Saturday, February 25, 2017

for those interested in researching a chronicle of Mars Hill real estate expansion, leadership appointments, governance history, and public discourse: an index of tagged posts and analyses

While of late the blog has gotten back to being about the arts and music and so on, the blog has more often than not been identified as a watchdog blog or watchblog on the subject of Mars Hill.  Since that's only part of what's been at this blog since 2006 it's not, strictly speaking, a very accurate description of this blog.  But to be fair, a super-majority of traffic to this blog has undoubtedly been about things to do with Mars Hill history.

For a few years the plan was to eventually have a tag cloud for easier reference to any number of topics and categories of documentation for anyone interested in doing research on the movement.  There's been other things to think about so that tag cloud just never materialized.  On the other hand, compiling a majority of the tags by topic into an index for people who want to research the life and times of what was once Mars Hill may at least benefit from a kind of one-stop-shopping informational guide. 

A few caveats.  This isn't comprehensive.  I didn't start actively tagging blog posts about Mars Hill until a few years ago so even if I blogged from time to time about Mars Hill between 2006-2010 I didn't necessarily think to tag stuff.  For deep burrowing into this blog for stuff that may reference Mars Hill with content that's not tagged you're on your own.  Sorry.  I thought I'd quit blogging about MH in late 2011 because it seemed there was probably nothing much of interest to keep track of.  Then early 2012 happened and controversy erupted to a greater degree than usual.  It was around 2012 it seemed good to start tagging posts as I continued to document things.  That could facilitate thematic continuity for people trying to keep track of what was going on in which area of the movement.

As Mars Hill began to scrub and alter its media content in response to continuing controversy the other, unanticipated, role this blog played was preserving earlier versions of content that was cleaned up in the wake of scandals of one kind or another.  In the case of the 2008 spiritual warfare session this blog featured an extensive transcript and analysis of content that was intended for Mars Hill leadership only at first, made available to the public later, and then rescinded from public access for a time.

It remains to be seen whether Mars Hill has ultimately had a legacy worth scholarly inquiry.  It seems that in light of the fact that the majority of the former Mars Hill campuses survived long enough to relaunch and rebrand that the story isn't over on these churches even if the brand of Mars Hill has withered. 

Mars Hill did not collapse because of hostile secular/liberal media coverage.  If anything hostile progressive/secular/left coverage only strengthened solidarity and brand reputation in the 1998-2008 period.  Mark Driscoll could not be the right-wing Christian variation of Dan Savage if there had not been Dan Savage fans to regard Mark Driscoll as a foil.  It's seemed, looking back over the last twenty years, that deliberately polarizing personas such as those wielded by a Dan Savage or a Mark Driscoll depend on foils.  To put it in comics terms, you might say a Batman needs the Joker and in the case of Puget Sound it hardly matters which of the two formerly Catholic firebrands you pick. 

Mars Hill didn't collapse as a brand because of hostile liberal media coverage.  Thousands, even tens of thousands of people had to reach a point where they decided that they would no longer invest in or make sacrifices for this brand that had come to have a high-profile role in the Puget Sound and at a national level. 

I'm going to toss out an idea for consideration.  Rod Dreher's got his book coming out on the Benedict Option.  Mars Hill imploded just a couple of years ago.  Who wants to play with the idea that Mars Hill could be considered a high profile failure to establish a kind of Benedict Option?  Dreher indicated he was considering Doug Wilson's scene as a possible candidate until certain scandals erupted.  Wilson's fiefdom is still existent; Driscoll's Mars Hill collapsed.  But for those who kept track of Driscoll's early vision of a movement that would start a seminary, launch a music label, found a publishing company and plant thousands of churches, if what Driscoll wanted doesn't fit Dreher's definition of The Benedict Option there's time for people to unpack why what Mark Driscoll hoped to create by way of an evangelical Christian counterculture in an urban secular setting doesn't count as a play at the Benedict Option. 

Since Alastair Roberts has blogged recently over at Mere Orthodoxy about the problem he sees in defining the freedom of the press in purely negative terms, I'll say that on the subject of Mars Hill this blog has aimed at employing a "positive" definition of freedom of the press.  People should be able to read about the history of Mars Hill and its leadership culture free of charge provided they've paid their internet bill recently enough and want to read about the history of the regional church that collapsed in the years 2014-2015.  This blog isn't a watchblog and wasn't a watchblog but I believed it was important, to just use a media phrase, that this blog work toward journalistic responsibility and a social responsibility approach to mass media on the controversial history of a controversial religious movement.  I'm a moderately conservative Presbyterian stick in the mud on religion and politics but I'm interested in reading as widely across the political spectrum as I can manage.  So I try to range from the Jacobin/Vox side of things all the way over to The American Conservative and (when I work up the patience for it) The Weekly Standard.  I admittedly tend to skip altogether Breitbart, The Blaze, FOX and stuff like.  I admit to liking a mixture of Edmund Burke and Jacques Ellul.  I'm definitely a Calvinist but I'm interested in ecumenical discussions.  So, there, cards on the table. 

I don't think Mars Hill collapsed because of hostile secular/progressive/liberal media coverage.  I don't think Mars Hill collapsed because of bloggers.  Blaming the messenger might be tempting for people who lost their jobs but the thing is I have friends who have stayed inside the churches that were formerly part of the Mars Hill orbit.  For those who actually know me they know that I aimed to chronicle the movement as accurately and in as timely a way as possible.  I didn't tell people to leave Mars Hill.  I invited people to reconsider the narrative given to them and to reconsider whether Mars Hill's leadership culture had stayed true to its stated ideals.  If thousands, even tens of thousands, of people left Mars Hill because they came to believe its leadership culture betrayed all the values its people said they stood for the only thing that had to do with blogs is that bloggers, for a time, documented what was going on in ways the press wasn't always able to keep up with.  I made a concerted effort to never forget that the people of Mars Hill were always literally as well as figuratively my neighbors.  For quite some time I hoped there would be serious reform in the leadership culture.  That serious reform evidently did not happen in time to keep the brand from collapsing but it may yet transpire that the individual churches that have survived the collapse of Mars Hill may have introduced those reforms.  Only time will tell. 

And there is time, for those who may want to do some very heavy and lengthy reading, to read blog posts written while everything was going on.  There's a lot we could learn from the life and death of Mars Hill.  While I've considered writing a history of Mars Hill many times, and while it often seems that unless someone publishes an official book about something people don't think there's a real history there (because, let's face it, we're not at the stage where blogs or strictly online records are taken seriously as historiography for the simple reason that it's too mercurial), for now it seems best to have a bunch of stuff up with tags for blog posts by topic.  People "could" one day choose to pay money for a book that describes some of the things that happened and some of the people who were Mars Hill.  But at this point it seems best for the common good to have everything here here, and here for free to anyone who wants to take the time to read it because they've paid their internet bill.

So at the risk of making a bad joke, pretend Wenatchee The Hatchet is Walter Benjamin and that all the rest of these links are a kind of online Mars Hill The Arcades Project. ;)

a history of the attempts by Driscoll/Mars Hill to start a school

a history of Mars Hill leadership attempting to start a workable music label
an associated survey of statements made by former Mars Hill pastor Tim Smith about music

A confluence of situations
These posts outline the historical background of what became known as the Andrew Lamb disciplinary controversy at Mars Hill in early 2012. 

a call for reconciliation by Mars Hill circa March 2012 and associated analysis

Acts 29 stuff

posts dealing with the history of a house and a contract
documents parallel histories of Mars Hill contracting with Result Source from the 2011 to 2012 period and the purchase by Driscoll of a house in Woodway during the same general period

posts dealing with former Mars Hill Board of Advisors and Accountability

posts dealing with former Mars Hill Board of Elders tasked with investigating Driscoll ca. 2014

posts on John Catanzaro, former naturopathic medical advisor to Mark Driscoll

posts on Craig Gross, a contact list, and an account of what transpired

Jacques Ellul's writing on propaganda as a way to understand megachurch culture generally and Mars Hill specifically

financials at Mars Hill
year end report statements
the fundraising film God's Work, Our Witness from 2011

posts on the subject of Mars Hill governance (history and documents)
semi-related, posts on the Mars Hillian idea of "prophets, priests and kings"

posts on the different accounts and explanations given for why the controversial 2007 re-organization of MH governance was considered necessary

Gateway conference statement by Driscoll
historical and social context on Mark Driscoll's Thrive conference narrative
coverage of questions and background of ghostwriting in the history of MH

coverage of questions about Mars Hill Global

on Mark Driscoll's sketchy interpretive approach regarding Esther

and his willingness to leverage his position on stories about his daughter rather than exegesis
houston interview with driscolls

content preserved from Pastor Mark TV

stuff generally connected to Mark Driscoll and T. D. Jakes

Mars Hill logo incident
Mark Driscoll interaction with (or talking about) John MacArthur
mark driscoll preaching from malachi
markulinity as distinct from masculinity, Mark Driscoll on manliness
proposed in these posts is the idea that at length Mark Driscol's blue-collar shtick ended up foundering against the ultimately white collar donor cultivation goals he began to make more central to his organizational approach. 

things related to Janet Mefferd and Mark Driscoll

These three series are more concise and organized and deal with particular elements of Driscoll's public ministry and thought:


largely from 2014

from 2016

real marriage

posts related to significant resignations in the history of Mars Hill

resurgence 2006 (website, Driscoll blogging)

thematically similar, former Mars Hill elders doing their thing on Twitter

resurgence (publishing company or conference stuff)

robots (i.e. when used to preclude use of WayBack Machine and other archive tools to research Mars Hill)

a history of sermon editing/redaction of Mars Hill/Mark Driscoll content

blog post coverage regarding former executive elder Sutton Turner

specifically about the leaked 2012 memo discussing the precarious fiscal situation at MH at that time.

William Wallace II stuff
specifically Pussified Nation stuff

Driscoll sounding off on gender stuff and particularly about women

Mark Driscoll on spiritual warfare in general

Mark Driscoll's 2008 spiritual warfare teaching session transcript and commentary on it


tags for specific campuses

rainier valley
Wedgewood/Lake City
west seattle
University District

posts generally related to the transition from the era of Mars Hill to its end

All of that is, believe it or not, not actually a comprehensive list of tagged posts dealing with Mars Hill..  It would be difficult to summarize more than half a decade of journalistic blogging on the life and times of a religious movement that originated in the Puget Sound area. 


brad/futuristguy said...

This is an *awesome* resource for research -- thanks WTH for investing the time needed to make this material more accessible!

Art said...

Thank you Thank you Thank you! I admire your efforts, WtH, you have been an amazing source of strength for so many who felt alone among the devastation. You are much appreciated and your work is helping many.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

for those who want to read about Justin Dean's book PR Matters ....

an index of posts discussing Mark Driscoll's video taped interview with Larry Osborne from 2016