Saturday, April 21, 2018

Andy Girton no longer Associate Pastor at The Trinity Church

For those who have kept track of the emergence of The Trinity Church, Andy Girton was a name associated with the early years of said church. Take this article by Nina Shapiro from a couple of years back.

Mark Driscoll finally made it official: He’s starting a new church in Phoenix. The culmination of a comeback that has been gaining steam over the past year, the former Mars Hill pastor announced the news of The Trinity Church on Monday by email, Twitter and a new website.

In a folksy video on the site, which begins with a “howdy” from Driscoll, the pastor said he and his wife, Grace, sitting by his side, were “hoping, trusting, praying, planning and also a little” — he made a jokey grimace — “worrying about planting a church here.”
Driscoll also noted that he was “healin’ up” in his new home. And his bio on the site refers to the Driscolls recently facing “the most challenging year of their lives,” one that prompted the pastor to take a year off.                

But aside from those remarks, there’s no reference to Driscoll’s troubled and controversial history at Mars Hill. Indeed, there’s no direct mention at all of the megachurch he presided over for 18 years in Seattle, until snowballing allegations of plagiarism, emotional abusiveness and misogyny led him to resign in October 2014.

“It’s the elephant in the room,” said Warren Throckmorton, a psychology professor at Pennsylvania’s Grove City College who has diligently chronicled the Mars Hill saga on the Christian website Patheos.                

The absence is all the more strange because Trinity’s website lists two other former Mars Hills’ staffers, Andy Girton and Brandon Anderson, as associate pastors of the new church. Their bios also neglect to say where, exactly, they once worked.

For folks who want a snapshot of Girton's early role.

Associate Pastor Andy Girton was born and raised in a small town in the Midwest. Soon after moving to the Northwest with his family, he met his high school sweetheart and future wife Darlene. Shortly after high school, Andy and Darlene married and started a family.
Through involvement in a church plant in a small suburb of Seattle, they were both baptized as believers and began volunteering in ministry together. The Girtons helped plant two churches, assisted in a church merger, and led various teams. Today, they have a son and a daughter who love the Lord and also serve alongside their parents in ministry.
there is currently no sign of Girton on the page for local staff and leadership.

Were you to plug in any random tweet status into Google to find out what Girton's twitter handle might say, you might run into this:

Andy Girton · @AndyGirton. Andy Girton Follower of Jesus, husband of Darlene, daddy to Cole and Reagan, associate pastor of creative and technology @thetrinitychrch.

But if you go to now you'll see:
Andy Girton Follower of Jesus, husband of Darlene, daddy to Cole and Reagan.

So the associate pastor part isn't in the description any longer. 

Sometimes guys just vanish from ministry roles at churches founded or co-founded by Mark Driscoll.  These things are known to happen.  What happened is not clear, obviously.

Things at the former Mars Hill Portland seemed to be in some kind of transitional time earlier this year, for instance, but exactly what has been transpiring down there is not yet spelled out, either.

So, for folks who keep tabs on these things, Andy Girton is gone.  In the midst of Mark and Grace Driscoll promoting the forthcoming Spirit-Filled Jesus this question about one of the two men who were described as part of local leadership at the start of The Trinity Church might be an interesting question to get an answer to if it seemed possible that an answer could be provided, or would be. 

Christianity Today has new piece on the Hybels situation ... the blink and you miss it thing about "his jet" is hard to ignore, that and that Mark DeMoss is saying stuff on behalf of Willow Creek


Once the deal was done, Girkins says Hybels insisted on meeting with her personally throughout the publishing process, rather than working with her staff.
That meant a number of one-on-one meetings: often at his beach home in Michigan, on his yacht, on his jet, or at restaurants near Hybels’s summer home. During those meetings, the conversations often got personal, she said. And at times inappropriate.
on his yacht?  on his jet?  Rock star pastors with rock star gear ... reportedly acting like ... rock stars ...
The church also said it has investigated all past claims it has received—and will try to meet with those who have made allegations.
“In recent weeks, many of us have persistently requested meetings with people mentioned or quoted in media accounts, but our efforts have been unsuccessful,” the church told CT in its earlier statement.
“The church will listen,” said Mark DeMoss, a spokesman for Willow. “All I can say is, try us and see.”
Why does that name ring bells?
Maybe ...
Church Leaders and Pastors Praying for The Trinity Church
Mark DeMoss – Founder
DeMoss Public Relations
Then there's this piece from November 2014
'The same rough edges that can land you in hot water are the very same things that attracted, in some cases, tens of thousands of people to you in the first place,' Mark DeMoss, whom Mars Hill hired to do public relations for six months before Mr. Driscoll’s resignation, told me."
Justin Dean could, perhaps, be in a position to confirm or deny that Mars Hill Church hired Mark DeMoss to do public relations for them or what the nature of said hiring, if confirmed, involved.  Since Mars Hill Church was dissolved and is no more it's not clear that ... actually, it seems pretty clear that if your church is hiring someone like Mark DeMoss something has gone wildly wrong, probably at a foundational level.  But if DeMoss himself confirmed that he was hired by Mars Hill to do public relations for them for six months before Mark Driscoll's resignation that's a reminder of an observation I couldn't help making while I was writing a review of Justin Dean's book PR Matters, the problems Mars Hill Church had as a church and as a leadership culture were beyond the pale of anything that could be solved by even an actually good-to-fantastic PR professional.  There was no way Justin Dean was going to prevail where Mark DeMoss might have failed.
Not coincidentally, DeMoss is still listed as a supporter of Mark Driscoll's new church and there's still this complement paid to Mark Driscoll's realistic sense of vision.
02.20.16 9:01 PM ET
Driscoll’s new website lists more than two dozen church leaders who are “praying for The Trinity Church.” Among them is Mark DeMoss, owner of a Christian public relations firm who worked for Mars Hill in 2014 during the church’s many crises. DeMoss is not working for The Trinity Church, but said he’s just trying to “be a friend,” and offered insight into what he says are Driscoll’s plans.

“I think he’s very realistic and he realizes that he might launch a church speaking to 100 people. I don’t think he’s under any big idea that he’s going to open the doors and have a megachurch immediately. But, I think he has the potential to do that again.” [emphasis added]

Although DeMoss wouldn’t name anyone in particular, he says Driscoll “spent a considerable amount of time reaching out to people that he knew or thought he had offended or hurt in some way and did whatever he could do to right those relationships. He’s had some success with that, but there have been some people who were not receptive to a restored relationship.”
But here we are in 2018 and Spirit-Filled Jesus, to be published by Charisma House, is on the way. DeMoss was certainly welcome to believe Mitt Romney was the bee's knees but let's recall how things panned out for Romney in the 2008 election. 
So if DeMoss is saying stuff on behalf of Willow Creek that's hardly reassuring. 

There are times when I can't help but think that Richard Brody is a ultimately the kind of moralizing scold he formally distrusts, such as his review of the "regressive politics" of A Quiet Place

A good deal of the time, really, I find it hard to think of Richard Brody as more than the embodiment of much of what is worst about The New Yorker (not that it's all bad, mind you, in that magazine, Menand is sometimes worth reading and I've enjoyed Alex Ross and Ethan Iverson's writing about music quite a bit over the years).

For instance, Brody recently wrote about John Krasinski's film.

The title conveys the judgment, but it wouldn't be a piece by Brody were there not a lot more.  Last time we looked at his stuff was on the topic of food allergies and Peter Rabbit, which as straight up moralizing goes was understandable and defensible because the guy admitted he had kids with food allergies and that it was not possible to separate that knowledge or withhold that knowledge from his review of the film in question.

But then there's his more recent bit.

The success of “A Quiet Place,” the new horror thriller directed by John Krasinski, is a sign of viewers craving emptiness, of a yearning for some cinematic white noise to drown out troubling thoughts and observations with a potently simple and high-impact countermyth. The noise of “A Quiet Place” is the whitest since the release of “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”; as horror films go, it’s the antithesis of “Get Out,” inasmuch as its symbolic realm is both apparently unconscious and conspicuously regressive.

“A Quiet Place” is the story of a white family living in rustic isolation that’s reduced to silence because a bunch of big, dark, stealthy, predatory creatures who can hear their every noise are marauding in the woods and, at any conspicuous sound, will emerge as if from nowhere and instantly maul them to death. I won’t spoil the plot twists, but Krasinski ultimately delivers a pair of exemplary images, a lone bearded man (whom he himself plays) with a rifle, and a lone woman (played by his real-life wife, Emily Blunt) aiming a rifle into the camera.


skipping ahead ...

The only moment of authentic inner expression, the acknowledgment of any identity at all, arises when, under siege from the creatures, Evelyn challenges Lee when their children are in danger: “Who are we? Who are we if we can’t protect them?” In that moment, “A Quiet Place” disgorges its entire stifled and impacted ideological content. The movie’s survivalist horror-fantasy offers the argument for turning a rustic farmhouse into a virtual fortress, for the video surveillance and the emergency lighting and, above all, the stash of firearms that (along with a bit of high-tech trickery that it’s too good to spoil) is the ultimate game changer, the ultimate and decisive defense against home intruders.

In effect, “A Quiet Place” is an oblivious, unself-conscious version of Clint Eastwood’s recent movies, such as The 15:17 to Paris,” which bring to the fore the idealistic elements of gun culture while dramatizing the tragic implications that inevitably shadow that idealism. The one sole avowed identity of the Abbott parents is as their children’s defenders; their more obvious public identity is as a white rural family. The only other people in the film, who are more vulnerable to the marauding creatures, are white as well. In their enforced silence, these characters are a metaphorical silent—white—majority, one that doesn’t dare to speak freely for fear of being heard by the super-sensitive ears of the dark others. It’s significant that when characters—two white men—commit suicide-by-noisemaking, they do so by howling as if with rage, rather than by screeching or singing or shouting words of love to their families. (Those death bellows are the wordless equivalent of “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”) Whether the Abbotts’ insular, armed way of life might put them into conflict with other American families of other identities is the unacknowledged question hanging over “A Quiet Place,” the silent horror to which the movie doesn’t give voice.

We're not given, Brody asserts, characters who have any observable inner lives.  This seems like one of those bugbears for Brody.  That part of the set up for a horror film like this is that absent any safe way to express yourself you're trapped within your own emotional cycles and that those cycles can be permeated by terror could actually be part of the premise of the narrative.  Brody pointed out that voice over could be used, but voice over can altogether ruin a film; The Thin Red Line was ruined for me by Sean Penn's stupid voice-over monologues both that film and Saving Private Ryan were overhyped war movies but for different reasons.  On the whole a lot of films have been weakened by soundtrack issues, too much music, too much sound.  A film that re-examines the idea that the jump scare depends on the anxiety the viewer brings to a moment and not on what the director imposes upon the audience might be a welcome change of pace and to go by other reviews of A Quiet Place that seems to be what genre fans have liked about the film.

Now exactly what constitutes "authentic inner expression" for Brody would involve reading vastly more of his work than I think any reasonable person should bother with.  That said, this is the same Richard Brody who concluded that Susan Vernon didn't break any of the "important" rules of moral conduct in her quest for a husband for herself and a husband for her daughter.  Anyone who watched Love & Friendship and got the impression that Susan Vernon was not the central villain of the whole story is an idiot.

In middle age I realize I am not a cinephile and I have never thought of myself as one to begin with, actually.  So I'm not in any rush to see A Quiet Place.  But, that said, the last film I saw to which both Krasinski and Blunt lent their acting was the English language dub of Hayao Miyazaki's The Wind Rises, which I regard as a masterpiece. Unless there's some evidence that Krasinski and Blunt are Opus Dei types or Mel Gibson types declaring that the politics of a movie they worked on are regressive seems like a bit of a stretch, but it's the kind of stretch Brody seems comfortable making.  The sum of what Brody has done is not even, really, a review of the film itself but we'll get to what (and all) he has effectively done momentarily.

The film A Quiet Place telegraphs its high concept exploration even in trailers, riffing on a horror story in which making a sound could lead to your death. Horror films explore ways in which seemingly pedestrian aspects of daily life in its social or physical forms can put us on the threshold of death.  It may be full of cheap ways to re-enchant life and it's even more obviously a history of stereotypes. Now maybe the politics of the film are exactly as regressive as Brody insists, but Brody has demonstrated that venerable tradition that someone described in `Scott Pilgrim' vs the Unfortunate Tendency to Review the Audience, although in Brody's case he's got to be at least slightly more direct because, you know, he's writing about a film for The New Yorker.  But he conveys his review of the kind of audience he believes will enjoy A Quiet Place in the first sentence of his article.  His concluding wind up, that the kinds of people who will enjoy the movie are paranoid white racists, doesn't convince even on the terms of its own presentation.  It's a conclusion which has its premise built into it from the opening sentence and merely winds itself up to a more direct statement at the end.  I liked Get Out, too, but the idea that Krasinski's film has to be seen as an anti-Get Out because Brody insists on the point is not an assertion that has to be accepted.

I mentioned Krasinski and Blunt working on the English dub of The Wind Rises to highlight what Brody has conspicuously failed to do, situate the couple's work in genre (since they are, in fact, a couple, and by now obviously have some demonstrable shared interest in genre work) in some context beyond a gotcha hot-take piece.  Imputing to anyone who might enjoy Krasinski's new film, by some kind of implication, the status of being white reactionaries requires some kind of support, and there's nothing in Brody's review that produces any support.  Which, again, is not to say I'm going to even go see the film.  I'm more focused on writing about other stuff, like music.  But what Brody has done is to essentially write a review of the kind of audience he thinks would enjoy this new film and what he thinks of that audience.  The film?  The film becomes a pretext for the real review.  That way, by not really saying anything about the actual political or social commitments of Krasinski and Blunt, if that issue were ever pressed, he could say that he was writing about the audience that enjoys this kind of film that he says A Quiet Place is rather than say that he ever implied or accused Krasinski and Blunt of having what he regarded as regressive politics.  

But a review of the kind of audience you think will like the film is ultimately not quite the same as a review of the film, even if the film gets discussed along the way. back up as some kind of gambling site; Repentant Pastor is a German site advertising stuff, We Love Mars Hill front page modified into a payday loan advice column

First let's start with Repentant Pastor

German domain now.  Those who can read German can work out what stuff's advertised there.  If you want to read stuff at Repentant Pastor for stuff to do with Mars Hill The Wayback Machine is where you want to plug the domain into.

As noted earlier, is now some kind of Indonesian gambling blog something.

As for, the named stories are still available but ... the topmost post is ...

since March 2, 2018

So it's possible that while the domains were expired they got bought up by other entities and that in the case of somebody figured out how to log on and post ... whatever that thing up there is.

As mentioned before, if you want to find out what was on the aforementioned websites that had to do with Mars Hill rather than gambling or jewelry or some kind of rant then TheWayBack Machine is your best bet.

while the main site itself for We Love Mars Hill as a custom domain has some wonk to it, the tumblr is up and looks to be intact.


Mars Hill Was (i.e. not the "us" site) is still up and in good condition.

The website is also up and working, too.  This one is particularly useful as it has been where I have been able to go to trawl up a decade's worth of preaching and teaching in its original form, which is important because as Mark Driscoll keeps re:cycling and re:habilitating his re:sources it's useful to know when he cuts out material.  There's no quick or easy way to do that, but thanks to the mirror site at the .se domain people who want to try tackling that process (other than or in addition to yours truly) can have a place to start.

and ... there are backup search options not just at TheWayBack Machine but also is back up, as ... a gambling blog(?) and revisiting Matthew Paul Turner's links to content MH sent him in 2012 that they purged in 2014.

While Andrew Lamb eventually identified himself to the world the person who went by "Amy" did not eventually identify herself, though she chose to talk with Matthew Paul Turner, who ran her story in 2012.  The main focus was on a demon trial, though other things came up in the conversation.  In 2018 after so many people spoke about what they did or regretted doing at places like We Love Mars Hill (still up) or Mars Hill Was Us (domain expired with the old content, which we've tried to document when possible, and now the domain is some kind of poker/gambling site, I am not kidding about that) or Repentant Pastors (also down)  
In the cases of the expired/replaced domains in both cases you can use The WayBack Machine to pull stuff up.  For instance, here, although the search is limited because of what is or isn't captured.  That's to suggest that enough people have shared their real names by now that any would be historians and journalists and scholars may want to contact those willing to go on record first moving forward.  Tthe bar has been raised some for how anonymous you can be. There is still value, of course, in being anonymous, though, and I'm not suggesting anyone decide to go for broke with names across the board now.  Some people got harmed in ways where discretion about names is still a worthwhile commitment. 
But I want to direct your attention to something that Turner wrote at a few points about the story of "Amy".  He was told that there were materials Mars Hill had made available about demon trials and spiritual warfare that he provided links to.


June 20, 2012 By
**UPDATE**According to Mars Hill, Mark performed a “Spiritual Warfare Trial” (a definition and instructions for a Spiritual Warfare Trial can be found here, toward the bottom of the page). They also deny using the word “exorcism”.**
**Late yesterday, I notified Mars Hill Church’s publicity department that I was running this story and offered them an opportunity to comment along with a few questions. Initially, they were going to issue a statement, but later said they would wait to comment until they read the story. They also directed me to this sermon series by Mark Driscoll.
It was not, in fact, a sermon series. The 2008 spiritual warfare session was a leaders-only teaching seminar given in February 2008 that was eventually made available to the public. Now somebody wrote extensively on just "some" of the problems with "I see things" back in 2011, but by 2012 there were other things people were paying attention to.  By 2014 the very teaching content that Matthew Paul Turner was advised to consult that was given by Mark Driscoll had been taken down. Just a few days before that content went down Wenatchee The Hatchet featured a post comparing what Mark Driscoll said in his 2008 teaching on spiritual warfare about bitterness being demonic to the pervasive bitterness he was saying he had in his 2012 book Real Marriage toward his wife on the issue of sex.  The question raised at the time was if bitterness was a demonic root of influence and Mark Driscoll said he was bitter for years and years about the issue of sex why couldn't Mark Driscoll, by his own taxonomy of demonization, not be considered demonized himself?  That question was inherent in the comparison of the material, or so I thought.  Perhaps people in charge of purging content at Mars Hill's websites thought so, too?
So while Turner indicated that he was recommended content had he not jumped on the ball and downloaded the content in 2012, had he decided to only get around to listening to the content some time in 2014, it was no longer there for him to peruse.  Not that you can peruse four and a half hours of lectures ....

Thursday, April 19, 2018

a piece by Malcolm harris on freelance writing and what it does and doesn't pay
One of the benefits to freelancing is that writers can place value on rewards other than money — like being part of a hip new project, like the 1924 New Yorker. But the downsides are many, and as a result, most pros today find themselves still answering the same spiritual question Lardner did, but for a whole lot less cash.
Freelance writers have no collective with which to bargain, they are not subject to minimum wage laws, and their pay fluctuates all the time. For those reasons, it’s hard to keep track of the averages (and few organizations are compelled to try). But back in 2001, the National Writers Union published a report on pay rates for freelance writers. The report figured that to earn the median wage for college grads — $50,000 per year — writers needed to pitch, sell, report, write, edit, publish, and be paid an average of $1 per word for 3,000 to 5,000 words a month. (That’s the length of this article.) Adjusted for inflation, that’s about $1.40 per word today.
Most freelance writers didn’t hit those numbers then, and they don’t hit those numbers today. Based on my reporting, my own experience, and interviews with more than a dozen writers, the current median price for a freelancer’s work is between 25 and 50 cents per word (though, to be clear, most places no longer pay per word; they pay lump sums that work out to about $500 for a 1,000- to 2,000-word article). Speaking to Black Enterprise, Ben Carruthers, vice president of the Society of American Travel Writers, suggested that a similar $500 rate was standard…in 1977.
During the past 52 years, a single dollar has lost nearly 87 percent of its value, and so have the words of professional freelance writers. That has meant, unavoidably, a big change in the quality of the job. [emphasis added]
It’s hard to understand how it happened. Ring Lardner was an elite writer of his time, but even his charity rate doesn’t look bad these days. Adjusted for inflation, that five cents per word is now worth about 70 cents, which is considered a respectable fee at legacy publications and well-funded startups. The $1 per word Lardner got from Cosmo, on the other hand, is worth over $14 now. I’ve spoken with dozens of freelance writers throughout my career and can report that’s more than twice as much as I’ve ever heard of a writer receiving, period. Twelve of Lardner’s stories — let’s call that a year’s worth of work for a feature writer — would earn him $600,000 in 2018.
Either Lardner is the greatest writer of all time by a wide margin or something screwy happened to writer pay over the past century. No offense to Lardner, but evidence suggests it’s the latter.
When I was in my twenties I wanted to be a writer.  I wanted to get into journalism.  That didn't happen.  I managed a few freelance projects here and there.  Sometimes I still land a few little projects at a few spots.  I obviously love to write.
I have also written a lot for not just no pay but what practically has amounted to writing a lot at my own time and expense.  I have refused to monetize this blog and the plan is to keep on keeping on not monetizing the blog.  What I write here I write because I want people who may read it to have an opportunity to learn about things without having to go through a paywall.  I also have a day job which, however modest its income might be to many is at the moment more or less more than sufficient for yearly needs.  I also live in a city with a pretty impressive library system so there's a lot I can read or watch without having to pay for as long as I'm willing to wait months or even years to see stuff that I might not feel able to afford to go see in the news-making phase of a cultural item.
Growing up in a fairly conservative Protestant home I got the impression that mainstream reporters did not seem to know or understand the subject of religion very well and also really did not want to understand that range of topics.  Twenty and thirty years later I don't see that that impression has been discounted.  Had I thought that either the independent or mainstream press had been doing an adequate job covering what was going on Mars Hill I might have stuck to writing that big analytical series on the guitar sonatas of Matiegka, Diabelli and company back in 2011 and 2012 when I really first began to want to do that.
But I felt obliged to write about what was going on at Mars Hill in the late 2011 through 2014/2015 period and I never made a cent writing about that church.  I'm proud to say that. 
But I also realize ,as a writer once told me, the institutional press only takes itself seriously.  If a local Seattle paper ran a story mentioning that Mark Driscoll got $X advance for Real Marriage they might just mention that information.  Exactly where or how that information was available for public consideration might not show up. That's not to say there was no possibility of someone getting ahold of documents connected to Real Marriage that weren't already published here, just that it was interesting to finally publish some of those documents and then observe that the institutional press could run with information that, as best I can tell, I made available for public consideration which was reported in the institutional press without any reference to where or how they got the dollar amount of Driscoll's advance on Real Marriage.
But $400,000 is a lot of money and those kinds of advances for what amount to self-help books (because, really, what else are we going to ultimately call Real Marriage if not a self-help/advice book?)  could inspire any of us who write to ask what it takes to land a deal like that?  Would a publisher offer Wenatchee The Hatchet a comparable sum to write a Dostoevsky-sized history of the movement formerly known as Mars Hill Church?  That seems pretty much impossible to imagine and, honestly, I'd be dubious about who would want to pony up that much money and why they would because after what I saw of the culture of Mars Hill and how popular/mainstream Christian publishing dealt with the Mark Driscoll plagiarism controversy that's about where I am at, a bit more jaded than I'd like to be about the integrity of Anglo-American Christian publishing.  I mean, if Carl Trueman or Darryl Hart wanted to compare notes ... but by and large I've gotten to a point where if someone gave me a Thomas Nelson published book as a gift my first thought would be to burn the thing.
My own gut reaction, which is all that it is, is that what it takes is for a writer to be willing to compromise on matters of scholarly integrity and intellectual consideration that are not worth making. 
If, as libertarians have been raving for decades, the American currency is being debauched that's not exactly news to people who try to pay any attention at all to those kinds of things.  But it's perhaps so commonplace a commonplace it couldn't even be considered news.
Come to think of it, something I have been thinking hasn't come up is that there was a giant, substantial musical work published a bit more than a year ago and I have not seen a single review or heard of a review of the work anywhere.  That's the kind of thing where, just on the principle of the thing, I'd make a point of writing about that musical work at some point if there were a suitable venue or platform for it.
And I will, eventually.  But for now this is about the money or lack thereof from writing.  Particularly freelance writing.  I wouldn't be entirely surprised if, for instance, the blogging I did about Ferdinand Rebay's music for guitar was longer than what's usual for discussing Rebays' music in the English language.  I do still plan, per what I wrote late last year, to blog about a few things musical.

Brad Futurist Guy on the recent Bill Hybels situation as a starting point for discussing men who endorse feminist or egalitarian views on paper but who may use them for other ends

We'll start this post by way of an oblique introduction.
For a certain kind of person – highly educated, often living in New York, often Jewish – with certain values and tastes, Allen’s most clearly autobiographical films from the 1970s and 1980s define a lifestyle, a sensibility, and, most vexing, a script for adult relationships to follow. They are in the DNA of every significant romantic comedy of the past 40 years, and in the real lives both reflected and informed by those comedies. And for many non-observant American Jews, they form (along with Seinfeld reruns and Philip Roth novels, both topics for other essays) a kind of secular Talmud.

For some American men, the cultural role models are obvious – the athlete, the soldier, the action hero, the real estate tycoon. For others, maybe especially those of us who attended liberal arts colleges and live in trendy neighborhoods and eke out precarious creative class existences, a different set of archetypes is available. The men of critically acclaimed romantic comedies and sitcoms are our most popular fictional guides for how to behave around women. All of them owe a debt to Allen. [emphasis added]

Maybe you are this second kind of man, or you’re friends with him, or you’ve dated him. As an archetype, he is funny and self-deprecating, intelligent and witty, neurotic and vulnerable, gentle and non-threatening, awkward and sexually frank. If he’s often rude or irritating or pretentious, he’s also genuinely interested in and engaged with women. Sometimes, the interest is motivated by kindness, empathy, and respect. Other times, it’s a mask for something more sinister.

Renouncing Woody Allen is painful for many of us not just because we enjoy his work, but because it feels like renouncing a part of ourselves. It also feels cheap, because there’s no point in renouncing him if we can’t also renounce the part of us that finds his characters relatable. We need to take a closer look at the films that taught us to be this way, and to consider what else they taught us.
If it has turned out that a man to whom many looked for the cultural script of what being "grown up" is supposed to look like has some vices, the crisis is not necessarily that Woody Allen is Woody Allen, there's a sense in which the crisis is that so many turned to and looked to Woody Allen as the healthier or more realistic conception of masculinity for a whole range of middle to upper class white males who did not, could not, or did not and could not desire to conform to other cultural scripts of masculinity they believed were available or endorsed within their cultural time and place. 

It's with this in mind, that some of the men who presented themselves implicitly and explicitly as having the healthier way to relate to women turn out to have practiced something altogether contrasting in their personal lives that we can turn to something Brad posted at Futurist Guy.
in connecting #ChurchToo with the broader #MeToo movement, we’ve already had some stark examples of men who present themselves as anti-sexism, pro-feminist, proto-egalitarian — and yet end up with credible accusations of their serial sexual abuse and/or harassment of women. Here are two examples that became notorious in their communities, the first from the entertainment field — Joss Whedon, the second from the skeptics/scientists author-lecture circuit — Lawrence Krauss.
I won’t develop these in depth. The articles are extensive enough that important patterns are evident, hopefully, and the excerpts share the set-ups for key issues I believe we need to consider in the Christian community.
Joss admitted that for the next decade and a half, he hid multiple affairs and a number of inappropriate emotional ones that he had with his actresses, co-workers, fans and friends, while he stayed married to me.
Despite understanding, on some level, that what he was doing was wrong, he never conceded the hypocrisy of being out in the world preaching feminist ideals, while at the same time, taking away my right to make choices for my life and my body based on the truth. He deceived me for 15 years, so he could have everything he wanted. I believed, everyone believed, that he was one of the good guys, committed to fighting for women’s rights, committed to our marriage, and to the women he worked with. But I now see how he used his relationship with me as a shield, both during and after our marriage, so no one would question his relationships with other women or scrutinize his writing as anything other than feminist. (emphasis added)
Lawrence Krauss is a famous atheist and liberal crusader — and, in certain whisper networks, a well-known problem. With women coming forward alleging sexual harassment, will his “skeptic” fanbase believe the evidence?
He is politically liberal, decrying sexism, racism, and “the fear of people who are different,” and is a vocal critic of Donald Trump. …
And in his private life, according to a number of women in his orbit, Krauss exhibits some of the sexist behavior that he denounces in public. Now that these accusations are coming out in the open, some women have doubts that the skeptics will acknowledge the body of evidence about his behavior, and confront their own preconceived beliefs. (emphasis added)
Without a doubt one of the dumbest, smarmiest and self-congratulatory retorts I've ever read on the internet was Joss Whedon's claim that the reason he was still writing strong female characters was because journalists kept asking him questions about why he wrote those sorts of characters.  having concluded over the last twenty-five years that Joss Whedon writes variations of two or three characters that are all in some way just Joss Whedon, and that he's benefited from writing dialogue for actresses who are significantly more inventive and creative with that dialogue than he could be, I just stopped seeing he point of giving Joss Whedon any credit for Allison Hannigan figured out she could do with Willow's lines.  Whedon has been able to bask in the glow of some funny scenes that are arguably the result of Hannigan and other actresses making the scenes funny.  Whedon's writing can often seem to reflect a man who is convinced the wit comes from him and not the comedic timing of his collaborators.   But digression is done there.
Whedon, if what his ex-wife has alleged is true, may have simply used the stance of feminism to get things he wanted from women.  South Park in typically brutal South Park form, ran with a punchline that while PC Principle is genuinely concerned about the actual principles of political correctness his various followers and hangers-on among the bros are only apparently in the PC game because it lets them have more sex with women who are won over by PC stances.  PC Principle discovers this late in the first season in which he's introduced and he's mortified.  There are folks for whom the principle really is the thing and those for whom the principle is a useful tool in the quest for other social interests.
As we looked briefly at the case of Sherman Alexie, he's another guy who, conspicuously, said in an interview last year with NPR that he felt he was told stories about his ancestry so that he would not treat women the way so many other people on the reservation had.  The trouble turned out to be that, well, it's possible that however sincere Alexie was about that stuff, a perceived gap between stated ideals and patterns of conduct was troubling to some people, quite a few.
The most dangerous thing at this point would be to assume that ideological eam association tells us anything about how people will treat people.  The Bill Hybels situation is not exactly something I've been paying close attention to but Brad's blogging touches on the possibility that there are some men who embrace or endorse egatliarian ideals who are doing so not so much because they embrace that as a primary goal but because it's ... how do we put this, a secondarily valuable element in other pursuits.   Corresponding controversies in the arts world are revealing that if power and privilege are the base line from which harassment occurs women as well as men are being named as perpetrators.  That free thinkers and secularist are also emerging suggests that neither the secularist nor the religious guru is necessarily any different. 
If the secular and religious progressives and the religious right have anything in common it may only be that their celebrities seem to have convinced themselves and their respective fanclubs that they are exempt from even the possibility of mistreating women based on professed ideologies alone.  Surely by now we've seen that's a spurious assertion across the religious, economic and political spectrums. 
But none of what's transpired in the last two years will convince those partisans who are convinced their ideology in and of itself will preclude these things from happening that it could be otherwise.

a little detail on the Mark and Grace Driscoll promotional film for Spirit-Filled Jesus

It went up on April 2 and it's gotten a couple of thousand views, not exactly viral.

But in the first couple of weeks it was possible to vote that you did or did not like the video.  After about 8 likes and about 40 dislikes it looks like being able to vote yay or nay isn't on the table for the video any longer. 

But there are comments, by and large not particularly thrilled comments, for the time being. 

So if you upvoted or (more commonly) downvoted, you might have to try doing that again or confirm whether that's an option.  If you're into that sort of thing. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

getting back to the Slipped Disc reaction to the Kendrick Lamar Pulitzer win, remembering George Walker winning the Pulitzer in 1996 and his comments about that win

In the hundred odd comments made about how Kendrick Lamar should or should not have won the Pulitzer prize for music the people objecting to the win have emphasized that hip hop as a musical category should be exempt from even nomination, let alone a win.

But the thing is ... considering Slipped Disc tries to discuss and promote discussion of classical music, including stuff that's obscure or overlooked, it would seem we've had a few days for somebody, anybody, to mention that George Walker won the Pulitzer for one of his works back in 1996.


 In 1996, George Walker became the first black composer to receive the coveted Pulitzer Prize In Music for his work, Lilacs for Voice and Orchestra, premiered by the Boston Symphony, Seiji Ozawa conducting. Prior to that distinction, his Dialogus for Cello and Orchestra nominated by the Cleveland Orchestra for the Pulitzer Prize in 1977 after its premiere, was the only finalist in this competition.   In 1997 Marion Barry, Mayor of Washington, DC proclaimed June 17th as George Walker Day in the nation's capitol. In 1998, he received the Composers Award from the Lancaster Symphony and the letter of Distinction from the American Music Center for "his significant contributions to the field of contemporary American Music."  In 1999, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In April 2000, George Walker was inducted into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame in a ceremony at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC.
His five piano sonatas are all pretty good and I've enjoyed his string quartets and his sonatas for cello and piano and for violin and piano.  I learned of his work thanks to the blogging of Ethan Iverson. 

So if folks who are upset that Kendrick Lamar won the Pulitzer are upset because they wanted a composer who was more officially classical to win there's at least one example of the kind of music that's expected to be highbrow enough that could be mentioned as a point of comparison.

But ... George Walker was asked whether winning the Pulitzer really made a difference in his musical career.  Guess what?
Walker’s winning piece, “Lilacs for voice and orchestra,” used the words of Walt Whitman and was first performed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1996.

How did the Pulitzer change his life? “I got probably more publicity nationwide than perhaps any other Pulitzer Prize-winner. But not a single orchestra approached me about doing the piece or any piece. My publisher didn’t have sense enough to push. It materialized in nothing.”


So as people have been saying, arguably the Pulitzer needed Lamar more than Lamar needed the Pulitzer and George Walker's experience has been that added publicity. While Borstlap might have a point that the Lamar Pulitzer is a publicity stunt, it seems that the Pulitzer itself is not a particularly relevant award, and given Walker's account of how little it changed his career over the last thirty years objecting to who wins what Pulitzer seems moot. 

For folks who want to read another little article on Walker, here you go.
Just complaining that a hip hop artist has gotten the Pulitzer as though that were an outrage and that someone with more "classical" chops and work should have been recognized instead is still going to very likely come off as being upset that some pop star won.  Lebrecht has been clear the vulgarity and misogyny of hip hop as a genre appalls him.  Points noted, though Mozart had his fair share of vulgarity, too.  Cominglings of things people consider profound among and by people with vulgar senses of humor is almost too pedestrian and commonplace to mention but for the fact that if Lamar is considered negatively compared to a Mozart I'm ... not so sure Mozart was the less vulgar one. If you write a lot of instrumental music and that's what you get known for the operas and vocal music get skimmed past. 

Come to think of it, last year was the centennial of the death of Scott Joplin, whose music I've loved for decades and while his work remains known it's not like he got a big centennial observance ... or did he?

for something else to read from Slate

I think the basic idea of stylistic fusion is a fantastic idea and the lifeblood of musical innovation and the sustenance of traditions.  The high Baroque synthesis of styles and forms that evolved within German, French, Italian and English as well as Spanish and Polish and Dutch contexts tends to be retroactively read as more monolithic than it really was if you don't make a point of soaking up early, middle as well as late/high Baroque music.  It's not the least bit surprising that the most thorough-going experiments to arrive at fusions of jazz and classical traditions tend to come from people with an interest in jazz and also baroque music, and not just music from the usual high Baroque era suspects but that's some other blogging topic for some other time. 

consensus so far is that Kendrick Lamar's Pulitzer is something Pulitzer probably needed more than Lamar, with some interviews from the folks who voted and the folks who "lost" to Lamar being supportive

In the grand scheme of things, DAMN. being awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music is not an especially onerous honor. Few people, if any, rely on the Pulitzer to stay current with music. Throughout its history, the award, granted by a rather narrow circle of jurors, has been effectively reserved for white composers of classical music, with the occasional black jazz artist (or, more recently, Chinese composer) thrown in for good measure. Classical music, and contemporary classical music especially, registering not at all in a landscape of American music determined by pop sensibilities filtered through recording conglomerates, the music Pulitzer was an obscure bauble coveted only by the people who cared about it, of which there were not many. Forget the big reporting and magazine awards; even the poetry Pulitzer mattered more than music. Grammys are the awards that count most in music, and given that Kendrick is already loaded with golden gramophones — though the Album of the Year continues, unconscionably, to elude him — the Pulitzer is just a feather in his Dodgers fitted cap.
Sure, the Pulitzer connotes prestige and carries overtones of High Art, but anyone paying attention to Kendrick would already know to take his albums at least as seriously as one would take an experimental orchestra concerto. Most awards feel like a favor granted to the recipient, but in this case it’s Kendrick himself who’s doing the award a favor. Thanks to him, the Pulitzer Prize for Music feels relevant for the first time in recent recollection. We can only hope that more Pulitzers end up in the hands of popular artists. Metro Boomin would look nice at the Pulitzer ceremony; BeyoncĂ© would be stunning wearing a gold Pulitzer medal. But it’s clear that Kendrick’s winning the Pulitzer is meaningful precisely because he doesn’t need it. He didn’t come to the award so much as the award came to him, and if it hangs around his neck easily, it’s only because he’s long been accustomed to more strenuous burdens.
Well, I suppose ... that might be a bit of an overstatement but, on the other hand, hip hop in particular and musical fandom in general can be given to hyperbole, right?
Over at The New Yorker ...
I would argue that the award is a bigger event for the Pulitzers than it is for Lamar, or for hip-hop’s morale. “Fate is being kind to me. Fate doesn’t want me to be too famous too young,” Duke Ellington said in 1965, when he was sixty-six, after the Pulitzer Prize Advisory Board denied a recommendation that he receive a special-citation recognition for his contributions to jazz. With Lamar, just thirty years old, likely sitting on future compositions that will outdo the odysseys on “DAMN.”—and on “To Pimp a Butterfly” and “good kid, m.A.A.d. city,” which came before it—the Pulitzers push a reformation campaign, finding a canny opportunity to stake a place ahead of the curve. (The win bears some relation to Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize in Literature, in 2016, although in that case the referendum had to do with what constituted literature.) Most glaringly, it sets the stage for the argument that the prize of the intelligentsia, which has been disinterested in the flow of popular music, may have a shrewder grasp on cultural impact than the Grammys, which for its top honor, Album of the Year, have snubbed not only Lamar—this year and in the past—but every other black hip-hop artist other than Lauryn Hill and OutKast. ...

and over at Slate there's an interview with the other nominees and they seem pretty happy Lamar won.

This year’s Pulitzer winner was also very political. Are you a fan of Kendrick Lamar?
Gilbertson: I wouldn’t say I’m an expert, but I am a fan of his music. I remember when I was at Yale, I heard some other grad students give a talk on some of the theological and conceptual narrative depth in his work, and I was really struck by that. It changed the way I listen to his music. I’m really a fan of his work.
What’s your favorite Kendrick track?
Hearne: I love “Feel” so, so much. Incredible poetry, incredible groove, love his use of sampling, love the burst of intensity and the way he fucks with time near the end of the track.
Gilbertson: Probably “Real” from the album Good Kid, M.A.A.D City. There are many things I like musically, but I particularly love the refrain: “I do what I wanna do, I say what I wanna say, when I feel, and I look in the mirror and know I’m there.” I grew up a gay kid in Iowa, and it was tough. Music got me through the hardest times. Those words really speak to me.

What did you think of the board awarding this year’s top prize to Kendrick?
Hearne: I don’t put too much stock in prizes, but this is a really important year because Kendrick Lamar’s music is super important to me and to a lot of people. Hip-hop as a genre has been important to me as a composer, but Kendrick’s work in particular. He is such a bold and experimental and authentic artist. He’s one of the people that is creating truly new music.
What do you think his win means for the future of the prize?

Gilbertson: I never thought my string quartet and an album by Kendrick Lamar would be in the same category. This is no longer a narrow honor. It used to be classical composers competing against each other in relatively small numbers, but now we’re all competing against these major voices in music.

Hearne: I think it’s wonderful. When we say classical music, I think it’s a collection of audiences and musicians that have been grouped together and a big part of that grouping together, over centuries, has been about the exclusion of nonwhite people and nonwhite artists. Sure, in some respects, using violins and European classical instruments is a part of classical music, but so are a lot of other ideas. Especially in America, there are incredibly important musical thinkers who have been kept out of classical music spaces for a long time.

Can you give me an example?
Hearne: Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Charlie Parker. The ideas that Miles Davis and Charlie Mingus were playing with compositionally were more innovative than almost anybody in the entire century. We have to ask ourselves why Miles Davis is not considered part of that genre. It’s great that the Pulitzer Prize, which is considered prestigious in some circles, is recognizing a whole tradition of musical thinkers and bringing them into a space that has been, up until very recently, entirely white.
Of course, it’s great to be included on a list with [Kendrick], but it also bodes well for breaking down the walls of genre.
Gilbertson: A few years ago, Caroline Shaw worked with Kanye West after she won the Pulitzer. Maybe we’ll get some more cross-disciplinary collaborations coming out of this.
Cross-disciplinary or cross-genre collaboration might be endemic to hip hop as a genre, though, couldn't it?  I have not gotten the impression that cross-genre experimentation is closed off on either the hip hop side or necessarily the classical side of the divide ... although ... given how pervasive intellectual property is and how licensing works one under-utilized possibility might be making use of stuff that's public domain but relatively obscure. 
See, there's something that stuck with me about the eruption of predictable disapproval at Slipped Disc but that'll be a separate post.