Thursday, October 26, 2017

company behind the fearless girl statue has ended up settling a gender discrimination suit

For those who remember the Fearless Girl statue, you might remember that not everybody considered it a legitimate or honest tribute to girl power or feminism.  There was a piece at Hyperallergic we linked to a while back.

Last night, I spent half an hour with “Fearless Girl,” the bronze sculpture created by artist Kristen Visbal and installed by financial firm State Street Global Advisors (SSGA) on Wall Street for International Women’s Day. I watched people pose for photos with her in nonstop succession — young and old, male and female, literally everyone wanted their picture taken with “Fearless Girl.” I listened to a young man compare “Fearless Girl” to his sister. I got yelled at by a group of photo-takers for blocking the view of “Fearless Girl” confronting the “Charging Bull.” I heard a man who was shooting a long exposure of “Fearless Girl” strike up a conversation with a nearby woman about the sculpture. “It’s complex,” he said. “It IS complex!” she exclaimed. Another man joined the conversation and offered that “Fearless Girl” was “pretty profound.”
Having witnessed all of this firsthand, I do not think it’s a stretch to say “Fearless Girl” represents basically everything that’s wrong with our society.
Here is the narrative being spun about “Fearless Girl”: An advertising firm and a financial services firm got together to drop a “remarkable,” “guerrilla” sculpture of a young girl in front of Wall Street’s famous “Charging Bull” in the middle of the night. The girl is part of a campaign to encourage companies to increase the number of women on their boards. The girl “is a remarkable evolution for Wall Street.” The girl might even represent “the turning point of gender equality in corporate America.” The girl “celebrates all the people who resisted by staying in place.” If installed permanently, the girl would be “a constant source of strength” for women who work in the vicinity.

That’s fuzzy and inspiring and stuff, but here is the truth about “Fearless Girl”: It features a branded plaque at its base. The companies that installed it had a permit. They are advertising firm McCann New York — whose leadership team has only three women among 11 people, or 27% women — and asset manager SSGA — whose leadership team has five women among 28 people, or 18% women. SSGA is a division of State Street, which has a board of directors that includes only 27% women. SSGA is also, according to Wikipedia, the world’s third-largest asset manager, managing more than $2.4 trillion in assets in 2014. And, like any good capitalist behemoth, it has some shady dealings in its history — like the time the SEC charged State Street with misleading investors during the subprime mortgage crisis. Or the class-action lawsuit brought against it for mismanaging retirement funds. Or the over $64 million that the company agreed to pay in January to settle fraud charges brought by the government, as Nick Pinto pointed out in the Village Voice.

But don’t worry about those cheating Wall Streeters who can’t be bothered to take care with people’s investments and lives — “Fearless Girl” will stop them! She has, as a visitor commented last night, “no doubt” and “no fear”!

I spent International Women’s Day on strike and not looking very much at the news or my phone. When I heard about the stunt, sometime in the evening, I felt offense begin to bore a hole deep in my core. Could there possibly be anything more patronizing than two massive, male-dominated capitalist companies installing a branded statue of the most conceivably non-threatening version of womankind in supposed honor of a day devoted to women’s equality that was founded by the Socialist Party?

No, alas, I think there could not.
As I've written before, a few times, there's been nothing quite like the last year and a half to clarify the difference between liberals and leftists in Anglo-American contexts quite like the election of Trump. 

So for those authors who have, from the left, condemned the Fearless Girl statue as nothing more than pandering, self-serving fake corporate feminism, some new evidence for such a conclusion has emerged.

Actually paying women employees better to begin with rather than commissioning, funding or in any way installing and promoting the Fearless Girl statute would have been better.


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

as Greg Kappas is being an officer connected with Mark Driscoll's new church plant it's worth asking what Kappas thinks will be different this time compared to the first church plant of Driscoll's he advised, Mars Hill

One of the things I've been thinking about since Throckmorton discussed the 990 forms of Mark Driscoll Ministries are those officers Tope Koleso and Greg Kappas.  That would be because of these things mentioned by Mark Driscoll decades ago.
In the second season, Grace and I began attending Antioch Bible Church in Kirkland, where we volunteered our time working with their college ministry. We then located in Seattle to be closer to students and after a few months I was brought on staff as a part-time intern to oversee the college group. I served in that position for nearly two years and learned a great deal in my first position of ministry leadership in a church. At that time I met Mike Gunn who had moved from a pastorate in Southern California to begin a ministry to athletes at the University of Washington. I also met Lief Moi, a local radio show host, who came in to teach a class for us. These two men and their wives and children became like family and together we began dreaming about the possibility of planting an urban church for an emerging postmodern generation in one of the least churched cities in the U.S. We began praying, studying the scriptures, reading a great deal on postmodernity, and dialoging together to formulate a philosophy of ministry appropriate for our context. Helping us formulate our launch plan was Dr. Greg Kappas, who graciously mentored us and provided wise insight and counsel. [emphasis added]

The key is to make a sincere and devoted attempt to take with you other strong and capable men who are well respected and potential elders with you. And, getting them some pulpit time if/when they are capable and trustworthy also helps in perception.  For example, when I started I had Mike Gunn and Lief Moi with me. And, they have been two of the richest blessings God has ever given me in ministry. Both have theological education, lots of ministry experience, lots of pulpit experience, are older and have outstanding families. And, I had worked with them for a few years at our sending church and they were very close friends and godly men with wives of great character. So, from the beginning it was clear that we were working together and that they were also to be respected and followed. They have, to their credit, called me face to face on my sins and pride. And, each time they have they were right. They have never done this in public and have always been my biggest encouragement and covered my back at every turn. Because of their age they could have made my life difficult and been divisive. But, this has never ever been an issue. I am all for a team type concept, but the hard part is getting real biblical elders who qualify for their office with families of particular honor. Today, I would have to say that our elders are a tremendous honor and safety zone for me to work from who have faithfully guided our church through some very difficult places and I thank God for each of the men every day. Also, their wives are outstanding mothers and teachers of women who have been outstanding allies and partners in our work.

In addition, strong capable men who also have their own churches are good to sit under the authority of, particulalry for a young man. For example, Dr. Greg Kappas was a church planting coach to me and a tremendous help, encouragement, and advocate. He had planted his own churches, taught church planting at Western Seminary, and helped oversee a regional network of church planters. To this day Greg remains like a brother and his counsel has always been much needed and appreciated. And, my father in law Gib Martin planted his church over 35 years ago and remains there as the lead pastor and is also a great help and cheerleader who has been very very supportive and available. And, Dr. David Nicholas with the Spanish River Church and now Acts 29 has at least as much insight into planting as any man I have ever met and he and I are very very close and in contact weekly as I am with Gib and Greg. In addition, I've had the privilege of meeting thousands of other pastors across the U.S. and gleaning from their experience and wisdom.  Overall, I must admit I have been very very blessed by God. My life shows His grace in some very clear ways and the men He has called me into relationships with have really been life changing.

and yet as we've noted earlier.

"Yet according to the narrative Mark and Grace Driscoll presented in Real Marriage in 2012 there was nobody they felt they could talk to about what was sexually dysfunctional in their own marriage?  By the Driscolls' account Grace's family was one of Mark's particular points of unhappiness in the earlier years of the marriage (see pages 10-11 in Real Marriage).  So in spite of public statements of praise and affection for Gib Martin, Real Marriage has since revealed that the private reality of Mark Driscoll's sentiments toward his father-in-law may have been a bit more resentful, by Mark and Grace Driscoll's account, than what Mark Driscoll put on the old site.

Or ... another possibility is that the narrative in Real Marriage is so difficult to square with so many years of public testimony given by Mark Driscoll about how intimately he was known by the co-founding pastors of Mars Hill and the regard with which he held his father-in-law and Grace's family that the narrative of Real Marriage could actually raise more questions about the early documented history of Mars Hill as conveyed by Mark Driscoll than it may answer.  IF Mark Driscoll's marriage was so fraught how are we supposed to understand the co-founding pastors of Mars Hill not being aware of this?  Was this because the Driscoll's didn't share that?  Did the others in the earlier years of Mars Hill just not observe that something was wrong?  "

So, to put it another way, Greg Kappas is an officer in Mark Driscoll Ministries these days but decades ago he was involved in advising the launch plan for what would become Mars Hill Church.

So with that background in mind a question that lingers is why Greg Kappas might think things will be more likely to end better this time?  Given the way things ended at Mars Hill what does Kappas think can be done differently now?  Consider the way Driscoll described his conversion process in "Seasons of Grace" way back at the dawn of the millennium.

In the first season, in the fall of 1989, God was in the process of drawing me unto Himself. While attending Washington State University I began reading such classics as Augustine and Aquinas, and read through the New Testament in less than two weeks from the Bible my girlfriend Grace gave me as a high school graduation present . Aware of what God was orchestrating, but still unyielding in my heart, I had one Christian friend who asked me over a burger one late night what I was planning on doing for my career. I told him that God was going to make me a Christian and send me out to plant churches like I had read about Paul. He laughed, unsure if I was mocking him, being serious, or trying to discourage him from giving me any more goofy tracts. Within a month, my lingering struggles with the Gospel disappeared and I began teaching a Bible study and attending a solid church pastored by Doug Busby. In the spring of 1990 I attended my first retreat and after a late night of worship with a few hundred farmers and college professors I knelt down by an Idaho river and prayed. It was at that time that I quite unexpectedly received my call. God told me, "Mark, I have called you out from among many to lead men." I then began to serve in leadership for a ministry, and also became the editor for the opinions section of the campus newspaper; an adventure that included bomb threats, protests, and a handful of heated public debates. Grace transferred to WSU and we were married in the summer before my senior year. Upon graduation Grace and I moved to Seattle without a place to live, jobs to pay the bills, or a church to attend, but determined to somehow begin planting churches.

"Quite unexpectedly" Driscoll wrote, despite having just a few sentences earlier written that he declared he was going to be made a Christian by God, who would send Mark Driscoll out to plant churches like Mark said he'd read about in Paul.

One of the tropes in American evangelical conversion experiences is to talk about how little X wanted to do Y but in the case of Mark Driscoll we see him recounting that he believed his career was going to be planting churches even before people, by Driscoll's own account, could be entirely sure they could believe Mark Driscoll was even a Christian.  So how could it be quite unexpected that God would call Mark Driscoll to do the stuff Mark Driscoll said he was willing to announce he would be doing as a career before even he might have considered himself a Christian within his own narrative? 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

a piece at The Atlantic discusses how Hollywood and theater productions have gone fairly easy on Lyndon Johnson's legacy

Historians have not been as kind to LBJ as Hollywood when assessing his impact on America’s role in the world. Foreign-policy historians have produced important work in recent years showing how Vietnam was neither an inevitable mistake nor a military operation pushed on an unknowing president by advisers. Rather, a cohort of outstanding scholars has used archival records, particularly the White House presidential recordings, to show that Johnson very much knew the risks he was taking by accelerating this war, and repeatedly ignored the warnings of multiple advisers and colleagues who told him that a war in Vietnam was unnecessary and unwinnable. The most important work on this subject, Fredrik Logevall’s Choosing War, brilliantly recounts how Johnson understood all of the risks associated with sending troops into this battle and heard repeatedly from southern hawks, liberal Democrats, and foreign leaders that a negotiated settlement would be better.
But as a result of both his machismo and his desperate efforts to prevent Republicans from attacking him as weak on defense, the same sort of baldly political calculation that brought him success on domestic policy, Johnson decided to escalate the American military presence in the deadly jungles of the region. Vietnam, according to Logevall, was the result of poor presidential decision making, mistaken calculations, and a commander in chief who fully understood the problems with this operation but moved forward anyway.
The time has come for a good film that captures this other side of LBJ: not the tragic leader but the culpable commander in chief, the president who sought to protect his political standing through disastrous decisions. Americans need to see a talented actor portray Johnson reading Vice President Hubert Humphrey’s famous 1965 memo, in which he wrote that “politically, it is always hard to cut losses. But the Johnson Administration is in a stronger position to do so than any Administration in this century. 1965 is the year of minimum political risk for the Johnson Administration. Indeed, it is the first year when we can face the Vietnam problem without being preoccupied with the political repercussions from the Republican right.” Cut to the next scene: Johnson kicks Humphrey out of his inner circle of advisers and only gives the hawks a seat at the table.
This Hollywood story of Lyndon Johnson’s failure is needed more urgently today than ever before. There is still a strong tendency to believe, against all odds, that the “political system” or the so-called “adults in the room” will somehow protect the United States from the worst instincts of a president when it comes to war and peace. Somehow, Americans say to themselves, democracy will survive dangerous presidential bluster, the emasculation of diplomacy, and constant militaristic threats.
A couple of years ago I proposed a unified theory to explain franchise nostalgia for sci-fi dystopian and utopian tales in American cinema, whether we're talking about Planet of the Apes and Star Trek from the 1960s or Star Wars, Terminator, Alien or Robocop from the 1980s (1979 for the Scott film, but it's conventional to "round up" for some films on the cusp of a new decade).  The proposal was simple, that we find clusters of franchises get rebooted in Hollywood that exemplify the dystopian or utopian concerns of two epochs that are retroactively considered blue state and red state political golden ears--the blue utopia is Camelot and the LBJ continuation thereof, while the red utopia is Reagan.
Neither of these were really utopian except as grist for myth-making of a partisan sort.   I've written about my belief that Star Trek as an entire half-century spanning franchise can be thought of as a type of cultural imperialism.
But it tends to not be recognized as cultural imperialism by people who embrace secularism and liberalism.  It's thought of as imagining a better future. The idea that Star Trek level technology is feasible, let alone that it would be manifest in a USS Enterprise rather than developed by a region in Africa or China and that its captain would be from Ohio still imagined that the future of the ideal world would originate in some fashion from the culture of the United States.  Conversely, dystopian narratives in which human life is nearly wiped out "can" be thought of as the bromide that it's easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism but I would suggest the problem is that bromide is too abstract and forgets that nationalism is still alive and well--it's more plausible to say that it's easier for Americans and the entire "first world nation" set to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the world moving forward without the United States or without the first world nations somehow being the "leaders" of all that is known as high culture in the West. 

But just because the JFK/LBJ era seems like a golden age in popular memory for the entertainment industry doesn't mean it was thought of being that at the time. 

One of the more pernicious side effects (or possibly goals?) of such a mythology of Camelot has been imagining that the JFK years were not as hawkish as they were and that on account of civil rights legislation the Johnson years could be defined more by that than military adventurism.  Another way of putting it is that perhaps thanks to the way Nixon handled the Vietnam conflict it's been easy for Democrats to imagine that Republicans are the war-mongers.  Republican administrations became adept at military adventurism that didn't require formal declarations of war but the war-declaring administrative eras have been staunchly Democratic in the history of the United States going back as far as Woodrow Wilson, who campaigned on not getting us into war when he planned to get us into war.  In that sense hawkish Republicans at least had the honesty to admit they were hawkish, dubious honor though that may be.