Saturday, June 04, 2016

Orthocuban on platitudes, preaching and panic-a riff on insulting platitudes as a hortatory approach in watchblogging and their commenters


But, the worst challenge to a priest/pastor/preacher is the challenge of beginning to use platitudes. What is a platitude? A platitude is, “a remark or statement, especially one with a moral content, that has been used too often to be interesting or thoughtful.” Did you catch that? It is a statement that has been used, “… too often to be interesting or thoughtful.”

In the activity of blogging, particularly in the subcategory of blogging that people call watchblogging, platitudes are legion.

LOL, Don't drink the Kool-aid
Wake up, sheeple!
It's all about the money.

Obregon also wrote:

The problem with platitudes is that quite often they are half-truths. Sometimes, they are even fully false. But, they have the sound of a wise saying when they are actually misleading, but correct-sounding, clichés.

Of course Obregon was blogging about pastoral responsibility and the avoidance of platitudes that have the appearance of wisdom but are in the end merely platitudes.  Here that's not what I tend to look at.  Most of the platitudes about how you should be true to yourself or let your freak flag fly are idiotic to me because the people who have shouted those platitudes have tended to be the kinds of conformists who parade their conformity as individualism.

Not without cause did South Park send up Goth kids as the kids who complain about conformists while they wear the same black clothes and listen to the same bands, not recognizing their own capacity for conformity. Nothing's more boringly American than the motto "I rebel".  It's one of the reasons Rogue One doesn't look that promising to me.  Been there.  Done that. Because we already have the platitude from American popular cinema that the greatest non-conformist rebel could be the greatest champion for a great cause with a little more discipline.  Obstinately rebelling for the right reasons is the foundation myth of the United States, after all. 

One of the platitudes about cult leaders is that they are charismatic an win people over because they want something.  But that's not necessarily true.  Jacques Ellul's observation about propagandists was that they can't start from nothing. They have to accurately observe and cater to a stereotype.  Stereotypes simply do not come out of thin air.  Now here in the United States we have red-state stereotypes (from and about) and we have blue state stereotypes (from and about).  What an able demagogue can do is cater to these stereotypes and whether it's the angry white radicals or reactionaries we can get ourselves a Sanders or a Trump whose agitating lingo can inspire the herds. 

Well, unless you're supporting one or the other and then you're not part of a herd of lemmings, you're advocating for the voice of the people, of course. 

In the realm of watchblogging the temptation to not merely resort to but to actively think in platitudes is almost unavoidable. No, strike that, the temptation cannot be avoided at all.  If you choose to interact with people or their ideas at the level of platitudes you've lost.  The terrible truth about those who think in terms of platitudes when dealing with those they believe are mired in platitudes is there is no exit. 

One of the most popular hortatory methods in watchblogging, whether by bloggers or commenters, can summed up as the "WAKE UP SHEEPLE! STOP DRINKING THE KOOL-AID" school of ... persuasion.  Notice I didn't say "school of thought" but "school of persuasion".  I've seen this one resorted to so many times it's not even worth it trying to recount the number of times it's been used.  This method has no demonstrable success but the power of the platitudes that drive it seems beyond estimation.  This hortatory method hinges on the sincere belief that if you insult people for their loves and loyalties long enough by directly labeling them as idiots that they will all of a sudden see the light, abandon their foolish ways and errant loyalties and become more sane and human, in other words ... more like you. The only power this method seems to have is the sense of power the person has who uses it, the moral gratification one can bathe in resorting to it.

I've loathed this approach for a long time.  I was a former Mars Hill member and attender and I can tell you that this "wake up sheeple" approach not only never worked, it inspired people to double down on their loyalties.  One of the paradoxes in the history of Mars Hill is that insulting platitudes may have done as much to cement people in their loyalty to Mars Hill as anything Mark Driscoll might have said from the pulpit.  We can't know for certain but as a former member who had a ten year connection to the church, more or less, it seems to me that derogatory platitudes can inspire people to double down on an identity and even make it a matter of pride.  For some folks that identity might be found in the label "gay" and for others it might be "member of Mars Hill" but the psychological dynamic of doubling down on an identity in response to insults can be the same.

five haiku on conformities, for the weekend (okay six)

if you tell people
"don't drink the kool-aid" they will
drink more, to spite you

in all the ages
sheeple don't wake up if you
yell "wake up sheeple!"

You can't tell a stag
in rutting season that there's
more to life than sex.

Stampeding lemmings
tell more of humanity
than we wish were true

Swarms have no wisdom
unless they are flying to
the same hive we are

There were originally three, thus the link, but then I threw in two more so it's now five. 

UPDATE 06-05-2016 02.34pm
once the crease is made
paper can't be unfolded
choose your fold with care

Friday, June 03, 2016

Dr. Liam Goligher, over at Aimee Byrd's blog, explains why complementarians who argue for eternal subordination to defend a gender norm are heretics who collapse the economic trinity into the ontological trinity

Some of us Reformed types who aren't officially scholars have been saying that complementarians who are set on eternal subordination of the Son seem eager to reverse-engineer the very nature of the Trinity itself to prove a point about gender roles in America, and that this is at best a heretical gambit.

Well, it's not like there's just me who has expressed this idea.  Aimee Byrd features a guest writer who lately posted part 1 of ... you can read this excerpt if you're not inspired to go follow the link:

the teaching of some contemporary evangelical scholars and pastors: they are presenting a novel view of God; a different God than that affirmed by the church through the ages and taught in Scripture. This is serious. It comes down to this; if they are right we have been worshipping an idol since the beginning of the church; and if they are wrong they are constructing a new deity - a deity in whom there are degrees of power, differences of will, and diversity of thought. Because, mark this, to have an eternally subordinate Son intrinsic to the Godhead creates the potential of three minds, wills and powers. What they have done is to take the passages referring to the economic Trinity and collapse them into the ontological Trinity. [emphasis mine]
I am an unashamed biblical complementarian. The original use of that word took its cue from the biblical teaching about the differences yet complementarity of human beings made in the image of God while not running away from the challenges of applying biblical exhortations for wives to submit to their own husbands in the Lord or the prohibition on ordination for women in the church. With only those two caveats, as Calvin told John Knox, women may be princes in the state, but not pastors in the church. But this new teaching is not limiting itself to that agenda. It now presumes to tell women what they can or cannot say to their husbands, and how many inches longer their hair should be than their husbands!  They, like the Pharisees of old are going beyond Scripture and heaping up burdens to place on believers' backs, and their arguments are slowly descending into farce
They are building their case by reinventing the doctrine of God, and are doing so without telling the Christian public what they are up to. What we have is in fact a departure from biblical Christianity as expressed in our creeds and confessions. Out of that redefinition of God their teaching is being used to promote a new way of looking at human relationships which is more like Islam than Christianity [emphasis mine]

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Mark Driscoll fields the question about "the Person Who Claims to be a Christian but Never Changes", if this is a measure for self and not others can Mark Driscoll "pass" his own religious test?

James 1:27 (ESV)
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained.

Now, sure an apostle who wrote an epistle that ended up in the Bible could describe religion in positive terms in a religious compilation of canonical texts but Mark Driscoll's been insisting upon the entirely pejorative use of "religion". Even though Mark Driscoll Ministries is where you can read the guy talking about all kinds of religious subjects he's still committed to being too-cool-for-school on "religion".
Pastor Mark Driscoll 
What About the Person Who Claims to be a Christian but Never Changes?
Mark Driscoll

Matthew 7:22–23
On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?” And then will I declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” Matthew 7:22–23

People tend to be religious by nature, which means they think they can justify themselves in one of three ways.

First, loosely religious people assume they are living a good enough life and that no spiritual devotion or extra effort is required on their behalf [emphasis added] for God to be pleased with them when they stand before God at the end of this life.

See, it's interesting that Driscoll described the loosely religious people in this way because "good enough" was how Mark Driscoll has described himself.  Driscoll used to obliquely say of himself and Grace, "We broke some rules ... but God is faithful.  Which "rules" wasn't too hard to figure out for anyone who was paying attention but not everyone was, so the clarification, it seems, had to eventually be official.  And, along the way, Driscoll trotted out how he'd been "good enough".

Real Marriage: the truth about sex, friendship and life together
Mark and Grace Driscoll
Thomas Nelson
copyright (c) 2012 by On Mission, LLC
ISBN 978-1-4041-8352-0
PAGE 9-10
Before long I was bitter agaisnt 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, since I had only slept with a couple of women I was in relationships with, 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]

PAGES 14-15
Although I loved our people and my wife, this only added to my bitterness. I had a church filled with single women who were asking me how they could stop being sexually ravenous and wait for a Christian husband; then I'd go home to a wife whom I was not sexually enjoying.

So there's that.

Now let's get to the other kind of religious people.

 Second, secular religious people work very hard at some social cause because they think that they’re good people and need to overcome the evil of bad people who are ruining the world.

Although even secularists can behave in religious ways it seems worth noting that religious people ca work hard at a social cause because they think they're good people and need to overcome the evil of bad people who are running the world.  Driscoll must surely know from experience how eagerly even religious conservatives can get into this social cause stuff in the conviction that they're good people who need to overcome evil because ...  how else does William Wallace II get explained?

Mark Driscoll,  Zondervan
copyright (c) 2006 by Mark Driscoll
ISBN-13: 978-0-310-27016-4
350-1,000 people
At this time, our church also started an unmoderated discussion board on our website, called Midrash, and it was being inundated with postings by emerging-church type feminists and liberals. I went onto the site and posted as William Wallace II, after the great Scottish man portrayed in the movie Braveheart, and attacked those who were posting. [emphasis added] It got insane, and thousands of posts were being made each day until it was discovered that it was me raging like a madman under the guise of a movie character. One guy got so mad that he actually showed up at my house to fight me one night around 3 a.m.

So even within the functional parameters of the second type of religious person Driscoll's got a publicly documentable participatory role in that, too.  So that third type Driscoll mentioned this week ...

Third, devoutly religious people work very hard at keeping the rules of a particular religion in an effort to justify themselves as good and obedient people in the sight of God.

It's not that different from "two".  It could even be construed as the religiously observant variation of category 2 with its "secularist religious people".  By this point if you hadn't caught that 2 and 3 were basically the same then this next hat trick might sail by without notice, the part where Driscoll uses a pejorative definition of "religious people" being among the people of God, as if by some alchemy some of the people of God are currently atheist:

Religious people have lived among the people of God since the beginning of salvation history. Because human beings are very good at deluding themselves and each other, this is something we can expect to continue until Jesus returns. Jesus warned us that this would be the case (Matt. 13:36–43). And in Matthew 7, Jesus addresses this very issue. ...

There is, of course, no middle ground.  You're for or against.  Driscoll went on to discuss how we should beware of false prophets:

Beware the False Prophets
Earlier in the chapter (7:15
–20), Jesus warns his disciples to beware of false prophets who are like wolves in sheep’s clothing. In discerning who these false prophets may be, Jesus says that they’ll be known by their fruits. To know these false prophets by their fruit is to know them by the quality of their life and how it measures up to the kingdom ethics espoused by Jesus Christ. For some people, their bad fruit is quite evident, but for others, it’s not. Some are like wolves with sheep’s clothing, which means that some false prophets live and breathe within the church and give the appearance of being Christians when in reality they are not.

The truth is that people may fool us for a while, but eventually their deeds will expose them, even if they make it to the last day. In verses 21–23, Jesus explains, saying, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Not everyone who calls Jesus “Lord” is a legitimate disciple. There are fakes out there. This statement acts like a summary statement, which is then illustrated in verses 22–23.


Which is true, and it raises again for us a question about what deeds of Mark Driscoll and those associated with him ended up being exposed.  How about the matter of citation errors in his previously published work?  How many corrections had to be made in books where in their first print editions not everyone whose work was cited did get footnotes?  What about Result Source being contracted to rig a #1 spot for Real Marriage on The New York Times Bestseller list?  We'll get back to that in a bit.

“In That Day”? In What Day?
In verse 22, Jesus begins by saying, “Many will say to me in that day.” The phrase “in that day” is basically a way of saying “at the final judgment.” It is used throughout Scripture in different ways to describe the coming judgment of God, with the final day of judgment at the end of time ( cf. Mal. 3:17–18; Isa. 2:20, 10:20; Matt. 24:35, 26:29; Luke 10:12
; 2 Thess. 1:7–10).

What is it that these people will say to Jesus on that day?

“In that day” the “many” will address Jesus and say, “Lord, Lord.” “Lord” (kyrios) can be used as a customary address to a superior, like “master,” “sir,” or “lord,” but in this instance, it means much more. The use of “Lord” twice in a row demonstrates a level of fervency on behalf of the “many” who are calling out to Jesus. This double usage of kyrios within this context implies that the “many” are not being overtly polite to Jesus but are rather calling out to him as the gatekeeper into heaven (cf. 25:37, 44). This is why D.A. Carson said commenting on this passage, “Thus the warning and rebuke would take on added force when early Christians read the passage from their postresurrection perspective.”

What’s striking about the fervency by which the “many” approach Jesus is that their words   seem to imply that they already know their fate, “But Jesus! Didn’t we do this, this, and this?” They ask in a way that assumes a positive answer from Jesus, “Of course you did those things!” There’s no reason for us to think that they didn’t prophesy, cast out demons, and do mighty works in Jesus’ name. All these things could be done by both false and true believers alike (Matt. 7:15; cf. Matt. 12:27; Mark 9:38–41; Acts 19:13
–16). There’s no reason to doubt that they performed deeds that were spectacular, whether by the power of Satan or God. But powerful works are no sure sign of a child of God.

“I Never Knew You”
After the “many” claim the feats they accomplished in Jesus’ name, Jesus doesn’t mince words in his final declaration to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (cf. Psa. 6:8). There are two observations that can be made from Jesus’ words.

First, Jesus says, “I never knew ([gnosko, because he can demonstrate he's got Greek font]) you.” Within biblical language the word “know” means more than just knowing facts about someone or something, it “denotes a relationship.” Jesus isn’t saying that he never met these people or didn’t know who they were. He is saying that he never knew them in a way that made them a part of the true family of God.

Second, even though “the many” performed miraculous feats, Jesus calls them “workers of lawlessness.” All their religious activity was “merely a veneer on a life fundamentally opposed to the will of God.” In other words, this tells us that the “many” had some sort of lax view of God’s law and were opposed to upholding it.


So if we turned around and applied this to Mark Driscoll himself, just because he's shared stories over the last twenty years about how God verbally instructed him to do X, Y and Z doesn't ensure his election.  King Saul was appointed by God to be king over Israel but died rejected by the Lord.  Even if Mark Driscoll has somewhat notoriously said "I see things" just because you "see things" doesn't mean that at the end of days Jesus automatically has to say "I know you."

Now had Driscoll submitted to the restorative discipline he said the Board proposed for him at Mars Hill back in 2014 instead of pulling up stakes and leaving and only getting around to saying "God said I could leave" in 2015, then Mark Driscoll would be better-situated to instruct here.  As it stands, he's gone and left the state and has been preparing to launch a new church without having lived out in his own example the precepts he taught as binding on others with regard to restorative discipline in a church community.  This doesn't necessarily mean Mark Driscoll's not a professing Christian, just that it seems a tad hypocritical for him to talk to the public at large about how all these other folks have religious activity that was veneer. There are a few words we won't quote verbatim but Driscoll made sure to discuss the Great Exchange, substitutionary atonement, etc., etc.

In summary, we are not saved by but to our good works. It’s not about what we do for Jesus but what Jesus has done for us. Ephesians 2:8–10 says it this way: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one ay boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Therefore, you do not have to do good works so that God will save you; rather, if you’re justified and regenerated, you get to do good works because Jesus already saved you.

Why? Because you cannot meet Jesus without changing. My point in this is not to give you a gavel by which to go around pronouncing judgment on others. But rather, for each of us to examine our own life to see if we have truly met Jesus and if so how he has changed us.

Driscoll banks a lot on life-change.  That is, unfortunately, an area in which a person could ask whether or not Mark Driscoll's life-change pre-conversion to post-conversion was easily measured.

One of the things Driscoll used to preach from the pulpit was about how guys who blamed their own sin issues on their wives or on God Himself were abusive men.
Part 5 of Proverbs
Pastor Mark Driscoll | October 28, 2001

[around 7:50ish is where he discussed becoming "a bit of a street brawler, protecting my brothers and sisters"

These men are like Adam, they abuse others. Adam did that. He sinned and who does Adam blame his sin on? God and his wife. That's an abusive man.

So after years of Mark Driscoll saying stuff like that from the pulpit ...

Real Marriage: the truth about sex, friendship and life together
Mark and Grace Driscoll
Thomas Nelson
copyright (c) 2012 by On Mission, LLC
ISBN 978-1-4041-8352-0

PAGE 9-10
Before long I was bitter agaisnt 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, since I had only slept with a couple of women I was in relationships with, 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. 

So ... okay ... given what Mark Driscoll said during the 2001 Proverbs sermon series about how an abusive man sins and then blames his sins on God and his wife ... what was going on in this revelation in 2012's Real Marriage? Couldn't this come across like Mark Driscoll living and behaving in the "religious" way he was describing earlier this week?  And to say he felt God had conned him into marrying Grace, Mark Driscoll's lament that Grace was ruling over him since she was controlling the sex life ...

has Mark Driscoll ever stepped back to consider how he looks if he measures himself by the measure he has used to judge others?  Pronouncing judgment on others in public has been an unavoidable element of Mark Driscoll's public ministry over the last twenty years. 

And then thanks to Real Marriage it turned out that Driscoll may have actually been himself the kind of guy he was telling us to not be like. He made a case to his wife that the cure for his mood swings and depression was getting more sex with her.

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 164

As with many things in marriage, communication is key. When I cam to the conclusion that the cure for a lot of my moodiness was having more frequent sex with my wife, I simply told her. Yes, it's that simple. For years, when I would endure depression, I tried to talk to Grace about it. Her natural inclination was to want to have long talks about our feelings toward each other, and I know that connecting with her like this is important. But sometimes I was jsut too frustrated and ended up blowing up and hurting her feelings. The truth was I wanted to have more frequent sex with my life, and we needed to discuss how that could happen.

To make matters worse, seemingly every book I read by Christians on sex and marriage sounded unfair. Nearly every one said the husband had to work very hard to understand his wife, to relate to her, and when he did that to her satisfaction then, maybe, she would have sex with him as a sort of reward. After many years I finally told Grace that I needed more sex. I asked if we could have sex more days of the week and try a variety of positions. She'd be the one to decide exactly how we would be together. Grace said that helped her think about our intimacy throughout the course of the day, which helped prepare her mind and body. To our mutual delight, we discovered that both of us felt closer more loved and understood, and were more patient with each other if we were together regularly in some way. And whether my depression was testosterone-induced or not, I just generally felt happier.

The Biblical Man

And most guys are just simply frustrated, that I have talked to, because they're not getting enough sex. I'll give you one story. Won't name his name, but I remember meeting with a--this is a lot of my marriage counseling. I don't think I'm a great marriage counselor but I do think I have one key insight that I'll share with you. Oftentimes I meet with couples and here's what I hear--the wife says, "I don't feel like we're connected. I don't feel like we're close. I feel like he's a little irritable." And then I ask, "How often are you having sex?"  And she's, "What does that have to do with anything?" [slight chuckle] That effects everything.  You know. Frequency is important.

"You guys have sex every day and then come see me again in a month and if there's still communication problems, he seems depressed, he's lethargic, THEN we'll talk because there's OBVIOUSLY a problem. But we're gonna start with what SEEMS to be the most obvious solution." 
I'm telling ya, ninety-nine percent of the time they come back a month later she's like, "He's just totally a different guy. ...

Mark Driscoll | Sex: A Study of the Good Bits of Song of Solomon

Edinburgh, Scotland on November 18,2007
I'll tell you a story if you don't tell anyone else of a man who started attending our church because of oral sex. Right? So many women go to church. In your country it's sixty or seventy percent. "My husband won't come to church. He doesn't have any interest in the things of God. He doesn't understand why church would apply to him." We had a woman like that in our church. She became a Christian. Her husband was not a Christian. He hated the church, wanted nothing to do with the church. She kept browbeating him about Jesus. "You need to get saved. You're gonna burn in hell."
He had no interest in that. 

And so, finally, I was teaching a class on sex and she said, "Oh, so oral sex on a husband is what a wife is supposed to do?" I said, "Yes." She said, "My husband's always wanted that but I've refused him." I went to 1 Peter 3. I said, "The Bible says that if your husband is not a Christian that you are to win him over with deeds of kindness." I said, "So go home and tell your husband that you were in a Bible study today and that God has convicted you of sin.  And repent and go perform oral sex on your husband and tell him that Jesus, Jesus Christ commands you to do so." [emphasis added] The next week the man showed up at church. He came up to me, he said, "You know, this is a really good church." That handing out tracts on the street thing, there's a better way to see revival, I assure you of that.
Jesus Has a Better Kingdom
Pastor Mark Driscoll
Esther 1:10–22
September 21, 2012

about 8:50

Number two, men are castrated. Men are castrated. I’ll read it for you. “He commanded—” and these guys got names. “Mehuman—” That’s kind of a rapper name, I was thinking, like, ancient Persian hip-hop artist, Mehuman. That’s how it’s spelled. “Biztha.” Sounds like a sidekick. “Harbona, Bigtha.” That’s my personal favorite. If I had to pick a Persian name, Bigtha. Definitely not Littletha. I would totally go with Bigtha. “Abagtha, Zethar and Carkas.”Okay, a couple things here. The Bible talks about real people, real circumstances, real history. That’s why they’re facts. It’s not just philosophy. Number two, if you ever have an opportunity to teach the Bible and you hit some of the parts with the old, crazy names, read fast and confident. No one knows how to pronounce them, and they’ll just assume you do.

Here are these guys. So, you’ve got seven guys, “the seven eunuchs.” What’s a eunuch? A guy who used to have a good life, and joy, and hope. That’s the technical definition of a eunuch. A eunuch is a man who is castrated. [emphasis added] Proceeding with the story before I have to fire myself.

We've discussed all this before over the years but they're worth revisiting, these quotes, because for Mark Driscoll to publicly position himself as a guy who has an opinion on whether Christians use porn, for instance, or whether some people have a disordered relationship to their sexuality--it seems as if Driscoll's cumulative testimony about himself has been that he blamed God and his wife for his dissatisfaction with his sex life and that his solution was to basically tell his wife to give him more sex so that this would cure his mood swings and depression.

How does that demonstrate a changed life?  How does that demonstrate a life changed by Jesus of the sort Mark Driscoll seems so eager to tell people is the distinguishing variable between a real Christian and someone who merely appears to be a Christian?

And then there's another before-and-after question, the kinds of shortcuts a person can be tempted to take to attain a desirable goal.
Part 5 of Proverbs
Pastor Mark Driscoll | October 28, 2001

These guys are just – they’re avoiding all their responsibilities. What they want, they want food without working. They want drink without working. They want sex without marriage. They want a house without a mortgage. These guys look at means and ends, and they want the ends but they don’t want any of the toil that comes with the means. So, they try and find a short-cut. [emphasis added] “Well, I’ll just steal his money. And I’ll drink his beer. And I’ll sleep on his couch. And I’ll sleep with that girl.” [Whistles] Good. Whoa, short-cuts. Praise the Lord. And Solomon’s looking at his son and saying, “This is just foolish folly. This is just dumb. This isn’t going anywhere. You weren’t created for this.” Here’s how they get there; something for us all to think about....
It comes to the point where I’m 15 and I wanna get a car. I said, “Dad, I need a car.” He says, “Good. Go get some money.” I said, “Okay, fine.” So, I falsified my birth certificate, I lie about my age, and I get a job at a 7-11 selling lotto tickets and liquor and cigarettes to people that are twice my age. I was not a Christian, so – I shouldn’t have done it anyways, but I wasn’t a Christian. And so, I’m 15, working at a 7-11 selling stuff. And I make a decent living, and I buy my first car, a 1956 Chevy that I should’ve never sold. That’s a whole other sermon. And – and so I’m 15, driving myself to work without a license, because I gotta go make money to pay for my car. [emphasis added] Okay? And again, I was not a Christian. Okay? So, I’m not saying, “Thus sayeth the Lord.”And I realize that, since I was young and I was strong, I could make more money. And so I started dinking around trying to figure out where to make more money. And I find out that guys in unions make a lot of money. And – at least compared to me working at the 7-11. And I got tired of getting robbed and held-up, too. ‘Cause if you run a 7-11 behind a Déjà vu, somebody’s gonna put a gun at your head. And after a couple of those, you realize, “For minimum wage, I’m not taking a cap. You know? I’m not gonna get shot for, like, a pack of cigarettes. I’m not gonna do that.” So, I lied about my age. I falsified my birth certificate again, and told them I was 18. Got a job working long-shoring down on the docks in Seattle. And I would go throw 100-pound sacks of peas, and unload trucks, and work hard. And they paid me tremendous money. [emphasis added] At the time, it was like $10.00-something an hour. This was, like, in 1986 or ’87 or something. And I’d work 40 hours a week, and over-time was double-time. And none of the guys would wanna work over-time. Usually it was on Friday, ‘cause they had to get containers out, and those guys all wanted to go to the topless club.

And so, I would work all the over-time at $20.00 an hour as a 16 year old kid. This is in the mid-‘80s. Right? So, I’m loaded. I have money, money, money, money. So, I buy a car, and I start saving for college, doing my stuff. And with my dad – I thank God for my dad. My dad’s like, “You’re a guy. You work. You pay your way. Good. It’s good for you.” And you know what? He’s right. He was totally right. Thank God for my dad. My brother and my other brother and myself, we’re all doing great, making good money, doing fine. My brothers are all in management leadership running companies or businesses. It’s great. You pamper a guy from his youth, and he just – he gets this course of action. All of the sudden he feels like if his hands are dirty, or his muscles are sore, or if he put-in a long day, or thought something was tough, that’s unusual; that’s abnormal. And so, he avoids it.
Looking back on the last ten years it looks like Driscoll wanted to write the books but maybe not entirely by himself.  He wanted to preach a lot of sermons but you don't get Docent Group to send you help if you can handle all the research yourself, do you?  It's hard not to look at the controversy surrounding Driscoll's published books without getting the sense that he took a few too many shortcuts along the way, whether in forgetting to credit authors whose work he benefited from in those first editions on the one hand, or in using the short-cut of Result Source to secure a spot on a bestseller list on the other. We know now without a doubt Mars Hill leadership signed on.

The problem with Mark Driscoll telling the world that a Christian should have a changed life is that it seems that in his pre-conversion days he was okay with rigging the game a bit to get the success he wanted and then back in 2011 ... it was okay to rig the game a bit to get desirable success.  How much change is supposed to signal a real change, whatever that would be?  Now some of us see David at the end of his life and see how he dealt with people as king, as father, as husband and it seems he didn't really get better with age ... but Driscoll hasn't availed himself of that kind of approach.  He seems set on the idea that I you really know Jesus then you should display some life-change.  And yet in the scandals that erupted around Mark Driscoll in 2013 it didn't seem he was above having a rigged set-up for Real Marriage on the one hand and on the other hand there were people whose ideas made it into the book but without credit in the first print edition.

It's an awkward question but one that may need to be asked does Mark Driscoll pass his own prescribed test for how to tell whether someone is really a Christian or just "religious"?  I don't see a reason to assume he's not a professing Christian but then I don't subscribe to the idea that sanctification is a strictly one-directional trajectory.  You can really slip up.  But Driscoll ... it's not clear he's ever given himself or anyone else that option in his theology.  If you sin it's because of pride and because of arrogance and you know what you're doing.  That's what his theology of sin seems to have been.

Because you cannot meet Jesus without changing. My point in this is not to give you a gavel by which to go around pronouncing judgment on others. But rather, for each of us to examine our own life to see if we have truly met Jesus and if so how he has changed us.

But if in his pre-conversion days he was willing to game things to get the success he wanted and it turned out he was willing to do let things get gamed for his benefit in his post-conversion life; if even in his post-conversion life he resented his wife for not giving him as much sex as he wanted (and within the pages of Real Marriage said he felt that God had conned him and his wife was controlling their sex lives) how was this the same guy who in 2001 said from the pulpit that if a man has sin in his life and he blames God and his wife that that man's an abuser?  The problem isn't necessarily that what Mark Driscoll has had to say has no merit, it's that when Jesus condemned the Pharisees and experts of the law his rebuke was as follows:

Matthew 23:2-7 (NIV)
2“The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

POSTSCRIPT 06-03-2016

In a headline that could basically be read as "Mark Driscoll wrote a blog post" ... here's The Blaze.

Since the second type of person is "secular religious" it's not really that easy to establish that that's a "religious" person in any sense at all.
Ryan Kearney over at The New Republic riffs upon "The Radiohead Racket".

Terry Teachout has a little rumination on the formerly famous:

Ours, after all, was the generation that expected to live by the words of Pete Townshend: I hope I die before I get old. But Townshend didn’t, nor did James Simon Kunen, who now ekes out his pension and Social Security by teaching English to immigrant teenagers.

To be sure, I was, unlike Kunen, spared the dubious privilege of youthful fame (or any kind of fame, truth to tell). What’s more, I recently embarked on a professional adventure of a sort that sexagenarians are rarely lucky enough to experience. Nevertheless, I think I have at least some notion of how it might possibly feel to outlive your life as you’d previously understood it, and the fact that Kunen now seems by all accounts to be genuinely happy—which is, lest we forget, the most important thing about him—doesn’t make me feel any more at ease as I look down the road toward my own unknowable future.

A.E. Housman said it:
Now you will not swell the rout
Of lads that wore their honours out,
Runners whom renown outran
And the name died before the man.

I wonder what Andy Warhol thought of those lines—if he knew them. On the other hand, he died at the age of fifty-eight, thereby ensuring that we would always remember him (if, indeed, we do continue to remember him) as young, decadent, and way, way cool. Smart move, that.

Thanks to commenter chris e I was able to come across this blog here with this post on this topic.

It's about Star Wars and how the problem with Rogue One isn't that the lead appears to be female, it's that the character is a hopelessly trite wise-ass loner who lives by wits and is unsuited to conformist military life who will probably go on to be the super-awesome-hero.  My reaction to the Rogue One trailer was that this was the kind of trite adventure character that was worn out in the Reagan era and that having a woman play this role was not going to make it less stale.  Not that women can't be wonderful action heroes.  I own every episode of the Powerpuff Girls.  I even like a decent chunk of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.  Katara is a fantastic heroine in the adventure genre.  But what's-her-name from Rogue One?  I'm not holding my breath.

Laura Miller on Trollope and on how in the 19th century the novel went from entertainment for ladies to the pinnacle of literary art in the 20th century


 An autobiography published shortly after his death in 1882 revealed that Trollope thought of novel writing as more craft than art, and in James’ words, he “never troubled his head nor clogged his pen with theories about the nature of his business.” He is most famous among writers today for the regimen he described in that book: Rising before dawn and working for three full hours every day, even if that meant finishing one novel and starting the next because the allotted time hadn’t expired. Trollope had a day job with the postal service to get to, after all.

That prosaic approach didn’t jibe with the literary world’s efforts to transform the image of the novel in the 20th century. What had once been seen as a lucrative form of entertainment, produced for mostly middle-class and mostly female readers was recast as the highest pinnacle of the literary arts, the work of inspired geniuses answering the call of the muse rather than the landlord. So in the mid-20th century, the imperious critic F.R. Leavis, a loyal soldier in this project of solemnification, pronounced Trollope’s works as “beneath the realm of significant creative achievement” in terms of “the human awareness they promote, awareness of the possibilities of life.” (It’s no coincidence that the promulgation of this heroic notion of the novelist coincided with the rise of the idea that the greatest of novelists must be men, and even a male novelist like Trollope, with, as James put it, a “feminine” interest in the familiar and ordinary, was dismissed.) By the latter half of the century you could get through an entire undergraduate English program with a heavy emphasis on British literature, as I did, and never once be assigned a Trollope novel.

But a funny thing happened to Trollope on his way to the dustbin of history: His novels acquired an avid, amateur readership. It’s impossible to measure such things, of course, but he seems rivaled only by Jane Austen and Arthur Conan Doyle among 19th-century authors with an active contemporary fan base.
Long ago, if memory serves, Tom Wolfe remarked that the serialized novel was considered gaudy trash and rubbish that distracted from what was thought to be true literary art, poetry.  Then, somehow, the novel became the pinnacle of literary art.  One of those dry jokes you come across in Jane Austen novels is that certain types of very silly girls spend all their spare time reading trashy novels, the kind of dry put-down that seems, inevitably, self-aware enough that these days we'd call it breaking the fourth wall.
So it seems somewhere along the way all novels were dismissed in some sense as "chick lit" before they mutated into the art form of manly men. 
Now the proposal that an entire idiom of artistic expression wasn't considered legit in proper society until dudes did it was kind of Ted Gioia's premise in Love Songs.  I thought he seriously oversold the weight of his case but it was still an interesting read all the same.  In arts criticism there's room for what seems like a crazy idea if it can spark discussion and, better yet, can account for some stuff.  It does seem like it would be true that 90 percent of popular songs are love songs and that 90 percent of rock criticism has been written about the 10 percent of songs that WEREN'T love songs.  But that may be changing here and there. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Noah Berlatsky doesn't quite make a case that superheroes aren't modern myths but melodramas

But does Captain America punching Iron Man in the helmet really resonate for us today with the same archetypal force as Oedipus stabbing out his eyes because he finds out he has slept with his mother (and the ancient Greeks frowned on that sort of thing)?

Okay, sure, Superman is superstrong, and Hercules was superstrong. Yes, there was a mythological Thor, and there is also a Thor played by Chris Hemsworth. But these are superficial similarities.
In their basest structure, superhero stories simply don’t follow in the footsteps of ancient myths.

In fact, they deliberately refute them.

Well, that's the basic category mistake Berlatsky makes from which his argument can't recover.  There's no reason that the function of mythology in pop culture today has to conform to ancient Greek or Roman or Norse mythologies.  We can get to why this is a little bit later.


Because myths, Eco argues, present characters with “immutable characteristics and an irreversible destiny.” Hercules always performs his labors, and then dies in the grip of a poison cloak. Thor, in myth, always dies at Ragnarok after killing the Midgard serpent. Orpheus can seek to defy death with his super-powered singing, but ultimately his human weakness and lack of faith will get the better of him and Eurydice will be dragged back to hell.

In myth, the existence of powers beyond the ken of mortals doesn’t mean those bestowed with them get to have awesome adventures and defeat the bad guys; it means they are locked in tragic narratives, against which struggle is futile.

 Orpheus, Hercules, Agamemnon, Oedipus, even Thor, they don’t control their own fates – because myths, with their sweeping backdrop of the divine, are meant to show that human beings are small. ”

In Greek tragedy, film scholar Linda Williams writes, “Tragic heroes may rail against injustice, but in the end they must accept it.”

Yes, and in the sense that American narratives seem to constantly subvert the possible European counterparts, right down to the American variants on Faust having the Faust character making a deal with the devil but getting away scot free that might tell us something about American approaches to mythology if Berlatsky were open to that. 

There are many myths from many traditions and you can’t sum up the entirety of human religious tradition in one easy definition, but one common characteristic of myths is the focus on the divine and on forces and powers beyond the human.

Superhero films and comics, in contrast, are relentlessly focused on the mortal.

They are about what humans can do, or could do, given just a little more strength, or speed, or oomph. Jessica Jones can save her sister and kill her rapist; Captain America can defeat the fascists who have infiltrated the government. People, like you and me, can put on a suit of armor or a batsuit and hit things until there is justice for all.

But those aren’t myths.

They’re narratives about how we don’t need myths. ....

But who says that American myths have to conform to the fatalism of Greco-Roman polytheistic beliefs?  What if American mythology doesn't derive from polytheistic fatalism so much as post-Enlightenment panentheistic Pelagianism?  Whether we're talking about a John Steinbeck novel where every man shares one soul, or George Lucas' the Force of which Yoda says "life creates it and makes it grow", or how about the phrase Dwight Macdonald so loathed from Thornton Wilder's Our Town? "There’s something way down deep that’s eternal about every human being.” When Americans have retold the Faust legend so that the American can make a deal with the devil and not lose his soul for it that tells us a lot.  Sure, Berlatsky's right that Americans don't believe in Greco-Roman mythology, but to say that we don't believe in those myths as a nation doesn't mean we don't believe in other myths.  It seems like a fairly easy case to go by pop culture that what we believe in is the power to break or interrupt or postpone the cycle of death that characterizes other mythologies.  I've been riffing on this idea this year but when we look at which pop culture franchises keep in rotation in Hollywood people keep coming back to the utopian and dystopian genre fictions of the Reagan and JFK eras, whether it's Star Trek and Planet of the Apes or whether it's Star Wars and Terminator or Robocop. 

We keep coming by to the idea that whatever the future of the whole world is going to be, it's going to be decided by US, by the U.S.  Star Trek envisioned American style liberalism and democratic principles saturating the galaxy.  Even when the pop mythology is explicitly secularist it's arguable that the relentlessly anti-fatalistic optimism still permeates the pop cultural myth.  There's no fate but what we make. The Force can guide your actions but it can also obey your commands, the perfect panentheistic kind of deity that is one with us and submits to our will and gives us the kind of destiny we want based on whether we choose the Dark Side or the Light Side of the Force.  Sure, Oedipus may have been doomed by decree of the gods and the fates ... but Yoda's ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is.

But Berlatsky's got some points about how superheroes aren't myths in any traditional sense, and there's arguably a point that could be made about this in connection to why some people disliked Nolan's Batman films, those Batman films gave us a Bruce Wayne who decided he'd done enough to save Gotham and retired and left the city behind to build a new life with Selina Kyle.  That reduced Bruce Wayne to the level of a normal mortal man who never wanted to be Batman the rest of his life to begin with, and that ending subverted the mythological tropes that have been credited to Batman. 

That the superheroes are never ultimately defeated and never permanently face death can be construed as actually truly mythological about America in the sense that if Star Trek could imagine the galaxy working on American style progressive thought centuries from now the assumption behind that is a kind of endless American empire, benign and benevolent like no empire before it.  The level of self-confidence in American goodness and superiority during the peak of the Cold War displayed by Star Trek is pretty amazing if you step back and look at it.  It's not even the kind of thing that could be construed as cultural imperialism by people who take it seriously.  I mean, in the earlier Trek chronology it says we bounced back from World War III.  We may mythologize the future more than we mythologize the past, though we surely do a ton of that, too.

And what makes the American version unique is that the champions of the American empire won't even grant that's what it is, because liberal democracy just can't be an empire by definition.  The revolution of the proletariat can be imagined as the perfect future in much the same way that the Secret Rapture can, so in a sense Americans who are Marxists and Americans who are fundamentalists can keep up the business of avidly anticipating a great apocalyptic eruption of a utopia that we will get to witness just around the corner.  The American mythology seems to be optimistic in the face of certain death and determined to deny that any one choice we make individually or collectively could have an unrecoverable opportunity cost.  In that sense, as a moderately conservative Presbyterian, I'd agree with Berlatsky that Americans don't believe in a Greco-Roman mythology in which it could be recognized that some decisions are fatal and irreversible.  The Romans and the Greeks and the Norse weren't going to put on their best smiling Botoxed face in the face of impending doom ... but they didn't have the Force as their ally like we Americans do.

from NY Review of Books, Adam Thirlwell discusses Whit Stillman's adaptation of Jane Austen

So I caught Age of Apocalypse over the weekend and while it had a few inspired touches here and there it was, as I suspected, a laborious chore.  On the other hand, I started off liking Whit Stillman's Love & Friendship and loved it by the end. Stillman gets that in spite of the bodice-ripping sentimentality that can be brought to Jane Austen's work (like that 2005 version Keira Knightley was in), her work is less characterized as straightforward romance than as satires of class and manners that use romance as an engine for narrative.  Stillman's adaptation is, especially in the final act, a significant revision, one that could be quickly inferred from anyone who sees the film who has also read Austen's work.  While it wouldn't normally be a spoiler to say in a comedy that there's a happy ending the happy ending is a switch-up because it's not the happy ending originally envisioned by the central character. 

Of the various things that have been written about the film, so far my favorite would easily be Adam Thirlwell's commentar:


In Stillman’s version, there are two moments of conversation between Lady Susan and Frederica that are central to the seriousness of his surfaces. “An offer as splendid as Sir James’s is not likely to come again,” Lady Susan observes. “He has offered you the one thing of value he has to give—his income.” This may be comically cynical, but it is also true. For as she elsewhere points out: “Dearest, our present comfortable state is of the most precarious sort. We don’t live—we visit. We are entirely at the mercy of our friends and relations…” To depend on the kindness of strangers or family is a terrible fate. You can only live, in Stillman’s films, if you are independent—and to be independent is both financial and spiritual. No wonder he was drawn to Austen. They are both analysts of power, and how it is distributed: and they both understand that power is most poignantly interrogated through narratives about women.
This adaptation is really a rewrite. And maybe that’s a particularly attractive mode, when the novel to be adapted is in epistolary form. The game of the epistolary novel is to maintain a constant haze between foreground and background, between what is reported to a correspondent and what the reader must infer has happened: it is the art form of gossip, of the hint. That haze allows Stillman his delicately sincere inversion of Austen’s amused irony. Just as the accompanying novel he has published is purportedly by Rufus Martin-Colonna de Cesari-Rocca, a newly imagined nephew of Sir James Martin, Lady Susan’s second husband—and precisely intended as a corrective to Jane Austen’s Lady Susan, to undo the “great posthumous injustice” done to her by “the spinster Authoress notorious for her poison-pen fictions hidden under the lamb-skin of Anonymity.” 

The injustice is Austen’s youthful lack of empathy for Lady Susan’s projects. For in Stillman’s world, our greatest vulnerability in society is to the judgments of others. “You can’t worry about what misinterpreters think,” someone says to Chloë Sevigny’s character in The Last Days of Disco—and this could be the slogan of Stillman’s oeuvre. Sure, the surface may be all frivolity and flippancy, a high bourgeois/aristocratic setting. Such archness and such a setting can make it easy to see these films as exercises in the unserious unserious. But Stillman’s gravity comes from the way he both understands the terrors of social relations—the pursuit of love and friendship—and also admires all strategies in artifice that might soften these terrors, subvert the tyranny of misinterpretation, and restore a version of utopia. Against the malice of the social, he places a range of tactics: optimism, elegance, tradition, invented selves and accents, the desperate maintenance of outmoded or contradictory ideals. So what if an ideal is absurd! And his highest ideal is eloquence.


Which is to say the stakes in the Austen adaptation are far more significant than the X-Men film because in Austen's story the stakes involve the consequences and implications of decisions characters have to live with.  There's more I could say about the superhero genre and what some say about it but I'll save that for another post.

HT Jim West: you can go get pdf copies of Emil Brunner's Dogmatics volumes 1 and 2 (but not 3)

Monday, May 30, 2016

incubation continues

There's a couple of topics I'm hoping to eventually get to at the blog but they're somewhat complex and inter-related/overlapping topics.

My esteemed associate and blogger Wendy has been blogging about complementarianism and egalitarianism a bit lately.  She raises a few concerns about some issues we've discussed here and there and increasingly we're of a perspective that the conflation of prophecy (whatever that is) with the office of elder is looking more and more like a massive category mistake.  That a pastor today takes up many responsibilities that would be fulfilled by priests seems easily established but the activities a prophet are another matter.

One of the core mistakes in conflating "pastor" with "prophet" is that the people who keep doing this display not only no serious interest in what prophets were described as actually doing in the Old Testament, they seem to be actively hostile to attempts to seriously, systematically and carefully consider the Old Testament as the baseline for defining what a prophet is and what prophecy was to begin with.  I'm going to indulge in that thing I hope is rare for Wenatchee The Hatchet and make a sweeping generalization, cessationists and Baptists have too much at stake in conflating "pastor" with "prophet" to be taken altogether seriously on the subject how to define prophets and prophecy.  The sum of the Old Testament seems to present a picture of prophets and prophecy that is vastly more ad hoc and occasional than either cessationists or continuationists in a contemporary Western setting seem willing to grant

Beyond that simple point there's another problem, which is that if we don't sit on the assumption that various Pauline prohibitions regarding women and speech in church gatherings were redactions, we see that the prohibitions against women speaking in the churches are so categorically that their mere existence in biblical texts forces us to reassess what on earth "prophecy" could be if women could prophecy with a head covering but not in a way that involved speaking in a church gathering yet in a way where virgin daughters of Philip the evangelist could become famous for being gifted in prophecy.  Whatever prophecy actually was, it would seem that it wasn't public teaching or instruction.  A commenter at Wendy's blog who said that Moses was a prophet who publicly instructed too easily forgot Numbers 11, in which it was explicitly established that Moses was a prophet but not "just" a prophet in the way Miriam was.  Moses and the Mosaic law define Judaism in a way that Jesus' Sermon on the Mount plays a defining role in Christianity--the exceptions that established the rules can't be invoked as a way to say those carrying on a tradition were working at the same level.  So, nope, can't grant that Moses was a prophet means that prophets gave public instruction.  Gad the seer didn't seem to. Neither did Huldah, that we can prove from a biblical text.

And that gets to another matter, which is that if complementarians conflate prophecy with preaching then they have to cede the entire matter of women in the pastorate to egalitarians just on the basis of the Old Testament ... unless they want to suddenly and abruptly change to the position in which the all-male priesthood becomes the basis for understanding pastoral/elder activity. 

I'm still reading secondary literature and mulling over biblical texts but I would suggest that Deuteronomy 16-18 has been skipped over too much as a potentially definitive text for how to understand prophecy as a largely occasional, ad hoc judicial activity within the OT narratives and the parameters of Mosaic law. 

There is another element pertinent to the question of what prophecy was in connection to what could constitute a prophetic activity in the present and that will get to the history of interpretive understandings about prophecy.  Some of the magisterial Reformers argued there was not just a priesthood of all believers but a prophetic capacity in which all believers could function.  That women functioned as prophets and in at least one case as a judge is beyond dispute--what may be in dispute from some is whether Deborah "ought" to have been a judge and on that point I hope to get back to Barry Webb's commentary on Judges later.  Preliminary answer--there's no indication from Judges itself in any direct way that Deborah wasn't supposed to be a prophet or judge any more than we get told that about Miriam.

It seems more the agenda of contemporary complementarians or neo-patriarchalists to retroactively ascribe to ancient Israelite society a partitioning away of women from prophetic and judicial roles that, if we actually read the biblical texts themselves, we'll see wasn't the case.  If documents from the Iron and Bronze eras tell us that in ancient Israel women could serve as prophets and judges and in the 21st century United States some complementarians want to say that women can't have those kinds of roles that suggests that the myth of linear progress is surely that, a myth.

And the reason these things have been on my mind this year is because among those sorts of complementarians there seems to be a complimentary concern about the role women play in what is colloquially known as watchblogging.  So what I've been incubating for a while now is a project or two in which I hope to survey the Old Testament literature on the topic of prophets and prophecy; connect this to prophetic activity as political speech in the context of ancient near Eastern empires; to then connect the thread of this activity to the magisterial Reformers on the prophethood of believers in genera; maybe throw in some asides ruminating on theories of the press; and to make a case that given some important caveats about the effectuality of the enterprise that the watchblog can be done in a socially responsible, journalistic/historical way and that it can be done by women whether or not certain types of complementarians get pissed off about that or not.  I plan to write about the matter as a Calvinist who's totally okay with supralapsarianism. 

Having said that, I basically reject the categories of egalitarianism vs complementarianism on the one hand, and also the categories of continuationism vs cessationism on the other as I see both polarities as fundamentally irresponsible American chauvinist attempts to impose the political battles over who should have access to institutional power within the 501(c)3 systems of the current United States churches as somehow necessarily germane to a responsible reading of biblical texts.  I've seen plenty of people say over the years here in America that the Bible condones slavery.  The Bible didn't condone the form of slavery practiced in the antebellum South and if there's a lesson to be learned here it's not so much that the Bible condoned what was a reality of economic and military life in the bronze and iron ages but that you can't trust Americans to not use the Bible to justify whatever atrocities Americans want to commit. 

All of this will end up being (should I finish it) the writings of a layperson.  I'm not going to pretend I'm a pastor or a deacon or more than an amateur scholar of biblical literature and ancient near Eastern history.  So anything and everything could and should be taken with a few grains of salt.  I'm hoping to formulate what I write in a way where even though I'm a Calvinist and a Presbyterian what I write could be of potential help at a more ecumenical level. 

And, yes, since Wenatchee The Hatchet has probably been mainly known in the last five years as some kind of watchblog I think it is helpful and necessary to attempt to formulate a rationale for watchblogging as an activity that can be informed by the precedent of considered interpretations of the scriptures (particularly consideration of the role prophecy has historically played in both advisory and critical roles within ancient Israelite/Jewish thought); writings from the polemics of the Reformers; later considerations of freedom of the press within the context of nascent libertarian thinking about the press; and the way recent lock-down positions purporting to be either cessationist or complementarian have failed to adequately or responsibly address certain aspects both of the Christian canon on the one hand and the history of its interpretation on the other. 

In other words, I'm eventually hoping to make a case that contemporary complementarians do not really have a significant case being concerned that women have watchblogs as if the mere existence of women with the time to spare for watchblogging meant they shouldn't be doing it. A great deal of blogging about ... bloggers has tended to assume the worst about the competency and methodology and motives of watchblogging.  There are really good reasons for that, actually.  But to extrapolate from the low level of scholarship or literary art so prevalent in watchdog blogging hardly seems like a reason to think we can't do better. 

In make a defense of the potential legitimacy of watchblogging I'm hoping to make that case as someone who can ideally leave a lot of that behind in terms of regular practice so that a case can be made from the position of having done it when I felt it was necessary during a time when a sense of collective responsibility can ideally have shifted to others.  How you do it and why you do it has everything to do with the credibility you are perceived as having or not having and this point is hard to overstate even if nobody may wish to take it seriously or if a ton of people take it as given. 

To go by the election year mania of 2016 I think too many people conceive of watchblogging as an us vs them thing when the only way a watchblog seems likely to have traction is an us vs. us dynamic in which one of "us" challenges the rest of "us" to ask serious questions about whether what's happened in our midst really reflects the ideals, doctrines, dogmas and affections we've professed.  We live in an era of manic and livid propagandas through which few seem able to pierce--this is because we want what we want and we're loathe to examine our pet desires before questioning the legitimacy of what others want.  As an apostle wrote, it's not our business to pass judgment on outsiders, but we can and should pass judgment on the insiders.  A watchblog that is poised to pass judgment on those the blogger considers outsiders is already failing.  There is a sense in which intra-group critique has to be a foundation for a watchblog to have any traction or else it's stopped being a watchblog and has descended into the kind of partisan propagandizing that is so characteristic of our time.

So I'm hoping, later this year, to get around to writing more about that. 

But there's such a thing as having what is colloquially known as a life.  The new Whit Stillman film is really, really funny!  Kate Beckinsale couldn't keep being in Underworld movies forever and her return to Austen adaptation is glorious.  :)  Love & Friendship is a funny, funny movie. 

There's other stuff I want to write about at some point, like a lot about Ferdinand Rebay.  I also have some spleen to vent about the final failure of Legend of Korra as symptomatic of a creative failure in the action genre more generally.  And depending on what happens I might still do some of what's called watchblogging.  Not all of the LLCs no longer exist here in WA state for instance.