Saturday, April 09, 2016

links for the weekend
The social drama of rivalry, with its hostility and aggression, masks a deeper subconscious dynamic. We might think of our nemesis as the polar opposite of ourselves, but as Kilduff’s research suggests, our rivals are much more like us than we dare admit. While this might seem counter-intuitive, it follows that rivalry can actually be good for us: acknowledging that our rivals share our most essential traits, good and bad, can help us up our game and gain some of the insight we need for greater success.

Orson Welles summed up this idea in his movie The Third Man (1949): ‘In Italy, for 30 years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed – but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love – they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.’

Although this might seem cynical, art historians tend to agree: the birth of the Renaissance is attributed to the rivalry between two artists over who would design the bronze doors of the Florence Baptistery.

Sometimes, intermittently from fans of Doug Wilson books here and there, I've heard it proposed that slavery was part of the basis for the Civil War but that there were other issues.  The idea that the war involved states' rights isn't exactly new but I've never gotten past the basic point of ... states' rights to do what?
This shows us that the issue was much more than “hate” or “prejudice.” Slavery was a key part in political and economic theory. It was the perceived solution to the problem of the unemployed and those who could not otherwise support themselves. It also helped to support workers’ rights in that it removed the most burdensome labor from free workers and placed it on slaves. The slaves were a sort of property, to be sure, but they also received a sort of full patronage (harsh and brutal as it was) from their masters. Calhoun believed this was an inescapable feature of economics and that slavery was preferable to laissez-faire capitalism.

Say what?  Someone believed formal, official slavery might be preferable to free market capitalism? 
That the enslavement of blacks was practiced by Native Americans has only gotten some traction in academic discussion in the last decade or so, it seems, but in our era of student debt and credit/lending practices it might be worth remembering that as nasty as the formal slaveries of earlier epochs invariably were, a lot of people somehow believed the only thing worse than that would be some unfettered free market system in which the currency was backed by nothing more than the word of a cabal of people formally manipulating the currency.

"If" that were the case then a reason slavery might get condoned is that as awful as it is recognizing it officially was preferable to the formulation of economic system in which tons of people are still practically enslaved by the manipulations of monetary policies and information but given a set of ideological metanarratives that convince them they're really free after all.  Or maybe Ellul's gloomy survey of capitalist and socialist propagandas has rubbed off too much.

And as things prized go ... genius seems to keep coming up


As psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi puts it, “creativity is more likely in places where new ideas require less effort to be perceived.”

Yet we continue to treat geniuses like shooting stars: beautiful to behold but beyond our ken, and wholly unpredictable. Mozart is often held up as Exhibit A in the case for the shooting-star myth of genius. He played the piano at age 3 and was composing by age 8, the argument goes, so surely his was a wholly genetic genius. Yet this ignores the fact that his father, Leopold, was an accomplished, if uninspired, musician determined to find the glory he felt cheated of through his son. It also ignores the fact that Mozart was born in a musical country, Austria, at a very musical time. Did Mozart bring a particular set of talents to the table, not to mention an awful lot of sweat? Absolutely, but that was not enough. It never is.

Creative genius (as opposed to raw IQ) is a social verdict, a natural outcome of where we direct our energies and our attention. We get the geniuses who we want and who we deserve. Or, as Plato said, “What is honored in a country is cultivated there.” What was honored in 18th-century Vienna? Music. So we got Mozart, Beethoven and other great composers. What do we honor today? Digital technology, and the connectivity and convenience it represents. Naturally, our geniuses are Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and the like.

Plot the appearance of genius across the centuries and around the world and something quickly becomes apparent. Geniuses do not pop up randomly—one in Siberia, another in Bolivia—but in groupings. Genius clusters. Athens in 450 B.C. Florence in 1500. Certain places, at certain times, produced a bumper crop of brilliant minds and good ideas.

These places were, of course, very different, but they share some common traits. They all contain, in varying proportions, a mix of diversity, discernment, and disorder.

another old thing, on what can be called virtue signaling as a status achieving game:
So why bother? Why censure someone who hasn’t harmed us directly?

Some scientists have suggested that it helps to cement human societies together by enforcing social norms and discouraging selfishness or bad behavior. As such, groups that practice third-party punishment should do better than those that do not. That may be true, but collective benefits don’t explain why individuals choose to incur the cost of punishment. Why doesn’t any one person just sit back and let others punish?

In online shaming, Jordan saw a clue. “I started thinking about friends I knew who were involved in social justice,” she says. “There was a lot of moralistic speech that seemed like it was focused on communicating one’s own position.” In other words, maybe third-party punishment is primarily a signal that tells onlookers that you are trustworthy, in the same way that a peacock’s tail or stag’s antlers signal its genetic quality. It says: If I’m willing to punish selfishness, you know I’m not going to act selfishly to you.

Which an evolutionary psychologist might suggest is the thing people like to do because with an appropriate amount of virtue signaling you're more likely to pair off, if not permanently than for so long as one wishes.  Although, that's really just a transition to ...

This is not the first time that single women have had such a dramatic impact on the country. In fact, wherever you find increasing numbers of single women in history, you find change. In the 19th century, when the casualties of the Civil War and drain of men to the American West upset the gender ratio, marriage rates for ­middle-class white women on the East Coast plunged and marriage ages rose. Unburdened of the responsibilities of wifeliness and motherhood, many of these women did what women have long been trained to do: throw themselves into service to community, in this case reform movements. Many, though by no means all, of those who led the fights for abolition and suffrage and against lynching, who founded and ran the new colleges for women (Mount Holyoke, Smith, Spelman), who were pioneers in new fields including ­nursing and medicine, were unmarried. Susan B. Anthony; Sarah Grimké; Jane Addams; Alice Paul; Catharine Beecher; Elizabeth Blackwell: None of these women had husbands. Many more ­activists had marriages that were unconventional for the time — brief, open, or entered into late, after the women had established themselves economically or professionally.

But in advising against marriage as a foregone conclusion Richard Baxter proposed that if you surveyed the history of great philanthropists you'd find that many of them were not married, that a life of singleness even in the 1600s could provide an opportunity to do a great deal of good for the community that you couldn't possibly do if you were trying to feed and clothe and raise a family.  So if an English Puritan could observe half a millennium ago that there were real advantages to not pairing off it's hardly a surprise if an author at New York Magazine a few months ago arrived at a parallel epiphany.

The author moved along to point out that marriage still has some unfair effects on women in the workforce.  Depending on which progressives you consult marriage is inherently unfair because thanks to thinks like probate and property accumulation it fosters income inequality and that the real path forward for marriage (if we bother to keep it at all) is to divest it of any legally meaningful capacity to be an instrumental means to financial accumulation.  I.e. there are some progressives who think the problem is that marriage lets people amass possessions and aren't afraid to say so.  This seems a bit odd because what was the point of getting marriage equality on the part of some progressives if other progressives would propose that marriage is still basically bad as it is nested in middle-class acquisition? 

When the author lands at, "The apparent lack of trust in Clinton reflects that there is perhaps no politician who has suffered more for having been a wife." Are we sure about that?  Don't both Clinton's have enough political baggage separately and co-dependently to avoid a pat axiom declaring that perhaps no other politician has suffered more for having been a wife than Hillary Clinton?  The apparent lack of trust in Hillary Clinton might have something to do with the way she voted with respect to Gulf War 2, to say nothing of other stuff.  Obama managed to seize the nomination from her a couple of elections ago over problems like that.  If those were a ball and chain for Clinton last time around they can be so again.  It doesn't mean Sanders necessarily seizes the nomination from Clinton in the end--both the political parties may well prize realpolitik over principle enough to see what they can do.

Throckmorton reports Sutton Turner's Seattle attorney has notified the court of appearance regarding suit, Turner states he has not been served
YOU ARE HEREBY NOTIFIED that Defendant John Sutton Turner appears in this action by the law firm of Northcraft, Bigby & Biggs, P.C., by the undersigned attorney. All pleadings, notices, and other papers in this action, exclusive of process, should be served at the address stated below. ...

Excluding process means the attorney will not accept the service of documents on behalf of the defendant.

Turner has yet to be served.  What the notice of appearance may secure is demonstrating that there's an acknowledgment of a complaint but no formal response as to the legitimacy of the complaint in substance or in general.  What this could mean, for instance, is that the plaintiff counsel will have to notify the defendant counsel of any and all motions.  So if, for instance, a motion for any kind of default or summary judgment were to be undertaken the counsel would need to be notified, but the counsel cannot be regarded as a substitute for the defendant to whom service of process can be directed, if I'm understanding this correctly.  This could permit an opportunity for a response on the part of the attorney whether or not the defendant has been served.

For any people who are wondering how true it could be that, as both Driscoll and Turner have now stated for the record, they haven't been served papers, it's pretty easy to believe that nobody's been served papers yet.  Serving papers depends on finding people and you have to know where people are to begin with for that.  Driscoll's mentioned in sermons and talks on the road that he's in a rented house.  It's not a given that said rented house is even rented in his name, for instance.  Even if Driscoll announces that the Driscolls are doing work parties every weekend excluding major federal holidays this summer that doesn't necessarily mean service might be a matter of showing up for the work party and handing over papers.  Service can be refused, for instance.  Proof of service can be required in part because if someone refuses to accept papers you'd still have to be able to prove the service was rendered or it won't be acceptable in court, will it?

There may be ways the RICO could die a death of a failure to meet technical procedural requirements before either defendant even gets served. 

when A.O. Scott declared "It's the mission of art to free our minds, and the task of criticism to figure out what to do with that freedom." I wonder if he wishes people hadn't used their freedom to enjoy the Avengers movie
Enough of that! It’s the mission of art to free our minds, and the task of criticism to figure out what to do with that freedom. That everyone is a critic means that we are each capable of thinking against our own prejudices, of balancing skepticism with open-mindedness, of sharpening our dulled and glutted senses and battling the intellectual inertia that surrounds us. We need to put our remarkable minds to use and to pay our own experience the honor of taking it seriously.
The real culture war (the one that never ends) is between the human intellect and its equally human enemies: sloth, cliché, pretension, cant. Between creativity and conformity, between the comforts of the familiar and the shock of the new. To be a critic is to be a soldier in this fight, a defender of the life of art and a champion of the art of living
This is rubbish.  The idea that the mission of art is to free our minds is patent nonsense.  When the aristocrats of Europe set up the artistic tradition known as opera was their aim celebrating freeing of the mind or celebrating the wealth and prestige of the aristocracy?  When the notion of socialist realism emerged in the 20th century was its goal really freeing the mind?  It might be more true to say the purpose of art has been to serve as propaganda for the prestige of empires and the role of criticism is to establish what even counts as art to begin with (per Noah Berlatsky's polemics).
This kind of stuff is common enough.
Never apologise for art. Art entertains and delights. It also shocks us into awareness.
But arts establishments and arts critics may decide that The Human Centipede isn't even really art after all. Fiona Maddocks might not grant the film the status of art or grant that status of art to Dora the Explorer. How often have arts critics complained about the tedious and dishonest bromides in childrens' entertainment when they can be bothered to treat it as if it were even possibly art by dint of reviewing it? But then do the adults who can't be bothered to watch art made for children because it's not even art suggest that "we" make art for kids that says, "Hey kids, you might grow up to get raped and murdered and your body left in a sewer and here's an episode of Game of Thrones"? 

Realism is not why anyone goes to the movies and it isn't even what people want from the arts.  If all you want is unstinting realism from cinema then you can watch eighteen hours of surveillance footage from a grocery story. It's one thing to contest that you'd like to not be able to recognize the artifice in the art and another to make the category mistake of declaring that unstinting realism is the only thing that imbues art with value. The declaration that the arts have as their mission to free the mind and that arts criticism has the mission of figuring out what to do with that freedom is another iteration of art as religion. 

What this kind of art-as-religion can't question is not what may or may not qualify as art according to this or that critic, it's the baseline of consumption itself. It's easy to say that the money spent on one military weapons platform would be enough money to feed a city and the same can also be said about film productions. Somehow the idea that $200 million that could go to an F-35 or a blockbuster film could end up distributed to food pantries seems equally moot. The mystery here is not that folks embedded in the military-industrial complex see value in their work, it's that people immersed in the mainstream of arts production don't see themselves as in the same spot. Both groups see themselves as defending civilization as we know it but the people in the military-industrial complex at least know that in what they do somebody's lives will end up ruined by the monetary displacement.  Soldiers know they're expendable on the field and that they have to kill people at some point.  There are ways that we sacralize what the soldier does to make that sacrifice seem worth it.  We have something sort of like that in entertainment but if Aphrodite is the goddess of beauty and love she is perhaps less like Mars, who will tell you you're not good enough when you wash out of boot camp--Aphrodite just ignores you if you're not special enough to gain admittance into the realm of vocational entertainers. 

A O. Scott's bromides about arts criticism as a role in the "real" culture war are ultimately stupid because he pits the highest against the lowest as he perceives them in humanity.  The trouble is that the things so many of us humans want out of life are trite.  What we want is the cliché.  Do people want to be able to sleep well at night?  Do people want to have enough food and drink to not die of deprivation?  Do people want to have sex with someone who wants to have sex with them, too?  How cliché.  To be a critic of Scott's variety is to inveigh against cliché without necessarily conceding how cliché the entire range of human desire has been since the dawn of humanity.  Conformity is what we curiously keep coming back to age after age, region after region.  When enough people conform to enough shared ideals in practice we have this habit of calling that history of such-and-such. 

And if a bunch of people genuinely enjoyed that first Avengers movie would Scott say he lost the culture war?  Or is the nexus of our trite desires with at their most minimally novel presentation in leisure activity sometimes called art closer to an accurate depiction of what art has often been than what A. O. Scott might tell us?

real estate follow up: CWU is front runner for next Mars Hill tenant in Sammamish

A bit more than a year ago the city of Sammamish bought what was once Mars Hill Sammamish

Sammamish council approves $6.1 M purchase of Mars Hill property

The property was bought May 4, 2015 for $6,100,000.00 from Mars Hill Church by the city of Sammamish

Where the $6.1 million went may never get solved.  At any rate ... the Sammamish real estate, which was essentially gifted to Mars Hill, was bought back for the aforementioned price and it looks like the reason has been a number of schools had an interest in using the real estate, even if a number of them dropped out because of concerns about finances.
March 28, 2016
article by Greg Farrar

Central Washington University appears to be the frontrunner in the city’s quest to fill the former Mars Hill Church with some sort of higher education entity.

City Manager Lyman Howard made that announcement at the March 22 special meeting of the City Council. He said Central’s proposal seems to most closely match the intent of the council when it purchased the property.

The city bought the vacant, former church at 120 228th Ave. NE in March 2015 for $6.1 million. The explicitly stated purpose was to attract higher education to Sammamish in an area that already features three high schools. Three higher education institutions signed initial letters of interest, but have since bowed out mostly due to funding concerns.

It seems that after all this time Mars Hill had been sitting on real estate that would seem ideal for educational institutions.  Now that the city formally owns the real estate (again) the contest is looking to be over which school can make use of the former Mars Hill campus.

Friday, April 08, 2016

KoyanniSTOCKsi--reconstruction the trailer to the 1984 Reggio film using stock footage
Without ever using words, Koyaanisqatsi made an argument. At the time, Reggio’s official biography declared he was “interested in the impact of the media in conveying ideas rather than promoting commodities.” Koyaanisqatsi was beautiful, gargantuan, tranquil, yes, but it also positioned itself against what we would now call extractive capitalism.

Which is, to put it mildly, funny. Because nowadays, the Koyaanisqatsi style of filmmaking is most associated with television commercials. Set this new film, Koyannistocksi, to any Paul Simon track from the ’80s and you’d think it was selling you a 401k. The plodding style of cinema that Reggio invented to indict modern globalized civilization has wound up selling the thrill and simultaneity of globalization.

The film didn't exactly defy description since long panning shots of time elapsed landscapes and cityscapes is pretty easy to describe. 

The curious thing about critiques of capitalism is how inevitably the methods of those critiques can be assimilated into ... you know.  The trouble is that capitalism and socialism ultimately dehumanize to the same degree in different ways.  One may attempt to flatten out actual differences in a quest for equality while another disproportionately rewards dynamics that lead to more inequality but what we've had for generations, which has been the complaint of Rand fans, is a mixed economy, something that's not quite a totally free market or a completely socialized economy.  Thing is whether it's fascism or socialism the centralization process hardly seems different in degree ... or maybe even in kind ... the difference is the packaging.

Whether it's Marxists anticipating the end of capitalism or dispensationalists anticipating the secret rapture the apocalyptic fervor smells the same.

some further thoughts on Justin Dean's claim Mars Hill just didn't get media, revisiting how I put together Andrew's connection to the Noriega family at the MH Ballard campus based on social and mass media alone

One of the things Justin Dean's been saying in the wake of the closure of Mars Hill was that Mars Hill just didn't understand the media, perhaps how the media worked and that the media had it out for them.

There's a significant problem with this.  Driscoll spent a year or two bragging about his media savvy and that of his wife.  Grace worked in public relations before she became a parent.  So while Justin Dean's initial defense of Mars Hill to Slate when a disciplinary situation with an Andrew became a national headline was to say there was unclear communication this plea-by-way-of-incompetence is not a defense that either of the Driscolls has been particularly demonstrably eager to endorse.

And since the topic of Andrew and Mars Hill from 2012 was the first time Justin Dean's name was likely to have been noticed ... that gets me thinking about something I was able to establish at length, as in about 20,000 words.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

on Justin Dean's remarks to Carey Nieuwhof about people in MH asking about Driscoll's compensation, some numbers to explain why people were interested

For those who heard the interview Justin Dean did with Carey Nieuwhof last month, you might recall Dean mentioning that people at Mars Hill were wanting to know how much Pastor Mark made, and that people on staff were leaking stuff to outsiders.  Dean said it didn't seem appropriate for people to be asking how much Mark Driscoll was making.

But there's a context for the curiosity.  For instance, take this communication published by Warren Throckmorton back in 2014 of content published near the end of May in 2012:

May 25, 2012 missive from Bruskas:

We Really Need Your HelpFrom Pastor David Bruskas:
From Pastor Dave:

As the final days of putting together a budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 are here, some Lead Pastors are wrestling with the reality of letting a few good people go at the local church level. And some of you have had recent conversations with your Lead Pastor regarding upcoming transitions that have been painful. I understand firsthand how hard it is to let a productive staff member go whom your church loves. I also know how hard it is for the people who have been served well to let staff go without a fight. So that makes Lead Pastors twice as vulnerable. They must face the disappointment of the departing staff member and the disappointment of the church. And much like I would expect any good leader to do, many Lead Pastors are fighting hard to keep staff and avoid cuts creatively and boldly. But we need to let go of that fight at this point. Here are a couple of reasons why.

First, we have, in reality, a single budget for all of our 14 churches. So this means for every cent in exceptions that once church receives above the $10 per adult compensation and ministry operation allotment, another church loses the same amount. So the only way for one church to win is for another church to lose. Second, the cost numbers per adult that Pastor Sutton and the Finance Team have given for targets aren’t arbitrary nor merely guidelines. They are hard targets that have been carefully researched and must be met. And if we don’t live within our means, we won’t just face the loss of future expansion opportunities, we will have to scale back our current ministry services significantly. And in the most dire circumstances, shut down a few of our churches. As of today, we are paying extra fees in financing the costs of existing buildings because of our unattractive financial condition to potential lenders. This must change for us even to be good stewards of what we already have. [emphasis added]

A couple of final thoughts. First, we know this isn’t your fault, but the result of past decisions and practices. And while we will provide you a new and helpful global narrative soon to communicate this really tough news to our members, to be critical of the past means that we have to say things publicly that might hurt good leaders with great intentions who served Mars Hill well. Some of whom are still faithfully serving along side us today. And that to us seems like a losing proposition. We also know that this process has had some starts and stops along with some conflicting information. Please forgive us for that. We are continually receiving new financial information that has caused some hiccups along the way.

Second, these are decisions the Executive Elders are making in unity. We have spent countless hours discussing together both the state of our finances and our present staffing model through face to face meetings, emails, texts and phone calls. We have worked through each of your staff rosters in an attitude of prayer thinking through every angle we could imagine to keep as many people as possible. [emphasis added] We grieve the fact that this cut is deep and results in letting go of some very good people who are performing well and helping the church. We have done the same thing with our central team reducing our costs 40%. It is super painful and we are very sympathetic towards you, your team and your church.

And more than anything, we hurt for those who have lost jobs. We would request that you abide by our spending targets per person. Please respect these decisions by not coming to us individually in the hope that they may be changed. Pastor Sutton and I are happy to clarify anything that is confusing. But we can’t devote any more time to hearing appeals. [emphasis added]

We love you all very much and appreciate your devotion to Jesus and His church in this tough season. We do feel loved and supported by you and hope you feel the same from your Executive Elders.

From Pastor Mark:

These are tough seasons. Personally we love our staff. Pastorally we are concerned for our staff. Practically we grieve for our staff. Professionally we don’t have a choice but to reduce our staff. We simply have to live within our means. [emphasis added] If we reduce staff now we can provide lead time for people to find an option while receiving severance. Had we not done this we would have had to reduce staff without severance this summer. We know this is hard but it is better than the alternative. The various leaders making these decisions across four states have prayed and labored over these tough calls. Your Exec Elders have cut first and deepest. Central is reduced 40% and working double time. We are vacating our offices reducing our staff and in contact nearly every hour every day pulling together and seeking Jesus’ wisdom. Your Executive Pastor Sutton is up at 4am everyday praying for our church. Now is a time for everyone to pray and love a lot. Lastly, without being improper we’ve frankly been through tougher times and deeper cuts before. [emphasis added] After 15 years i can say this is not the worst storm we’ve weathered. We will get through it together by Gods grace. Trust me on this fact.

Without being improper, Driscoll let it be known that Mars Hill had been through rougher times and deeper cuts before.  He didn't say what those rougher times or deeper cuts were but it would have been tough to say that times seemed all that rough for Mark Driscoll personally in 2012 on the money side of things.  After all ... there was a 400k advance ...

The $400,000 advance (minus agent's commission) based on the contract signed between Thomas Nelson and On Mission, LLC from February 2011.

That was just the overall amount of the advance to be paid throughout the publication timeline of the book, which was published at the start of 2012.  That doesn't even count royalties from existing publications. 

What's the single most viewed post in the history of this blog?  Analytics has been clear about that on this end, and no less than 12,400ish views came up for the following post:

Assorted numbers indicate ...

Pastor Mark's compensation
2011 $365.642
2012 $503,077
Housing allowance was $200,000

From August 1, 2011 through July 31, 2012 Mark Driscoll gave a total of $46,000 to Mars Hill Church (via On Mission, LLC)

Driscoll's salary of $503,077 was approved in 2012 by the Board of Directors, however, when a budget cut took place in February and Marh 2012 Driscoll voluntarily elected to cut his compensation and finished with a salary rate of $480,769.

So it would seem that a lot of people wanted to know how much Mark Driscoll had been making.  It's fairly easy for someone like Justin Dean to talk about how it was inappropriate for people to want to know that stuff but when the executive leadership lectured the masses and told the rank and file that jobs had to be gutted and there was no room for negotiation or begging for mercy; when Driscoll explained that they had to cut people loose in May 2012 because if they didn't they'd end up cutting people loose without even giving them severance, it turns out this was just days after Driscoll bought his house in Woodway.   If Justin Dean only framed concerns about Driscoll's compensation in terms of implied nosiness on the part of members or staff without a corresponding attention to the systemic layoffs in early 2012 mixed with executive leadership telling people to not plea for clemency and all this while Mark Driscoll rode a wave of popularity with help from Result Source rigging the NYT bestseller list and then buying a million-dollar home in Snohomish county ... then Justin Dean might have a problem of not wanting to fully appreciate that for people who gave of their time and money it could come off like the executive leadership culture was employing a callous double standard.  It's not like we have not since learned a few years past 2012 that even those severance packages had conditional strings attached.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

looking back on some of the polemics associated with not-jazz at Yale and jazz as "politically relevant" over the last couple of years

A while back Robert Blocker had that notice that jazz would not be part of the music program emphasized at Yale.  The case was that the goal was the Western canon and "new music".  Ethan Iverson noted that "new music" probably meant stuff like work by Milton Babbitt (of whose work Iverson is a fan and whose work is ... not high on WtH's favorites).  Iverson presented a case for why conservatories take their conservative route, argued that music students should take what they can, but that the abjection of blues and jazz by Yale was still a huge mistake.  Then again, if anything I wonder if the problem with jazz has been that it has been perceived as being ultimately as elitist as classical music for many Americans.  That's a shame but as I don't listen to the radio the most frequent time I'm apt to end up hearing jazz is as the hold music of America.  I've vented some spleen about that elsewhere at the blog. 
If memory serves, Iverson mentioned that if you were read just one commentary on not-jazz at Yale it'd be this link at New Music Box.  An excerpt:
On the cusp of a new academic year, Robert Blocker, dean of the Yale School of Music, offered a resolution destined, perhaps, to become a standard of its kind. Defending (in The New York Times) his institution’s decision to suspend the activities of its jazz ensemble (and its general de-emphasis of jazz in the curriculum), Blocker appealed to categorization:

Our mission is real clear…. We train people in the Western canon and in new music.
This intimation of musical haves and have-nots—placing jazz outside the vale of a posited Western canon of great works, then and now—is dumb in its own way (Alex Ross and Michael Lewanski were quick to point out how and why). It is also wrong on a deeper and more historically populous level. Both Ross and Lewanski make the eminently correct assertion that a curriculum without jazz is poor training indeed for the wonderfully kleptomaniacal repertoire of classical music. But, even beyond that, to promulgate a canon that does not change and expand its parameters in response to performed reality is, I think, missing the point of music, and missing it badly.
Connoisseurs may also recall last year’s anti-jazz contretemps, culminating with composer-activist John Halle’s broadside against the current state of jazz vis-à-vis progressive politics, which, on its surface, avoided the high-low divide that Taylor repointed and Blocker tripped over. (Halle’s thesis: “It’s been years since jazz had any claim to a counter-cultural, outsider, adversarial status, or communicated a revolutionary or even mildly reformist mindset.”) But at the core of Halle’s article was a related view of score and performance, revealed when he took tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson to task for performing and recording an instrumental version of the old standard “Without a Song”—the original lyrics of which are redolent with, as Halle puts it, “vile Jim Crow racism” (“A darky’s born/ but he’s no good no how / without a song”)—at nearly the same time Henderson was, elsewhere in his music, acknowledging and endorsing the Black Power movement of the 1960s. (“A nadir of obliviousness,” Halle concluded.)
What Blocker’s comment, Taylor’s bravado, and Halle’s litmus test all share is the assumption of a kind of one-way street between intent and performance. Halle’s implication is that, no matter Henderson’s intention, the performance is politically regressive because of the original lyrics—to echo Taylor, even a poor work of art, it seems, is a good deal tougher than we assume that it is. Taylor’s confidence that the score can survive any amount of stylistic contamination nevertheless insinuates that performance, the real-world, real-time expression of style, is ultimately secondary. Blocker’s mission statement implicitly posits a musical regime setting the verities of the written-down, published, and academically vetted canon against the presumably more relativistic and transient pleasures of a performed vernacular.
The supposition throughout is that the composer’s (or lyricist’s) intent remains paramount, that even a thoroughly transformative performance is still just a reiteration of that intent.  There is another possibility, though: the possibility that, the performance can offset the composer’s intent, simply by virtue of who is doing the performing—and how.
In other contexts this error seems to be what Richard Taruskin called the poietic fallacy, simply asserting that authorial intent has to overpower any mitigating or countervailing tendencies in perception of the completed thing.  I.e. what an artist like Schoenberg intended is more important than whether an audience "gets it". If in one case the imputation of sin is to the ignorant folly of an unworthy audience in another case the imputed sin is the failure of even a subversive reinterpretation or refraction of content to atone for the political or ideological sins credited to the creator and his/her original intents as defined by the critique.
Before we get to the John Halle comments there's a side path to take.
A 25-year-old graduate student at Northwestern University is making headlines this week in a dispute with his music professor. For his final exam, Timothy McNair "is required to perform three songs at a June 8 concert as part of his music class," a Chicago television station reports. "One of them contains the writings of American poet Walt Whitman." But the student says he won't perform anything that includes the words of  "one of the most historically racist poets of U.S. history" who "called African Americans baboons" and favored suppressing voting rights. Nothing offends him in the particular song he is being asked to sing save the identity of the artist.
The song isn't racist. Just the guy who wrote its words. (This surprises a lot of people about  Whitman. But it's definitely true. Here's a treatment of Whitman's racial attitudes and their complicated relationship with his work.)
The debate I've followed has focused on whether it would be right to fail the student, as his professor has allegedly threatened, or if he should be permitted to sing something different for the exam. I'll leave that question to folks more familiar with the major, the assignment and its purpose. But I would respectfully suggest that McNair is taking a stand and jeopardizing his academic standing for a terribly flawed idea that would make the world a worse place were it widely accepted.
As for Halle's piece, an excerpt:
Based on the Left’s long history of embracing jazz and jazz musicians, we might feel we have a dog in this fight. But it’s been years since jazz had any claim to a counter-cultural, outsider, adversarial status, or communicated a revolutionary or even mildly reformist mindset. Any doubts on that score can be answered with a trip to the wall of corporate sponsors of jazz in Lincoln Center, followed by a visit to Dizzy’s Coca Cola club, the center’s flagship concert hall.
If the Left is losing its affinity for jazz, that’s not really a problem: plenty of other musical styles can fill the void, and we can argue about whether they succeed in complementing a radical political and economic critique or even whether it’s important that they do so.
The problem for jazz is that few on the left, right, or center care enough about it anymore to argue its merits — political, aesthetic, or otherwise. Moyer is an exception: he clearly cares enough to take the time to write about why it fails to move him emotionally and engage him intellectually.
He’s right to point out the damage done to jazz by generations of uncritical consensus about its greatness, certified by a phalanx of respectability ranging from musicological mandarin Joseph Kerman and CIA operative Henry Pleasants to civil libertarian Nat Hentoff and black nationalist Amiri Baraka (not to mention the master of triangulation himself, Bill Clinton). The aesthetic status of jazz is reinforced through top-down institutional acceptance: the MacArthur awards, the endowed professorships, the Ken Burns documentary, the massive corporate and nonprofit support, and so on.
Halle stopped a few steps short of saying jazz might as well be counter-revolutionary.  Elsewhere at Jacobin he's made a case that classical music is a tradition that provides a way to cultivate modes of thought that can counteract the dread conformities inherent in mass produced mass music but people who actually like rock and pop music might disagree. 
That kind of indirectly touches on what I've experienced with jazz as the hold music of America.  I could spend a lot of time revisiting rifts between the old and new left on high and low culture but I'm not sure I want to burrow around forever in that.  Menand has written somewhere that the rift between the old left and new left could be described as the new left wanting to embrace their critique of late capitalism while also still holding on to their Beatles albums.  For the old left it wasn't possible to simultaneously affirm the evil of capitalism on the one hand while celebrating mass/popular culture on the other.  A corresponding rift about whether the middlebrow could be considered art at all exists on the right, too, and it's another thing I might leave off (possibly forever) until, perhaps, some other time.
One of the potentially fatal pitfalls of art for the sake of art as a dogma is that it insists that we assign a value to art even if nobody's listening to it.  The technological innovations of the last thirty years have introduced ways to access music in ways that make it easier to get but not always easier to monetize.  Paradigms are shifting and all that.  What Scott Timberg's been venting about is how the arts may become the leisure activity of those who can afford it.  It was ever thus, dude.  The arts that have survived long enough to become contested canons have been the arts that flourished in a stable empire of patronage.  Even folk art can fit into this category.  Now by "empire of patronage" I mean simply any socio-economic community that survives long enough for the creation of folk art traditions or more formal art works. 
Take the pyramids of Egypt as an example.  Egypt had to exist long enough as an empire for those works to get built.  That was one of Miyazaki's eloquently direct and simple questions about the nature of art in The Wind Rises. No matter how pure we strive to have our art be it can still ultimately be an instrument in the hands of an empire.  It could almost be proposed that the most troubling question inherent in Miyazaki's film could be not "if" artists who create will make work that can be put into the service of an empire but that artists must ask WHICH empire their art will be a reflection of because, ultimately, they won't really have a choice in the matter. 
If the death of the author means that a work of art once released into the world becomes whatever its reception history is then art being subjected to the instrumental interests of empires is the only fate art that survives can possibly have.  It can be "more" than propaganda if enough people reach a consensus to that effect but it can't be "less" than propaganda in the sense that it will invariably reflect the aspirations and anxieties of a community that either dominates the "mainstream" or aspires to gain a place of recognition and respect within a mainstream.  Those are the two options, historically speaking, but only those who make it into history even get, often belatedly, the opportunity to ... have that decision made for them. Some have described this as the "winner take all" problem in the arts.  It's always been the case and the other historically notable alternate path to contributing art, music or literature that lingers for generations is the work itself survives but the memory of attribution doesn't. I.e. folk art. 
If there's a little quibble to be made with Dwight Macdonald's Masscult and Midcult it's that he could have articulated more forcefully what folk art constitutes in socioeconomic terms.  If high art could be broadly characterized as the art that is made by a famous or known name for financial compensation, folk art could be described as street level, working-class artisanship that is frequently anonymous and that was (this might be the crucial part) done entirely at the artists own time and expense as a leisure activity once the needs of surviving another day or week were taken care of.  We have the technological means to produce and distribute fantastic amounts of art, music and literature but what vocational artists may not be reconciled to is the possibility that this new folk culture may take humanity in the West back to what the situation was before the bubble of the 20th century recorded music industry gave us, a winner-take-all scenario in which folk art flourished because nobody who was making folk art ever expected to be paid for it.
Isn't that what art for the sake of art is about?  Or do the artists who might trumpet that axiom suddenly discover that, faced with the prospect of never being able to earn money creating art, it's not what they want their lives to be full of, after all?  Making jazz a revolutionary force in a Marxist paradigm won't bring back to jazz its connection to the popular or the mainstream.  It might already be foundation music in too many respects, the hold music of America.  That's a tragedy but this would seem like a compelling case for jazz and blues (and country) to be taught with the western canon as the western canon in the United States.  What makes the Yale situation so disappointing in terms of musical idioms and traditions getting preserved is that to snub jazz is to snub a musical tradition that is a century old by now and that predates "new music". 
But then a careful survey of the history of classical music suggests that the boundaries between "high" and "low" have always been wonderfully permeable.  Of course not everyone on any given side of any of those divides wants the boundaries to be permeable, whether it's on the classical side or the jazz side. 

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

a heavy metal version of the allegro molto from Shostakovich string quartet No. 8

HT to Daniel Corr. :)

Roger Scruton wrote a few years back that he taught a music appreciation class, if memory serves, and noticed that the metal fans were the most articulate and thoughtful about their own favorite music and other musical styles.  They were the ones who had the easiest time "getting" the classical tradition.

Well ... sure.  I know that and I'm not even really all that into metal.

When metal guitarists take the time to transform a movement from a Shostakovich string quartet into a fantastic heavy metal performance ...

A point I haven't made here as much as I could is that if there's an illusion in the "ontologically thick" paradigm of music that Gracyk introduced years ago it's a conceptual trap, which is to imagine that a different timbre could in some sense constitute a truly different musical moment.  It "can" be that way in that the dance of the sugar plum fairies on a piano won't mean the same thing as if played on a celesta. 

I love classical guitar music but I'm not with Segovia's dislike of the electric guitar.  Metal renditions of Shostakovich are fine by me.  I like the bluegrass version of AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" better than the original.

at Future Symphony Roger Scruton ruminates on this year's death of Pierre Boulez and proposes PB provided a false path in compositional art

No one would expect Roger Scruton (those who know of him) to lavish praise on Boulez even in the year of the conductor/composer's death.  He DOES have nice things to say about Boulez the conductor but makes a case that Boulez as impresario and polemicist, Boulez as composer, did not give us a whole ton to be hugely grateful for.

Scruton didn't point this out but I will ... most of the world didn't pay attention to the death of Pierre Boulez because David Bowie's death was considered more culturally significant the world over.  Now if Roger Scruton's not happy about that EITHER, fair enough.  But it's worth juxtaposing the death of Boulez and the death of Bowie to help reinforce a point Scruton has been making, that Boulez was the smiling emperor sitting on his self-established throne but that beyond the realm of his partisans people might not even know his name. 

I can't recall where but I read that Boulez once declared that pop music was providing the wrong answer for the right question.  If anything I would venture to suggest that twelve-tone could be taken in the same way.  If the musical vocabulary and syntax of late Romantic music had devolved into formulaic kitsch by the end of the 19th century the way to revitalize that vocabulary did not lay in the biggie-sizing propensities of Mahler or Strauss but in the fragmentary re-appropriations of those chords and tunes into nascent ragtime, blues and jazz.  After all, while a retrograde of a twelve-tone row may have its sound the tonal ambiguities in blues could get you a riff that could be played forwards and then backwards but recontextualized with different harmonies along the way. Where I suspect I would differ from Scruton is that while he's been less than thrilled with pop music in the last century and loves Wagner I loathe Wagner's music but would suggest that the kinds of harmonic and melodic idioms Wagner played with are more likely preserved in some fashion within the vocabulary of popular music than in even a performance of Wagner that was conducted by Boulez.

Which might do a better job preserving the grandiosity and ambition of Wagner's music for someone like Scruton?  Pierre Boulez' pli selon pli?  Or the Who live at Leeds? 

Monday, April 04, 2016

contesting S. D. Kelly at Mere Orthodoxy, let's set Derrida aside. Trump could be explained by Jacques Ellul's writing on propaganda and on the activity of the populist agitator

Translated from the French by Konrad Kellen & Jean Lerner
Vintage Books Edition, February 1973
Copyright (c) 1965 by Alfred A Knopf Inc.
ISBN 0-394-71874-7

Another very curious and recent phenomenon (confirmed by several American sociologists) is the appearance of "agitators". The pure agitator, who stirs public opinion in a "disinterested" fashion, functions as a nationalist. he does not appeal to a doctrine or a principle, he does not propose specific reforms. He is the "true" prophet of the American Way of Life.  Usually he is against the New Deal and for laissez-faire liberalism; against plutocrats, internationalists, and socialists--bankers and Communists alike are the "hateful other party in spite of which well-informed `I' survives." The agitator is especially active in the most unorganized groups of the United States. He uses the anxiety psychoses of the lower middle class, the neo-proletarian, the immigrant, the demobilized soldier, people who are not yet integrated into American society or who have not yet adopted ready-made habits and ideas. The agitator uses the American Way of Life to provoke anti-Semitic, anti-Communist, anti-Negro, and xenophobic currents of opinion. he makes group act in the illogical yet coherent, Manichaean universe of propaganda, of which we will have more to say. The most remarkable thing about this phenomenon is that these agitators do nor work for a political party it is not clear which interests they serve. They are neither Capitalists nor Communists but they deeply influence American public opinion, and their influence may crystalize suddenly in unexpected forms.

Unexpected forms could be what we're seeing not just with the popularity of Trump but also of Sanders. Let's consider for a moment that Ellul's description of the populist agitator in American politics could, with a few caveats I hope are obvious, account for the popularity of both candidates previously mentioned.

Both could be carrying on the tradition of what Ellul described as populist agitation without being strictly Capitalist or Communist, but both can appeal strongly to those who do not feel integrated into the "mainstream" or are persuaded that institutional powers within the mainstream have rigged the game against them.  By contrast, a candidate like Clinton would be appealing to those who in many respects are integrated into the mainstream of American society and are mostly at ease with the power dynamics in play.

Now, certainly, Trump fits this description Ellul had for the populist agitator far more readily and ostentatiously than Sanders.  Since Trump has been a reality TV celebrity for years he even fits into Ellul's description of propagandist as the modern era's newest form of aristocrat.  But what Ellul could not have anticipated is that an agitator within the realm of propaganda could also be a plutocrat. He also did not necessarily seem to anticipate the degree to which populist agitation can foment in a blue state as well as a red state variety.  He certainly foresaw the cultivation of propagandistic idioms and etiological myths of the sort we're seeing on the left and right, though, and also proposed that once these foundational myths took root that those embracing them could endorse the sacred tents of democracy in theory while emotionally, intellectually and spiritually aspiring to a functional totalitarian state, one in which "only" the favored party operated at every level of governance. 

The fan bases for Trump and Sanders respectively, could seem more different on paper than the register of their emotional reactions might demonstrate in advocacy.  Propaganda isn't just about the focal point of emotional loyalties, it's about the all-consuming all-explaining mythic power of a common narrative.  In this respect socialism and capitalism fulfill the same ideological role in the mind of someone immersed in a propagandistic society.  Ellul's warning was that it didn't matter which of these two ideologies you embraced in a society saturated with propaganda (i.e. marketing of all kinds as well as overt political propaganda).  The emotional reaction you would have would be to opt out in fatalistic resignation (hi there! :-) ) or you buy whole hog into one of the competing teams and drink every last gallon of their kool-aid.  Those are the people, more or less, stumping for Sanders or Trump in Ellul's description of the long term sociological impact of propaganda in contemporary states.

Now regular readers already know I've been referencing Ellul's work on the propagandist and propaganda as a lens through which to examine the public career and leadership approach of Mark Driscoll.  Ellul foresaw a substantial risk to the church if it aligned itself with propaganda as a political weapon; and looked back on eras of the church in which its pragmatic alliance with establishment power drained it of vitality and truth.  If the Religious Right has been discovering it has lost its vitality and influence this may be because by aligning itself to establishment interests in the way the mainline Protestant churches did a century earlier, it's coming to a comparably pathetic fate.  Those whose definition of the Christian faith are defined first and foremost through the partisanship of left and right have sold out Christianity to the power-mongering of American politics.  Both sides deserve abject failure there.  And to the extent that the fan bases of Trump and Sanders embrace populist agitators whose policy records do not necessarily give any indication of policy competence on some difficult issues, these respective groups may see themselves as drastically different because of planks in a platform without seeing emotional and social correspondence.  Sure, Led Zeppelin and Justin Bieber are different but the off-the-chain fan can be the same whatever the object of affection may be. 

Based on what Ellul had to say about propagandists the "best case" scenario is that the propagandist is knowingly dishonest; the worst case scenario is if the propagandist genuinely believes his own hype.  That person's going to be so divorced from reality at every level that they're quite possibly just "gone". 


Something that's come to mind since first publishing the post is a comment from D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones in his sermons on the Sermon on the Mount.  When discussing the phrase "salt of the earth" Martyn Lloyd-Jones mentioned (and this was circa 1959-1960) that if the Church spent most of its time denouncing communism all communists would be likely to take away from that is simply noting that Christians liked to denounce communism. He warned that if the Church constantly denounces a subsection of a society they are closing the door to that group of people, which hardly seemed being the salt of the earth. Sin can be as terrible in the capitalist as it is in the communist and both need the gospel.  They're both sinners in the end.  While the Cold War may be over, the caveat seems no less pertinent since debates on the viability of socialism and capitalism haven't exactly vanished.

revisiting Grace Driscoll's 2015 "I've never seen him as a misogynist ... " in light of renewed availability of Mark Driscoll's description of women's ministry as resembling "juggling knives".

Brian Houston: “So when in Australia your visits started to rise to the floor in secular Australia that word misogynistic. Uh, started being thrown around fairly liberally. I looked it up in the Oxford Dictionary and it says, “dislike of, contempt for, or engrained prejudice against women.” Are you, were you ever misogynist?” (35:35-36:55)

One of the classics of Christian contributions to social media anything would be consulting a dictionary definition so as to establish in advance something does or does not fit the bill for the selected definition.

Mark Driscoll: “No, but because of things I have said foolishly, that impression is entirely my fault, and I have no one to blame but myself. That’s now how I feel, that’s not what I think, um, but for certain, have uh, allowed that to become an impression.” (36:56-37:15)

Brian Houston: “Sure, and those are things you said when you were in your late 20’s.” (37:16-37:18)
Because ten months or so away from being 30 is kind of the same as 19 when you're past 40?

Mark Driscoll: “Yeah, and I have a heart to see, part of this Pastor Brian is, young men aren’t going to church, young men aren’t going to college, young men aren’t marrying women young, young men are not raising their children, and I have such a deep burden and passion to see men. You know, 1 Corinthians 13 when I was a child I thought like a child I spoke like a child I acted like a child, when I became a man I put childish ways behind me. I want to compel young men to grow up to take responsibility and sometimes in doing that I have communicated that in a way that demeans women and that’s not helpful and that’s not right and in the grace of God I need to repent and do better at that. But I still want, I mean no one would say that young men are in the western world highly impressive and we’re all encouraged. There’s a lot of work to be done. And so, I regret the times that I have not communicated in such a way trying to compel them and up and it seems I’m pushing the women down and that’s my fault.” (37:19-38:20)

All of that suggests that after decades of blue collar shtick Driscoll tipped his hand and revealed he was after white collar money in the end, maybe?  Half a century ago the unskilled labor market was more robust and the advantages of that unskilled labor market were not so evenly distributed across all young men.

Bailing on his own church rather than comply with the restoration plan makes it hard to see how, if Driscoll wants young men to learn responsibility, he's leading by example.

Brian Houston: “That’s how you feel. You can change moving forward?” (38:21-38:23)
Mark Driscoll: “I hope to with the Grace of God yeah, absolutely.” (38:24-38:27)
Brian Houston: “Good.” (38:28)

Grace Driscoll: “I mean, I’ve never seen him as a misogynist, and never even thought that him of that at all. So, I’ve witnessed the opposite and so, and I’ve known him 27 years And so I can say yes there were methods that were wrong in the beginning but I knew his heart.” (38:29-38:46)

So Mark said he sometimes tried to compel young men to grow up in a way that demeaned women, followed by Grace saying she never saw him as a misogynist and that some methods were wrong in the beginning but she knew his heart.

Mark conceded he said things in a way that demeaned women and pushed them down.  Okay, that seems to have been referencing the William Wallace II stuff from about 2000. 

But what about later in the decade?  What about 2008?
February 5, 2008
Pastor Mark Driscoll

Part 2: The Devil

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. [emphasis added] 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 the 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 her. 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 the 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 just rip on their husbands in the name of prayer requests. Happens all the time. Happens all the time. [emphasis added] 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 the 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 and 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. 

Yep, the point was thoroughly made, and while Grace Driscoll is welcome to insist for the record she's never seen anything her husband's done as indicating misogyny of any kind there's the old saying that love is blind, isn't there?

In light of how some have voiced complaints about the pastoral, er, counseling approach of some leaders from the days of old ... a person could ask whether or not certain guys in eldership at Mars Hill probing about the sex lives of other pastors to the point of declaring that a whole ton of guys in ministry aren't satisfied with their sex lives might qualify as a case of being a busybody.

Because, once again, robots.txt are in effect for some Resurgence content ...
Most pastors I know do not have satisfying, free, sexual conversations and liberties with their wives. At the risk of being even more widely despised than I currently am, I will lean over the plate and take one for the team on this. It is not uncommon to meet pastors' wives who really let themselves go; they sometimes feel that because their husband is a pastor, he is therefore trapped into fidelity [emphasis added], which gives them cause for laziness. A wife who lets herself go and is not sexually available to her husband in the ways that the Song of Songs is so frank about is not responsible for her husband's sin, but she may not be helping him either.

So ... in light of his 2008 complaint his 2006 axiom seems a bit weird.  If it was an example of satanic gossip and busybodying that women in the church knew of impotent husbands and talked about it what was the deal with Driscoll in 2006 at Resurgence publicly announcing that "most pastors I know ..." were unhappy with their sex lives?  Driscoll said that satanic gossipy busybodies had to know everything about everyone in 2008 ... and yet how did Mark Driscoll himself end up exempt from being guilty of this?  And what was the deal with saying women decided that thanks to marriage their husbands were locked into fidelity so the wife could let herself go? 

No, he did not discuss Gayle Haggard.  He merely used the Haggard scandal from ten years back as a pretext to jump on his soap box about his pet topics.  One of those topics, it turned out, was sounding off on how many pastors he knew that did not have satisfying sex lives with their wives.  But then, in the context of Mark Driscoll's fusillade in 2008 against women who were satanic gossips, why on earth was it Mark Driscoll's business, in his own estimation, to ask "most pastors" he knew whether they were getting as much sex as they wanted from their wives?  If Mark Driscoll found it was not uncommon to meet pastors' wives "who really let themselves go" all that could indicate is they did not meet Mark Driscoll's standards of beauty.

Yet didn't Driscoll spend a decade or so saying stuff like "Guys, you're wife is your standard of beauty!  If she's skinny you're into skinny and if she's not skinny you're into not skinny."  Driscoll couldn't be bothered to live out his own advice with respect to that advice and the length of his wife's hair, of course, but then as we've noted here over the years Mark Driscoll has a rather career-spanning pattern of binding others to precepts and axioms he doesn't necessarily see fit to follow himself. 

So maybe Grace Driscoll really thinks her husband's never been a misogynist.  Maybe she agreed with him every single time Mark Driscoll decided that someone who wanted to be friends with her was really just a satanic gossipy busybody.  But then if we take Mark Driscoll's 2006 claim at face value, when he said "most pastors I know ... " this seems to strongly imply he made a point of asking most pastors he knew how happy they were with their sex lives.  The irony of such a man complaining that he'd hear women in the church talking about impotent husbands might be difficult to overstate.

Driscoll tweets a March bromide from Spurgeon about fighting sheep (i.e fighting Christians are self-evident contradictions). Okay then ... what did Driscoll say in 2001 about fighting, again?
Pastor Mark Driscoll Verified account
"Fighting sheep are strange animals, and fighting Christians are self-evident contradictions." - Spurgeon
2:50 PM - 8 Mar 2016

Nothing like an old Spurgeon axiom.  `twas nearly a month ago.  If Driscoll's love for Spurgeon was something extending back over the last two decades, it's worth asking whether this kind of sentiment would be appropriate, even for a guy who was playing a character:

William Wallace II
posted 01-06-2001 09:01 PM

I love to fight. It's good to fight. Fighting is what we used to do before we all became pussified. Fighting is a lost art form. Fighting is cheaper than medication and more effective than counseling. Fighting always wins over compromise. Fighting is what passionate people do instead of killing. So log on, fight away. And if you are reading this and talking to yourself log on you coward and get in the ring.

Ah, yes, well, he feels differently now, right?  The fighting Christian was clearly not that self-evident contradiction to Mark Driscoll back in 2000-2001.

What has become clear, particularly for those who took the time to cross reference "Using Your Penis" to the lament Mark Driscoll had early in Real Marriage about his frigid wife, is that while Mark Driscoll engaged in character play in his time as William Wallace II, there was a weird amount of overlap between the persona and the history of the person.

William Wallace II
 Member   posted 01-18-2001 11:13 AM             
 Christian pornography. Christian phone sex. Christian cyber-sex. Christian lap dances. 

 Someone recently asked me about these issues. And, they are quite valid.

 The problem with many unfaithful unmanly unmen is that they have heads filled with desires and dreams, but they marry a Christian women raised on a steady diet of gnosticism (so she hates her body) psychology (so she thinks too much before she climbs into bed) and guilt ridden don't have sex because it's a dirty nasty thing that God hates and makes you a slut youth group propaganda from hell/Family Books.

 So the poor guy is like a starving man who is told he can only eat once ever couple weeks and his restaurant only has one crummy unspiced bland item on the menu and he either eats it or starves to death.

 Bummer for that guy.  ...

Of course William Wallace II was speaking hypothetically, right?  To go by the stories recounted in Real Marriage there was apparently something Mark Driscoll had not yet learned about his wife.

Real Marriage
Mark and Grace Driscoll
Copyright (c) 2012 by On Mission, LLC
Thomas Nelson
ISBN 978-1-4002-0383-3
ISBN 978-1-4041-8352-0 (IE)
page 9-10
To be honest, fornicating was fun. I liked fornicating. To stop fornicating was not fun. But eventually Grace and I stopped fornicating, got engaged, and were married between our junior and senior years of college.

I assumed that once we were married we would simply pick up where we left off sexually and make up for last time. After all, we were committed Christians with a relationship done God's way.
But God's way was a total bummer. My previously free and fun girlfriend was suddenly my frigid and fearful wife. She did not undress in front of me, required teh lights to be off on the rare occasions we were intimated, checked out during sex, and experience da lot of physical discomfort because she was tense. [emphasis added]

Keep that emphasized material in mind as we go.
Before long I was bitter against God and Grace. It seemed to me as if they had conspired to trap me. I had always been the "good guy" who turned down women for sex. In my twisted logic, I had been holy enough, and god owed me. I felt God had conned me by telling me to marry Grace, and allowed Grace to rule over me since she was controlling our sex life. [emphasis added] I loved Grace, but in the bedroom I did not enjoy her and wondered how many years I couild white-knuckle fidelity. ... We desperately needed help but didn't know where to turn. Bitterness and condemnation worsened.

page 121
... When we married, I (Mark) tended toward sex as god. I was a newer Christian who had accumulated most of his knowledge about sex from culture, locker-room talk, and sinning sexually with a few young women. Conversely, Grace was raised in a home that was religiously conservative when it came to sex, had sinned sexually, and had been sinned against sexually. She considered sex gross. For her I was too much sexually. For me she was too little sexually. We made very little progress for many years until we had spent considerable time talking through our sexual history and beliefs, working together through many hours in the Bible and Christian books to arrive at a unified view of sex as gift.  Once we came to the same place in our thinking about sex, we began to work as allies instead of enemies. Our marriage has never been the same since, and our sex gets better all the time.

When we got married, I (Grace) didn't understand the physical and emotional aspects of sex for men. It seemed with his high sex drive that was all Mark wanted from me and that he didn't appreciate anything else I did. His drive seemed to get stronger the less we had sex, and I wondered if it was an idol to him or if that was normal for me. I later realized it was partially a real physical need, not an obsession, since he wasn't masturbating  or getting relief some other way, which I am thank for. I read somewhere that if you have sex more, it actually decreases the necessity for frequent sex over time for most men. I tried that but it didn't seem to change anything for Mark.

So ... we can't be sure that "Bummer for that guy" was necessarily hypothetical.  We can't be sure that in that moment there wasn't at least a little bit of self-pity going into that character. 

And if Driscoll didn't love to fight back in 2000-2001 Pussified Nation wouldn't even have gotten a tenth as long as it got, would it?

Of course once somebody got wind that William Wallace II was Mark Driscoll and wanted to throw down with him for real all of a sudden people took themselves too seriously and couldn't get that it was all in jest.  There is some proverb somewhere about how it's like throwing around firebrands to deceive a neighbor and then when confronted with this to plead "Was I not joking?

Driscoll's tweeted a bromide in the past about how forgiveness doesn't mean you can't call the cops if a crime has been committed.  Okay, well, what if the RICO suit were somehow a manifestation of that kind of teaching about forgiveness bearing some fruit? How comfortable will Mark Driscoll be to be on the receiving end of "We love ya, but here's what we're doin'" when it involves a civil RICO complaint?

It was ten years ago, in Confessions of a Reformission Rev, that Mark Driscoll admitted he wrote using the pseudonym William Wallace II.  He's expressed regret about methods but has he definitively repudiated the substance of what he was saying? 

a little old, but a riff on the rise of immersive content on TV as a substitute for institutional religions, courtesy of Charlie Collier

Charlie Collier is, obviously, not a "disinterested" party here!   But ... with that caveat in mind ... it's interesting to read the proposal that immersive entertainment may be up while loyalty to more traditional/institutional religion has waned.


A third cultural shift affecting today’s television centers on the fact that, statistically speaking, Americans are moving away from institutional religion. Research suggests that this, too, affects our viewership choices, pushing us toward more immersive content.

As recently as the 1980s, according to the General Social Survey, more than nine in 10 Americans identified with some formal religion. Back then, very few people – only five to eight percent of the population – described themselves as religiously unaffiliated. Today, according to Pew Research, roughly a fifth of all Americans, and fully a third of millennials, say they do not identify with any formal religion. (Of course, many Americans today are seeking spiritual connections outside of religious institutions, so it’s worth nothing that while religiosity is, statistically speaking, declining, spirituality doesn’t seem to be).

This shift affects our programming choices in that many of us seem to be using immersive dramas to help us process issues or questions that we previously may have navigated through the more formal venues of religion. So as these institutions, even to a small degree, recede from prominence, we as individuals are taking a more direct and active role in navigating the world. What we consume on television is playing an increasingly important role in personal processes of discovery and acclimatization.

 immersive content will not only prevail, it will become even more prized and more important over time, as the last decade has shown us. That consumers are engaging so fully with these shows makes them all the more valuable to paying advertisers and to brand-building platforms looking to differentiate through the quality of engagement with an audience.

Or as a Calvin & Hobbes strip put it decades ago, when Calvin asks Hobbes what Marx meant saying religion was the opiate of the masses a television bears a thought, "It meant Marx hadn't seen anything yet." While we can cuckle at the proverbial medieval scholastic debates on how many angels could dance on the head of a pin it's a little tough to chuckle too hard if today's pop culture debates can center around ... h ... yeah ... Batman vs Superman?  Captain America vs Iron Man.  Freddy vs Jason.  I mean, have we really changed that much from a millennium ago?