Saturday, February 20, 2021

Ravi Zacharias coverage, more disclosures about abuses--some thoughts on how vicariously living through favorite teachers, preachers and artists is probably how "we" let "them" keep harming people

The problems and corruptions as they are getting revealed seem to be board level and institution-wide.  

Kevin H at Phoenix Preacher had a piece recently called "How They Get Away With It… "
Ravi Zacharias.  James MacDonald.  Carl Lentz.  Bob Coy.  Mark Driscoll.  Bill Hybels.  Tullian Tchividjian.  Bill Gothard.  The list goes on and on, and these are names from only the past few years.  These are all Christian leaders who abused power for purposes of their own gains and desires, leaving a wake of countless broken and victimized souls in their self-indulgent trails.  These are only the ones who finally experienced some manner of fall from grace after the exposure of their sinful deeds became too staggeringly extensive such that they could no longer vanquish them all.  Who knows how many more cases are still successfully under wraps?
I have been thinking for years, particularly since the demise of Mars Hill, that Americans mediate their concept of religious life through their celebrities.  For some the celebrity might be Mark Driscoll, whose scandals became cumulatively enough to catalyze his resignation from Mars Hill and the dissolution of the corporation known as Mars Hill Fellowship/Mars Hill Church.  For others their Christian celebrity hero might be Karl Barth.  Jim West had some choice words for Americans who "recently" discovered Karl Barth had a lengthy affair with Charlotte von Kirschbaum:

Julie Roys with a roundtable on the evangelical industrial complex

The term evangelical industrial complex is very niche but there's a transcript so you can read or listen, whichever is faster for you.  I mention this separately because I think there's a larger theme than just Christian popular level culture industry patterns but to springboard past that it won't hurt to mention this.  

Julia Duin has a lengthy piece at Politico on charismatic/Pentecostal prophets and how prophets in those movements fed into fantasies that Trump won 2020

As I've blogged in the past I am ex-Pentecostal for a whole lot of reasons but here, half a century after Hal Lindsey's The Late, Great Planet Earth, ridiculous unfulfilled dispensationalist-futurist derived prophecy is one of the big ones. Of course no one who graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary was likely to be a charismatic/Pentecostal!  But as with spiritual warfare so with End Times timelines, fundamentalists and Pentecostals and charismatics could often overlap on those issues despite seriously dividing on applied pneumatology.   I heard about how we were living in the End Times for years and in my teens I felt some anxiety that if Jesus was coming back so soon what was the point of going to college and getting a degree or getting married?  Wouldn't there be no marriage in the age to come, anyway? Then if that would be upon us soon by way of the Rapture dating and getting married was the biggest possible waste of time.

That was not how someone in my life wanted me to interpret End Times timeline stuff, to put it delicately. :)  

But when I saw so-called prophecies claiming the European Union was where The Beast was going to rise and I looked into the absurdities of the EU not enforcing its own green laws on ecological issues and its historically dependent relationship to us (U.S.) in terms of, say, a nuclear umbrella, it seemed way, way more likely that the United States would be where the big old Antichrist would come from.  That, too, was not where Pentecostal, evangelical, fundamentalist and charismatic categories of thought went.  I became an amillenial partial preterist and the rest should probably bore you so I won't mention more.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

a lookback on something I wrote about Joss Whedon in 2017: revisiting the one-trick quippy pony in 2021 as having a rep parasitically dependent on actresses who were better than the lines he wrote for them decades ago
Whedon's really gone much farther on the good graces of actresses better than the dialogue he writes for them than he may have deserved.
A less delicate way I put it around Whedon's pivot to the MCU was I told a friend that Whedon's a one-trick pony whose gimmicks are played out, who foisted waif-fu on us more than anyone else in the last twenty years and whose reputation has depended on women who are better at playing with his lines than he is at writing them.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Schenker and counter-Schenker, coverage and counter-coverage

We've waded a teensy bit into Schenker in the past and I will say up front I'm not a Schenkerian and am grateful that I didn't go to grad school in music in the U.S. (didn't do the grad school path in music) and so was spared having to spend any time on Schenkerian analysis.  I've been interested in the last twenty or more years in fusions of ragtime, jazz, blues, country and American vernacular styles with late Baroque and galant era practices; in other words I've been wanting to write sonata forms based on ragtime strains and fugues based on riffs that could fit into songs by Muddy Waters or Thelonious Monk songs.  I like J. S. Bach and Haydn, Stravinsky, Messiaen, Hindemith (yes),, and contemporary guitar music from central and eastern European composers.  So let me admit up front I haven't been and don't plan to be a Schenkerian.  I have also written about how even the conservative philosopher on the aesthetics of music Roger Scruton (who died last year) concluded that Schenkerian visual analysis was simply not as cogent or useful as its advocates advertised.

Julia Duin comments on the predictable labeling by some clergy of VP Harris as "Jezebel" and usage variables of the term

To no one's surprise "Jezebel" means something different coming from clergy than taken as the name of an online magazine.  The propensity in the US to wear insults as badges of honor doesn't mean what Jezebel is recorded as having done in the Samuel-Kings literature is praiseworthy. Framing someone on false charges of blasphemy against god and king so as to procure a vineyard so the king can get a vegetable garden is eventually punished by Yahweh later by way of the prophets of Ahab being deceived by a lying spirit to go to his death in battle, despite being warned by a prophet that this was going to happen.  In other words, within Jewish and Christian literature Jezebel's misuse of royal power "could" be compared to figures like Nixon and other presidents but not necessarily (yet) to someone who only recently got sworn in as VP.  

As Duin expounds in her piece what Baptists and Pentecostals mean by "Jezebel" or "Jezebel spirit" won't always be the same but there's no version of it that is "positive" which is why some clergy have publicly rebuked the use of the term to describe VP Harris, which is a big chunk of Duin's piece. 

Alex Ross on the Wagnerian legacy of ... Fred Rogers (aka Mr. Rogers)

As in Ross has already figured that an updated or revised edition of his recent book Wagnerism needs to now include a reference to Mr. Rogers.

... Tiarks writes: "Although his ego was at the opposite end of the spectrum compared to Richard Wagner’s, Rogers took Wagner’s Gesamtkunstwerk approach, writing all the scripts, as well as the lyrics and music for the more than 200 songs performed on [the show]." I will see if I can incorporate that provocative insight into a revised version of Wagnerism. Years ago, Jim Smith told me Rogers enjoyed reading my New Yorker columns; it's the best compliment I've ever received.

To say that Fred Rogers ego was at the opposite end of the spectrum compared to Richard Wagner's might be an understatement of a year.  What's the Wagnerian connection? The total work of art, the way Rogers could compose music and write stories and develop characters. We don't have to like Richard Wagner as a person or enjoy his music to appreciate that without Richard Wagner's operatic legacy Scott Joplin might not have aspired to composing Treemonisha. Michael Jackson could arguably embody in his whole persona the Wagnerian ideal of the total-work-of-art and popular level defenses of Jackson's legacy zero in on the fact that Jackson wrote songs, could sing, and also dance, in other words, whether Jackson's advocates know it or not they are explicitly arguing for the creative significance of Michael Jackson on Wagnerian terms of the synthesis of arts.

Ethan Iverson notes the passing of Chick Corea and mentions the jazz pianist's conversion to Scientology, (early) Corea admirer Terry Mattingly at GetReligion notes how few obits have much to say on that topioc


A lot of what Chick Corea played came directly from McCoy Tyner, but his approach had a freshness and a lightness that was distinctive and seductive. There was some kind of basic and intuitive grasp of uptempo clave that sparkled like nobody else. Corea also had serious knowledge of modernist classical music. Indeed, of all the top-tier jazz pianists, Corea may have been the best “student,” someone who checked out and assimilated countless genres from Brazilian to Bartók to the blues on a deep level. On “The Brain”– especially with DeJohnette large and in charge — the balancing act is simply beautiful.

The style on “The Brain” could have been one of the next steps in the music, but other factors intruded. All four of these musicians would be on Bitches Brew later the same year; eventually Corea would be a high-profile Scientologist. (In 2016 Corea completed Scientology’s highest auditing level, Operating Thetan Level 8, for the second time, apparently a rare “feat.”) Chick Corea’s life and music deserves a historian/critic willing to make some tough calls.

Terry Mattingly has noticed that obits mention the Scientology but without little explanation as to what Scientology is or how obit authors think it influenced Corea's music.
... What puzzled me, of course, was this statement: “Corea converted to Scientology, and the religion’s teachings informed much of his music from then on. …”

The word “informed” is interesting. However, my journalism question, in this case, was practical, rather than philosophical.

Hear me out. If the science fiction of Hubbard and the religious teachings and methods of Scientology played such a major role in Corea’s art, maybe the Times team could have included a sentence or two explaining that? Maybe a few practical examples or, perhaps, a quote from Corea (or Hubbard) demonstrating what this influenced looked like, in practice?

These religious teachings shaped “much” of his music? That implied some pieces composed by Corea were influenced by these teachings more than others (as opposed to J.S. Bach signing “Soli Deo Gloria” at the end of every piece — from, logically enough, sacred choral music to solo organ masterworks).

This was, apparently, an important force in the life of a great artist. Maybe it was worth a few sentences?


So, throwing that out for consideration.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Crawford Gribben at The Critic on why conservatives should not rush to shift to Gab from other social media--Gab founder into Rushdoony and Evola

While the article clearly has a tie in, as such articles often can, to the author's forthcoming book, there's a case that conservatives should not migrate from Facebook or Twitter to Gab because the Gab founder positively references Julius Evola