Saturday, April 08, 2017


There have been a few podcasts and interviews in the last few weeks pertinent to the history of what used to be Mars Hill

It'll take some time to present, much less analyze or discuss the pertinent materials.  Obviously the aim has been to shift writing here to a range of other topics in the dissolution of the corporate entity but the recent interview with Walsh merits a little attention. 

As women who played ministry and in-leadership culture roles have begun to share some things for the record the new narrative thread Driscoll has introduced has transformed the 2007 termination and trial period into an eight year long governance battle that, the implication seems to have been, was a continuous conflict.

But there's a scope and range to the narrative that may necessitate some thorough review in what, by primary and secondary accounts, transpired.  What Walsh conveyed in his interview with Sheila Walsh could hardly be construed as a particularly robust or detailed account of twenty some years of events and people.  It isn't even necessarily a very clear account of the last ten years, seeing as we're coming up on the tenth anniversary of the controversial reorganization and termination/trial proceedings. 

But, as previously mentioned, to discuss any of that will take a bit of time.

POSTSCRIPT 4-15-2017
Some things still take time.  There's also such a thing as opting to blog on stuff one is unequivocally for. 

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Throckmorton reports Driscoll recycling material from 2013's 10 commandments, a brief overview of highlights of recycling in the last few years

Throckmorton has gotten word that Driscoll's ministry is providing a book as a response to donations, said book being about the Ten Commandments.  That material, Throckmorton has noted, is a recycling of the circa 2013 Mars Hill Ten Commandments material.

Since a super majority of intellectual property generated under the Mars Hill brand was copyrighted to Mark Driscoll as an individual rather than to Mars Hill Church as a corporate entity, Driscoll has apparently ended up with a super majority of content from the Mars Hill era.

That missive from Mark Driscoll Ministries makes it hard not to think of a warning Driscoll gave back in 2006.

Part 3 of 1st Corinthians
Pastor Mark Driscoll
1 Corinthians 1:10-17
January 22, 2006
You know, what happens is they get these teams and they fight. Everybody gets a jersey, and it’s like you’re rock stars. And the indie rockers don’t like all the teeny-bop pop fans and everything’s sorta – and they carried this sort of cultural arrogance into the church. And they said, “Well, Paul’s my guy”, or “Peter’s my guy, Cephas.” Or “No, Apollos is my guy.” And they broke off into teams in the church. So they’d show up with their jerseys on, you know. The Raider fans over here in their silver and black, and then the Hawks fans over here on this side, and the East Coast hip-hoppers, and the West Coast hip-hoppers. And the whole church is divided and fighting, and they need not be.

They need not be the team of Paul, the team of Apollos, the team of Peter. Because Paul and Peter and Apollos all love Jesus, all said the same thing. They all serve the same God. Apollos was a great preacher. Peter was the leader of the disciples. And also Paul was the one who had founded the church. There were good reasons to respect each of these men. And what happened was that the church had an elevated sense of human leadership, and they adored, appreciated, admired and almost worshiped their leaders too much. This still happens in Christianity, right? Some of you love John Calvin. Some of you love John Wesley. Some of you love whomever it might be.

Some of you have teams that you consider yourself to be on, theologically or philosophically insofar as how church should be done. And what happens is that certain Christians get elevated like rock stars, and it’s not good. It’s not good at all. I know one church the pastor’s name is the domain for the church website. That’s not good. Like if it was and that was our website, you’d go, “You know that’s a little much.” That’s a little much, because if he gets hit by a car do we gotta get a new name? That seems that the church should be more than a focus on one person. That’s why to be honest with this church I try not to show up and speak at every event.
While Mark Driscoll Ministries isn't called the concern remains salient. 

For that matter, on the subject of sermons from the old Christians Gone Wild series, rebranded as Good News for Bad Christians ... we've noted this before but ...
One Body, Many Parts
Pastor Mark Driscoll
1 Corinthians 12:12-26
July 30, 2006

If you stream it at Mark Driscoll's site the sermon is 27:07

If you download it from here ...
it's 1:10:56

So Mark Driscoll has been recycling and repurposing content, to be sure, but in some cases the repurposed content has been substantially trimmed down.  For a transcript of what was redacted out of the One Body Many Parts sermon you can go over here.

For instance ... take the Ruth series on a big little love story.

Ruth was a sermon series Driscoll preached and wrapped up literally ten years ago.

Actually ten years ago this month would have been the middle of the Nehemiah sermon series.

Driscoll's recycled Ecclesiastes a few times over the years, too.
Back in 2003, however, Driscoll was willing to share stories like this one:
Part 10 of Ecclesiastes
Pastor Mark Driscoll | Ecclesiastes 7:1-14 | June 01, 2003

How many guys, honestly (you don't have to raise your hands), how many guys in their teens or twenties (I'm in my thirties now so I'm at that place where I WOULD fight but it seems like a lot of work). But especially when I was in my teens I would, just all full of myself, I would just, I liked to fight.  I would LOOK for fights. Certain guys are like this. 

I actually beat up a guy on my OWN baseball team during a game. Usually, usually, you know, in a baseball game people why--baseball players are all wussies.  They never fight.  They all just run out to the middle of the field and look at each other which is, I dunno, like prom or something. They're all gazing into each other's eyes. I'm not sure what they're doing.  They hardly ever fight and they NEVER take the bats which, to me, seems like the most OBVIOUS thing.

I love baseball and I can remember when I was playing ball. A guy on my own team in the dugout says something so I attacked him.  Now very rarely do you see a bench-clearing brawl with just one team. Usually the other team's involved. I was a total hothead. I would fight through high school. I fight quite a bit.  Guys would say something, give a cross--you got a problem? That's what he's talking about [the author of Ecclesiastes]. Especially you young guys. Some of you young guys, you're LOOKING for a fight. You want to legitimize it, you want to justify it. Some of you married people are looking for a fight. Provoke. Provoke. Provoke. Boom, off they go like the Fourth of July.

A few years earlier, of course, he wrote:
William Wallace II
Member    posted 01-06-2001 09:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for William Wallace II   Click Here to Email William Wallace II     Edit/Delete Message

 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. 

It could be all too easy for people who read all of "Pussified Nation" to forget that Driscoll, as William Wallace II, wrote this:
William Wallace II
posted 12-30-2000
This string is simply a work in law. Now that it is beginning to evoke a bit of response we will be moving forward with clarifying further the general roles of men and women as defined principally in Scripture, and practically in our present culture (hence the post for single men on how to get a wife). Our gatherings will deal in greater specificity with accountability and male relationships centered in Scripture, governed by grace, and empowered by the Spirit as one of the multiple means by which we grow up in Christ. This posting site is good for kicking up some interest and laying out some information but simply cannot do the work that a local church was intended to and is therefore limited.  ...

Lutherans might get what that meant, "a work in law", but non-Lutherans might not get it.  For that matter questions as to how firmly Mark Driscoll grasps what Lutherans would call "Gospel" remains an open-ended question but let's let Lutherans field that, shall we?

No, instead I suggest that if we want to try to understand what the aim was in more intra-Reformed type terms we could see that WW2 tipped his hand here and explained that what he was aiming for was what Jacques Ellul would have probably called propaganda of agitation that would prepare the way for propaganda of integration, which we've discussed at length over here.
and also here

If Driscoll's going to keep recycling stuff then some folks can keep keeping a record of how pervasive the recycling is.  There's an old preacherly axiom that you only ever have one sermon and you preach it for the rest of your life but it seems almost no preachers who have said this ever meant it very literally.

Meanwhile, the ministry named after the guy who said you should be cautious about ministries named after one guy moves forward.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

departing Guardian editor/writer Michael Hann proposes that rock is the new jazz, as in "yesterday's" music

2. Rock music is in its jazz phase

And I don’t mean it’s having a Kamasi Washington/Thundercat moment of extreme hipness. I mean it’s like Ryan Gosling’s version of jazz in La La Land: something fetishised by an older audience, but which has ceded its place at the centre of the pop-cultural conversation to other forms of music, ones less tied to a sense of history. Ones, dare I say it, more forward looking. For several years, it seemed, I was asked by one desk or another at the Guardian to write a start-of-year story about how this was the year rock would bounce back. But it never did. The experts who predicted big things for guitar each year were routinely wrong. No one asks for that story any longer.

Which reminds me of an article about something called the Shazam Effect

Billboard replaced its honor system with hard numbers in 1991, basing its charts on point-of-sale data from cash registers. “This was revolutionary,” says Silvio Pietroluongo, Billboard’s current director of charts. “We were finally able to see which records were actually selling.” Around the same time, Billboard switched to monitoring radio airplay through Nielsen.When that happened, hip-hop and country surged in the rankings and old-fashioned rock slowly began to fade—suggesting that perhaps an industry dominated by white guys on the coasts hadn’t paid enough attention to the music interests of urban minorities and southern whites.
Rock hasn't gone away but is not necessarily the prevailing style.  If you think about how long a run rock had as "the" dominant musical style in popular music it had a pretty long bubble.  Prior to the emergence of rock (vague though that term is) musical fads were still fads.  Ragtime was hugely popular for about a decade and receded.  Blues and jazz were immensely popular from about the 1930s through 1940s.  But let's note that even as we look at the history of jazz there are epochs, suggesting that jazz may denote a musical heritage with crests and waves.  Big band gave way to jump bands and bebop and bop and seeds of rock.  Rock was a synthesis of elements from a variety of previously existing styles and idioms and that synthesis had a long run ... but it's a synthesis that was only going to go so far.  Kyle Gann mentioned in a blog post that in this century he's come across classes full of students where not a single one of them has heard a Beatles song.  When a commenter remarked on what a tragedy this was Gann's reaction was, if memory serves, to say he never liked the Beatles when he heard them in his youth and so he hardly misses them now. 

It may well be the decline of the guitar-driven rock band as "the" popular musical style has been going on since practically the end of the Cold War for all we do or don't know. 

So there's that but from 1. there's this:
Reviews, now, serve the music industry more than they serve readers. Their main purpose, so far as I can tell, is to provide star ratings for press advertisements and to enable artist managers to feel content their client is getting coverage. But music writing itself, I think, is in good health. In print and online, more differing stories are being told than ever before. Terrific writers are finding new ways to tell those stories. That, I believe, is why music journalism will survive, because people will never tire of hearing the stories behind the songs that make them feel alive.

Maybe Hann undersold this part.  A certain music critic/composer said that criticism ensures something written about music isn't just PR but in a lot of ways even criticism is a kind of public relations for musical work.  A bad review is still a review, after all.  But to the extent that reviews can establish where in the prestige ladder they can establish how people in the industry think or feel they should assess something.  So while Ben Johnston's string quartets have gotten some friendly write-ups here in the United States since the Kepler Quartet recorded them for British classical coverage it's like those albums never happened.  If you want to bathe yourself in the string quartets of Brian Ferneyhough on the other hand ... .

Except back in 2014 Scott Timberg (not too surprisingly) lamented what he regarded as the death of music journalism.

Maybe that was ... pre-Salon gig?  I forget.  ... yup. Well, maybe Timberg has felt slightly differently since landing a job at Salon?

For that matter, also in 2014, Ted Gioia lamented that, if anything, music writing is worse now than it's been in a long time because it's not really writing about music so much as it's become lifestyle reporting

and earlier ... Gioia published a conversation with himself about the role criticism and writing could play in promoting the health of jazz as a musical art:
Of course, you probably think jazz writers are the good guys here? I only wish that were true. Jazz critics are key factors in educating the audience and keeping the art form healthy. But critics need to realize that their main responsibility is to the audience. Not to their friends among the musicians, or to other critics, whom they try to impress. How many jazz writers today really demonstrate that commitment to the audience?
A half-century ago, the critical function got corrupted. This happened around the time art critic Clement Greenberg found that he could make his name and reputation by jumping on the bandwagon for Jackson Pollock.

What was so wrong about that?
Nothing was inherently wrong about it—at least at first. But the rules of the game changed, and critics learned that they could enhance their reputations if they were the first to jump on the next new thing.
Critics have to make choices. Do they write about the serious artist who is quietly building a body of outstanding work over a period of years? Or do they constantly jump from fad to fad, trying to pinpoint what is going to be hot during the next six months. I would suggest that a critic frequently must make a choice between these two goals. Either you focus primarily on work of the highest quality, or you try to anticipate the next flavor of the month.
"Did you ever have to make up your mind," as the old song goes. Many critics eventually decided to do the thing that enhanced their own reputation the most. Guess which choice they made.
You make it sound so bad.
In truth, the jazz critics handled this dilemma better than critics in other art forms. At least for the most part. Jazz has always prided itself on judging music by how it sounds. But that isn't always the case in other forms of music. I recently met a scholar who had written a paper on John Cage, and found that it caused some controversy, because he analyzed Cage's music on the basis of how it sounded, rather than on the basis of its "compositional strategies."
How strange, that a music writer would get called to the carpet for paying attention to the sound of the music. Isn't music all about how it sounds? Yet this tells you something about the state of mind across the fence in the world of contemporary classical music. Fortunately things never got quite that bad on the jazz scene. The jazz critics still listen to the music, for the most part, and are influenced by what their ears tell them when they write their reviews. Of course, that begs the question of how much they hear . . .

Sorry to cut you off. But does it really matter what the critics say?
It certainly does. When critics try to impress each other, rather than fulfill their responsibility to the audience, the audience feels shortchanged. And, eventually, the audience shrinks.
How often have you bought a CD because of a critic's recommendation, only to find that it was almost unlistenable? More often than you want to admit, huh? If you are a dedicated fan, you might keep on buying more CDs even after that experience. But many intelligent members of the general public, who might have become serious jazz fans, got turned away by this corruption of critical standards.

Another way of phrasing that would be to say what Alex Ross lately said, that criticism is still journalism, even if it's a weird roundabout sort of journalism. 

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Sara Whitlock at Stat News has a piece on young peole failing in scientific research because they struggle to deal with failure more generally

Last month we had a little blog post linking to an Atlantic Monthly article about Americans and complacency.

Americans have fallen in love with the idea of their entrepreneurial spirit. Silicon Valley seems to have replaced New York City as the country’s metropolitan mascot of dynamism. Innovation is the unofficial buzzword of corporate America, and news organizations heap praise on the zillionaire startup heroes of the Millennial generation.
But this is a mirage, according to the economist and popular writer Tyler Cowen, whose new book is The Complacent Class: The Self-Defeating Quest for the American Dream. In fact, the nation's dynamism is in the dumps. Americans move less than they used to. They start fewer companies. Caught in the hypnotic undertow of TV and video games, they are less likely to go outside. Even the federal government itself has transformed from an investment vehicle, which once spent a large share of its money on infrastructure and research, to an insurance conglomerate, which spends more than half its money on health care and Social Security. A nation of risk-takers has become a nation of risk-mitigation experts.
The sign of a good book is that it helps readers see the world through a useful lens. Cowen’s book is a full of “huh, I hadn’t thought about it like that” moments, even on topics that I’ve spent years thinking about. For example, in the last few years, many people, like myself, have argued that the American Dream is dying in America, while it seems to be flourishing more in Canada and northern Europe. But Cowen argues persuasively that many international comparisons fail to account for the fact that lots of people are achieving the American Dream—they just weren’t born in America. “When there is mobility in the American labor market, it comes disproportionately from Mexicans and Mexican Americans,” he writes. “Denmark hasn’t elevated nearly as many immigrants, in either absolute or percentage terms, as America.” In other words, America didn’t completely lose the dream. Rather, the only dreamers left are immigrants.

Well, more recently I came across an article about a reason young people tend to drop out of the hard sciences (pun intended there), failure.  The piece is by Sara Whitlock.

The article is fascinating because it reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend about a decade ago.  Back then I was living in the basement of a house owned by a couple, the husband was working toward seminary studies and his wife was working on a doctorate in the hard sciences, I think it might have been physics or chemistry but the precise field eludes my memory.  What I remember clearly, however, is that she said "Ninety percent of science is failure. The other ten percent is figuring out why you failed and that ten percent is where scientific breakthroughs can happen, so that's why we keep doing scientific research."  I shared this story with another friend years later (another brilliant woman in the natural sciences, and ... perhaps against stereotype in both cases, another blonde). My friend heard this and she said with a slight sigh, "That sounds like a real scientist.  She's right, ninety percent of what we do ends in failure."  Fortunately neither of my blonde scientist friends are quitters!  The better part of discretion precludes me from sharing what scientific work they've been working on.

But these are both women from what will soon be my ... kinda middle-aged generation.  To quote Whitlock's article:

Talking about personal failures isn’t enjoyable. No one wants to relive the ego-crushing bruises of a poor test score or a rejection from a coveted job or graduate program or summer internship. But we need to keep talking to younger science students, when appropriate, about our failures so that they’ll know their own similar failures aren’t career-crushers. That’s something my mentors have done for me, and it’s something I’m working on right now.

By normalizing the experience of failure in the pursuit of science, my hope is that we can keep American students in the field, so that we can remain competitive with other countries in uncertain times and in uncertain budgets. Resiliency in science and innovation is how we got to the top, and I believe that our ability to bounce back is key to staying there.