Saturday, September 22, 2018

Denian Arcoleo plays Gilbert Biberian Sonata No. 3 for guitar

Of all the over-ambitious blogging projects I've considered over the years the Gilbert Biberian guitar sonatas are yet another set of guitar sonatas I've considered writing about.  Since I only have the score for the third guitar sonata and haven't managed to round up the others the Biberian sonata cycle is ... maybe never going to be something I blog about.  But since Arcoleo has a video up in which he performs the sonata I can certainly link to that.  (Hi, Denian, from Wenatchee The Hatchet). 

I love the gently dissonant block chord chorale theme that emerges throughout this sonata and Denian does a wonderful job bringing the paradoxically lyric dissonance of those passages out. 

Youtube: Eric Hill recording of Sonata for guitar alone by Tristram Cary

The score was published by Novello in 1968.  Fingering indications and editing were done by John W. Duarte.  Eric Hill recorded it some time in the 1980s, it seems, though there's no commercially available recording of this sonata available lately that I know of.

The first movement isn't exactly a conventional or "textbook" sonata movement, more like a grand binary form (heh!) in which there are elements of reprise in the second half without being ... anyway.  It's moderately dissonant as guitar sonata first movements go, though not as dissonant as other guitar sonatas I've heard. 

It's in three movements.  There's some fun dance riff stuff going on in the third movement, the finale.  The second movement has some sweet three against two rhythmic stuff going on in the second half. 

It's been a while since I've linked to a musical performance video and I was surprised to see that someone posted something for the Cary sonata.  I couldn't not link to it. 

over at The New Republic "struggle for a new American gospel" would be better as a search for a not-American gospel

The Religious Right may not appreciate the extent to which what they practically did was simply transform a Manifest Destiny that was spearheaded by mainlines or liberal Protestantism into an alternative Social Gospel.  Whether in its red state or blue state varieties a Gospels whose applied effects is a revitalization of America is still some kind of Americanist heresy to me. 

It doesn't matter to me if a Rachel Held Evans or a Matthew Paul Turner turns away from red-state Jesus if the "answer" is a blue-state Jesus, if the answer is an American Jesus who simply tells you to vote for another party ticket.  Did Frank Schaeffer come to believe his father Francis had become a red state religious right partisan hack?  Congratulations, Frankie, you become a blue state partisan hack as compensation and here we are in the 50th year since The God Who is There was published and ... in a way it might be a good thing that the book has no anniversarial commemorations like it did for the 25th anniversary. 

Now it's not like I think progressives can't be Christians or vice versa.  I do semi-regularly link to The New Republic and The Baffler along with some stuff from The American Conservative or from Slate or from The Atlantic or other publications.  You can vote for the causes you believe in.  My disagreement is with those Americans who reinvent Jesus in their image and present that as the "real" gospel. 

I have a comparable lack of respect or patience for Anglo-Americans who blather on about ancient near eastern wars and campaigns of killing as if the United States and the British colonial/imperial legacies weren't a hundredfold more murderous over the last five centuries.  So the ancient Jews had a Mosaic legal code in which slavery was permitted.  They didn't refine the trans-Atlantic slave trade, did they?   There are probably more people figuratively enslaved to the lending system in the modern West now than were ever enslaved in a more officially indentured way in ancient Israel.  The idea that the contemporary Anglo-American West has a credible basis from which to look down on bronze age warlords seems a bit dubious.  They didn't build and then drop an atomic bomb, after all.  But the realibility with which Anglo-American folks on the internet can look down on ancient Israelite monarchs is more or less axiomatic.

Another social gospel to reinvigorate blue state religion isn't necessary.  There was a vital and vibrant one back in the 19th century as it was, and the legacy was mixed.  The legacy of any given thing is going to be, at best, mixed.  But if the horror of the religious right is that it formulated a red state social gospel and tried to implement it the religious right, if they are as hidebound and uncreative as some people say they are, had to have cribbed it from somewhere. 

But if a would be "new" blue state civic religion social gospel crew want to skip that part they're welcome to try to revitalize business as usual.

some links for the weekend--Slate asks if Western Europe has been getting dumber on IQ tests, The Atlantic on some changing views on the accuracy of oral histories, and The Baffler on the ways that modern partisans reinvent ancient histories as pretexts

are people getting dumber?  The Slate presents it at about that general sense but it turns out the question is more about why IQ tests are dropping in Western Europe.

I feel impudent at the moment so chalk this up to another possible point in a case that Atlanticism as the guiding global leadership paradigm has been on the wane.  If the "dumbering" is more prominent in the Scandinavian nations than elsewhere that's curious but ... if we aren't altogether sure standaradized tests are the best measure of mindful activity to begin with a decline in testable IQ doesn't necessarily bode anything.

The formally "smartest" people in the world have no insurance against being functionally bigoted idiots about one thing or another.  Testing well might be a case for a cultural credentialism that establishes that you do well on standardized tests. 

But the thing that I've noticed over the twenty some years of my "grown up" life is that  there's a hard and fast distinction to be made between intelligence as a thing to be measured in tests and curiosity.  You can train people to remember things, you can even train people to think carefully about what they learn and I encourage and applaud that.  What you can't train people to be or encourage them to be if they are not already so disposed is to be curious about the world around them, curious about people, and curious about learning.  You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink, so the proverb goes.

Curiosity can take a lot of forms but without curiosity you don't have the will to learn, so to speak.  You could eat the finest and healthiest foods available but if you're not hungry then you're not hungry, to press this little illustration further.  That's not even to say that too many people these days only like fast food compared to "real food", that's actually not where this illustration is going, more in the direction that the hunger itself is at level X or Y and that's what a teacher or parent who teaches has to work with ... or we could say a pastor, too, perhaps.  Those who are incurious are going to be incurious.

Keeping things on an ... Atlantic theme ...


When I entered graduate school as an archaeologist in the late 1980s, I was told in no uncertain terms to discount the narratives from Native American oral history. Why? Largely because of the children’s game of telephone. (If case you’ve forgotten: Get a bunch of kids in a circle. Tell one a secret. Tell her to tell the person next to her. Repeat until you come all the way around the circle. By the time the secret gets back to you, it’s totally changed, if not unrecognizable.) Though it is a compelling and seductive argument-by-analogy, it’s overly simplistic and belies a fundamental misunderstanding of how oral history actually works in human societies. History is not kept by children playing games. It’s kept by specialists.

If you are the keeper of history in a society that does not have a written language, your job is to preserve the story verbatim. You have to apprentice and train for many years, and you have to go through tests and approval processes before you are deemed qualified to serve as keeper.

What does this have to do with the Dead Sea Scrolls?

As parchment and papyrus artifacts, the Dead Sea Scrolls are about 2,000 years old, but the stories recorded in them are often much older (we know this through collaborative studies—by archaeologists, historians, linguists, theologians, and others—of artifacts and records other than the Dead Sea Scrolls that have corroborated the dates in question). In fact, some of the stories relayed in the Dead Sea Scrolls are about 3,000 years old, dating to the time of King David. During that period, Hebrew was not yet a written language. So far as we know, Hebrew was first written down in about 600 B.C. I remember being shocked when I realized that many of the stories recorded in the Dead Sea Scrolls therefore existed for centuries as oral history.

As an archaeologist, if I have to dismiss the veracity of Native American oral traditions simply because they are not written down, then simple logic forces me to dismiss some of the accounts written in the Dead Sea Scrolls, which also began as oral tradition. To do anything else would be to maintain a racist double standard.

A few years ago, linguists and a geographer in Australia documented instances in which humans have maintained accurate oral histories over 400 generations and up to 10,000 years. And according to historian Roger Echo-Hawk, Pawnee oral traditions document events that occurred during the last glaciation (at least 11,000 years ago), including humans crossing the Bering Sea into North America.

All of this is evidence for something that I’ve long suspected: Most humans, until very recently, desired and maintained cultural stability, not change. Change was a threat and was embraced only when absolutely necessary. And that is why Native American oral histories—and oral histories around the world, for that matter—were a reliable way of recording and learning from the past for thousands of years before writing was invented


for folks who didn't follow one of the links ...

That the "game of telephone" refutation of oral history could seem racist and overly favorable to a literate historiography doesn't seem that difficult to consider.  What seems to be scientific can be a bias disguised as a scientific criteria.  Of course ... it might be a bit too telling of the time that Native American oral histories can be construed as reliable in an era in which a comparable oral history of say, Jews, might be dismissed as incredible because the Jewish scriptures are religious as well as political and legal texts and Judaism eventually spawned a variant called Christianity and the monotheistic religions are sometimes blamed for a whole lot of colonialism. 

My own take is that the white colonialism seized upon pretexts in the texts of ancient near eastern texts that were already canonized before colonialism was able to be implemented and that the canon itself was not necessarily what "caused" the imperialism.  Imperialism can just as easily invoke ideals of "universal" human rights and free trade.  If progressives spend all their time scapegoating the last iteration of imperialism they may miss that the newer catalyst of imperialism is probably less likely to look like the Inquisition or even the Religious Right than ... Star Trek.

Modernist mutations of ancient oral and literary histories for imperialisms that are "now" and not a reflection of "then" is something scholars and historians have been trawling through.  That lets us pivot from The Atlantic and the letter 'A' to the letter B and The Baffler.

To read Richard Wagner's treatments of religion and art is to read some fanciful daydreams about what "real" Christianity was before people ruined it by attaching it to Judaism (whereas I can't see how any credible historian, let alone a historian of religions) could see Christianity making a whole lot of sense if it wasn't in any way an outgrowth of Judaism.  The Germanic and French fantasy projects of "recovering" Spartan or Athenian culture has been written about plenty.  The European attempt to reinvent itself along the lines of what was probably an imaginary Greco-Roman heritage in some key respects doesn't mean we can't appreciate Greco Roman literary, artistic, philosophical and mathematical legacies. 

Greco-Roman antiquity has long had a powerful allure for any charlatan who would drape himself in garments of Serious Thought. Today classical references abound among white nationalists, men’s rights groups, and alt-right leaders, who are especially prone to intellectual pretension. White supremacist sites like National Vanguard and American Renaissance tout Greece and Rome as the “heritage” of the “white race.” Here are alt-right agitators wearing Spartan helmets to free speech rallies in Berkeley; there they are using antique statuary in recruitment flyers on campuses nationwide. One of the most widely cited of academic justifications for supporting Trump for president was penned by the pseudonymous “Publius Decius Mus,” a name taken from a Roman soldier who ritually sacrificed himself in battle to save the nation.

As groups further afringe have lately looted the relics of Greece and Rome, classical scholars have stirred themselves to respond. Since the fall of 2017, the classics blog Pharos has been documenting and challenging misappropriations of classical iconography, inviting classicists to qualify and contextualize claims that, say, a black actor playing Achilles is an affront to everything Homer held dear.


It's not a big shock to note that Europeans who looked to Greece or Rome as foundations for a "real" West have a history of regarding Judaism in particular and at times monotheistic religions more generally as bad.  George Steiner's In Bluebird's Castle, which I read and discussed earlier this year, presents Western European history as partly a battle of ideas emerging from a Greco-Roman paganism doing battle with a Judeo-Christian monotheistic paradigm.  I ended up reading the book because John Borstlap singled it out as a book that supposedly blasted the legitimacy of the Western European heritage.  It seems hard for someone who has actually read George Steiner's book and understands any of it to reach that conclusion. 

I don't have to agree with Steiner across the board to describe his theme as having been that the 20th century was the culmination of an ideological battle between monotheistic and polytheistic metaphysical legacies and that in a contemporary non-theistic Europe we may have to recognize that that set of legacies is changing; that in an era in which the industrialization and imperial expansion of "the West" has helped catalyze global ecological concern and inequalities that the way to play the long game about human history might be to give up the traditionally Western Europe gamble on an immortality through "art" or "culture" in favor of reconceptualizing a form of Westernism that is less supremacist.  The irony there is that within the Judeo-Christian traditions there's not really a shortage of that countervailing impetus.  Borstlap could have pointed that out ... if he were religiously literate enough to have made such a case ... which ... anyway.

A classicist can colloquially be understood as someone who loves, studies, celebrates and promotes "the classics".  Since I've been on an Adorno binge in the last few years, inspired paradoxically by anti-Adorno polemics that were so heated and vitriolic they inspired by curiosity as to what Adorno actually said--somewhere that I can't recall off the top of my head, I recall Adorno writing that the traditionalists who claimed to be defending traditional art didn't necessarily understand the traditions they beleived they were defending.  There have been classicissts wh odefend what they regard as classic. 

Having soaked up a lot of Haydn and Beethoven over the decades, and a fair amount of ragtime and blues and jazz and even some country I think I have some idea how to unpack that polemic.

There are people who want to protect or continue the classics and the idea is to formulate an artistic canon.  I don't have a problem with artistic canons.  We have them in popular music as well as art music.  I think people who believe we should move beyond canons are making a foolish if probably partly altruistic mistake.  The links to Native American oral cultures and aboriginal societies preserving stories for hundreds of generations have a subtext that I'm now going to make text, it takes a very modern post-industrial culture industrial approach to assume that canons are in some way "holding us back".  But having said that, an Adornian style critique of traditionalists as pseudo-traditionalists still has some teeth.  The argument is that the would-be traditionalist is defending the canon itself more than the canon as a catalyst for inspiring new work.  It's also possible to argue that the traditionalist, defined in implicitly pejorative terms as some old person who isn't interested in thinking about new music so much as sacralizing the existing canon, doesn't even understand the canon.  The classic Christian version of this in the Gospels is Christ declaring that the experts in the law don't even really understand the law they claim to be defending. 

A reactionary in the arts may be more apt to defend a style as style rather than the thought processes that can be extrapolated from the works in a style.  If I were to hazard a thoroughly non-scholarly claim as to what a "classicist" ought to do is t translate thought processes and was of thinking and making into a vernacular which can be useful in contemporary artistic creation.

To try to borrow terms from religious studies, reactionaries may be spectacular (or terrible) at exegeting the canon but have thought nothing much about a heremeneutical application that translates the content of the cnaonical texts into terms we could try to live by now.  Adorno himself was guilty, by a poptimist understanding, of refusing to grant that a synergy between high and low could ever happen again in the age of monopoly capitalism.  I'm not interested in contesting that the rupture between high and low art in the age of monopoly capitalism has come about.  What makes Adorno's stance seem alternately elitist, chauvinist, racist, reactionary and even paradoxically fascist in ideological terms was his refusal to grant that the synergy or the dialectic between popular and art musics could ever be restored.  I think it can but it's only going to be revived, this synergy between popular and art music traditions if people make a point of cultivating a curiosity for and a love of both the high and low and, taking a cue from Adorno, thinking about these things in explicitly theoretical terms without, along the way, forsaking the making of actual music. 

A conservative classicist who cannot translate how to take Haydn's compositional development scripts into contemporary popular musical vocabulary may have failed not  only to appreciate the possibilities of popular/vernacular styles from the last century or so (when the Western rupture between high and low began, in some conventional tellings, to accelerate), such a conservative classicist may also arguably not understand the classicist tradition he thinks he's upholding.  If he did understand it then he could show how popular musical styles could have "argument" by appealing to the classical canon not as a set of canonized styles and objects but as a catalyst for thinking about gestural transformation and expansion in more contemporary idioms.

Which, if you haven't picked up on this by now, that's the kind of thing that interests me, very much.  I take it as a given that sonatas and fugues based on blues riffs, ragtime, country slide guitar riffs and the like are all possible.  If I had taken all my cues from the self-designated classicists and traditionalists I would have never arrived at a theoretical basis for such a fusion.  Now I did benefit from reading classics and studying classics.  I am glad I read George Rochberg, whose work helped provide a theoretical basis for my fusionist experiments.  But I also read half a dozen books by Adorno.  People who love the arts on the left and the right in Anglo-American contexts, at least, seem so insular in their self-referential feedback loops that it feels to me as if some really fun innovations in bridging the gaps between high and low could happen if the left and right arts scenes could pull their respective heads out of their butts chasing their often racist essentialist just so stories and deal with the art itself, more than the stories told about the art to rationalize political commitments that, however sincere, are not the only way to discuss the arts. 

But my impression is Adorno was probably right to say that the traditionalists don't understand the traditiosn they think they're defending.  I disagree with Adorno about a variety of things but I am still grateful I read him, so in a way I'm a kind of "limited" Adorno admirer and for that I have to thank conservative screeds about 'culturla Marxism".  Way to go enemies of cultural Marxism, you may have unintentional made a qualified admirer of Adorno's work.  :)  I think he was powerfully wrong about a few things but I can erespect the long form proposal that was distilled by Quincy Jones once as saying that the left hemisphere of the brain has to be involved in musical creation, too. 

I also wonder lately if one of the dead ends of musicology is that it has traveled so far in the tunnel of analysis analysts have forgotten that theoretical treatments of styles of music could often as not get created to encourage new composition ore than analysis of existing works for scholarly journals. 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Alan Jacobs on Adrian Vermeule's "Integration from Within" aka "dare to make a daniel"

The most salient detail about Daniel and the three young men is that they were taken by a conquering empire and trained to serve in that empire.  Any attempt to "reverse engineer" a Daniel has to account for that element of the narrative first.  The best and brightest and most beautiful were selected as trophies/servants for the conquering empire. 

I wonder how many others may have notice how much American exceptionalism could be rife within a "dare to make a Daniel" proposal is.  Couldn't every American Christian co-op and homeschooling brood be attempting to make such a Daniel right now?

As a Calvinist ... it may surprise nobody that I don't see that this sort of "Daniel" can really be reverse-engineered by the sorts of parents in America who believe that if they curate the upbringings of their children just the right way that the powerful leaders of the future will emerge as though the more or less predictable possibilities of good engineering.   By all means parents should raise their children as best they can. 

Mention of Mordecai reminds me that Mark Driscoll proposed that Esther and Mordecai started off, at best, as nominal sorts of religious people.  If would-be social conservatives can't even agree on whether or not an Esther or a Mordecai even starts out qualified to be Esther or Mordecai in terms of character, the idea of telling parents (because it would seem parents and pedagogues get the lion's share of this burden) that they can raise up such people might risk insisting on saying that parents can do what books of the Bible seem to repeatedly suggest is the prerogative of God alone.  Samson did not seem all that  eager or interested in being the savior of his people even at the moment of his death. He wanted to avenge himself.  If the God of Israel could use a foolish, self-absorbed and unscrupulous judge then it may be that attempting to design a Daniel misses the point ... there's more than one way to MAGA and the thing is that those who set themselves against MAGA have their own MAGA formulas. 

Jacobs is right to ask where on earth these would be Daniels and Esthers are supposed to come from, but I would add that we can point out that if it's a Daniel or an Esther the question of who trains them is moot, not the believers or the community of believers and if we want to be so generous as to assume a Mark Driscollian theory that Esther wasn't even a serious believer is part of the deal. 

former Mars Hill executive elder Dave Bruskas campus pastor at Fort Worth campus of The Village Church

For those who remember the three executive elders from the late Mars Hill there's been news about Mark Driscoll having a book coming out, and in 2015 there was some blogging from Sutton Turner about what he was thinking and doing during his time there.  There's not been as much about Dave Bruskas of the three executive elders. 

With that considered, he's now part of The Village Church as a campus pastor and his life story is presented.

Life Story

I grew up in a loving but irreligious family, only attending church services on holidays. My mom was struggling with alcoholism when a friend invited her to study the Bible. She quickly realized her need for forgiveness and placed her faith in Jesus. Before long, my dad also believed, and soon I found myself in church every Sunday. I did my best to resist believing, but I eventually heard the gospel clearly. I felt convicted of my sin and realized my desperate need for forgiveness. For the first time in my life, I understood that God extended His righteousness to me through Jesus. I professed my faith in Him and immediately sensed the presence of God in my life.

After graduating from Dallas Theological Seminary, I served a church replant in Seattle and then I returned home and planted a church in the heart of Albuquerque, New Mexico. This church eventually became the first out-of-state campus of Mars Hill Church.

In 2010, I joined the executive elder team at Mars Hill and served in this capacity until the church dissolved at the end of 2014. In January 2015, I returned to Mars Hill Albuquerque to transition the campus into an independent church called North Church. I served as the Lead Pastor of North Church until 2018.

My wife, Kara, and I have been married for 30 years. We have four daughters, two son-in-laws and three grandchildren.

and unlike the former president and teaching elder of what used to be Mars Hill, Bruskas actually directly mentions Mars Hill.  For some background on how the New Mexico campus was assimilated into Mars Hill you can go over here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

on not really missing The Village Voice now that it's gone because it was never in my adult lifetime what those who remember it fondly remembered it being (and that seems to be the real, long ago loss)

Having not really read The Village Voice in ... years ... it's a little hard to feel any sense of loss that the magazine has been shuttered.  Since I was never exactly "in" the alternative or mainstream journalism scene much I can't share Scott Timberg's unhappiness at the decline of The Village Voice or the L. A. Weekly.  We've still got The Stranger up here for alt-weeklies and The Seattle Weekly and, if anything, I can sort of hope a post-Dan Savage The Stranger will be a more interesting paper.  I used to read The Stranger mainly for Chris DeLaurenti's writing and sometimes the film reviews because even if I didn't always agree with Charles Mudede he was generally interesting to read.  So when I say I don't really care that The Voice is gone or miss it I'm not saying I've been against an alternative press being around.

FOR the last few months I’ve been meaning to revisit some of the abiding concerns of this blog and the book that inspired it. Mostly, I’m talking about what we used to call the press and now typically describe as the news media. My overall sense is that some parts of the creative economy have healed since I began writing my book in the teeth of the recession and published it in 2015. But the press — not just the daily press but the alternative weeklies that I began reading as a teenager and then writing for in my 20s — have not much recovered.

This slow decline (which I wrote about five years ago, after the shuttering of the Boston Phoenix) reached a startling point a few days ago, with what seems like the final death of the Village Voice and the instant layoff of most of its staff. (Those left will, apparently, only be there to digitize past content.) The news has now been reported quite widely, with this remembrance by the New Yorker’s art critic Peter Schjeldahl — a three-time Voice scribe — probably my favorite. (The LA Weekly, a once-excellent paper bought a year ago by a group of Orange County Libertarians with shaky credentials and a cagey relationship to the truth, may be headed for a similar collapse due to a tidal wave of conflict of interest and at least one lawsuit between the news owners.)

But perhaps the most complete piece yet on the alt-press meltdown just appeared on the personal blog of a writer and editor many miles from New York City. Its author, North Carolina-based Mark Kemp, is known to music journalists and attentive readers for various stints, including running the magazine Option during indie rock’s early ’90s heyday, a brief tenure at Rolling Stone, and recent leadership positions at Acoustic Guitar magazine and the Creative Loafing chain of Southern alt weeklies. (I barely know the guy, but have respected his work for a long time.)

Over at The American Conservative Telly Davidson's take seems to bee that The Voice was a shell of its former self for probably a generation and that it's hard to feel all that bad about the current Voice shuttering even if it was a truly fantastic alternative paper back around ... the Reagan administration and before.

How do you write an obituary for someone who was a great and loving role model to the parents you love, but who was abusive and dismissive to you and your friends?

When I first heard about the death of the Village Voice on August 31 (its print edition was euthanized last year, which had left it publishing mostly online), I had much the same reaction as I had to the December 2017 downsizing and restructuring at the Voice’s longtime Los Angeles counterpart LA Weekly. I churlishly thought that I would have just as much sympathy for them as they had for many of my friends and colleagues who weren’t among the few chosen to work in their hallowed halls—which is to say, almost none. When Entertainment Today, LA Valley Beat/City Beat, the Brooklyn Rail, and other “alt-weeklies” died gruesome deaths in the run-up or aftermath of the Great Recession (I worked for ET early in my career), the reaction of the league-leading LA Weekly and Village Voice people at the time ranged from eye-rolling laughter to dancing on our graves. [emphasis added]

More to the point, thanks to corporatization and consolidation, no Millennial and very few younger Xers can really remember when these papers were truly “anti-establishment” or even at the top of their game in any real sense. By then, the status consciousness, tone policing, snobbery, and credentialism of the Voice and the Weekly (and their very corporate parents’ corporate culture) ensured that there was more of a revolving door than a boundary line between them and the usual suspects over at the “mainstream” Los Angeles and New York Times.

Yet when I talk to Boomer writers and artists, whether they swore by or swore at what appeared in the Voice, almost all recognized it as the very symbol of New York’s vitality, a carnival of cultures and classes, decades before “diversity” became a political password. Maybe, as this eulogy suggests, the city that the the alt-weekly gave “voice” to is no longer there.


As a respected and accomplished Boomer-era composer recently told me, when he was making it as a young musician in the Big Apple in the early 1970s, he and his set thought of the Voice as “the New York Times for nonconformists.” It provided a truly alternative “voice” to the processed cheese pabulum and establishment headlines of the mainstream media. In its heyday, the Voice was a place where indisputably talented and iconoclastic writers who were too “out there” to get hired at the mainstream spots could not only pick up a paycheck and a byline credit but also have the chance to rub shoulders with Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal. Where writers who redefined arts criticism like Robert Christgau, Nat Hentoff, Andrew Sarris, and James Wolcott got some of their first and best breaks. Where conservatives and suburban liberals alike could shake their fists at Alexander Cockburn’s near-open communism, or the latest Robert Mapplethorpe exhibit.    

I mean if you're gonna name-drop, those are some formidable names to drop!

The Voice employed to their very last day both new and old greats who did nothing but good by the standards of journalism and their communities. But it also housed writers and editors who were smug caricatures of everything they supposedly despised. Towards the end of the paper’s 63-year lifespan, it became an insular clique rather than a sanctuary for brilliant misfits and rebels. This was a storied institution that had earned respect but slowly lost it, thanks in part to the corporate buyouts and the inevitable dimming of its once strong independent compass.

As former (and understandably disgruntled) contributor Harry Siegel noted, the grim fate of the Voice symbolizes an era where journalism is moving more and more away from a self-sustaining business model towards becoming a bauble or plaything of rich social climbers who want to buy their way into influence with a media footprint platform. (The uber-controversial restructuring at LA Weekly did the same thing.)  

Let’s have a little audit, shall we? The Washington Post would have died in darkness if it weren’t for Jeff Bezos. Variety would have stopped the presses without (racing/auto dealer legend Roger’s son) Jay Penske. The brilliant scientist and Big Pharma bigwig Patrick Soon-Shiong gave the Los Angeles Times the vitamin injection that saved it from slipping into a coma. (During the worst of the Great Recession, the Times was petitioning in grocery stores to keep its print circulation at acceptable levels, and the main selling point wasn’t groundbreaking journalism but “!Mas Cupones!” Around the same time, the New York Times had to take out a loan against its Times Square headquarters.) 

So it seems that not everyone thinks that the alt-weeklies that have been dying were going to soldier on valiently the way they had been decades ago without an infusion of financing; and the implication seems stronger still, that many hoary ostensibly countercultural publications in the alt-journalism scene are either running on fumes or have devolved into hackwork.  I guess I'd say I might feel slightly bad the Village Voice has shuttered if the alternatives are AlterNet/Salon.

Over at The Baffler ... one proposal given for consideration among many is that in a way the age of internet journalism has meant the ethos or praxis of The Village Voice has so saturated North American online journalism the spirit of the Voice lives on whether or not the Voice itself is long remembered beyond journalistic insiders.

Well before New Times bought and gleefully gutted it, however, the Voice was evolving toward being less freewheeling and not more. When Durbin, by then editor-in-chief, hired me back full-time as a political columnist in 1994, I’d never have guessed that I’d end up thinking of her as the last editor of the “real” Village Voice—the wild-and-woolly, unconstrained version I’d cut my apprentice teeth writing for almost twenty years earlier. By 1996, she’d been replaced by Newsday vet Donald Forst, a shrewd and very enjoyable tough cookie whose less enjoyable mandate was to get us to straighten up and fly right. Rumor had it that the plan all along was to make the paper more attractive to buyers wary of the wild and woolly, although former EIC David Schneiderman—who’d moved up to running what, by then, was Village Voice Media—insisted that wasn’t so.

Considering how much damage the New Times regime did—Christgau got fired within months, followed by nearly all of the paper’s remaining leading lights—the wonder is that the Voice managed to survive for another decade-plus. Hopes of reviving the paper’s glory days flickered when Peter Barbey, who intended to do just that, bought it in 2015. But they dimmed with the print edition’s Waterloo two years later before getting extinguished by the online version’s death on August 30, 2018.

Naturally, we alumni spent the next few days conducting a social-media wake. The more I thought about it, though, the more convinced I grew that the paper’s demise was only fitting. One reason is that everything the concept of “the Village” meant to several generations of Voice readers—bohemia, nonconformity, one thriving avant-garde arts scene replacing another thanks to a talent pool regularly refreshed by new arrivals with more ambition than rent money, even a belief in New York itself as the nation’s cultural capital—hasn’t corresponded to New York’s reality in something like a quarter of a century.

But another reason, as an ex-colleague suggested to me, is that “we won.” The cultural and political assumptions and insights once confined to the Voice-defined margins have long since been absorbed into the mainstream, rendering the original source redundant. In many ways, The Village Voice folded simply because its work here was done.

But that may, for all that, confirm Telly Davidson's observation that The Village Voice had become so intertwined with the mainstream as it developed over the last twenty odd years it couldn't be called alternative press in any way that mattered and, so, there's not much reason to feel bad about losing what it had become but there's plenty of reason to feel bad about the fact that it lost what it once was.

All that said, I like reading stuff by Kyle Gann so I don't want to suggest The Village Voice hasn't given us some excellent writers in the last thirty some years.  It clearly has!  I've picked up Gann's book on the Concord Sonata and have been working through it.  It's a challenge because the sonata is a challenge, but it's proving to be a worthwhile challenge. 

I can appreciate the value of an alternative press and at the risk of pointing to some of my own blogging in the last ten years there have been times where Wenatchee The Hatchet has taken up a role that could be thought of as an alternative press role, particularly on the subject of a certain megachurch that used to have a prominent role in the Pacific Northwest.  I can appreciate that when people believe mainstream press is completely failing through inadvertent or willful neglect a story that should not be overlooked that formulating an alternative journalistic presence and apparatus has to get made.  Just because I tend to think of myself as moderately conservative doesn't mean I can't appreciate the value of the alternative press ... even if I have spent a whole post admitting I don't really miss The Village Voice because it seemed in the last ten years it was already dead in the water.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Mark Driscoll posts an excerpt of his forthcoming book at his Patheos blog, an account of the planting of The Trinity Church that seems to consolidate narrative threads shared in interviews and talks he gave between his Mars Hill resignation and a 4-2017 interview

Driscoll mentions that the big lesson God has been teaching the Driscoll family in recent years is that everything in life is a gift if you patiently wait and learn what to do with it.  

"I have tried to take everything in life, the good and the bad, and figure out how to receive it as something that, if properly used, can be a blessing that glorifies God.  If I can figure that out, then God uses it to do something good in me, which in turn He can do something good through me to bless others."

Driscoll goes on to provide a real life example.  As he describes it:

Let me give you one real life example. Some years ago, our family had to move for a variety of complicated reasons. I was bemoaning and questioning what the Lord was doing, though we knew clearly God was directing it. We had worked very hard to get our home ready to live in, and did not get to live there very long. Then, this happened after we had listed the home for sale and moved to another state:

[inserted picture in Patheos post]

The story continues on page 2 but let's pause a moment because the image given in the post at Patheos looks like the one that was shared at a sermon Driscoll gave in Wenatchee at Grace City church in 2016.  Although Warren Throckmorton mentioned that sermon back in February 2016 and linked to the audio. The audio isn't available at the church site any longer it was there once.

February 22, 2016 by Warren Throckmorton 

Yesterday, Mark Driscoll spoke at Grace City Church, an Acts 29 church in Wenatchee, WA pastored by Josh McPherson. McPherson, who is Acts 29’s Network Coordinator for the Pacific Northwest, must really believe in Driscoll’s comeback because I suspect he is hearing some noise about it.
I put my house on the market. I'm thinking, "Okay, my house will sell." I gotta go down and I'm--we can't get the kids into school. The school's are already full. We're there too late because the school districts are different between the northwest and the southwest. We're renting a place temporarily. All my stuff, all our stuff, is up in our place in Seattle. Our house is on the market. Our house is not selling. ...

and I was in Arizona trying to figure out what the next season of life looks like with elementary, junior high, high school, college and my phone alarm starts going off and I assume somebody broke in or whatever. So I send my realtor over. My realtor calls me and his voice is trembling and he sends me this photo. He said, "I'm standing at your house and here it is." [audience reaction of dismay, apparently at a photo] Yeah,that--that's my house. Or WAS my house. And a 200-foot tree fell on my house and crushed our bedroom. Our bed is under that rubble. If my wife and I were taking a nap at 1 o'clock on a Saturday we'd be dead. 

So I flew up late at night. I go to the property all the power's out. I'm there with a flashlight. It's pouring down rain and I'm going through the rubble that is our home and I'm glad that nobody in my family died. And I'm thinking, "How--this is all my equity. This is what I was going to use to relocate and provide for my family. And, and here it is." And now I live in another state so how am I supposed to fix this?

I remember sitting at the house, actually, outside in the rain looking at what used to be my house.  I'm like, "Okay, Lord, this family is my responsibility." My stuff is in this house. My family is in another state. We don't have a permanent place to live. I can't find a school for my children. All of our equity and wealth is in a destroyed home and I'm unemployed. ...

And I remember just standing there in the rain just like, "Father, Dad, I need help now. I need wisdom. I need provision. I need a path forward. I accept responsibility for the well-being of my family. But how to proceed forward, Dad, I'm not entirely clear on. I could really use your help." And God's a good father and he has answered that prayer and He's taken care of our family. And, actually, the good news is we closed this  house last week and it got fixed and somebody bought it who was willing to take that off our hands and allow us to move forward with our lives. 

For those in the Puget Sound area the closest windstorm news that would have come to mind in the post-Driscoll-resignation era would have been.
August 30, 2015

Snohomish County PUD continues to make progress in restoring power to residents in Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood, Edmonds and Woodway. PUD reports that 55,000 households remain without power. Crews will continue work throughout the night.

What's the relevance of this background information?  Well, the house would have been the one in Woodway that Mark Driscoll had at one point said to Russ Bowen was a "wrong address".
By KOMO Staff |Thursday, August 28th 2014

 Driscoll's reaction to Russ Bowen's enquiry sounded like "Sorry, bro. Wrong address. I don't know."

Transcript | Mark Driscoll | Thrive 2015-05-01
See Links to Timestamps at the end of this doc.

Things really escalated when the media showed up and blocked the driveway to the house, seeking an interview and brought a helicopter overhead to flush me out for an interview.  My kids had been outside playing and, uh, all of a sudden we heard this helicopter over the yard and so we pulled the family into the house and tried to figure out how to not be in front of a window because we didn’t want to be on the news and didn’t know what was going on, to be honest with you.  

That night my oldest son, he was 8 at the time, he came to me downstairs, my wife Grace was cooking dinner and uh, he had on this jacket, it was a military jacket with patches down the side.  He had his AirSoft gun and I said “What are you doing little buddy?” He’s nine now.  And he said, “Dad is this jacket bullet-proof?” (crown groans) And I said, “Why’s that little buddy?” And he said, “Well, if the bad guys come, I want to be able to protect the family.” [4:59] 

I didn’t know that he – he didn’t know it was a news crew. The only thing he’d ever seen were the uh, um, the bad guy movies where they come in helicopters and shoot everybody.  It took months.  He would have night terrors. He wouldn’t sleep in his room.  He wouldn’t take a shower, get dressed in his bedroom by himself. Something we’re trying to encourage him through.  Just real fear came into him.  The kids wanted to sleep outside in a tent one night.  We told them no, because as soon as we had the tent set up and were going out to sleep in the tent, the media posted the address to my house as a new story which I felt like we were in danger again so I grabbed the kids and left for the night and went to a hotel for a couple days.  Then came back and I preached what would be my last sermon -- I didn’t know it would be my last.  The New York Times was there.  It was a big media situation. 

So, the kids were like, “Dad, we just want to sleep in a tent in our house.” So we slept in a tent.  I didn’t really sleep, but the kids -- the younger kids slept.  Woke up in the morning and somebody on the other side of the fence was throwing large rocks at my kids at about 6:30 in the morning.  And at first, I didn’t know what it was and then the dog thought we were playing fetch and started picking up these rocks and it dawned on me, like rocks are flying at my kids in the yard.  So we filed a police report and went away for a little bit. Came back and there was a bucket of nails all over the driveway.  Picked those up um.  ...

So now that Driscoll has posted a photo on his Patheos blog that seems to have been shared earlier describing how a windstorm struck what was once his house the question of whether a specific house in Woodway was his house or not reopens the question of whether he was giving an honest answer to Russ Bowen years ago.  Rather than say "no comment" what Bowen recorded on camera for the record was "Sorry. Wrong address. I don't know."  

To go by the quit claim deed from 2013 it was not, technically speaking, a Driscoll-owned house, as it?  Documentation regarding that is over here.  Let's move on to the rest of the recent Patheos account.

A massive tree fell on our bedroom on a Saturday morning. If we had still lived there, my wife Grace and I would be dead, as this tree fell down the middle of our bed. Our kids would have no parents in the midst of what was the most brutal season of our lives alone in a new state with no family or close friends. Suddenly, I saw that the burden of moving was actually a blessing. A lot has happened since then: Grace and I have celebrated 26 years of faithful marriage, we planted a church with the kids, we sent our oldest two off to college, and we have seen pretty much everything in life eventually turn into a blessing.  God has been great and we are grateful.  We share a lot of the journey in my new book Spirit-Filled Jesus.  You can pre-order the book at Amazon and learn to live by His power. Here's one section of the book that details what our family has been up to: ...

We'll get to that but first let's note that the bold type is original.  The marketing for the forthcoming book is literally highlighted in the original body of the text with an Amazon redirect link which ... is not duplicated here.  

So it looks like the Grace City Church account of the tree that fell on a house that was in Woodway that, when Russ Bowen was asking for Mark Driscoll, was the wrong address turned out to be the Driscoll home when he was sharing at the Thrive conference how the media blocked the driveway or sharing with Grace City Church how the Woodway house was his house, after all, when telling of how a tree fell on the house where he and Grace would have been potentially in bed and died had they not moved out of that house and also out of the state. 

But exactly why the Driscolls left Washington state is not explained in the Patheos blog post or in the excerpt quoted from the forthcoming book.  

Summarily, Driscoll described how the Driscoll kids organized a home church service on Sunday mornings before the Driscoll family "relocated for safety reasons".  That motiff of safety reasons was used in a 2013 post "The Hardest Part of Ministry", which we've discussed in some detail elsewhere.  But we'll probably have to discuss this again.  Moving from one state to another for safety reasons simply invites a point blank question as to what the safety issues would have been. When Robison asked Mark Driscoll point blank in the Life Today interview what Driscoll might have said or done to get so many people so mad at him Driscoll's response was to say he's a lovely guy so he really doesn't know.  

Driscoll mentions in the excerpt "The first church my wife Grace and I planted, we were just twenty-five years of age with no children.  Over the years when the kids came along, complex and challenging situations made it increasingly difficult for my wife and kids to be much involved. This time, however, could be different and we could plant a church as a family ministry."

The thing is, Mark Driscoll had spoken in the past about his family being involved in ministry.  Mark Driscoll shared enough stories about himself and his family as a synecdoche for what used to be Mars Hill it's hard to see, having been part of Mars Hill in the past, what actually makes The Trinity Church "different".  Driscoll made no secret about the extent to which he at various times regarded his family as cumulatively participating in ministry in what used to be at Mars Hill.  

"The Hardest Part of Ministry" from 2013 is not necessarily online now at  It was up for a while ...

but it seems to have gone 404 more recently.

We'll have to revisit some materials from as far back as 2001 to provide some context for what Driscoll was saying in 2013.
The hardest part of ministry
October 25, 2013
Mark Driscoll

* Twice I have arrived home from work to find a registered sex offender seeking to engage with my family while waiting to talk with me.

A version of the post is over here at at the moment. That's kind of the thing about Driscoll's Mars Hill era content, it was so super-saturated on the internet that sometimes there's stuff out there in plain sight even when it seems a lot of it has been purged.  

As has been previously discussed on the of the delicate details of that bullet point is how many people who were around Mars Hill in the 2000-2003 period heard Driscoll share that, yes, in fact, a pedophile visited him.  Over at the following website former attender Mark Yetman described the general situation:

Mark Yetman

In 2000 my wife and I moved 3000 miles to Seattle. We didn’t know anyone or anything about Seattle but we rented an apartment on the Ave. Everything was new and exciting for us and we sought out to explore everything this city. I don’t remember when we decided to enter the doors of the Paradox but I think it was late that summer. Entering those doors we were exposed to something we had never seen. Team Strike Force was doing their best Nirvana impression with deep and heartfelt Christian lyrics (no Jesus is my boyfriend lyrics). The pastor was dynamic, edgy, and speaking the Gospel with strength and conviction. What was truly radical for me was an evangelical church that served communion and you went up when your heart and soul were ready to accept Christ. For me it was a personal altar-call every time.

We would mainly go to the Paradox but occasionally go to the Ballard church (house). I remember going to Mark’s birthday party/5 year anniversary party and going to a retreat where Damien Jurado was there (He did a great rendition of Pink Moon). I started going to Mark’s house by the Montlake bridge for a men’s bible study. His uber-macho/hyperbolic public persona practically disappeared. He revealed a man that was Christ-filled caring and compassionate man. I remember one time him speaking about having a child-molester in his house and was uneasy about it but believed that Christ had changed this man’s heart. ... [emphasis added] 

And from the early 2001 sermon series in the Gospel of John, Mark Driscoll's own account of how a convicted child molester visited him and was ministered to by his daughter Ashley presents his daughter as taking initiative to pray for the man.
Part 12 of The Gospel of John
Pastor Mark Driscoll | John 6:1-14 | January 21, 2001
And I remember – I’ll tell you one story that kind of just sort of summarizes how I view this. My daughter was upstairs. She was about two-years-old taking her nap, and she was laying in her bed sleeping away – the bed that her grandmother had given her. She came downstairs and I was meeting with a guy who was sitting on my couch really struggling with a sin. He had been a child molester and was wondering whether or not he could become a Christian and whether God could forgive him of what he had done.And if you know me, I have very little compassion on men, especially men who take advantage of women and children. So this was really hard for me, especially being a first time father with a little daughter that I adored. And I was like, “You know, scripture says though that Christ has died for all our sins and there’s nothing that is beyond God’s grace in Christ. There’s nothing that God can’t forgive you of.”

And he’s crying. He says, “Do you really think that that’s possible? Do you really think that I could be forgiven for this?”

And it was interesting because my daughter came downstairs from her nap, and he was sitting on the couch that was given to us, and she looked at him and she saw him crying and she said, “Daddy, why is he crying?”

I said, “Well because he sinned. He did a bad thing and he feels bad about that.”

And she says, “Well we should pray for him.” So she climbs up on his lap and prays for him. She had no idea why he was crying, but I thought, “Man, if this is not the whole world coming together right here.” I mean it’s fishes and loaves. Somebody helped us get this house. Somebody gave us that couch. My daughter comes downstairs, sits on his lap, and then all of a sudden God’s grace gets multiplied right in the life of someone who’s very guilty of their sin, but now God has given them grace through a little girl and she didn’t even know she was doing it. She just thought she was praying for someone in need. [emphases added]

We have seen this over and over and over. It’s just amazing. ...

So ... Yetman's recollection did not seem to be a misremembering, Driscoll's own public record of preaching is able to verify the basics.  In Driscoll's 2001 account his daughter prayed for the man.  So while in 2013 an older and wiser man could certainly look back and realize that there was plenty a father could be worried about, the 2001 Mark Driscoll shared the story of Ashley praying for a convicted child molester not just once in a sermon but more than once, the other occasion being discussing family ministry in April 2001:
2001-04-07 Women's Meeting Part 3
answering a question

Best case scenario, I think, in ministry, is husband and wife working together. Beautiful. Like Priscilla and Aquilla, that's ideal to me because it's not good for the man to be alone, that includes ministry. So the wife is very helpful when she's a good fit. All our elders have wives that I admire and that I hope you would admire because they're admirable women. [emphasis added] And that's what it talks about in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, that the elders should be a certain way and so should their wives, because those women will know everything that is going on in the church; they will have more responsibility and have a higher profile. 

That's why, you know, how many of your are in a home group with one of the elders? Some of you are. You should be. The way we set those up is that the elders are opening up their homes and teaching with their wives so that you can get to know them in a natural context.  That's the way it's generally working. And the reason is that because we feel that the husbands and the wives working together serve for the best model of how the church should work. It should NOT be 'the wife stays home with the children and the husband goes out and does ministry', it's that the WHOLE family does ministry TOGETHER. [emphases added] Our children are a part of our ministry. It's great. I love it. I love it when people come over and my daughter opens the door and welcomes them, sits them down--if you've been at my house you know how this works, she's little Miss Hospitality.

Now her big thing before our Tuesday night study [is], she likes to open it in prayer, and then she likes to take the children upstairs and be the little hostess, which is great.  We have seen, I have seen, my daughter minister to people. I saw her, on one occasion, share the Gospel with a convicted pedophile, which was beautiful.  She was about, I think, right around about three years of age. About two and a half, three years of age. We were talking and he wanted to know as to whether or not God could forgive him for his sin. She came downstairs from her nap, saw him crying on the couch, and sat on his lap and asked me why he was said and I told her that he'd committed a sin against God and so she prayed for him. 

And so I view my daughter as having a spiritual gift, or two or three, and I see her knowing Christ, that means I see evidence of the spirit of God in her. That means she is a member of this church and she is a part of this church and that every part, as Paul says, is necessary and vital. So to kick her out, or to kick the women out, or to kick the children out, and relegate them to some secondary position, it harms the church and it harms them.  [emphasis added]

Best case scenario--husband, wife, kids--doing the Gospel together as a family with Dad functioning as the pastor of that congregation. That's best case scenario.  

If that doesn't happen because the man abdicates his responsibility or he sins, we'll put scenarios in to help work around that. 
You'll get bored in your life if all you have is just you and your husband. When you're serving Christ and doing things NOW your life is going somewhere. You're doing something and it's fun. Most of my wife and my conversations are about OTHER people that are coming to Christ. People who are getting married. People who are having children. People who are learning Scripture. People who are getting their life together by God's grace. It's great because we don't get bored. There's always something to do. There's always something that God is up to. 

Now perhaps 2001 Mark Driscoll did not really understand or appreciate the significance of what he was okay with and by 2013 had come around to a far more cautious approach.  That's a parent's prerogative, obviously.  The narrative tension is between the implicit plea for sympathy on behalf of the wife and kids in the 2013 piece and the 2001 teaching presentations in which Driscoll presented the story of one of his children praying for a sex offender as a powerful moment of cathartic redemption.

So the claim that this new church, unlike Mars Hill, would be a church started with the Driscolls as a family seems a bit hazy.  In evangelical and Reformed thought there's sometimes this concept called headship where the head of the household is the head of the household, which could at least suggest that the Driscolls were the founding family of Mars Hill whether or not they had kids at the time by dint of headship.  Confessions of a Reformission Rev still prominently features a Driscoll kid's photo with a caption to the effect of "Have fun reading my daddy's book", doesn't it?

So on the whole it's a bit mixed whether Mark Driscoll saw his family as co-ministering in some contexts or whether Grace needed to drop all of her personal ministry interests because she needed to mainly minister to Mark Driscoll himself.

Confessions of a Reformission Rev
Mark Driscoll, Zondervan 2006
ISBN-13: 978-0-310-27016-4

page 101-102
During this season my wife, Grace, also started to experience a lot of serious medical problems. her job was very stressful, and between her long hours at the office and long hours at the church, her body started breaking down. I felt tremendousy convicted that I had sinned against my wife and had violated the spirit of 1 Timothy 5:8, which says that if a man does not provide for his family he has denied his faith and has acted in a manner worse than an unbeliever. I repented to Grace for my sin of not making enough money and having her shoulder any of the financial burden for our family.  We did not yet have elders installed in the church but did have an advisory council in place, and I asked them for a small monthly stipend to help us make ends meet, and I supplemented our income with outside support and an occasional speaking engagement.

Shortly thereafter, Grace gave birth to our first child, my sweetie-pie Ashley. Up to this point Grace had continuously poured endless hours into the church. She taught a women's Bible study, mentored many young women, oversaw hospitality on Sundays, coordinated meals for new moms recovering from birth, and organized all of the bridal and baby showers. Grace's dad had planted a church before she was born and has remained there for more than forty years. Her heart for ministry and willingness to serve was amazing. But as our church grew, I felt I was losing my wife because we were both putting so many hours into the church that we were not connecting as a couple like we should have. I found myself getting bitter against her because she would spend her time caring for our child and caring for our church but was somewhat negligent of me. 

I explained to Grace that her primary ministry was to me, our child, and the management of our home and that I needed her to pull back from the church work to focus on what mattered most.  She resisted a bit at first, but no one took care of me but her.  And the best thing she could do for the church was to make sure that we had a good marriage and godly children as an example for other people in the church to follow.  [emphases added] It was the first time that I remember actually admitting my need for help to anyone.  It was tough. But I feared that if we did not put our marriage and children above the demands of the church, we would end up with the lukewarm, distant marriage that so many pastors have because they treat their churches as mistresses that they are more passionate about than their brides.

Although I was frustrated with both my wife and church, I had to own the fact that they were both under my leadership and that I had obviously done a poor job of organizing things to function effectively.  [emphasis added] And since we did not yet have elders formally in place there was no one to stop me from implementing dumb ideas like the 9:00p.m. church service.  So I decided to come to firmer convictions on church government and structure so that I could establish the founding framework for what our church leadership would look like. 

page 120
A friend in the church kindly allowed me to move into a large home he owned on a lease-to-own deal because I was too broke to qualify for anything but an outhouse. The seventy-year-old house had over three thousand square feet, seven bedrooms on three floors, and needed a ton of work because it had been neglected for many years as a rental home for college students. Grace and I and our daughter Ashley, three male renters who helped cover the mortgage, my study, and the church office all moved into the home. This put me on the job, literally, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, as the boundary between home and church was erased.

We ran the church out of my house for nearly two years, including leadership meetings and Bible studies for various groups on almost every night of the week. It was not uncommon to have over seventy people a week in our home. Grace got sucked right back into the church mess. She was a great host to our guests. But I started growing bitter toward her because I was again feeling neglected. [emphasis added]

Page 128
I was burned-out, underpaid, in debt, sexually frustrated due to an unspectacular sex life, under frequent demonic attack, and so stressed that my blood pressure hovered somewhere between heart-attack victim and mulch in the ground [emphasis added], and now found myself alone with an attractive woman in a foreign country. In retrospect, I think the decision I made in that moment was perhaps the most significant ministry decision I have ever made. ...

With all of that in mind are there particular reasons history can't or won't repeat itself?  An eventually empty nest?

So by page 3 ...
there's an anecdote about one of the Driscoll kids prayed for a building and the building was granted.

It's one that we've seen before.

Pastor Mark couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity for evangelism that God has provided The Trinity Church, and is praying every day for the people who will meet Jesus Christ in this building. He also looks forward to ongoing partnership with other pastors as part of Jesus’ one big Church in the valley. He says, “God is planting The Trinity Church and we are following his leadership. God has a plan that has been fifty years in the making. My youngest son and I first walked around the building after baseball practice late one night. Still in his uniform, under the moonlight of a warm and clear desert evening, my little buddy folded his hands and prayed that Jesus would provide us the building to worship Him in. God answered his prayer! God has provided a home for The Trinity Church”. [emphasis added]
So on the whole it's not that difficult to pull up all the previous publications and posts from which the account in the book excerpt draws upon and threads the various accounts together.

The extent to which Driscoll has said that The Trinity Church has been the idea of his kids has been, well, extensive.

But to date there's no real explanation of what "a trap has been set" might have meant.

At some point, perhaps, we can look at the Driscoll book ore at length but at the moent the account Driscoll has presented seems to have it that his kids started what became the new church because they were staying at home.  Driscoll doesn't really say why this was the case but he says his kids got the idea to name the church and do church even if they were unable to go to church where they used to be.  Since Mars Hill was the one other church Mark Driscoll ever planted it's a simple process of elimination which church Driscoll was preaching at on a regular basis.

There are still some lingering questions.  For instance, Driscoll told Brian Houston:


Mark Driscoll: “I never got to say goodbye to the church and to the people, um, and so what went public was uh, actually the resignation letter that went to the legal governing board that was in authority over me. [emphasis added] Um, and so, um, I uh, I know under the circumstances that there wasn’t a way to do that would’ve been clean or easy. I don’t have any criticism of the board. I think for the people it, it meant there wasn’t closure and I didn’t, we didn’t get to say anything.

from the top of page 5 in the transcript about 9:23 into the interview

… Yeah. We waited; we felt like our oldest daughter should be able to graduate with her friends from high school. So we made that pledge to her[emphasis added] Then we prayed and my wife and I, we had written a book previously on marriage and really focused on friendship, was really one of our big things. And so thank God, we didn't know the hurricane is coming but we had really doubled down on our friendship and our friendship was super tight and close. Some say that a good friend makes the good times twice as good, and the bad times twice as bad. When your spouse is your friend and the pressure pushes you together rather than pulls you apart, that's a real blessing.

So on the one hand, Mark Driscoll explained that he never got to say goodbye to the church and to the people. On the other hand, the Driscolls waited until their oldest daughter could graduate from high school before moving, it seems.  Between Driscoll's mid-October 2014 resignation and a possibly May through June theoretical graduation date in 2015 would have seemed like some time to have said goodbye if Mark Driscoll wanted to.  In 2018 with The Trinity Church a few years old it could be asked whether the reason Mark Driscoll didn't get to say goodbye to Mars Hill has anything to do with an apparent reluctance to even mention the church by name at all.

However, having reviewed Justin Dean's book PR Matters, and having provided an extensive litany of the public relations crises or disasters that engulfed Mars Hill from about 2011 through its 2014 demise (even revisiting a summary from Mark Driscoll in the film God's Work, Our Witness describing how ambitious his vision for what Mars Hill would do was to be), the collapse of Mars Hill simply cannot be accounted for by hostile secular media coverage.  Nor can the decline of Mars Hill be attributed to liberal media coverage.  Twenty years ago hostile coverage was almost a welcoem thing when Mother Jones discussed the then new Mars Hill back in 1998.  When a person asked about a doctrinal statement they might have gotten a copy of the Mother Jones article rather than a formal doctrinal statement.  Driscoll may have come around to saying there was an eight year long governance battle that effected the church but he didn't speak as if it were a continuing battle in 2007 when he talked about a pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus.

The tension between "why" he didn't get to say goodbye and whether or not he wanted to can probably not be resolved without a further explanation from Mark Driscoll as to what happened.  Depending on which account we consider Robert Morris advised Driscoll to step away for a while to heal up, or God audibly said the Driscolls were released, even though that narrative didn't show up until the year after the Driscoll resignation.  The 2014 resignation letter described the resignation as the result of consulting godly counsel and concluding that quitting was best.  In the release narratives it wasn't what the Driscoll parents wanted to do although leaving out of safety concerns might seem like a "normal" parental concern that wouldn't normally need a divine sanction, except that in the case of Mark and Grace Driscoll Mark Driscoll had spent enough decades declaring that God insisted on his being in Seattle that there had to be some accounting for the abandonment of Puget Sound.  Did God change His mind?  If He did there's "some" precedent for God appointing a leader and rescinding the appointment in the story of King Saul ... not that Mark Driscoll wants to be compared to King Saul, necessarily.

But the thing that lingers with the new excerpt of narrative is that in this new church Driscoll says it was the inspiration of his kids ... there's no mention in the narrative that God had anything much to do with instructing Mark Driscoll to do these things.  There's a story of a Driscoll kid praying that a building would be given and the child's prayer is described as answered.  It might be useful to examine the emergence of this new Mark Driscoll-helmed church without reference to any of Mark Driscoll's kids ... if Mark Driscoll's narratives presented over the last three and a half years made that optional but to go by the excerpt in the book Mark Driscoll isn't providing that option because he keeps sharing stories about how the idea of the church was the idea of his kids.  For a man who spent decades telling men to take responsibility and to be visionary and responsible this is a ... strange thing for Mark Driscoll to emphasize.

  1. Mars Hill is very healthy place for us to flourish, and we love our church. Furthermore, that my parents, Grace’s parents, one of my brothers and his family, along with two of my sisters and their families all attend Mars Hill is a unique gift. Our family is surrounded by the loving support of our church family as well as our extended relatives who are also part of our church family.
  2. I will be back because we believe God is doing something unique that we delight in being a part of. Much grace and provision has been poured out on us. I do not believe that God blesses a man, but rather God blesses his Word, his people, and his Church. I simply do not believe I could repeat what we are enjoying at Mars Hill by doing ministry anywhere else. I say this not to boast of the ministry we enjoy, but to boast in all the grace that God has given us and to recognize that it is indeed gracious.
  3. The multi-campus strategy we are using is sustainable and healthy. Being able to distribute as campuses of various sizes and personalities is a bit like the joy of being a father watching children with various resemblances but distinct personalities grow up. Having such a large team of elders, deacons, and members deployed across the campuses is a great relief to me as I see us taking better care of more people than we have ever been able to.
  4. My heart is here. While I enjoy the opportunities for ministry that God grants outside of Mars Hill, were I allowed to only do one thing, I would easily and gladly choose to be an elder at Mars Hill, preaching God’s Word and shepherding God’s people. I have zero interest in doing anything other than being a pastor and have zero interest in being a pastor anywhere else. I am very content with where I am and what I am doing, and am very passionate about continuing to press forward together for more people worshiping Jesus more deeply.


By Mark Driscoll's account it seemed a significant part of his family called Mars Hill Church home over the course of twenty years so ... what's really going to make The Trinity Church different?  What changed?  These are questions that Mark Driscoll may answer in some way in Spirit-Filled Jesus but the excerpt posted at his Patheos blog does not currently suggest that those questions will be answered.