Saturday, April 11, 2015

excerpts from reviews of a book that is a diary about a diary...

There's this idea that no doubt still has currency with at least some people, the axiom that those who can do and that those who can't review. 

But criticism, however low the lows it may descend to, retains a peculiar value.  A person can't go and watch every movie or read every book and there are times when reading reviews and criticism can give a person an opportunity to, to go with this weekend's possible motif, vicariously engage material. 

If we live in an era of blogging then we can live in an era which blogging is about "my journey" and "my journey" can end up being put under the microscope.  Sounds like there's at least one book out there which is ... well ... :
...  Self-indulgent” can mean many different things in writing that centers on the self. It’s either a flaw or a lifeline, depending on who’s tapping the keys. And Manguso shows flashes of attentive brilliance. But on the whole Ongoingness, being, after all, a diary about a diary, feels like a new kind of self-indulgent altogether: a hall of mirrors with capacity for one. Manguso imagines at one point that “all anxiety might derive from a fixation on moments—an inability to accept life as ongoing.” It might also derive from a basic unwillingness to accept that freeform thoughts are not all equally interesting, no matter how elegant and raw.

Not everyone seemed to have the same take-away.
But she seems genuinely not proud of the diary. “There’s no reason to continue writing other than that I started writing at some point—and that, at some other point, I’ll stop,” she writes. Looking back at entries fills her with embarrassment and occasionally even indifference. She reports that, after finding that she’d recorded “nothing of consequence” in 1996, she “threw the year away.”

Nothing of consequence, eh?  Long ago in Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene, one character told another that you can better rid yourself of grief by expressing it and the reply to that was that it was also possible by giving words to your grief you could make it all the worse.  A paradox of discontent is that it can be all the worse if you express it in words.  Or as Ecclesiastes put it so gloomily with more wisdom comes more vexation and this too is vanity.

Rather than a protection against time, the diary becomes a cruelly accurate gauge of time’s passage.
She has written the memoir we didn’t realize we needed. 

Yes, well, one of the beauties of the role criticism can play is that reading about a book can help you realize that you actually don't need that memoir and don't need to read it. :)

What if we play with the idea that nobody ever ultimately writes for the self.  All writing is an attempt to communicate to someone else.  You write for yourself and, even then, you are writing for another person.  You may write so that who you think you are can communicate with the you that you feel you are, or vice versa.  But in some way all writing is done for someone else, even if that someone else is a part of you.

Friday, April 10, 2015

links for the weekend

Against “Indie”

Sahim and Berlatsky each in their own ways call for widening indie’s tent, but I think it’s more realistic to pull it down. Because its insularity is not only racial and gendered—it is also the effect of sorting by class
One of the rival terms in the 1980s and 1990s that indie eventually eclipsed (along with alternative, underground, etc.) was college rock. It was more honest, which is no doubt why it was abandoned.

on police departments dealing with ransomware

And on things like "spear-phishing" and stuff like that.

HT Mockingbird, "Our Push for ‘Passion,’ and Why It Harms Kids"

Sometimes it seems that if we can pierce through the veil of pretense of why people "should" appreciate the arts it boils down to this, that we're admonished to cultivate the practice of vicarious living.  Sometimes the vicarious living is done by enjoying what others are able to do, and sometimes the vicarious living is done by articulating to others what our expectations of their enjoyment and activity will be. 

Not everybody wins the game for acclaim and status, and of all the sorts who could be described as losers, Kafka might qualify.  Thus "Beautiful Loser", a review of a recent book about Kafka.  It might not be a great big shock to readers of Wenatchee the Hatchet that two of my favorite authors over the course of life have been Dostoevsky and Kafka. 

"The Stagnation Blues"

lest we forget, here's something about the new Daredevil series (HT to DZ)

Film Crit Hulk helped Wenatchee The Hatchet get a clearer sense of what seems wrong with Legend of Korra, reward the protagonist's vice and humiliating those who urge virtue


There's a lot that could be written about what Film Crit Hulk has had to say about James Bond but the idea I want to consider is the proposal that James Bond is a character whose vices are rewarded and whose displays of virtue are punished.

It hit me that in Legend of Korra what we were seeing through seasons 1 and 2 was that Korra's vices (her temper, her rashness, her impulsiveness, her self-absorption, her sense of entitlement backed up by super-powered status) were all rewarded.  It wasn't just that, the characters that did ever attempt to call her out on her vices were subsequently humiliated by the screenwriters, whether Lin Bei Fong failing to ascertain things in book 2 or losing her powers to Amon in book 1.  Then there's Tenzin, who was basically subjected to every sort of indignity, why?  Well, possibly just because he was one of the few characters who kept urging Korra to have a more spiritually and emotionally mature way of relating to people and the use of her own power.  Which for some reason meant he had to be incapable of connecting to the spirit world the way a couple of his kids effortlessly could just ... because.

Mako was made out to be the guy in the wrong after Korra kissed him because ... he kissed back.  Right, so Korra could be a Tom Cruise character a la Top Gun and we're just supposed to root for her?  Korra pushed to get Mako for herself away from Asami two seasons in a row, basically, and Asami holds it against Mako and Mako alone?  That seems implausible unless Asami Sato is even more of a doormat than Harley Quinn.

It's been bugging Wenatchee The Hatchet that after showing promise as one of the more interesting characters with a lot of potential in the early run of the series, Asami was essentially nothing more than the Q for Korra's James Bond.  Having Asami and Korra paired up at the end shifts her into something else.  It doesn't matter how forward-thinking fans of the show might think Korra-Asami was at the end of the series, Asami ends up being the trophy girl the hero gets to bang as the reward for having saved the world.  That's straight up Bond gets to have sex with the hot woman by the end of the film. 

And if Korra were a guy instead of a girl would the sexual politics of all that be considered great?  What case is there that Korra needed to be female?  Bear in mind Varney did a solid job with the voice-acting throughout, the problem I've had with the series is the writing.  Not a single one of the romantic relationships either made sense or even seemed other than a little unhealthy.  It was strange that Asami could tell Bolin Eska shouldn't be so domineering toward him and yet would basically never have any issue with Korra's aggressive play for her boyfriend.  That just doesn't add up.  The whole story in Mean Girls hinged on one woman's jealousy against another woman for the threat she posed to the object of her affection as a rival.  It's not persuasive to suggest Asami's more "mature" than Cady Heron here because Asami could be construed as buying friendship with her extravagant generosity even if she's naturally pretty sweet. 

Where the series could have shown Asami rebuilding her father's business we didn't get that.  Instead the business has to be bought up and saved from financial ruin by Varrick.  Asami was given a kind of meta-script lip service to being a strong female character but she really comes off as one of the biggest doormats in animated adventure shows I've seen since, well, Harley Quinn. 

The idea that Legend of Korra broke new ground by having two girls express sexual attraction for each other is weak sauce.  Maggie Sawyer was a lesbian character in Superman: the animated series getting close to two decades ago.  The trouble I've had with Korra isn't that she has a sexuality, it's that she went through the series with a sense of entitlement so strong there were moments she could have just said "real power, the divine right to rule, that's something you're BORN with."  Korra at times veered into the sense of self-absorbed entitlement we'd seen in Princess Azula in the original Avatar series. 

It seems that you could pick a season of Korra and the key problem facing the world or the city was CATALYZED BY HER VICES.  Had she followed Tenzin's advice to just stay on Air Temple Island and train until she'd mastered air-bending she could have stayed hidden long enough Amon wouldn't have escalated his timeline for his anti-bender plan.  In terms of the formal developments of the plots for the seasons, all the disasters that Korra had to deal with in the first two seasons were problems she brought about or kick-started.  Sure, the bad guys were going to do what they were going to do in season 1 but in season 2 Unalaq couldn't implement his plan without her power and cooperation.  And by the time we got the ridiculous midichlorian foundation myth for the first Avatar the stage had been set for Zaheer to basically be the real hero of the series in terms of seeking to bring real balance to the world by killing the Avatar. 

Now season 4 moved in the direction of recognizing that Korra's conduct and actions were in some respects more "villainous" than heroic.  It's one thing to be the avatar and work to bring balance to the world and another to think that because you are the avatar the world can't operate without you.  If Korra "learned" because she suffered that's not ultimately a compelling character arc in season 4.  Why?  Because three fourths of the series had been spent rewarding her for her vices but ALSO punishing or humiliating the characters who had called her out on her vices and their consequences.  This element can be easily overlooked but why did the writers keep pouring humiliation and defeat and angry outbursts from Korra on both Tenzin and Lin?  There was no clear, discernible reason other than that because the series is named after Korra and Korra, by dint of being the Avatar, ought to be our most sympathetic character. 

Having read Film Crit Hulk on the sexual politics of Bond it seems more and more that Korra was basically kind of like James Bond in terms of having her vices rewarded and in terms of punishing those who would have her embrace more virtues in keeping with the rest of society.  Paradoxically the move that some fans most seem to admire about the end of Korra, her getting Asami Sato as a girlfriend, seems to embody the most retrograde elements of the adventure narrative.  Korra happens to be a girl here but in the end her reward for saving the world (again) is she gets to bang the hottest girl on the planet and because it's girl-girl we're supposed to celebrate Asami going the length of the series being groomed to be the hero's trophy girl?  I just don't buy that. 

What made Avatar: The Last Airbender fun was how the creative team subverted or, even better, completely ignored the fan-shipper base.  The majority of the relationships were not and didn't even have any chance of becoming romantic interludes.  Katara could find various men attractive while still holding that in light of a global war she didn't necessarily want to be tied up with an official boyfriend yet.  That was persuasively in character for her.  What didn't work was to set up Mako as some guy who said family was everything to him and then have him make out with Korra because she aggressively expresses interest in him and lets this happen in front of his brother.  Then again, Mako also got to just point and shoot lightning like he's Emperor Palpatine instead of using a form and set-up the way everyone in the original series did. 

Korra often ignored or flat out broke many of the foundational rules about the world that it had established for it by Avatar.  That might not matter if the Avatar narrative universe wasn't predicated on the need for the world to be balanced.  When you have that kind of genre story tben it's important you keep the rules of the world not just to be pedantic but because the characters will tend to manifest important elements of that world.  The original show Eureka Seven was a lot of fun for setting ground rules and keeping them.  Eureka was a "child of the land" and that meant that it mattered what kind of land she was a child of.  That her name takes from the Greek "I am finding" (roughly) and that Dr. Bear described her as a blank slate who would reflect back to humanity all that humans exposed her to was consistent throughout.  Spin-off shows and alternate versions altered the very nature of the Scub Coral or its equivalent and regardless of what might be said about Eureka in those iterations, she becomes a different character not so much because she would be much different all across the board but because of the "child of the land" element. 

Unalaq becoming a Dark Avatar was incoherent and unnecessary once the Avatar Wan myth was introduced because the Avatar was no longer a force to bring balance to the world or bridge the gap between the material and spirit world.  Korra ended up being the catalyst for chaos and disorder.  Sure, she was tricked into things and all that, but had Korra learned to rein in her vices a lot of the troubles she faced wouldn't have happened because she would not have brought them about herself.

I keep coming back to this question, if Korra were a male character and acted in precisely the same way would she be as sympathetic?  Not for me, she'd be the kinds of annoying self-absorbed characters played by Tom Cruise and Matthew Broderick in the 1980s.  I wanted to like the series and the show has a beautiful design aesthetic but it was always beset with the problem that the title character was ultimately the least interesting and even the least sympathetic character in the entire show.  And the characters who were shoved in my face as the ones to find most "relatable" tended to be the most boring.  Mako never got beyond bland beefcake heartthrob.  Bolin was an even less funny variation of Sokka.  Asami was largely under-written and written out of anything where she could become more compelling and she was ultimately given a path that seems like a demotion from Q to Bond girl trophy.  Tenzin was basically the Butters of the Korra-verse and Lin Bei Fong was given plot-induced stupidity so that Mako could appear competent and interesting.  None of the romances amongst the primary set of characters seemed believable. 

Legend of Korra isn't quite as bad as the Star Wars prequels, but it has a comparably sour taste.  Avatar: The Last Airbender was easily one of the finest adventure cartoons of the previous decade, right up there with Batman: the animated series for me.  Korra may have been intended as an anti-Aang but there's a problem with going for an anti-Aang.  What's the opposite of a fun-loving goofy boy who doesn't want to have to grow up too soon and wants to help everbody?  A deadly serious and brutally nasty girl who would just as soon run the whole world now, thank you very much.  Does that ... sound slightly like somebody from the same series?  The opposite of Aang kinda sounds a bit like Princess Azula.  See, I'd probably actually watch a Legend of Azula show. 

I've already vented my frustration about how the end of Book 2 of Korra came off like an incompetent knock-off of Satoshi Kon's gloriously weird Paprika. I've read that some folks have complained about the girl-girl pair-up at the end of Korra and that's, frankly, the least worrisome problem in the way the show got written.  I would have thought that Asami being the trophy girlfriend would have met with less approval than it seems to have been met with.  The way romantic relationships and friendships got written in Legend of Korra it seems that people are missing a messy and toxic forest because they're fond of one particularly attractive (for them) tree.

a decline in the DJ? Scott Timberg states that the decline of the creative class is spanning all styles, including the dance scene
WHEN people try to destroy my argument about a crisis in culture, one of their most common tacks is to suggest that I’m describing just the fading of an old world — classical music, literary writing, print journalism and so on — that is being eclipsed as a new, more democratic pop-culture-driven world rises, bestowing its blessings on all of us.

But what I talk about, here and in my book Culture Crash, is an economic/ technological/ sociological cock-up that does not discriminate by genre lines or by high/ low delineations. The latest evidence of this is an online rant of a club deejay. Here’s a bit from “The Dead Art of DJing” which shows the coming of the winner-take-all economy that’s reshaped other fields:

Timberg quotes an excerpt in particular ...

Do you realize that, right now, at this very moment, technology could completely replace the human DJ? Somebody could create a program that tracks the itunes and Beatport charts, then searches the artist and song titles in Soundcloud, downloads 128bpm remixes, analyzes the wave form for appropriate mixing points, and then blends the tracks together live, for the enjoyment of the dancefloor. I’m not talking about the future. This could be done NOW.

Of course John Sousa predicted that with the rise of the machines humans would be less and less likely to participate as amateurs when machines could mediate the experience of music for them.  His polemic was predicated on the worry that if you lost the amateurs then the bifurcation of musical culture would be into the absolutes of makers and consumers with no gradation of a middle ground.  It might be Sousa was at least partly right about that more than a century ago.  Still, the ascendancy and obsolescence of a particular medium seems to come with the territory regardless of formal or technical innovation.

Thus, we can pivot to Terry Teachout on what he considers the given observable decline of both theater and the mostly given decline of the novel in comparison to the film as the dominant mode of artistic expression.  It's not that people can't keep writing novels, it's that the novel as the medium of serious cultural debate and exploration has been supplanted by film and it would be silly to presume that the novel will regain its former pride of place.

For Americans under the age of thirty, film has largely replaced the novel as the dominant mode of artistic expression, just as the compact disc has become the “successor technology” to the phonograph record. No novel by any Gen-X author has achieved a fraction of the cultural currency of, say, Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. Movies like this are to today’s twenty- and thirtysomethings what The Catcher in the Rye and On the Road were to the baby boomers….

We are not accustomed to thinking of art forms as technologies, but that is what they are–which means they can be rendered moribund by new technological developments, in the way that silent films gave way to talkies and radio to TV. Well into the eighteenth century, for example, most of the West’s great storytellers wrote plays, not novels. But the development of modern printing techniques made it feasible for books to be sold at lower prices, allowing storytellers to reach large numbers of readers individually; they then turned to writing novels, and by the twentieth century the theatrical play had come to be widely regarded as a cultural backwater. To be sure, important plays continue to be written and produced, but few watch them (unless they are made into movies). [emphasis added]

Four years later, I became the Journal‘s drama critic, which doubtless struck a great many people as condign punishment for publishing so grave a heresy. But it never occurred to me when I wrote “Tolstoy’s Contraption” that anyone would ignore that last sentence. My point wasn’t that plays were no longer worth writing, or that all new plays were bad: it was that in a mass culture, live theater is not a major player in the cultural conversation, simply by virtue of the fact that comparatively few people see it. To write a play is not an efficient way of attracting the attention of very large numbers of people, and the novel (by which I mean serious literary fiction, not The Da Vinci Code), it seems to me, is headed in the same direction.

The art form doesn't exactly die in the sense that nobody does it anymore, but it dies in the sense of no longer being the dominant, prevailing iteration of cultural exploration. 


Tuesday, April 07, 2015

10-22-2011 "Clarification on some rumors that have been on some blogs", MH fielded the trademark controversy the week after the Result Source Inc contract was signed, implications for 2013

If we were to cast about for an example of "what" blogs have discussed about Mars Hill that Mars Hill saw reason to respond to, then we'll benefit from understanding that blogs in themselves (and their bloggers) only warranted responses when the "what" of what they were talking about was a big enough of a deal to get addressed.  Take, for instance, the late 2011 trademark and logo incident where a cease-and-desist letter was sent out.  The reason it's valuable to wade back into this particular kerfuffle is to reveal that it set a precedent that should be borne in mind for a controversy that would erupt two years later.

Clarification on some rumors that have been on some blogs

by Mars Hill Church on Saturday, October 22nd, 2011 8:34 pm 

At Mars Hill we like to be generous with everything we’ve been given. For over ten years, we’ve made all of our sermons available for free online, invested significant time and money to help raise up thousands of leaders around the globe through, and given millions of dollars to plant dozens of churches through Acts 29. Recently, this has grown to include such things a free Leadership Coaching and Campaign research to help other churches and ministries grow. We love other churches and ministries, and we love giving generously to serve them.

By God’s grace, our ministry has grown to the place where we’re recognized by people all over the world. With this kind of recognition, we have a responsibility to be good stewards of the influence that God has given us to tell people about Jesus.

Sadly, in addition to giving things away, we’ve also had things taken. We’ve had churches cut and paste our logo, take our website code and copy it completely, had ministry leaders cut and paste documents of ours, put their name on them to then post online as if it were their content, and even seen other pastors fired for preaching our sermons verbatim.

We’re not the only church called Mars Hill, and occasionally there arises confusion between us and other churches that share the “Mars Hill” name, particularly as we now have our churches in four states. This was the case recently when one of our members called us to find out if we had planted Mars Hill churches in the Sacramento, California area. We had not, but when we went to these churches’ websites, it was obvious to us how people could be confused. Each of these three connected churches in the Sacramento region—planted in 2006, 2007, and 2010—bore the “Mars Hill” name and their logo was substantially similar to the logo we’ve used since 1996.

When cases like this arise in the business world, it’s customary for a law office to send a notice asking the other organization to adjust their branding to differentiate it. This is commonly referred to as a cease and desist letter. On September 27, 2011, our legal counsel sent such a letter to these three Mars Hill churches requesting that they change their logo and name. In hindsight, we realize now that the way we went about raising our concerns, while acceptable in the business world, is not the way we should deal with fellow Christians. On Friday we spoke with the pastor of Mars Hill in Sacramento to apologize for the way we went about this. We had a very productive conversation and look forward to continuing that conversation in the days and weeks ahead.

We made a mistake in not calling these churches prior to sending the letter. We should have picked up the phone before sending any other communication.

Unfortunately, rather than hearing from the church in Sacramento, we began hearing that the matter was instead being speculated on by a blogger who did not verify any facts with us and, as a result, provided an inaccurate version of what transpired. This blog post from us is intended to alleviate any confusion.

As a clarification, we have not sued any churches and have no plans to sue any churches.
We have not sent any similar letters to any other “Mars Hill” churches, and we are not planning on asking any church with “Mars Hill” in their name to change their name.
What's striking now that robots.txt has been dropped from Mars Hill sites (here and there) is to consider that the trademark imbroglio Mars Hill Church was involved in with that cease-and-desist letter, it was publicly addressed on October 22, 2011.  That's basically a week after Sutton Turner signed the contract with Result Source Inc. to ensure a #1 spot for the Driscoll book Real Marriage, a book which turned out to have made use of ideas published by Dan Allender in 1990 but which did not cite him or give him credit in the first edition. To go by what Warren Throckmorton compiled on the range and number of citation errors in Mark Driscoll's books, there were more citation problems found in Real Marriage than in any other book with Mark Driscoll's name on it. That the citation problem was eventually remedied would "seem" to confirm the significance of the lack of proper thanks to Allender's work having been observed and conceded in the original print edition.

You can go see for yourself on the contract it was dated October 13, 2011.

So it's worth remembering that when the plagiarism controversy erupted two years later there had been a precedent of Mars Hill collectively expressing regret that people had been copying their work without giving them credit slightly more than two years prior.  Which, for the purpose of public figure distinctions, kinda looks like an example of Mars Hill and its leadership publicly broaching the subject of copyright infringement of others' works two years before Janet Mefferd had her on-air confrontation with Mark Driscoll about his failure to adequately give reference to the intellectual property of others.  While some of Driscoll's fans may still feel that on-air confrontation was unfair if the heads of Mars Hill hadn't made a point of raising the issue of their IP two years earlier there wouldn't have been a public record basis from which Mefferd could have felt there was a legitimate ground for a public challenge to Driscoll about whether he had given credit where it was due.

the fatal problem with the 2015 narrative that Driscoll was "brought down" by bloggers, it can't be proven--Driscoll was no more brought down by bloggers than Nixon resigned because of press coverage

In the past Wenatchee The Hatchet has addressed how this year, for some reason, the likes of William Vanderbloemen seem to have summarized Mark Driscoll's decline as in any way associated with popular bloggers.

This link "should" work but the piece is by Ruth Moon in the March/April 2015 Issue 74, "The Faults in Our Stars"

Driscoll’s resignation is unusual, Vanderbloemen says, as it was not prompted by serious misappropriation of funds or an inappropriate sexual relationship, but rather by a steady stream of criticism from popular bloggers, some of whom lived nowhere near Seattle.
A variation on that sentiment also appeared earlier, in later 2014.

Driscoll‘s recent resignation from the church he founded was followed by another shocking announcement: Mars Hill is dissolving by year’s end, with its 11 congregations becoming independent houses of worship.

 And Vanderbloemen said that the stunning situation carries with it a plethora of lessons to be learned. “Mark stepped down at his own choice, but it wasn’t without a lot of pressure,” he said. “Mark’s departure didn’t contain any of the normal elements of a scandal.”

There wasn’t an extramarital affair nor any other explosive singular event that contributed to his downfall, he argued, calling Driscoll a “brilliant communicator.

“I’ve never seen anything quite like this,” Vanderbloemen said, noting that Driscoll ended up leaving over a wide variety of smaller infractions and debates that were perpetuated on the Internet. “We have seen a lot of guys have to leave, but never from the death of a thousand cuts that happened online.”

He continued, “There was a weird sort of perfect storm of critics and disorganization.”
In the end, Vanderbloemen said that Mars Hill grew very fast and simply wasn’t prepared for the level of expansion it experienced. As an anecdotal result, he said that churches need to do what businesses have done, drafting plans in preparation for uncertainty.

It's curious how between December 2014 and March 2015 the explanation had shifted from observing that MH faced a crisis of controversy, critics and disorganization to Mark Driscoll stepping down in reaction to a steady stream of criticism from "popular bloggers".

The problem with this line is that it is basically a cheat, a shift.  At no point does the substance of what bloggers were actually discussing get acknowledged.  Nothing about the plagiarism controversy, nothing much about the Result Source Inc controversy, and even if these things were acknowledged that gets to another way of putting this.

Saying that bloggers had anything to do with the decline of Mark Driscoll is as illusory a proposal as claiming that the press took down the Nixon administration during the Watergate scandal.  Sure, the press played a role in documenting things but even as far back as, oh, 1974 not everybody agreed that the press had done more than just observe what had happened.

Wenatchee The Hatchet has, of course, spent years documenting the history and bits of the culture of Mars Hill for years.  The last thing Wenatchee The Hatchet would concede is that either this blog or any others somehow played some crucial role in Mark Driscoll's decision to resign.  There's no evidence for that even if William Vanderbloemen's willing to say for the record that bloggers had something to do with the resignation.  If Mark Driscoll resigned voluntarily (even if at the urging of unidentified godly counsel) then Driscoll resigning in the wake of public scrutiny and criticism "might" make him the Richard Nixon of early 21st century megachurch pastors, but if that analogy were to hold, it highlights all the more that what should not be taken as given is that bloggers somehow did anything more than document what was going on. 

 Had Mars Hill leadership not undertaken the publication and promotion of Real Marriage in the way that they did, there could not have been any controversy associated with it.  Had Mars Hill as a culture not sounded off in public in 2011 about copyright infringement of their brand and content then there would not have been a public record against which Janet Mefferd could point out that there were reasons to wonder whether Mark Driscoll had properly credited authors whose ideas and materials showed up in published material with his name on them.

Unless Mark Driscoll says for the record himself in front of cameras that he resigned because of bloggers it doesn't matter what other people who have agreed to speak to the press may be saying. 

One of the most pernicious elements of a narrative that asserts Driscoll was brought down by bloggers, particularly the idea that any of these bloggers were outsiders, is that it's to miss altogether that that's not ultimately a very accurate depiction of what happened.  Anyone can go through six years of content at Wenatchee The Hatchet and observe a slow shift.  From 2012 on it's possible to chart a progression in which more content from The City got leaked to Wenatchee The Hatchet, stuff across campus boundaries and stuff dealing with elder resignations and financial crises.  The crisis was never that outsider bloggers had things to say, the crisis was "probably" more than distrust and concern within the culture itself reached a point that leaks were shared with outsiders but also within the social system that was Mars Hill.

Rather than bore you with a litany of years' worth of leaks from The City sent along to Wenatchee The Hatchet, the summary would be this--Mars Hill as a leadership culture had caused enough unrest and even distrust in the higher echelons that eventually sources at potentially every level began to leak information to not only a select number of bloggers (it seems) but directly to members of the press (as evidenced by World Magazine breaking a news story about RSI a bit more than a year ago).

 Rather than entertain fanciful fantasies that bloggers who allegedly had never even attended Mars Hill or been to Seattle had a steady stream of criticism, it makes far more sense to propose, based on the documentable evidence at hand, that as morale declined within the rank and file and even the leadership culture within the history of Mars Hill, an undetermined number of people at various levels of the culture felt they were not able to or likely to be given a hearing about their concerns.  So they turned to alternative avenues for expression.  Just as it could be (and has been) said that the press didn't "take down" the Nixon administration, it can be said that bloggers were ultimately not the reason Mark Driscoll opted to resign.  The most that could be said might be that bloggers played a role in documenting an infrastructural and cultural decline that was already in place and that former insiders had been warning was a risk on financial and social grounds in the years prior to there being any public controversy. 

The relevant question about the "death by bloggers" narrative is to ask why on earth anyone would take it seriously to begin with?  It flies in the face of everything Mark Driscoll had said for the record in the previous ten years about how seriously he took bloggers (in spite of, ironically, being a blogger himself).  It also flies in the face of any explanation as to what the substance of "critical" blogging activity directly addressed.  If a person wants to formulate a narrative in which bloggers are presented as outsiders who magically possess the social media clout to inspire a pastor to resign, why go for that?  That could merely reinforce the kind of insular and punitive culture that many a former Mars Hill elders has since said was one of the key problems to begin with.  Not only is such a theory foolish, it's directly contradicted by now by an account of a former MH pastor who wrote about what seems to have been having some doubts about Driscoll's fitness for ministry as far back as 2006.  While informal reports that David Nicholas came to have doubts about Driscoll's fitness for ministry describe these doubts being expressed somewhere around 2005, nobody has been able to document whether this was so.

The crisis wasn't "out there" with bloggers or perceived-as-hostile press, it looks like the crisis was internal.

Whether it's a William Vanderbloemen theorizing Driscoll resigned in reaction to popular bloggers or a Rachel Held Evans pontificating on "six lessons" to be learned from Mars Hill we should be cautious about the lessons that are to be drawn here.  As long as an Evans can stand by a Tony Jones after having excoriated a Driscoll there may be no "lesson" to be learned other than that the star-making machinery that vaulted Driscoll and Evans to stardom has remained unchanged. There may have been a temporary crisis in which figuring out how to replace one star with another may have surfaced, but the question of whether or not stars needed to define the cultural moment won't change.


If it seems a bit outlandish to compare the resignations of Mark Driscoll and Richard Nixon, do keep in mind that Forbes published an article "Mars Hill: Cautionary Tales From The Enron Of American Churches".

Looking back on Mark Driscoll's 2006 thoughts about Robert Schuller, revisiting an old post from

As Driscoll's ministry revamps its web presence and his scheduled reappearance approaches later this year, we could revisit what Driscoll had to say back in 2006-ish at the old Resurgence site on his interaction with Schuller.   While robots.txt still applies to stuff Wenatchee The Hatchet has had the following laying around since before it occurred to anyone to introduce robots.txt to MH related sites. 

Driscoll would eventually go on to flip flop about Joel Osteen ...
I am aware of the theological differences that exist between our tribe and Pastor Joel. I also know my Reformed brothers like to treat Pastor Joel like a piƱata, but there are worse things than being happy and encouraging at a time when the most common prescription medications are antidepressants.

and this in spite of his extended criticism of Osteen in the 2007 Philippians series.  If you want to revisit THAT, go over here:

Even Wenatchee The Hatchet can only preserve so much, after all.

As for another megachurch pastor whom Driscoll criticized in 2007, there's Driscoll's history of pivoting on T. D. Jakes. Driscoll went from criticizing T. D. Jakes in 2007 to shaking hands at Elephant Room 2 in 2012.

But for at least some people who kept tabs on Driscoll, they might have felt that one of the earlier flip flops was on Schuller.  But, bear in mind, Driscoll once ran in the emergent scene that included Tony Jones.  It's why Wenatchee The Hatchet sometimes thinks it would be difficult to overstate the idea that with Mark Driscoll's pastoral career pragmatism itself could be a principle.

With that in mind, and with the news of Robert Schuller's passing being so recent, it seems worth preserving for posterity what Driscoll published at one point about coming to a new appreciation of Robert Schuller's ministry.

Lunch with the Schullers at the Crystal Cathedral

Schullers This is the final week of Dr. Robert H. Schuller’s tenure as senior pastor of the Crystal Cathedral in Southern California. He founded the church some fifty years ago and is handing the leadership of both his church and the “Hour of Power” television program, which he has led since 1970, to his son. Throughout his ministry, Dr. Schuller has been a controversial leader, lauded by some for pioneering cutting-edge ministry, and loathed by others for promoting over-the-edge doctrine.

I had my own curiosity about Dr. Schuller a few years ago when I was first asked to preach in the Crystal Cathedral for a pastors’ conference he was hosting. Unlike most of the attendees, I was theologically conservative on issues such as the inerrancy of Scripture, the depth of human depravity, and the role of women in ministry. I was also not affiliated with any mainline Christian denomination, had not yet completed a formal theological education, and lacked what many denominationally affiliated churches would accept as a credible ordination. To be honest, I was surprised that Dr. Schuller would allow me to preach from his pulpit—especially since I intended to preach through the fourteenth chapter of the book of Revelation on the importance of the American church regaining a strategic commitment to raising up young men, since Christianity has sadly become a female and feminized religion.

After receiving the invitation, I spent a few days in prayer to seek the Lord’s will on the matter. Some fellow pastors discouraged me from taking the invitation because it would affiliate me with Dr. Schuller. But that argument rang hollow. I have often been criticized for the conferences I have preached at because I prefer not to spend all my time preaching to the proverbial choir. I like to mix it up with Christian leaders who are considerably different in both their theology and practice than me. I believe that I can be of help expanding their thinking and that they also teach me and expand my heart to love all people. Consequently, as time permits, I preach in odd spots such as cults and college bars.

As I prayed, I sensed that Jesus wanted me to go to the Crystal Cathedral, though I knew not why. My lovely wife Grace traveled with me and the trip ended up being one of the most curious I have ever had.

The Crystal Cathedral is quite a sight to behold from an architectural standpoint. It opened in 1980 and its designers, Philip Johnson and John Burgee, are renowned gold medal-winners from the American Institute of Architects. It has more than 10,000 windows to welcome the California sun and can seat 2,800 worshippers.

I was surprised when my wife and I were invited to have lunch in Dr. Schuller’s office with his wife and son. I understand that he is a very busy man and did not expect to receive such generous personal time. I truly enjoyed his family. His petite wife of over fifty years, Arvella, was a delightful Christian grandmother who spent most of our lunch speaking with great affection of Jesus, her husband, children, and grandchildren. Their son, Dr. Robert A. Schuller, was also a genuinely gracious and kind man who kept refilling our water and asking how he could be praying for our family.

I was also surprised by the freedom I was given. When Dr. Schuller asked me what I would be preaching from his pulpit, I told him, and he simply said he was glad to have me and welcomed me to speak from my convictions without reservation. It is not uncommon for a man of his stature to censor what is said from his pulpit and I was honestly taken aback by his willingness to be vulnerable and trusting.

As we spoke, I believe I gained some insights into Dr. Schuller’s thinking. He explained his background of reformed theology and appreciation of the Heidelberg Catechism. He then articulated some of the sadness he experienced among discouraged, pessimistic, and even angry Christians, which helped prepare him to embrace the positive thinking principles of such men as Norman Vincent Peale. As he spoke, I became deeply convicted. I consider myself a fairly reformed Bible preacher with a deep devotion to sound doctrine. But, some young men in my church at that time had grown extreme in their reformed theology, arrogant in the judgment of anyone who even slightly disagreed with them, and disrespectful toward me and the other elders at our church. Some of the young buck Calvinists who had become like a rock in my shoe were complaining that I prayed for God to actually do things and asked people to repent of sin and trust in Jesus every Sunday, stupidly saying it undermined God’s sovereignty and election. I wondered if Dr. Schuller had not gotten burned out on the worst kind of nitpicking, systematic, reformed dunderheads that loved to quote Paul but never lived like him, similar to those I was trying to push out of the colon of our church body.

Dr. Schuller then began to speak about sitting near the pope as a special guest at the beatification of Mother Teresa. Being an ex-Catholic boy who still twitches when thinking about his days as an altar boy, I was hoping he would not draw me into a discussion about Catholicism. Thankfully, he did not. But, he did surprise me by sharing the story of sitting near the then-feeble Pope John Paul II, who leaned on his staff with his eyes closed, praying quietly to Jesus. As Schuller spoke of hearing the Pope pray to Jesus, he began to weep bitterly and smile broadly as he declared the wonder that anyone, anywhere, at any time can pray to Jesus. Schuller’s love for Jesus was simply obvious to me.
My entire experience at the Crystal Cathedral was not what I was expecting and the response to my sermon was perhaps the most surprising. I preached for about an hour straight through Revelation 14 on the importance of churches focusing on reaching and raising young men if they hope to impact culture and change the future. As I looked out at a room filled with mainly older mainline liberal pastors, including many female pastors, I feared the response I would get. Shockingly, at the conclusion of my message I received a standing ovation from the crowd, who genuinely seemed appreciative.

Dr. Schuller then came to say goodbye since I had a flight to catch. He placed his hands on my shoulders, looked me in the eye, and said that I reminded him of a young Charles Haddon Spurgeon. This was a great honor because Spurgeon is my hero and the first man outside of the Bible I hope to meet in the kingdom. Dr. Schuller then laid hands on me as we stood in his church and prayed that God would raise up a generation of masculine church planting Bible teachers like Spurgeon to help me in reaching young men for Jesus Christ.

I walked away convicted that despite our differences I had been mentored in such things as hospitality, love, and encouragement. I would like to thank Dr. Schuller for his kindness to me and congratulate him on his half-century of ministry at the Crystal Cathedral on this, the final week of his tenure as senior pastor. I would also like to congratulate his son, whom I may see when I return to teach a small pastors’ gathering at the Crystal Cathedral in March.

Throckmorton, "The Mars Hill Church Mailing List Was Being Distributed By…John Doe?" the recent apology from Dean and more research raise more questions about what happened with the list selling

As has been noted here and elsewhere ...

Justin Dean published an apology stating that what he did was wrong and he was sorry.  Exactly what he was saying he was sorry for has not yet been completely clear since on the one hand Dean denied having sold a list that Craig Gross has indicated he is fairly sure he actually did buy from Justin Dean. While the public apologies were nice, there's been this mystery as to how on earth the list was available for Dean to distribute to a couple of people (by his account) who then put the list up for sale.  It isn't clear how Dean had possession of the asset of the list to begin with.  In the not in the ordinary domain of business the people with the power to sell or distribute assets would be members of the Mars Hill Board of Advisors and Accountability, which Dean has never been a member of, as best we can tell.  And yet it would be helpful for the BoAA to clarify things, if that's possible, because since the formal dissolution was announced the only group that seems explicitly authorized to have let Justin Dean even have access to the list to begin with would be the current BoAA.

Then again, how long did Justin Dean have the list?  Was it possible he had the list even before the dissolution was announced?  It may not be relevant but it could be a variable to consider.  Dean's apology from the more recent apology explicitly stated it would be illegal to use the list without permission from Mars Hill. But, at the risk of asking an obvious question, why?  Why would it be illegal for people who bought a list to use it?  Because the list was sold in a transaction that was not legal?  If not, why not? 

So, with all that introduction, Warren Throckmorton has some more information that can be considered. WtH will quote the most pertinent segments that stood out for those not in the habit of going over and reading the whole thing once linked.

Not really, but that was the name given to register You’ll remember that was the website used to offer Mars Hill Church’s The Resurgence mailing list to the public. was pulled from the web and from twitter after it was learned that the list still belonged to Mars Hill Church. Craig Gross who purchased and used the list told Christianity Today that former Mars Hill Church spokesperson Justin Dean had sold him the list and then refunded the money after it became public knowledge that the list was still the property of Mars Hill Church.

The quick summary quotations would be:

The identity of the registrant of was hidden via privacy shield supplied by a Ltd. This is a common manner of shielding addresses and phone numbers from the public. However, such shielding is not supposed to be done for unethical or illegal purposes. Last week, I wrote the privacy company about the matter. I was informed that the privacy shield would be removed which it was earlier today. Here is the registration information now:

... and ...

John Doe? By law, information provided in the registration of a domain is supposed to be factual. However, I doubt John Doe residing at 1234 Doe in Beverly Hills is the real owner. According to a contact at Google, there is no additional underlying information available. A search of the domain history turns up nothing more of interest. From the beginning of March, when the domain was registered, the owner was protecting the identity of John Doe.

As it turns out, may actually be a working email. A search for this email on Google reveals the email attached to a domain owned by Justin Dean since 2013 —  If you place this address in the address line of your browser, you will be redirected to the website of Ministry Communicators Association, a non-profit founded by Dean. Dean has apparently changed the registration information since March 28 because one needs to go to the Google cache to find the address. [emphasis added]
A commenter left the following:
Mark Boyer

Justin Dean's, if you don't want to click below...
hois Record:Domain Name: CHURCHCOMM.COM
Registry Domain ID: 1824012583_DOMAIN_COM-VRSN
Registrar WHOIS Server:
Registrar URL:
Updated Date: 2014-07-30T00:16:13.00Z
Creation Date: 2013-08-28T15:39:00.00Z
Registrar Registration Expiration Date: 2015-08-28T15:39:47.00Z
Registrar: ENOM, INC.
Registrar IANA ID: 48
Registrar Abuse Contact Email:
Registrar Abuse Contact Phone: +1.4252982646
Domain Status: ok
Registry Registrant ID:
Registrant Name: JUSTIN DEAN
Registrant Organization: DOXA MEDIA GROUP
Registrant Street: DOMAINS
Registrant City: BUFORD
Registrant State/Province: GA
Registrant Postal Code: 30518
Registrant Country: US
Registrant Phone: +1.6788294455
Registrant Phone Ext:
Registrant Fax:
Registrant Fax Ext:
Registry Admin ID:
Admin Organization: DOXA MEDIA GROUP
Admin Street: DOMAINS
Admin City: BUFORD
Admin State/Province: GA
Admin Postal Code: 30518
Admin Country: US
Admin Phone: +1.6788294455
Admin Phone Ext:
Admin Fax:
Admin Fax Ext:
Registry Tech ID:
Tech Organization: DOXA MEDIA GROUP
Tech Street: DOMAINS
Tech City: BUFORD
Tech State/Province: GA
Tech Postal Code: 30518
Tech Country: US
Tech Phone: +1.6788294455
Tech Phone Ext:
Tech Fax:
Tech Fax Ext:
DNSSEC: unSigned
URL of the ICANN WHOIS Data Problem Reporting System:
Last update of WHOIS database: 2014-07-30T00:16:13.00Z
The data in this whois database is provided to you for information
purposes only, that is, to assist you in obtaining information about or
related to a domain name registration record. We make this information
available "as is," and do not guarantee its accuracy. By submitting a
whois query, you agree that you will use this data only for lawful
purposes and that, under no circumstances will you use this data to: (1)
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Version 6.3 4/3/2002

Monday, April 06, 2015

Rolling Stone retracted the UVA rape story but basically thinks it did nothing wrong? The problem with journalism (or blogging) that goes for the "emblematic" story.

Rolling Stone's Sensational Failure

Journalists are constantly tempted to tell sensational, unrepresentative stories as if they're emblematic of a person, an institution, or a culture.

That's probably the "nice" way of putting what seems to have happened here.

Rolling Stone and UVA: The Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism Report

Rolling Stone Retracts Discredited University of Virginia Rape Article

Rolling Stone’s ‘A Rape on Campus.’ Notes and comment on Columbia J-school’s investigation.

The most consequential decision Rolling Stone made was made at the beginning: to settle on a narrative and go in search of the story that would work just right for that narrative. The key term is emblematic. The report has too little to say about that fateful decision, probably because it’s not a breach of procedure but standard procedure in magazine-style journalism. (Should it be?) This is my primary criticism of the Columbia report: it has too little to say about the “emblem of…” problem.

A “Journalistic Failure” Won’t Get You Fired From Rolling Stone (But a Bad Review Could)

This gets at a problem that Wenatchee The Hatchet saw in the majority of blogging that was done about Mars Hill in the last five years, which is not to say that blogging did not make significant contributions to the public discourse.  Correction, this was frequently an even bigger problem in mainstream journalistic coverage dealing with Mars Hill.  Too much of the coverage was just about Driscoll, as though Driscoll could have risen or fallen as an isolated individual instead of as a catalyst for systems or as a brand freighted with symbolic expectation.  Driscoll was held up as the poster boy for "new Calvinists" or for any number of things and that emblematic function was so important to media coverage that it didn't necessarily matter how factually accurate that presentation was.  Ergo years of progressives imagining that Mark Driscoll had sounded off on something or other about Gayle Haggard letting herself go.  It's not something Driscoll ever said but it was symbolically important for a certain branch of media coverage and blogging to insist it happened because of its symbolic significance for them.

Wenatchee The Hatchet spent a few years discussing Mars Hill and how one of the things that has been done over the years is controlling a narrative of what Mars Hill was and what it was supposed to signify.  One of the things discussed at some length here has been how the narrative of Mars Hill shifted in the last ten years from a story of a community mediated by a Driscoll to the story of a community distilled into a Driscollian narrative about the Driscoll family itself.  This shift was neither subtle nor without consequence.
Look what’s going on with this Rolling Stone situation [the story about the gang rape of a woman at the University of Virginia]. People are so shocked by it, but it was out for a week… It took about a week of shock for people to start looking into it… We’re so driven by the idea that one person’s story can guide an entire narrative. Sometimes it can. But in a big, reported piece like that, it can’t. It’s interesting to me that it took a week almost for people to move beyond this one person’s story. [emphasis added]

If you get too indulgent with your feelings… The reader needs to know that the writer is in charge; authority. So they have to be confident that you’re not going to say something that makes the reader cringe, or makes you feel sorry for the writer… It’s very much about control, deciding which details to reveal. It’s not visceral. If it just “poured out of me,” a lot of it should be cleared out. It should not just pour out.
What Wenatchee The Hatchet has labored for years to avoid is to get caught between the Scylla and Charybdys of hanging too much on a single narrative as emblematic of the whole on the one hand, or trafficking in the kind of internet outrage that has too often been characteristic not just of blogging but of even journalistic coverage of controversial issues on the other.  The shortcoming of this approach, perhaps all too obviously, is that it's not sexy to focus on the boring details of real estate acquisitions and associated leadership appointments and trajectories when you could be talking about the big guy with the big mouth.  Well, in many cases he was just not quite interesting enough to be bothered with.  If you tried writing about what Mars Hill was in institutional terms then focusing on Driscoll was a liability because his stage presence could distract from the nuts and bolts of what was going on.

To some degree Matthew Paul Turner's coverage of the Andrew disciplinary case could be a case in point.  It was scandalous and presented as emblematic of an overall problem but "if" it was emblematic it was potentially so not as something unusual about church discipline as practiced in the organization, there may have been subterranean fears that it shed some light on what was NORMAL.  The scandals of Mars Hill and its leadership culture were, perhaps, not what was unusual and symbolic but what was so ordinary as to not get mentioned.  If there was a reason for scandal it wasn't the shocking individual case but the ordinary turning gears of the machine that should have been cause for concern.  In neither the case of Mars Hill nor of campus rape has it seemed to be the case that the eye-grabbing "emblematic" story was the most significant thing going on.  The full scope of the things that happened may prove elusive but what journalists and bloggers can try to do moving forward (or try to do better) is to pursue the facts as steadily and thoroughly as possible and resist temptations to boil down, to distill the narrative to something that seems cogent and powerful but may not, in the end, turn out to actually be true. 

Slate--Jon Ronson in So You've Been Publicly Shamed and the age of shame as the tool of those who have lost trust in institutions

I wish that Ronson had also considered why demanding that someone is fired from his or her job has become so central to the public shaming ritual. This demand, I think, reveals several things. First, it reflects how we are all public figures now and all have brands or reputations to protect, and so do our erstwhile employers. We have ported the logic of the celebrity shame cycle—in which corporate sponsors are expected to drop the offender posthaste—to the workaday world. It’s a strange conflation of the public and private, of believing that individuals are always-on representatives of their employers and that an incensed public is in a position to decide when this association should end.
The second thing that these calls for firing reveal is how precious a job has become and how truly punitive public shaming can be. We know that it’s increasingly difficult to get a full-time job and losing one means having to fall back on a threadbare social safety net. Add to that the threat of a permanent Google trail (a feature that Ronson does a good job exploring), and being fired as a result of bringing disrepute on yourself or your employer can be a quick trip to precarity. Do shamers realize the jobless purgatory they might send their targets to? Has that become the singular marker of a “successful” shaming campaign?

Finally, the effort to get people fired reveals one important driver of public shaming—namely, a declining faith in the efficacy of American institutions. The public’s mindset seems to be: No one will punish these people, so we have to do it ourselves. The parallels with the justice system and traditional notions of mob justice are obvious, and it’s one of Ronson’s smarter moves to visit a prison psychiatrist and a former judge who specialized in handing down embarrassing punishments. Yet when he tells the judge, Ted Poe, who’s now a member of the House of Representatives, that “we [public shamers] are more frightening than you” (emphasis in original), Ronson suffers from the public shamer’s lack of proportion. Shaming can be novel, scary, and pernicious, but America’s overflowing prisons are distinct in their cruelty.
We're not all public figures, though.
It's interesting that public shame has become a tool of choice.  We seem to be a culture in which shame is considered wildly unappealing and if shame is the counterpart to celebrity then there's reason to believe that shame is bad ... but some folks made the better part of 18-year careers using shame as a motivating element.  Would a person who relied on shaming others to motivate them to do better be receptive or responsive to shame as a recipient and not a distributor of it? 

the shut-in economy ... a couple of links

if there's a pull quote how about this one... ?
In many ways, social class can be defined by the chores you don’t do. The rich have personal assistants, butlers, cooks, drivers. The middle class largely do their own errands — with the occasional babysitter, pizza boy, maybe a cleaner. The poor do their own chores, and the chores of other people. ...

and ...

That’s the other side of this, the gender one. The errands being served up by the on-demand economy — cooking, cleaning, laundry, groceries, runs to the post office — all were all once, and in many places still are, the jobs of stay-at-home mothers. Even now, when women outnumber men in the formal workplace, they continue to bear the brunt of that invisible domestic work, often for many, many hours a week. So women — those who can afford it, at least — have the most to win from passing that load on to somebody else.
So it’s not a surprise that 60 percent of Alfred’s clients are female. One mother I know told me she has no time to cook while wrangling two kids under two, so she uses EAT24. Uber is an easy way to get out of the house with an infant, another told me, saying the driver helped her strap the baby seat into the black sedan.
The invisible work handed off by some women simply becomes visible — oftentimes for other, less wealthy women. Despite the name, 75 percent of “Alfreds” are women.

it's possible to comply with the strictest technical requirements of the Comics Code and still have come up with ...

a horror story about a giant rabbit that, well ... no spoilers here.

HT Triablogue, Paul Helm sums up the problem with Amyraut's variation of "limited-unlimited atonement".

Mark Driscoll began to identify himself years ago as subscribing to a "limited unlimited atonement" or an unlimited limited atonement.  The atonement purchased the entirety of humanity or creation away from Satan, sin and death on the one hand, but only had saving power to truly and eternally save the elect on the other.

Summarily, the unresolvable tension Reformed folks have spotted in this formulation is that the limited and unlimited elements are at odds.  Why should the atoning death of Christ be unlimited in scope that it positively purchases humanity as a possession of God through Christ (which is redundant anyway since all creation belongs to the Lord?) if the EFFECTIVENESS of the atonement only applies to the elect, who are a subset of the whole human race?  After all, since Amyraldians aren't universalists in practice all the non-elect will be consigned to Hell and that could imply a super-majority of the human race that has not heard the Gospel, couldn't it?

The pragmatic reason that may have lain at the heart of Mark Driscoll's advocacy of Amyraldian atonement was that he may not have wished to completely alienate those members and attenders who did not subscribe to the L in the proverbial TULIP. Driscoll also never took a positive stand as to what he was for in interpreting apocalyptic literature and eschatology.  He'd make fun of postmillennial theonomistic types as wanting to rule the world without even being married yet on the one hand, and on the other he'd make fun of futurist/dispensationalists with charts as to why Jesus would be coming back next week.  But that's shooting fish in a barrel rather than attempting to articulate what a person positively does believe and punting by saying that we shouldn't be too confident talking about things that haven't happened yet could be construed as defaulting to a futurist interpretation of Revelation without conceding the point, and this despite the fact that the historicist, preterist and idealist schools have not been addressed in any way.

If Driscoll relaunches his ministry later this year he might do well to say what he's actually for on this set of topics.  If he retains his unlimited limited atonement schematic he'll have established that he's never ultimately really been "Reformed".  He might be sympathetic to elements of Reformed dogmatics and systematics, possibly, but he won't be Reformed as such. 

Sunday, April 05, 2015

and because we haven't linked to Orthocuban in a while, don't forget that the Founding Fathers wouldn't have drafted the Constitution if the Articles of Confederation had worked


What I (and many others like Mr. Dowd in the quote above) can argue is that it is incredibly easy to show that the founding fathers struck compromise after compromise as they tried to achieve a workable union. Their first set of compromises did not work. We need to remember that. The Articles of Confederation were a failure. The Constitutional Convention took place because the Articles of Confederation were a failure. That attempt, to keep almost all power in the States did not lead to freedom, it led to mini-tyrannies and confusion. For instance, no one but scholars knows, or is even taught, that Massachusetts continued to collect taxes for the established state church until the early 1800’s. Meantime such a tax collection law was defeated in Virginia with Thomas Jefferson arguing for its defeat. People who had rights in one state, such as Baptist preachers, might be considered unlicensed, attacked, and even jailed in at least one or two states. The same problem surged in regard to issues such as taxation, the Armed Forces, etc. The Articles of Confederation were a failure.
The States and Congress knew that this had to change, that there had to be a stronger central union, and that there had to be a better cross-State guarantee of rights. Many of those today who quote founding fathers appearing to show that the central government should have little power are quoting them from before the US Constitution, at a time when it was still thought that the States should have most of the power. When they speak of original intent, they fail to acknowledge that the original intent failed and that the very fathers they quote got back together precisely because their original intention did not work.
The USA Constitution is the result of the realization that something new had to be written and the old discarded. It was also the realization that this country was going to fail if they were not able to reach necessary compromises. And, so, a new document was written, one that better delineated the compromises necessary to make this nation work.
There's other thoughts expressed in the post along the way but this would be the highlight articulating the problem with trying to go back to the "original intent" of the Founding Fathers with respect to governance on the one hand, or to assert a certain idealism that permits jettisoning what was actually formulated on the other, that the idealism of granting powers to the states was second-guessed.  Whether we get to the left or the right if there is no moderating impulse then we get something an older guy once told Wenatchee The Hatchet would be the blight of American politics, we'd see a political landscape dominated thoroughly not by mid-20th century liberals and conservatives but by radicals and reactionaries.

Sor Op 29, 5 (aka etude 17) in C major, another example of sonata form, with a couple of twists like hybridized recapitulation

This year Wenatchee The Hatchet has finally gotten around to some musical analysis that, in some ideal alternate universe, could have been started a few years ago.  For instance, we finally got around to discussing Sor's Op. 29, etude 10 as an example of sonata allegro form recently.

But here's a proposal, there's actually another sonata form lurking within the Op. 29 etudes, No. 5 in C major.  But this one's a trickier sonata form because it has so many internal repetitions of themes within the exposition Sor dispenses with what would have been a usual structurally mandated repeat.  Instead he jumps from his exposition straight into a development without any formal repeat of the sort we saw in the brilliant little Op. 29, 10 study.

If you peruse the score for this C major etude you'll see, too, that the development section starts with Theme 1 and Theme 2's opening gestures presented as subject and countersubject in a contrapuntal texture.  Sor repeated his Theme 1 in a higher register with a countersubject within the exposition so it's set-up that this is going to be a sonata that plays with contrapuntal textures.  The rising scalar motif in theme 1 still shows up in theme 2 as an accompaniment gesture.  It might be worth noting that Sor transcribed and arranged arias and at least one fugue by Haydn and so he'd have been familiar, it seems, with Haydn's innovation of using an accompaniment idea for a first group as the foundational idea for a second group.  But if Haydn took to that in string quartets it could be proposed that here Sor subordinates the core gesture of theme 1 into being an accompaniment figure for Theme 2, Group 1.

Group 2, bracketed off with a note in the jpeg below, shows that as is common in sonata forms written by guitarists in the early 19th century, the second key region generally has more than one theme.  Group 2 repeats and if you factor in the chromatic adjustments it is still, basically, a greatly augmented iteration of the rising scalar motif from the first theme. 

With so many recurring variations of that riff it's actually no wonder Sor doesn't bother to recapitulate it when Theme 1 was the opening riff in the development section.  What Sor does, instead of recapitulating theme 1 as we would "expect" in a sonata form, is make the contour of Theme 1 a rising bass line over which Theme 2, Group 1 and 2, is recapitulated in the tonic key.  Think of it as a hybrid recapitulation in which evocations of Theme 1 and Theme 2 happen at the same time. 

For those who have read Charles Rosen's book on sonata forms he pointed out that there's no set rule that a theme that has appeared in an exposition has to appear in a recapitulation.  The guitarist composers of the early 19th century are particularly good case studies for Rosen's observation.  You could have a theme 1 in Diabelli's F major guitar sonata that never appears after the exposition and development are complete.  Something similar happens in Molitor's Op. 7 guitar sonata, which we might be able to discuss some time later.  While in Sor's Op. 29, 10 etude he brings back both themes where we would expect this is something Sor doesn't always do.  In the Grand Sonata Op. 22, for instance, theme 2 is never recapitulated while in Op. 25 the themes are roughly brought back in reverse order.  Here in Op. 29, 5 what we see is that the thematic idea of Theme 1 is recapitulated simultaneous to the return of Theme 2 in its groups 1 and 2.

So, in summing up Rosen's observations, sonata forms from the Classic period were more flexible than a "textbook" definition might often lead us to believe.  It may be that part of why Sor's deployment of sonata form may not always have accounted for Op. 29 etudes 5 and 10 is that if musicologists aren't flexible enough in how they define exposition and recapitulation in formal terms they may not spot that Sor used sonata forms, arguably, in at least two more cases than were recognized in Stanley Yates' overview of Sor's use of sonata form.  Yates' overview is definitely helpful and handy, but the discussions of the Op. 29 etudes that employ sonata form are meant as a supplement so that guitarists can have a fuller appreciation of the sonata forms that show up in Sor's work that may be overlooked because they weren't explicitly labeled as sonata forms and as stand-alone works.

Now, with all that out of the way, it's one thing to tell a reader about these things, and another thing to show them.  You'll want to collapse the menus on the side here so that the score may be a little easier to read.  The visual analysis/break-down of how and why I think Op. 29, 5 is a sonata form can be perused after the break.

the era of fake peer review even within science publications

Wenatchee The Hatchet has written a bit over the years about how some authors did not manage to cite other authors' work in the process of writing, publishing and promoting certain books.  But while the nature of that at times controversial topic has not been fully appreciated by Christian writers and bloggers it's arguable that that may be a drop in the bucket. A bigger problem may be that we live in an era in which content can be generated so swiftly the human capacity to fact-check and screen out content can't keep up, or publications just run stuff that amounts to "who's going to notice?"

Lest it seem this kind of problem exists only in the humanities or the arts, it's turning out to be a problem in the STEM side of things, too.  Fake peer review.

on what some have dubbed a "war on men"

there is no "war on men" by women, as such. there are however males who have waged campaigns of attrition toward women who have shown those males that the subjects of their campaigns are impregnable to their tactics.

music criticism as lifestyle reporting, music as a product separate from the context of daily life, and the century-plus old alarmism of John Philip Sousa

For most people living in the world, circa 1920, music was embedded into their life, not chosen as a lifestyle accessory. But gradually, over the next several decades, music’s value as a pathway of personal definition came to the forefront of our culture. Sometimes the shift was barely perceptible, but in retrospect we can gauge its profound impact. For example, people in rural America didn’t choose country music during the early decades of the 20th century, but were literally born into its ethos; yet by the ’70s, country music had evolved into a lifestyle choice, a posture adopted by millions who never roped a steer or herded cattle, but still wanted to affiliate themselves with the values espoused by the songs. By the time we arrive at the age of disco and punk rock, the music consciously builds its appeal on lifestyle considerations.
Listening to new releases, I am reminded of how an Australian friend once described the United States to me: “You Americans represent the best of the best, and the worst of the worst, all hopelessly mixed together.” The same is true of the output of the music industry in the present day.

One of the basic problems of music criticism as lifestyle criticism is that it is so subsumed into identity politics and cultural identification that it stops being about music.
Gioia, a music historian, is also able to put this in historical perspective: Music started out as part of daily life, but the recording industry turned it into a product separate from its context.

The recording industry?
Originally published in Appleton's Magazine, Vol. 8 (1906), pp. 278-284.
Under such conditions the tide of amateurism cannot but recede, until there will be left only the mechanical device and the professional executant.