Saturday, November 02, 2019

Bryan Townsend on Macolm MacDonald on Schoenberg as an essentially religious composer reminds me of an extensive comment by Richard Taruskin on Scriabin and early atonal music as a form of religious transcendentalism
This won't be philosophy exactly, but that seemed the closest tag. I am nearing the end of Malcolm MacDonald's book on Schoenberg and he sums up like this:
Schoenberg, then, was essentially a religious composer. I mean that in the widest sense ... Almost all Schoenberg's vocal works deal in some fashion with the relation of the individual to the inner and outer the spirit and to the collective, to humanity at large and, beyond that, to the yet larger, eternal world of religious conviction and speculation ... Schoenberg would have placed far more importance on this aspect of his work, than on his intellectual achievements as a constructor of systems. In his music he sought to reassert the traditional romantic and religious values of European civilization. In this sense he was a conservative composer.
But because such a reassertion was not just aesthetic but ethical in intention, it inevitably involved an attack on the bogus traditionalism and intellectual inertia of the decaying society in which he found himself; and in this sense his approach was a critical, even revolutionary one.
That is certainly not how I understood Schoenberg for most of my life in music. I think the turning point for me was a couple of years ago when I was in Madrid for a couple of weeks and the opera then being performed at the Teatro Real was Schoenberg's Moses und Aron. Seeing that wonderful production and being in the theatre full of 2,000 or so people enjoying that music made a fundamental change for me not only in how I saw Schoenberg, but how I saw music.


That reminded me of something I read years ago in Richard Taruskin's Defining Russia Musically.

ISBN 0-691-01156-7


So it is not enough, never enough, to attribute early twentieth century maximalism--of which the grandiose unfinished, and perhaps unfinishable, eschatological torsos of Schoenberg, Scriabin and Ives stand as preeminent musical mementos--simply or solely to a "pressure within art." The arts are not detached from the rest of existence or experience; they receive and react to pressures from many sources. Not only their contents, but also their forms and procedures--including the procedure of detaching them from the worldly--arise in response to worldly pressures. "What form will religious sentiment assume?" What will be its new expression?: asked Balzac in the preface to Le Livre Mystique, of which Seraphita was a part. "The answer is a secret of the future." That future is now past to us, and the religious sentiment has again become a secret. But it is a vision of human perfectability, at the very least, a vision of "ascent to a higher order," that we may look upon, and take inspiration from, the early atonal vision.

The quoted phrase formed the conclusion of Schoenberg's letter to Slonimsky, describing what Schoenberg saw as the victory of the twelve-tone technique. It could just as well have been a citation from Seraphita. As Webern revealed, Schoenberg justified his explorations on a specifically Balzacian, occult basis. The surmounting of the major-minor dichotomy was for Schoenberg no mere technical breakthrough but a spiritual ascent--a provi--to a superhuman condition. "Double gender," he proclaimed, "has given rise to a higher race." No less than Scriabin, then, Schoenberg spoke in the voice of the vatic androgyne, as the text of Die Jakobsleiter and the mesmerizing title page of Promethee (by the Belgian theosophical artist Jean Delville) jointly declare. ("The fire that blazed in his eyes," wrote Balzac of his angelic messenger, "rivalled the rays of the sun; he seemed not to receive but to give out light."

p 358
The cold war rationalization and academization of dodecaophony caused that voice to grow cold and that face to grow dim. "As you read," said one of Balzac's characters of Swedenborg, "you must either lose your wits or become a seer." By now we have long consigned Scriabin to the former estate, that of lost wits, but we have been unwilling to consign Schoenberg to either category. Instead he sulks in positivistic limbo, his methods venerated but his deeds ignored. But it is precisely the academic despiritualization of dodecaphony--more broadly, of atonality--that has led to its widespread, and justified, rejection.

Indeed, it is precisely the rationalization and refinement of dodecaphonic technique to the point where it has become a kind of abstract numerical logic that has brought attack from those who question the cognitive relevance of its logical concepts. Twelve-tone music has come to seem a conceptual game to which listeners can never gain perceptual access. Those who attempt to finesse the problem by placing the blame on the inexperience of listeners (their "incompetence," to speak cognitively), invariably come across as special pleaders. 

It is only when the original conception of atonality as a transrational, uncanny discourse is recognized, and its nature as a medium of revealed--which is to say undemonstrable--truth is grasped, that aesthetic apprehension can begin. It bears the aura of the sublime (Seraphita: "Why, if you believe in number, should you deny God?") and the sublime purges and terrifies. It is important, therefore, to refresh our memory of atonality's motivating liminal impulses. Renewed contact with the early atonalists, with Scriabin, and with the sources of their inspiration, can help restore perspective, but only if they are "put together again." At the very least it should be apparent that musicians who dismiss Scriabin's spiritual vision as "cosmic hocus-pocus," and literary investigators who assume it impossible that a spiritual vision could be "communicated musically," are cut off equally from the vision and from the music. It is only the music that can communicate the vision, but only if we have vision enough to receive the communication. 

and for fun I'll cross reference this to the Christian apologist Francis Schaeffer describing, maybe a bit cryptically, the distinction between what he called "above the line of despair" and "below the line of despair".

The God Who Is There
copyright (c) 1968 by Francis A. Schaeffer
Published by InterVarsity Press (U.S.A. and Canada)

Escape from Reason
copyright (c) 1968 by Francis A. Schaeffer
Published by InterVarsity Press (U.S.A) and Hodder and Stoughton (Canada)

ISBN 13:978-0-89107-561-5
ISBN 10:0-89107-561-5

The God Who is There

page 8

Notice that I call the line, the line of despair. Above this line we find men living with their romantic notions of absolutes (though with no sufficient logical basis). This side of the line, all is changed. Man thinks differently concerning truth.

In order to think of this line of despair more clearly, think of it not as a simple horizontal line but as a staircase ... Each of the steps represents a certain stage in time. The higher is earlier, the lower later. ...

page 10
But at a certain point this attempt to spin out a unified optimistic humanism came to an end. The philosphers came to the conclusion that they were not going to find a unified rationalistic circle that would contain all thought, and in which they could live. ...

In Schaeffer's reading of Hegel (and there's plenty of reason to suspect he didn't necessarily grasp the continental European philosophers whose works he was engaging with but I'm mentioning that more as an aside) was above the line of despair; the first European philosopher Schaeffer regarded as below the line of despair was Kirkegaard.  In Escape From Reason Schaeffer wrote:

page 245-246

We observed that from Rousseau's time the dichotomy was drawn between nature and freedom. Nature had come to represent determinism, the machine, with man in the hopeless situation of being caught in the machine. Then, in the upper story, we find man struggling for freedom. The freedom that was being sought was an absolute freedom with no limitations. There is no God, nor even a universal to limit him; so the individual seeks to express himself with total freedom, and yet, at the same time, he feels the damnation of being in the machine. This is the tension of modern man.

The field of art offers a variety of illustrations of this tension. Such tension affords a partial explanation of the intriguing fact that much of contemporary art, as a self-expression of what man is, is ugly. He does not know it, but he is expressing the nature of fallen man, which as created in the image of God is wonderful, yet now is fallen. ... In contrast, much industrial design is becoming more oderly, with real beauty. I think the explanation for the growing beauty of some industrial design is that it has to follow the curve of what is there--it follows the form of the universe.

This also illustrates how science as such is not autonomously free, but must follow what is there. Even if the scientist or philosopher says that all is random and meaningless, once he moves out into the universe he is limited, no matter what his philosophic system is, for he must follow what he finds there. ... 

Schaeffer was critical of artists and musicians and writers who attempted to place art as the divine or transcendental experience "above the line of despair" that could give people hope.  Because Schaeffer never really engaged the writings of Richard Wagner or a Schoenberg and seems to have had only indirect contact with the writings of John Cage it's possible he would, had he gone to the trouble of reading those composers' writings, claimed that these composers were attempting to create musical art that was based on a transcendentalist aspiration that he would have described as "above the line of despair".

Instead, Schaeffer regarded a lot of modernist art and music as ugly because it was, in sum, "below the line of despair" when, I would argue based on my study of avant garde music in European modernism, precisely the opposite aspiration and claim was the case.  Thus, we get back to Taruskin's observation about what Scriabin and other early atonalist composers were attempting to achieve based on the music they wrote and what they wrote about their interests.  The early atonalists were exploring music along what could be thought of as occult lines of reflection.  Francis Schaeffer would, arguably, have rejected all that as occultic thought that Christians ought to reject on doctrinal grounds, but he could have then at least been able to more accurately understand the work of some of the musicians whose works he disliked in terms of his taxonomy of art and thought and literature that was wither "above" or "below" what he called "the line of despair".  

Attempting to assess Schoenberg's work in religious terms is something that has been  done, obviously, and while the forms of spirituality that show up in atonal music might not be of a kind easily reconciled to popular or conventional notions in journalism of religion that hardly means we treat that as not-religion.  On the other hand, it is something I've been contending here at the blog for a while that we consider a contrast between figures who embrace art as itself a kind of religious experience and figures who, though artists, draw upon religious impulses as a catalyst for work.  To put this in starkly combative terms, the Roger Scrutons who would have us regard art as a vehicle for some kind of divine experience have never created the kind of art which is capable of conveying such an experience.  A Schoenberg, by contrast, who had a kind of religious impulse to his work, created a few works that some people do regard as having a sublime aspect.  There is also, of course, Johann Sebastian Bach or  Haydn, composers who were identifiably religious. At a level that would be regarded as far more kitsch Thomas Dorsey and Mahalia Jackson created music that evokes a sense of the sublime for fans of gospel music.  

Scruton, contra Adorno, has argued that kitsch may simply be part of our actual emotional life in post-industrial urban contexts and that the American song book is still full of real art that captures what it feels like to live in such a context, a point that Adorno could not have possibly granted.  Yet Scruton, like Adorno, seems to have believed that there is a lack of "argument" in popular song that prevents it from reaching higher levels of artistic achievement.  It is at that point that I would argue the problem is not a matter of "beauty" but of craft.  I don't see any reason a musician couldn't take a work by Monk or Joplin or Lamb and compose out an extensive sonata movement.  Continuous variation is practically the lifeblood of jazz as a performance art and what are we to say of sonata form and fugue, that they don't involve techniques of continual variation and gestural transformation?  But I'm making that comment as an aside.  Like Roger Scruton, a Francis Schaeffer might have a capacity to recognize the sublime and the beautiful in art without being capable of ever making such himself, and of this it could be said the son is even less likely to be up for that as the father.  Now, of course, atheists can make daring and inventive avant garde art, Xenakis easily comes to mind, but Xenakis, by his own account, did not ignore Greek and Russian Orthodox chants or folk music.  

By contrast, post-Schoenberg approaches to serialism that involved technocratic refinement of his precedents came in for withering criticisms by, paradoxically, Adorno and also Ellul.  

These thoughts are, I realize, something of a postlude to "Between forms of non-choice: Adorno’s criticism of serialism and aleatory as techniques that obliterated the decision-making subject, Leonard Meyer’s observation on the abjection of choice in modernist musical history, and some brief thoughts on jazz".  The reason I say this is because I've been thinking about the simultaneously massive and paradoxically insignificant influence of Francis Schaeffer on Anglo-American evangelical thought about the arts.  Schaeffer's work is impossible to not deal with if you attempt to explore the evolution of what has long since been called the religious right in American and conservative British Christian thought.  Yet fifty years after the publication of The God Who is There there was basically no retrospective consideration of Schaeffer's legacy, whether he got anything wrong, or even if he got anything right.  I wrote at moderate length on how Francis Schaeffer's criticism of the music and philosophy of John Cage mapped surprisingly well on to criticisms of Cage made by Maoist musicians and composers such as Cornelius Cardew and John Tilbury, in which I also referenced writing by Richard Taruskin and Leonard B. Meyer on the possibility that Cage's brand of Zen-based avant garde was a paradoxically self-extinguishing form of late Romantic modernism.  

I've read "just" enough of John Cage's ideas about music that I suspect that might have been one of the points, and I write this as someone who only really likes the works for prepared piano.  But those works for prepared piano inspired Nikita Koshkin to apply aspects of that approach to piano to his works for the guitar.  We should grant that influence is not something that can be controlled for.  Cage has his place in Western music and global music whether I actually enjoy most of the music he wrote or not..  I do not regard Cage as a charlatan.  As a Presbyterian I clearly differ with Cage on a few metaphysical issues but my not being a pantheist certainly doesn't mean I don't admire the films of Hayao Miyazaki.  I admit to being something of a classicist so beauty and craft can impress me even if I don't agree with the ideas espoused.

But my plan was to bring things back to Adorno on twelve-tone technique and aleatory with respect to Francis Schaeffer.  Schaeffer misdiagnosed whether modernist composers like Cage or perhaps Schoenberg were really above the line of despair or not because he did the obvious thing and listened with his ears.  He heard what sounded like soulless desperate technocratic noise and judged that it had to have been made by people "below the line of despair".  What Adorno damned in integral serialism and aleatory was that, as techniques, these approaches to making music so removed the decision-making subject from any resultant musical syntax or sound there was no chance (pun intended there, for once) it would lead to musically satisfying results.  In Adorno's fusilades against popular music and what he regarded as the reactionary stance of Hindemith, Adorno could nonetheless say that jazz musicians had impressive musical chops even if their song forms were false amalgams, and he declared that even if Hindemith was a reactionary he was a competent reactionary, which was not something he was so willing to say about post-Boulez American forms of serialism.

What Schaeffer might have heard but could not articulate was what Adorno did articulate, that there are styles of music that may espouse ideals or even explicitly religious concepts that Francis Schaeffer would have identified as "above the line of despair" but only Schoenberg retained that aspect of spirituality in the art, which subsequent generations of composers seeking to break away from the cliches of the Romantic era divested from the musical practice in pursuit of technocratic refinement of technique for the sake of technique, to shift from Adorno's writing on the arts to Jacques Ellul's writing on the arts.  Schaeffer heard that the results sounded to him like something that could be generated by a machine and decided "below the line of despair".  

As Taruskin put it, it is possible to keep in mind the transcendental, religious and more or less literally occult inspirations for early "atonality".  Transcending the distinctions between "major" and "minor" was part of a kind of millenarian eschatological utopian movement and for those of us who explicitly repudiate forms of postmillenialism as the easy philosophical rationale for gruesome colonial expansion methods (which is not to say that there are philosophies that can be found which can never be so used) it is possible to appreciate the resultant art while rejecting elements of the philosophy when it is used in other contexts.  I can appreciate some of Schoenberg's work without endorsing everything he stood for.  But in a sense dogmatists and polemicists like Schaeffer or Adorno can illuminate spiritual and religious aspects in artists and their art because they are emphatically and explicitly attuned to considering those things, which, of course, not everyone is.  

The irony that contemporary conservative Anglo-American Christians argue against pop culture in a way that recapitulates Adorno without their necessarily having ever read Adorno is something I've written about before.  Dealing with Adorno's actual work so as to accept the salient and reject the dubious isn't something Anglo-American Christians will manage to do if the most they do is repeat Adorno's arguments against popular songs being art without developing some kind of alternative.  I'm reading books on the history of black American gospel music and Mark Burford's Mahalia Jackson and the Black Gospel field highlights something I hope to expand upon, that Thomas Dorsey was very aware that classically trained musicians in black American churches worried that this new pop-based gospel music would lead to a decline in musicianship. 

What Dorsey aimed to do was to promote the new style of gospel blues he was writing while also maintaining high standards of musicianship.  Burford argues that this was not a rejection of respectability politics in black American music but a paradoxical triumph for it--Mahalia Jackson became a super-star and with many good reasons!  She's one of my musical heroes.  But William Levi Dawson had concerns about the evolution of a new "whoop it up" approach to church music.  It wasn't exactly the Dorseys or Jackson he was worried about, it was that churches would favor the new popular style not because it was musically "better" but because it was cheaper and they could afford to hire charismatic but musically less-talented musicians.  White evangelicals can be so bereft of historical knowledge about how the triumph of African American based popular styles was a battle that, so to speak, was adjudicated within the African American church scene in the 1930s through 1950s before there was any "rock and roll".  I don't see that there's an either/or battle between pop and concert music myself. 

I think that in important respects Adorno was wrong but I think it's important to separate the good from the bad in his work.  To take up a bit of what Ian Pace has been blogging about, I do think successful fusions of American popular and vernacular styles such as ragtime with the formal and gestural transformational processes of sonata and fugue are completely practical, but such a synthesis depends on a long-acquired mastery of the music at a practical and also a theoretical level.  Too much of what I've come across in American musicology has amounted to turf wars between "high" and "low" "white" and "black" in ways that suggest to me that the most invidious aspects of the Romantic era ideologies are alive and well in new musicology.  And, yes, the pointed use of "invidious" is a deliberate, parodistic Taruskinism.  Sometimes I think he can't publish a book without using that word at least ten times ... but on that playful note, perhaps I'll just bring things to a close.  If we didn't have avocational trolls making incendiary and contestable points from time to time the process of contesting whether those points are on point couldn't happen.  I happen to think that Taruskin's point about the occult and religious nature of the earliest "atonal" composers is thoroughly accurate, which is why I quoted from him as much as I have.  

Friday, November 01, 2019

Naxos upcoming releases for December 2019 include Koshkin's 24 preludes and fugues volume 1 by Asya Selyutina and Ourkouzounov's five guitar sonatas recorded by Kostas Tosidis

Well, November is off to an exceptionally promising start in terms of news of music releases by Naxos!

Some of you (any?) who read the blog regularly may know that I was blogging away through Nikita Koshkin's 24 preludes and fugues for solo guitar.

I got about as far as possible in volume 1 relying on my copies of the scores (Editions Margaux) and what's been online where applicable.  But I began to run out of steam trying to go through the works guitar in hand and blogging about music that you, dear reader, couldn't possibly hear and couldn't see if you, too, did not have score in hand like Wenatchee The Hatchet.  As of today I've gotten no farther than the post about Koshkin's prelude and fugue in F sharp minor.

Well ... hooray!

The first volume of Nikita Koshkin's 24 preludes and fugues, recorded by Asya Selyutina, is released next month.

KOSHKIN, N.: 24 Preludes and Fugues, Vol. 1 (Selyutina)

So my blogging on the cycle to date has gotten to what would be the end of track 16 of 24 on a CD that isn't officially released yet.  So, not bad for a blogger writing about polyphonic music for classical guitar but I had hoped to accomplish more.  But between having a day job and composing music and writing about film every so often and intermittently chronicling the times and doings of a former local megachurch ... and formulating a theoretical treatment of ragtime-sonata fusion ... I sort of lost the thread on the Koshkin cycle.  I have realized one can only do so much if no one can read the blog posts and connect what I've written about Koshkin's work to sounds they can hear.

So I'm excited to share the news of this forthcoming release and NOW ... for 2020, things are looking up for me being able to return to blogging about Koshkin's cycle.  May Volume 2 show up as soon as possible (i.e. probably in a few years because this is an exceptionally demanding cycle of solo guitar works we're talking about).

Just as exciting is a forthcoming release of the Ourkouzounov guitar sonatas.

OURKOUZOUNOV, A.: Guitar Sonatas Nos. 1–5

Woo-hoo!  :)

I've meant to write about these sonatas for a while but this is another project where life happens and things get busy and I had all the scores and was ready to study them but ... I admit, recordings do help when you're not a professional musician.  Sure, I ... know someone who has written twenty-four preludes and fugues for solo guitar and is working toward forty-eight but mere mortals are mere mortals.  You can't keep composing toward a full cycle of forty-eight preludes and fugues for solo guitar and have a normal day job AND get score-reading in.  Or at least ... Wenatchee The Hatchet finds it kind of impossible to pull off lately.  So ... the Ourkouzounov release is very exciting.  I've been waiting for YEARS for a guitarist to recording his sonatas so congratulations and thanks to Tosidis and Naxos for a CD I'm very much looking forward to!  Also congratulations to Koshkin and Selyutina for volume 1 being recorded.  These are titanic cycles of works that I hope guitarists the world over will engage with.

December 2019 promises to be a pretty great month for Wenatchee The Hatchet for music listening!

I'm looking forward to writing more about these recordings and associated musical works in 2020.

POSTSCRIPT 11-2-2019

For those who haven't heard German Dzhaparidze's wonderful 24 preludes and fugues for solo guitar, it's available as a digital download album now, and remastered.

You can also still order the physical discs from Colucci directly.

and ... there's also the Lawson cycle of preludes and fugues for solo guitar recorded as a guitar duet by Daniel Estrem.  We're living in an era in which there's a sizable amount of preludes and fugues written for the guitar by living composers.  I still mean to get to blogging about the Dzhaparidze cycle but I'm trying to tackle more of the Koshkin cycle, which is another project I hope to return to for 2020.  For a goodly chunk of 2019 the plan is to do reading and some writing and some musical work in the offline scene.  That doesn't mean when things come up that are of interest I won't blog. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Julie Roys mentions that Mark Driscoll slated to speak at Larry Osborne conference, sponsors drop

This has come up recently and while Wenatchee The Hatchet isn't necessarily writing much about what's been going on at The Village Church (connections being Matt Chandler and Dave Bruskas) it doesn't mean I don't keep any tabs on those kinds of developments.  Tim Smith did end up listed on staff at Door of Hope in Portland, for instance, after what used to be Mars Hill Portland shuttered.

Of former MHC associated leadership James MacDonald was a bit more newsworthy in the last year on account of, among a number of things, reporting done by Julie Roys.  The latest bit of news connecting to Driscoll is Roys has reported that Driscoll is scheduled as a speaker at a Larry Osborne connected conference on healthy, thriving ministries, and some named sponsors are no longer sponsors or have not yet made decisions.

What is of significance with respect to both Driscoll and Osborne is the degree to which I've documented Mark Driscoll saying that a meeting with Osborne proved fateful for inspiring him to reorganize Mars Hill, something he announced in the closing chapters of Confessions of a Reformission Rev which was undertaken in the period from roughly 2006 to 2007.  Along the way there were substantial revisions to the governing documents that consolidated and centralized power from a two-dozen elder board to anywhere between three to five executive elders who were given the power to decide to acquire real estate, for instance.  

I reviewed some history between Mark Driscoll and Larry Osborne in the following series of posts.

Something that is worth mentioning is that, you'll need to plug this into the Wayback Machine or find a corrresponding link at, Osborne was listed as a member of the Mars Hill BoAA in 2013.  This notice was made around the time of the fateful late 2013 interview with Janet Mefferd in which Mefferd accused Mark Driscoll of being a plagiarist on air and shortly thereafter provided documentation establishing the credibility of the accusation.  Eventually Warren Throckmorton would chronicle the ways in which books spanning what was up until 2013 Mark Driscoll's catalog of books turned out to have citation errors. Those citation errors have since been fixed in second editions and some books are in the process of revision, most notably Doctrine, which Mark Driscoll said he's rewriting this year.

Osborne and MacDonald were both on the BoAA during the plagiarism controversy of late 2013

Paul Tripp
Michael Van Skaik
James MacDonald
Larry Osborne
Mark Driscoll
Dave Bruskas
Sutton Turner


According to the Wayback Machine, as far back as May 2012 the following were listed as part of a committee that would investigate allegations against Mark Driscoll.
In the event that a formal charge and/or accusation is made against Pastor Mark that, if investigated and found to be true, would disqualify him from his position as an elder in Mars Hill Church, a group of five men consisting of both elders within Mars Hill Church and Christian leaders outside of Mars Hill Church, will investigate the charge or accusation and determine if it is true. This group currently consists of Jamie Munson, Dave Bruskas, James MacDonald, Darrin Patrick, and Larry Osborne. If the charge or accusation is found to be true, this group can rebuke Pastor Mark or, if warranted, remove him as an elder at Mars Hill Church. If Pastor Mark is removed as an elder, he automatically ceases to serve on the Board of Elders, on the Executive Elder Team, and as president of Mars Hill Church.
Jamie Munson doesn't seem to be listing anything of his executive elder days with Mars Hill in his resume lately.  If you didn't know from being at Mars Hill from about 2000 to 2013 that Jamie Munson was one of the fixtures of Mars Hill leadership you might not be able to guess he had anything to do with any ministry Mark Driscoll was ever connected to this year.  

Dave Bruskas is quoted by Roys in her recent coverage.
Driscoll resigned from Mars Hill in 2014 after an internal investigation at the church found Driscoll guilty of “arrogance, responding to conflict with a quick temper and harsh speech, and leading . . . in a domineering manner.” But prior to his resignation, Driscoll had already publicly been accused of plagiarism. His church had also admitted that it had used more than $210,000 of church funds to buy Driscoll’s 2013 book, Real Marriage, to put the book at the top the New York Times best-seller’s list.
Driscoll, known by some as the “cussing pastor,” was also known for degrading talk about women and vulgarity. (He once said women were created to be “homes” for men’s penises and that oral sex was biblical.) And in 2016, several former members brought a class-action suit against Driscoll, accusing him of running Mars Hill like an organized crime syndicate—systematically soliciting donations for one purpose, but then using them for another. (This suit was later dismissed because the plaintiffs said they didn’t have the money to pursue the suit.)
Yesterday, I talked with Dave Bruskas, one of three former executive elders at Mars Hill, who now serves as campus pastor at The Village Church Fort Worth. Bruskas said Driscoll refused to go through the restoration plan that Mars Hill had suggested in 2014. And to Bruskas’ knowledge, Driscoll has not gone through any restoration plan since. In addition, Bruskas said that he knows people whom Driscoll has hurt who are not reconciled with him.
Let's take a digression on the penis homes material.  There may be those in 2019 who might be skeptical that Mark Driscoll could have written that a penis needs a home and that he would have ever described a woman as a fit home for a penis.  

Wenatchee the Hatchet published the raw text of Mark Driscoll's "Using Your Penis", published under the pseudonym William Wallace II, on July 29, 2014.  Somebody kept a text file of the whole thing for years and gave it to Wenatchee The Hatchet. Eventually an html file was provided and a jpeg of that was added.

There was an interesting trajectory comparing Mark Driscoll in his William Wallace II days to his WSU Evergreen op ed days.

To get into the full extent of Driscoll's writings about Song of Songs and what Jessica Johnson has called "biblical porn" you can read through an extensive amount of material over here:

As Roys has reported, James MacDonald got himself in some trouble, and also gave some assistance to Driscoll, which we've discussed a bit here.  Where the man is of note for Wenatchee The Hatchet is because MacDonald was with Mark Driscoll when Mark Driscoll decided to crash the Strange Fire conference.

Darrin Patrick ... he was the guy of whom Mark Driscoll said "He's my pastor, you know?" back in 2008.  That's a theme we'll have to come back to later in light of Mark Driscoll saying that there are guys with father wounds who surround themselves with older brother figures rather than father figures because if we go back and look at Mark Driscoll having Jamie Munson being executive pastor and president of the corporation that was once known as Mars Hill a person could be forgiven for having an impression that Mark Driscoll didn't necessarily even want "older brother" figures keeping him accountable if "younger brother" figures could work.  Darrin Patrick was born the month after Driscoll was, after all.  

Larry Osborne has stuck by Mark Driscoll.  MacDonald may or may not still be connected and it may or may not be that Patrick and Driscoll have stayed in touch.  For that matter it's not known whether Driscoll and Munson have spoken in years.  There could be any number of leaders from the Mars Hill days with whom Driscoll hasn't said much of anything.  Based on what Roys has reported Dave Bruskas has said to her, it could be there are any number of people with whom Driscoll is not observably in restored relationship, or relationship of any sort.

When the last time was that Mark Driscoll talked to the co-founders of Mars Hill Church would only be knowable, perhaps, to Mark Driscoll, Mike Gunn and Lief Moi.  

What's noteworthy about Osborne is not just his persistence on the MHC BOAA but that he was on the BOAA during the period in which it presented an explanation of the use of ResultSource to secure a No. 1 place on the New York Times bestseller list for Real Marriage.

Result Source
In 2011, outside counsel advised our marketing team to use Result Source to market the Real Marriage book and attain placement on the New York Times Bestseller list. While not uncommon or illegal, this unwise strategy is not one we had used before or since, and not one we will use again. The true cost of this endeavor was much less than what has been reported, and to be clear, all of the books purchased through this campaign have been given away or sold through normal channels. All monies from the sale of Pastor Mark’s books at Mars Hill bookstores have always gone to the church and Pastor Mark did not profit from the Real Marriage books sold either at the church or through the Result Source marketing campaign.

It wasn't illegal or unethical but it was unwise. 

Osborne was part of the BoAA at the time the statement was provided. All of that may be necessary to keep in mind when Roys quotes Bruskas regarding Mark Driscoll in the present:

I asked Bruskas if he believed Driscoll was fit to serve in ministry and he replied, “Do I believe Mark is permanently disqualified, no—but presently, yes. If he hasn’t gone through a restoration process, then he should not be serving.”
Bruskas added that he’s heard Driscoll confess and express remorse for the things he did at Mars Hill. Yet to date, Bruskas says he hasn’t seen evidence of repentance and change. When asked what he thinks about Larry Osborne’s continued partnership with Driscoll, Bruskas said, “That’s perplexing to me.”...

In terms of connections to Leadership Network Driscoll's connection may go as far back as the late 1990s even if he may not have been personally interacting with Osborne much in those days.  

Driscoll and Osborne discussed governance and how power goes from the throne down not the pew up.  We looked at some length at that philosophy regarding power and looked at the governing document of the former Mars Hill Church.  In sum, Mark Driscoll had either complete formal corporate power over the church he was a member of or, should he have resigned his leadership role, he'd not be a member of Mars Hill Church.

When Driscoll talks in more recent days about how there are guys with father wounds who want older brother figures and to not have to be accountable to real father figures Driscoll has, for those who wade deeply into the history of the governance of Mars Hill Church in corporate terms, arguably been the best case study of such a weakness regarding accountability.  Driscoll claimed that he agreed to the restoration plan the board came up with but then received some kind of oracle saying he was "released".  Despite the fact that Driscoll had said he wouldn't leave and wasn't going anywhere, by late 2014 he was "released" but he did not share this account until 2015.  Osborne, who was part of the BOAA possibly as far as its dissolution, could at least be in a position to clarify to Roys for the record if Mark Driscoll's account of agreeing with the restoration plan proposed by the board is accurate.  

Osborne's policy, by way of solidarity with the MHC BOAA during the plagiarism controversy of late 2013 and the Result Source controversy of early 2014 was to stand by his man.  That Driscoll went back and fixed citation errors in his books could be commended if Mark Driscoll could admit that there were so many citation errors in his books that they needed to be corrected.  Adding a note of thanks in Real Marriage regarding the debt Mark and Grace Driscoll have had to the work of Dan Allender, for instance, raises a new problem--if Grace Driscoll (or, if applicable, a ghostwriter) claimed that there were basically no resources at Mars Hill to help victims of sexual abuse then if Dan Allender's work was known and used by Mark and Grace Driscoll then how, exactly, can it be true to say that Mars Hill had no resources?  It's possible to argue, based on statements made by former biblical living pastor James Noriega that there was a philosophy within Mars Hill leadership that aspired to have it so that no one would ever need to make use of resources that were not specifically developed within Mars Hill, but that's not the same thing as saying there were no resources when Grace Driscoll shared with her husband she had been abused.  

Nor can we just ignore that Mark Driscoll claimed that he and Grace were both virgins when they met in an interview with Christianity Today despite the fact that both attested they were not virgins in the text of Real Marriage itself.
Interview by Katelyn Beaty and Marlena Graves/ January 5, 2012
Is there tension in teaching sexual purity before marriage while encouraging frequent and wonderful sex within marriage?

M: No, and for us, we sinned, quite frankly. We were virgins when we met and were sleeping together as high-school boyfriend and girlfriend. Then Grace came back to Christ, and I came to Christ in college, so we had to stop sinning sexually. I'd say if we both could go back and rewrite history and change one thing, that would probably be the thing we would change. [emphasis added] But we did repent and met with our pastor. And then we did get married, between our junior and senior years of college

Real Marriage
Mark and Grace Driscoll
Copyright (c) 2012 by On Mission, LLC
Thomas Nelson
ISBN 978-1-4002-0383-3
ISBN 978-1-4041-8352-0 (IE)

Page 7
Neither Grace nor I was a virgin when we met, and before long we were dating and sleeping together, which continued even after she went off to college while I was finishing high school.
Now it's possible that after giving so many interviews a person can forget something as basic as whether or not one was a virgin at the time of meeting the person who would become one's spouse but the conditions under which such forgetfulness seem most probable involve significant breakdown of mental acuity and function.  Another possibility is that answering interview questions can become a kind of performance art in which the answer is tailored to the recipient, although some might say that risks being deceptive, depending on what answer is given.

Mark Driscoll would at times in his Mars Hill days say "We broke some rules, but God is faithful."  In the wake of the controversies surrounding his leadership style and decisions made on behalf of his brand name recognition in contrast to the reputational welfare of what used to be Mars Hill Church, it can seem as though Mark Driscoll presents a cumulative story in which he's allowed to break rules and there is "grace" for him that has not, was not, and presently unlikely to be extended to others within his orbit.  One of Mark Driscoll's complaints in Real Marriage was that sometimes there would be Christian counselors but they would turn out to have marriages as bad as the one Mark felt he had so they weren't qualified to help.  Yet year after year Mark Driscoll counseled married couples and that gets at one of the core difficulties with Driscoll continuing in ministry that isn't really a thing you can reduce down to a zippy single sentence observation--you can "say" that Mark Driscoll's trouble has been that he operates on the basis of double standardized tests where he receives grace and people who cross him get put in the woodchipper, but it's the sum of the life that has to be observed first.  

Yet a  man who can't consistently establish for the record whether or not he was a virgin when he started dating the woman who would become his wife is someone who we should not trust simply because he says God told him he was supposed to be a pastor or that he's been "released" from ministry at Mars Hill Church.  The trouble with that claim is that even if we take it at face value, the most prominent case of a man being appointed by God to be a leader of God's people who was then "released" from that leadership role would be someone like King Saul.  


Should Roys want to compare notes on what she's found on the James MacDonald side with what Wenatchee The Hatchet has been documenting on the Mars Hill/Mark Driscoll side, comparing notes would be interesting.  Osborne seems to be more significant a figure in the history of Mars Hill than any of us were able to grasp at the time and Osborne's continued support of Driscoll does raise a number of questions as to how much Osborne knows about the 2007 period or about the accuracy of Mark Driscoll's account to Brian Houston that Mark agreed to submit to the restoration plan but was then "released" according to some kind of oracle experience.  Documents from the time of Driscoll's 2014 resignation indicate surprise and disappointment on the part of the boards of Mars Hill.  Was Osborne surprised?  If not, why not?  

With the Result Source contract having been signed by Sutton Turner years ago Osborne, as a former member of the Mars Hill Board of Advisors and Accountability, could perhaps field a statement to Roys about what his thoughts on that decision were.  Turner has stated for the record he had issues with the plan but decided to sign the contract because if he didn't someone else would.  That invites a question as to who that someone else could have or would have been but that's arguably also moot.  

One thing that becomes clearer is that if Mark Driscoll were to decide to make a complete break with everything to do with his past with Mars Hill a break from Osborne might, eventually, be necessary.  Osborne's role on the MHC BOAA in its final years was too readily documented for both men to completely avoid the questions that can come up about Result Source, the plagiarism controversy and how and why they believe or believed Mark Driscoll was not found unqualified to serve in pastoral ministry on the basis of either of those controversies.