Saturday, August 14, 2021

Freddie deBoer on "If You're Bound to Be Bad, Why Bother Being Good?": he's used music as springboard ... so I can compare his case to stuff by Heather Mac Donald, Mark Driscoll, and Doug Wilson as some potential cases that may back his point

Of course people will say “well actually the white men with guitars critique is quite complicated and nuanced, the point is not that all white men with guitars are the same, or that their music is bad,” etc etc. The trouble with this defense is that we live in a discursive environment, with opinions orbiting all around us. And the “white men with guitars” discourse, which peaked maybe five years ago or so, was never primarily that nuanced and careful critique. It was usually a bunch of (mostly white) people on Tumblr and Twitter farming likes and shares by ostentatiously invoking the phrase in the most capacious and dismissive way possible. So which claim actually ruled? The careful argument about the need for greater accessibility in music making, which for the record the Minutemen lived rather than just wrote about? Or the preachy, self-impressed and reductive version that got the engagement on social media?

The point, obviously, is that you can generalize all of this. Categorical moral claims blunt the demand for individual moral responsibility. If you’re a young white man who is politically undifferentiated, and you looked out at the world of social justice politics, why would you ever be compelled to get on board? You’re told every day that you hurt marginalized people through your very existence. Your white privilege is inherent to your body and you can’t get rid of it, and it damages POC no matter what your intentions or how you live. So what do you do? The woke assumption seems to be that you should therefore go through life feeling vaguely guilty all the time and that this alone would constitute a more just world. But most of these malleable white dudes aren’t going to do that, because carrying around pointless guilt both does nothing to help anyone and is unpleasant. Meanwhile, there’s some “intellectual dark web” dickhead on YouTube telling you that you’re actually the oppressed one and you should fight back. Which program are you going to sign up for? Yes, the IDW attitude is wrong. But it’s also designed to attract converts. The social justice attitude is designed to assign people a spot in a moral aristocracy, and you were born ineligible to be one of the elect. It’s no wonder why contemporary social justice politics have achieved literally no structural change even while enjoying total dominance in our ideas industry. [emphasis added] What’s the basic theory of change?

I’ve called this tendency political Calvinism in the past - the way that totalizing identity critiques render individual choices and morality irrelevant.

As with white men and their guitars, people will inevitably say “nobody says white people are inherently racist, that’s not the argument.” But, first, there are in fact many people who indeed believe explicitly that all white people are racist, as rhetorically inconvenient as that might be for you. More importantly, even if the “anti-racist” conventional wisdom doesn’t go that far, its proponents speak so recklessly and with such an emphasis on dunking on people to impress their peers that the message they send is inevitably the caricatured version. I promise you, most white people who aren’t already savvy extremely-online types who go on social justice Twitter will come away with the impression that they’re saying that all white people are racist. Which of course triggers the part of the brain that says “so I’ll be a racist, then.” [emphasis added] Similarly, mockery of the phrase “not all men” may not usually be meant to imply that all men are guilty of whatever crime, though there is a vast second-wave feminist literature that insists very explicitly that yes, all men. Either way, the average dude is most certainly going to come away from the “not all men” discourse thinking that the point is that he’s bad merely by dint of being a dude. Is that fair? Who cares?

Now as an actual Calvinist I "could" contest deBoer's working definition of "political Calvinism" and go on and on about how I think the real dogmatic problem within Anglo-American political-religious legacies has been postmillennialism, but I don't plan to do that. Instead I'm going to charitably reinterpret what deBoer is getting at in light of understanding he's not religious and doesn't steep himself in religious ideas.  

As it happens some commenters have already proposed at his substack that the problem is people have a firm working definition of original sin and group sin without any corresponding concept of atonement or expiation of sin. That is, as a matter of fact, something like what John McWhorter has been saying for years, only he has pointed out that contemporary anti-racism has reformulated Original Sin as the ontological sin of whiteness that can only be atoned for, apparently, by hiring (or buying the products of) the likes of Kendi and DiAngelo to pronounce expiation.  

Thursday, August 12, 2021

initial thoughts on episode 7 of The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill: Scott Thomas' statements in `21 on `07 are difficult to reconcile with what he wrote in `07 about the terminations and trials of Petry and Meyer

The newest episode of The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill is, frankly, baffling in a few spots. No part of the episode seems more puzzling than the statements made by Scott Thomas about the 2007 terminations and trials of Paul Petry and Bent Meyer.  What Scott Thomas told Mike Cosper for the podcast I have transcribed below:

State of Emergency
COSPER:   That same day, Scott Thomas was assigned to lead an Elder Investigation Taskforce looking into charges from Driscoll that Paul and Bent had disqualified themselves as elders.

SCOTT THOMAS:  What we determined, with a group of godly men, who were coming together, and what we determined was Paul nor Bent had done ANYTHING to disqualify themselves  from eldership and that was our [brief pause] report. I've got the full report right now but we determined there was nothing to disqualify them from eldership.

COSPER: You would think with a conclusion like that, that it would be a sort of open and shut case with the rest of the elders  but there's a weird disconnect that happens in the middle of this.  The team that Scott Thomas was leading, investigating Paul and Bent, did clear them of wrongdoing but they didn't communicate that to them directly. Instead, in all of the formal communications that I've seen, they simply said the investigation was complete and that Paul and Bent didn't need to attend their own trial before the rest of the elders. ...

SCOTT THOMAS: 00:46:12 
Both came and spoke and thought we were saying they were guilty and they approached it that way and began to blast, you know, most everybody in the room. And so it didn't help their cause and so the elders said, "Well, we gotta take action now."  And it was a different way from what the team that was investigating it, WE said they did nothing to disqualify themselves from eldership. And, uh, but after they spoke we said, "Well, maybe they should, at least, be reprimanded."
So, the thing is, none of that sits very easily beside the actual statements Scott Thomas was making in 2007 during the months of the investigation, trial, verdicts and subsequent shunning orders but it will take time to revisit all the materials preserved both at Joyful Exiles and materials made available to Wenatchee The Hatchet.  If you're up for reading through a pile of material, proceed.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Episodes 6 and 7 of The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, Episode 7 "State of Emergency" might prove to be one of the more important ones to digest

I'm ambivalent about episode 6 perhaps even more than episode 5.  "The Brand" seems to rabbit trail at length into The Gospel Coalition and Together for the Gospel and particularly Joshua Harris.  Yeah, yeah, I get the New Calvinist element but there's something that seemed to be missing from Episode 6. I think it might be, for me, the  juxtaposition of how tech guys in Mars Hill posted mp3s online and made a website and developed a brand that bypassed the traditional gatekeepers of established media and yet by 2006 with Zack Hubert's development of The City and how and why Mars Hill assimilated that post hoc as their thing and sold it to prevent themselves from going in the red the upstart guys who bypassed the gatekeepers in relationship to institutional media became the gatekeepers of the information culture within Mars Hill Church.  

The City was, honestly, not a very satisfying or compelling platform to me and I rarely used it, but I recall that a pastor extolled it as the perfect instrument for the Mars Hill elders to provide top-down information people needed to know as it was thought to have become need-to-know. What it really accomplished was the simultaneous shuttering of the php forums and the strict delineation of information to campus-by-campus systems.  I guess I'm saying that "The Brand" seemed diffuse to me because the juxtaposition of how the guys in Mars Hill who bypassed the gatekeepers and enforcers of the traditional media to establish the church reputation and Driscoll's celebrity became gatekeepers and enforcers within the Mars Hill scene.  Although ... the practical outworking of that may potentially be elucidated in Episode 7.

In this episode of The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, host Mike Cosper pulls back the curtain to expose the inner workings of church governance at Mars Hill. Guided by careful research and hundreds of hours of interviews, Cosper plots out a story of church growth corrupted by power. Discover a Mark Driscoll you may never have met—a young church planter with a vision for Seattle and for the world. Watch what happens when the friction between accountability and speed causes church planting efforts to combust. And see how prioritizing “reaching people for Jesus” can mask spiritual abuse without the proper checks and balances.


Tuesday, August 10, 2021

I spotted that City Journal 2-parter and also some of deBoer's recent posting

The 2-parter is 10,000 words ... which is both something I could throw together on a weekend but slower to read than write as word counts go.

deBoer's recent posts seem like stuff I could cross reference.  I did say I was going to try to get back to music and, lo and behold, stuff about music gives me some ideas I hope to post later.  I think deBoer's point is more diffuse and sloppy than he probably means it to be but the City Journal 2-parter probably confirms the general direction he's trying to go in.  More, I hope, later.

deBoer's worry that without a more nuanced approach to race narratives progressives will create rhetoric that drives fence sitters to intellectual dark web alt right demagogues is not as far-fetched as some might be tempted to think.  I just finished Crawford Gribben's book on survivalists and theonomists in the Pacific Northwest and have been comparing Doug Wilson and Mark Driscoll lately, who are probably on the more genteel side of the super-conservative wing in some ways.  John McWhorter's riff on anti-racists having a version of original sin that is defined as whiteness is partly right, commenters at deBoer's blog have pointed out that what hasn't been developed is a corresponding updated theory of atonement.  McWhorter's complaint has been that expiation has taken the form of hiring DiAngelo or reading Kendi, which is not satisfactory to him.

But I still have reading to do. 

Monday, August 09, 2021

some more thoughts on the formative influence of Doug Wilson on Mark Driscoll, themes with variations on provocation for mobilization and brand consolidation

There was a study done by the Baptist Press and a men’s group called Promise Keepers and here’s the findings. If mom goes to church, worships and serves God, brings the children with her, when the children grow up, there is a 2 percent chance the child will go to church and worship God regularly.
And this is not to discourage the women. My mom knew the Lord, prayed for me, and modeled faith, and I am here, in large part, because of the ministry and testimony of my Spirit-filled mom. Now, I’m happy to report my dad now knows and loves Jesus, but that was not the case when I was growing up.
Conversely, if dad opens the Bible, prays, worships, and brings mom and the kids to church, the odds go up to 66 and 75 percent chance that the children will grow up and attend church to worship and serve God.
That’s why there is a war to keep men from Bible reading, worship, church, and prayer. The enemy knows if he can isolate the men, he can assassinate the family.
As Romans 16 continues, Paul mentions a man named Aristobulus and mentions not only him but his family. To me, this is awesome.
Men – you have an opportunity to change generations. In our culture, we want to get rid of husbands and fathers and we want to replace them with government. As a result, the nation is imploding because, ultimately, God’s divine design is for kids to have a father AND a mother, each contributing something unique and necessary to the family.
One thing the father provides is leadership. God’s divine design cannot be altered or overcome. I don’t care what critical theory says, I don’t care about all the “-isms” or what the fool’s parade at the university is writing for curriculum.
Ultimately, when God architected the world, things functioned according to his architected plan.
Men are significant. For good or for evil. If men are filled with the Spirit, they are significant to bless their families for generations; if they’re filled with the demonic or the flesh, they curse their families for generations.
Here, God honors a man whose entire family is loving and serving the Lord. That’s my hope for me and for you and for us.
It’s easy for a guy like Driscoll to say that.  God’s divine design cannot be altered or overcome and Driscoll doesn’t care what critical theory says and he doesn’t care about all the “isms” or what the fool’s parade at the university is writing for the curriculum. 

Sunday, August 08, 2021

thoughts on what some call watchdog blogging: why recent writing about Mark Driscoll and The Trinity Church probably falls short of having any long-term impact, soft news personality profiles are not hard news stories with news pegs

While I have some appreciation for blogging that Julie Roys has been doing (and certainly appreciate the work Warren Throckmorton has done); and while I encourage those involved with Dear Driscoll to keep sharing what they believe they must share; I do have some concerns about those who are undertaking what is colloquially known as watchdog blogging, specifically about what gets posted and how that content is presented.  

There are good reasons to doubt that the latest cycle of watchdog blogging is likely to be anywhere near as effective in chronicling things connected to Mark Driscoll and The Trinity Church as watchdog blogging may have been during the demise of Mars Hill.  There are three simple reasons for this and those reasons can be articulated in the form of questions a blogger must be able to answer before hitting "publish".