Thursday, August 27, 2015

Kyle Gann's proposals about how and why graduate school studies transform people into bad writers
If the purpose of American grad school, as I’ve long maintained, is to teach young people to write badly, then the function of intellectuals in American life is to paralyze discourse.

Of course, the Swift Boat Graduates always have a point: a lot of complex things go on in the brain in response to a Satie Gymnopedie, and ultimately the Encyclopedia Britannica is just a record of billions of subjective impressions upon which doubt could be cast. Those are interesting, important issues to ponder, but they are rather divorced from everyday life, and few of us can afford to leave everyday life for long. Subjective, objective, complex, simple, are all comparative terms whose absolute endpoints lie outside human experience; and if you’re going to swallow up those words into their intellectually derived absolutes, then we still need other words for the everyday meanings those words hold in conversation. What’s wrong with the Swift Boat Graduates is that they sometimes wax fascistic about disallowing naive uses of their pet words, as though once you’ve discovered a more sophisticated concept for the word, what the naive use once referred to disappears. This tendency threatens to bring musical discourse down to a grad-school level. Part of intellectual maturity is knowing when the exalted meaning is appropriate and when the quotidian meaning is just fine.
ACADEMIA TRAINS YOUNG PEOPLE TO WRITE TURGIDLY AND VAGUELY. And not only young people. Readers of this blog sometimes get upset with me that I seem so anti-academic, that I am always denigrating university culture. I love certain aspects of college life, and I am extremely pro-education, but it has to be acknowledged that academia, as it stands, has a default tendency toward inculcating pomposity in writing and, most of all, a bureaucratic avoidance of personal responsibility

Alex Ross on the long twilight of the symphony
In 1849, Richard Wagner declared, with his usual assurance, that “the last symphony has already been written.” Beethoven’s Ninth, with its eruption of voices in the finale, had, in Wagner’s view, exhausted the form and inaugurated a new age of music drama. The pronouncement went unheeded. In the decades that followed, Brahms wrote four symphonies, Tchaikovsky six, Dvořák nine. After 1900, the idea that nine symphonies represented an outer limit—“He who wants to go beyond it must die,” Schoenberg said, speaking of Mahler’s unfinished Tenth—fell away. Shostakovich produced fifteen symphonies, Havergal Brian thirty-two, Alan Hovhaness sixty-seven. As of this writing, the Finnish composer-conductor Leif Segerstam has generated two hundred and eighty-six (having passed Papa Haydn more than a decade ago, with his Symphony No. 105, “Pa-Pá, Pá-Pa-Passing . . . ”). Composers have also exceeded the seventy or eighty minutes’ duration that was long considered the maximum. Brian’s “Gothic” Symphony lasts almost two hours; Kaikhosru Sorabji’s “Jami” Symphony, which has yet to be performed, would go on for four and a half hours; Dimitrie Cuclin’s Twelfth, also patiently awaiting its première, might devour six.

Ross notes the symphonic cycle that has had the best overall case for being an addition to the symphonic canon has been (surprise, not) the Shostakovich cycle.

And certainly I love some Shostakovich but as symphonic music that people listen to composed since about 1974 or so we could probably have a small consensus that John Williams' Star Wars soundtracks have gotten a lot of play time.

So in a sense Wagner's declaration did come to pass, symphonic music eventually shifted to being a type of narrative drama ... in a way.

The Patrologist on how academic entities and companies de-public domain ancient documents and how closed access peer review "is run for the profit of publishers"
It’s critical editions that are the sticking point. If I read 5 manuscripts and then decide which variants to include in an edition, the current default hypothesis is that I have somehow acquired a copyright over this work. This is the practice of various monopolising bodies, whom you know well, and the overpriced and underutilised editions of ancient works they release. This is, in my view, a fairly insidious example of ‘enclosing’ the public domain. Of taking what belongs to all, and putting a fence around it and re-privatising it.

I also suspect that if put to the test, it might well fail in court. Because while there is certainly work in assembling a critical edition, and more than that, there is skilled and detailed work, there is no creative work. Nothing is added to the work, nothing remixed, nothing generated. There is no new work done. Under many countries’ copyright regimes this does not pass the standard tests for acquiring a copyright to a work. It’s about on the same level as organising word lists or printing phone books. Sheer volume of labour does not copyright make.

Which could be read as another way the academic culture of the United States or other Western post-industrial powers have continued an over-priced racket that pretends to educate more than it actually does?  It's ... possibly strongly implied taken together with this:
... I would summarise Skinner’s concerns in the second post that in a democratised (and that’s probably not the right word) sphere, everyone feels the right to have an equal opinion, and it’s difficult to give expert opinions their due weight. The remedy is (and I’m not saying this is Skinner’s view), traditionally, to point to the process of peer-review. Publishing is the sifting and sorting process that lends publications their authoritative weight. It’s why academia is a closed shop, it’s what the PhD is for: proving you’re ready to take a seat at the secret-society of peers who know about such and such a field.
Peer-reviewed closed-access publishing is run for the profit of publishers, and it’s paid for by the unpaid labour of academics. Is rigorous peer-review a great thing? Undoubtedly. Ought it be the gate-keeper to the conversation? Probably not. We do live in a more democratised world, and although everyone probably would admit theoretically that the only guarantee that you’re reading something worthy of critical acceptance is to read it critically for yourself with the pre-requisite knowledge to evaluate it, we’re all lazy and would much rather see the imprimatur of authority and say, ‘good enough for them, good enough for me’. But the result of that is richer publishers, elitism in academia, and a circle of bias that diminishes the value of peer-review to zero guarantee of truth or quality.

Monday, August 24, 2015

riffing a bit on some ideas implied by Phoenix Preacher on the doctrines that are neglected, a musing on atonement theories

In the last few years Wenatchee The Hatchet has seen some ludicrous assertions made about what theological point Mark Driscoll endorsed over the years that was the sure proof he went into bad territory. That's nonsense. The problem was where his character went.  He wasn't a Calvinist in the earlier years and although he said he was a Calvinist for many a year he may, for all we do and don't know, have only been as Reformed as he thought he needed to be in order to secure financial backing from people in that camp.

Since David Nicholas isn't alive to bear witness to why his public relationship to Mark Driscoll withered on the vine and Mark Driscoll probably cannot be trusted to give either an accurate or honest answer about that, the question as to why they parted ways may never be satisfactorily answered.  But it may be irrelevant in the long-run because as Driscoll pops up on the charismatic conference circuit, it seems his sales pitch for a return as a charismatic without a seatbelt is where he may be heading if he decides to stage a comeback.

If Mark Driscoll announced later this year that he's an Arminian egalitarian charismatic do you think that would make him more fit for formal ministry than when he was a Calvinist complementarian charismatic with a seatbelt?  You're part of the problem if you do.

See, one of the problems with those who have attempted to deal with Driscoll just on doctrinal terms is they don't always necessarily understand the doctrines they're talking about.  Maybe they do, but sometimes they latch on to some pet doctrine they're already into and make that the reason for Driscoll's demise.  Anyone who seriously proposes that Mark Driscoll went astray for not properly adhering to the regulative principle is just a regulative principle junkie who all too often has no meaningful firsthand knowledge of what the culture was like, let alone ever met Mark Driscoll.  For folks who are hung up about Mark Driscoll's "limited unlimited atonement" (conventionally identifiable as Amyraldianism to theology wonks) that, too, isn't really an indicator.  Prophets, priests and kings the problem?  Mark Driscoll transforming those categories into a stupid neo-Calvinist MBTI profiling tool isn't the same thing as the Westminster Confession outlining how because Christ fulfilled the roles of prophet, priest and king He is our perfect savior who is God and man.

Some folks might decide that if they don't endorse the same atonement theories as a guy like Driscoll that's the difference.  It's not.  Back in the 2005 atonement series Driscoll praised a dozen explanations of the atonement and said they are all necessary and vital for a fully-orbed Christian walk.  It's one of the very few things Driscoll's preached from the pulpit Wenatchee The Hatchet would agree with now. 

Of course there are basically three broad categories of atonement--the ransom/champion model; the satisfaction model (from which penal substitutionary atonement is a derivative); and the moral influence or christus exemplar model.  These are just metaphors that are gateways into reflecting on the life and work of Christ.

That "life" part cannot be overlooked.  See, some lazy and ignorant Christians who get tired of hearing PSA junkies beat that drum might be tempted to say,"Oh, well, let's reflect on the Incarnation".  Right, because why God the Son would choose to live as a human among us isn't organically tied to walking the road to Jerusalem and to Golgatha.  At the risk of getting into what might be uncomfortable territory for some Christian readers, the metaphors known as atonement theory have shortcomings.  It's why if you embrace one metaphor and reject the others what you "might" have a problem with is not the metaphor but the atonement itself, though mileage varies.

Jeffrey Burton Russell wrote five fantastic books on the history of thought about the devil.  Along the way he addressed the basic atonement theories as theodicies.  After all, an atonement theory in its photonegative form can be construed as a theory about how God dealt with the consequences of evil. The early popular theories were that Christ was our ransom and that Christ conquered Satan, sin and death.  So far, so good.  But over time Christian theologians began to wonder, what was it about defeating Satan, sin and death that necessitated the Incarnation to begin with?  Here we can begin to see, with help from Russell, that it's not ultimately possible to create a distinction between the Incarnation and the Cross.  What theologians began to worry about was that it sure seemed like Satan and death had a ton of power if Jesus had to come as a man and die.  If God were all-powerful and all-wise it would seem possible to defeat Satan, sin and death without having to go through the Incarnation or go to the Cross, at least in theory.

Now here's some layperson speculation on this riff, it's interesting to make this guess that the early atonement metaphors were popular in cultural and historical settings in which Christianity was not the establishment religion. It's not just that the metaphor of ransom and the metaphor of Christ as victorious warrior against our enemies would be appealing to a minority sect in the Roman empire, it's that we can get a sense that this metaphor also informed the apocalyptic literature of the time and the nature of the ethical instruction in the epistles.  As we await the final subjugation of the enemies of God we learn to live as aliens and strangers in the world in which we live.

After Constantine and after Christendom emerged a shift took place.  Thank (or blame) Anselm for formulating satisfaction theory.  The proposal was that since God, being all-powerful and wise, could conceivably have defeated evil and the devil and sin any way He wished, it was to satisfy God's own sense of justice that Jesus came in the flesh and lived and died and rose again for our benefit. This could later evolve into penal substitutionary atonement.

Thing is, if in the earlier metaphor the shortcoming was how powerful evil seemed to be that it necessitated the life as well as death of Christ, in this new variation there's a different shortcoming.  If Christ is the perfect substitute whose death satisfies the justice of God for our sake, couldn't Jesus have been stillborn or even aborted?  Why did Jesus live among us and then choose to go to the cross?

Thus we get to the moral influence/christus exemplar metaphor, that Christ came to live and die as the example to inspire us, the exemplary life for us to consider the paradigm for true humanity.  That, too, is a powerful and potent metaphor ... it's just that it's pretty obvious nobody can be that perfect. 

Then again, if we bear in mind these are metaphors formulated by humans trying to understand something about Christ, we can consider that no metaphor is all-encompassing. 

Having grown up in the kind of church setting where the moral influence metaphor was basically never used, I got to hear of it from United Methodists and it seemed rather unsavory.  The reason was that too many American Christians who insist on sounding off on atonement theories act as though you have to pick one and the others are lame.  It's more like you accept that Christ atoned for us in both life and death and that you have to make room in your heart and mind for all of the metaphors.  Show me the metaphor of atonement you ignore or reject and I'll have a suggestion as to which metaphor for the atonement you might benefit most from considering. 

Let's play the broadbrush game a little here.  Take the Reformed, they're way into substitutionary atonement/satisfaction theory.  What if they spent time on the ransom/victor metaphor?  Or the moral influence/Christ our example metaphor? On paper who would deny that Christ is our example for those who are Christians?  But at a practical level if your chief understanding of who Christ is is as the sacrificial substitute that can focus on what you've been saved from in a way that forgets what you're saved to.

For folks of a more liberal bent or a social justice bent, the exemplar paradigm seems great. But the trouble is that liberal Protestantism (and the other kinds), particularly the post-millenialist sort that moved swiftly along the American continent, was able to justify a whole lot of bad stuff.  The American Civil War, too.  The problem is that if we over-emphasize Christ as the example and are too confident in our capacity to go and do likewise we may be blind to the need of atonement for that kind of thing we still say and do called sin. Having previously been one to be skeptical of christus exemplar because only liberal Methodists ever seemed to talk about it, Wenatchee The Hatchet considers it a necessary understanding, a metaphor that is inextricably linked to the other metaphors that deal with the atoning life and work of Christ.

If there's an understanding of the atonement that you, as a professing Christian, reject or find unappealing you might as well say "This is the thing that Christ did not need to do for me or for anyone else."

a ten-year anniversary for the 40-Year Old Virgin inspires someone to ruminate on the dillema of how to figure out when an adult is really an adult (it's no longer when a physically adult person is capable of bringing offspring into the world, apparently)
...As A.O. Scott claimed last year, “Nobody knows how to be a grown-up anymore. Adulthood as we have known it has become conceptually untenable.” Which is proximate to another argument, one that was made many times before Judd Apatow came along: that adulthood hasn’t so much passed away as it’s been flattened and dispersed. Young people—via a hypersexualized media culture, via the varying pressures toward economic and social and academic achievement—have been forced to grow up prematurely. Adulthood, meanwhile, has been youth-enized by people in their 20s and 30s choosing work/friends/Netflix/financial self-sufficiency over traditional markers of grown-up-ness: marriage, kids, home-ownership, etc.
It’s a kind of widespread lament that the rituals we used to take for granted, across religions and countries and cultures—bar and bat mitzvahs, quinceañeras, weddings, the loss of virginity—have been denuded of practical meaning, leaving everyone in a state of perpetual youth.

It sometimes seems as though Americans are fantastic at agitating for liberties without taking any interest in confronting opportunity costs.  If you choose path A then path B may forever be closed to you.  It often feels like a mid-life crisis is what happens when a person sees the opportunity costs, at last, and wishes that it was possible to backtrack and go get some of whatever it was that was on the road not taken. We can all tell ourselves we took the one less traveled by but as for that the passing there had worn them really about the same.

Of course a lot of people would rather that Robert Frost poem be a sentimental ode to the triumph of individual perseverance rather than a subtle exploration of self-delusion and stubbornness. But then that's the beauty of Frost's poems, that they're ambiguous enough to invite both modes of interpretation.

The thing is, this flaw of wanting a liberty without paying its price may be one shared by many officially adult folks in the United States.  Something Wenatchee The Hatchet has blogged about over the years is that in the wake of the 2008 housing bubble the median age of first marriage may have gone up, but it's about where it was during The Great Depression.  When economic times and production opportunities improve, it sure seems as though the median age of first marriage drops down to where social conservatives think it "should" be.

Atlantic Monthly on the role of religion on both sides of the Civil and the innovation of total war as aristocratic war conventions gave way to populist war causes
Above all, it was a time when Christianity allied itself, in the most unambiguous and unconditional fashion, to the actual waging of a war. In 1775, American soldiers sang Yankee Doodle; in 1861, it was Glory, glory, hallelujah! As Stout argues, the Civil War “would require not only a war of troops and armaments … it would have to be augmented by moral and spiritual arguments that could steel millions of men to the bloody business of killing one another...” Stout concentrates on describing how Northerners, in particular, were bloated with this certainty. By “presenting the Union in absolutist moral terms,” Northerners gave themselves permission to wage a war of holy devastation. “Southerners must be made to feel that this was a real war,” explained Colonel James Montgomery, a one-time ally of John Brown, “and that they were to be swept away by the hand of God, like the Jews of old.” Or at least offered no alternative but unconditional surrender. “The Southern States,” declared Henry Ward Beecher shortly after Abraham Lincoln’s election to the presidency, “have organized society around a rotten core,—slavery,” while the “north has organized society about a vital heart, —liberty.” Across that divide, “God is calling to the nations.” And he is telling the American nation in particular that, “compromise is a most pernicious sham.”
But Southern preachers and theologians chimed in with fully as much fervor, in claiming that God was on their side. A writer for the Southern quarterly, DeBow’s Review, insisted that since “the institution of slavery accords with the injunctions and morality of the Bible,” the Confederate nation could therefore expect a divine blessing “in this great struggle.” The aged Episcopal bishop of Virginia, Richard Meade, gave Robert E. Lee his dying blessing: “You are engaged in a holy cause.”

When, by 1864, defeat was looking the Confederacy in the eyes, the arms of the pious dropped nervelessly to their sides, and they concluded that God was deserting them, if not over slavery, then for Southern unbelief. “Can we believe in the justice of Providence,” lamented Josiah Gorgas, the Confederacy’s chief of ordnance, “or must we conclude we are after all wrong?” Or even worse, wailed one despairing Louisianan, “I fear the subjugation of the South will make an infidel of me. I cannot see how a just God can allow people who have battled so heroically for their rights to be overthrown.”

Total war, as Yale law professor James Whitman has recently written, was the result of politics, and particularly by the movement of governments in the 19th century away from monarchy and toward popular democracy. So long as government had been the private preserve of kings, then wars had been the sport of monarchs, and were fought as though they were princely trials by combat or a species of civil litigation. The only class of people likely to suffer severely by them was the nobility. The scope of war was limited simply because war was understood to be the prerogative of kings. [emphasis added]

But once democratic governments began to shoulder the monarchs aside—once governments became “of the people, by the people, for the people” and involved the entire people of a nation and not just a handful of aristocrats—war became the instrument of entire populations. No solitary monarch could now call them off; no gentlemen’s agreement could limit their scope. Wars became wars of nations against nations, waged for principles abstract enough to command everyone’s assent, and therefore all the more impossible to win short of the annihilation—not just the defeat—of an enemy. Not religion, but democracy made it necessary to invoke “millennial nationalism,” in order to recruit sufficient mass resources for new mass wars. Theories about justice in war or debates about the proportionality with which war could be waged would only serve as obstacles in the path to unconditional victory.

Appeals to divine authority at the beginning of the Civil War fragmented in deadlock and contradiction, and ever since then, it has been difficult for deeply rooted religious conviction to assert a genuinely shaping influence over American public life.

In exposing the shortcomings of religious absolutism, the Civil War made it impossible for religious absolutism to address problems in American life—especially economic and racial ones—where religious absolutism would in fact have done a very large measure of good. Some leaders, Martin Luther King prominent among them, have since invoked Biblical sanction for a political movement, but that has mostly been tolerated by the larger, sympathetic environment of secular liberalism as a harmless eccentricity which can go in one ear and out the other.

More and more, it can seem that King's appeal to Christian heritage and theological reasoning has been swept under the rug in popular presentations of who he was.
One of the observations Mark Noll made in The Civil War as a Theological Crisis was that the majority of folks in the United States were evangelical Protestant but the slavery issue didn't get clearly settled because the question about race wasn't settled.  Although both sides could insist that they were proving their respective positions from the Bible there was an impasse.  Noll noted that although there were theological traditions that had arrived at the conclusion that slavery in general could be permitted but that race-based slavery as it was practiced in the United States was immoral, these views were sidelined.  Why?  Because Protestants in that time weren't going to take the theological advice of Catholics and Jews. On the other hand, many nominally Protestant groups that had landed at a comparable conclusion were considered outside the pale of traditional Trinitarian orthodoxy. 
As Noll noted in his substantially longer book America's God, even though both evangelicals and Catholics viewed republicanism with deep skepticism Americans embraced it and were convinced the flaw of uneducated mob rule was not ultimately going to be a big problem.  For European theologians the aim was "just" to avoid the arbitrary dictates of kinds and aristocrats on the one hand, and mob dynamics on the other.  So long as you didn't end up in either of those ditches just about anything in the middle was probably okay. Americans found a way ...
then again, reverse-engineering the kind of theology or ideology you want in order to justify what you've already committed to doing is pretty much human nature.

for those with a case of the Mondays, Atlantic author suggests ways it could get worse in light of this year's collected hacks, "As long as your information eventuallyw inds up on a computer connected to the internet, you could be in trouble."

Between the attacks on Ashley Madison and the U.S. government, what we’re seeing play out, in public, is an erosion of the possibility of trust in institutions. No secrets—whether financial, personal, or intimate—that have been confided to an organization that uses servers can be considered quite safe any more. You don’t even have to submit your data online: As long as your information eventually winds up on a computer connected to the Internet, you could be in trouble.
These hacks, and the ones we don’t know about yet, require a quasi-multidisciplinary interpretation. If the IRS, OPM, or USPS hacks seem worrisome, imagine personal information from those attacks counter-indexed against the Ashley Madison database. Wired is already reporting that about 15,000 of the email addresses in the Madison dump are from .gov or .mil domains. An attacker looking to blackmail the FBI agent whose background check data they now hold—or, at a smaller scale, a suburban dad whose tax return wound up in the wrong hands—knows just which database to check first. No hack happens alone.

HT Jim West, Patrologist on Academia as an Honor/Shame Society

Since Wenatchee The Hatchet has linked to Kyle Gann's generally enjoyable rants about the problems of identity politics issues stifling the publication timeline he hoped to have for his forthcoming book on Charles Ives' Concord Sonata, it's interest to read complaints here and there about the academic publishing racket, er, business.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Leonard Meyer's books on musicology helped Wenatchee The Hatchet realize why he can't stand most Romantic music

In Style and Music: Theory, History and Ideology, Meyer has managed to articulate a pretty clear explanation of why I can't stand most Romantic music.  One the one hand Romanticism was an ideology that rejected convention in favor of whatever was "natural" and ideally naïve genius. The problem, however, was that thanks to the consolidation of the tonal musical language that took place in the 19th century a thorough irony emerged--Romantic ideologues declared it was far better to invent a new process or idiom than to refine an existing one, and yet the Romantics spent the better part of a century finding new ways to play with a harmonic/melodic set of conventions inherited from the Baroque era on the one hand and the formal/procedural tools inherited from the Classic era.  While lacking the truly revolutionary approaches to music that would emerge in the late Romantic/post-Romantic era, let alone the early modern period, the Romantics were already doomed to refine the ideals and options that were developed before them.

So even though Romanticism prized what Meyer called organicism (and that concept in the arts is really great, the ideal that a seed grows into a mature plant, a way of saying that ideas should be able to be expressed in the arts according to the nature of the idea), the movement was stuck.  In his giant book mentioned at the top of the post, Meyer explained that what the Romantics ended up doing until Berlioz and Wagner introduced innovations in the fixed idea and the leitmotif, was basically disguising the conventions they relied upon rather than abandoning the tonal idiom they inherited from the 18th century innovators.  

A crude way of saying what this meant is that the Romantic era composers couldn't improve upon French fries and wanted to not be like the people who came before them, but their chief innovation was not garlic fries or Cajun fries or any of that so much as that they just biggie-sized everything.

Meyer explained that the ideal for the Romantic was self-realization but the full realization of the self was impossible.  A Christian teleological explanation for why this would be is that absent the eschaton, nobody's complete anyway.  Romantic ideology may have simply transmuted progressive sanctification into what Meyer describes as the ideal of Becoming.

This would explain why so many Romantics created bloated pieces of music in which it seemed they never knew when to quit.

Now alert long-time readers could say "But Wenatchee, you like the early 19th century guitarist composers enough to write about them.  And you seem to like some Romantics."  Yep, fair points.  Wenatchee likes some Romantic music.  Guitarists were never able to engage in the biggie-size approach the way pianists and symphonists could during the 19th century. Twenty minutes might be starting up for some Romantic and post-Romantic composers, whereas for a guitarist a twenty-minute work might as well be for that guitarist what a Mahler symphony might be for a violinist. So there's that.

And when Wenatchee considers the Romantics he does like the names that tend to come up are Mendelssohn and Brahms.  No surprise the sorts of Romantics with the most classicist tendencies show up, eh?

Meyer, over the years, pointed out that as the Romantics attenuated the syntax and forms they inherited from the Classic era they didn't just stretch things out, they also began to rely on what Meyer called a "statistical climax".  For those of you not used to the jargon of musicology Wenatchee The Hatchet is going to borrow an analogy from another genre.  If the Classic era had a Haydn finger-picking an acoustic guitar the Romantic era came to be dominated by a Pete Townshend pin-wheeling chords from his Gibson thundering through Marshall amps.  That gives you an idea what a euphemism such as "statistical climax" entails at a practical level. 

This has helped me get why I find a lot of Romantic music (not all of it) so insufferable.  the Baroque and Classic era masters developed and consolidated forms and idioms within music that the Romantics by and large couldn't replace even though they had an ideology that more or less required them to repudiate the conventions they could not replace or particularly improve upon.  So this explains why I love music from the Renaissance up to the high Classic period, and I love stuff from the post-Romantic Impressionists and the early 20th century avant garde.  It also explains a little why I did American popular music (which, though it is thoroughly indebted to the harmonic vocabulary developed by the Romantics a century earlier, has had the good sense to know when to put down the guitars or usher in the fade-out).  From this perhaps peculiar perspective, the Romantic era was less an era of actual innovation than a lame cul-de-sac in which composers substituted ramped up size for anything particularly daring in the way we think about music as an art form.

Fortunately folks like Debussy and Stravinsky found ways to shake free of the conventions that the majority of Romantics didn't manage to transcend. 

looking back on the celebrity letter about celebrity vs pastor more than a year later, considering the priorities of Mark Driscoll as to whose judgment he considers first

... Second, in recent years, some have used the language of “celebrity pastor” to describe me and some other Christian leaders. In my experience, celebrity pastors eventually get enough speaking and writing opportunities outside the church that their focus on the church is compromised, until eventually they decide to leave and go do other things. [emphasis added] Without judging any of those who have done this, let me be clear that my desires are exactly the opposite. I want to be under pastoral authority, in community, and a Bible-teaching pastor who grows as a loving spiritual father at home and in our church home for years to come. I don’t see how I can be both a celebrity and a pastor, and so I am happy to give up the former so that I can focus on the latter. [emphasis added]

Back in 2014 there weren't stories about God giving Mark and Grace Driscoll audible permission to quit, which they did.  The Driscollian stories of "God said Mark could quit" only seemed to show up in 2015 on the conference circuit.

However, the March 2014 letter featured language that, certainly in the wake of the resignation, may be worth revisiting.
To be clear, these are decisions I have come to with our Senior Pastor Jesus Christ. I believe this is what He is asking of me, and so I want to obey Him. The first person I discussed this with was our first, and still best, church member, Grace. Her loving agreement and wise counsel only confirmed this wonderful opportunity to reset some aspects of our life. [emphasis added] I want to publicly thank her, as it was 26 years ago this week that we had our first date. She is the greatest friend and biggest blessing in my life after Jesus. When we recently discussed this plan to reset our life together, late at night on the couch, she started crying tears of joy. She did not know how to make our life more sustainable, and did not want to discourage me, but had been praying that God would reveal to me a way to reset our life. Her prayer was answered, and for that we are both relieved at what a sustainable, joyful, and fruitful future could be. As an anniversary present, I want to give her more of her best friend.

I have also submitted these decisions to the Board of Advisors and Accountability. They have approved of this direction and are 100 percent supportive of these changes. It’s a wonderful thing to have true accountability and not be an independent decision maker regarding my ministry and, most importantly, our church. [emphasis added] ...

Not be an independent decision maker regarding his ministry and the fate of Mars Hill Church?

So it would appear that once Mark Driscoll decided what he really wanted to do it also meant he had talked it over with senior pastor Jesus.  Next up, the wife.  Of course she totally agreed with what her husband wanted to do after he'd talked with Jesus about things. Then once they had settled what they wanted to do Mark Driscoll also submitted the decisions to the BoAA which, of course, approved the direction 100%. 

The words said "no" but the resignation said "yes". Let's keep in mind something about Mark Driscoll's stories about what God told him to do.  Marry Grace, nearly always comes first in all variations of the story.  They were already sexually active prior to marriage and in a large number of stories shared about how he met Grace, Mark Driscoll indicated he pretty much wanted to marry her when he met her before he was even a Christian. So Mark Driscoll has said God told him to marry Grace Martin.  So ... it would appear Mark already wanted to do that anyway before there was any need of a divine directive. 

For the planting churches, teaching the Bible, and training young men--Joe Driscoll talked about his son's achievements in high school in the fundraising film God's Work, Our Witness back in 2011. Most likely to succeed, high school debate team, student body president. He was already an alpha dude in high school in various forms of leadership.  It's not that difficult to propose that God telling Mark Driscoll to lead people with the imprimatur of a story of direct divine commission isn't a "new" direction for Mark Driscoll compared to his pre-conversion stories, it's more of the same. Now if God had told Mark Driscoll the four things he was to do were to 1) break up with Grace 2) devote himself to a life of celibacy 3) return to the Catholic church and 4) study to be a priest would Mark Driscoll have done any of those things?

One of the things Adolf Schlatter wrote was that it is a lie arising from covetousness to remake God into one's own image and to make your own lust to be God's will.  It seems worth asking whether the stuff Mark Driscoll has kept saying God told him to do hasn't been precisely the things he already pretty much wanted to do anyway.