Wednesday, January 14, 2015

wayback machine archive of Jamie Munson resignation is back up, raw text reproduced for consideration
By: Mars Hill Blog
Posted: Sep 06, 2011
Important Letters from Pastors Jamie Munson and Mark Driscoll
Dear Mars Hill Church,

With much gratitude, much love, and many bittersweet tears, I am resigning from my staff role as Executive Pastor of Mars Hill Church, effective September 30. Jesus has called me into a new vocational season, and I informed Pastor Mark and Pastor Dave of my decision late last week. As I take some time to reflect on my twelve years on staff, I want to thank you for the privilege it has been to serve you, and praise God for the grace he has shown me.

I love Jesus.
I first showed up at Mars Hill in September 1997 as a 19-year-old who didn’t know Jesus. Total pagan. I had just moved from Missoula, Montana, for a change of scenery. I didn’t come to Seattle to find Jesus, but Jesus sure found me. Pastor Mark was preaching through Romans at the time, and I saw my sin and experienced the grace of Jesus. What’s cool is just a few weeks ago I got invited back to Missoula to preach to nearly 4,000 people and share the grace I have experienced.
I love my family.

At the age of 21 I met my wife in the pews of Mars Hill. We became friends, eventually dated, and were married a few months later. Crystal is amazing, a true gift from God, and in the following five years we were graced with four beautiful children. Mars Hill is the only church we’ve know together as a family and we intend to keep it that way as long as possible.
I love Pastor Mark.

One man more than any other has had a profound impact on my life, and that man is Pastor Mark. It was under his preaching and leadership that I met Jesus, was baptized, and was later called into full-time ministry. His friendship, his counsel, his patience, his leadership, his love for the church, his love for my family, and his love for Jesus are brilliant. I am eternally grateful for the impact he has had on my life and I look forward to continuing to build our friendship.
I love the staff and elders.

Over more than a decade on staff at Mars Hill I have had the opportunity to work with some of the best men and women anywhere. They love Jesus, they love the church, and they are some of the finest leaders around. Thank you all for your continued sacrifices and faithfulness.
I love the people of this church.

Mars Hill is made up of thousands of people whom Jesus has brought together as part of his church. The passion for Jesus and his mission is incredible, and I’m absolutely honored to be counted as one of your pastors and fellow servants of Jesus. Thank you for making my work a joy.
I love Mars Hill.

Mars Hill Church is the thing that ties all of these stories and relationships together. I’ve enjoyed a front row seat for every moment as we’ve grown from 100 to 10,000 people. I know I’m biased, but I believe this is the best church anyone could be a part of. I still plan and hope to be a part of the church for a long, long time. My family and I will continue to worship at Mars Hill, and I’ll still be a pastor, serving on the Board of Directors in an unpaid role. Between now and the end of the year, I will be taking a bit of a sabbatical to rest, regroup, and capture more of what Jesus has done; I hope to make some progress on a leadership book I’ve intended to write for some time. My time on staff at Mars Hill Church has come to an end, but the Munson family is not going anywhere, and we’re so excited to see what Jesus does in the next fifteen years. If it’s anything like the last fifteen, we’re all in for a great ride and grace beyond our expectations. I love you, Mars Hill. It’s all about Jesus,
Pastor Jamie Munson

P.S. Keep in touch on Facebook and Twitter. Read Pastor Mark's letter and vision statement after the jump. 

Dear Mars Hill Church,
I am writing this letter to provide my perspective on Pastor Jamie’s transition as well as directives for how to respond and proceed. In seasons like this we need the elders, staff, and church to trust the senior leadership of Mars Hill. To help nourish that trust, Pastor Jamie and I are posting our letters together to demonstrate our unity and friendship while keeping no secrets and simply telling the truth. At his recent annual review, Pastor Jamie was given high performance marks and asked to return in his current role of Executive Pastor at Mars Hill Church. After a season of prayerful consideration, he informed his review team that he felt God was calling him to pursue a new ministry and business venture. He was again invited to continue in his current role on staff at Mars Hill Church, or move into another role in the organization. With great affection for the church, he has since come to the conclusion that the time has come for his transition off of paid staff. I want to make it emphatically clear: there is no disqualifying sin or error of any kind in Pastor Jamie’s life. This is in no way connected to anything negative. He is, by God’s grace, "above reproach," as he always has been. I also want to stress that there is no relational friction between Pastor Jamie and myself. In the days leading up to his decision, my children were at his house playing and vice versa, as has been the case for years. Our wives, Crystal and Grace, were in contact as friends as they always are. Jamie remains one of my nearest and dearest friends, a brother in every sense of the word, and personally I assure you we had no conflict and are as close as we’ve ever been. For example, on our recent family vacation I missed him and simply called him so I could check in on my friend. I deeply enjoy Jamie and intend to remain close friends with him and his family, as do Grace and our children. Nothing has changed personally in our relationship. Jamie is the same godly, humble, helpful, enjoyable man of God he’s always been. In this, we’ve both shed a few tears and are committed to our ongoing friendship. Here is what I am asking from you. Please pray for the Munson family. Please pursue the Munson family. Bomb them with love and affection. Make sure that Crystal and the wonderful Munson kids feel the embrace of Jesus through the affection of Mars Hill. If you are their friends, keep being their friends. I have known Crystal since she was in college before she and Jamie met. She is wonderful. We adore and enjoy her. She is as committed to our church and the mission of Jesus as anyone at Mars Hill. Let’s ensure that in this season of transition her friendships and community remain stable, steady, and supportive. Correct any gossip or rumor you hear that is negative and untrue. Celebrate the fact that Pastor Jamie is Mars Hill 1.0. He is exactly why Mars Hill exists. A lost young person meets Jesus and grows to be a godly leader, spouse, and parent who loves and leads well by the grace of God with humility and passion. He has given us every day of his life since he was 19 years of age. Mars Hill does not exist as a church of more than maybe a few hundred without God’s grace through Pastor Jamie. If a book were written about what God is doing among us, at least one whole chapter would be devoted to telling the story of God’s grace in Pastor Jamie’s life. This is a wonderful opportunity to honor and celebrate the grace of God through the Holy Spirit in the life of Pastor Jamie and his family. As part of the honoring of Pastor Jamie, people in and out of Mars Hill who want to thank the Munson family and give them gifts and such can do so by sending them digitally to andrew [at] marshill [dot] com or physically to:

Mars Hill Church Attn: Andrew Myers 1411 NW 50th Street Seattle, WA 98107

This way everyone who so desires can say thank you in their own way. Note: The remainder of this blog post contains more specific leadership directives regarding our future for those in and out of Mars Hill who are interested. 

Leadership Vision for Mars Hill
My proposal to the Board of Directors (BOD) is that Pastor Jamie Munson remain an elder at Mars Hill Church Ballard. Following a sabbatical through the end of the year to enjoy his family, rest up, and finish writing a book, he will rejoin us as an unpaid board member at the highest legal level of Mars Hill Church. In God’s providence, the same day that Pastor Jamie made this decision, one of our unpaid BOD members had to resign due to escalating demands at his place of employment. So, while this man will remain an elder at his local Mars Hill Church, it opened a seat on the BOD for an unpaid elder, which Pastor Jamie fills perfectly. We need many more unpaid elders and Pastor Jamie helps us to raise the profile of that service. The plan is simply that Pastor Jamie will remain an elder at Mars Hill indefinitely. He has clearly communicated his desire to stay at Mars Hill and serve as an elder and we welcome this. So, Pastor Jamie is still Pastor Jamie. Also, the door to employment is always open to Pastor Jamie. It has been clearly communicated to him by myself personally and by his performance review team collectively that should he ever change his mind, we would welcome him back on staff at Mars Hill Church. Our bylaws require that our Executive Elder (EE) team have at least three members. Pastor Dave Bruskas and I remain on the EE. Thankfully, Pastor Dave and his family recently moved to Seattle after leading Mars Hill Albuquerque. His leadership, wisdom, and experience come at just the right time and we praise God he is on the team. In God’s providence, the sermon he preached at Mars Hill Ballard will air this Sunday at all our other churches, helping you to get to know him better. To fill Pastor Jamie’s vacancy on the EE, I am recommending that the BOD vote for Pastor Scott Thomas to join the EE for at least the foreseeable future. Pastor Scott has served faithfully for many years as an elder at Mars Hill, is among our most trained and seasoned leaders, is already a BOD member, and has served previously for many years as an EE member while also leading Acts 29. Pastor Dave and I both believe Pastor Scott is the best choice for this role in this season. Pastor Scott has been very clear in his love and commitment to Mars Hill and has said he will gladly serve wherever he is needed, which we deeply appreciate. Administratively, Pastor Jamie was our senior "king" and his departure requires very competent leadership to cover his many responsibilities. Thankfully, Pastor Jamie was a great leader and humble man. He surrounded himself with great people. This allows us to not have the kind of crisis that could otherwise ensue. Pastor Dave and I agree that Sutton Turner should function as our highest-ranking "king." Sutton is new to staff, but not to ministry. He is a former executive pastor of a large church. Educationally, he is a graduate of Texas A&M, the SMU Cox School of Business, and Harvard Business School. Professionally, he has recently served as the CEO of a company that has nearly 1,600 employees. Prior to that he served as the CEO of another company that under his leadership grew from 0 to 500 employees in the first year. He and his family moved to Seattle sensing a call to serve at Mars Hill, and we believe he is a gift from God to us for our future. He is currently well into the eldership process so be in prayer for that as well as his many duties at the church. This winter I will be cancelling the normal Christmas series. Instead, I will be spending some weeks on vision. Who is Mars Hill, how do we operate, where are we going? This is clear in my vision for the church and I want to share it with you. I want to increase our passion, hope, giving, and clarity across Mars Hill. I want to preach on the road from various Mars Hill churches, showing the vision, introducing the converts, and letting our people see the evidences of God’s grace in order to fire them up for 2012. In January we start the Real Marriage campaign and launch the book Grace and I have written by the same name for Thomas Nelson. We also have completed, thanks to Pastor Brad House, a small group curriculum that includes study guides and DVDs from Grace and me to help people—both single and married—grow relationally. We are inviting other churches to join us on this big campaign, and in the grace of God I believe 2012 will be the biggest year we’ve ever had. While we celebrate the past and honor the present, we also need to prepare for the future by God’s grace. We’ve been here before, many times before, in fact. As our church grows, we encounter obstacles and hit ceilings of complexity and need to adjust as necessary to get through the next size barrier. This was true at 200, 800, 2,000, and 6,000, just like the experts predicted. At 10,000 we are there again. I’ve been working on the beginnings of a comprehensive plan, as I can see into the future to 25,000 people a week, Lord willing. A finished version of that document will be released once it is revised with input and change from various leaders in the church, as well as wise counsel from leaders of churches larger than ours who have become friends. In the meantime, the data below provides some understanding of where we are and where we are going. There are three major variables essential to understanding a church: theology, philosophy of ministry, and size. Church size affects nearly every aspect of a church; bigger churches are not simply larger versions of smaller churches, but rather very different organizations. There are very few truly large churches in America, contrary to some perceptions. Estimates for the total number of churches in America range from 300,000 to 400,000. Of those, the following are the number of very large churches: •10,000 – 15,000 people = 26 churches
•16,000 – 20,000 people = 5 churches
•20,000 – 25,000 people = 3 churches
•25,000 – 40,000 people = 0 churches
•40,000+ people = 1 church
 Total churches of 10,000 or more people = 35 A few observations help to articulate this further: 1.Fully 32 of the 35 churches listed as the largest in America are multi-site like Mars Hill.
2.The largest churches tend to be concentrated in Southern California, Texas, the Southeast, and around Lake Michigan, including Chicago.

For Mars Hill, regularly rolling through the 10,000 barrier would put us on the road to 15,000, which is the next barrier; after that it is 20,000 and then 25,000, if by God’s grace we get there. You can be in prayer for the Executive Elders and Sutton as we finalize plans for the next season of Mars Hill, which we will share with you when they are ready. We are now 13 Mars Hill churches meeting in four states and, like parents with a big family, we want to ensure everyone is taken care of and grows up to be healthy and strong. We are not driven by numbers, but we are driven to see the number of people meeting Jesus and walking with Jesus on mission in community go up because people need Jesus and Jesus loves them. For some, this raises questions regarding me. Am I going anywhere? No. My plan has not changed at all. I intend, by God’s grace, to be a pastor at our church for my lifetime. I am now 40 years old and you can write my name in for the next 25 years. At that time, we will see how the church and I are doing and what comes next. In the meantime, God has given us a wave of grace that we want to ride as long as we can. After some time off this summer, I am refreshed. My vision for Mars Hill is sharper and clearer than at any time in the history of the church. My passion for people, both our people and lost people to meet Jesus, is at an all-time high. The book Real Marriage took the friendship between Grace and me to an all-time high. I adore my gal! Our kids are healthy, happy, and holy, praise God! Internally, we have the best team to work with that we’ve ever had. The unity across the church is a miracle of the Holy Spirit. Externally, my friendships with godly leaders outside our church are a life-changing gift. We are well loved, encouraged, supported, and held accountable. My life is a miracle and I’m deeply thankful and really excited for what’s next. I’m back in the pulpit this Sunday at Ballard, summer is finished, school is back in session, fall is just around the corner, and it’s time to lace up our shoes, step into the blocks, and, as Paul says, run our race. Lastly, it’s still all about Jesus. In fifteen years at Mars Hill the big things never change. Jesus is Lord, the Holy Spirit is at work among us, the Bible is true, the world is hurting, the harvest is ripe, Satan is fighting, but the church is prevailing. A nobody trying to tell everybody about Somebody,
Pastor Mark Driscoll

it looks like with the dissolution of Mars Hill in process robots.txt is no longer in effect, sort of

which means a whole lot of old links that were dead in 2014 and accessible only by way of the WayBack Machine may now actually work.

Or not ... it depends.

What probably won't work ... are any things previously captured by The WayBack Machine for resurgence links such as stuff done by Catanzaro.

What does work is ...

the letters regarding Jamie Munson's resignation.

What DOES work but not the video ... is
By: Mars Hill Church
on May 26, 2012

Our Orange County church is looking to move to a new location . . . yesterday. If not, they might be homeless like Jesus was. Here’s the latest update from Lead Pastor Nick Bogardus:

The Observatory

We will be meeting at The Observatory as usual at 9:00 and 11:15 am. We will continue to meet there until 1) we find a new home or 2) the city comes to shut us down.
We’re continuing in our series on the seven churches of Revelation, which has been awesome. I’m thankful we have a preaching pastor who preaches and applies the Bible and the gospel so boldly. There isn’t a Sunday that we don’t hear all about Jesus and the gospel. What a gift!

Building Update from This Week

The good news was that the church we were in negotiations with decided to come back to the table. The bad news is that they came back with some very unreasonable stipulations—for example, we would have to limit our church to 250 people per service and they would only give us 100 parking spots. Essentially they’d want us to turn people away; which goes against our mission to make as many disciples of Jesus and plant as many churches as possible in Orange County. I responded with our terms and we’re now waiting to hear back from them after they take it to their board. Honestly, I don’t see it working, but we should continue to pray.
Two other options came up at the end of this week that we will pursue first thing next week. We will keep you up to date as this all develops.

Adversity in Mission

Though we might be getting adversity from both the city and other churches—which was the pattern in Acts—we believe God has given our church a unique and particular mission. He will be faithful to sustain. We are called to be faithful in the mission.

Why There Is Always Hope

I have tremendous hope for what God will do in this situation, which is odd considering my often sinful need for control and fear of failure.
The reason I have tremendous hope is because of the reality of how God works.
He does his best work when there are no other options. He enables 90-year-old barren women to have babies. He redeems Israel from slavery in Egypt and, as they’re on the run with the most powerful army in the world chasing them and the sea in front of them, he delivers them by parting the sea. Out of the gruesome cross, he brings resurrection and life. It is how he works.
As a church, we are going to move forward in faith. We’re not going to grumble like the Israelites in the desert and quickly forget all he has done and is doing. We’re going to be dependant on him and continue moving towards where he is calling us.

Here Is How

1. Prayer & Fasting

Every Wednesday as a church we will pray and fast together once a week for lunch. We may not be all together at one time but we will know that, as we do it, we will be joining with each other in praying: thanking Jesus for what he has and is doing in our church, asking for a building we can call a home, and remembering his promises.

2. Giving

Whenever God opens a door, we will need to raise money as a church to simply move. Our current location, the Observatory, has a lot of equipment that we use but don’t own. Instead of waiting to give toward that, we are going to start giving toward it now, as church. The team has already set up a special fund for us called “Orange County – Replant.” You can give online, by check, or on Sundays. When God does open the door, we will be ready to move forward.

3. Serving & Leading

Similarly, moving will require growing our service teams and leadership. We want to start training you now so that when God opens the door we have enough people to lead and serve so that we can do church well.
If you live in Orange County and would like to get connected to a service team or Community Group, let us know here. If you are on either but aren’t leading, tell your leader that you want to be trained to lead.
I’m thankful to be here with you all and am tremendously hopeful for what God will do in and through us as a church,
I look forward to worshipping Jesus with you all on Sunday,
Pastor Nick

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Noah Berlatsky on Wonder Woman and loving the comic behind the icon

Berlatsky writes simply and persuasively about his affection for the early run of Wonder Woman comics by Marston and Peter.  Even as a lifelong Batman fan the earliest run of Wonder Woman comics holds up better than the earliest run on Batman.

But Berlatsky's advocacy in a way illustrates a point I've made elsewhere, that the challenge of Wonder Woman being an appealing character and particularly for the relevance of her earliest comics run to contemporary Americans lays in her having to mean too many things to too few people.  Wonder Woman and Superman were ideal superheroes for a Cold War era but the kind of casual confidence they reflect in the rightness of the American cause, American destiny and the use of American power (regardless of whether manifest by a superman or a wonder of a woman) could be construed as a vision of the world's most altruistic bully (per Steven Grant) or the most enlightened of all possible nanny states.

In a post-Cold War setting Batman may have more popular traction because his pop culture mythology assumes there's something rotten in the city of Gotham.  In an era in which people talk about the one percent a character like Batman can stick around and retain relevance because American pop mythology can posit that, well, if there's going to be a one percent anyway we'd like that one percent to be Batman rather than, say, Lex Luthor.

There's still some more writing about Wonder Woman to be done as things go.  Berlatsky's written a few pieces on the hero over the years and while he doesn't always seem sure whether he thinks there should be a Wonder Woman movie or if he'd watch it if one got made he's nearly always interesting to read when writing about her. 

root and branch from the emergent movement, are we sure the "left" and "right" have ended up all that different

Now Wenatchee The Hatchet has discussed problematic punditry on the Mark Driscoll situation from Tony Jones and Peter Rollins in the past.

more thoughts on what some call watchblogging, the problem of punditry from the nosebleed section about Mark Driscoll, if you're too far away from the history you may not know what it is

The idea that Driscoll's problems came about not because of any character issues but due to "toxic theology" was a useless idea.  Driscoll self-identified more as a cessationist prior to about 2002 and then began to shift from cessationist to charismatic over time.  He became less of a Macarthur fan over time, too. 

Attempting to locate the problems of Mark Driscoll in his theological views would be to miss how many times he's changed them.  He went from denouncing T. D. Jakes as a word-faith wingnut in 2007 to shaking hands with him as though he were a conventional Trinitarian a few years later.  And this could get to another matter, if Mark Driscoll were to try to reinvent himself he'd have to slough off the last vestiges of any pretense at being Reformed and maybe switch to a charismatic or even prosperity approach. 

After all, he's made nice comments about Osteen in the past.

Sort of a contrast to what Driscoll said about Osteen back in 2007 during the Phillipians series The Rebel's Guide to Joy ... if you can even find that sermon these days.  Driscoll's changed views on a few people and things over the years but if Driscoll were to more fully transition into a more charismatic or even quasi-prosperity side he'd have to deal with the reality that T.D. Jakes played a mentoring role to Paula White and that Paula White has partnered with MacDonald/Driscoll's Churches Helping Churches.

Enough of Driscoll's buddies have had no problem working with Paula White, how far away could a Mark Driscoll epiphany that it's okay for women to preach from the pulpit be?  It might be a surprise but it's not impossible to imagine.  If anything a Driscollian heel turn on his old stance on women in ministry might be just the thing to reinvigorate his public role.  It wouldn't matter if he really, personally BELIEVED that women could or should be pastors, he's just got to say he's repented of being closed hand on that particular issue and too tribalistic.  Given how much weight people any distance to the "left" of Driscoll have put on his views on women it wouldn't be too big a shock if just from a PR standpoint it wouldn't be a good move for Driscoll to publicly endorse women in ministry.  It would defang one of the most persistent issues that has plagued him from progressives for his entire ministry career and doing this about face would let him mention a public repentance that would also let him defuse further public criticism of him for all time on his views on women.  After all ... if he's willing to endorse women behind the pulpit ... .

And the thing is if Mark Driscoll (perhaps against all expected evidence) relaunched himself as an egalitarian and even an Arminian in his soteriology would this change the record of his handling of intellectual property or the financial situation at what has formerly been Mars Hill?  Nope, not really. 
But because so many of Driscoll's critics have made the foundation of their critique his theology if he does come back and in any way changes his theology then his critics will have lost what they thought was their silver bullet.  But ...

some have observed there were concerns about Driscoll's character back when he didn't embrace so fully the kinds of theological positions he's since come to be known for.

Now ... let's suppose that Driscoll's character and a particular doctrinal stance may be combustible ... Driscoll started with connections to the emergent church scene and, to put it mildly, some of the complaints and concerns that have emerged in the last year with respect to Jones and other people associated with the emergent scene open up the possibility that it doesn't exactly matter if we're talking a "left" or a "right" for this scene.  It's possible that the guys who have been part and parcel of the emergent scene, regardless of where they've landed since its inception, may not be the most encouraging places to land. 

It's hard to imagine that there's ultimately any variation in formally Christian theology, combined with Mark Driscoll's character, that would have significantly altered the path he chose.  While formal ecclesiological strictures surely would have slowed him down they would be no insurance against his determination, depending on how determined he is.  Driscoll used to say most problems in churches were due to poor ecclesiology, itself a misnomer since the issue would be the poor character of those who are in the church.  We're all sinners, after all.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

a few preliminary thoughts on the end of The Legend of Korra--continuing the saga at the expense of all the narrative rules that defined the world to begin with, and giving the hero the trophy at the end

Still working through the series, still finding it frustrating.  Haven't discussed Avatar: The Last Airbender in any direct way but only got to watching the series in the last year and a half.

Haven't caught everything in Book 4 yet but if the end is what I'm hearing it is that's disappointing.

It doesn't matter if Korra and Asami become a couple at the end of the series if you have to clarify that in a tweet after the airdate of the final episode.  There's nothing inherently unique about a lesbian couple in a children's show.  Superman: The Animated Series had Maggie Sawyer and her partner back in 1997, for those who were noticing those kinds of details.  In itself having a lesbian couple in a cartoon even in American contexts might only be revolutionary if there were any compelling reason for the pairing to be believable.

The problem is that it's not that believable.  In season 1 Asami dated Mako and Korra, who was crushing on Mako, seemed insecure and resentful at not being able to compete with Asami for Mako's attention.  Korra got around to expressing interest to Mako by kissing him, which Mako returned for no clear reason other than that in scripting clichés the protagonist is supposed to be rewarded with a love interest for saving the day.  So far that was so predictable.

Making Asami the lesbian trophy rather than the heteronormative trophy is still making her the hot wealthy tech-dispensing trophy girlfriend.  That's progress?  And if Asami was on Team Avatar what was she there for?  She was less a character of any distinction in the Team Avatar sense from season 2 on than a kind of biped Appa by proxy, dispensing the gear necessary for Korra and the brothers to travel the world.  Korra managed to snag Mako from Asami two seasons in a row and in Book 3 Asami just decides all is forgiven?  It's not that there aren't such women in the whole wide world, mind you, it's that the way Asami lets Korra get away with doing whatever she wants with Asami's love life without any complaint to Korra seems ...

It's like Asami Sato was even more of a doormat than Harley Quinn and because Korra was the avatar and not the Joker Asami was just supposed to take it with gratitude since, you know, the avatar is supposed to bring balance to the world and all.


But Amon escalated his plan to eliminate bending because Korra showed up in Republic City.  Setting aside that there's no clear reason why anyone would be anti-bending in this universe given all the hints at how foundational bending was to the respective economic systems of the four nations, it's still arguable that Amon's master plan of destroying bending was catalyzed and escalated by Korra presuming to arrive at Republic City against the advice of all her mentors.  In other words, Korra seemed to start off and end Book 1 having done more to bring chaos and imbalance to the world than balance or order.  Worse yet, she approached being the avatar from a sense of entitlement telegraphed inauspiciously in the first forty seconds of the series pilot.  And because she's the avatar, the audience is functionally ordered to comply.

By season 2 it wasn't clear what was going to be the new direction.  The avatar is a character and a role that by nature lends itself better to the point of arriving at full mastery than exploring the consequences of having arrived there.  Aang needing to master all the elements too early and too soon for the historically prescribed ideal just added dramatic energy to the expectation.  If the creators of the series had wanted to do a sequel series you'd think that having established a narrative precedent that "here's how this would normally be done but for the problem of Sozin's comet" that this could become the basis of the sequel series. Nope, Korra doesn't just want to master air-bending, she wants to master it on her terms and goes to Republic City.  Tenzin manages to be the Sokka of the new series, emasculated in a few ways and yet unlike Sokka, Tenzin doesn't get to come up with a plan so compelling that a villain felt obliged to thwart it.  After being set up a spiritual and sensitive in Book 1 in Book 2 Tenzin gets chumped to his daughters as spiritually out of touch. 

Book 2 had a central plot that hinged on a 180 turn for a supporting character that STILL doesn't make sense.  If Wong Shi Tong loathed humanity's incessant quest for using knowledge to wield power in the original series Avatar: The Last Airbender why would he have had any reason to work with Unalaaq at all? If he detested humanity why would agreeing to a plan that would obliterate the barriers between the spirit world and the physical world even make sense?  It's as though having carefully established a whole series of internally consistent rules about how their narrative world worked in the original series the sequel series jettisoned nearly everything that showed how and why the rules made sense.  Did lightning use require mastery of one's emotions and refined technique and the use of physical forms?  Mako could be wishy-washy, inconsistent, disloyal and yet still point-and-shoot lightning like he's Chancelor Palpatine or the Green Goblin in comics. 

And the proposed founding myth for the avatar reveals the whole thing gets predicated on imbalance.  Wan caused an imbalance and the avatar's role is to correct the imbalance.  This is actually a disastrous narrative gambit because there simply didn't need to be an explanation for how or why the avatar existed because the avatar was not defined by how he/she/they came into existence so much as what they were expected to do.  Legend of Korra made the same mistake the Star Wars prequels made, which was giving us midichlorians.  In the case of Korra Book 2 this culminated in what came across as nothing more than an incoherent and incompetent knock-off of the end of Satoshi Kon's gloriously weird Paprika.

The problem with the avatar founding myth is it's predicated on some idiot trickster human destabilizing what was apparently a moderately stable world.  The avatar cycle began because some Disney style Alladin knock-off unbalanced the world toward chaos and evil and the solution ... ?  Bond with the good spirit in the good/evil dyad and work to correct the imbalance.  But that just introduces a dualism that an avatar doesn't need to be the avatar and this is where the end of Book 2 seemed like an incompetent and incoherent knock off on the end of Paprika. In Kon's film the realm of dream erupts into the real world at the risk of obliterating the distinction between dream and reality and the world is set to be engulfed in darkness. 

In a sneeze and you miss it bit of dialogue that's important to understanding the resolution Paprika (the alter-ego of Atsuko) observes that there is a balance of light with darkness, of dream with reality, of good and evil and then rhetorically lets a couple of men note male and female.  Having not realized the level of her affection for and trust in the scientist who devised the DC mini, Atsuko (and by extension Paprika) join up to combat the old bad guy (literally) whose use of the dream world to revitalize his physical form threatens to tear the fabric of dream and reality apart.  The DC mini being developed by a man and a woman interested in using the exploration of dreams and brain chemistry to heal people, it took the properly balanced elements to absorb the encroaching darkness and destruction of the old man who was manipulating the dream warping technology for his own ends.
In other words a fully integrated and balanced collaborative being was what was necessary to take down the lord of darkness. 

If Avatar managed to delicately balance ideas and ideals from the east and west Legend of Korra tilts everything firmly toward a modern liberal Western state and vision. Chief among these problems is that the way the original series rose above the restrictions of being a kids' show and an animated one was the balancing of sensibilities and ideas.  The series finale in which Aang figured out how to serve his role as the avatar while also not doing what everyone was telling him was the only way to defeat the villain was a brilliant way to end the series because Aang was not the most conventional action/adventure hero.  He was a vegetarian, a pacifist, a joker, a kid who didn't really want to have to grow up so fast and who tried to avoid fighting. 

And that gets us to Korra, who is sort of like Captain Kirk with ovaries but without having even the sense to listen to a Spock or McCoy.  Now we could say that "eventually" she heeds the advice of people like Aang (spirit world), Iroh (ditto), Tenzin, and Zuko ... but

Let's take some time to look back on Korra now that it's wrapped up.  What's one of the hoariest clichés in the action adventure/superhero genre?  The protagonist gets the hottest woman in the entire narrative universe as a love interest.  What seems revolutionary to those who would like to propose that the Korra/Asami pairing makes sense is that, yes, okay, it makes sense but only if you accept as given the necessity of shoe-horning the end of a series into the most vapid and cliché genre requirements for how the hero is supposed to prevail and, more critically, what the reward for surviving or prevailing traditionally would be. 

Turn Korra into a teenage boy and leave all her other traits as they were and what we get is a standard 1980s era Tom Cruise character.  In fact there was never much of anything in the entirety of Legend of Korra to even give me a reason to believe this was necessarily a female character. And that Asami just settles into being best buds with Korra from Book Three on in spite of Korra having taken her guy from her two seasons in a row just defies any rational explanation unless Asami's only purpose was ultimately to be the trophy who was the Q of the Korra-verse.  And what was done with her?  You have someone with access to technology that could temporarily eliminate bending abilities and has an understanding at some level of tech but also the role of bending in the global economy (which would "probably" be why she refused to eliminate bending) and Asami does ... what?  She was written out of having any truly significant role other than prop reserve after season 1 just when she was getting interesting.

And because Korra was billed as the protagonist then if she acts sort of like Regina George in just grabbing the guy she doesn't want the other girl to have we're just supposed to root for her?  Korra's whole approach was so predicated on a sense of entitlement and status and use of the avatar's power that she brought imbalance and chaos to the world.  Part of the reason the end of Book 2 of Legend of Korra seemed so incoherent is that there wasn't any need for there to be a "bad" avatar to bring chaos and disorder into the world because all the major decisions and reactions Korra had had up through the end of the second season made a "bad" avatar redundant.  She was already fulfilling that role.

Which gets us to Book 3. Zaheer was an interesting bad guy in theory, if not in actual practice, because he was the character who observed that the founding event of the avatar cycle beginning was one of unbalancing the world.  The only real way to bring balance back to the world would, obviously, be killing the avatar in the avatar state and thus ending the cycle. 

Zaheer's plan is explained to us as the villainous plan but the problem is that thanks the superfluous and actually damaging backstory for how and why and who started the avatar cycle to begin with, Zaheer should be considered the hero of the world for planning to do away with the avatar cycle and ushering in a new era in which avatars can't be the ones who functionally rule the globe with their own wishes in mind.  Zaheer never indicates that Aang or the White Lotus society were wrong for resolving the war the way they did in the earlier series, his objection was to what the society and the avatar had become afterward, a group of power-mongers whose agendas defined and shaped the world in ways that promoted class inequalities rather than the general welfare.

And the problem is that if you watch the whole series for how Korra treats her friends and family and the people around her, Zaheer kinda seemed to have a point.

And if Zaheer had always been an idea hatched from the start of the series he would have been the suitable "big bad" to have foregrounding tension throughout the series.  But it seems that the creators of Korra thought Asami might be a femme fatale and then made her a simple supporting hero.  Okay ... but "if" the ideas in Book Three had even existed as far back as Book One building up to a larger idea that bending itself is what has imbalanced the world could have gotten more traction.  Amon's reasons for not liking bending had an emotional/personal appeal but don't make sense in any kind of political or social understanding ... whereas Zaheer's objection to the avatar as a concept make sense.  If the avatar caused imbalance in the world of Avatar to begin with then, yeah, kill the avatar in the avatar state and end the cycle.  Only then would balance arrive.

So for a sequel series the creators have given us a central character who, based on all the philosophical and ethical arguments made by, through, for, and with the characters of the original series, has more in common with Firelord Ozai than she does with her predecessor Aang.  As for how Korra treats her friends Mako, Bolin, Asami and others throughout the series ...  she's not as vindictive or manipulative in terms of venom like Azula but it's as though the creators conceded by the end of season two that Korra was the kind of avatar you'd expect if the avatar was a short-tempered and entitled toddler with superpowers. 

Would Korra be revolutionary for being a strong female character in an action/adventure series?  Well, no, not really.

It's not like we didn't have The Powerpuff Girls more than a decade ago.  It's not like we didn't get a Supergirl in the DCAU who could have easily carried her own series.  It's not like the same couldn't have been said about the DCAU for Wonder Woman or Hawkgirl.  Recently it was announced there's an animated series for Vixen on the way.

Vixen was a fun character in Justice League and could carry an animated franchise. 

It's not that Legend of Korra is exactly a bad show. The trouble is the very title suggests a creative team who has bought into its own hype when many of the most wonderful elements and characters in the original Avatar cartoon were not the ideas of the creative core.  When you find out that Zuko and Iroh and Azula were never originally conceived for the show and that Toph was going to be a boy those are all remarkably huge things for the core duo to have not even thought of.  We're talking about the four characters in the series that raised the stakes of the show and shifted from a fun season 1 to an amazing season 2 through 3 arc. 

A persuasive villain in a genre setting will tend to embody a contrasting value system or methodology to the hero or heroine and the sum problem of Legend of Korra is that this contrast was never convincingly developed.  It's not like Ozai and Aang where the contrast was clear.  In fact it was so clear that the great ending for "The Southern Raiders" depended on the contrast.  Aang needed a friend like Zuko to hear his platitudes about violence and forgiveness and still say "That's great, but this isn't air temple preschool."  and "Then I have a question for you, what will you do when you face my father?"  Aang was forced to confront the possibility and the reality that his whole preferred way of approaching conflict was not up to what he was about to face. 

The villains that Korra faced down up through Book Three at least (and there's little reason for optimism as I consider Book Four) is that Korra not only never got a villain that contrasts with her ideals and methods ... the villains basically seem to share the same beliefs about ideals and methods.  What I want is right, how I want it is right now and anyone who won't help me get to what I want is my enemy and needs to be shoved out of the way.  Oh, except for Zaheer, whose belief that the avatar cycle needed to be stopped to truly bring a balancing order to the world was confirmed correct by the needless and kind of annoying Wan origin myth. 

So even though Legend of Korra isn't quite the trainwreck the Star Wars prequels were it's still a comparable failure of artistic vision and maintaining a coherent narrative world.  In genre fiction you can anchor your story to characters or you can also anchor your story to a world.  Anchoring a story to a narrative world may be more difficult to do and more difficult for non-genre fans to appreciate or like.  It'd be easy to just imagine that the four elements of water, air, fire and earth would be like rock, paper and scissors.  What set apart the Avatar series from being "just" that was that it fiddled around with the resentments and biases of groups for one another.  Many of the heroes are so set on hating the Fire Nation and the firebenders they don't realize until it's nearly too late for them that there are good and bad people in each bending tradition. 

One of the finest stories in season 3 of Avatar was when Katara discovered her ability to manipulate water meant she could manipulate people by controlling the water in their bodies in its various forms (i.e. bloodbending).  We could be convinced easily why Katara would be horrified to discover she has this power and resolve never to use it.  By contrast, Korra never displayed anything other than a plot-required aversion to blood bending even if all of her demonstrated disposition about the use of power would suggest that she'd be fine with using bloodbending.  In fact coming from the water tribes there's kind of no clear reason why she wouldn't have heard this was possible. There's a lot about Korra's character we're expected to find sympathetic because we've been told in advance she's the next avatar.

The trouble is that I found it difficult to actually like Korra or, even when I liked her, to find her motives and actions justifiable.  If Korra were a guy the sense of bratty entitlement would be even more obvious an annoying than it might be for people who think that because Korra is a young woman that she's therefore an innovation in the adventure/action genre in animation. 

Would that it were so.  Giving a selfish, short-tempered, violent person with a sense of entitlement and a propensity to browbeating people into producing desired results "could" be a heroic character ... or it could get you Azula.  Azula's delightfully creepy speech to Long-feng could have been a couple of lines from Korra if she were to describe her sense of her role in the world.  "But real power, the divine right to rule, that's something you're born with."  Just because Korra's sense of what to do with her sense of entitlement isn't turned toward doing the things Azula did in the first series doesn't make Korra's sense of entitlement and willingness to pull rank and use power to get what she wants any less disturbing.  It makes it more disturbing that Korra is presented not just as the hero but that we were sold this series as Legend of Korra.

Now let's backtrack to the part where Korra couldn't call on the past lives in the avatar cycle for help.  Since she didn't seem inclined to do it anyway she lost an ability she was never using.  There's no dramatic significance to it.  What's more in the earlier series what we discovered along with Aang as the series progressed is that the power of summoning past avatar lives for counsel and help was a double-edged sword.  You might find the previous avatars were too limited in their time and place to give helpful advice or you might find that they're all basically telling you that you have to do something that goes against your code of ethics.  Aang had to find a way to stop the Firelord without resorting to lethal force.  Aang was forced to recognize that the way he had to resolve the conflict would involve the use of force and the challenge for him was to figure out how this could be done without killing. 

If the "legend" of Korra was that she created wave upon wave of chaos and discord and giving violence and even evil moments of triumph before she figured out her job was to actually serve the cause of order and balance then the end of Korra simply landed her at the place Aang was already at at the start of the series.  Ending a century-long war that threatened to literally engulf the world in a sea of fire and restoring peace to the four nations sounds like the stuff of legend.  By contrast, the changes Korra set in motion by choosing to do things her way without heeding the warnings of her family and friends was what forced her to save the day.  How was Korra ultimately the "hero" if her heroics so often ultimately involved either fixing problems she was a catalyst in or in? 

This isn't to say that Legend of Korra wasn't an interesting show while it had its run.  That Korra couldn't defeat Kuvira without recognizing her own flaws and attitude toward power in Kuvira's approach, that's kinda interesting.  But even after all that, Korra's heroic journey was ultimately just getting to the point where Aang began in terms of moral and spiritual development.  How was that progress?  Just because Korra was a woman?  Pairing Korra off with Asami by the end of the series just seems like precisely the kind of fan-shipper pandering that creators were glad to subvert in the original series.  Having made a point of never pairing Zuko off with Katara in the first series having Korra get Asami after all that happened comes off like Cady Herron pairing up with Regina George.  It's just not possible to buy this and it seems as though what was being fulfilled was not an organic and sensible character arc for either Korra or Asami but a hidebound genre obligation that the spoils of winning the war for the fate of the world that the protagonist earned is the hottest, sexiest trophy available.  That's not moving the action genre or animation forward.  It's not even anything new to have a lesbian couple in a kids' show (per Superman: the animated series). 

If The Last Airbender proved to be a fantastic, inventive and groundbreaking show it's a shame that Legend of Korra, for all its fun elements, simply doesn't add up to being part of that earlier legacy.  The series that debuted ten years ago was and is an amazing childrens' cartoon, on par with Batman: the animated series for what it did to revolutionize storytelling in American mainstream kids' animation.  But I suppose it helped that back then Eric Coleman and others were around to help guide the series and nobody had the over-confidence to put "legend" in the title.

the recent post withstanding ...

the aim is still to shift more toward observe mode than post mode.  It's just that brad futurist guy's recent content seemed worth calling attention to, particularly the stuff about a culture of contempt.

a few links to Practical Theology for Women, Brad Sargent, and Ribbon Farm on a culture of contempt and crash-only thinking in organizational systems
... The thing about the interplay of biological issues and sin issues is that when the biological issues are addressed, much of the sin issues are immediately diffused. It's like the child having a screaming temper tantrum because they are exhausted after a long day of activities. Get the kid a nap, and then addressing the tantrum becomes a lot more effective. When my blood sugar stabilized after the angry conversation with my friend, no one needed to lecture me on how I had treated her. And my temptation to anger with her was immediately removed. Dealing with the biological greatly aided the spiritual.

In church settings where, to put it as bluntly as some might put it, the commended books may be Blame it on the Brain? there's an approach to counseling that views the social and medical sciences with a skepticism that would not be grounded in the theological concept of "common grace".  This may in the long run turn out to have been a difference between some of the actually Reformed on the one hand and the new Calvinists or neo-Reformed on the other. 

But one of the things that a very, very close reading of a new Calvinist's ideas on counseling and spiritual warfare could yield is a belief that the individual self is thoroughly integrated across the premises of mind, body and spirit.  So if that was the case in Mark Driscoll's approach ...

... and he was clear about this in the Q&A of the session ... then what else may have been going on?  After all, Mars Hill has been formally dissolved even if it doesn't expire formally until the end of this year.  Wendy Alsup, over at Practical Theology for Women sums up something she saw in the following way:
I have had the chance to watch people privately and publicly despise rebuke, and ultimately again and again their ministries were destroyed by their pride. They valued teachability in others, but only if they were the teachers. The teacher couldn't be taught, and everything unraveled in the aftermath. This was certainly the case at Mars Hill, and now there is no Mars Hill. I find that reality sobering. Having been a part of the church at its highest point, I soberly reflect on its downfall, God removing the lampstand if you will, and I note again and again the inability of leadership to hear and accept reprimand and rebuke at key moments in its past.

I am nearing the finish line to my Mars Hill Case Study – which turned out to be a 10-month research project totaling over 50,000 words. The few remaining posts deal primarily with my conclusions, with some last recommendations mixed in here and there. This particular article focuses in on what I have distilled from considering some of Mark Driscoll’s toxic behavior patterns and the underlying characteristics that disqualify him from positions where he is given authority over people and/or is commended as being a public role model. (For extensive information on those personal issues, see the Case Study page 05 Leadership Problems.) I have not seen evidence of repentance necessary to even consider suggesting he should be restored to leadership. Rather, there is a continuing evidence stream of his contempt.

To the extent that Driscoll displayed contempt toward others that would be replicated in the leaders he began to surround himself with, and this could be particularly likely to be a risk in the leaders whom he recruited or, even further, had won to his brand of Christianity to begin with.  As we saw last year with the short-lived participation of Paul Tripp on Mars Hill's Board of Advisors and Accountability, someone who had plenty of ministry and professional experience outside of Mars Hill could see what was afoot and eventually extricate themselves.  But what about someone like Jamie Munson who became a Christian through Driscoll's preaching/  What about Tim Smith, whose account of himself was he didn't really know how to be a husband until coming to Mars HIll and learning from the example of the Driscolls and others?  What about AJ Hamilton, who never had any ministerial experience or competence of any demonstrable kind who ended up an elder at Mars Hill anyway?  These are guys whose entire time in ministry seems to have owed almost entirely to Mark Driscoll.  If Driscoll has had a problem with contempt toward others why wouldn't his disciples?  It's at least something to consider.

As we've observed here at this blog, in early 2008 Driscoll was saying that the thought that Mark Driscoll didn't care about the rank and file was "a demonic lie" in spite of the fact that he had also said in later 2008 "You either get on the bus or get run over by the bus. Those are the two options, but the bus ain't gonna stop."

It can seem as though on the one hand Mark Driscoll was just aware enough that his comments could be construed as contemptuous not just toward rank and file members but even to fellow leaders in the church in the wake of his "Mars Hill bus" quip in late 2007 that by early 2008 he felt obliged to both literally and figuratively demonize any ideas of doubt about the executive leadership in general and himself in particular

Driscoll could quip that there was a pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus in late 2007 and then turn around in early 2008 and tell people that any notion that the executive elders or Mark himself didn't particularly care about the regular members of Mars Hill or other leaders was a demonic lie.  In another peculiar irony, the men whom Driscoll had fired and removed from eldership were the men he'd recruited into ministry in the first place and to whom he'd designated taking over his counseling load.  Even if it turned out there were reasons to fire Petry and Meyer that would ultimately boomerang back into a question about Mark Driscoll's goodwill, competence, and basic fitness for ministry, to say nothing of any questions about whether he had divinely granted super powers of discernment.  In other words, if Brad's case that Driscoll's approach was characterized by contempt why wouldn't that ethos of contempt have rubbed off on everyone else doing "biblical counseling" within Mars Hill?  This isn't to suggest it necessarily did, just that one of the recurring motifs in the history of what was once Mars Hill was that people inside warned of the disastrous long-term consequences of some of the roads Mars Hill was choosing to take.

The leaders of Mars Hill ultimately didn't listen.  It could be they even viewed critique and dissent with contempt. 

It might be a bit tangential but perhaps we can cross reference to something from Ribbon Farm about crash-only thinking.  It might be pertinent to the rise and fall of Mars Hill.

The software in your head — all that neural code that drives all your thinking and habits — is largely crash-only. You can start and stop relatively simple behaviors in non-crash-only ways (like closing your eyes, starting and stopping coarse bodily movements like walking), but the rest is crash-only.
Management models embodied by an organization — all those organizational habits, incentive structures and CEO-message-reinforcement — is largely crash-only.  You can change how you order paper clips and your lunch buffet vendor in a graceful non-crash ways, but the rest is crash-only.
Crash-only means there is no such thing as gracefully starting and stopping non-trivial parts of your life or business.  You have to crash what you’re doing and recover in a more promising direction. The fact that it is a crash means that, unlike normal decisions, there is a sharply increased probability of not coming out the other end.
A board of directors cannot just swap out a CEO. They can only crash the entire loyal part of the executive team, put in a lame-duck temp, and have the new CEO rebuild via some delicate surgery that will involve tests of loyalty, new people and persuasion of indispensable but hostile people. [emphasis added]

By now it has been obvious that Mars Hill was from start to finish a crash-only system like every other human social system.  Obvious though it may be, Brad Sargent's observation about Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill having a culture of contempt needs to get some more attention.

Whether it was the "pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus" presentation or the "I think one of the great myths that has come about (it's a demonic lie) is that myself, the executive elders, the senior leaders we don't care about people." speeches what needs to be stressed is that both of those presentations were given by Mark Driscoll to leader-only audiences.  This was never the kind of wording or thought Driscoll would so explicitly express from the pulpit.  One of the things that may need to be suggested in light of Brad's observation about Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill's culture of contempt is that in simple but crucial ways this mentality of contempt was not revealed to outsiders the way it seems to have been revealed to insiders, most particularly the leadership culture itself.  Yet it was also a leadership culture in which the Mark Driscoll who dismissed T. D. Jakes as a word-faith heretical wingnut in 2007 would shake hands with him as though he were a thoroughly traditional Trinitarian circa 2012 as though there weren't grounds articulated by none other than Mark Driscoll himself for why to be wary of Jakes as a heretic.

Since even a rudimentary survey of the biblical wisdom literature and basic meanings of Hebrew words has shown Mark Driscoll can't back up the idea that the "navel" is "vagina" in Song of Songs; and further that the word "navel" is used with reference to the son who is considered the recipient of Proverbs as a whole ...

One of the things that may need to be said at this point is that when Mark Driscoll's foundational competence about biblical texts and languages can be called into question one of his ploys was to tell "nerds" to not get all obsessive about Greek words.  In other words, when he couldn't necessarily prove mundane competence in his field of study he'd resort to contempt.  Nerds get picky about the meanings of Greek words ... sorta like how Driscoll got upset that NT translators didn't use the word "propitiation"?  Right ... that would have just made Driscoll a nerd himself. 

One of the matters on which Driscoll publicly expressed contempt from the earliest days was toward the idea that leaders could even be trained at all:
In all honesty, I think the biggest waste of time for a church planter is training leaders. Leaders cannot be trained. Leadership is a spiritual [sic] gift. Leaders can be encouraged and helped to grow, but sitting around talking about leadership is like phone sex where the talk is good but the action is missing. [emphasis added] Anyone who has planted knows that most of your original core disappears before the launch for various reasons (they are flaky, they don't get their way, the vision varies from theirs, they move away, they are lazy etc. etc.). Then, another core emerges to launch the church. Then, around six months to one year after the launch, the skill set needed requires a whole new core and with the launch team getting tired you get your third set of leaders. So, leadership development is something done every day rather than up front with the anticipation that those people will actually be there in five years still going strong.

So, the best way to see who is a leader is to lead. Those who keep up with you and drag others behind them are leaders. Most leaders seem to learn better from modelling than teaching and need to be in the mess of the details to get any inspiration.

The sooner you can transition to some larger event the better because most new people want to come through a front door that is large and public and enables them to check things out without getting a full body cavity search. I have yet had a new person enter our church through a Bible study or other cell. They always come to the service and once they trust us then they connect in a smaller community.

Going into someone's home with a small group of people who know each other is about the most terrifying thing a stranger could do. The only people who generally do this are the "What About Bob" types who have bizarre social reasoning, no social framework, and need lots of attention. Or, horny young men sizing up the draft board.
So Sargent's statement that we've had plenty of evidence to establish Driscoll displayed a lot of contempt is easily established not just by the testimony of others but even by preserved material going back to 2000-2001.  One of the more easily observable things about the entirety of William Wallace II's output, regardless of whatever apologies he did or didn't actually give about the substance of what he said, was contempt. 

If a culture of contempt was a problem at Mars Hill then the risk in all of the spin-off/replants is that that same culture of contempt may still exist and that some fundamental changes have to take place for the spin-offs to not end up in the same kinds of trouble.  Some of the re:launched and re:branded churches might even survive but if they do it won't be by embracing the old model or failing to repudiate it.