Thursday, November 23, 2017

two books on Pacific Northwest aboriginal slavery--a short reflection on slavery in the PNW tribes; on how Southern tribes allied with the Confederacy; and on how tribes voluntarily phased out or abolished slavery without having civil wars about the issue
Indian Slavery in the Pacific Northwest (Northwest Historical Series XVII)
Robert H Ruby and John A Brown
The Arthur H Clark Company, Spokane, Washington
copyright (c) 1993 by Robert H. Ruby and John A. Brown
ISBN 0-87062-225-0
This book by Ruby and Brown is not a particularly eloquent read and is hindered by the admitted shortage of primary source materials on the subject.  If you're inclined to be a completist on this subject, however, you'll want this book in your library.  If you live in the Puget Sound area, though, it will be good to know this book is in the Seattle City Library system for check out.

But it's this second book that is the significantly more interesting read, by a scholar who did work on African slavery before turning his attention to Northwestern Native slavery practices.
Aboriginal Slavery on the Northwest Coast of North America
Leland Donald (Author)
Hardcover, 375 pages
ISBN: 9780520206168
August 1997

If you want a review of the book in case you're not sure this is your idea of fun holiday reading ...

Given the shortage of primary sources on this subject, and given the unavoidable problems of bias or spin within even those primary sources, the most that might be confidently said is that the existence of slavery across all of the Pacific Northwest tribes presents a glaring exception to a commonplace that hunter gatherer societies would not develop slave systems.  That might be true in geographic regions where resource scarcities might provide external pressures on people groups to let everyone participate in an egalitarian way toward resource collection and distribution, but that wouldn't necessarily apply in a resource-rich region like the Pacific Northwest. 

These books, with their respective flaws, necessarily bound to the problems of source materials, may ideally stand as starting points for future research. 

On a Thanksgiving day we can be thankful for all sorts of things.  The lack of a formally sanctioned slave culture within Northwest aboriginal cultures can be one of them.  If there's a pervasive flaw in contemporary discussion of slavery in American academic discourse for someone with American Indian lineage it's that the subject of slavery has been made so literally as well as metaphorically black and white that the pervasiveness of slavery within the Native American tribes tends to get sidelined or dismissed by way of saying "yes, they all did it but not in the way of the racist ideology that motivated white ownership of blacks in the American South."  Well, sure, but does this make the Native American slavery "better", more understandable or morally more excusable?  I always thought Rousseau's idea of a noble savage unstained by Western civilization to be a patently idiotic idea.  Bias fully stated there.  And reading about the PNW slavery practices, even if there's room for scholarly and historical debate about the scope and reliability of what can be established about that, the pervasiveness of slavery in the hunter-gatherer tribes of the Pacific Northwest should give us reason to doubt the idea that a noble savage in touch with nature would not be capable of developing a complex of property codes or a slave class. 

Of course being a Presbyterian/Reformed sort one of the things that comes to mind is that there are guys (white guys probably to a man) who will say that these kinds of books "upset the narrative" about the pure undefiled non-white people.  Sure, but since American Indians can and do reject that stupid mythology this doesn't mean that R. L. Dabney wasn't a contemptibly racist jerk.  Just because I advise people to consider that pervasiveness of slavery in the Pacific Northwest aboriginal tribes doesn't mean I'm going to start taking guys like Douglas Wilson seriously about the American Civil War, because my American Indian relatives told me that that war was where white racists in the North fought white racists in the South over the subject of how to treat black people and then when that matter was settled they all agreed to go back and kill Indians.  It's possible for someone to be hugely progressive regarding one skin color and not the other.  It was easily possible for those who could campaign for abolition on behalf of the black man to still subscribe to some variation of the idea that the only good Indian was a dead Indian. 

One of the things that probably can't be explored much at a scholarly level that comes across in the Ruby/Brown monograph is that slavery was made illegal, and it was made illegal across the board.  Tribes in what is now the American South.  That's not the whole of the matter, though.  It's buried in a footnote in the book on page 35 but ...

Indian Slavery in the Pacific Northwest

from footnote at the bottom of page 35
In early October 1861, at the beginning of the war, part of the Osages, Seminoles, Shawnees and Quapaws signed treaties with the Confederacy as did the Cherokees on October 7, 1861. William G. McLoughlin writes that all southern tribes practiced slavery and, that they allied with the Confederacy, and "seeking desperately to maintain a social status above that of Negroes, had rapidly developed the same attitude toward them as [did] ... white[s]." The United States, which had provided protection of Cherokees, Choctaws, Chicasaws and Creeks, withdrew its troops. Few tribesman retained their loyalties to the Union, most having espoused the Confederate cause. Yet, influenced by the Emancipation Proclamation (January 1, 18863) the Cherokee Nation severed ties with the Confederacy and abolished slavery.  The subsequent 13th Amendment, which prohibited slavery in the United States, included persons of African and American and mixed descent.  "The Choctaw Slave Burning: A Crisis in Mission Work Among The Indians," 124-126; Cohen, Handbook of Federal Indian Law, 181-182.

So if the Cherokee cut their ties to the Confederacy and voluntarily abolished slavery in response to the Emancipation Proclamation it would be a little tough to insist that the Proclamation didn't have any impact on Native American situations.  Turns out it did.  Some would-be defenders of the Confederacy have tried to argue that slavery would have been phased out eventually.  We'll come back to that in just a moment.

There's something else mentioned in the Ruby/Brown monograph that's worth mentioning, which is how the practice of slavery ended in the Pacific Northwestern tribes.  In contrast to the martial and legal battles over white and black slavery the Pacific Northwestern tribes, as could best be discerned, figured out the moral disapproval of slavery as a practice was becoming pervasive and basically stopped doing it.

Indian Slavery in the Pacific Northwest
page 299
Chapter 12., Demise and Delivery

Despite futile efforts to end the Pacific Northwestern native slave trade through treaties and injection of moralist counteractions, it was actually the introduction of capitalistic merchandising at contact by Euro-Americans that eventually brought the system to its knees following a period of expansion.  The aboriginal economic system supporting an aristocracy gave way to a free enterprise social leveling which rendered the holding of potlatches impossible in the usual and customary fashion.

Missionaries and others sought to eliminate slavery. Americans sought to force its abolition among coastal tribes through treaties even prior to the manumission of blacks in the American South. The clergy, and fur traders in an abating enterprise, sought to emancipate native slaves and abolish slavery in the waning years of the 19th century. Yet, slavery did not end through their efforts, but of its own weight under a trade system in a changing social-economic environment which no longer supported that practice. The last of the slaves disappeared by attrition.

So it seems that Native American tribes in the Pacific Northwest did not give up slavery in response to attempts to outlaw the practice and treaty it out of existence--as it became clear that it was being outlawed and as free trade and increased social interaction with other groups took place, it looks like the Native American tribes phased out the slavery system on their own end.  It didn't require a Civil War.

I mean, sure, an author could say capitalistic free trade had something to do with it but an early 1990s book might be informed by the recent end of the Cold War as a defense or rationale of capitalism in a way that might have put more weight than strictly necessary on the Cold War battle of ideologies regarding economic organization at a state level.  There's also room to suggest that the Native Americans chose to phase out slavery, too. 

And ... to rub this point in, they didn't have to fight civil wars about it in a North and South kind of way.  If slavery was going to be phased out in the South as some defenders of the Confederacy have proposed, what was the evidence that this was actually going to happen?  Might not a comparison of the handling of slavery and its aftermath in the American South to the eventual apparently voluntary obsolescence of slavery in the Native American tribes of the Pacific Northwest be instructive?   Yeah, so maybe I'm trolling a little on Thanksgiving day.  There are just some kinds of Confederate sympathizing Reformed white guys who might benefit from learning that the American Indian savages had enough sense to voluntarily phase out slavery within their cultures in a way that the Confederacy was pretty obviously and ostentatiously unwilling to do. 

Happy Thanksgiving

at The New Republic Jedediah Purdy has a piece on what made prehistoric hunter gatherers give away freedom for civilization, one of those ludicrous pseudo-historical bromides that keeps on going

The idea that the path to civilization was the path to enslavement just won't die, will it?  The kind of liberal/progressive agenda that is characteristic of anyone who gets published at The New Republic depends on urban humanity to even dream of realization, but the bromide of trading freedom for security might be too irresistible a dualism.

In any case, here we go:

We pride ourselves today on having overcome such condescending myths. But James C. Scott, an eminent and iconoclastic political scientist, is not so sure that we have. In Against the Grain, Scott argues that we still think of our world as the fruit of a series of undeniable advances: domestication, public order, mass literacy, and prosperity. We chide the ancient Greeks for relying on enslaved labor and the Romans for their imperial wars, but our own story, as we imagine it, still starts with those ancient city-states and their precursors in the Mesopotamian Middle East (basically modern Iraq), when some clever primates first planted rows of seeds, built mud-brick walls, and scratched cuneiform on a crude tablet. In our own minds, we are the descendants of people who couldn’t wait to settle down.

The truth, Scott proposes, may be the opposite. What if early civilization was not a boon to humankind but a disaster: for health and safety, for freedom, and for the natural world? What if the first cities were, above all, vast technologies of exploitation by a small and rapacious elite? If that is where we come from, who are we now? What possibilities might we discover by tracing our origins to a different kind of ancestor?

Sure, why not?  Even though mortality rates have declined those mortality rates being as low as they are may be the biggest problem in the global crisis of overpopulation, food shortages, water supply issues, fossil fuel consumption ... on the whole it might be that Western civilization could end the planet and for what?  To thine own self be true? 

It's just that saying that modern civilization has been a disaster is easy for anyone to proclaim who hasn't had to live with disabilities or who only survived infancy because of medical technology.  The history of white guys proclaiming that civilization is what really enslaves humanity goes back to at least Rousseau, right? 
Scott’s retelling, however, goes deeper than scrambling the chronology and emphasizing the dark side of early institutions. Life in cities, he argues, was probably worse than foraging or herding. City dwellers were vulnerable to epidemics. Their diets were less varied than those of people on the outside. Unless they were in the small ruling class, they had less leisure, because they had to produce food not just for their own survival, but also to support their rulers. Their labor might be called on to build fortresses, monuments, and those ever-looming walls. Outside the walls, by contrast, a fortunate savage or barbarian might be a hunter in the morning, a herder or fisherman in the afternoon, and a bard singing tales around the fire in the evening. To enter the city meant joining the world’s first proletariat.

So why would anyone come into the city? Scott argues, based on reconstruction of ancient soils and climate, that around 5,000 years ago, droughts in the fertile wetlands of Mesopotamia made wild foods critically scarce, which meant that foragers had to rely more and more on grain to feed themselves. Once a system of labor was in place, fresh bodies could be hustled into it by the new sub–ruling class of soldiers, or swept up en masse in slave raids. Enslavement was nothing new, but the tax-grain-surplus regime enabled the new cities’ rulers to scale it up immensely. Once the exploitation machine called civilization was running, it was self-perpetuating.
Except that it often was not, because cities were acutely vulnerable—both more powerful and fragile than the more diverse and dispersed ways of life that preceded them. Besides epidemics, they tended to produce ecological crises, such as gradual salinization of the soil, sediment buildup in canals, and other environmental choke points that degraded grain production. And although urban ruling classes wielded organized military power, they were often sitting ducks for barbarian raiders. Many stories of civilizational flowering end with raiders riding in from the plains or their black sails appearing in the harbor, bringing looting, fire, and the end of days.


We are the only things here, and “here” is a planetary version of the infrastructure state. There really is no more outside. All of this leaves us to ask how far we, on the inside, can overcome the inherited logic of our exploitation machine, and how much of the nonhuman world will be left if we do. Any answers will unavoidably come through political projects to remake this world in gentler and more inclusive forms, so that it can house more kinds of lives. The state got us into this. It is only by using the state for new purposes that we can hope to get ourselves someplace else.

While civilization in the Western sense may be dubbed the greatest social disease in the history of humanity it is apparently also the only legitimate possibility for a cure?  that might suggest that the ideal of Anglo-Americanist global rule is still alive and kicking.

Of course now we can attempt to ensure that that ruling elite is more diverse on matters of sexuality and skin color but the ultimate indisputability of that ruling elite guiding the future of humanity isn't really up for question, is it? 

I've never subscribed to the idea that civilization as we know it was a Genesis 3 narrative reborn.  That strengths are also corresponding weaknesses seems like a pretty simple observation to make about urban life.  Since I've started into Jacques Ellul's The Meaning of the City some of this stuff in the Purdy article is interesting but not stuff Ellul didn't mention about the inherently dehumanizing and commodifying nature of city life decades ago. 

But what makes this kind of thing seem tiresome to me is the assumption that hunter gatherers didn't enslave people.  Maybe in Africa and Europe hunter gatherers didn't necessarily enslave people but it would be a pretty wild misrepresentation of global human history to take that as a universal. 

Especially on a day like Thanksgiving here in the early 21st century the temptation to present the Native Americans as fantastic people who were in touch with nature that were decimated by white colonialists is irresistible.  It's ... partly true, white people decimated the Native American population but the in touch with nature stuff has been skewered by writers like Sherman Alexie for decades.

But there's a simple reason to doubt the legitimacy of the idea that hunter gatherer societies were more egalitarian and less defined by class than urban systems, and that would be the preponderance of ethnographic and anthropological research that has been done on those tribes that spent centuries here in the Pacific Northwest prior to encounters with white settlers. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

HT Terry Teachout's blog, RIP George Avakian, record producer and ... well, he's too big a name in the history of jazz to not note his passing

George Avakian’s contribution to the history of jazz was significant beyond reckoning. He produced the first true jazz album in 1940, while he was still an undergraduate at Yale. He quarried Columbia Records’ back catalogue to create the first major-label series of jazz reissues, starting with King Louis, a album of classic 78 sides by Louis Armstrong, to whom he eventually became personally close. By the Fifties he had emerged as a record producer of supreme importance, working with such artists as Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Tony Bennett, Dave Brubeck, Paul Desmond, Erroll Garner, Benny Goodman, Gerry Mulligan, and Sonny Rollins.

he links to a few other links

the website Mars Hill Was us has expired, for those who keep track of those things, and an atheist muses upon Ravi Zacharias' credentials being honorary rather than earned as a symptom of the Christian Industrial Complex.

domain expired, etc, etc.

For those who would like to do any historical research or historiography about Mars Hill the online presence of testimonies about the community got a little smaller.  There's still the sprawl of content at, which ideally will be around for as long as somebody keeps it up and here's hoping that the site stays up.

Christian popular publishing and journalism seems to have proceeded more or less as though it's time to "move on".  If that's the actual sentiment then I disagree.  If we don't examine the historical, social, economic and industry dynamics that led to the emergence of a Mars Hill in the first place, to say nothing of the nexus of doctrinal and intellectual currents that informed the movement during its existence and very likely animates the existence of those churches that spun out from Mars Hill in the wake of its implosion, then we won't understand what happened.  It already seems that those committed to celebrity Christianity of the red and blue stripes and a putative left, right or center have been content to use Mars Hill as a springboard for the kinds of thinkpieces chock full of lessons to be learned that are the same damned talking points these groups would have come up with whether or not Mars Hill collapsed. 

The most prominent scandal "then" that has been ignored in the "now" has been the academic integrity of Mark Driscoll's intellectual property. It wasn't uncommon for evangelical and conservative Christians to basically say that, oh, well, copyright isn't even really a Christian concept anyway and it's one of those dubious ideas that purports to lay claim to ownership of ideas.  Well, no, only a moron would seriously attempt to make that kind of case.  Copyright is a legal claim and it's a legal claim regarding labor, specifically whose labor led to what replicable or preservable result. 

I've seen Marxist arguments against the legitimacy of current copyright laws that made sense by arguing that they posit an exploitive relationship between whoever owns the copyright and whoever labored to create the content covered under the copyright, and the sordid history of comic book creators who made fantastically popular characters that were not fairly compensated is easy to consult.  Just look at how the creators of Superman got treated for starters and that's just one of the more famous and easy cases. 

But when evangelicals and conservative Anglo-American Christians argue against copyright they might as well assert that plagiarism isn't significant to them.  If it's not that doesn't mean it hasn't remained significant to secular writers or to those Christians who regard copyright infringement as deceit and a form of theft.

To put things another way, the Driscoll plagiarism controversies surrounding intellectual property and its promotion within the Christian publishing and media scene of the United States could have opened further inquiry into the extent to which allegations of credential inflation and spurious claims to scholarship can be regarded as driving popular Christian apologetics and social activism in the usually narrow range of topics.

The usually narrow range of topics tends to be: sex, political power and influence, social influence that can be used toward either of the aforementioned ends, and ... eh ... whining about the loss of a social and academic prestige we never actually had and very likely never will have because we'll never deserve it. 

If there has been a theme that has pervaded this blog more as subtext than direct address it's that the Christian Industrial Complex across the entire spectrum of the putatively blue and red; the putatively left, right and center in Anglo-American Christianity across this continent, seems so completely riven with graft and incompetence there's no point in hoping that the world will take "us" seriously.  Why should they?  First of all, as I've explicitly written of evangelicalism over the years, we squander what little intellectual capital we have in bewailing our lack of recognized public intellectuals.  But the public intellectual as priestly wonk influencing society in some way was more a Cold War figure and to the extent that such figures guide policy now the sort of post-Cold War neoliberal globalist paradigm that the smart set have been advocating for is too inimical to conventionally evangelical eschatological pessimism to fit those who have most likely been trained in American contexts to embrace a kind of dispensationalist/futurist pessimism. 

Now there are those into theonomy and postmillennialist ideals but those people don't seem to realize that the reason they get pissed off by Marxists is that Marxists aren't really "that" different in embracing a utopian eschatological view.  When people opposed to theocratic postmillennialism broadbrush that group as wanting to create a massive paternalistic totalitarian regime a la The Handmaid's Tale the implausibility of that particular dystopia is irrelevant in real world terms because in a lot of ways people who are afraid of that are afraid of that because they think it's plausible to believe that whether or not the religious right "can" implement such a world the persistence with which they seem to want to create such a world is sufficient grounds to impute that totalitarian paternalistic impulse to them. Perhaps too many Anglo-American sorts who are into Reformed thinkers object to Catholic doctrine without recognizing that once they got political power they, too, were indistinguishable in socio-political terms from that entity they at times identified with the Beast. 

It's unlikely that anybody who was co-founding Mars Hill a bit more than twenty years ago wanted the movement to go down in flames after years of public scandal and controversy over intellectual integrity, questions about fiscal competence, and concerns about a squalid set of double standards put into effect by a leadership culture that seemed more obsessed with appearances in the end than by doing what has been, in traditional Christian doctrinal and ethical teaching, been advocacy that those who lead be the servants of all and lead by their own respective moral examples while teaching the doctrines of the Christian faith. 

What has happened here and there in the wake of the closure of Mars Hill is that people who met and married at Mars Hill have since got divorced.  It's easy for Driscoll to tout numbers, baptisms and marriages.  He doesn't have to go back and answer the question "how many of those baptized people are still Christians today?" or "how many of those people who were married at Mars Hill are still married now?"  Driscoll may never have to answer those questions because the Christian Industrial Complex doesn't really care about those people beyond being statistics, just like the world has no use for them unless they conform to the world. 

Lest it seem that the Christian Industrial Complex is just a "right" thing, it's not as though people who were ostensibly blue/left/progressive had much complaint about Tony Jones' treatment of his ex-wife.  Nor, for that matter, would the plagiarism of Martin Luther King Jr. necessarily lead people to disavow what he stood for but that gets to the question of what the Christian Industrial Complex might think is the potential payoff for overlooking character flaws that, by and large, we are known among American Christianity to allegedly refuse to overlook in others. 

One of the more interesting tossed off anecdotes in Terry Teachout's biography on Duke Ellington was a passage where Duke remarked to an associate that if King had really wanted to help the black community in that area he'd have advised the hearers of the speech to patronize black businesses--big grandstanding "I have a dream" speeches aren't necessarily bad but they can come across as publicity stunts to some.  Teachout's biography has had mixed reception among the jazz community and those who read about jazz.  If even a contemporary of King who was himself a black man could privately  express some skepticism about whether speeches by themselves "change everything" and that speech was given by someone who has a holiday now, how much dubious should people who think that contemporary participants in the Christian Industrial Complex, blue or red, or left, right and center will achieve any change?  Change for what?  What cultural power and influence do we think we'll get by having this apparatus?

Driscoll used to insist that you had to get the young men who would go "upstream" and be the ones who would make culture.  If the objections raised against this kind of thinking are merely that Mark Driscoll should have considered women, too, well .... I'm at a point in my life where I would say you're part of the same problem Driscoll has been part of.  If what you care about is a Tower of Babel legacy then you're working in the same direction Driscoll explicitly said he was working toward, which was to gain the status, privilege and prestige and resources from which to engineer the kind of culture he believed ought to be definitive.  Now maybe circa 2000-2002 he was still vaguely thinking more in terms of a counterculture that could be some kind of haven but by 2002 Driscoll recounted in his 2006 book that he had grown bored with no new mountain to climb and no new dragon to slay so he decided to blow everything up, introduce some strategic chaos, and start things all over again. 

Now if you happen to be a Christian reading this, dear reader, what about that mentality sounds like the heart of a shepherd to you?  By way of contrast with the idiotic "revenge of the beta males" narrative Doug Wilson decided to extract from the dumpster fire decline of Mars Hill Church, Mark Driscoll's whole mentality to ministry from roughly the 2002 period moving forward can be construed not as the work of a shepherd, in the end, but as an experiment in social engineering undertaken by a man whose overall outlook and work can be construed not so much as an actual pastor in any traditionally Christian understanding of the term as that of a propagandist. 

In a way Mark Driscoll's fall might be explicable by proposing that unlike other celebrity Christian propagandists he made the nature of the long-game too explicit in a church social system in which there were not only tech-savvy members who came to regret their role in developing the informational architecture of what can be regarded by many as a cult, he also made the nature of the long-game explicit in a way that invited insiders to ask why that was the nature of the long-game and not the more traditional Christian understanding of pastoral work as shepherding the hearts and souls of believers rather than establishing a cohesive multimedia imperial personal legacy.   It's not that the secular or liberal media somehow magically gained the ability to harm Driscoll's reputation in the 2011-2014 period when the rise of Mars Hill had been meteoric in the preceding decade.  Justin Dean's botched handling of one public relations crisis after another makes more sense than to pin things on hostile secular/liberal media.  No, what makes a bit more sense than even that is to suggest that once the tens of thousands of people were given enough information and context to understand what Mark Driscoll kept telling the leadership culture the nature of the game was, they had the opportunity to demonstrate through withheld donations and rescinded memberships that this was not the game they signed up for and that if that was the real nature of the game, they wouldn't play. 

That's not a lesson that can be summed up in saying that the real good guys won.  No, in my life and the lives of thousands of others a more apt description might be that we had to learn how to repent of what we'd invested ourselves in. 

a long-form piece at the Texas National Security Review on the durable coherence of Pax Anglo-Saxonica despite putative differences between socialists (H G Wells) and imperialists (Kipling)

The pursuit of something called “world order” has been an almost ever-present feature of Western – more specifically, American and British — statecraft for at least 100 years. It is embedded in a discourse about international affairs that can be traced back to the late 19th century, when Britain became increasingly conscious of the fragility of its empire, and the United States began to recognize the full extent of its potential power. Notions of regional or international order date further back than that and have long had a central place in conceptions of European statecraft, since the Treaty of Westphalia at least. But, the pursuit of world order speaks to a higher objective than the pursuit of the national interest or the mere preservation of stability and security in one’s neighborhood.

All versions of world order are, to some extent, aspirational and visionary. They express a wish to guide the international future towards a more desirable destination. This is obviously true of more idealized versions of world order, some of which have gone so far as to envisage a future utopia in which humanity is unified under one law, war is abolished and reason prevails in the governance of man (seen in the work of H.G. Wells, for example). But, it also applies to more avowedly “realist” thinking on world order, which seeks “co-evolution” among nation states or great civilizational blocs as a better means to preserve international harmony, while eschewing “universalism” (in the alternative vision of Henry Kissinger).4 Either way, the historical record suggests that one’s view of world order is inseparable from one’s worldview. It reveals the beholder’s hope for how the world should or could be, rather than simply how it is.

The pursuit of world order has taken many forms in the last 100 years of Anglo-American statecraft, and its terms have been bitterly contested. It has been used as shorthand for a vast range of potential scenarios: from a unified “world state,” governed by a single supranational institution, to a balance of power in which the strongest prevail. Somewhere between these two poles sits the idea of “liberal international order” — the precise terms of which are much contested today. This essay does not seek to establish a typology between these various definitions, or to place them on an idealist-realist spectrum. The fluidity of the foreign policy debate, and the changing positions of those engaged in it, belies any such attempt. Instead, the essay seeks to identify a number of key inflection points in the evolution and metastization of different Anglo-American ideas of “world order” over the last century.
The method adopted is that used by scholars of intellectual history, which has increasingly been applied to the study of international relations in recent years. In the first instance, this stresses the context-specific meaning of key political ideas (such as world order), while also opening up an inquiry into their genesis and lineage.5 This inquiry begins with an analysis of a particular moment in November 1969, when the fundamental assumptions of American foreign policy were being re-examined, and it expands from there. Simply speaking, it demonstrates the enduring power of ideas.

Specifically, the idea that a better world was achievable — through a combination of vision and human ingenuity — has provided a higher cause and unifying philosophy in Anglo-American statecraft. While conceptual purity has been elusive, the commitment to this endeavor has transcended different historical eras. When viewed over the longue durĂ©e, the yearning for equilibrium, structure, and order in international affairs provides an explanatory spine to the story of American and British foreign policy over the course of the last century. It also becomes clear that contending ideas of world order have been entwined with existential questions, such as the meaning of history, the survival of Western civilization, and the very future of mankind.


For a fleeting moment, America’s entry into the Great War and Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points re-energized the idea that such a Western-led world order could be built.61 While some of the supporters of the Anglo-American alliance in Britain were imperial survivalists, there were also genuine internationalists in the mould of Wells. The failure of the United States to join the League of Nations in 1920 was a bitter disappointment to the advocates of this new world order. At the same time, quite justifiably, some of the most forthright advocates of American internationalism believed that the project had been corrupted in inception by the failure of the European powers — Britain foremost among them — to abandon their imperial ambitions.62

No sooner, then, had the concept of “world order” been transferred from theorists to statesmen that it became associated with failure. ...

Yet, to return to the fundamental point of this essay, the definition of world order matters much less than the sense in which it has been held out as the ultimate goal of Western statecraft.

As H.G. Wells wrote in 1940, what was really important was not the identity of the people who pursued world order, the timeline on which it was to be achieved or the nature of the utopia they envisaged. He explained:
No man, no group of men, will ever be singled out as its father or founder. For its maker will be not this man nor that man nor any man but Man, that being who is in some measure in every one of us.
Instead, world order would be like most great civilizational achievements, “a social product” and “collective achievement” of many lives. What really mattered was that people in a century scourged by human destruction were now engaged in this collective effort:
A growing miscellany of people are saying — it is getting about — that “World Pax is possible,” a World Pax in which men will be both united and free and creative. It is of no importance at all that nearly every man of fifty and over receives the idea with a pitying smile. Its chief dangers are the dogmatist and the would-be “leader” who will try to suppress every collateral line of work which does not minister to his supremacy. This movement must be, and it must remain, many-headed. … The new order will be incessant; things will never stop happening. …91
The pursuit of world order may indeed be a many-headed monster or the vaguest of aspirations. It is a work of abstract art never complete.  ...

Not just a work of abstract art, you could say, but a vision of a total work of art which has as its subject humanity itself; it's not that difficult to consider the possibility that European avant garde thought and various elements within the traditions of Western liberalism have ultimately had as its goal building a tower in the plains of Shinar, while attempting to obfuscate to itself how obviously this has been the case. 

over at Slipped Disc, a note about how it's Nikolai Kapustin's birthday, so we'll have a short list of recent dissertations on the composer's work.

I first learned of Kapustin's work through ... it was some Boston arts online journal.  The name escapes me but there was an interesting survey of the jazz-influenced piano concerto that mentioned Kapustin's work.  I've given a lot of his piano sonatas a listen and I'm afraid that as charming as they are mid-listen they're pretty in-one-ear-and-out-the-other for me.  I like them while I'm listening to them but they're hard to remember.

The preludes and fugues, on the other hand, those are really good!   It's probably my favorite cycle of preludes and fugues for solo piano since the Shostakovich cycle.  I mean, the Rodion Shchedrin set of preludes and fugues is pretty cool, too, but the Kapustin preludes and fugues are a pretty fine set of pieces.  What I admire about Kapustin's cycle of preludes and fugues is what he doesn't do with them that may be somewhat common among Soviet composers and composers from the former Soviet bloc--which is to say I notice this more with the Shostakovich and Shchedrin and Rekhin cycles--of focusing on cyclical unifying variables to a degree that I frankly don't think is necessary for a set of preludes and fugues.  A cycle of fugues is a grab bag, it should be a reflection of any and every possible variable of stye within a musical epoch or region.  Bach's famous forty-eight don't have a thread of linking motifs across all the subjects and preludes of the sort you might detect in Shchedrin, and there's no recursive formulation of fourth alternations like the Rekhin cycle. 

If Kapustin takes a few liberties in accenting harmonies that, strictly speaking, shouldn't be in a merely three-voiced fugue to establish that he's opening with a subject on a sixth scale degree that can be a little jarring at first but fairly easily forgiven.  Given the expanded harmonic pallete of even the most conservative 20th century music we shouldn't be too surprised by that kind of thing.

Kapustin is probably not the first or only composer to attempt a giant contrapuntal cycle that draws inspiration more from Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson and other early jazz masters than Bach.  Michelle Gorrell's cycle isn't fully published yet but I have liked what I've heard her do with a jazz/classical fusion.  I'm less excited about the Henry Martin cycle but some of the preludes and fugues in that set are really good.  Overall, however, Kapustin's contrapuntal cycle comes closest to making use of jazz vocabularies within a context that would be considered "classical".  That said, however, Kapustin never considers what he composes to be jazz since it's all meticulously written out in his scores what you play and, additionally, there's no improvisation.  As scholars who have discussed Kapustin's work have repeatedly noted, one of the loopholes in Soviet-era bans on jazz had to do with whether or not there was improvisation in the music.  If the vocabulary was otherwise jazz but did not have improvisation of any kind then government censure was relatively unlikely.  Of course you could still end up in the Gulag anyway for all sorts of other reasons like a Zaderatsky or a Weinberg but we're not talking about them today. 

If I have a recurring critique of Kapustin's work it's that he lets his fingers do the talking and they can talk a lot.  His macro-structural approach to form is usually fine but the way Charles Rosen put it, sonata forms are a set of techniques that can be used to put in relief thematic relationships.  So that's the nerdy scholar-invoking way of saying that Kapustin's themes are often fun and listenable but that his capacity for thematic differentiation can be weak in his sonatas.  He never has that problem in his preludes and fugues, which are (at least in my experience and opinion) reliably good across his entire cycle.  If I were to nominate a set of early 21st century preludes and fugues for more detailed scholarly at a doctoral level (not even trying to just drop hints here), Kapustin's set would be the set to dig into.  Thankfully Schott has published volumes 1 and 2 of his cycle as of 2015. 

In case you want to do any further reading on Kapustin's work these doctoral dissertations are all fairly recent and you can probably find open source versions of them if you can[t find them within university library exchange tools of some kind.

Jonathan Edward Mann
Red, White, and Blue Notes: The Symbiotic Music of Nikolai Kapustin
University of Cincinnati

Jonathan Eugene Roberts
Classical Jazz: The Life and Musical Innovations of Nikolai Kapustin
University of Alabama

Tatiana Abramova
The Synthesis of Jazz and Classical Styles in Three Piano Works of Nikolai Kapustin
Temple University

Classical and Jazz Influences in the Music of Nikolai Kapustin: Piano Sonata No. 3, Op. 55 
by Tyulkova, Yana, D.M.A., West Virginia University, 2015, 99; 3702047
Poised between two worlds : Nikolai Kapustin's Piano Sonata No. 1 and the classical and jazz tradition
Kit Loong Yee
Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Seattle press reports arrest of man, and seizure of AR-15 rifle, who threatened Cross and Crown Church, formerly Mars Hill Ballard

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.

Radical Reformission
ISBN 0-310-25659-3Mark Driscoll
copyright 2004 by Mars Hill Church

page 14
... So I married Grace, began studying Scripture with the enthusiasm of a glutton at a buffet, and started preparing myself to become a pastor who does not go to jail for doing something stupid. To pay the bills, I edited the opinions section of the campus newspaper, writing inflammatory columns that led to debates, radio interviews, and even a few bomb threats--which was wonderful, because the only thing worse than dying is living a boring life.

There may never come a day when the co-founding elder of what was once Mars Hill, Mark Driscoll, may fully be able to appreciate the legacy he has made for himself.  He can talk about the number of people that were baptized at Mars Hill Church and never have to stop to wonder how many of those people who were baptized then are even still Christians now.  He can also talk about how many people got married, even though he preached himself that the first day of your marriage isn't what defines your marriage, the last day does.  He can talk about the lives that were changed in abstract ways, about lives changed by Jesus ... but as I've written extensively over the years which Jesus are we talking about?  The Jesus presented in the Bible or a Jesus reverse-engineered in Driscoll's preaching to correspond to Mark Driscoll's own ideas about manliness?  A person with a life changed by that kind of Jesus may end up twice the son of hell he might have been before.

After Pussified Nation was made available for public consideration Driscoll made a point of saying he felt differently in 2014 than he did when he wrote as William Wallace II.  In a 2006 he admitted he sinned and cussed a lot but that God drew a straight line with a crooked stick.  But at no point has Mark Driscoll said that he thinks differently on social and gender issues now than he did in his 2000 provocation. 

He can say that he no longer feels the way he did when he was writing as William Wallace II.  He may one day even think differently than he did when he wrote as William Wallace II.  Had a whole lot more of us seen William Wallace II to be who Mark Driscoll really was without a mask of public piety, there might have been no Mars Hill left after 2001, but too many of us who were there thought the show was for confrontation.  People needed to have a sense of humor and recognize a character on a message board for what it was.  Others of us (me) mistakenly believed that while the rants reflected who the guy really was at the time, he could get better and had submitted himself to older and wiser men who would be able to reel him in and spur him to dial things back.  Obviously that hope proved to be profoundly mistaken and I hope to never stop regretting the small part I played in entertaining that overly permissive and optimistic hope. 

The Mark Driscoll at The Trinity Church is the Mark Driscoll who wrote the passages quoted above about how he loved fighting and that he wrote editorials that even allegedly inspired a few bomb threats. 

Why mention this?

Because the legacy of Mark Driscoll and how he led Mars Hill Church and the kind of leadership example he provided to his leadership culture can never be merely checklists of baptisms and wedding ceremonies and "lives changed".  There are also the other things like those who saw how Mark Driscoll and others chose to live and, in response, chose to reject the Christian faith; or those marriages that were founded on a vision of married life inculcated by a Driscollian example that Real Marriage revealed may have been more of an act for the public than a lived reality; because the kind of man who could have proxies lament that other people cribbed his work may have taken a few shortcuts on footnotes himself. Because, in a phrase, in his post Mars Hill interviews Mark Driscoll has seemed a bit more eager to take credit for positives than to mention any particular negatives. Because it's possible for legacies to live on, but especially because it's possible for legacies to live on in ways that impact people I've met.

So, in case anyone actually forgot this, Cross and Crown was once Mars Hill Ballard. It wasn't going to escape my attention that some man was arrested recently for issuing threats to Cross and Crown Church.   This was reported recently be Deborah Horne.

and also at

Goga's alleged messages were sent to pastors at the Cross and Crown Church. The pastors told police that Goga had not been in contact with any members of the church for about a 18 months, when, they said, he had previously threatened to burn the church down -- an incident that was not reported to police. The pastors told police Goga had become upset with them because they had recommended he seek medical help for past comments he had made.


Goga reportedly had previously attended the Cross and Crown Church and threatened to burn it down a year and a half ago, according to police. That threat reportedly came after church members told Goga to seek medical treatment.

According to police, he began sending emails to the church in October saying "people are going to get themselves killed now" and "time to engage the artillery and kill you all."

Seattle police officers arrested a 25-year-old man in Snoqualmie on November 9 for allegedly sending a series of threatening emails to a University District church that he previously attended, according to the department's blotter. Police detectives seized an AR-15 rifle from the man's home in Covington after his arrest.
A police spokesperson identified the arrestee as Edeek Goga. King County prosecutors on Thursday charged Goga with felony harassment for the alleged threats. Jail records show that he was released on bail on November 14. Prosecutors had request bond of $100,000.

Goga allegedly began sending threatening emails to Cross and Crown Church in October, including a message saying "time to engage the artillery and kill you all.” Goga's messages followed a Facebook post 12 days earlier containing a photo of an AR-15 and the message "going on an adventure.” Church officials reportedly called the police, and officers made note of call.

On Tuesday, the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s office charged a 25-year-old Covington man with felony harassment for threatening violence against a Seattle church, according to charging documents. Seattle Police arrested Edeek Grigorovich Goga on Nov. 9 and placed him in King County Jail, but he was released on bail five days later, according to jail records.

On the evening of Oct. 26, Edeek Grigorovich Goga reportedly sent threatening emails to two pastors at the Cross and Crown Church in the University District, which he had previously attended. It was the first time Goga had contacted any of the church members since allegedly threatening to burn down the building a year and a half ago. The October emails to the pastors contained criticism of the church for recommending that Goga seek medical treatment: “Time to engage the artillery and kill you all,” they read, in part. Although the church hadn’t reported the previous arson threat, the pastors did alert SPD of the emails because they feared that Goga might act upon his threats.


Seattle Police Swat arrested Goga at his landscaping job in Snoqualmie on November 9, and detectives later confiscated an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle from his Covington home.
According to the charging documents, Goga told police that he was angry at the Cross and Crown Church for not helping him overcome his depression, but that they “should have known that he did not intend to carry through with his threat.”

Now for the review of the history of how Mars Hill Ballard became Cross and Crown.  Cross and Crown has had a bit of a journey in terms of real estate, but it was formerly a church that opened up in the wake of the demise of Mars Hill, and was onceMars Hill Ballard.
Eventually Cross and Crown Church relocated after the sale of the former Ballard campus to Quest Church

Cross and Crown Church relocated to what was once the Mars Hill University District campus, and purchased that real estate on March 10, 2016 according to the King County Assessor records.

It's worth emphasizing that a big reason this matters is because back in the William Wallace II days Mark Driscoll's approach was to write incendiary, provocative stuff and then all of a sudden when people decided to escalate real-world aggression in response to Driscoll's on-line provocations his tune changed abruptly.  We'll get to that tone-shift soon enough but first ...

One of the things Driscoll mentioned in his 2013 piece "The Hardest Part of Ministry" was the fear he had for the safety of his family, a thoroughly understandable and legitimate concern.  Yet in all of that verbiage Driscoll avoided mentioning that he had a long history of deliberately incendiary public statements.  The easiest example of how he decided to court controversy was with Pussified Nation but we have the quotation from his 2004 book establishing that he managed to, by his account, incite some bomb threats and that he loved that because the only thing worse than death would be a boring life right?

And then when potentially emotionally or mentally unstable (or simply very angry) people escalated responses to seeking physical confrontations Driscoll suddenly dropped the role-playing and talked about how crazy it was that people were taking things too seriously.

Coming from a man who would, ten years later, only be seen by the majority of Mars Hill Church members through the mediation of a screen and a week later than the date he would preach his sermons the irony of this 2001 polemic would be hard to overstate.  The line between fantasy and reality can be pretty easily crossed when you go out of your way to not deal with people in person. 

For a guy who claimed to be a pastor he should know there's a proverb about how like throwing around flaming arrows, firebrands and death is the one who deceives his neighbor and then says "I was joking." 

Having recently finished reading Justin Dean's book PR Matters what jumps out about this recent headline is that the arrested person had an association with a church community that was once part of Mars Hill.  As Justin Dean has gone out from his post-mars Hill work into publishing a book on how public relations is important for your church he's shared some stuff that suggests that we who have covered the history of Mars Hill have potentially seen just the  tip of the iceberg of a large church culture with some stuff that hadn't been discussed while Mars Hill existed.  We'll get to a specific example on the subject of men with guns who were church members precisely because Dean mentioned a case in his new book.

It's important to establish that prior to working on staff in communications at Mars Hill Justin Dean never worked in PR for a church previously and he has not been listed as on staff in a PR capacity since the end of Mars Hill at very many a place (i.e. any so far).

Communications Director

Mars Hill Church
(3 years 3 months)
I oversaw all communications, content and editorial, social media, and public relations for one of the largest churches in America.

Founded in 1996 by Pastor Mark Driscoll, Mars Hill was one church with 15 locations in 5 states and ultimately closed its doors at the end of 2014. Visit to learn more.

Prior to Mars Hill he worked at Ygnition Networks and since Mars Hill he has not listed being on staff at a single church. 

That's a significant bit of history to know because when it turns out Dean's only ever been on staff in communications at a single church that was the former Mars Hill it's all but impossible to not notice something like the following.

PR Matters: A Survival Guide for Church Communicators
Justin Dean
copyright (c) 2017 by Justin J. Dean. Published by DOXA Media Group, LLC
ISBN 0692862676

ISBN-13: 978-0692862674
from Chapter Ten, Crisis Planning

page 177
We were in a bit of a crisis mode when we realized the shooter at a local Christian school was a member of our church. The media never linked the story to us, but we went into crisis mode just in case they did. It would have been devastating had the headlines turned to "Local Church Member Shoots Up School."

it's impossible to think of more than, really, just one shooting incident at any place that could be described as being a Christian school in the Seattle area.  That would have been the 2014 shooting incident at Seattle Pacific University. You couldn't possibly just stroll into the Crawford Music Building these days to visit faculty and staff or practice some piano without getting security clearance to enter that building.  You don't have to really guess how I know this, do you? I haven't exactly made being an SPU alumni all that secret even if I don't normally mention it here. 

In order to fully appreciate this disclosure from Dean it may be helpful to know that his employer, Mars Hill Church, was already likely in crisis mode over the previous year for completely other reasons.  The June 5, 2014 shooting incident at Seattle Pacific University happened just a few months after the Mars Hill Board of Advisors and Accountability issued a statement in the wake of WORLD magazine reporting that Mars Hill had contracted with Result Source to secure a #1 place on the NYT bestseller list for Mark and Grace Driscoll's Real Marriage.

Driscoll was also embroiled in a controversy related to his books after a late 2013 on air conversation in which Janet Mefferd accused him of plagiarism.  Just a month before that fateful November 2013 conversation Mars Hill had a public relations debacle in the form of the Good for Bellevue online campaign on behalf of Mars Hill getting the International Paper Building, which had turned out to have been purchased by Sound Transit at least a month earlier.

In the context of a cumulative dumpster fire of successive public relations nightmares, if it were also discovered that a man who shot and killed at a Christian school in the Puget Sound area turned out to be a church member a certain church might have died even earlier than it did.


Ybarra has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

Berliner described to jurors how Ybarra posed as a potential transfer student to scout the campus, twice visited a Lynnwood gun store to load up on birdshot and detailed in his journal his hatred for the world.

She said the state doesn’t contest that Ybarra “is mentally ill to some degree,” but noted he intentionally stopped therapy and medication to fuel his hate.

“Mentally ill is not legally insane,” she said. “We ask you to pay attention to the facts and the words the defendant used back then.”

It wasn’t until long after his arrest that Ybarra would claim he was suffering under a delusion that he was being commanded by God, she said. But in the shooting’s immediate aftermath, Ybarra told police detectives he was angry at what he perceived as disrespect from other people and felt “powerful” after committing the shootings, Berliner said.

“That’s why he wanted people to die — he wanted people to take him seriously,” she said.

Before Aaron Ybarra was sentenced to 112 years in prison, he named each of the victims — the freshman who was killed, the young woman who was critically wounded and the three students who managed to run away — of his June 2014 shooting at Seattle Pacific University.

“I’ve realized I’ve damaged more than just innocent people. I damaged the community and even the world. I’ve hurt a lot of people’s emotions. I wish I could take that away, but I can’t,” Ybarra, 29, said Friday. “I’m sorry to the world.”
During his trial last fall, jurors heard Ybarra’s anger at the world that prompted him to go off his medications, scout the campus and then return with a 12-gauge shotgun on the second-to-last day of classes, intent on killing as many people as he could. He had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

The SPU shooting incident is literally the only shooting incident at a Christian school that comes to mind, and that was in 2014.  If Justin Dean or others are aware of some other shooting at a Christian school that can get clarified later.  And since it's been established by Dean's own history of his employment that he was on staff as communications leadership at Mars Hill Church and served in no staff capacity at a church be

.fore or since to date then "our church" seems like it could only have referred to an incident in which it was feared the press would discover that someone who shot people at a Christian school in the Puget Sound area was a member of ... Mars Hill Church. 

Mark Driscoll can go on the road and talk about lives changed but if it turns out that part of the Mars Hill Church history is that a member of that church went to Seattle Pacific University, shot and killed someone, and ended up pleading not guilty by way of insanity then that's part of Mark "I see things" Driscoll's legacy, too.  That, too, has to be considered part of the Mars Hill Church legacy if it turns out to be the case.

If it turns out to be the case then what good were those spiritual super-powers of discerning abuses after they allegedly happened (if they even happened) that Mark Driscoll shared in 2008, if it turned out Driscoll didn't even have sight clear enough to avoid a plagiarism controversy by putting the appropriate footnotes into his books in their first editions?  If Driscoll had the discernment he has claimed to have how did he manage to get embroiled in a plagiarism controversy to begin with, let alone the Result Source controversy?  Driscoll used to say headship means it's your responsibility as the man in charge even if it's not your fault.  If he ever took that principle of headship seriously then would an incident like a school shooting perpetrated by a church member not count? 

Most ironic of all, perhaps, is that had Justin Dean not mentioned working at a church where they feared the press would discover a guy who shot up a local Christian school was a church member, it's possible nobody would even be in a position to point out that the only church this could have been at was Mars Hill ,simply on the basis of the single church Justin Dean has established that he ever worked for. 

It's good to hear that nobody at Cross and Crown Church was harmed.  I'm not going to skip over the fact that I know people who are over there, even if I haven't seen them in a while.  I'm grateful nobody got hurt. 

POSTSCRIPT 11-21-2017

One of the things that is impossible to establish from Dean's anecdote is whether the person who shot up a Christian school was, in fact, verifiably a member of the church at the time of the incident.  In the case of Mars Hill someone might attend for years and never technically be a member but be recognized within the Mars Hill community.  Someone might be a member, allow membership to expire, and yet still attend for a time.  Which is to say that Dean's use of "member" is vague even if we can establish from Dean's own accounting of his professional history that he was never working as communications staff for any church but Mars Hill Church.

Another point for consideration is that within the history of Mars Hill Church leadership have been known to say things in hyperbolic ways or to exaggerate slightly for rhetorical and contextual effect.  Take, for instance, Mark Driscoll's 2006 sermon account of how Mars Hill Church acquired the West Seattle campus.  Be patient, there's a reason for all this subsequent detail.

Part 26: One Body, Many parts
1 Corinthians 12:12-26
Pastor Mark Driscoll
July 30, 2006

… In the meantime, we also picked up another miracle. This is West Seattle. This is on 35th at the top of the hill in West Seattle as you head toward White Center. I grew up in this neighborhood. This is a church building that is an absolute miracle. I’ll tell you the story on this space. I tried to launch Mars Hill Church in that building ten years ago, and we were rejected, and I’ve always wanted to be in there since. And what happened was, is we were growing. I went to Pastor Bill Clem, who was leading that congregation. He planted it for Acts 29 Church Planning Network [emphasis added], him and James Noriega, who is the other elder there and I said, “We’re maxed out. You got a fat building, 50,000 square feet, 1,000 seats.:” It’s a bigger building and the one you’re sitting in right now. I said, “Is there any way we to use it?” They said, “Well, we wanna reach as many people in West Seattle as possible. How about if we give it to you and work together?” we prayed about it for a second and said, “Yes.”

That is a $5 million gift. That is a $5 million gift, right? And I don’t know if you’ve been tracking the real estate market, people aren’t giving away a lotta real estate right now in Seattle and so we have – we’ve taken Pastor James and Pastor Bill on staff at Mars Hill. We have taken their members through the Gospel Class and they’re now members of Mars Hill. [emphasis added] They’ve been meeting as a core group over there. As we speak, there is $1.5 million of construction going on at the West Seattle campus, with the intention of opening in October in time for our ten year anniversary, and we want to expand over to West Seattle as well. We were thinking, “Well, we can borrow $8 million from the bank. We can spend $3 million and for $11 million, we can open up a 40,000 square foot location.” Well, we can now open more square feet for $1.5 million. So obviously, you take that opportunity.

The two cool aspects of this particular campus is one, is already zoned as a church, so we don’t need to fight use permits. We don’t have to bring it up to code. We can just walk in and use it immediately and it saves us, literally, a few years of permitting. Secondly, the lot that it is on is only zoned for 15,000 square feet of building and it already has 50,000 square feet, and because as grandfathered in, we could use it all. We could never build this building today as it exists.  And the cool thing with this building, a very Godly church that loved the Bible – started this church, built it, their denomination went liberal, dropped the doctrine of the inerrancy or perfection of Scripture and this building went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and was the test case for who owns the church building, the congregation or the denomination. The congregation lost and these people actually bought their own building back, because they refused to drop the authority of Scripture as their value. [emphasis added] And so, there were some Godly older saints who paid for this building twice. It then went into decline but there is still a core of these people, like in their 70s and 80s, that are now members of Mars Hill. Grandmas tithing, waiting for us all to show up and fill that thing up again, and they’re praying us in. It’s a really cool God story and what God has done is pretty amazing.

The first thing to address out the gate is the Supreme Court case.  Was the property that was known as Doxa church involved in a case that went to the U. S. Supreme Court?  Well, Driscoll doesn't provide any meaningful background as to when this case might have been heard even at a local level, let alone gone to the United States Supreme Court.  He also doesn't mention whether the high court even agreed to hear the case.  

Hillcrest Presbyterian Church vs the Presbytery of America.

Well, the thing about Hillcrest Presbyterian is that if you look it up now here's what you'll probably find first:

10404 34th Avenue SW
Seattle, WA 98146

That's roughly a six minute drive from the property that is now Mars Hill West Seattle which is here:
7551 35th Avenue SW
Seattle, WA 98126

Okay, so if you look up Presbytery of America literally you won't find it.  You will find this, however.

PCUSA, for the folks who aren't actually Presbyterian, would be considered by Driscoll in all likelihood to have been a denomination that sold out on the inerrancy of scripture.. 

Here's a reference to this case hitting the Supreme Court of Washington from October 9, 1973. 

The case didn't actually get appealed to the United States Supreme Court until Apr 22, 1974 and the Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

The reason that's significant is because if you bothered to look up the case Driscoll seemed to be alluding to it only went up to the Supreme Court long enough to get shot down on the basis that the high court wasn't interested in appealing or overturning a ruling already made at the state level.  At the most basic level Driscoll had to fudge what it meant for a case to go "all the way up" to the Supreme Court.

If Justin Dean were put on the spot about whether or not Ybarra, who shot people at Seattle Pacific University in 2014, was ever a member or an attender of Mars Hill it's not clear that he could establish that that was the case.  More to the point, in the literary context of Chapter Ten, where Dean was emphasizing how it is important for a church to have a crisis plan ready for potential crises in public relations, the whole point of the story is more of a "here's a for instance" that is used to bolster "why" from a case study. 

The trouble is that if Dean was alluding to the Ybarra shooting incident then this suggests that things behind the scenes at Mars Hill were stranger and more chaotic than anyone had previously ventured to guess in public writing. 

Since only Ybarra fits the profile of a man shooting a Christian school adjacent Mars Hill in the Puget Sound area in the last few years Dean's anecdote, apparently given for rhetorical effect, raises more questions than can probably be answered.  It seems improbable that Dean intended the anecdote to inspire any public enquiry so it won't be a surprise if there are no answers.

If Ybarra were a member of Mars Hill there's no way to prove it but, on the other hand, had Justin Dean not made a point of claiming that there was a crisis at a church he worked for in which people feared the press would link a school shooter to the church, and went so far as to claim the shooter was a member, none of this would be up for consideration.

On the whole, Mars Hill's public reputation was at its peak in the early 2012 period up through a stadium Easter service.  Even then there were controversies but the cumulative reputational controversies Mars Hill had to deal with were not really to do with hostile coverage from secular or liberal media; the most significant scandals involved issues of intellectual property and its integrity and enforcement; the nature of fundraising activity and financial allocations; and the nature of who had governmental power and how much as distinct from disclosures about said power and its use and all these from within explicitly Christian media, media that was very often neither particularly liberal nor remotely secular.   

There's even an anecdote in Justin Dean's book where he seems to concede that how he handled a public PR campaign to get an already annexed building may have damaged the reputation of the church beyond repair.

Justin Dean
PR Matters, page 118

A reporter caught me off-guard and it threw a whole building campaign off the tracks. We might have been able to recover by doing another interview and explaining what happened. I certainly wanted to stay in the fight. Unfortunately, I didn't get the chance to even clarify my position because the prevailing decision was to move on. We were already under a lot of pressure at the time, and frankly it marked the beginning of us giving up on the future of the church.  ....

If this was a reference to the disastrous attempt on the part of Mars Hill Church to get the International Paper Building in Bellevue there was no chance of another attempt.  Sound Transit (not without its critics around here) had already obtained the International Paper Building about a month before Mars Hill set up the "Good for Bellevue" website/campaign.  The attempt to get that real estate was a lost cause before the website went up, from what's been reported on that incident in Puget Sound papers. 

What is more, given the history of Mars Hill acquiring a large property without even having the zoning issues worked out (the former corporate headquarters purchased in 2005, for instance), Justin Dean came to a Mars Hill that had already had a history of boondoggle real estate investments, whose leadership was not necessarily very good at scoping out good properties or being fully informed about zoning and usage issues before dumping money into a project.

If a reporter caught Justin Dean off guard and that tanked an entire building project what does that say about his experience and skill in handling public relations? 

It's remarkable, really, that Mars Hill went from peak influence in early 2012 to being a pile of organization cinders and rubble by the end of 2014.  I've never shied from saying that one of the most significant catalysts for the death spiral of Mars Hill Church's public reputation was simply how Justin Dean opted to handle one reputational crisis after another.  It's probably he handled things the way the people he worked for told him to handle things, perhaps, but the net result was the collapse of Mars Hill Church.  If Justin Dean wants to sell a book about how good public relations can help your church his track record so far is that he worked at one church and during his time there it went from being one of the fastest growing churches in America to one of the most remarkable church implosions in recent memory. In a way, Dean's book was informative, but not about public relations methods.  There's almost nothing in the book Dean published that you couldn't also hear from Mark Driscoll's own teaching about media exploitation.  On the other hand, there are anecdotes about crises behind the scenes that suggest that contrary to Dean's possible optimism, Mars Hill may have been even more doomed to fail than anyone previously thought.   

Saturday, November 18, 2017

MH Rainer Valley postlude, David Daniels article at Rapzilla about ex-MH pastor 50-track album, discusses his exit from ministry

For those who have read this blog a long time, even you might not recall that one of the topics we looked at was the short-lived pastoral stint of Willie Wilson.

You'll get a 404 error for this content if you try to follow the link but it was preserved in an earlier post here at Wenatchee The Hatchet. a donniehalbgewachs weebly entry indicated on January 27, 2013 that Willie Wilson was the new lead pastor for Mars Hill Rainier Valley.
January 27, 2013

Willie Wilson is the new lead pastor for Mars Hill Rainier Valley. Scripture is filled with "one another" statements such as: encourage one another, serve one another, love one another, and bear one another's burdens. That's what life in the church looks like. Pastor Willie has a passion and vision for building community in the name of Jesus. Find out more information on Mars Hill Rainier Valley.

In case you missed it, watch last month's Mars Hill Monthly and read about what Jesus did at our student camp.

What do you think about urban church planting?

that absence was first noted at Wenatchee The Hatchet in a comment

Anonymous said...
Lead pastor Willie Will from Rainier Valley Mars Hill left around 9/16. On 9/17 Mars Hill erased all links and content of him on there website and on the City.

In light of that comment, we took a look at the departure announcement.

For those who didn't read it at the time, here's a WayBack capture of Wilson's departure, announced in a blog post published August 5, 2013:

Running the race with duffel bags
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1–2
Imagine this: You’re about to run your first marathon. You’re at the starting line with hundreds of other people who will be running with you. You’re wearing a hooded sweatshirt, jeans, boots, and a parka. You’re also carrying a duffel bag, a briefcase, a suitcase, and a bag of groceries. You look ridiculous, but you don’t want to run this race without all the things that you find comfort in.
The gun bangs and you’re off! Hundreds of runners take off and you’re running alongside them. You’re off to a great, quick start. But 100 yards in, you’re already drained, tired, and ready to quit. The other runners are gone ahead of you. You’re now dragging your feet. You want to give up . . . because you’re carrying too much to continue.

Suitcases stuffed with pride

A lot of times, we find ourselves in this very situation in our spiritual lives. We’ve started running the race of faith, but because of the load we’re carrying, we’re not running well. We’re shouldering unconfessed sin, secrets, and things we haven’t repented of but are holding on to. And it’s all weighing us down and holding us back. We’re carrying bags of guilt from past sin, backpacks filled with shame from sin that was committed against us, and suitcases stuffed with pride that keep from admitting that we’re tired and we need help. Jesus already carried our junk and nailed it to the cross, but for some reason, we choose to try and carry it anyway.

 Are you tired of running your race? Are you tired of serving? Tired of loving people? Tired of giving of your time, talent, and treasure? It’s probably because you are carrying some things that you shouldn’t be carrying while running a race. In Hebrews 12:1, we’re instructed to “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” What are you carrying that you need to lay aside or cast off? When you’re not carrying a huge load, you’ll see that you have more stamina and endurance to run the race that has been set before you.

He’ll finish what he started

Verse 2 gives us our motivation for running the race in such a way to win the prize: “ . . . looking to Jesus . . . ”

This is a race of faith, and Jesus is both the founder and perfecter of it. This means that he is the starter and the finisher of it. He caused you to start this race by calling you to himself, saving you, and placing you in a loving family who will run alongside you, be there to help you up when you fall and when you hobble along all the way to the finish line. He will make sure you finish and he will make your faith perfect. Jesus is our example of how to run this race, because we see how he ran his race with endurance, enduring the cross. We were his prize, the “joy set before him.”

Run with all your might

Now as we run our race, he is our prize! He is the joy set before us!! At the finish line, we will see Jesus face to face. He will say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Master” (Matt. 25:21, 23).

 Brothers and sisters, run your race with endurance, keeping your eyes on the prize. You’re not running alone, but with tons of witnesses on the sidelines.

 So run wholeheartedly, with all your might and all your strength, and when you finish the race, you will be able to speak the words of the Apostle Paul: “I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.”

At the time there was no explanation as to why Wilson had departed, though the text of the announcement leaned hard on duffel bags and the metaphor of baggage that keeps you from running the race. 

Mars Hill as a culture tended to reduce everything sinful, everything, to pride. I've written in the past about how I do think we can regard pride as a kind of stem cell for sin, that it can transform into any number of sins but that to treat those cells of sin as just being "pride" in some generic Mars Hill sense is damaging and dangerous.  To belabor the metaphor, if stem cells become a liver that has liver poisoning you won't help if you just say the problem is with what happened to the stem cells, man.   Treat the liver.  Not everyone has sins that are realized by pride in the same way.  Some people lie, some people still, some people commit adultery.  Mileage varies. 

By March 25, 2016 it looks like Wilson was willing to talk about how and why he was fired by Mars Hill.  I'm not going to quote from the entire article, though it's short, but I will highlight a couple of things.

David Daniels
Created: 25 March 2016 

 Willie Will released 78 tracks over four albums from 2006-2009 — including Reflection through Beatmart Recordings, a subsidiary of Sony Records — but he said none of it was Christ-centered. His music started to change after a friend invited him to Mars Hill in 2009 to serve with its worship team.  Mars Hill introduced him to reformed theology and pastors like Driscoll, John Piper and Paul Washer, who heavily influenced Willie Will and whose sermon snippets act as interludes on The GIFT. [WtH--no offense meant, but if folks want to go Reformed there are vastly better theologians to go with than Driscoll, Piper or Washer but I digress]

“I was not a theological dude at all,” Willie Will said. “I was listening to Paula White, T.D. Jakes, Joel Osteen — a lot of prosperity cats — so everything [Mars Hill] got me around, it’s really my first time hearing. But it’s blowing my mind as far as, I felt like I had been in church for so long, and I never heard of this stuff being preached. I had never heard so much about sin, the cross and the person and work of Jesus. You felt like, man, I’m kind of just now becoming a Christian.”

From this inspiration, Willie Will began to write the original version of The GIFT. He embraced what he learned so much that he also pursued pastoring, which Mars Hill paid for his schooling to do.  However, he admitted that he failed to apply his book smarts to his life.“My theology was changing. My mind was being changed. But my heart had not yet been changed,” Willie Will said. “My heart was set on becoming a pastor, rather than being a follower of Jesus and being a Christian and knowing and living out what that means.”


In 2012, Willie Will became the lead pastor of Mars Hill’s Rainier Valley campus. The following year, his wife informed church elders that he had committed adultery. [emphases added]

“I know I hurt so many people,” said Willie Will, who shared that he and his wife's marriage is still recovering, “people who trusted me as their leader, as their pastor, as their shepherd. I know they feel betrayed ... I was so riddled with guilt and covered by sin to where I just wanted to run. I just wanted to hide because I was so embarrassed. I felt every negative emotion to the point to where I felt hopeless.”


“I may never pastor again,” Willie Will, who's now an Apple Store technician, said, “but I do have a passion for the Gospel to see people changed by it because I was changed by it, because of what God did in me. I’m one who can say, ‘Look, I know the depths of sin, and I know the intenseness and the magnitude of God’s love in the Gospel.’ That’s what I want others to experience with [The GIFT], to see the magnitude of God’s love.”

So, fairly self-explanatory as these things go.  Frankly it's okay if men who were once pastors at Mars Hill do not pastor again.  There are a handful of men who served in pastoral ministry at Mars Hill who are still pastors and have shown themselves to be men I regard as actually fit for ministry, but I have to confess that number is pretty small.  I've mentioned one of those men at this blog enough times I probably don't need to explicitly name him. 

But what I want to highlight about what is shared in this brief story is that we see a man who was, by his own account, steeped in more of a prosperity Gospel before being exposed to teaching at Mars Hill that was different.  Now my friend Wendy Alsup and I have blogged about how inside the culture of Mars Hill there was a kind of secret prosperity Gospel but it was of a sort you couldn't have noticed from the formal preaching and teaching.  But in a sense the nature of that prosperity teaching can be inferred from cases where men who come into what they regard as a real Christian faith do so after arriving at Mars Hill and then find themselves fast-tracked into leadership.  For those unfamiliar with the history of Mars Hill 2009 was a pivotal year in educational terms, it was when Resurgence Training Center was announced and kicked off, back in the middle of 2009.

Mars Hill Church has started a school to serve as the leadership development engine for our global vision. As of August, the inaugural year of The Resurgence Training Center (Re:Train) is well underway.

What is Re:Train?

The purpose of the school is to train missional leaders to lead churches to transform cultures for Jesus. Our goal as a church is to start 100 new campuses and 1,000 new churches (in partnership with Acts 29) by 2019. In order to achieve this vision, we need as many men—trained and equipped—to be pastors and leaders within the movement. Pastor Mark Driscoll began The Resurgence a few years ago as a website with lots of free theological resources for missional leaders and the broader church in general. Re:Train is a further extension of this idea, offering premier missional leadership training and education.

What sort of classes does Re:Train offer?

Currently, Re:Train students participate in a yearlong graduate program that culminates in a Master of Missional Leadership. Participants are divided into "cohorts" based on area of interest. Once a month, all 75 students spend a weekend under the teaching of a nationally recognized professor. These classes are taught by men including John Piper, Bruce Ware, Gregg Allison, Ed Stetzer, Sam Storms, and Mars Hill Church Pastors Mark Driscoll and Bill Clem [emphases added]. Lord willing, beginning in the Fall of 2010, Re:Train will also offer university-style courses to equip the Mars Hill Church body in theology, biblical studies, missions, counseling, worship, biblical living, and other areas.

Who can attend Re:Train?

Re:Train participants come from all around the US and Canada. International students are expected next year, and our current student body includes a lot of Mars Hill leaders and members; we hope that many more will step up from within our community. Are you a future campus pastor? A future church planter? A faithful member who will be sent out as part of a core group to help start a new work? If you're interested in attending Re:Train in order to better prepare, we'll soon begin accepting applications for next year's graduate program (info at

Despite the fanfare the Resurgence Training Center had at most a couple of academic years and then seemed to just disappear.  Those people in the best position to explain how and why it failed may not be, and may never be, in a position to really explain what went on but when and if they are there's some chance they know who to get in touch with.

Mars Hill had a culture in which ambitious young men with lively Christian convictions felt called to be in leadership, and some not-so-young but still eager men who wanted to participate in what they regarded as a unique move of God.

One of the things that eventually came to light was that by the time Sutton Turner was looking at the books of Mars Hill financials in earlier 2012 he was concerned that the church was in a big mess.

We'll probably never know where all the money raised by and for Mars Hill Church over it's roughly twenty year run went, altogether, but the feature about Willie Will suggests that one of the things that was purchased by Mars Hill Church could include the education of some of its pastors, although the Rapzilla article didn't seem to mention where Wills education was, but then I might have missed that detail.

The most striking quote from Willie Will/Willie Wilson from the Rapzilla article is his mention that he was so set on becoming a pastor he had not set his heart on being a follower of Christ and understanding what that meant.  It seems tragic that he managed to receive a theological training while at Mars Hill paid for by Mars Hill and yet to go by what was publicly disclosed about the length of time he was formally a pastor at Mars Hill he was only a pastor for months before being removed. 

The more and more stories that are shared about people who were in the leadership culture of Mars Hill the harder it is to ignore that some men were fast-tracked into some kind of pastoral role within the leadership culture of Mars Hill who were relatively new Christians, either altogether or new to what they would identify as a serious evangelical form of faith.  Men who in a more traditional and tradition-minded Christian community would not be considered for pastoral service seemed able to get a green light within Mars Hill.  Back in 2006 when James Noriega was added to the Mars Hill leadership roster as a pastor reports of his second marriage and four felonies were a matter of public record thanks to the reporting of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and yet these did not seem to be red flags to anyone in the culture of Mars Hill leadership in 2006 that perhaps Noriega, though a brother in Christ, should not have been installed in a pastoral capacity then, or perhaps ever.  Informally it seems that Mars Hill culture prized entrepreneurial drive first and theological education second and character ... well ... consider Driscoll himself and what his own Board of Advisors and Accountability had to say about him.

But if Willie Will/Willie Wilson is working a standard day job and working on repairing his marriage rather than being a Mars Hill pastor or the Mars Hill kind of pastor, God bless him.  Of the many men who have come and gone through the ranks of Mars Hill pastorship there have been a handful I don't doubt have the heart of a shepherd.  I've been cumulatively proposing that Mars Hill Church as a corporate culture may be best described as a church culture in which elder qualification was viewed in terms of entrepreneurial drive and media savvy more than doctrinal fidelity or character.  Men were given roles for which they were not yet ready or possibly for which they would never be ready. 
One of the warnings Paul gave Timothy was that men appointed to being bishops should not be recent converts or they would be vulnerable to pride, becoming conceited and fall to condemnation incurred by the devil.  I have had doubts that Mars Hill leadership considered the real gravity of such a warning, give a recent convert of a man the responsibility and role of an overseer too quickly and to too recent a believer the man may become as conceited as a demon.   I've had enough people tell me I've got a cold-blooded arrogant streak that the last thing I'd ever want to be is a pastor.  I've never wanted to be a pastor anyway. 

So over the years Mark Driscoll has claimed he started too soon and too young, that he wished he could go back and do things differently.  Nobody familiar with the bulk of what he wrote and said in the 1990s and early 00s would get the impression he thought he started too young and too soon.  What's more, as stories about pastors who rose and fell within the mercurial Mars Hill system suggest, not only did Driscoll not seem to take seriously the implications of starting too soon for himself, there was a culture of leadership within Mars Hill that seemed able to reward those who leapt into the quest for a leadership role.  If a man like Willie Wills can look at himself and conclude he may never be fit to be a minister of the Gospel again after his sins that man may have more spiritual insight and appreciation of who he is in Christ than a guy more like Mark Driscoll. 

I wasn't planning to write about this or about Mars Hill this weekend but stuff sometimes comes up. The actual catalyst for writing about Mars Hill again was something else involving a recent arrest.