair out. She wants you to cut off that ridiculous ZZ Top beard. Whatever it is. What's different about your bedroom? Did you go get good bedroom furniture? Is your bedroom a nice place or is it a place with a treadmill and a computer and an office and files, there's nothing sexual about that. In what way is your bedroom become sort of a sanctuary for you and your wife to be together?

And most guys are just simply frustrated, that I have talked to, because they're not getting enough sex. I'll give you one story. Won't name his name, but I remember meeting with a--this is a lot of my marriage counseling. I don't think I'm a great marriage counselor but I do think I have one key insight that I'll share with you. Oftentimes I meet with couples and here's what I hear--the wife says, "I don't feel like we're connected. I don't feel like we're close. I feel like he's a little irritable." And then I ask, "How often are you having sex?"  And she's, "What does that have to do with anything?" [slight chuckle] That effects everything.  You know. Frequency is important.

She says, "Well, I don't understand." You don't have to understand. You have to accept it. [audience laughter] And so, oftentimes, she'll want to talk about communication and I don't feel like he's very happy and du-du-du-du-du-du-du-duh. And then I'll ask him, "How often would you like to be having sex?" And usually it's twice as much as they are. And so then I give them an assignment.  I'll tell her, "Do you love your husband?"
"Does he love you?"
"You guys have sex every day and then come see me again in a month and if there's still communication problems, he seems depressed, he's lethargic, THEN we'll talk because there's OBVIOUSLY a problem. But we're gonna start with what SEEMS to be the most obvious solution."

I'm telling ya, ninety-nine percent of the time they come back a month later she's like, "He's just totally a different guy. [audience laughter, Driscoll says "yeah"] He cuts the grass. He's singing, he's singing and skipping through the house. [audience continues to laugh] He's a totally different guy." Yes, he is.  Yes, he is. ... Now you can't just go home and say "Mark said we need to have sex every day" unless, of course, it works then DO THAT but it may not work. Now sometimes it may be that you're not a loving husband, an attentive husband; you know your wife was abused, you gotta work through past issues, I understand, but you at least need to be honest, right? So many guys are in marriage and they feel like their wife is playing defense and they're always playing offense and, occasionally, they get to be with her. It can't be that way. It can't be that way.

Peter O'Toole's Lawrence once asked, "Are you speaking from experience?"

Anyway, for those interested in reading how, just possibly, Driscoll wasn't just drawing on the experiences of other guys but had some of his own experience to draw upon, peruse this post from the past.

But in 2007 Driscoll was willing to say to a bunch of guys at a men's retreat that ninety-nine percent of the time in marriage counseling when he went with the simplest, obvious solution of suggesting sex every day for a month that tended to fix things.  After all, more frequent sex was what had apparently cured Mark Driscoll's own mood swings and depression, right?

Since Wendy Alsup has discussed Driscoll's teachings and ideals on sexuality within marriage it seems appropriate to note that.  The wife as personal porn star motif is no doubt going to get some further discussion but since Wenatchee The Hatchet was told by a married guy in the last month that "The Biblical Man" was one of the more remarkable examples of how Mark Driscoll talked about sex in marriage and in the context of marital counseling it seemed pertinent to present some of that material for consideration.

Wenatchee The Hatchet wasn't at the men's retreat where all this content was presented, largely because Wenatchee The Hatchet has a couple of hang-ups about men's retreats in general.  It doesn't sound like it was the kind of session that would have been all that interesting.  As a friend put it, the whole thing was basically a sweeping example of Law in which Driscoll tacitly seemed to present himself as the Law of manhood.  Anyway ... so it goes.

Mark Driscoll in 2007, "The Biblical Man", on how only good can come from doing ministry together, except for the times he resented his wife over it and mentioned it in 2006 Confessions?
The Biblical Man
I tell you one of the greatest things to bring you together is doing ministry. This is one of the great secrets of the Christian life. If you and your wife open your home, practice hospitality, doing marriage mentoring couples, leading community gruops, serving others, opening your life, praying for people, doing the work of Jesus together it REALLY builds the marriage. You get to see your wife serving God. Your wife gets to see you serving God. Your kids get to see you serving God. And together as a family you're serving God.  Nothing but good comes out of that. 

This is an interesting generalization and Wenatchee The Hatchet was told of this teaching session by a few married guys who, about a decade later, have come to have very different sentiments about the substance of a lot of what was shared in "The Biblical Man".  Wenatchee will have more to discuss about this teaching session anon, but it's worth pointing out that in spite of "Nothing but good comes out of that" there are a few passages from a 2006 Driscoll book that suggest other things were also capable of happening. 

Hang on, this will take a bit.

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


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.

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. [emphasis added]

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.  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.


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. 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. [emphasis added]

That's just stuff from the 2006 book, mind you.  There are a few other bits here and there such as ... some audio from 2007:
observe ...

audio from August 24, 2007
I have made it very clear my wife's photo will not be on the website.  My wife is not First Lady.  My wife does not need to be at every event. I mean I love my wife. She's very  She's very gifted. That's why I married her but, and I want my wife to serve in the church according to her giftings like other Christians but you're not getting a second free staff two-for-one deal on this hire. I have five little kids and my thing is that my wife stays home and raises our children and I think it is still difficult for my wife to understand how important she is to me. I need her more than I need anybody else. She sees the fact that I'm pretty ruggedly independent and pretty strong-willed and so she seems to, she got the impression because of my overcompensation of my insecurity that I was doing fine by myself. I've had to really clearly articulate to her, particularly in recent years,  "I really need you. Like, I have to have you emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually present." I need to meet you. We need to tuck the kids in. We need to have couch time and I need to talk and I need [you] to hold me. I'm a high, I'm a very high-maintainence man, I've learned. [emphasis added] I need my wife emotionally because I don't get that from my ministry. My ministry is very emotionally draining. My wife, I need her to emotionally and spiritually and physically connected to me.

And so some people have asked, you know, "What does your wife do here at Mars Hill?" I said, "She makes sure I can still be the pastor."  That's the most important job. Somebody else can play piano or answer the phone but nobody else can be my wife. I can delegate a lot of things. As soon as you delegate wife you have real trouble. You know there's verses on that all over the place. ...

So it seems at several points Mark Driscoll began to be bitter and resentful toward Grace precisely because she was throwing herself into so much ministry and/or parenting because Mark Driscoll began to feel ... neglected. 

But, rest assured folks, "Nothing but good comes out of that."

Driscoll using the pulpit to indirectly address "this season" part 2: Driscoll on wolves in Acts 6

That being said as well, the reason I haven’t addressed this season directly from the pulpit is that the pulpit is sacred and it belongs to the Lord Jesus. … Man the last thing I want to do is turn Sundays into talking about me instead of Jesus, or pointing to me instead of Jesus, ...
[from a video featuring Driscoll from the summer of 2014]

As noted earlier, there's a whole sermon in the Acts series from 2014 that seems to be an indirect gloss on the "season" at Mars Hill that appropriates part of Acts 6.  This trend seemed as though it continued when Driscoll got to the life and death of Stephen as an occasion to talk about being empowered to face wolves.
Pastor Mark Driscoll
ACTS 6:8–8:3
May 25, 2014

Today, in God’s providence, we find ourselves in Acts 6:8 through Acts 8:3. Empowered by the Spirit to face wolves.

Does this mean, "It just so happens this week that God has orchestrated everything in the cosmos for me to interpret a passage in Acts as basically being about what I'm about to talk about"? Wolves, eh?

If it seems less direct the details emerge in the application.

These wolves who are now attacking the church are relentless. They started with Stephen, they’ve got Stephen dead, now they’re going from house to house. Do you know how much time, energy, and organization it takes to go to this Bible study, this Community Group, this Redemption Group? Whatever their groups were, they were meeting in homes, going through the list of the leaders, going through the organization of the church, and one by one, declaring war, and even taking men and women, leaders, off to prison to punish them. Well, this obviously causes the rest of the people to be afraid and to scatter. Wolf comes in the sheep pen, kills a few sheep, the rest of the sheep run for their life. It’s relentless, this plan that Saul has overseen.

It is also religious. Saul is not an atheist. If you were to sit down with Saul and say, “Tell me about yourself,” he would echo what he says in Philippians 3: “I was born into a devoutly religious family. I learned the Hebrew Scriptures growing up. I had a good, formal Bible education. I’m a leader in my religious community. I was circumcised on the right day. I obey all the rules. I’m a good, moral, upright person, and I am doing this for the Lord.”

Sure, because the only way to interpret and apply insights about a biblical text describing Stephen would be framing the understanding of the text in terms of Redemption Groups or Community Groups. 

Now perhaps Mark Driscoll and whatever defenders he still has may really think that Driscoll has not directly addressed this season of Mars Hill from the pulpit.  That's sad if they think that because the indirect transformation of supposedly expository sermons in Acts 6 into a stream of editorial asides about the season isn't that hard to pick up.  Even if everyone at Mars Hill is staying off the internet these days it's not difficult to connect dots between Driscoll's commentary about "wolves" and things like this:

As people should know by now the most trenchant criticisms of Driscoll have come from evangelicals and conservatives in the last year over allegations of plagiarism and sales-rigging to secure a #1 spot for Real Marriage, this latter allegation turning out to be true.  As publishers have gone back and amended Driscoll books in the last year you'd have to consult first print editions to get a clear understanding of how far-reaching the plagiarism scandal actually was.  So even in noting that atheists are not wolves (Valerie Tarico might be glad to hear that) Driscoll seems to have offered a commentary that wolves could be religious people (i.e. people who would potentially be fellow Christians). 

If Driscoll or his defenders believe the last thing Driscoll wants to do is turn Sundays into constantly talking about himself and the season at Mars Hill ... well ... that train may well have left the station since the ... dawn of Mars Hill.

Driscoll using the pulpit to indirectly address "this season" part 1: Driscoll on failure in Acts 6

This quote is probably not going to be too difficult to source for people keeping track of things.
From a video in the summer of 2014 featuring Mark Driscoll:

That being said as well, the reason I haven’t addressed this season directly from the pulpit is that the pulpit is sacred and it belongs to the Lord Jesus. … Man the last thing I want to do is turn Sundays into talking about me instead of Jesus, or pointing to me instead of Jesus, ...

And yet in two sermons from May 2014 it's arguable that his preaching on texts from Acts 6 are impossible to understand as interpretations of the biblical text that aren't primarily filtered through the prism of Mark Driscoll's own understanding of his being the center of controversy associated with Mars Hill and his own activity.

Here are a few selections from the Acts series.  While Throckmorton has discussed the sermon as featuring six minutes of "maybe Jesus made mistakes" this sermon is noteworthy for how thoroughly it imposes ideas on to the text of Acts 6 rather than reading Acts 6 as a narrative with its own aims.
Pastor Mark Driscoll
Acts 6:1–7
May 18, 2014

Number two, as a church is growing, though Jesus is happy, not everybody’s happy because there is a—what is there? Here’s another word. There’s a “complaint.” “We don’t like it. We don’t like it. “There’s something wrong. “I used to be able to park my camel right out front. Now, ugh, it’s so far away. I had a seat up front and somebody took my seat. It was terrible, terrible. The coffee’s terrible. It’s just terrible. It’s all diluted. There’s so many people now, you don’t even get the good coffee. This church has changed. Things are different. It’s not like it used to be.” There are complaints. “Nobody here loves me. I filled out a visitor card and nobody came to see me despite my welcoming disposition.”

So not everybody’s happy because as things grow, things change, and not everybody likes change.
The way Driscoll trivializes the nature of complaint in general is self-evident, and that he makes this point about complaint when the text of Acts 6 refers to a complaint rising up about an injustice has been fodder for blogging here before.  Over here.  The problem with presenting the failure to care for all widows in an equally equitable manner as though it were a mistake and not also a sin is that it requires a level of biblical illiteracy that won't hold up for anyone who takes the biblical texts seriously.  There's a second reason presenting the failure to care for Hellenistic widows as a "mistake" and not also a "sin", the simple detail that Acts says the apostles took the problem seriously enough to address it to begin with.  I.e. "it's in the Bible".  Driscoll gets that much, as shown below:
And number four, sometimes complaints against the church go—this is not my favorite part of the story—public, OK? A complaint arose. What it means is, a couple people are upset, and then more people got involved, and then it sort of is like a brush fire that keeps burning. Next thing you know, it’s kind of a thing, and it’s the Hellenists versus the Hebrews on the nightly news. It’s very serious, and it arose. It became public. How do we know it became public? It’s in the Bible.

But the only way this kind of sermonizing gloss on Acts 6 makes sense is not as an expository exegetical survey of what Acts 6 was talking about.  Rather, the gloss makes sense if Mark Driscoll is interpreted as indirectly framing his whole approach to Acts 6 as narrative as a sideways explanation of the "season" at Mars Hill in 2014.

One hardly needs to look very far for cases in point where what is supposedly a sermon bout Acts 6 frequently shifts into a running commentary on the life and times of Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill.
I’ve seen this in Mars Hill. When we first started, man, I was jack of all trades, master of none. If you called the church, it actually was my home phone number and I would answer it, OK? It’s not like that today, just so you know, OK? If you showed up to church early, you would notice me and a guy who was really faithful unloading my old Toyota pickup truck and all of our sound equipment.

Right, because Mark Driscoll wanted to avoid directly addressing the season of Mars Hill troubles from the pulpit.  Why worry about that when whole sermons on biblical texts can be understood as editorial glosses on the life and times of Mark Driscoll as a church leader?

And, sure enough, ever since Janet Mefferd's on-air confrontation, it seems Driscoll has suddenly discovered that not all mistakes are sins, as though that had anything particularly to do with Acts 6 and a discussion of the neglect of non-Jewish widows.

Number four, there’s a difference between a sin and a mistake, and it’s really important that I emphasize this. I don’t think, historically, I’ve emphasized this enough in my teaching, so let me clarify it today. So the situation here is this: they’re trying to help, love, serve, and care for widows. Now, their critics would look and say, “They don’t care about people.” They do, they’re trying to help. And some would look and say, “They’re in sin. They’re not loving and caring for people. They’re in sin.”

Here’s my question. They are in failure, but there are two kinds of failure. Some failure’s a sin. Other failure’s a mistake. Do you get the difference? Their failure, is it a sin or is it a mistake? OK, think about it for a minute [humming Jeopardy theme song] OK, what do you think it is now? Ready for your answer? How many of you think they’re in sin and they need to repent? How many of you think they made a mistake, they’ve got to learn and grow from it, and fix it?

There’s a difference, right? I don’t think they’re in sin. It’s not that they don’t love people. It’s not that they’re trying to help. It’s not that they have bad doctrine, bad character. It’s not that they’re not trying or working hard. They just stink at it. Any of you had anything like that? They need to improve on it. They need to learn and grow in it.

Friends, this is where we need to give grace to one another. And not every issue is, sin, repent, sin, repent. Yeah, we hit sin and repent a lot. Sometimes it’s mistake, learning, mistake, learning, and we give grace to one another. They made a mistake, and they need to learn from it. You make mistakes; you need to learn from it. We make mistakes; we need to learn from them. I make mistakes; I need to learn from them.

Humming the "Jeopardy" theme just spells out how rhetorical the question was intended to be at the outset.  A reasonable reading of Acts 6 can suggest that it was both a sin and a mistake to neglect one set of widows while caring for another set of widows.  That Driscoll introduces a false dichotomy into his interpretation and application of the text doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the "season" but it's not a responsible way of addressing what's in the text.  But in the wake of Driscoll's confrontation with Mefferd the sin/mistake polarity of mutual exclusion only makes sense appearing in a Driscoll sermon in this "season" if it is about the "season".

... Every leader fails at something. And your failure doesn’t need to be the end of you; it could be the beginning of your learning. ...

Well that seems pretty directly addressing the "season", doesn't it?

And what's up with this?

Number four, they then lay hands on them, which is delegating authority. What happens in the Bible is that when a leader chooses another leader and it’s confirmed by the Holy Spirit and the rest of the team, then they lay hands on that person and they commission them into ministry, and here’s what it’s showing. We believe that God has put his hand on them, proverbially speaking, and therefore we’re going to put our hand on them, physically speaking. And as they go out to do their ministry, they’re doing it under our authority. Under our authority.

So the apostles are saying, “We’re not going to be there like, you know, the chef, chopping up the vegetables, and like the waiter, serving the meal. We’re going to send these people, but they come on our behalf. They represent us. So if you don’t like the meal, you don’t need to talk to us, you need to talk to them. If you don’t think that things are run well, you don’t need to talk to us, you need to talk to them because they represent us.”

Let me ask you this: Do you think anybody was upset that they didn’t get Peter to bring them their soup anymore, that John couldn’t come sit at their table for a few minutes and check in on them? Do you think that displacement felt like a loss for some people? “Who are you?” “Well, I’m Stephen.” “I don’t know you. Where’s Peter?” “Peter’s not here anymore.” “Oh, he’s too big for us. Yeah, he’s moved on. “Uppity, uppity, uppity. Got a book deal, I heard. He thinks he’s writing the Bible,” right, OK? Right?

Are they being proud or humble, the leaders? The people might think, “They’re proud. They don’t love people. Certain things are beneath them.” This would have went out on Twitter, this statement, “It is not right for us to serve tables.” “Oh, too good for that, huh?”
Setting aside the problem that the apostles asked the people to appoint men for the help of widows (the significance of which was already discussed here) what's with the specifics?  Delegated authority?  By whom, again?  It was the people and the apostles laid hands on those appointed by the people, not the apostles laying hands on men appointed by the apostles who already knew better than the people who was suitable for the task. 

But, more to the point, "Got a book deal, I heard."  "Oh, he's too big for us".  This has nothing at all to do with anything in Acts 6.  There's no basis for it even as speculation but as an indirect editorial ramble on the part of Mark Driscoll about complaints that may have been heard or heard about circa 2011-2014 all these would-be witty asides can make some sense.

For a man who claimed he didn't want to address the season directly from the pulpit he seems to have managed to preach at least one sermon about a biblical text in the 2014 Acts series in which it's virtually impossible to understand his interpretation and application of Acts 6 as anything BUT a ramble about the season at Mars Hill.

This was also not even the only sermon in which that vibe emerged.

Throckmorton blogs about the time when Mars Hill Church considered moving to California

I asked Mars Hill Church spokesman Justin Dean about the story, and whether or not Mars Hill still has property in CA. He replied:
Warren, thanks for your inquiry. We do not discuss salary and compensation details of any member of our staff. However I have also verified that we do not maintain any property or living quarters in the CA area for any staff, including Pastor Mark Driscoll.

Read more:

Where Mars Hill and Justin Dean do not discuss salary and compensation details of any member of staff and don't maintain any property or living quarters in the CA for any staff, there's a bit more asking that can be done about real estate in Washington state.  After all, just because some permit stuff was estimated at 85k doesn't mean that's how much it cost to remodel a certain house, does it?

Wenatchee The Hatchet does happen to have pdf docs of all the notable real estate purchases in King County associated in any way with MH or with Driscoll.  It wasn't too hard.  There were reports here and there that at one point Mark Driscoll was considering moving MH HQ and his family down to California but that this was met with some strong objections and that the plan, at one point considered, was set aside.  Whether that meant abandoned altogether or simply tabled is obviously not possible to not at this point since even the idea that the Driscolls would have rental space in California or would consider moving MH HQ to CA has had little by way of confirmation and longtime readers of Wenatchee The Hatchet may have some idea how reluctant WtH is to post without having some firm details.  WtH didn't start discussing the house in Snohomish county until two to four confirmations were established.

Anyway, things are not close to over on the matter of Mars Hill, Mark Driscoll and real estate acquisitions and renovations.  Some questions are still lingering about a few things.

some words from the March 17, 2012 memo about covenants, commenter at Throckmorton suggests likelihood that MH accounts may be frozen soon. Any corroboration for this?

So, what does the above table tell us?
1. We are taking in $30.25 per adult and spending $4 7.30 per adult.
2. We will run out of cash in early July.
3. We will be out of compliance with our loan covenants in early June.

If this was a risk back in early 2012 how close has Mars Hill gotten to being out of compliance with any applicable or relevant loan covenants by now?

Well, one "Mars Hill Insida" had this to say earlier today
Mars Hill is about to have their accounts frozen and the bank is going to take over. All of this is irrelevant at this point.

Follow later by ...
Wrong. Its called loan covenants. It is what MH is running up against. I don't have to prove can either believe me or not.

We can establish from the earlier published memo of 2012 that loan covenants were considered a risk factor in Mars Hill's financial situation in the past, so simply mentioning their existence as a variable that could impact financial accounts isn't uncalled for.  While Mars Hill Insida might not have a mountain of docs at the ready to establish that Mars Hill is about to have their accounts frozen the existence of loan covenants has since become a matter of public record.  There may be some speculation afoot here but it's possible for at least some of that speculation to be informed and educated.  We'll see.

Slow news week, obviously, but as Wenatchee The Hatchet has been noticing this year most of the news this year was about stuff that was arranged a few years ago.  If Mars Hill has all of its real estate still cross collateralized into a single loan then any breach of any loan covenants might spell fiscal disaster for the organization, or might it not?  We'll just have to wait and see.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

HT Mbird: If Driscoll has become an embarrassment to evangelicals Richard Dawkins may be a comparable embarrassment to atheists

The review opens with a sentence so gorgeous and funny it's worth quoting.

If an autobiography can ever contain a true reflection of the author, it is nearly always found in a throwaway sentence.

It's something.  Sometimes it seems that if Mark Driscoll is an embarrassment to evangelical Americans that Richard Dawkins has increasingly positioned himself as an embarrassment to fellow atheists. 

and in keeping with a theme, Richard Brody on the crisis of the contemporary cinematic romance being why people stay together, not why they came together to start with
... The nurse’s popular wisdom about the primacy of attraction is as true now as it was then, with one main difference: for the nurse, the inevitable result was marriage and the effort to build a lasting relationship on the basis of that attraction. In our time, the problem isn’t finding a reason to act on attraction (though Eric Rohmer has given us plenty of reasons not to), it’s whether there’s a point to having a relationship afterwards—it isn’t getting together but staying together. [emphasis added] We’re forthright enough about desire to distinguish it from the many other things that life is made of; it’s necessary but not sufficient. The twist of “Knocked Up” is that desire quickly yields to practicalities; the terrible pathos of “Funny People” is that fierce mutual desire turns out not to be enough. The title of “The Royal Tenenbaums” could be (with apologies to Hal Hartley) “Surviving Desire.” What makes modern romance complicated is that our expectations are surprisingly high—they take in desire and four-syllable words, a meeting of the minds as well as an erotic charge.

It might be a bitter paradox that among Christians in America evangelicals want to figure out how to keep that spark alive when a few centuries of Christian ethical tradition have held that the spark, however pleasant it might be while it's there, has never been and shouldn't be considered sufficient grounds for entering into a marriage in the first place.  In earlier periods of cinema there were more external obstacles to a couple getting together but since we've passed a bicentennial for a Jane Austen novel as of last year, it may be worth noting that many of the most challenging obstacles to a relationship coming together (or lasting) are internal conflicts.  Darcy and Bennett don't come together until they have recognized and overcome their own character flaws, never mind how astutely they may have observed character flaws in each other.  John Donne once said in one of his sermons that some of the ancient church fathers noted that man named all the animals but did not name himself and that this might be a sign that however much we may come to learn about the world our very selves may always be mysterious.

HT mbird, The Onion, "I'm Sorry, But You're Just Not the Man I hoped You Would Become When I Married You".,37061/

Mere Orthodox/Alastair Roberts play with friendship and a pitiless rumination from WtH on the "friend zone"

There's about 35 minutes of podcast linked to up there and Wenatchee The Hatchet is not necessarily going to sum all of it up, being about a week late anyhow.

What was discussed, briefly, was a concern about the low estate of friendship in American evangelicalism in general and among men in particular. Per Roberts:

... The elevation of a companionate model of marriage has a lot to do with the current shape of society and the economy, which uproots us and atomizes society. Choosing a spouse has increasingly become about choosing the only person with whom you will have a close friendship for the rest of your life. For the married, this means bearing the immense weight of the majority of one’s partner’s need for human companionship (is it any wonder that marriages buckle under such pressure?). Those without such a life companion are frequently condemned to lonely lives as, outside of the nuclear family and sexual relationships, relatively few deep and meaningful social connections remain.

As C. S. Lewis famously wrote in The Four Loves, ours is an epoch that has elevated erotic attachment to heights of imagined transcendance that earlier eras would have found implausible.  Many marriages across time and space were arranged and not entered into out of mutual twitterpation and butterflies and yet, look, here we are!  One of the problems with the "friend with benefits" model of marriage is that it fails to account for a blunt historic reality, that lots of people married who were not friends in the ways that people might understand friendship now or even at other times. 

The propensity to read the erotic onto all other types of relationship in our time can seem nearly universal in contemporary Western thought.

Take the weird discussion about the animated Frozen being queer.

For people who insist on reading that subtext there's the matter of the text.  The sisters are sisters. 

Rambling along to other fields of discussion, let's take Frank Schaeffer's declaration that Bonhoeffer was flamingly gay because of his friendship with Bethge.

Are we completely sure there isn't a confirmation bias afoot here?  Not that Wenatchee The Hatchet takes Frank Schaeffer particularly seriously but the case in point is a case in point, the tendency to read sexual politics of all sorts into topics that may not have much immediate reason for it seems to be characteristic of our time. 

Had Schaeffer had the inclination he could have known enough about Mark Driscoll to point out that Bonhoeffer being 27 and financially dependent on his parents would make it pretty ironic that Driscoll has at any point sung the praises of Bonhoeffer as a theologian.  But then again, so far as Wenatchee The Hatchet can tell Frank Schaeffer specializes in cheap shots to about the same level as Mark Driscoll. 

Though not uttered by Mark Driscoll to Wenatchee's recollection the term "friend zone" was something heard over the years at Mars Hill.  It was the dreaded friend zone and so far as Wenatchee The Hatchet can tell the kinds of men who complain most loudly about the "friend zone" probably deserve to stay there until they can get over the perceptions they have about such a designation.  Call it a resolute lack of pity but it does not stem from not knowing what it is like to be unmarried.

Mars Hill was probably not really unique in evangelical terms and it might be common enough to hear someone say "I'm not gifted for singleness" and by that simply mean ever being horny.  It might also not be uncommon to talk about how in marriage there's intimacy.  But Wenatchee, perhaps a bit skeptically, proposes that if you don't find intimacy in your relationships outside of marriage why on earth should you expect to find intimacy within marriage?

This would be reflected a bit in the numbered rankings Driscoll made a point of listing for levels of friendship back when he was producing content for A29 blogs. Of course since A29 has divested itself of Driscollian content to actually go see the numbered ranking system ... .

But you don't really need to go read that to know Driscoll listed spouse as 10 and enemies as 0.  Driscoll isn't that unusual in placing the spouse at the pinnacle of friendship.  And while Song of Songs has a celebration of erotic attachment that praises the beloved as friend there are ideals that are celebrated because they are recognized as not necessarily normal.  Many a couple married over the history of humanity for pragmatic reasons.  It's possible that in our time we have so overvalued the erotic attachment it damages our appreciation of other relationships.  "Forsaking all others" in a marriage vow could refer to other potential sexual partners, not everyone else with whom you might build a life. 

I met a handful of guys in Mars Hill history who had this idea that basically the man and woman could be against all their respective clans as long as they were for each other.  "Us against the world" sounds romantic until normal day to day problems come up.  To the extent that we elevate the erotic bond may be the extent t owhich distortions and mutations of the expectations of such a bond become more terrible.  There's supposed to be some film out now with Rosamund Pike in it that some say is a kind of horror film about a marriage that goes awry.  Maybe so.  Wenatchee's attention has shifted more to music lately.

But perhaps that film and that theory about it highlights what Roberts has pointed out, that the expectation of marriage is freighted with the kinds of burdens it would not have, in earlier periods of human history, have been expected to bear anyway.  Wenatchee has privately beaten this drum for decades but evangelicals in the United States had best abandon a commitment to family values as being a commitment to the nuclear family.  Consider the nuclear family as we've gotten used to it in American popular culture as a short-term freak aberration based on a post-war industrial/manufacturing boom that is not likely to return, particularly not since we exported so much of our manufacturing base overseas in the last thirty years.

That's probably enough rambling on this subject but perhaps it is a sign of the low estimate of friendship in American culture as a whole that one of the insults taken by men about women is that when their erotic interest is spurned they complain that they have been put into the indignity of the "friend zone"?

Throckmorton: the lead pastor and executive pastor wellness program and John Catanzaro

Catanzaro's hearing is apparently in November.  Mars Hill and associates purged all references to Catanzaro as far as practical but ... for those who are curious to read at least a little bit about Catanzaro's history with Mark Driscoll you can read these.

Apparently this was a topic about which Justin Dean bothered to reply to Warren Throckmorton, which would be interesting if up until now Dean had shown himself capable of saying anything that seemed either informative or accurate.  Then again ...  pleading organizational incompetence as the explanation for how Andrew Lamb's disciplinary situation ended up being posted about on The City does make sense.

It was over here in this thread that Wenatchee The Hatchet spotted a not-so-stray comment about OC homes.

Alastair Roberts on the Politics of Privilege and Phillipians 3:4a-14

After noting this famous Pauline passage has tended to be interpreted in terms of a polemic against a proto-Pelagian soteriology Alastair Roberts goes on to set this option aside in favor of interpreting the passage in light not of works but of status indicators and privilege.

... Whatever we might say about his later Torah-observance and zeal, being circumcised on the eighth day, being an Israelite, being a member of the tribe of Benjamin, and having impeccable Hebrew pedigree were largely accidents of Paul’s birth, unrelated to anything that he himself had done.

Instead of serving as signs of moral attainment, these biographical details were indicators of covenant status, signs that Paul was situated—or so he once thought—on the inside track of God’s purposes. We need not, of course, just switch from a reading focusing entirely upon performance to one that speaks only of status: both are present. However, matters come into clearer focus when we understand the sort of identity that Paul once boasted in, not least because similar genres of identities continue to exert a powerful force in our own world.

If the identity that Paul is describing here is not that of the classic legalist, what is it? I believe that an analogous sort of identity could be found in the patriot. Paul wasn’t that unlike the patriot who takes pride in the fact that he is a true American (as opposed to all of those unwelcome immigrants). ...

It gets more fun and interesting from there, with Roberts pointing out how the status indicators that Paul at one point could take great pride in he came to consider rubbish. 

tweeted bromides on what forgiveness isn't courtesy of Rachel Held Evans and Mark Driscoll, a paradoxical agreement

Rachel Held Evans
unconditional forgiveness does not require unconditional toleration of abusive behavior. This shouldn't be controversial.

Jim West, as expected, disagreed. 

What's interesting about the RHE tweet is how thematically similar it is to this:
Forgiveness is not covering up sin committed against us. If a crime is committed, you can
forgive someone & still call the cops.
10:38 AM - 17 Jun 13

Fascinating, so on at least this particular theme MD and RHE might be on exactly the same page.  And West would likely say they're both tragically and insultingly wrong. 

per a comment from "Dave" at Throckmorton, can it be confirmed Mark Driscoll has a house in Orange County?

Dave Robert Rodriguez
For those that know Mark, this is a classic description of him. He is very generous to certain people and will lavish people with gifts and pick-up vacation tabs and let families stay at his Orange County house. I know one former pastor who Mark was trying to control and not let leave the church....Mark offered him to go anywhere in the country for a week and he would pick up the tab for him. It was a form of abusive control and manipulation.

See, for a while Wenatchee The Hatchet was wondering how casually Driscoll seemed to be able to be in the Orange County area when the eviction announcement for Mars Hill Orange County came up because, if memory served, it seemed he was down there.  Then for Strange Fire he seemed to kinda happen to be nearby and was able to crash it.

So a reference to Driscoll having some kind of house down in Orange County is not exactly new, because Wenatchee The Hatchet has heard word of such a place for the better part of a year, but there's been little commentary on the existence of such a place that's documentable on the net. 

Can someone verify whether or not Driscoll has an owned or rented estate in Orange County per the comment of "Dave"?