Tuesday, October 19, 2021

String Quartet in D Minor, Op. 76 No. 2, Hob. III:76 "Quintenquartett": I. Allegro (Festetics Quartet)

I know that bonus episode dropped recently but I haven't gotten around to it.  I'd rather end the day of blogging on a more somber but paradoxically festive note, a performance of one of Haydn's string quartets on period instruments where all the repeats in the score are actually observed in performance.


It's kind of a shame that a box set of Haydn recordings has to SAY that all the repeats are observed but that might be a springboard for discussing how in the 19th century structural repeats written into scores started getting omitted in performances.  

Anyway, here's a performance of the "Fifths" string quartet, first movement. Had I not had a chance to hear how Haydn's works sounded with all the repeats performed as scored I might have taken longer to think through how I wanted to translate the time-space issues of corresponding and contrasting structural repeats in ragtime pieces but I digress.  If you dig Haydn you will "probably" enjoy this and if not, I will be revisiting Coltrane since I'm looking forward to hearing the live in Seattle recording that comes out soon. 

Monday, October 18, 2021

Mark Driscoll's Christian Theology vs Critical Theory could probably use at least one footnote giving credit to Stephen Eric Bronner's primer on critical theory

Christian Theology vs. Critical Theory
© 2021 by Mark Driscoll
ISBN: 978-1-7374103-7-9 (Paperback)
ISBN: 978-1-7374103-8-6 (E-book)

Pages 21-22
In 1923 the Institute for Social Research (also called the Frankfurt School, or Critical Theory) opened as the first funded Marxist think tank. It sought to determine how to bring a utopian future to the world because the human soul needs to have not only food, water, air, and shelter in order to live, but also hope. Spearheaded by Jewish academics who were anti-capitalism, they wanted to pursue justice by deconstructing and reconstructing everything from gender to family, religion, education and more. Despite being fringe, counterculture radicals and idealists, their concepts did appeal to some people who were suffering and feeling a sense of injustice, oppression, and loss amidst great poverty.
As a very general rule, Critical Theory is based upon five big ideas:
1. Power: Structures are created by powerful people to privilege themselves,
which is a form of abuse and injustice.
2. Systemic Oppression: Though often invisible like demons, there are
inherent biases and prejudices built into every system by those in power to
systematically oppress those without power.
3. Critique: It is good and right to find the flaws and problems in all systems
of thought as well as institutions, not unlike God who knows our sin and
names it.
4. Justice: It is righteous to dismantle oppressive ideas and structures
and redistribute power and wealth for equality. Examples include
eradicating private property ownership, redistributing wealth through
reparations or tax benefits, or attacking businesses that have benefitted
from systemic oppression, which explains rioting and looting that is
cheered as justice instead of jeered as injustice.
5. Government: Government replaces God as the sovereign authority to
bring justice, protect peace, and provide for the needs of people who have
been oppressed. This is a counterfeit of the Kingdom of God ruled by

King Jesus who began His public ministry in Luke 4:18-21 reading from

and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those

who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.’ And he rolled
up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes
of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them,
‘Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’” To have a Kingdom
that is perfect, you need a perfect King and His name is Jesus.


In 1933, Adolf Hitler became Chancellor in Germany, and the next year became Fuhrer with his own idea of how to achieve a utopian society without God. Around this time, the Nazis closed the Frankfurt school, which then moved to Geneva for a season, then Paris, eventually landing at Columbia University in New York. From 1939-1945, starting with the invasion of Poland, World War II gripped the globe as a demonic anti-Christ sought to impose himself as the head of nations. Hitler enacted a plot to deconstruct governments and reconstruct the world with himself as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords much like Pharoah, Nebuchadnezzar, Caesar and others had done before him by the same powerful spirit of the Critic. Tragically, the concepts of Critical Theory developed by some Jewish scholars were used to justify the Holocaust. Some Germans concluded that the Jews used their power to create systemic oppression and so the Nazis critiqued the Jews and brought social justice through the government by seizing Jewish property, enslaving and murdering Jewish people, and destroying Jewish businesses in the name of social justice. Yes, perhaps the greatest racial/ethnic injustice in modern history was in the name of social justice based upon the principles of Critical Theory.
There’s a lot that could be said about the above-quoted passage, but let’s start with the most basic point.  The Institute for Social Research wouldn’t have been the first Marxist think tank the world over. The Marx-Engels Institute that eventually became the Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute was a think tank that was founded in 1919. Now if we said that the first Marxist think tank in the West was founded in 1923 with the Institute for Social Research then, okay, we can grant that point but that is not the point Driscoll made.
But all of that is to raise the question about where might Driscoll have gotten the idea that the Frankfurt School was the first Marxist think tank?  You might think that for such a categorical and sweeping claim as describing the Frankfurt School as the first Marxist think tank there’d be a single footnote of attribution but Driscoll’s bibliographic citations are sparser than ever.
Nevertheless, he gave us a clue a while back.


Mark Driscoll

September 30, 2020  ·

Side study this week to prep for Romans 2

What's that book in the lower right corner?  Stephen Eric Bronner’s Critical Theory: A Very Short Introduction. So we know beyond all doubt Driscoll showed the world he had the book as part of his side study for a sermon, so what’s the author have to say about the start of the Institute for Social Research?



Critical Theory: A Very Short Introduction

Copyright © 2011 by Stephen Eric Bronner

Published by Oxford University Press, Inc.

ISBN: 978-0-19-973007-0 (paperback)

ISBN: 978-0-19-0692674


Page 9

The Institute for Social Research was founded in 1923. Growing out of a Marxist study group, which sought to deal with the practical problems facing the labor movement in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, this first Marxist think tank was funded by Hermann Weil. He was an enlightened business man, who made his fortune on the grain market in Argentina. The money was given at the urging of his son, Felix, who considered himself a “salon Bolshevik”

So that could have been a footnote as best as I can tell.  Did Driscoll think that showing off the books he was reading on social media would count toward a footnote in Christian Theology vs Critical Theory?
Now as for how and why the Frankfurt School developed, it would be more accurate to say that what the founders were trying to understand was how the Russian Revolution devolved into a bloodbath on the one hand and how bids at communist revolution not only failed in Germany but led to the emergence of National Socialism on the other. Deconstructionism wouldn’t even become an academic trend until decades after the members of the Frankfurt School had emigrated to the United States to assist in researching potential explanations for the rise of fascism a la The Authoritarian Personality. Driscoll’s use of “deconstruct” as a buzzword is a dog whistle.  What hath Adorno to do with Derrida?
Driscoll can write about King Jesus but didn’t Jesus say “My kingdom is not of this world?” Hasn’t Driscoll mentioned in the past that Western Christendom has died?  If critical theory is supposed to be a counterfeit gospel and a counterfeit to the Kingdom of God what exactly “is” that kingdom in Mark Driscoll’s mind?  Western Christendom?

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

Pages 16-17


During the era of Christendom, it was generally believed that our national culture was Christian, or at least Judeo-Christian. Consequently, it was the job of the church to make converts for the nation by challenging people to commit themselves to Jesus and live morally. The upside of Chrisendom was that many people did attend church. The downside was that the church in large part became the servant of morality and the national good. The result was a mean-spirited hypocrisy among “Christians” who wrongly believed morality and redemption were synonymous and lived lives more dominated by American values of pride and selfishness than by the gospel virtues of humility and selflessness.  Also, Christendom churches defined themselves in contrast to other competing churches, which led to unnecessary hostility between Christian traditions that were distinct but not altogether different.
By 2013’s A Call to Resurgence, Driscoll spoke of the death of Christendom as complete.  Now in 2021 Driscoll refers to the death of Christendom as a slow process that happened in the past and that he called, it seems, the time of death. Thus in Christian Theology vs Critical Theory:
page 38

Like many deaths, the final demise of Christendom occurred after a long, painful struggle that started in the 1960s and 1970s as I described in my book A Call to Resurgence. Christendom took a serious beating during those years from the fatal five: gender confusion, sex, abortions, drugs, and Spiritless spirituality. Strength and vigor waned as Christendom grew old and tired in the 1980s and 1990s; by the turn of the millennium, it could no longer fight back. Finally, after more than a decade of labored breathing and a weakening heart, Christendom has gone the way of all flesh.


But before we move forward into a future without Christendom, it’s important to look back to see where we’ve come from. What exactly is Christendom, how is it different from Christianity itself, and how does it relate to the church today?


Christendom began about the time of the Reformation and lasted roughly 500 years. The United States was among the most adventurous experiments of Christendom. …


Page 40

Due to the ongoing existence of American civil religion, many evangelicals are oblivious to the fact that Christendom is dead and real Christianity is in serious decline. Those in the United States may have a general sense that Christianity is struggling in Europe, but many remain fairly optimistic about our “one nation under God.” As long as we see Christmas trees on government property, the 10 Commandments posted on public buildings, and hear public figures talk about “faith,” many believers naively assume that real Christianity is alive and well and respected by the majority of our people.


Brace yourself. It’s an illusion.

It would seem that gone altogether are Driscoll’s earlier hopeful observations about how the death of Christendom could signal the demise of merely nominal professions of faith:

Page 42

With the death of Christendom, however, the cultural advantages of Christianity have diminished, and many people have decided to drop the charade altogether. This shouldn’t come as a surprise; without inward conversion there’s no reason to expect outward devotion. Younger generations increasingly feel less obligated even to profess Christianity, and society increasingly provides less incentive to do so. The advent of mass media, digital communication, and global travel have made competing religions, spiritualities, and philosophies (including agnosticism and atheism) more acceptable and fashionable. In contrast, Christendom is the old way, led by old people for old people. It’s no wonder young people stop attending church, stop giving to the church, and stop practicing faith through Bible reading, a lifestyle of repentance, and passion for Jesus Christ.


He says that as though it’s a bad thing. What happened to the Mark Driscoll who wrote that the demise of Christendom meant less hypocrisy and nominalism? What happened to the Driscoll who was willing to say that nationalistic civic religion was not something Christianity ought to have underwritten as seemed to be the case even back in 2006 with Confessions of a Reformission Rev?  
Of course Driscoll’s very definition of “Christendom” is a debatable definition. The idea that Christendom didn’t start until the Reformation seems implicit in Driscoll’s definition but surely most historians would propose Christendom got a boost from Constantine and that the Carolingian empire had some small role to play across a thousand years of European history.
Driscoll has returned to an idea he credited to his daughter Ashley back in Win Your War, that Christians should think in terms of black and white (binary thinking).

From page 3 of Christian Theology vs Critical Theory:

Everything God creates, Satan counterfeits. The counterfeit of Christian Theology is Critical Theory. As a spiritual virus that spreads much more quickly than a physical virus, it has already infected and affected academia, government, and social media platforms, as well as many pulpits and pastors. In Romans 1, Paul speaks of Critical Theory as part of the “lie” that is against the “truth” and he says that the demonic powers at work in the world “suppress the truth” to silence dissent with things like social media throttling, banning from platforms, and cancel culture. This is not solely a political issue. This is primarily a spiritual and a theological issue that has already taken deep-seated root in many mainline, apostate, liberal Christian denominations that fly the rainbow flag and join in parades for things they should be having funerals for. It has now infected many evangelicals as well.

Christians should think in terms of black and white (binary thinking). Non-Christians think in terms of shades of gray. Biblical thinking is binary thinking.


Biblical Christianity requires black-and-white thinking because it is dualistic. From beginning to end, the Bible is thoroughly categorical: Satan and God, demons and angels, sin and holiness, lies and truth, wolves and shepherds, non-Christians and Christians, damnation and salvation, Hell and Heaven. An exhaustive list could fill a book—but you get the point. The Bible makes clear distinctions and judgments between opposed categories.
What kind of dualistic thinking?  Like a Donatist, Gnostic or Marcionite dualism?  Those were declared heresies ages ago.  Jeffrey Burton Russell wrote in his book Satan: The Early Christian Traditions that Christianity was not a monist religion in its orthodox forms but neither was it dualistic in the sense that Mazdaism was; it was, instead, a modified or mitigated dualism.  Anthropological dualism he argued, was mainly a Greek concept and that early Christian heresies tended toward dualisms. That there are dualistic elements in Christian thought and traditions is easy to establish but the question as to how and why Mark Driscoll would or should be considered competent to make such a sweeping claim about what kind of dualism is “Christian” does not require us to answer with a clear affirmative.
Meanwhile, at least one footnote for the founding of the Frankfurt School would seem to be in order, especially since Driscoll showed off the books he had been reading about critical theory on social media.

there was, it turned out, a brief comment from Driscoll alluding to the suicide of Darrin Patrick before it was ruled a suicide (a belated update)

Earlier I had indicated that it seemed Mark Driscoll had not addressed the death of Darrin Patrick so far as I could tell in any way online.  Well, it seems I was wrong.  Driscoll did mention something in passing that seemed to allude to Patrick's death.

Eugene Narmour's Beyond Schenkerism

 a commenter mentioned the book a while back and although it took some time I finally landed a copy of the book, which I'm very much looking forward to reading!

Episodes 9 and 10 of the CT series have dropped but no comments about them beyond a few brief remarks for the time being

So episodes 9 and 10 of The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill have dropped.  Episode 9 seemed simultaneously diffuse and focused, maybe too focused, on coach Bob Knight as a parallel to Mark Driscoll.  That Rose Madrid Sweatman and Paul Chapman were on record about the didn't-happen protest was ... sort of interesting but it reminded me of what a non-starter that attempt was and how, within Mars Hill, the thing was regarded as less than nothing even in terms of public relations.  

Episode 10 is memorable for two things. First, Cosper seems to still be on a theme of "nobody thought it was gonna get this big".  Driscoll did. His joke about recruiting men for "world domination" was the sort of joke that revealed the seriousness of his sense of self-seriousness.  I've written extensively about the dubious claim that Driscoll never dreamed Mars Hill would get so big.  Cosper referencing how Driscoll began to say behind the scenes he wanted to get Mars Hill to 50,000 people suggests that my comments that people who say they never expected Mars Hill to get so big are talking for themselves rather than Mark (made offline and sometimes here) still stand.  Maybe the people who helped Mark Driscoll become the propagandist he became didn't realize at the time what they were helping him become but i find the idea that Driscoll himself was not able to conceive of himself as aspiring to be the next Billy Graham meets Charles Spurgeon meets Rick Warren is impossible to take seriously.  Driscoll always sought celebrity and was even fairly plainspoken about it once we factor out the "aw shucks" stuff.

Which gets me to Nathan Burke's comments in episode 10 about Driscoll proudly shouting and screaming and working the crowd rather than being humbled by 15,000 Mars Hill attenders being in Quest Field.  Burke seemed to get that the more Mark Driscoll got what he envisioned the more off the rails from his initial vision of Christian community he got, assuming generously that that was always a sincere goal.  I think we should consider that it was and consider that the media systems that made Driscoll into the star he became transformed him.  Someone like Frank Schaeffer should be a reminder to evangelicals in particular and Christians in general that the cost of celebrity systems for character formation can sometimes seem high.  Anyone who could use the death of Nelson Mandela as an opportunity to shill a novel the way Frank Schaeffer did suggests to me that progressive Christians have their own wagon-circling brand promoting celebrities with wagon-circling fans.  Burke got to see, through a moment of not seeing, where Driscoll's heart had turned.

And that gets me to Burke's account of getting infections in both eyes during a trip and hearing from Driscoll that Driscoll wanted to know if Burke was infectious and apparently ... that was it.  Burke's story about being left behind in his blindness and having to be led around by hand by a visiting pastor in the U.K. to get medical help stuck with me.  I had to stop listening to the podcast for a bit after hearing that.  Driscoll could potentially plead extenuating circumstances but Jesus spoke of what good shepherds do and don't do. Jesus told a parable of how the shepherd sought out a lost sheep.  Driscoll's willingness, perhaps even eagerness, to leave Burke behind does not speak particularly well to his character.  I had refused to renew my membership back in 2008 and was concerned that behind the scenes Mark was advocating what seemed to be a vision of spiritual warfare that sounded too much like the crazed rantings of Rebecca Brown M.D.  Burke got to find out for himself, apparently, that Mark Driscoll would share bromides like "sleep with your boots on" and yet when the proverbial chips were down he would leave people behind.  Burke didn't get to hear Mark's lines about the pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus until 2012 like many of the rest of us.

For the moment that's about the extent of my thoughts on the two recent episodes.  It's hard to say that I'm past feeling ambivalent about the CT series.  I'm less concerned about voices being left out, because tens of thousands of people is too many for every voice to be heard.  I'm more baffled by who Cosper has included, sometimes including people who have had no connection to Mars Hill beyond talking about Driscoll   Cosper seems to be swimming on which sources are reliable or not and that's partly understandable.  Some of the dead ends are literal dead ends as people who played formative roles in the early Mars Hill have died, like Ken Hutcherson and David Nicholas.  Spanish River Church nad Antioch Bible Church may not be game to speak to  anyone about what happened, which would be too bad but for all that I suppose this series being the first account of Mars Hill that hasn't been controlled by Driscoll and that has been produced by a mainstream evangelical media institution is a theoretical start.  But the institutions that make stars aren't good at interrogating the ways they may corrupt their stars or hoist them up on pedestals, whether the stars chosen are Mark Driscoll, the late Rachel Held Evans, Eugene Peterson, Tony Jones or whoever else gets a spotlight.  If the spotlight itself corrupts the media figures whose literal bread and butter depend upon that star making nexus of systems are not likely to interrogate things too deeply.  Given how long Weinstein allegedly had no censure for his actions; given how long Lance Armstrong reportedly did his cheating and bullying; or Larry Nassar was Nassar ...  it's not a shock that Christian institutions are aa eager to defend the prosperity of their respective brands as non-Christian counterparts in the mainstream celebrity generating industries. 

Friday, October 15, 2021

Len Oakes on the role of charismatic rituals initiated by self-designated prophets to form social cohesion

Prophetic Charisma: The Psychology of Revolutionary Religious Personalities
Len Oakes
ISBN 9780815603986 paperback
ISBN 9780815627005 hardcover
ISBN 9780815603993 ebook

From Chapter 8: The Charismatic Moment
page 145 (or 146)
Charismatic rituals are the prophet's main creative achievement. At one and the same time the ritual satisfies the leader's narcissistic needs and transforms the followers; the former, by re-creating a world within which the leader is omnipotent, and the latter, by emotionally revitalizing all who participate in it. The rituals lay an emotional and spiritual base for the community. hence an important task, perhaps the most important task, for the prophet during this time is the construction of charismatic rituals. They are his or her framework for the exploration of love and truth. Each is a set of guidelines that allows people to come together and celebrate the mystery that lies between them. 
Hat tip to reader chris for highlighting this book!

Monday, October 11, 2021

Heinrich Albert, Sonata No. 1 in E minor with score

I really, really want to get into a more detailed analysis of this sonata but this week has not been that week!  But I plan to come back to this sonata with some more discussion of what I like about it.  For now, I hope you enjoy it and if anyone knows of who has recorded Sonata No. 2 in D major comment away!

Sunday, October 10, 2021

on the Christianity Today podcast mini-episode questioning the origin myths of Mars Hill, a long-form review of Mark Driscoll's stories of conversion and calling from 1992-2019, the most significant revisions have been post-MHC accounts

A sixteen minute podcast episode that is called “Questioning the Origin Myth” may do too much and too little and this particular mini-episode has gnawed at my thoughts since it was released.  It attempts to do too much by overtly questioning the alleged origin myths surrounding the founding of Mars Hill Church and Mark Driscoll’s accounts of his conversion to Christianity and his calling to ministry.  Yet it simultaneously does too little in that a podcast, let alone such a short podcast episode, cannot possibly cover the sheer mass of written and preached material Mark Driscoll has published recounting his conversion process, his calling to ministry, and founding of Mars Hill Church stories.  That there is a core set of founding myths is easily established but Cosper didn’t really successfully make a case that Driscoll or others significantly changed the stories that became the founding myths of the former Mars Hill Church.
If anything, a review of a variety of published materials, chiefly from Mark Driscoll’s writings spanning from the early 1990s through to the present suggests that Mark Driscoll’s overall set of origin stories has stayed robustly on message.  If there are cracks in some proverbial façade they show up in what kind of man Mark Driscoll claimed he was planning to be before he had his conversion process.
Notice I keep referring to his “conversion process”. Cumulatively I do not think he had what could be called an evangelical moment-of-crisis conversion experience, nor do I think he really needed one but within the context of evangelicalism and its literary and homiletic conventions Mark Driscoll probably thought and maybe even more strongly felt that he needed to have a narrative of some time with a robust contrast between the before and after of his process of conversion to what he thinks of as evangelical Christianity. 
Rather than assume, as could be done, that Mark Driscoll’s accounts of his conversion and c calling experiences were changed, we should go through the accounts and consider them as literary and homiletic works.  Driscoll has demonstrated that he has always been acutely sensitive to questions of status and perception. He is also, if you appreciate this figure of speech, always closing a sale. Generally Mark Driscoll has not published a story about how he came to faith or felt called to plant a church without that story explicitly serving as a self-authenticating witness of Mark Driscoll’s self-perceived fitness for ministry.
Cosper has some reason to wonder about the degree to which Driscoll changed key elements in the story of conversion and calling that shaped the foundation narratives associated with mars Hill.  On the other hand, that Mark Driscoll kept changing his accounts of conversion and calling does not in itself suggest that Driscoll necessarily made drastic changes.  Mike Cosper was himself a pastor, right? Don’t pastors tailor stories to fit into the over-arching point of a sermon?  This seems to be, pretty clearly I believe, what Driscoll has habitually done with his biography. There are reasons to wonder whether strategic changes or omissions occurred.
But before we ask whether or not it seems that Mark Driscoll changed his story we should  never forget that because he’s always pitching his idea of the gospel or making a homiletic point that the given point will suggest possible reasons for the inclusion or omission of biographical details. Too much of the journalism and social media commentary and blogging I have seen that discusses Mark Driscoll rushes to assess whether he’s really a Calvinist or a charismatic or how he fits into a taxonomy of doctrinal or political categories rather than do the more laborious work of trawling through the primary source statements Mark Driscoll has poured out on the page and in sermons. 
So let’s start with the earliest published account of Mark Driscoll’s conversion process that seems to be available, an op ed he wrote for The Daily Evergreen when he was attending Washington State University.

Friday, October 08, 2021

Nikolai Kapustin plays his Piano Sonata No. 2 Op. 54

Because I haven't linked to anything Kapustin-related in a while.  Here's a recording of him playing is second piano sonata.

I'm trying to hunt down a recording of his Piano Sonata No. 3, which is proving weirdly hard to find seeing as Kapustin scholars tend to agree it's one of his big landmark works in his musical output. 

For that matter, if anyone has the info on this linked recording of Kapustin's performance of Piano Sonata No. 2 comment away.  

Tuesday, October 05, 2021

a postscript to earlier thoughts on "Dark Was the Night", if we consult the tunes associated with the text at hymnary.org ... the hymn tunes associated with the hymn texts have absolutely nothing to do with Johnson's performance

One of the things about Blind Willie Johnson's "Dark Was the Night" that is mysterious is exactly which tune he was extrapolating his performance from.  The text of "Dark Was the Night and Cold the Ground" is relatively well-known. We can establish that it's credited to Thomas Hawells.

The text is listed as follows:

1 Dark was the night, and cold the ground
On which the Lord was laid;
His sweat like drops of blood ran down;
In agony He prayed.

2 "Father, remove this bitter cup,
If such Thy sacred will;
If not, content to drink it up
Thy pleasure I fulfill."

3 Go the the garden, sinner, see
Those precious drops that flow;
The heavy load He bore for thee;
For thee He lies so low.

4 Then learn of Him the cross to bear;
Thy Father's will obey;
And when temptations press thee near,
Awake to watch and pray.

So if you want to understand what Blind Willie Johnson was adapting into music you'll have to know the text he was working from even if he never sang the words.  Mahalia Jackson, by contrast, did sing the words and it helps us get a clearer sense of how flexible this text has been in terms of melodic settings.  The hymn is also mentioned as being in an African Methodist Episcopal hymnal.

But if you actually look at the tune it's very obviously the same tune as the Isaac Watts hymn, "Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed"
And let's face it, that tune has no observable connection to Blind Willie Johnson's performance! So even if the tune Martydom by Hugh Wilson is connected to "Alas" there's no clear way to connect it to Johnson's "Dark Was the Night"

Hymnary.org lists tunes commonly associated with texts but you'll see the music Johnson came up with has nothing to do with any of those tunes.  Mahalia Jackson's solo voice performance has many similarities but there, too, you won't even begin to get to the zone of those two performances from the tunes called Sorrow, Burford or Melvin, let alone Adullam.

One of the big mysteries is simply where the tune that both Johnson and Jackson drew upon actually came from. That it comes from the lining hymn tradition is generally agreed upon but when we cast about for hymn tunes conventionally associated with the text in hymnals, even an AME hymnal, we seem to run face first into a brick wall of not being able to sort out where the tune Johnson and Jackson drew from came from.  Then again we are probably talking about a folk hymnody tradition so there's not going to be some earth-shattering moment if it turns out it's a melody nobody bothered to transcribe but kept alive through performances in church services.

Monday, October 04, 2021

Mark Driscoll has a message for "Woke Joke Folk" that he's got a new ebook out on Christian Theology vs. Critical Theory, too bad he couldn't be bothered to list primary or secondary sources in his bibliographic notes

Haven’t gotten in trouble for a while. It was time. Download the book, “Christian Theology VS Critical Theory,” at the link in my bio. 
Twitter responses seem to alternately suggest that initially the link didn't work and the form of Driscoll's announcement was not received in an entirely joyful manner.

Driscoll, however, is making headlines, which is what he has complained other people are seeking while seeking them himself.  

Saturday, October 02, 2021

Ethan Hein discusses the Kronos Quartet playing Jimi Hendrix and ... Blind Willie Johnson (for which I can never forgive them!)--update: I've found exactly ONE academic monograph on the lining hymn traditions so far, included at the end of the post

I agree with Ethan Hein about wondering whether the Kronos Quartet's attempt to play Jimi Hendrix was successful.  I lean "no".  The tempi for the different sections of the "Purple Haze" arrangement jack knifes away any possibility of either attempted groove actually working.  The down tempo intro is slower than what Hendrix did and the verse-and-chorus arrangement is faster than what Hendrix did and in neither case does a steady groove happen as the cumulative result.  

And the quartet arrangement of "Dark Was the Night" is frustrating beyond words.  Ethan Hein notes there's no groove but there's also no low end.  The groove that lives and breathes beneath Blind Willie Johnson's amazing performance is bolstered by those droning bass strings. 

Mahalia Jackson did an amazing solo voice performance of the lining hymn, so a spare, minimalist approach to the song can absolutely work.  

As for jazz violin, I tend to think of Ray Nance's wonderful solo on "Bakiff".

The thing I'm thinking is that if a string quartet isn't going to get the groove of folk blues and they have the chops to get at timbrel variation and microtonal inflections there should be two things going on. The first is low end.  The second is that some kind of heterophony that replicates the heterophony that often shows up in lining hymn performances should have happened and the Kronos arrangement doesn't get any heterophonic/quasi-polyphonic patterns going for long.  That would also, probably, require an arranger and ensemble to find out what groove against which the heterophony or polyphony would be playing against.  

It's a harsh appraisal to make but the Kronos "Dark was the Night" arrangement gets the sound effects but doesn't breath like a lining hymn. Maybe I'm biased both as a fan of Blind Willie Johnson and as someone who has soaked up a bit of church music in my life.  I was Assemblies of God rather than Church of God in Christ Pentecostal (Johnson's denominational affiliation) but the older I get the more I wonder whether or not there are things you learn about how styles of music live and breath through direct participation that are hard to replicate on the instruments of classical music if you aren't constantly going back to the well of the proverbial folklore and refining and updating your instrumental or vocal techniques to think through how to translate the idioms and vocabulary of styles into "classical" settings.

Which gets me to agreeing with Hein that the Darol Anger take on "Voodoo Chile" is far, far better.  The dance may be comparatively square but it's a dance. The groove is there and the materials are translated into the dance musical idioms of the fiddler.  

Maybe what I'm trying to say is that Ethan is right that there's the groove to consider with my being a former choral singer from my school days there's also a need to understand the nature of the song.  Johnson's take on "Dark Was the Night" is really a remarkably sophisticated and even esoteric take on the lining hymn tradition, building on generations of musical participations and innovations to reach the lofty and nearly inimitable peak of his legendary performance.  

I'm not against the basic idea of a string quartet attempting to tackle making music based on Johnson's legacy but I do think that in light of all the things that are difficult to emulate about the groove and song of his most famous recording it makes more sense to emulate those aspects in works that aren't such literal tributes to his work.  I'm biased, I realize, because my approach as a guitarist has been to compose music that takes cues from elements of Johnson's technique; styles of music that existed during his time; and the kinds of hymnody (shape note or otherwise) that he could have drawn on to make a Johnson-esque take on hymns he never arranged or recorded but theoretically could have.  That seems like a more careful way to pay tribute to his life and work without risking an attempt to replicate his most famous performance in a way that can only make later efforts seem to fall short.  It would almost be better to have a quasi-fugal polyphonic fantasia based on Johnson's licks and vocalization than to attempt to replicate his quarter-tone-off phrases and lose the pulsating life in the phrases.

There are some things where I admit to being fairly purist, I guess. Johnson's music is one of those things.

UPDATE 10-4-2021 6:17pm

There's virtually no academic work I know of done on Johnson's music and the biographical work I've heard and read about would never rise above what Matanya Ophee once called "liner notes musicology".  There is, however, a book I picked up I'm looking forward to reading by William T. Dargan about the lining hymn tradition in general

If anyone else has books or articles dealing with the history of the lining hymn traditions comments are moderated but are welcome (if you've snooped around this blog a few years you can guess why comments are moderated).

Radames Gnatalli's Sonata for Guitar and Cello, movement 1 with video and score

I feel fortunate I got the score for this lovely work back when it was still in print!  Radames Gnattali's Sonata for Cello and Guitar deserves to be in the top ten pieces ever written for this combination of instruments.

Theme 1 takes up the first 1:08 and is in E minor, kinda.  There's a gorgeous dorian element to the soaring cello line and the guitar gets a magnificent 2/4 and 5/8 alternating groove. There's a lovely transition and Theme 2 kicks in (I think) at 1:09 but gets a clearer gestural identity at 1:34.  This second theme is developed across the space of the Theme 2 place in the "exposition". Gnattali veers from E minor into G# minor via sequential development of the Theme 2 gesture.  Theme 2 develops more by languid fantasia that fades out into a preparation for the return of Theme 1 than some kind of Beethovenian "drive" to the dominant pedal point that sets up a big syntactic climax.  This kind of "winding down" development is pretty common in Ferdinand Rebay's solo guitar sonatas which I shall have to write about later.

Theme 1 comes back at 3:08 (measure 98). This is followed by a derivation of part of the second thematic group at measure 118 (3:41). Theme 2 bursts forth on the cello at 3:50 (measure 121). The cello rises up to a peak at measure 126 (4:06) that brings back Theme 1 in the new, brighter key of A mixolydian and builds up to an abrupt climactic stop at measure 131 (4:12). Gnattali presents a descending guitar cadenza that lands us firmly in a reprise of Theme 1 at measure 139 (4:34) and that groove persists to the end of the movement. 

So ... we've got ourselves a sonata that has identifiable Themes 1 and 2 but no easily identifiable modulating transitions that would fit a "textbook" sonata form.

Theme 1, E minor
Theme 2, E minor and develops through keys
Theme 1 returns
Theme 2 returns
Theme 1 returns in A major
Theme 1 returns in E minor

So if we simplify a bit and consider the cadenza subordinate that gives us an ABABA.  If Hepokoski and Darcy were our guideline for this sonata we might call it a double rotation sonata form in which the P material comes back as a coda, thus giving us a P, S, P, S, P with cadenza and a P derived coda that restabilizes the tonality back to E rather than the A that would be a "wrong key" recap of Theme 1 material.  

One of the crucial, er, elements in Elements of Sonata Theory is that a sonata form can display some or most of the elements but doesn't have to use them all.  In this case Gnattali has not given us modulating transitions between themes but he was fastidious in observing "rotation", a concept Hepokoski & Darcy use to describe the rhetorical order or sequencing of materials.  Theme 1 is followed by Theme 2 and Theme 1 appears again in a way that signals the start of a new "rotation".  A double rotational form is one in which there is a Theme 1, Theme 2, Theme 1 and Theme 2 presentation of materials that doesn't necessarily require "all" the other elements of what would be "textbook" sonata form.  In that respect Gnattali's sonata is a great case study of how Elements has in its favor that the elements can be selectively used to explain complex forms without presuming those forms have to be 18th century string quartets.

If you haven't heard Gnattali's sonata for cello and guitar grab a recording of it when you can or hunt for it online.  This is a magnificent duo sonata for the instruments and the guitar and cello parts are demanding enough that anyone who would even dare to play it has to have at least pretty good chops so you will not have to worry much about whether you'll stumble upon a truly bad interpretation--you may find ones you prefer (and I prefer the zippier versions of this work) but I have not managed to run into a trainwreck performance of this piece yet.

I'd been overdue to write about a piece of chamber music for classical guitar that I love for quite some time.  I've kept it brief, too. 

thoughts on The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill by episode 9: it isn't really a history and responses to it have often fit what Samuel D James has described and exemplified in his responses as "the take trap"

The series The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill has hit Episode 9. 9https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/podcasts/rise-and-fall-of-mars-hill/

I am taking a break from listening to the series, however, to take stock of some of the reactions I’ve seen and the gamut I’ve seen so far suggests that reactions tend to be of a wagon-circling variety across doctrinal and political spectrums.

an article at Vice on Doug Wilson's church gets a response from Wilson who regards it as a work full of lies but a great microphone handed to him to promote the 2nd edition of A Justice Primer

I've written intermittently over the the last few years about the seminal influence Doug Wilson had on Mark Driscoll's ideas about men, women, marriage and sexuality.  

Wilson's books were available at the Mars Hill book store. I got one or two and confess I can remember little about any of them.  I found it hard to shake a sense that Doug Wilson was a self-regarding gasbag whose persona seemed to influence Mark Driscoll's.  It turned out, based on Crawford Gribben's excellent work mapping the evolution of the American Redoubt, that Wilson was launching Credenda Agenda and other projects in the late 1980s and early 1990s when a newly converted Mark Driscoll was attending WSU and went on a retreat and subsequently claimed to hear an audible calling from God after praying by an Idaho river.  

Vice has run an article recently on Douglas Wilson's scene and its background.  It's both what I would expect from a Vice article and a reminder to me that even though The Stranger had hostile coverage of Mars Hill they also tended to have the most accurate coverage. In an era in which it is tempting to dismiss reports on account of the source I hesitate to be skeptical of a critical article merely because it has come from Vice.

yet ...

George Walker: String Quartet No. 1: I. Allegro

Because I like a fair chunk of George Walker's music, here's the first movement of his first string quartet

Thursday, September 30, 2021

a history of Mars Hill Fellowship by way of articles of incorporation and annual reports 1995-2007

One of the things the podcast The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill has reminded me of is how few people from the earliest stages of Mars Hill history have said anything on record.  A reason for this absence may partly be because people from Antioch Bible Church and Spanish River Church such as Ken Hutcherson and David Nicholas died years ago.  Conspicuous by their absence from the podcast are the three co-founding leaders of Mars Hill Mark Driscoll, Mike Gunn and Lief Moi.

But ... now that in the wake of the dissolution of the corporation formerly known as Mars Hill Church the original articles of incorporation and annual reports have been made available through the State of Washington and so, absent more comments (or any) from people from the earlier years as of the eve of October 2021 it may be as well to document a history of Mars Hill through filed documents.   Thus ...

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Dream Divination in the Ministry of Mark Driscoll: Driscoll on the rarity of his interpreting other dreams as an implicit baseline against which to appreciate his reliance on dream divination in his own ministry

I have already broached the topic of dream divination in Mark Driscoll’s ministry by way of his accounts of his reliance on what he’s called prophetic dreams in his own ministry.




Following up on an old thread taken up by Warren Throckmorton, however, it’s worth revisiting that Driscoll claimed he rarely interpreted anyone else’s dreams.  That Driscoll said it was rare for him to interpret the dreams of others suggests that the base line against which he made this comparison was a history of interpreting his own dreams.





And there’s only been a few occasions where I’ve ever interpreted anybody else’s dream. And I’ll say this. Not all dreams are from God. Some of them are from chili or Taco Bell or, you know. You say, “I had pepperoni pizza, and I saw Jesus.” No, no, you had gas. You just had gas and you were hallucinating. You know, you’ll be fine. Not all dreams are from God, okay. But when you do get a dream from God, it needs to be interpreted so you know what it means unless God would give you the interpretation himself.


I had one occasion where I actually did interpret a guy’s dream. It was the strangest dream. It was at the old building. We had six services, and I was between services. And this guy drove – he came into the church. And he was an Asian guy from Canada. He had his wife and a few kids. They all looked very, very tired. He came up to me. He said, “I really need to meet with you right now.” I said, “Man, I just preached three. I gotta get a bite to eat. I gotta preach three more. I really can’t leave right now.” He said, “No, we just drove all the way from northern Canada. We haven’t slept all night.” Apparently God’s not in Canada. God has to come down.


So, I tell this guy. I’m like, “All right, cool. We’ll do that. Now tell me your story.” So, he tells me his dream. And his wife’s literally falling asleep. His kids are exhausted. They’ve been up all night driving. It was the weirdest thing cause I don’t know how or why. I just told him. “Well, here’s what it means, and here’s what God’s gonna do. And you need to quit working at this church. God’s gonna have you hired at this church. And these people are hard hearted. And God doesn’t want you to serve them anymore because he’s gonna judge them, but he wants to take care of you and your family. So he wants to move you on before he judges.”


And I just talked for about 10, 15 minutes. And he’s like, “How do you know that?” I was like, “I have no idea.” I never met this guy. I don’t know this guy. I don’t know anything about him. And he says, “Well, then that’s the interpretation.” His wife gave me a big hug. She’s crying. She says, “You know, that’s what we needed to hear.” They get in the car and leave. They go back to Canada. I never heard from them again.


And it’s weird because some of you, there’s time when God speaks through you, or reveals something to you, or you interpret a dream. You go, “I don’t know. I don’t understand. But apparently God loves you, and he wanted to say something to you. And apparently he used me in that moment to talk to you.” That’s what Joseph is doing. Joseph says, “You’ve had a dream. It’s from God. You don’t know God, but I do. So, why don’t you tell me the dream? I’ll ask God. He’ll tell me the meaning, and I’ll serve as sort of a mediator and a go between between you and God here. You tell me the dream. I’ll ask him. I’ll tell you the meaning cause only God knows the meaning cause God’s the one who gave the dream.”





Now, I’m hesitant to tell you that I’ve got this gift because most people who say that are total wingnuts, which maybe I am, which would explain a ton. And when I say that, I know I have the prophetic teaching, preaching proclamation aspect, but there are times in my ministry where I’ve had this future revelation knowledge thing going on – where I know the future and proclaim it to a group of people. I’ll tell you one. It was the weirdest day. It was years ago. I was at a young pastors’ conference and they bring out the speakers and bring you out on the stage and everybody gets a chance to teach and there’s like, I don’t know, maybe a thousand young pastors. This big organization, led by this prominent young teacher, preacher guy, and I was supposed to speak at lunch, which is not the best slot. Everybody’s eating. This is not, you know, you’re the third opening band before the headliner, that kinda gig and so I’m like, “Oh great. I get to teach the Bible while everyone is eating. I’m sure this will be, just be life-changing for everyone over dessert.” And so I got up and I was planning on teaching the book of Ephesians on the reconciling power of the Gospel to bring diverse people groups together in Jesus Christ, and I went to do my teaching up front. I thought, “Well, I better open in prayer,” so I start praying, “Dear Jesus,” next thing I know, I start prophesying. Unexpectedly, over lunch, at a pastor’s conference and God told me that some of the key leaders in this conference that was hosting me and paid for my hotel and flight and honorarium had ongoing, unrepentant sexual sin. That the other leaders in the ministry knew of it and wouldn’t do anything about it and that God was frustrated because there was a disqualified leader leading the thing and he wanted me to publicly declare it and repent for him in public on the stage, during lunch, in my prayer time, at a pastor’s conference with the guys who write the check.


So, I start praying and I’m like, “God and I’m sorry that, you know, I’m sorry that there’s sexual sin and perversion and disqualification – that the leaders will not address this issue and I know judgment is against the organization and I know you will expose the evildo-” I go off. I kept my eyes closed, because I’m thinking, “If they chuck stuff, I don’t even wanna see it coming,” you know? I’m like, “Oh, man! Where is this coming from?” and I’m flowing and going and I’m like, “Oh, man. I hope this is the Ghost. I hope this is real.” So I’m going with this. I go for about 15, 20 minutes in a prayer, right? And I finally open my eyes, “Amen,” everybody’s still got their food on their fork, like – at first they’re like, “This is a weird skit,” and then they’re like, “This is really weird,” you know? And a pastor’s magazine wrote it up as a prophetic moment. I said, “Amen,” and I just didn’t know what to do, so I just walked away. I just left. Yeah. See you later. So I just leave. I walk off the stage and the guy who’s on the stage side, who runs the ministry – he’s the headliner, he’s the emcee, this is his organization. I just was like, “I’m sorry, dude. You know, I didn’t,” – and he gets the mic and he comes out and he’s trying to pick up the mess, because they got, like a half-hour left on the schedule they gotta fill. So he’s like, “Blah, blah, blah.” He sounds like the teacher from Peanuts. He’s not saying anything. He doesn’t know what to say. Less than a year later, it gets exposed that he was the guy who was an absolute sex addict, out of control, disqualified from ministry. People knew and weren’t doing anything about it. I prophesied against that guy and then he got fired and he got exposed and I haven’t gotten any invitations back, but I felt like that was a prophetic moment, that I wasn’t looking for. I wasn’t trying to – I was just gonna, “Hey, let’s go to Ephesians and talk about nice Jesus.” Next thing I know, I’m running for the airport, you know? And sometimes, that’s the way the prophetic word works. You don’t walk in, “Hi, I’m a prophet.” No. You don’t elect yourself to be a prophet. If you read the Old Testament, the prophets end up getting killed and they cry a lot, so this isn’t what you, you know coach your kids to grow up and be, you know? “Hey, you could be a prophet.” They’re like, “I don’t wanna be that. I want the gift of helps. People like them,” you know, I mean this is – this is a weird gift. And sometimes it’s not revelation of future knowledge to a group like this. Sometimes it’s just to an individual. That’s why a lot of prophecy shouldn’t even happen in the church, it’s a personal one-on-one word, word of knowledge or wisdom or revelation – some other traditions will call it – but it’s a personal word from God through someone with a gift of prophecy to an individual.


Again, Agabus is a good illustration of this. The prophet in Acts 21:10 and 11. God gives him a word on how Paul is gonna die. So he goes to Paul and says, “Paul, I know how you’re gonna die and he tells him, here’s how you’re gonna die.” That’s a personal word from God through the prophet Agabus to Paul. And again, I’ve had this. The first time I did it, it freaked me out. I was on a national radio show taking calls from all around the country for three hours on Saturday night. I was hosting the show because the usual host was on vacation, so I’m taking calls, talking about Jesus, answering Bible questions, having a good time. This guy calls in. I don’t remember his name. We’ll call him Hank, because I don’t remember his name. We’ll call him Hank. Hank calls in from Ohio – I think it was Cleveland – and Hank just goes off on his church. “I hate my church. The music stinks. The pastor stinks. Everything stinks. I hate going to church. I hate being there. Pastors stink. You stink. Everything stinks.” And I just – I couldn’t believe it. I said, “Hank, here’s the problem. You don’t like going to church because you’re cheating on your wife and you’re running around being just a totally out of control sexual deviant and you’re committing adultery and when you go to church, you feel convicted. That’s why you don’t like the church. It’s a good church and the pastor loves Jesus and he’s preaching the Bible and you feel guilty when you’re there because you’re there with your wife. Don’t blame it on the church, repent of your sin, otherwise God might kill you.”


Right? And this is Hank in Ohio. And I remember looking at the mic going, “Oh, man! I never met Hank. I don’t know Hank.” These are my first words to Hank and I’m like, “That just went across the whole country right there.” I’m going, “Man, I hope that was God, not the taquito I ate for dinner, you know, that, that right there could get me in some serious trouble,” and it gets really quiet and I’m trying to figure out how to save this and then Hank goes, “How did you know I was cheating on my wife?” I said, “Dude, that’s God. You better knock it off. Better knock it off.” You know? But you don’t – I – you don’t look for this stuff. Sometimes God just gives you something and you roll with it.


I had another one, when we were over at the old building. The church was just starting to grow. We had a couple services and I remember I did one of the morning services and I was getting ready to do the other one and this Asian family walks in and they all look exhausted and they’re all tired and the kids are kinda falling asleep on mom and she looks tired and dad’s there and he says, “I – we need to meet with you right now.” I said, “I can’t meet right now, dude. I just got done with one service. I’m doing another service. I don’t do meetings right now. I just got, like, a little bit of time between the services.” He says, “God told us to come to you. We need the word from a prophet.” I was like, “Well, if you find one, you know, tell him I said ‘Hi!’ and send him over. I got stuff I wanna ask him, too. I don’t got anything for you, man. I’m not the prophet.” He says, “No, God said you’re the prophet and you have the word for us.” I said, “Well, where are you from?” He said, “We drove all night from Canada.” Apparently there are no prophets in Canada, so they had to come down. I said, “Okay.” I said, “You drove all night?” He said, “We drove all night,” from somewhere up in central Canada. I said, “Okay, so that explains why you all look so tired. You’ve been in the car all night.” So I didn’t know anything about this guy. I said, “Well, I’ll meet with you for a few minutes, pray for you. I mean, least I could do, you drove all night with your family.


Sat them on the couch. Prayed. Looked at them. Then went off on this whole rant. I said, “Look, the church you’re in is a Godless church. They have a hard heart. Some of the leaders have hidden, unconfessed, unrepentant sin. They are just not participating with God. God needs to judge those leaders, remove them, cleanse and purify the church, then if they are repentant, he will grow it. If not, he will shut it down. You’re in the same situation as Revelation 2 and 3. You, however, keep holding on to the church, trying to salvage it and save it and make it work because you’re being proud and you think that it’s a reflection of you. It’s not a reflection of you, it’s a reflection of Jesus. You need to get out of the way. Quit your job. Jesus has another job for you at this other church. You take that job. He’ll bless you there. Get out of the way. Let him deal with this church. That’s what his word is to you. You’re a pastor, right?” I mean, I didn’t know. I gave him this whole thing and I’m like, “Are you a pastor?” He’s like, “Yeah.” I was like, “Then that’s what it is.” So – and he gives me a big hug. He says, “Okay. That’s what we’ve been wrestling with. We didn’t – I want to leave but I didn’t know if it was me or the Lord that was moving me on and I needed confirmation.” His wife’s crying. Gives me a big hug. She says, “In my heart, I knew that’s what God had for us, but I didn’t wanna tell my husband because I wanted him to hear from God. Thank you so much.” I pray for them. They go home and I see them a few years later at a conference. He said, “Everything happened just like you said. I’m at the other church. We’re happy. It’s growing. God’s blessing it. Massive sin came out in the leadership of the other church. They now are in the process of either repenting or not and the church is gonna live or die. It’s teetering on the edge, just like you said.” I’m like, “Okey dokie. Okay.” You know, I don’t understand this all the time.