Saturday, September 26, 2015

REM and Survivor filed suits against Trump/Cruz and Kim Davis for unauthorized use of their songs
Washington, DC — The band R.E.M has filed a $2.5 million lawsuit against Donald Trump and Ted Cruz over the unauthorized use of its music.

The incident happened Wednesday
on the steps of Capitol Hill as Trump walked to the podium with R.E.M.’s 1987 hit “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” blaring in the background.
Salisbury, NC — The band Survivor has filed a $1.2 million lawsuit against Kim Davis and Mike Huckabee over the unauthorized use of its hit song “Eye of the Tiger.”

Davis, the Kentucky clerk who was jailed after refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, was released Tuesday
 morning, after serving six days in prison, to the sound of Survivor’s classic song “Eye of the Tiger.” The song played in the background as she, her husband, and Mike Huckabee celebrated her freedom in front of thousands of supporters.

It's instructive to consider that what happened when the Mark Driscoll plagiarism controversy was brewing in 2013 through early 2014 is that the publishers just went back and fixed the passages that were brought to the public space and then journalists began to write later about how the plagiarism was alleged. Driscoll's advocates, here and there, made a point of saying Driscoll hadn't done anything like embezzling money or cheating on his wife. But at this stage we have to observe that if you consult first editions of Driscoll books the case that Driscoll's books had uncredited use of others' ideas was easily made.  Whether it was due to his own oversight or the failure of a battalion of editors may never be known.

What's instructive is that the Christian publishing industry made the problem go away rather than let things get to the point where parties felt aggrieved enough to resort to litigation.

Meanwhile, if Grace Driscoll keeps putting herself out in the public sphere here use of Allender's work without citation in the first edition of Real Marriage might come up again. 

and since Film Crit Hulk on superhero films got mentioned, here's Film Crit Hulk on them in his vent of frustration about Birdman

mild language warning here for folks who've never read FILM CRIT HULK before




At the risk of quoting myself, I've already gone exploring the idea that even for the billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne being Batman, where pop culture has gone with him in Batman: the animated series and Nolan's Batman trilogy ...

Particularly in the by now classic animated series Batman wasn't just beating the snot out of crooks. As Bruce Wayne he played a role in giving criminals who were trying to transition back into regular society day jobs.  There's a particularly memorable story arc for Arnold Wesker/The Ventriloquist toward this end.  We see Bruce Wayne struggling with the idea that he WANTS to believe that someone like Pamela Isley can truly be reformed but can't reconcile himself to it being reality, then we see Bruce Wayne giving Wesker a chance to build a new life for himself after he's put Scarface behind him.  As FILM CRIT HULK was saying, the best superhero stories do actually dig into the questions of the use and nature of power.  Even in the case of the rich guy Batman, we can still get a Bruce Wayne who can recognize that some people turn to crime not because they want to be bad but because they have mental illness that needs treating or lack the opportunity to do legal work with their limited social experience--and in BTAS, we'd get a Bruce Wayne who wouldn't "just" beat up the bad guys, he'd offer to get them the psychiatric help they needed. 

So, yeah, not hard to be sympathetic to FILM CRIT HULK's frustration about the reflexively dismissive attitude some people have about genre work. Eve Tushnet had some quote years ago about how realistic fiction is something for those who are assuring themselves their view of the world is realistic and the rest of us make do with genre ... but the precise wording eludes me.

from The New Yorker, Doctor Who as a summation of Western liberalism and conservative in general but of British culture in particular

I read somewhere that the show has a peculiar appeal to the middle-aged, the people who are old enough to have reached the top of where ever they're going and to see that not everyone "made it" and not everyone "will", and also recognizing that it's in some sense going to be "downhill" from here. You do the best you can, but recognize it probably isn't going to be enough.

Well ... maybe that makes Doctor Who a parable of Western civilization as a whole?
“Doctor Who” is, unavoidably, a product of mid-twentieth-century debates about Britain’s role in the world as its empire unravelled. It is also one of the stranger means by which British culture has reckoned with the horrors of the Second World War, the apocalyptic doomsaying of the Cold War, and the lasting madness of twenty-first-century terrorism. Superman, who first appeared in 1938, thwarted gangsters and thugs and criminal masterminds. But Doctor Who, created in the postwar, postcolonial, atomic age, inherited the agony of helplessness: he believes he can use his power to travel through time and space to undo unspeakable slaughter, only to find that, very often, he cannot. “Imagine you were in Pompeii and you tried to save them but in doing so you make it happen,” he says, trying to explain to a woman who is about to die in a nuclear explosion that he is powerless to prevent it. “Everything I do just makes it happen.” (He tries anyway. Moments after he saves her life, she kills herself.)
“Doctor Who” is a chronicle of the impossibility of rescue. Yet it contains within it both a liberal fantasy about the heroism of the West in opposing atrocity and a conservative politics of self-congratulation, which, in the end, amount to the same thing. “You act like such a radical,” an alien said to the Doctor, not long ago, “and yet all you want to do is preserve the old order.”
Bear in mind, I haven't actually seen the show, but you don't need to have seen the show to get the pre-nuclear post-nuclear stuff. 

David Sims on the problems with prequels, let's call it the endlessly open canon dedicated to answering questions that didn't need to be asked, and that's Amerian pop culture these days.
Prequels take one of the most engaging and imaginative aspects of fandom—obsessing over the inconsequential details that give a fictional world its character and texture—and move it off of message boards and onto Hollywood back lots, turning it into something poisonous to the art of storytelling. Plot points become pedantic info dumps, drama is diminished by the audience's awareness of stories taking place in the future, and writers and filmmakers end up rehashing the flashiest superficial elements of their source material while draining of it of mystery and metaphor. Whether it's Prometheus, the Star Wars prequel trilogy, or DC Comics' thoroughly unnecessary line of miniseries filling in the back story of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons's pointedly self-contained Watchmen graphic novel, the projects have the visual hallmarks but cast aside the tensions, themes, and tone that made the classic works resonate.
Prequels like Prometheus make the mistake of assuming that knowing could ever be as exciting and psychologically powerful as not knowing. The xenomorph in particular is resonant because it is so very alien—we don't know exactly what it is or where it comes from, and its life cycle and physical form upends our expectation of safe, easily understood gender binaries. Its very existence calls into question the significance of mankind, which is at least part of the point of the first Alien film, which presented a lonely, melancholy vision of vulnerable humans traveling through a cold, indifferent universe. Even if the apparent engineers of humanity in Prometheus turn out to despise their creation, the film insists that humans are special after all.
Given that 33 years have passed since the release of Alien, it is understandable that Ridley Scott may want to say something very different in Prometheus. It's possible that his view of man's place in the universe has become slightly more optimistic. This is giving him the benefit of the doubt, though. In recent interviews, Scott speaks of his fascination with the space jockey, and his urge to unpack that idea seems more rooted in fannish enthusiasm than in the urge to express an idea. This is pretty much always the case in stories focused on expanding on throwaway bits of plot—whether it's a writer, a filmmaker, or a fanboy, the compulsion to explicate is entirely disconnected from an understanding of the poetic aspects of storytelling. It's all science, and no fiction. It's not hard to grasp why fans and creators alike would want to return to familiar fictional worlds—it's just fun, really—but this practice suggests that many geeks have absolutely no insight into the power of the fiction they love and would rather watch the film equivalent of an elaborate Wikipedia entry.


It seems that franchises get rebooted and that's the norm, not the problem.  The problem isn't the reboots themselves, it's what they may signal.  James Bond needed that reboot.  So did Batman. Spiderman didn't.  Transformers won't get a reboot even if it may need it or it may have just gotten a soft reboot.

Star Trek got rebooted and it may well have needed it.  But the larger theme seems to be that Americans want their pop culture franchises like they may want their religion, with an open-ended canon that's never closed and is open to contemporary glosses and drastic reinterpretations, what comics fans would call retroactive continuity.

Given the history of the United States retroactive continuity was clearly necessary to correct the degrees to which the presumption of race-based slavery was built into the Constitution. 

Last year I wrote about Noah Berlatsky's complaint that American sci-fi is not coming up with anything new.

Then I cross-referenced some of his other writing about trends in dystopian genre lit and suggested that the franchises Americans keep coming back to and rebooting were characteristically franchises that took hold of popular imagination during, broadly speaking, the Camelot and Reagan phases of American history, i.e. moments of peak self-satisfaction for Americans about the nature and scope of the American empire.

We keep coming back to those franchises, perhaps, not because we don't have any new ideas but because we don't want the empire/franchise moment to end.  It doesn't even have to be Star Trek or Star Wars.  Why do Buffy and Firefly keep going?  Because there's an actual artistic "need" being met?  No, because the fans don't want the franchises to end.

Some franchises can withstand the generational reboots.  It's worked out for Bond and it worked out for Batman in the mid-aughts.  Whether you loved or hated Nolan's Batman films, though, he gave the story an end point that explicitly repudiated the possibility of a continuation or a reboot.  In the age of superhero films we have now, with the dozens of Marvel films on the front and back burners, Nolan choosing a concrete end that precludes franchise spin-offs may prove to be a real anomaly.

Now if there's a coherent, unified story line going somewhere rebooting or continuing a franchise in a new direction can be great.  Observe the shift from Batman: the animated series through Superman: the animated series to Justice League and Justice League Unlimited.  But then there's The Last Airbender series and the travesty of ret-con storytelling that was Legend of Korra (which I now refer to as Legend of Entitlement).  If the guys who created those shows were as smart and daring as they seem to think they are they'd be Dwayne McDuffie. But they're not. I'll get back to the problems with Korra later.  For now this is just playing with the idea that our franchise reboot obsession could be a sign that we don't want the sun to set on the American empire while in other lands other pop culture franchises could be said to have more directly engaged the reality of imperial decline.

But Doctor Who as an emblem of that probably deserves its own post.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Friedersdorf on a situation at Wesleyan University, "The contradiction at the core of these activists’ behavior: they characterize themselves as marginalized voices even as they resort to force to achieve their ends."
The latest exemplars of this misguided faction are students at Wesleyan University, a highly selective liberal arts school with a student-to-faculty ration of 8 to 1. Simply put, these activists are unwittingly harming Black Lives Matter, undermining liberal values, and mistreating fellow students who’ve done nothing wrong. Their error is rooted in an increasingly common misunderstanding of power in America. And Wesleyan’s student newspaper, The Argus, is their primary target.

Last week, its opinion section published an op-ed that critiqued the tactics of the Black Lives Matter movement. “Is the movement itself actually achieving anything positive?” the author asked. “Does it have the potential for positive change?” As he saw it, “They need to stand with police units that lose a member, decrying it with as much passion as they do when a police officer kills an unarmed civilian.”

He declared that insofar as the movement vilifies cops, “then I will not support the movement, I cannot support the movement. And many Americans feel the same. I should repeat, I do support many of the efforts by the more moderate activists.”

The column provoked fury––and not because it had a few factual errors.

In response to it, scores of students began trying to strong-arm the newspaper. They began by seizing its issues and throwing them into recycling bins as soon as they were distributed on campus. Then, “during a Sunday
 night forum held by the university’s student government, the Wesleyan Student Assembly, a petition was introduced to boycott and revoke funding of the 147-year-old paper,” the Boston Globe reports.

The petition called for new limits on the newspaper’s autonomy and declared that student activists will keep “recycling” copies unless their demands are met. (The newspaper readily agreed to various racial-diversity demands, including the publication of an issue without any white writers, but is loath to surrender its editorial independence.)

As a frequent, public critic of law-enforcement abuses at the national, state, and local levels, I have particular contempt for the action of these censorious students: They are undermining the very norm that prevents police officers and their supporters from responding to articles of mine that they don’t like by stealing The Atlantic from newsstands or targeting its website with denial of service attacks. And of course, they are holding the newspaper to a bizarre standard. As a staffer put it, to penalize the paper for publishing an unpopular opinion “sets a dangerous precedent in which the difficult, messy work of having to argue against... points is set aside in favor of simply trying to make sure those points are not heard.”

The contradiction at the core of these activists’ behavior: they characterize themselves as marginalized voices even as they resort to force to achieve their ends.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

At Mark Driscoll Ministries, Grace Driscoll asks "What is a Friend?" and observes "Unfortunately, few people know how to be a good friend in this day and age"
Unfortunately, few people know how to be a good friend in this day and age.  As Christians, we have a prime opportunity to help others understand what a godly relationship can look like.  This certainly doesn’t happen over night, in fact it takes years to develop a true friendship and not all women want to or will walk through all seasons of life with you.  I have learned how to be a better friend over the years by failing, sinning, repenting, encouraging, listening, being teachable, and allowing the Holy Spirit to mature me in areas that I needed to grow.

That may well be. If Grace Driscoll is stepping back into the public sphere and making use of a mass media/social media platform such as blogging at Mark Driscoll Ministries, let's revisit a story shared at Joyful Exiles by Jonna Petry.
Shortly before Paul was confirmed as a pastor/elder, I was invited to a dinner to celebrate Grace’s (Mark’s wife and my friend) birthday. There were a dozen or so women in attendance and I ended up sitting next to Karen Schaeffer, who was Mark’s administrative assistant - a lovely, older, godly woman whom I greatly respected. Sitting next to us was an elder’s wife who was close in age and who also had quite a bit of previous ministry experience. The three of us enjoyed great conversation – alive, encouraging, as iron sharpens iron. We ended up being the last three to leave the restaurant and as we walked to the car decided we should  pray together for some of the things that had been shared. We got in the car and ended our time together praying for many things, including the elders, our families and the church.

The next morning I heard from the elder’s wife, the one Karen and I had so enjoyed - that she had shared our conversation with her husband and he felt that it showed “disloyalty” on Karen’s part, was gossip, and that it needed to be brought to Mark, which he did. Karen was fired. The gist of what she shared that was branded “disloyal” was a heart of thankfulness that my husband, Paul, was being made an elder because Mark needed strong men around him who could handle and stand up to push-back. When I found out what this elder and his wife had done, I called Mark immediately in tears and asked him to forgive me for my part in that conversation. Looking back, I’m not sure that Karen or I really did anything wrong, but I was sure afraid.

Shortly after this meeting, in my praying for the church that God’s will would be done in the upcoming changes, I sent a letter to the elders’ wives inviting them to join me in prayer, along with Scriptures I had been meditating on. Mark, who reads Grace’s emails, was livid about it and verbally lambasted the elders at their next meeting for not keeping their wives in line.
In the first week of December 2007, over a month after we resigned our membership, the church elders voted to “discipline” Paul and published a letter instructing MHC members to shun him.

The shunning document was published on the members’ website and letters were mailed to members as far away as Colorado.

I remember that day well, as my heart sank to the ground on reading the text a friend had emailed us. I could hardly breathe. In great anguish I thought to myself, “I can’t just do nothing. How am I supposed to respond to this?” I was reminded of the words from Scripture, “Bless those who persecute you. Bless and do not curse…” So mechanically I went to the store and bought beautiful potted poinsettias and some generic but thoughtful Christmas cards that I lovingly signed and then personally delivered them - trembling and in tears - to the homes of several elders, including Mark Driscoll, Brad House, and Jamie Munson. At the Driscoll’s, Grace’s father and one of the children opened the door, Grace was coming down the stairs and when she saw me she said my name and hurried to the door, hugged me and cried too. No words were spoken.

Just  yesterday we revisited how Mark Driscoll once said "I'll tell you, in the history of Mars Hill, I mean, I have had to put up a firewall, a moat, guard dogs, and a high wall with barbed wire on top, and snipers behind it, around my wife."

To read more on what Driscoll said in addition to that ...

To the extent that Mark Driscoll stressed what lengths he went to protect Grace and the extent to which he considered at least some women who sought to befriend her as being Satanic busybodies, it might have been tough to maintain friendships in circumstances like that, maybe?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

a new chapter for the Driscolls, "This week, Grace enjoyed a lot of meetings with pastors' wives ... " compare that to Driscoll in 2008 on the white/black list of her email and the Satanic women who wanted to be Grace's friends

Mark Driscoll's still on the road here and there, doing the teaching thing.  Even though he's not exactly a pastor since he resigned last year, and even though it's not confirmed that he and his family are members of a church yet, the speaking engagements continue. Ecclesiastes is back in rotation this year and perhaps that's to be expected since it was a book he preached through in the first decade of his public career, revisited in his second, and seems to be returning to as he looks toward the possibility of a third.  As genres of biblical literature go the wisdom literature, though he has yet to display a particularly compelling command of its complexity and nuance, may be the comfort food for Mark Driscoll. 

That's not what's of particular interest, it's this.
This week Grace enjoyed a lot of meetings with pastors’ wives and godly women around the Phoenix valley. We’ve met some truly wonderful people. She has been to more women’s events, Bible studies, and conferences lately than any season of her life.

It’s been wonderfully encouraging as her husband to see the warm welcome she has received from numerous godly older women.

Compare the above to what's been made available by way of Driscoll's teaching and preaching in the past  It's worth revisiting some things Mark Driscoll wrote back in 2006 about Grace's earlier attempts to be involved in ministry in the first decade of Mars Hill:

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


page 101-102
During this season my wife, Grace, also started to experience a lot of serious medical problems. her job was very stressful, and between her long hours at the office and long hours at the church, her body started breaking down. I felt tremendousy convicted that I had sinned against my wife and had violated the spirit of 1 Timothy 5:8, which says that if a man does not provide for his family he has denied his faith and has acted in a manner worse than an unbeliever. I repented to Grace for my sin of not making enough money and having her shoulder any of the financial burden for our family.  We did not yet have elders installed in the church but did have an advisory council in place, and I asked them for a small monthly stipend to help us make ends meet, and I supplemented our income with outside support and an occasional speaking engagement.

Shortly thereafter, Grace gave birth to our first child, my sweetie-pie Ashley. Up to this point Grace had continuously poured endless hours into the church. She taught a women's Bible study, mentored many young women, oversaw hospitality on Sundays, coordinated meals for new moms recovering from birth, and organized all of the bridal and baby showers. Grace's dad had planted a church before she was born and has remained there for more than forty years. Her heart for ministry and willingness to serve was amazing. But as our church grew, I felt I was losing my wife because we were both putting so many hours into the church that we were not connecting as a couple like we should have. I found myself getting bitter against her because she would spend her time caring for our child and caring for our church but was somewhat negligent of me.

I explained to Grace that her primary ministry was to me, our child, and the management of our home and that I needed her to pull back from the church work to focus on what mattered most.  She resisted a bit at first, but no one took care of me but her.  And the best thing she could do for the church was to make sure that we had a good marriage and godly children as an example for other people in the church to follow.  It was the first time that I remember actually admitting my need for help to anyone.  It was tough. But I feared that if we did not put our marriage and children above the demands of the church, we would end up with the lukewarm, distant marriage that so many pastors have because they treat their churches as mistresses that they are more passionate about than their brides. 

Although I was frustrated with both my wife and church, I had to own the fact that they were both under my leadership and that I had obviously done a poor job of organizing things to function effectively.  And since we did not yet have elders formally in place there was no one to stop me from implementing dumb ideas like the 9:00p.m. church service.  So I decided to come to firmer convictions on church government and structure so that I could establish the founding framework for what our church leadership would look like.


page 120
A friend in the church kindly allowed me to move into a large home he owned on a lease-to-own deal because I was too broke to qualify for anything but an outhouse. The seventy-year-old house had over three thousand square feet, seven bedrooms on three floors, and needed a ton of work because it had been neglected for many years as a rental home for college students. Grace and I and our daughter Ashley, three male renters who helped cover the mortgage, my study, and the church office all moved into the home. This put me on the job, literally, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, as the boundary between home and church was erased.

We ran the church out of my house for nearly two years, including leadership meetings and Bible studies for various groups on almost every night of the week. It was not uncommon to have over seventy people a week in our home. Grace got sucked right back into the church mess. She was a great host to our guests. But I started growing bitter toward her because I was again feeling neglected.

Notice that the source of bitterness was recounted as feeling neglected because Grace was immersing herself in ministry service and activity.  The emphasis from the 2006 account to the 2012 shifts substantially from a Mark Driscoll recounting how his failure to plan and lead adequately, and his wife's love of service in ministry, led to some seasons of tension to the 2012 Real Marriage account, where Mark Driscoll may have explained more specifically what he may have cryptically meant by "we were not connecting as a couple like we should have."

Bear in mind the above quotes from Confessions cover the time when Ashley was the only child Mark and Grace Driscoll had.  What may have taken place in the 2012 narrative was an expansion or compression of seasons of tension that were described as intermittent stages of frustration  in an otherwise happy marriage as recounted in the 2006 into a troubled and bitter marital relationship presented in the 2012 book.

That's just a guess.

Meanwhile, from 2006 to 2012 here are excerpts of how Driscoll described his connection to Grace and his thoughts about women who sought to be friends with her from teaching and sermons given in 2008.
About 2:01 into the YouTube clip, assuming it'll still be available:

It would start about 33:50

... and this is an ENORMOUS part of my relationship with Grace.  I mean I still remember when I first started seeing her she, uh, she went off to college, I was still in high school and they ran out of housing so they put her in a guys' dorm. And I was like, "What!?" so I got in the car and I drove to the university and I knocked on all the doors of all the guys on her floor. "Hi. My name is Mark. I love this woman. If anyone touches her, talks to her, thinks about talking about touching her I will beat them. Literally I threatened twenty guys. Just knocked on every door. No way she's gonna get messed with. No way.

[to go by the audience laughter Mark Driscoll threatening twenty guys with assault was both chivalrous and funny, disappointing, to put it nicely]

Later on when she transferred to another university, WSU, she's five hours away. And she moved out there and her phone wasn't hooked up yet and we didn't have cell phones. And I told her, "When you get there, go to a pay phone. Call me. Let me know you got there safe."  Well she ... didn't call so I got in the car and I drove there. Five hours.  The day I had to work. And I knocked on the door. She answered it and I said, "Whu, you didn't call." She said, "I forgot." I said, "Are you okay?" She said, "I'm okay." So, okay, good, I got in the car and I drove home. Just checking. Six hundred miles.  Who cares? It's Grace.

[this has been commented on by others and so it's merely worth noting that a cumulative ten hour road trip because Grace didn't call him sounds weird]

... even emotionally, people send her nasty emails, text messages, talk trash about me, leave the church and want to take parting shots at her. She has nothing to do with any of it. So I even put a white/black list on her email and some people so some people can email her and the rest come to me. Delete. Delete. Delete. Delete. Delete. Delete. Delete. So that she doesn't have to feel bad because people are taking shots at her. That's my girl. No shots. That's the rule.
Spiritual Warfare part 2, The Devil
February 5, 2008

about 50 minutes in to the 1 hour mark.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, she was Satanic, too.  Give me her number, I'll call her and tell her. We'll help her out.
You ladies KNOW these women. Right? How many of you ladies know these women? They will try first with the hyper-spiritual, "Oh, praise the Lord! I'd love to pray for you. Let's get together. Let's do Christian community. Let's go to heart." If you decline, then they emotionally manipulate, [inhales, sobbing voice], "I thought we were friends, I thought you loved me. I don't have anybody to talk to." It's all manipulation. It's FEMALE manipulation.  Some of you ladies, right now? You think, "I can't believe he said that." It's all true. It's Satanic, Satanic.

Paul says, "Don't be a busybody, stay busy." Right? Your husband, your kids, your family, your home, Jesus Christ. You got things to do.

Busybodies stay busy inserting themselves into everyone else's life. In some churches there are certain women, if you call them, they'll know everything that's going on because, somehow, they know everything. There's a difference between being a woman who is invited into someone's life for friendship, prayer and accountability, and a woman who emotionally manipulates and is pushy and is sometimes hyperspiritual and demanding and forces herself in because she's a drama queen and has to be at the center of all the drama. That is a Satanic woman.

You need to believe that and the worst thing you can do is accomodate it. Okay, we'll have you over for dinner once. And then, the next month, it's "Okay, buddy, we haven't been together in a month. We need to get together again. I'm sure a lot has happened in your life and I don't know what it is and I need to know because I need to know everything. I have a God complex of omniscience. I want to know everything about everybody." And what you find with these people, Paul says, they tend to be gossips, meaning you don't just talk to them, then they talk to other people.  "Well, did you know their marriage is struggling? Did you know that she's depressed?  Did you know that  she's post-partum?  Do you know that, sexually, her husband's impotent?" These are conversations I've heard in this building. Really?

Sometimes womens' ministry is the cesspool that this kind of activity flourishes in. Some have asked, "Why don't you have womens' ministry?" The answer is we do, but it's, you have to be very careful, it's like juggling knives. You put the wrong women in charge of womens' ministry, the drama queen, the gossip mama, all of a sudden all the women come together, tell her everything, she becomes the pseudo-elder  quasi-matriarch; she's got the dirt on everybody and sometimes the women all get together to rip on their husbands in the name of prayer requests. Happens all the time. Happens all the time. We have worked very hard so that the women who teach here are like Wendy Alsup who I really love and appreciate and respect. She's not like that. It is not that no woman should lead, that no woman should teach, that no woman should in a position of authority over other women  under the authority of their husband, Jesus and the elders it's just that the wrong women tend to want it. The wrong women tend to want it and they tend to want it for the wrong reasons. And sometimes it's the humble woman, who isn't fighting to be the center of drama, control and power; who doesn't have to be up front; she's usually the one who is most capable and qualified.  

And for you single men as well I would say be very, very careful because if you're on staff at Mars Hill  (everything I say sounds terrible, this will just be added to the pile) there are certain women who will tell you, "I want to marry a pastor." Really? You should want to marry a Christian who loves Jesus, loves you, loves your kids should God give them to you. I've lectured enough Bible colleges and seminaries, the young women who come up and say, "I want to marry a pastor"  my immediate default question is, "Are you a gossip? Are you a busybody? Are you a drama queen?" "No. No, I feel called to serve the Lord."  Well, you can serve the Lord without being called to be a pastor's wife in fact, take it from me, it's easier to be a woman and serve the Lord than being married to a pastor.   You single  guys, you gotta be careful, man. There are some women, they want to marry a pastor so they can be the center of power, authority; they can be the first lady;  everybody knows them, everybody wants to be their friend, everybody wants to tell them everything; and they can be the center of all the drama. Run for your life. Run for your life. Run for your life. It's Satanic.

See?  I need you women to really search your own heart. Are you Satanic? Is this still part of your flesh, this sick desire in you to know everybody's business? I'm not saying you don't have friends but how much are you on the internet? How much time do you spend emailing? How much time do you spend crying nad freaking out and knowing everybody's business and on the phone and having to meet with people because, "Did you know so-and-so did such-and-such and so-and-so is feeling this way and did you?" Are you the center of LOTS of activity? Why? It's Satanic. It's Satanic. I think I've made my point.

So, compared to the way Mark Driscoll was talking about women who wanted to be friends with Grace in 2008, announcing to the world that Grace Driscoll has been meeting with pastors' wives might be an improvement.  It's not that difficult to take at face value Mark Driscoll's recent statement that "She has been to more women’s events, Bible studies, and conferences lately than any season of her life."

Monday, September 21, 2015

not entirely auspicious relaunch of The Muppets
The show, co-created by Bill Prady, a muppeteer from wayback, finds Kermit and his pals plagued by work stress, day-to-day irritations and relationship problems. It is set behind the scenes of Miss Piggy’s late-night show, Up All Night With Miss Piggy, where Kermit is the executive producer, Animal plays drums in the house band, Gonzo is the head writer, Statler and Waldorf are perpetually in the audience, and so on. It melds the backstage set-up of The Larry Sanders Show or 30 Rock (fans of which will recall that Kenneth the Page already thought everyone on that show was a Muppet) with the mockumentary tricks of The Office: the talking head interviews, the glances at the camera. The resulting comedy is knowing, self-referential, low-energy, and a little jaded, perfectly promising qualities in a new sitcom, unless that new sitcom stars a green frog beloved for self-identifying as a “lover and dreamer.” The Muppets turns the rainbow connection grey.


Miss Piggy has always been a high-maintenance diva, but in the sweeter environs of past Muppet entertainments, her bad behavior was milder. Even at her worst—hitting Kermit all the time, for example—she was the sour powder slathered onto the Muppet gummy bears: the lip-puckering tang that made them taste so good. In recent years, Piggy has even become a kind of feminist icon, authoring a piece for Time, “Why I am a feminist pig.” On The Muppets she is, it’s true, a woman with a late-night show, but otherwise she’s a real boor.

The first two episodes orbit around Piggy’s bad porcine behavior. In the first, Kermit insists on booking Elizabeth Banks as a guest despite Piggy’s protestations. He and the crew spend the episode tip-toeing around Piggy, who they believe doesn't like Banks for petty reasons. It turns out she just doesn’t like her for inappropriately personal ones. In the second, she’s been in a hellacious mood for days—the crew hides beneath their desks, rather than risk eye contact—because she doesn’t have a date to an awards show, and only a famous person will appease Piggy’s ego. Eventually Kermit hooks her up with Josh Groban, whom she tries to impress by forsaking her own tastes and going highbrow, pushing to interview some authors even though she’s never read a book. Kermit only breaks Groban’s spell over Piggy by playing to his ex’s vanity. Bossy, shrill, hysterical, irrational, moody, and all the other condescending words that are disproportionately used to describe and police women’s behavior, all truly apply to this iteration of Miss Piggy. (Except frumpy. Even this Miss Piggy is not frumpy.)

I am aware, as I write this, that Miss Piggy is not a real person. But this is exactly why she is such a potent symbol. Miss Piggy is not a human being, but she is controlled by human beings, human beings who have hung her out to fry: You can almost smell the bacon. The original Miss Piggy is a forerunner to the complicated female protagonists TV continues to provide, characters from Liz Lemon to Hannah Horvath, from Skyler White to UnReal’s Rachel Goldberg, deeply flawed women not primarily, or even particularly, concerned with being likeable. But it’s hard to get past this iteration of Miss Piggy’s unpleasantness because that’s all there is: She’s not a fully developed moi, just a set of high-maintenance tics.

Making Missy Piggy so awful has dour ramifications for the rest of the Muppets: Why are they working so hard for this pig, who can’t even deign to remember Fozzie Bear’s name? Have they no self-respect? Nothing more joyful to do? The Muppet who comes off worst is Kermit, who spends his days sneakily managing Piggy’s moods, working up the nerve to disobey her, a mild-mannered middle manager. His voice, previously so adorable, began to sound to me mealy and weak, like the vocal equivalent of pleated khakis.

A reasonable person already cauterized to the indignities reboots can visit upon beloved intellectual properties would remind you that The Muppets may very well improve, and, even if it doesn’t, these are still the Muppets: a gang of spastic goofballs who will remain good company so long as the Swedish Chef is still spouting charming Swedish-inflected nonsense. But who wants to be reasonable about the Muppets? The first movie I ever went to see in a theater was 1984’s The Muppets Take Manhattan. I was 3 years old. Late in the movie, Kermit gets hit by a car. My mother looked over to see if I was okay, but I was gone, out of my seat, halfway up the aisle and heading for the door. I was not going to sit there and watch anything awful happen to Kermit the Frog. It’s hard to imagine anyone feeling so strongly about this version of Kermit. The show has already run him over.

Noah Berlatsky's piece about Miss Piggy being a physically abusive pig is dutifully linked to in the above piece.
Kermit Has a New Girlfriend? Good. His Last One Was a Domestic Abuser.

Perhaps it's a paradoxically artistic casualty in the era of tales of microaggressions.  Then again, didn't there happen to be some press release where Kermit and Piggy said they'd have nothing more to say on the matter unless they got the right offer?  When even the Muppets are jaded ours may be a bitterly cynical age indeed.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Dan at City of God on the pedophiles who have associated with Doug Wilson, Doug Wilson's public response, and on Leithart's apology

Doug Wilson, from what I have read of his blog and so on, relishes the opportunity to attack his opponents, more so than even most polemicists on the internet (which is saying something). I do not think he could contain his glee if it was found that some bleeding heart liberal denomination was marrying a convicted pedophile who had stated that he wanted to have children from the marriage. How would Wilson love to broadside such a misguided leader who insisted it was okay because the pedophile was having weekly pastoral chit chats and had been given some reading material for his betterment? Wilson would surely howl with contempt when the backsliding compromiser insisted that there was context and if you only knew the backstory, there were perfectly good – even biblical – reasons for marrying a convicted sex offender who wanted children.

Of course it would not surprise Wilson that the same soft-on-crime, wish-washy pastor had been pleading for leniency for another sex criminal a few years earlier and insisting that the family of the victim was in big trouble with God for not forgiving the offender. Even more, this moral relativist would try to pin some of the blame on the victim and her parents, because of more mysterious context. Wilson would be relentless in directing his acidic wit at such a shameful act among his opponents.
So why is it that Wilson is behaving in the ways I have described above?
- See more at:
Two things that I want to talk about after reading that post:

1. Leithart talks about how it was easy to fall into believing the rapist’s version of things. I think one of things that is overlooked by many is how appealing evil can be. Predators rarely appear in real life as the stereotype of the friendless weirdo in the trench coat. Rather they are often charmers, the last person you expect, and they know how to manipulate emotions. You have to keep reminding yourself as they try to engineer a reversal of field where they paint themselves as the victims (this is a common tactic) what has happened. If an adult in a position of authority has had a sexual relationship with a minor and has admitted as much, they are not the victim. Keep reminding yourself of that.

2. I don’t know what any given church might mean by church discipline, but it alarms in this case that Leithart states that the rapist in his congregation was not under any kind of church discipline, and yet the victim’s family (admittedly in a different church with possibly different rules) was put under some kind of disciplinary action. This is the second time in less than a year that I have read about case where a church has put the victim of pedophile under church discipline, but not the pedophile! The story was a little bit different with Matt Chandler’s church, but still, here’s a pro-tip: if your church is disciplining the victim, something is seriously wrong. I know there are difficult matters here, and I know that yes, even – perhaps especially – criminals need pastoral care, but it is alarming that churches can so easily become unsafe places for victims.

The two popular names in the halcyon days of Mars Hill seemed to be John Piper and Doug Wilson, the two guys whose ideas I found a bit hard to buy even when I was pretty content to be at Mars Hill.  John Piper's notions about gender seemed incapable of formulating a plausible real-world working definition of gender that didn't depend on a fuzzy definition by negation.  Worse, Piper's spent a decade and a half formulating what amounts to a Job's comforters theodicy approach where any big-time disaster is an occasion to Bildad.  Doug Wilson, he got his ducks in a row on manly men and the use of their members but I've got no real sympathies for paleo-Confederate ideals. As Dan has put it, Doug Wilson also has an observable history of mocking and lambasting whoever he identifies as adversaries in a way that's unusual even by the low bar of internet conflict. There's still time for even Doug Wilson to discover his inner evanjellyfish, perhaps. Leithart, it seems, has decided (after what he seems to now realize was far too long) to say "I'm sorry. What I said and did was wrong".

Orthocuban on Islam and Christian conquests, if we no true Scotsman ourselves away from the harm Chrisians of the past have done we become like the scribes and Pharisees

Fr Ernesto at Orthocuban has taken to blogging about a propensity for American Christians (i.e. the ones in the United States) to broadbrush Islam as an inherently violent religion while skipping past the Christians who took up Crusades (and other crusades) during the last thousand years.

For the last couple of years, since the rise of ISIS, the social media have been filled with accusations about how Islam has always been violent, and has killed incredible numbers of people and caused mass migrations, etc. The main argument has been that Islam has only been quiescent, and that any apparent peaceful interlude is just that, an interlude. We in the West, of course, are completely innocent and have never engaged in any such behavior as Christians. The problem is that there is absolutely no historical veracity to such statements.
Note, there is truth in saying that Islam was engaged in conquest for several centuries. The lack of truth is in trying to claim that Christians were not involved in any parallel set of happenings, which mark our history in close to the same way in which the Muslim conquests mark their history. That claim is only possible if you posit a definition of Christianity that is distinctly American but also distinctly false and inaccurate. The definition of Christianity that is posited is a distinctly pietistic American definition, but it is also a particularly disingenuous one. The definition is disingenuous because it counters any example that one could give about Christian misbehavior simply by saying that they were not “true” Christians, or did not “truly” understand the Gospel. This is convenient because even if something is the main belief of a Christian people and doctrinally supported by the particular Christian group, one can always dismiss the example by saying that if they were “true” Christians, then they would have never done or believed that. A secondary approach is simply to point out that that group was not part of your group, and to then claim that the entire group was mistaken, even if it were the dominant denomination of entire countries.
In other words, we're getting a lot of "no true Scotsman" defenses, which may be the endless temptation of our age on the internet.  We want to make certain that "our" team has no atrocities that we should be ashamed of or, failing that, we want to make sure that whoever we don't like has worse atrocities that reflect their ideals while our ideals assure our righteousness.
Although here, I take the liberty of pointing something out.  Ernesto wrote:
The doctrine of Manifest Destiny takes over quickly. Calvinist predestination is applied to expansionist politics, and it becomes clear that God intended the American nation to expand from sea to shining sea.
Calvinist predestination was an important variable but as Mark Noll put it in America's God, there was an optimism about the American mission even among Catholics.  It was also possible to have an optimism about the expansion of the white race even among those who asserted a universal atonement and insisted on synergist soteriology.  No, not Eastern Orthodoxy, Wesleyan theology, literally.  In a somewhat inexplicable way Ray Ortlund quotes John Wesley about the greatness of what could be done with a hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God and what ... ?

“No, Aleck, no!  The danger of ruin to Methodism does not lie here.  It springs from quite a different quarter.  Our preachers, many of them, are fallen.  They are not spiritual.  They are not alive to God.  They are soft, enervated, fearful of shame, toil, hardship. . . . Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen, such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven upon earth.” [emphasis adeed]
John Wesley, writing at age 87 to Alexander Mather, quoted in Luke Tyerman, The Life and Times of the Rev. John Wesley (London, 1871), III:632.

For folks who might (with some cause) doubt the accuracy of a new Calvinist Gospel Coalition quote attributed to a Wesley  ...

and the Anglo-centric approach isn't that hard to suss out on the Wesleyan team when it was occasionally explicitly stated.
 We have not any extraordinary displays of the power of God. America is the young child of God and providence, set upon the lap, dandled upon the knees, pressed to the consolating breasts of mercies in ----. But we are not as thankful as we ought to be. The --- of the church I wish to make the cause of---. I stand in such a situation, and relation for the state of the ministry and people. I may have a thousand letters of information in a year, while swiftly moving through the continent every year.
The time certainly is drawing near when universal peace shall bless the earth: when distracted Europe, superstitious Asia, blind Africa, and America shall more abundantly see the salvation of our God. Oh let us be much in prayer. [emphasis added]

Clearly the last thing Methodists anchored in a Wesleyan approach to soteriology and sanctification would be likely to say they had was a Calvinist predestinarian motivation for Manifest Destiny. We're talking about the pioneer bishop of Methodism in the United States here.

What Calvinists and Arminians often had in common in the United States, despite their substantial differences on the subject of predestination as a matter of salvation for individual believers, was something called postmillennialism.  Postmillenialism comes in a variety of flavors, not all of them as dominionistic/theonomistic as might be presumed.  Still, as Jeffrey Burton Russell spelled out in Order and Dissent in the Middle Ages, the Catholic church came down against premillennial and postmillennial lenses for interpreting history.  Sure, we could suggest that institutional religion would be against millennialist views taken up by revolutionaries seeking a rationale for seizing power but when we look at how Manifest Destiny played out it's not entirely difficult to see that whether Arminian or Calvinist once you presume God is on the side of the white race and that you're obliged to convert everyone else to your way of thinking formal distinctions in soteriology can become moot.

Over the last few years I've soaked up the Book of Judges and what the Book of Judges forces a Christian to remember is that no matter what team you think you're on the atrocities of people described as famous people of faith in Hebrews 11 is part of your church heritage.  None of us can "no true Scotsman" the judges out of the canon that we all accept as Christians.  Whether Presbyterian (me) or Orthodox (Fr. Ernesto) it looks like we both agree on this concluding observation.

By refusing to see our history and distancing ourselves from our Christian ancestors, and by claiming that they were not truly Christian, we commit the identical error that the scribes and Pharisees committed. Lord, have mercy.