Saturday, January 02, 2016

a lookback on 2015, a year where we finally got back to some formal musical analysis of guitar music

Maybe someone would say it wasn't particularly deep or detailed, but at least it was finally able to happen.

There have been those who have visited Wenatchee The Hatchet over the years and have had the comment "All this blog does is talk smack about Mars Hill and Pastor Mark."  Ahem, no.  Maybe for those who have overidentified their personal sense of identity and narrative with Mark Driscoll and/or Mars Hill as an extension of his narrative it could "seem" as though all Wenatchee The Hatchet has done is discuss that topic.  But in 2015 there was some musical analysis.

There was actually a series of posts on Matiegka's Grand Sonata I for solo guitar, for instance, even featuring an optional cadenza that could be used in a performance and a discussion of things we guitarists can consider in putting together a cadenza--we can consider the thematic catalog of a movement, the nature of its form and consider what developmental outworkings of that catalog were NOT present in the written score as a way to develop a cadenza. 

I proposed, perhaps speculatively, that if Matiegka assiduously avoided inversions of themes this could be a limitation in his conceptual approach or ... more charitably, that in a performance idiom where improvisation was still a factor that he'd keep certain developmental possibilities in reserve for the optional cadenza.  Given Matiegka's interest in the work of Haydn and given Haydn's penchant to continue thematic development even within his recapitulations this seems like a reasonable inference.

And if you want to read all of that in its details ...

If you want to watch a video performance of a fun take on Matiegka's Grand Sonata I, go over here for footage of Gideon Whitehead's recital.

He keeps the first movement very lively, observes the repeating exposition, and he takes the finale at a spritely tempo.  Now while many an older guitarist has complained that kids these days play too much music way too fast I think there's a case to be made that Matiegka's Grand Sonata needs to be taken at a brisk tempo so that it doesn't drag.  Sure, we could suggest that central slow movement could have been more laid back (to better contrast with the outer movements) but, hey, the recital was a few years ago and anyone willing to champion Matiegka's Grand Sonata I is worth noting. 

Another avenue of exploration in 2015 was the etudes from Op. 29 of Fernando Sor, exploring ways he hybridized sonata form in a C major etude and the way he wrote a sonata form in E flat for another of the etudes.  This eventually culminated, after a long interval, in some observations about themes in early 19th century guitar sonatas more generally, how with some slight modifications guitar sonata themes from the early 19th century masters could be transformed into the basis for ragtime strains.  There's even a light-hearted ragtime canon on a theme by Sor in one of the posts:

and ... a playful comparison of a shared melodic contour in an early Sor etude and a hit song performed by Johnny Cash

There were plans to write more about the music of Ferdinand Rebay but ... life happens.  Here's hoping that in 2016 Wenatchee The Hatchet can get back to blogging about Rebay's music because there are some fine recordings of his work that have become available in the last year or so.  And for those who are regulars, Koshkin's cycle of preludes and fugues for solo guitar has been moving toward a publication/release date.  Don't know when that date is but the plan is to get the score and any/all associated recordings. 

Contrapuntal cycles for solo guitar are, to put it mildly, rare.  It has been a mistake of the guitar community to imagine that neither the fugue nor the sonata form are "practical" for the guitar.  There's a wealth of evidence to demonstrate otherwise since, oh, 1802, whether we're talking sonatas by Molitor, Matiegka, Carulli, Diabelli, Giuliani, Sor, Adam Darr, Georg Luckner, Turina, Rodrigo, Jose, Ponce, Gilardino, and a few others we'll just not name by name here.  Sonatas are all over the place for those with a genuine interest in sonata forms.  Fugues, those ARE rare, but they exist. 

IF there's a case to be made for why non-guitarist music journalists and musicologists don't take the guitar to be "serious" and don't consider it primarily part of the "literate music" tradition, it's because guitarists, as Matanya Ophee has pointed out, tend to not be taken seriously within the classical world.  One idea, in light of trends since 1800, could be that the guitar has not been treated as "serious" is the lack of works that are well-known that feature the 18th century forms broadly known as sonata and fugue.  There's actually a significant body of sonatas for solo guitar and the number of fugues for guitar looks set to increase.  Now we could also point out that there's not necessarily any reason guitarists "have" to write sonatas and fugues to be taken seriously.  That's completely true.  That said, some of us have fun with sonata and fugue for the guitar.  There's no reason those of us into those forms can't write as many o fthem as we want. 

What guitarist composers may have an opportunity to do is exploit a weakness (not being considered a notable part of what Taruskin's called the literate music  tradition, i.e. of printed music scores) and leveraging that into a potential strength.  The potential strength can be this, if we're talking about an instrument that has already been marginalized within academic musicology then it means we're not obliged to think and write in terms of what has been considered "in" or "out". 

At precisely a stage in Western musical history where pianists don't want to be bothered writing sonatas and fugues because all that's been done guitarists have an opportunity to tackle these traditional forms but in light of a musical vocabulary we can share in common with popular idioms.  As Charles Rosen wrote long ago about Haydn and Mozart, they synthesized scholastic formal approaches with popular idioms.  We guitarists have an opportunity to give that a shot for our instrument. There's literally no reason you can't start a sonata allegro movement with a twelve-bar blues on a guitar.  There's no reason you can't compose a fugue on a subject that's a blues riff.  There's no inherent reason you can't compose sonatas that are tributes to Hank Williams Sr. or Johnny Cash. 

Perhaps one of the great advantages guitarist composers may have is a problem guitarist performers in the classical world find so frustrating, that we're not taken completely seriously, or maybe even taken seriously at all.  That could be an advantage.  But it will potentially only be an advantage to us if we embrace both popular and scholastic music traditions equally, which it seems a lot of guitarists you can meet actually kind of already do.  Maybe not "enough" of them, but we also live in an era where the potential contribution of a few guitarists committed to what a commenter at George Sandow's blog called an "anti-chauvinist" perspective, that is a perspective that does not look down on popular musical styles while still demonstrating a commitment to what's been known as "art music" or "classical music", can still be a net positive.  The internet can create dangerously insular echo chambers but it can also create social dynamics in which people can have an influence they could not have if the only measure of social influence was the meet-and-greet in-person approach.

Matanya Ophee's proposal, going back to his Repertoire Issues lecture (I read a transcript of that lecture back in 1999 and it changed my life) is that we guitarists should commit to chamber music.  He discussed playing chamber music and I try to do that when I can but I took it as a challenge to WRITE chamber music.  If we want other musicians to take us seriously we should take them seriously.  Don't look down on the tuba, for instance.  The Samuel Jones Tuba Concerto is a great recent piece of music.  Penderecki's Capriccio is fun, too.  Don't look down on ANY instrument.  As far as humanly possible don't look down on a style of music. That's not to say you can't decide you hate the music of this or that popular musician, but that you can consider that the problem is not necessarily that style as a whole in which that annoying pop musician works.  Just because I hope to never again hear a song by Toby Keith doesn't mean I can't love songs by Johnny Cash or Hank Williams Sr. or Merle Haggard.  It doesn't even mean I can't be open to country songs written by people born during the Nixon administration.  There are moments in Haydn string quartets that I can imagine being country songs.  I've taken animation seriously as a narrative art form since I was a kid so it's not just classical guitar music that I'm into that I've seen critical and academic establishments not take seriously as an art form. 

Well ... that ramble has been enough for one post.  For those who may still labor under the misapprehension that "all" this blog has done is discuss a narrow set of topics confined to a local megachurch those people are probably going to persist in their potentially willful misunderstanding.  For everyone else, it was nice in 2015 that WtH could get back to being a blog that discusses music.

Friday, January 01, 2016

Acts 29 affiliated North Valley Church advertises upcoming Jan 3, 2016 Mark Driscoll speaking engagement, Acts 29 public statements calling for Driscoll resignation
8/8/2014 reporting by Ruth Moon

Hoping that "the name of Christ will not continue to be dishonored," the Acts 29 church planting network founded by Mark Driscoll has removed the Seattle pastor and his Mars Hill megachurch from membership.

“It is our conviction that the nature of the accusations against Mark, most of which have been confirmed by him, make it untenable and unhelpful to keep Mark and Mars Hill in our network,” said Acts 29 in an online statement signed by Matt Chandler and other board members of the network of 500 churches.
Acts 29 came to the drastic decision "with deep sorrow," according to the statement. "In taking this action, our prayer is that it will encourage the leadership of Mars Hill to respond in a distinctive and godly manner so that the name of Christ will not continue to be dishonored."

Well that online statement mentioned by Moon is gone.  However ... the brief statement can be accessed by way of ...

A Message from the Board of Acts 29 concerning Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church

It is with deep sorrow that the Acts 29 Network announces its decision to remove Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church from membership in the network. Mark and the Elders of Mars Hill have been informed of the decision, along with the reasons for removal. It is our conviction that the nature of the accusations against Mark, most of which have been confirmed by him, make it untenable and unhelpful to keep Mark and Mars Hill in our network. In taking this action, our prayer is that it will encourage the leadership of Mars Hill to respond in a distinctive and godly manner so that the name of Christ will not continue to be dishonored.

The Board of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network

Matt Chandler
Darrin Patrick
Steve Timmis
Eric Mason
John Bryson
Bruce Wesley
Leonce Crump

There's a bit more on an expanded form of the announcement over here:


As the Board of Acts 29, we are grateful to God for the leadership, courage, and generosity of both you and Mars Hill in not only founding the network but also sustaining it through the transition to this board three years ago. The very act of giving away your authority over the network was one of humility and grace, and for that we are grateful.

Over the past three years, our board and network have been the recipients of countless shots and dozens of fires directly linked to you and what we consider ungodly and disqualifying behavior. We have both publicly and internally tried to support and give you the benefit of the doubt, even when multiple pastors in our network confirmed this behavior. In response, we leaned on the Mars Hill Board of Advisors & Accountability to take the lead in dealing with this matter. But we no longer believe the BoAA is able to execute the plan of reconciliation originally laid out. Ample time has been given for repentance, change, and restitution, with none forthcoming.

We now have to take another course of action. Based on the totality of the circumstances, we are now asking you to please step down from ministry for an extended time and seek help. Consequently, we also feel that we have no alternative but to remove you and Mars Hill from membership in Acts 29. Because you are the founder of Acts 29 and a member, we are naturally associated with you and feel that this association discredits the network and is a major distraction.

We tell you this out of love for you, Mars Hill, Acts 29, and most significantly, the cause of Christ, and we would be irresponsible and deeply unloving not to do so in a clear and unequivocal manner. Again, we want you to know that we are eternally thankful for what you as a man and Mars Hill as a church have meant to our network. However, that cannot dissuade us from action. Instead, it gives added significance and importance to our decision.

We hope and pray that you see this decision as the action of men who love you deeply and want you to walk in the light—for your good, the good of your family, and the honor of your Savior. Shortly after sending this, we will be informing the members of Acts 29, your Board of Advisors and Accountability, and your elders, as well as putting out a public statement on the Acts 29 website. It brings us no joy to move forward in this direction, and we trust that the Lord will be at work in all of this.

In sorrow and with hope,

The Board of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network

Matt Chandler
Darrin Patrick
Steve Timmis
Eric Mason
John Bryson
Bruce Wesley
Leonce Crump

A response from MH's BoAA is recorded over here:

But it will be tricky to find active links at Acts 29's web presence that articulate these points.  Acts 29 has not, so far as can be established, rescinded or retracted anything it stated for the public record regarding Mark Driscoll.

That is worth bearing in mind in light of a recent twitter contribution by an Acts 29 affiliated church.

Join us on Sunday, Jan 3rd, at 9am at Harkins with guest speaker, Pastor Mark Driscoll.

8:40 AM - 31 Dec 2015  

Which is also confirmed on the Driscoll side of things

January 3, 2016
  9:00 am
  2550 West Happy Valley Road
 Phoenix, AZ 85085

Pastor Mark will be preaching at North Valley Community Church for their 9:00 AM service.
 For more information, visit their website.

One of the networks the church is affiliated with is ...

Did Mark Driscoll step down from ministry at Mars Hill in October 2014 in a way that was considered sufficiently repentant enough that Acts 29 churches are able to proceed with a green light featuring Mark Driscoll as a featured speaker?  Did Acts 29 get some report the public does not yet have access to regarding findings about Mark Driscoll?  Does the board of Acts 29 Network consider Mark Driscoll to have resigned in a godly way?  Is it okay for member churches of the Acts 29 to feature Mark Driscoll as a guest speaker?

Now the church has a number of networks they associate with but since they are associated with the Acts 29 Network in addition to those networks and it's been more than a year since Mark Driscoll resigned and it's also been more than a year since Acts 29 leadership requested that Mark Driscoll not only step down from ministry but seek help ... would A29 people verify what kidn of help they wanted Driscoll to get?  Would they be willing to confirm whether or not Mark Driscoll has sought the sort of help they recommended?  Can North Valley formulate an explanation for its apparent invitation to Driscoll to be a featured speaker in light of what was reported as a matter of public record regarding Mark Driscoll's history with Acts 29 and the request on the part of A29 leadership that Mark Driscoll step down from ministry?

Nostalgia and the Anxieties of Empire: Toward a unified theory of American sci-fi movie nostalgia

Whether it’s a Noah Berlatsky to the left or a Ross Douthat to the right the complaint has been that American sci-fi seems plagued with a lack of imagination of a different kind of future. We keep coming back to the same stuff and reviving or rebooting the same old franchises.  Some franchises, like the Terminator franchise, have never even really been allowed to go dormant.  For those who only heard of the Michael Bay films the Transformers franchise has been rolling out in one form or another since the first Reagan administration. Sure, Scooby-Doo’s been running from guys in monster outfits since the 1960s but it seems bitter pill for film critics and cultural pundits to swallow that our “science fiction” seems so warmed over.  We’re talking about a Star Wars revival and not the Flash Gordon that inspired it.

However, instead of just lamenting that we keep telling the same stories over and over in Hollywood (as if Hollywood ever had its own ideas to begin with), why don’t we ask why we keep coming back to the particular franchises we keep coming back to?  Has anyone else noticed there tend to be clusters?  Take Planet of the Apes and Star Trek, these date from the 1960s. Star Wars and The Terminator franchises date chiefly from the 1980s.  It can seem as if the clusters of endlessly retooled science fiction franchises come from the Kennedy/Johnson decade and the Reagan decade.  These were eras in which fear of America sparking a global nuclear war and ambitions of ushering in a new era of prosperity ran high, depending on which party you were for. It can seem as if the franchises we come back to cluster around the decades in which we were alternately confident and terrified of our capacity as the world’s global superpower to make or break life on earth as we know it.  We keep coming back to the sci-fi franchises that most explicitly explore our anxieties and aspirations as a nation that can change the planet for good or ill.  Think of it as nostalgia not merely for sci-fi franchises but for the franchises as cultural emblems of mythological red-state and blue state Camelots and the respective aspirations and anxieties of partisans from those eras. 

But let’s consider a few opinions on the recently awakened Force, shall we?

Terry Teachout summed up his not-very-impressed-and-didn’t-have-fun experience of Episode 7:

Over at the Atlantic Monthly Ta-nehisi Coates (who’s working on stories for Marvel’s Black Panther) has an understandably more generous take: “I think this assessment doesn’t spend enough time considering three very important phrases. Those phrases are: Episode I, Episode II and Episode III. However one feels about The Force Awakens, it is—in fact—a film. The aims of the heroes are coherent and accessible.

Teachout, of course, has noted how derivative Episode 7 is and that it’s a remake of a film that was a derivative homage back in 1977. But if Star Wars is a franchise that truly embodies the post-modern era and was always pastiche, perhaps we should bear in mind it has a weakness which could also be a strength that reflects the time and place in which it was made. If the sins of contemporary cinema are that films are derivative now that film is a century old, the sins of older generations of film included adaptations of books that were bought a place on a NYT best-seller list, like the John Wayne vehicle True Grit.

Even if Episode 7 is a derivative nostalgia trip with a sentimental nostalgia a case could be made that at least there are worse ways to rig the game in advance for a film than literally rigging a spot for the source book so the film has a bit more prestige.  Everyone, by now, has some idea who and what George Lucas was cribbing from when Episode 4 came out.  We may be witnessing a generational gap between film critics and moviegoers old enough to remember what Lucas cribbed from firsthand and those who aren’t.

Let’s bear in mind that feature-length cinema is now more than a century old, folks. The likelihood that things will get repeated is high.  As author, pastor and film reviewer James Harleman put it in his book Cinemagogue, the problem with saying Hollywood has run out of ideas is making the mistake of thinking they ever had their own ideas to begin with.

Still, it’s worth asking why we keep coming back to the franchise we keep coming back to. I would propose that in the case of Star Wars its pop culture wealth comes from a tension between its text, subtext, and the metanarratives we, as audiences, impose upon the franchise.  Lucas used to say the Empire was the United States and that the Rebellion was the Vietnamese military fighting against the United States.  If that was the intended subtext for what has become Episode 4, it probably couldn’t last longer than it took for Ronald Reagan to refer to the Soviet Union as an Evil Empire. It could also scarcely withstand American self-mythologizing on the matter of a rebellion against royal empire.

And yet we can have College Humor make a joke on Storm Troopers talking about the destruction of the Death Star in Episode 4 as if it were the twin towers from 9/11/2001. It would appear that at a dark, jokey level we CAN see ourselves in the Empire and it may be that the aspirations and anxieties of empire are why America can’t give up on Star Wars just yet. To say that that story is over is, in some strange cultural way, to admit that our story is over.


But it’s not just Star Wars we keep coming back to.  Let’s consider Star Trek, the franchise Abrams may or may not have successfully revived a few years back.  A central criticism of Abrams’ handling of the franchise was that he betrayed the spirit of the franchise.  But what was that spirit?  It may help to understand Star Trek as mid-20th century American optimism about the inevitability of a secular liberal democracy being the paradigmatic approach to all of human society.  One day we would move beyond waves of nuclear dread into an age where money is no object and we can breach the barrier of light speed.  To the extent that Abrams’ rebooted franchise imagined that beyond the evil of Khan Noonian Singh was an evil general in the Federation Abrams did betray the optimism of Star Trek by revealing we live in a post-Cold War era, an era in which we are less sure we can believe in the indisputable rightness of the empire we have.  Star Trek depends on assuming that the way modern progressive Western thought sees things is the one right way.

But some franchises have never quite gone away.  Take the Terminator franchise.  The first film emerged in the wake of the announcement of the Strategic Defense Initiative.  James Cameron’s dystopian sci-fi film could imagine that the super-weapons invented during the Cold War could become self-aware enough to war against humanity. Cameron decided to make a sequel in defiance of the inexorable logic of a narrative in which John Connor could only be born, paradoxically, because someone impregnated his mother who came from the future to stop Skynet from killing Sarah Connor—John Connor can only exist in a time-loop where there is already a Skynet. But Terminator 2 featured John Connor declaring “There’s no fate but what we make!”  Whether the sci-fi franchise we come back to is Star Trek, Star Wars, Terminator, Planet of the Apes, or Robocop, we come back to the anxieties and aspirations of empire, we come back to an America that is determined that whether it’s to light or darkness that ultimately nobody but us makes the fateful decision.

 It can seem that the common thread in all the sci-fi franchises America keeps coming back  to is that whether the future is a utopia or a dystopia there is no fate but the one WE make. 


As a playful contrast/comparison consider James Bond and Doctor Who as genre franchises dedicated to exploring the self-awareness of an English empire in undeniable decline, helpless to ultimately change the fate of the world or the British empire, but perhaps still able to do some good somewhere along the way.  It may be the thread for the West in keeping Cold War franchises alive is that we're clinging to a self-understanding. 

2016 and Mark Driscoll Ministries--a year to re:cycle and re:launch re:purposed content

So it would appear that Mark Driscoll's got more old books coming back in revised forms.  It's said that Doctrine is going to make a comeback as It's All About Jesus. Two basic questions about that:

1) will the copyright be in just the name of Mark Driscoll?
2) will Driscoll finally excise the Breshears content entirely, which featured the wildly inaccurate and soundly beaten down foolishness asserted about the Targum Neofiti that was disproven by scholars Robert Cargill and Christian Brady?

It may be worth revisiting the fact that since the dawn of this millennium the only substantial works Breshears published were co-authored with Mark Driscoll.  What Breshears' future writing projects may include, if anything, remains to be seen.

Doctrine would not be the only book from the past of Mars Hill that has been given a spot for retooling.  Radical Reformission appears to have been de-radicalized and issued as Reformission. If someone can confirm who owns the copyright on that re-issued book feel free to contrinbute a comment that goes into the moderation queu.

This would appear to be an all new year in 2016, a year in which Driscoll 's ministry continues to re:cycle and re:vive intermittently re:dacted contact that;s being re:issued while Mark Driscoll and company solicit donations. 

There was a time long ago when Driscoll warned people from the pulpit against those guys in ministry who preach their handful of sermons, pull of stakes, and go somewhere to some other place where they haven't preached before and start recycling all their greatest hits.  The irony in Driscoll having preached that message is how thoroughly he now embodies what he so fervently preached against.  .

Thursday, December 31, 2015

a blast from the past: Mark & Grace Driscoll Marriage Book Marketing Plans: observations on a mid-2011 document and discussion of integrated marketing approaches

Every once in a while something comes along.  This is not a dated document on the document itself.  From the wording and referenced timelines, however, an inferential case can be made that it was composed some time in the middle of 2011.
Driscoll himself leads early with his degree in Communications from one of the top 5, and he was quick to mention that his wife Grace has a degree in Public Relations.  Then, quickly, he moved to state "we are happy to help craft a marketing strategy with Thomas Nelson and enjoy doing so."
For those who want to read the doc, it can be read after the break.  You might want to collapse all the menus on the right side of the blog before reading further.

a year in review on things related to the year of dissolution for Mars Hill Church/Mars Hill Fellowship and Driscoll's pending re:launch

It was more than a year ago that Mark Driscoll resigned from Mars Hill as both a pastor and as a member.  Here on the eve of 2016 almost nothing seems more ill-advised and basically wrong than the sentiments of William Vanderbloemen, who wrote over at The Observer on three reasons why ... well ... here you go.
Maybe social media is a powerful double-edged sword.  We've touched on the matter of social media being an idol. Privacy isn't dead unless you sacrifice it on the altar of celebrity and social media activity. Words last forever?  Did Vanderbloemen forget how quickly we forget?  Or is the thought in mind something about how Jesus said that one day we will have to account for every idle word? As for every pastor needing to realize he or she is an interim pastor ... Driscoll spent years regaling people with reasons "I'm not going anywhere" right up to a few months before he decided to quit. Although in 2014 he wrote to Mars Hill, "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." by the end of the calendar year
he was still a celebrity but had chosen not to be a pastor. 

And it's only been in 2015, in the year after he threw in the towel and was speaking on the road on the conference circuit that he began to share stories about how God audibly released him from ministry at Mars Hill. 

As we've noted over this last year, there are basically six available accounts of how and why Mark Driscoll resigned.
There's also some discussion here about questions as to the continuity of the accounts as timelines. One of the most striking gaps is the time between Monday evening, when Driscoll said God spoke to him about "a trap has been set" and the day of the resignation announcement on Wednesday which was, per the account given at the Thrive conference, when the Driscoll kids first learned their father had quit being pastor at Mars Hill, by way of social media.

Why neither Mark nor Grace Driscoll told any of their children that their father had resigned for a roughly 18-24 hour period has never even been asked in interview contexts.  It is not likely the Driscolls will grant interviews to journalists who ask for interview time, it seems, but that's a fairly natural question that could be asked.

An eve nsimpler question is why in the midst of the 2014 announcements no public statements were given to indicate that God told Mark Driscoll he could quit.  Why?  Well, in any event if we take Mark Driscoll's own preaching and teaching as a guide we should be skeptical about a man who abruptly quits serving as a pastor at a church and only a year later says "God told me ... . "

And, hey, since it's over at the website we can just quote it.
Pastor Mark Driscoll
ACTS (5:12-42)
May 04, 2014
So I want to be careful with this because this can be an opportunity for spiritual abuse. Because sometimes people say, “God told me.” Well, we’ll see, OK? You can’t just pull out the “God told me” card. Ladies, let’s say you meet a guy and the guy says, “God told me to marry you.” “Interesting, he didn’t tell me or my dad, you know, so I don’t have to just assume that because you say the Lord says that the Lord in fact has spoken.”

You need to be very careful. Somebody comes along, “God told me to plant a church.” Let’s check that. All right, you can’t—I mean, 1 Corinthians 14 is clear. If you think you got a word from the Lord, you’ve got to check it by the leaders. So what we’re looking for, if you believe God has told you something, especially to do something that is difficult like this, we’re looking for a godly person—Peter’s a godly person. In godly community—it says he’s with the apostles, they’re all agreed. Under godly authority—they all agree on this. With a godly motive—to talk about Jesus. Doing a godly thing—wanting to minister to people. In a godly way—by being open in public and not hiding anything. So if you believe the Lord has told you something, he may have, but I would ask, “Are you a godly person in godly community under godly authority with a godly motive doing a godly thing in a godly way?” And what they are demonstrating is what we would call civil disobedience. Civil disobedience like in China where they have population controls. If a woman who loves Jesus gets pregnant, the government comes and says, “You have to have an abortion.” She could say, “I can’t do that. I need to obey God. I can’t obey you.”

Given that Driscoll was the subject of a potentially never completed investigation or report (although Driscoll's 2015 interview with Brian Houston invites questions as to whether or not 1) a report WAS complete and 2) its results could, as Driscoll recounted them, be summarized by the Board) and one end of that report was a proposed restoration process, it doesn't seem as though Mark Driscoll resigned from Mars Hill in a way that was incontestably a godly move done in a godly way submitted to godly authority.  By definition, Driscoll's warned us against anyone who plays the "God told me" card.  So if the guy doesn't get to pull that card and is also not formally submitted to a spiritual authority then this alone would be reason to not take Driscoll as being particularly repentant.  Starting up a new church in 2016 in Phoenix hardly seems to conform to what Driscoll said others ought to do with respect to submission to spiritual authority.  This might even be a case not unlike the Pharisees of whom Jesus said that because they sit in Moses' seat you should do what they tell you but, whatever you do, DO NOT FOLLOW THEIR EXAMPLE, for they do not practice the things they teach.

So, that would be a reason to be skeptical as to whether Mark Driscoll says "God told me" was sufficient reason to resign.  The second reason is that in none of the 2014 accounts presented by people about Mark Driscoll's leave of absence and resignation was any indication given that God was involved.  Not even Driscoll himself said God was saying anything in the October 2014 resignation letter. If God did say something that would be something to lead with up front, wouldn't it?

That Driscoll shared the "God said ... " narratives at the Thrive conference and in an interview with Brian Houston invites a question as to why I twas only on the road and for camera that these new accounts came up.  The old filmed Robert Morris account had it that Morris advised Driscoll.  Over on Facebook, Warren Throckmorton recorded that one Erma Gauthier claimed the board was preventing Mark Driscoll from preaching even though he wanted to, which so flatly contradicts everything Mark Driscoll has said on the road in 2015 that while neither one might be presumed to be lying only one of them could be conveying a factually accurate account.

So, one of the stories this year was just how many stories there were about Mark Driscoll's resignation and how the threads and narratives didn't always seem to "quite" fit into a single coherent narrative.  It may be there isn't a single coherent narrative.

The next notable incident to do with Mars Hill involved the sale of a list, the sale of which came to light when Craig Gross spammed a bunch of people. The sale had some kind of connection to Justin Dean, former media guru for Mars Hill. Dean even came by to the blog Wenatchee The Hatchet and claimed that The Stranger published a fabricated conversation but has not, to this day, clarified which conversation he alleges was fabricated.  What was cleared up, in other contexts, was that whoever sold the list to Craig Gross did not have legal authorization to do so.  It was also cleared up that someone didn't.

In the first half of 2015 Sutton Turner blogged about some of his time at Mars Hill.  He provided an explanation of how he disagreed with the Result Source agreement but signed the contract anyway because people should be submissive even in settings where they dissent from leadership, or at least that's how it read at the time. It was possible, of course, that Turner could have opted to not sign the Result Source contract and let someone else sign it but that, for whatever reason, didn't happen. The story of how Turner was in some fashion intimidated out of his role can't be independently confirmed but it is difficult to imagine that former staff would have had access to the kind of information Turner indicated was leveraed in some way agains thim.  Given that Mars Hill was such a secretive leadership culture a lot of people didn't even know how much money Mark Driscoll made a year, it would have taken someone so close to the top as to have been an assistant to one of the executives to have had access to information about Turner's pre-Christian conversion activities.  it's not that the scenario Turner described seemed impossible, it just seemed remarkably hard to square with the level of secrecy and insider-knowledge that seemed typical of the Mars Hill leadership culture.

Turner's indications that the board of Mars Hill split on the matter of whether to scapegoat Turner over Result Source is another thing that can't be confirmed or denied.  Whoever might still be involved in administration of the corporation known as Mars Hill Church or Mars Hill Fellowship could theoretically address some of these unanswered questions.

One of the biggest unanswered questions is where th monies from real estate sales and asset liquidation have gone or will go.  Mars Hill was sitting on a lot of real estate and othe rforms of property.  Where the money for that will go has not yet been disclosed.  Mars Hill Foundation for Planting Churches has been renewed into the end of next year.  Mars Hill itself is set to expire as a corporation tonight.

On Missions Charitable Remainder Unitrust (OMCRU) INvestments LLC
On Mission LLC

Lasting Legacy is set to expire in April 2016

expired 11/30/2015
expiration 10/31/2016 there

Mars Hill itself ... set to expire tonight in just a few hours.

The reason it can be useful to tend to the boring details of registration listings for LLCs is that sometimes the listings change.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

a handful of brief not-quite-spoilery thoughts on The Force Awakens

I think the cases that have been made that Rey is a Mary Sue forget that if what they considered the same set of traits were comingled in a male lead character played by a Tom Cruise that we'd be having different comments.  Not being a woman myself I do wonder how many eye-rolls there have been at male heroic leads in films who were as "perfect" as some have said Daisy Ridley's Rey is.  If you want a Gary Stue, just consider the extent to which some Star Wars fans claim Palpatine controlled everything from Episodes 1-6 when he says "Everything that has transpired has done so according to my design."  Instead of taking this in the context of conventions of action adventure films of the Reagan era (i.e. villains talk smack and talk big as if they are more awesomely competent than they actually are) some guys insist that EVERYTHING that transpired from the start of Episode 1 to the climax of Episode 6 was engineered in some fashion by the Emperor.

When fans of the franchise are actually making serious attempts at anything like "that" claim, it's impossible to say that Rey is a Mary Sue within the Star Wars universe, not when you see what some fans actually claim Yoda and Palpatine can do.   Rey is fairly "normal" perfect for a comparable male heroic lead in an action film. 

Considering how many action movies we have it's not "that" conventional yet to have a female heroic lead in an action adventure film who is not a trophy or arm candy.  Bear in mind that Star Wars still hews more toward the all ages audience rather than the more PG-13 dystopias of Hunger Games. 

So how many heroic action leads are female in films that are suitable for all ages that may have a woman who is considered pretty but is also not sexualized and does not trade on sexuality in some fashion?

That list could be ... well, if you stop and think about the history of the action genre Rey might just be the only one.  Well, okay ... maybe Twilight Sparkle but that's a different kind of genre.

So Rey seems too perfect because she's a competent scavenger, interested in machines and figures out how to fly a certain spaceship with enough skill that she gets props from Han Solo.  Let's bear in mind that back in Episode 4 Luke says a certain shot is, in a word, kinda easy.  He didn't say this because of Force skillz but because he lived on a litter box planet full of sand and had nothing much else to do except test out marksmanship.  The idea that Rey can't be an inventive mechanic who can improvise solution on legendary freighters doesn't seem that far-fetched in the Star Wars universe.  A girl who has a burgeoning interest in mechanical things, science, and at least some interest in staff-fighting should find Rey a delight to watch on screen.  I'd never heard of Daisy Ridley before Episode 7 but now that I've seen Episode 7, well, she's definitely a star now. 

Rey is what Korra from Legend of Korra should have been if she was well-acted and written by writers who had the slightest clue how to write for women characters, something I was swiftly convinced by seasons 1 and 2 of Legend of Korra the key writers either no longer knew how to do or maybe never knew how to do to begin with. 


Remember back when Megan Fox was on press promotional duty and explaining how she was playing a "strong female character"?  No?  Well Daisy Ridley's Rey, in terms of an action/adventure film heroine, is entering the fray in competition against that Megan Fox character.  Is this really a contest which of the two characters you would present to your daughters or nieces as the one most worthy of emulation?  This seems like a no-brainer to me and I'm not even a parent.  If Rey and Finn seem like retreads of characters we've already grown to love compare them to the characters played by Shia Labeouf and Megan Fox in the Bay-formers franchise and I think we could find it in our hearts to go easy on the Ridley and Boyega characters.  There's a difference between casting a pretty woman from England as an action/adventure movie star and casting a ... Victoria's Secret model to play Sam Witwicky's girlfriend in the third Bay-formers film. 

Monday, December 28, 2015

answers to questions you didn't ask: what are your favorite tv theme songs?

It would seem part of the history of this blog is a whole lot of declining to answer questions from commenters (the few times they ask) while answering or raising questions that readers don't care about.

That's part of the art of a blog, right?

So, sometimes I have posts that I've called "answers to questions you didn't ask". This is another one of those. 

What are your favorite TV show theme songs?  Well ... in no essential order ... and without any attempt at being a comprehensive list ...

Transformers opening theme

Wow, it's remarkable how out of tune that electric guitar is, and those singers.
Still, one of the more unforgettable opening theme songs for a TV show.  Still like it.  It dates me a bit because I remember when this toy commercial series was first on the air.  Not sure I could revisit the series from back then but Transformers Prime sure is fun.  This is a blog that occasionally discusses animation when some readers aren't waiting for it to keep discussing Mars Hill, remember. :)

This was cleverly reconceived as a slow jam and all the instruments are actually in tune for this version, and the singing is ... well ... anyway, just go watch it. :)

And switching over to the other side of the Pacific ... this one's a predictable one, too.

Tank! opening theme song for Cowboy Bebop

Opening theme for the A-Team
Yeah, this one also dates me a little.  The 00's movie got rid of the bridge for this theme song, which was a mistake.  Cheesy as that bridge with the brass fanfare in the middle is (about 1:03), it musically needs to be there. It introduces some fun cross-beat/cross-measure syncopation that isn't in the marching part of the form.

But if I had to pick just one theme song that is my favorite ...

That'd have to be J. G. Thirlwell's No Vacancy, theme song for the start of The Venture Bros. The fanfare on brass and bass starting at 0:35 is triumphant!

If a theme song for a TV show is supposed to let you know what you're in for in the actual show then Venture Bros has a theme that lets you know up front the show's going to be a little ... off.  The charm of this little beauty is after thundering along four-on-the-floor you get this slick wind-up and when the fanfare kicks in it's in counts of 7.  You have some part of you that wants those riffs to still be in common time but the effect is of the brass and bass chorus rushing along faster than you can hum along if you've made the assumption that we'll still be four on the floor for this part of the theme song.

Which makes it hilarious and charming all at once.

Kyle Gann riff on Orchestrating a Nation (a book), an accounting of the double bind American critics and concert organizers used to sideline American symphonic music

Two books I’ve read recently had a notable impact on me. One was Orchestrating the Nation: The Nineteenth-Century American Symphonic Enterprise (Oxford) by Douglas Shadle, who’s at Vanderbilt. It’s a history of the relationships among 19th-century American composers, critics and conductors, and particularly of the Europhile bias American composers had to face at every step. Music critics were enamored of what came to be called The Beethoven Problem: a composer of symphonies had to both imitate and expand on the Master’s principles. They developed a set of binary goalposts that could be relocated to frustrate any American contender: If your music was too similar to Beethoven’s, it was derivative; if not similar enough, it failed to build on eternal principles. If it followed the Mendelssohn-Schumann line it was timid; if it veered toward Liszt and Wagner, it was damned for being mere program music. If it used American source material, it lacked “symphonic dignity”; if not, it represented inauthentic European wannabe-ism. If audiences loved it though the critics didn’t, then it merely appealed to the superficial; and even if critics liked it and audiences didn’t, then it may be intellectual but will never appeal to the common man. [emphasis added] Meanwhile, Europeans as minor as Jan Kalliwoda were enthusiastically welcomed into the repertoire. As Shadle puts it, “critics relegated the music of nineteenth-century American composers to the dustbin of history while applying mutable standards of criticism to each new crop [p. 263]”. And so each new American symphonist – Anthony Philip Heinrich, William Henry Fry, George Frederick Bristow – would create a frisson of public excitement only to be forgotten and dismissed in short order, creating a mistaken impression that no history of American symphonic music existed.

Critics had more power back then than they do now, but Shadle makes clear that star conductors like Theodore Thomas nurtured similar sets of shifting criteria to save themselves the trouble of performing American works. The book’s arch-villain, though, is famous Boston music John Sullivan Dwight. For decades I’ve tried to find something to admire about the guy because of his connection to the Transcendentalists, but he was the worst of the worst of those who thought the Europeans had said it all and so Americans shouldn’t bother trying, and Shadle hangs him with his own hypocritical words again and again. (I’d like to think his type of critic died out with the late Andrew Porter.)


More than anything else, Orchestrating the Nation illuminates the origins and myriad strategies of the classical music world’s eternal animus against American composers. As I teach every week among student composers who can’t be bothered with Ashley or Nancarrow but sing the praises of Kurtag and Lachenmann, Saariaho and Haas, I feel like little has changed. If it takes a hundred points to achieve parity with Beethoven, you get fifty free points just for being born in Europe. Shadle shows how long that’s been going on. [emphasis added]

Interesting observation about the endless double bind with movable goalposts there.

Taruskin's polemic has been that the whole idea of art for the sake of art, art as an autonomous thing from daily life, could be the core problem.  He's been proposing the reason classical music is ignored in favor of pop music is that pop music has not forsaken a self-understanding, so to speak, of music having some social or communal function.

To say that  art has no end other than itself is to basically say it's useless except as ... maybe on object of veneration?  For some art essentially is their religion and they would rather more officially religious people not heretically interfere in whatever they define as art.  For those of us who are actually religious, though, art gets to be subordinate.  It "can" be a beautiful thing appreciated on aesthetic grounds, but life is more than art.  As a certain Jewish teacher once put it, the Sabbath was given for man not man for the Sabbath.  It can be said to be so with the arts.  Art should bring us some pleasure and edification in different degrees rather than we being the ones who must somehow please or placate ideals about art. 

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Kyle Gann on the word games of artistic movements and self-identification, some lengthy excerpts presented (for now) without comment
I don’t know whether it’s symptomatic of the decline of culture, but it seems that most people these days no longer understand the word game of artistic -isms and movements. A term denoting inclusion in an artistic movement is a kind of performative utterance masquerading as a descriptive one. A performative utterance, as J.L. Austin defined it, is one that is itself an act, one that changes the truth value of something by being spoken, like “I pronounce you man and wife,” or “I accept your offer.” If someone with the authority to make this statement says, in appropriate circumstances, “I pronounce you man and wife,” you can’t contradict him by saying, “That’s not true, they aren’t married.” The fact that he says it is what makes it true. Of course nothing in physical reality is changed by the utterance. The statement is a command that we should consider something to be changed.

Likewise, using an artistic term is an act of political demarkation; it only pretends to be a descriptive, and that pretense is its power. When critic Louis Leroy, in the April 25, 1874, issue of Le Charivari magazine, dismissed Monet, Pissarro, Degas, Renoir, and others as “Impressionnistes,” he was not describing them, as if he had said they were “tall,” or “Catholic,” or “wearers of berets.” The word “Impressionist” did not yet exist; the moment before he wrote it, it didn’t mean anything. His intent was to marginalize those painters, by insinuating that they had attached themselves to some deficient and trivial artistic principle (snidely inferrable from the indistinct word “impression”). By coining an adjective that had the appearance of objectivity, Leroy was performing the act of commanding the reader to regard those artists as mistaken and ins[i]gnificant.

The artists, however, as often happens, grabbed on to the word and subverted its meaning. They called themselves “Impressionists” in their next group show – not because it was an adjective with specific denotations that accurately depicted them, but as an act of self defense. By calling themselves Impressionists, they were telling the public, “Do not regard us as painters who have tried to master the conventions of realism and failed, but as painters who are working on something new, who have collectively perceived that there could be a different approach to visual phenomena.” By calling themselves Impressionists, they protected themselves from what they considered false criticisms, charges of deficiency based on inapplicable criteria. Years later, once those criticisms ceased to be common, they abandoned the term and went back to calling themselves merely painters. But the term itself has lasted in history.


The really sad thing is, I think, that the kneejerk adamant resistance to new movements indicates a loss of faith that new perceptions are possible. “I refuse to participate in your culture of word games,” means “I no longer want to build this culture up, I’m ready to start tearing it down.” Impressionism happened because a bunch of people realized about the same time that realistic art didn’t do justice to the way we really perceive color. Totalism happened because a bunch of people realized that, within minimalism’s stripped-down context, it was possible for people to perform and keep in their heads several tempos at once. A person convinced that there will be no more movements is a person for whom the history of culture is basically over, a person who believes that everything possible has already been perceived, and that there are no new avenues left open to us. We whine about the sanctity of the individual, but art grows by leaps and bounds when groups of people start to have collective realizations. 18th-century music sprang out of a 30-year slump in 1781 when Mozart and Haydn started copying and combining each other’s ideas – neither of them had been able to do it alone. Wagner’s music burst into flames when he discovered Liszt’s harmonic innovations. Modern art changed forever when the Abstract Expressionists started meeting every night at the Cedar Bar. Occasionally one person creates a compelling new language on his own, but it’s extremely rare. There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in our music, and consciousness of those things is not likely to dawn on only one person at a time. Artists need each other, and the anti-ism diehards want to imprison them each in solitary confinement. A sense of creative community, so crucial to the development of an art, is devalued by the ideology that pooh-poohs purported movements.

Or to personalize it: In the early 1980s, I had a lot of cool ideas about rhythmic structure. I thought those ideas alone would make me the King of Composers. When I got to New York and it dawned on me that Rhys Chatham, Mikel Rouse, Michael Gordon, and Ben Neill had all had the same ideas, I had to jump up off my butt, steal what I could from them, and raise my music to a whole new level to avoid being just one of the crowd. That’s how music history happens (even among the so-called American Mavericks) far more often than the more popular lone-genius theory. ...