December 17, 2017

The Wisdom of Christian Piatt

marks-george-man-pointing-to-himself-with-who-me-expressionNow, here’s an honest man.

I’m thankful someone finally had enough guts to say what Christian Piatt says in his post, “Five Reasons Progressive Christians Secretly Love Mark Driscoll.”

Without giving any kind of a pass whatsoever to Driscoll or suggesting that he and the celebrity pastor of Mars Hill have anything in common with regard to their respective perspectives on the faith, Piatt nevertheless is self-aware enough to recognize that progressive Christianity has come to need someone like Driscoll in these days of social media and branding.

As a student of Roger Ebert, I know that any given James Bond movie is only as good as its villain. And in Mark Driscoll, those on the progressive end of the Christian spectrum have found a villain that is too good to be true.

Piatt gives five reasons why he, as one of Driscoll’s critics, honestly loves the guy. The commentary after each point is my summary of how I read what he is trying to say.

  • He helps us define who we are. Conservatives always have the advantage of black and white definitions on their side. Progressives, on the other hand, emphasize mystery and complexity. They have a harder time making a case for themselves. Thank God for someone like Mark Driscoll, who enables progressives to say, “Who are we? We’re the people who are not like him!”
  • He distracts us from working on ourselves. Piatt is magnificently eloquent here: “damn it if it isn’t so much more fun to crap on Driscoll’s parade than to get the pooper scooper out and go about the laborious task of cleaning up our own messes.” And facing Jesus’ commands, like, “Love your enemies.”
  • He gives us causes to rally around. Driscoll makes progressive causes look more reasonable and attractive because his own rants have been so extreme and vulgar. Again, as Piatt says, “Driscoll saves us the heavy lifting” by making all these issues look like clearer, less ambiguous choices.
  • He serves as a common enemy. Protestants and evangelicals can’t agree on much and are willing to split over the smallest matters, but Mark Driscoll is a lightning rod that pulls lots of different people together in a unity of opposition.
  • His shortcomings are obvious. If we are lucky, ours are not. And that can lead us to think, “Sure, I’m a sinner, but I’m no Mark Driscoll!”

I love Christian Piatt for saying these things because it recognizes that even when Christians think that they’re right about something, even when it’s as obvious as the nose on your face, being “right” is just about as dangerous a position as any of us can find ourselves in.

There is no greater sin than self-righteousness.

Even when — perhaps especially when — we may be thoroughly right and backing a righteous cause.

Even when it’s about Mark Driscoll.

Comments

  1. Wait — it’s easier to write yet another hand-wringing blog post about Mark Driscoll than it is to self-reflect and admit your own movements’ shortcomings? Stop the presses! (No, seriously – stop the presses. I’ve reached “Peak Driscoll.” Progressives, Conservatives, whoever you are — enough, already. He’s a creep, sure, but I figured this out 5-6 years ago with all of the childish antics and “tough guy” fronting. I’m glad you’ve gotten on board. And still – I’ve started to question the unending outrage brigade and what the point is. If you want him to resign or get perp walked out of the church, fine, but you’ve just taken out a symptom, and your side isn’t immune to the root cause.)

    Fox News has George Soros. MSNBC has the Koch Brothers. Conservative Christians have The Emerging Church. Liberal Christians have Mark Driscoll. This way no one has to talk about the uncomfortable issues and we still get to look tough by naming names.

  2. Which is why I have never joined the chorus of voices criticizing the man and his ministry. He HAS said some intemperant things and holds some views that go against the grain of most socially liberal thought, but who among us HASN’T done these things or said foolish things as well? I know I HAVE, more than ONCE!

    The people who are supposed to love their enemies then turn about and speak evil of their own brother just appear to disregard their own advice. Just stop!

    • Oscar, thank you for eloquently expressing what I believe to be true.

      I have not remained silent about Driscoll but have been a minority voice on this site in this respect. I have not defended his actions but have stated on numerous occasions that criticizing him and others like him is not only fruitless but counterproductive and promotes even more disunity in the body. I reiterate what I’ve written before–if the issues are heresy, criminal activity, etc., then fine, bring the truth to light. But if the issues focus on disagreements over some content and style, than please follow Gamaliel’s advice and let these guys alone and let God deal with it. Nothing in the Church will improve one iota by ranting against our brothers and sisters.

      And thank you, Chaplain Mike, for posting this; it’s about time!

      There!

      • Maybe you have never had your or your family’s or your friends’ lives damaged or devastated by a cult-like church group and/or a narcissistic and/or sociopathic controlling and/or manipulative pastor.

        • My daughter attend a Mars Hill church. She has not been “damaged or devastated” in any way, shape, or form; quite the contrary, they have been good to her and she is ministering to others there. And she has many friends there whom I have met and spoken with; none of them validate the accusations you are making here.

          Say what you wish, such is your right. Regardless, not everyone has had bad experiences with Mark Driscoll. I reiterate that I understand that there’s issues with him and I will call anyone with negative information about him a liar. But there are two sides to this story. And to use words such as “narcissistic and/or sociopathic controlling and/or manipulative pastor” is a bit over the top–no, make that way over the top. And in saying so you show your lack of objectivity.

          • I mean, “…and I will ‘not’ call anyone with negative information about him a liar.” And no, that was not a Freudian slip; so please don’t go there.

          • Calvin, I am a survivor of several abusive churches (all heavily influenced by shepherding with an occasional touch of Gothard and a soupçon of extreme Calvinism). I understand what EricW is saying as well as why he is saying it, and agree that things at MH and associated churches are very much askew – cult-like, basically.

            So, no schadenfreude here (though it certainly is a temptation), but great concern for all those who definitely *have* been victimized by MD and his adsdertions. That very much includes his wife and children. I am not one bit surprised by the William Wallace II posts, as he’s been consistently saying the same things (albeit expressed in slightly different words in public) ever since. His message, which is deeply destructive, has not changed.

            I hope and trust that you can understand where a lot of us are coming from. Please know that your daughter and her fellow church members are in my (our) thoughts and nprayers.

          • Thank you for your prayers; that is the kind of response I appreciate and find encouraging and useful.

            I am concerned about Mars Hill. My daughter likes it there and is very much involved in greeting, community group, and redemption group ministries. I hate to think that she would become discouraged and disillusioned as a result of the demise of this church.

            But I, too, have had experiences with abusive church leaders, in my own association at that. I do not claim that what I’ve been through is nearly as bad as what others have experienced, but my point is that we were able to resolve these things on our own and with some outside help (note, “help,” not “criticism”) and consequently in a more effective and lasting manner.

            I pray the same be true at Mars Hill. If Mark Driscoll is as awful as he is made out to be and Mars Hill is as good as my daughter and her friends and local Mars Hill pastors say it is, then a point will come when major, positive changes will come from within with some outside help, just as it did in my own association. And that is the best of all possible scenarios.

          • Calvin, thanks so much for your reply.

            From my own experience, I can say that *all* of the bad churches I was in had *some* positives and some nice people. But that doesn’t change the fact that those places (and there “pastors”) were extremely abusive and cult-like.

            Which is one reason lots of us feel a kinship with your daughter and others like her. I could say more, but will leave it at this: I fear that your daughter is in for a big let-down, sooner or later. And that’s a place that all too many of us have been.

    • –> “…but who among us HASN’T done these things…I know I HAVE…”

      Me, too. But I don’t lead a church that’s spread over 10 campuses and with 15,000 members and I’m not pushing lots of people toward the post-Evangelical wilderness. With increased visibility, power and authority comes increased accountability and scrutiny. That’s why I personally disagree with giving him a free-pass.

      • Rick, no one is proposing a “free pass”. That is just a rhetorical device used to justify the attacks. And for everyone’s information, I was a member of a cult for over three years (see; Children of God, The Family, The Family of Love, and David Berg) and can say with some authority that the biggest weapon against this cult was time. The leader eventually died, his successors were not charismatic enough, and its influence and power naturally dissipated.

        The same will happen to ANY cult-like group. When the original leader passes from the scene the group changes. When, and IF, Mr. Driscoll moves on the who enterprise will morph into something else. People will forget Driscoll, people will recover and move on and then someone else will move center stage into the shooting gallery that is Christian criticism of its own.

  3. But if they didn’t have Driscoll, they could just use Ham, or Piper, or Grudem, or Mohler, or Wilson, or Furtick, or …

    • Faulty O-Ring says:

      I doubt if many liberals even know who these people are. There’s an endless supply of TV evangelists to represent conservatism to liberals, and Christianity to outsiders.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        I wouldn’t no anything about the man and his empire if it wasn’t for what I read here [and, genuinely, I don’t much care]. AFAIK nobody sits around and talks about this stuff; the topic of TV evangelists will get a dismissive shrug and a snort, at most. No doubt there are haters out there mowing down on this whole thing – but I read a lot of posts, news, essays, … and they rarely if ever are spending time in compare-and-contrast mode.

        I suspect the same is true for non-Christians. Unless some third vector brings these topic into their sphere – they are oblivious and uninterested. Do many Christians really believe large numbers of non-Christians are watching their every move? They aren’t, they are living their lives.

        • Robert F says:

          ” Do many Christians really believe large numbers of non-Christians are watching their every move? They aren’t, they are living their lives.”

          You are speaking a truth that nobody wants to hear, not the progressives, not the conservatives, not the mainliners, not the evangelicals, not the Cathodox, nobody. We Christians are just not all that important in the eyes of our fellow citizens and earth-dwellers, and what we have to say is even less important to them. We are not center stage, not anymore; the days when Christians were have been gone quite a while now.

        • I think most non-Christians in the USA assume all Christians are of the conservative, Republican and Tea Party variety. That is the sector of the church that appears most often in the news, and that is the broad brush with which all Christians are painted.

          I think this is because evangelicals have historically been way, way better at publicity than mainline denominations, through all the communication media they own, and their tendency to take more controversial newsmaking stands on things. Mainliners are notoriously awful at getting their own message out, and are seen more in light of how they are painted by evangelicals. [BTW, in my opinion, the things evangelicals think are wrong with mainline churches are not actually what’s wrong with them.] Catholics mostly make the news when there’s news in the Vatican or when contraception etc. comes up.

          So your average non-Christian thinks all Christians are like evangelicals. I’ve personally surprised many of my secular friends and co-workers when they learn I’m Christian but I don’t fit the stereotype.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says:

            > So your average non-Christian thinks all Christians are like evangelicals.

            Evangelicals refer to themselves – constantly – as “Christians”. Catholics refer to themselves as “Catholic”, Orthodox as “Orthodox”, etc… so it makes sense.

            > Mainliners are notoriously awful at getting their own message out,

            Their message is not as exciting – aka confrontational – so it does not fit the media’s model as well. That isn’t their fault, or a fault at all.

            > the things evangelicals think are wrong with mainline churches are
            > not actually what’s wrong with them

            The Evangelical perspective of most other groups generally fails to realistically describe that group, or lags reality by decades [at least]

          • Richard Hershberger says:

            “I think this is because evangelicals have historically been way, way better at publicity than mainline denominations…”

            This has been true only for about the past thirty years or so. Look at media images of clergy from before that and it tended to be Bing Crosby as a Catholic priest, or a minister in some vaguely defined mainline denomination. There was also the trope of the fire-and-brimstone country preacher, but the default was mainline. The Rev. Lovejoy from The Simpsons is something of a holdover from those days. (Ned Flanders, on the other hand, is clearly an Evangelical.)

  4. This article sums it up best: I want my religion back. I am sick of the faith being hijacked by the cult of personality and million dollar religious circuses. I’m sick of people saying, “Hey, look at this guy! Let’s throw out everything our church is doing (and likely hundreds if not thousands of years of history) and do what he’s doing!” I’m sick of non-Christians saying, “You’re one of THOSE?”. If you’re like me, you have been chased out of your church into the post-evangelical wilderness by crap like this. Driscoll is a lightning rod, because he has taken his schtick beyond the absurd. One can’t even say, “I’m not like him” without sounding judgemental. The pragmatic “If it’s working, it must be of God” can’t be thwarted. It’s a Don Quiotte battle against the windmills of the zeitgeist. This article pretty much proves that. Rob your church blind; threaten your parisioners with violence. If you succeed, God must be in it. It’s faith-prosperity with attitude. Driscoll defines nothing for me; he is just evidence that this is a hopeless cause.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thegodarticle/2014/07/i-want-my-religion-back-you-can-keep-the-ugly-baggage/

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > you have been chased out of your church into the post-evangelical
      > wilderness by crap like this

      I guess I was. I hadn’t thought about it in quite those terms before. At this point… I should send him a thank-you card. I’m glad it escalated and pushed me over the line soon enough in my life that I would still have a chance to discover all the awesome in the world they did not want me to see; all the beautiful interesting people they told me were monsters.

      • Danielle says:

        “…all the beautiful interesting people they told me were monsters.”

        This will sound stupid and schmaltzy, but this phrase almost brought me to tears. It expresses so precisely the one thing that finally led me to run, and that ultimately keeps me beyond evangelicalism.

      • “…all the beautiful interesting people they told me were monsters.”

        I’m stunned by the clarity of that statement.

  5. I’m torn. OTOH, I cringe at the gleeful schadenfreude some bloggers are showing at the accelerating disintegration of Driscoll’s ecclesiastical empire. OTOH, the Patheos article Mssr. Ox linked above resonates with me at some level. The culture warriors on both sides have run the name “Christian” into the ground, almost as if they were actively colluding to do so. The people I would like to talk to about the faith are so polarized that they won’t even listen, and my pre-“post evangelical” friends have for all practical purposes shunned me for “walking away from the true faith”. I think I can still see Christ in all this, but He’s walking further out into the wilderness, a direction my 20+ years as an evangelical never trained me for or led me to expect…

    • Robert F says:

      Yes, I see a figure walking further out into the wilderness, too, something my decades as a mainliner never prepared me for, either. I just pray that the figure I see, and that I’m thinking I should follow, is really Jesus Christ, and not an iteration of the Grand Inquisitor.

  6. Any kingdom that has to have another human being as enemy is still a kingdom of the world.

    • Robert F says:

      What do we then make of Jesus’ command to love our enemies? If we don’t have human enemies, then to whom was he referring when he said we should pray for our enemies? Was he telling us to pray for Satan?

      I think that many Christians are just reluctant to acknowledge the fact that we have enemies. Progressives are loathe to do so because it seems unenlightened, and feels uncomfortable, to admit that one is in the grip of something so primitive as a relationship of hatred and enmity for another human being. Conservatives think it too unspiritual and worldly to admit that their enemies could be anyone less than the Lord of Flies himself.

      Which means that many of us spend almost no time at all loving, and praying for, our real, living-and-breathing enemies.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        > I think that many Christians are just reluctant to acknowledge the
        > fact that we have enemies.

        Yep.

        > Progressives are loathe to do so because it seems unenlightened,

        Yep. The word “enemy” feels atavistic, I don’t like it.

        But when someone calls me what they regularly call me on Evangelical radio – Yes, they are my Enemy. They would put me in a concentration camp if they had their way – of this I have no doubt. The things you overhear their acolytes saying in the cafeteria are often even more extreme. But why pick that fight? They having nothing anywhere near that kind of power, and their power is ebbing not rising – which possibly contributes to the intensity of the pitch. I’ll call Evangelicalism my Enemy, but my enemy is a hornet, not a dragon. So….

        > Conservatives think it too unspiritual and worldly to admit that their enemies could
        > be anyone less than the Lord of Flies himself.

        Yep. The majority of the people who live in my neighborhood are contributing to the decline of this Christian nation; that is what the man on the radio says; they are all a threat to all the good children.

        I believe it is the milder versions of the Driscoll’s who do far more damage than Evangelical arch-mages like Driscoll – who are unknown to just about everybody outside of Evangelicaldom.

        • Christiane says:

          the milder versions of Driscoll . . . if people want an example that Driscoll is not the ‘prototype’ of misogyny in the Christian conservative world, they have only to look at the sad story of the treatment of Dr. Sheri Klouda, a once-respected and valued professor of Hebrew at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

          • Radagast says:

            Except for this site we don’t hear about the Driscoll’s of the world in my faith tradition (unless they have their own TV show – then it’s more of a curiosity). The only thing I ever see is the Pope, Mother Angelica in her prime (she was funny) and of course the latest story about a pedophile priest.

  7. Asinus Spinas Masticans says:

    Been there, done that, washed out the t-shirt.. n I gotta admit I want to be post-racist, post-sexist, post-victim,post-oppressor, post-privilege, post-privilege-shaming, post-globalist, post-progressive, post-inclusive, post-Driscoll, post-John Shore, post Rachel Evans, post just about everybody except maybe Wendell Berry.

    • Robert F says:

      “You can’t always get what you want…”

      • Asinus Spinas Masticans says:

        “…but if you try sometimes, you can get what you need”

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        Finding what you want is easier when you define what it is, rather than what it is not. Post-* is still a definition by negation, what-i-am-not. Composing a list of I-am-* or I-am-pro-* helps to resolve the landscape more clearly.

        • I’m a fan of both/and. Affirmations and denials together make things very clear.

        • Robert F says:

          Yes, well, that demands self-knowledge, and self-knowledge requires careful self-discipline. It’s very hard to come to this sort of positive affirmation rather than point critically to what one does not want. As an example, the subtitle of this very blog is “Dispatches from the POST-Evangelical Wilderness.”

          A good illustration is from the subject of ethics. Most of the valuable and lasting ethical insights that we prize come from seeing some situation or occurrence in the world and coming to what sociologist Peter Berger calls an indicative moment of recognition, “Look at that! That should not be! That should not happen!” (Berger uses the literary example of Huck Finn suddenly having a moment of recognition of Jim’s humanity). Such perceptions necessarily re-order our ethical system, and cause us to extrapolate from them ethical imperatives, which necessarily will be more ambiguous and less clearly defined than the original moment of perception and recognition, which weighs on us, not in an abstract way, but immediately and tangibly.

          This is why we tend to express our perspectives on matters which touch ethical concerns, like the Driscoll affair, in negative terms. We may not be sure what Driscoll should be doing, but we know he shouldn’t be doing what we see him doing. It is much harder to express the positive side of this, to say in a clear and definitive way what we would like to see, both as individuals and communities, because our original ethical insight is one of negation: “That should not happen!”

          This is also why the most essential ethical prescriptions have taken a negative form: Do not steal, do not covet, do not bear false witness, which are all elucidations of the primary: Do not do to your neighbor what you would not have done to yourself.

          That our Lord said, Do unto others what you would have done unto yourself, is different. It is primarily a spiritual prescription, not an ethical one, and in fact demands that we move beyond the origin and dynamic of ethical insights.

          This is why it is so much more difficult to enact than an ethical requirement. It may connect and overlap with the kinds of negative insights and perceptions that form ethical systems, but it comes from the other direction, the transcendent and eschatological dimension, in which all partial and negative perceptions and imperatives are completed by that which is pure affirmation: “Yes!” This is why it is so very difficult both to hear, and live by.

          • brianthedad says:

            +1. that is one of the most insightful comments i’ve ever read.

          • And this is why “being ‘right’ is just about as dangerous a position as any of us can find ourselves in.” It is when we are in fact most right about an ethical issue that we are most in danger of confusing the partial and imperfect ethical recognition and perception, which is stated in negative form as a proscription, with the transcendent, perfect, and perfecting, escahtological spiritual prescription. When we mistake the penultimate “No!” for the ultimate “Yes!”, we are in the grip of a serious misunderstanding of the nature of God in Jesus Christ, and the nature of his Kingdom. Unfortunately, we are very often making just this mistake. Lord, have mercy.

    • “We’ll save Australia
      Don’t wanna hurt no kangaroo
      We’ll build an All [post-evangelical] amusement park there
      They got surfin’, too”
      (My apologies to Randy Newman).

  8. Danielle says:

    I agree with the article’s point–especially the preening “oh, what’s he done now” discussions that focus mainly on the more insane Driscoll moments. They serve all the rhetorical purposes that Christian Piatt argues they do. There’s nothing better to your argument than saying something may be true, then having someone hand you anecdotes that says it is, in double-helping quantity.

    We shouldn’t fail to discuss Driscoll, however. We should discuss him the correct way: as an example of larger trends, and as a means to point out what we could, or should, learn from them. The more we sensationalize Driscoll, the less we are able to do this. Sensationalizing Driscoll creates the impression that if a particular person disappears, the problem he represents also disappears: but it doesn’t.

    Driscoll matters because he has a big microphone and people listen to him. The people who send me Driscoll quotes are not joking, and they don’t see him as over-the-top–they’re reading him seriously and even reverently. To a certain community, there are a small circle of Reformed leaders who decode the world for them and promise them success in their personal lives. Driscoll is one of these decoders and gurus. Thus, the content of what he says on a regular basis matters. His crazier moments matter less, in fact they matter mainly insofar as the illustrate larger trends with him. The gotcha discussions are useful, when they are segways into a discussion of his larger views and body of rhetoric.

    Driscoll matters because he is part of a much larger set of leaders who hold similar views on gender (Piper, Grudem, etc), who are equally and more influential than he is. Driscoll is unique in his self-presentation, his antics, and his personal vehemence toward people he doesn’t like. But his ideas are more typical than they are surprising. Even if Driscoll goes down in blazing glory or infamy, ultimately the saner-sounding and less scandal-ridden figures will still be teaching and writing. They were always the heavier weights and they will be and have been influential longer. Thus, the questions Driscoll’s teaching raises are important; the antics, much less so.

    Driscoll matters in one additional way, and that is the specific effect he’s had on specific people. Progressive bloggers pontificating may be of more or less value. But giving space to people who have been harmed by a ministry is always a good idea. This kind of thing may not be very frequent, but its common enough that it needs visibility. Plus, individual people’s stories matter in themselves.

    • Robert F says:

      +1

    • That Other Jean says:

      Yes! This. Thank you.

    • Marcus Johnson says:

      +1

    • Christiane says:

      I have wondered what it is that is lacking in men who ‘need’ misogyny for their golden calf. What drives that level of contempt in them and the need they have to express it?

      and in wondering about this, what is MY problem? am I just wanting to understand them OR am I looking for something deeper to point at ?????

      at the root of all this is ‘pride’ . . . the need to build oneself up by looking down on another . . . it takes the tension away from our own knowledge of our own baggage . . . but it doesn’t solve any problems, does it ? (sigh)

    • +1

  9. Adam Tauno Williams says:

    Let’s be clear we are taking about a certain definition of conservative and liberal here.

    >Conservatives always have the advantage of black and white definitions on their side.

    While, I don’t know. I suppose I am a Liberal. I am certainly Left politically – so let me say – this is bunk. I see many many issues as stark black-and-white. As do many of my fellows here on the Left. Perhaps we are less likely to speak about them that way [as such talk rarely facilitates anything at all, other than rancor], but one side does not own black-and-white [for better or worse, often both]

    I certainly do not need a Mark Driscoll. I would be very happy if he just went away. Mostly his kind just make be tired; they certainly do not make me feel “defined”. What his kind do accomplish [along with his Progressive counterparts], defined by their cultural imperialism, is squelch conversation.

    > Progressives, on the other hand, emphasize mystery and complexity.

    Really? I don’t know if those are defining elements of Progressives. I’m not sure Progressives have a coherent set of defining attributes; to me it looks like a group defined by ‘not being Conservative’, sadly that revolves mostly around a few social issues; and not even ‘issues’ maybe, but sentiments about issues.

    And placing non-Protestant groups on this scale is problematic.

    • Ask yourself why conservative talk radio has had such success, while there are far fewer self-identified “liberal” programs. The talking points are much easier to communicate in black and white, moralistic terms.

      • Personally, I think there are a lot of different reasons than just this. Liberal radio hasn’t been as big (beyond various Public Radio shows that clearly have a slant, and I say that as an NPR member/supporter), because conservative talk radio was seen initially as a counterpoint to the generally left-leaning assumptions in major media. Want a decidedly left-wing opinion in the media in 1990? You have an unending amount of choices. Want something right-leaning in 1990? There’s Limbaugh and the Washington Times. I don’t say this to support Limbaugh or yell “BIAS!!” at every story, but it’s hard to remember that it wasn’t always a mess of Limbaugh wannabes crowding the AM dial.

        Meanwhile, look at the main source of news for people leaning left: The Daily Show. It’s pretty black and white (The media is stupid, Politicians are Stupid – notably the conservative ones, FoxNews is worse than Pop-Up Ads for Viagra, CNN is useless). And the recent onslaught of Gay Rights posturing is pretty black-and-white as well, as the debacle at Mozilla attests. Liberals have their B&W issues, too, and they seem to be just as virulent when they are crossed.

        • Richard Hershberger says:

          I disagree with your history. The “liberal media” meme had long since passed its sell-by date by 1990. Walter Cronkite went to Vietnam and came back and accurately described the debacle. Then a few years later Woodward and Bernstein accurately reported on what the Nixon administration was doing. Thus was the “liberal media” meme born.

          Even if we stipulate that what Cronkite and Woodward and Bernstein did was “liberal,” the proposition that CNN in 1990 was similarly liberal is questionable. One need simply look at the flow of reporters who comfortably moved from CNN to Fox News. The mainstream media of 1990 was thoroughly corporate, just like today. For anything different, in either direction, you had to look elsewhere. A bastion of the truly liberal media of that era was the free alternative weekly newspaper. For lefty radio there was Pacifica Radio, but that was never widespread. For right wing media, there was talk radio. Which brings us to Limbaugh. He was far from the first or the only example of a right wing talk radio personality. It was a well established trope. The first time I ever heard Limbaugh I had no idea who he was. This was when he was starting to be nationally syndicated, but not yet a name everyone knew. I happened to be channel surfing on the radio and stumbled across him. I thought he did a hilarious, pitch-perfect impression of the right wing blowhard. It took me a couple of days to convince myself that this wasn’t satire. What Limbaugh did that was new was to turn himself into a national brand more successfully than his predecessors.

          Oh, and as for “Gay Rights posturing”, as a historical note it is entirely normal that any group demanding full rights gets dismissed as “posturing.”

          • Adam Tauno Williams says:

            There is no Main-Stream Liberal Media. People who see such a thing are disclosing to their audience just how very far to the Right they actually are, that everything appears Liberal and has the color of conspiracy. Often times I suspect some are not aware of their own position on the political spectrum; it is the American conceit to self-describe as a moderate regardless of ones positions.

            I am a Liberal – there is no Liberal Media; there is a banal penny-dreadful-esque main-stream media.

      • I am going to have to agree with Justin on this one: Liberal programs can be just as b/w, moralistic, etc…
        Just watch MSNBC for 5 minutes.

        There are other reasons for the success of conservative programs.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          Which is what I said – ” but one side does not own black-and-white [for better or worse, often both]”.

          I never watch swill garbage twaddle like The Daily Show, but I can show you plenty of `high-brow` black-n-white Liberal text.

          Not that black-n-white is necessarily bad, some things are black and white.

        • I also realize that my perspective is influenced by the fact that I live in a bright red state with red meat conservative voices constantly in my ears. I can count at least 4 radio stations on my dial that are all conservative talk all the time. This is the land where “Obama is the new Hitler” bumper stickers may be seen and we who might be a little more progressive are more likely to keep our mouths shut.

        • Richard Hershberger says:

          “Just watch MSNBC for 5 minutes.”

          Well, it depends on which five minutes you watch. You might find yourself watching Joe Scarborough, a Republican former member of the House of Representatives, a Gingrich Republican back in the 1990s. MSNBC devotes time to both liberals and conservatives. For this it is condemned as liberal.

          • Riiiight. It’s not their 9/11 Truther with a TV show, Al Sharpton, Rachel Maddow, Ed Shultz, Chris Hayes, or Keith Olberman’s former show. It’s the token conservative’s show and the occasional guests that balance everything out.

            By this measure FoxNews really is fair and balanced. Good to hear.

          • Richard Hershberger says:

            Scarborough is given a substantial time slot all to himself. He isn’t given a straight man role for a liberal to play off of. He is given his own show, in which he can says what he thinks without competition. This is pretty much entirely unlike what Fox News did with Hannity and Colmes, and you will notice that Hannity is still there while Colmes is long gone.

          • Richard-

            Justin is right. The vast majority of MSNBC’s main slots (especially evenings) are liberal, very liberal. Is Fox biased? Yes, but let’s not pretend that MSNBC is not. CNN seems to try to be the most balanced.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        I believe the success of right-wing media is that the right-wing is far more cohesive, centered around a few messages. It is very defined by an Enemy [typically the big bad government]. Lacking the One True Enemy the Left can never match it for unity of message.

        A *lot* of right-wing talk radio is fear, fear, and fear; these sense of being under threat. I’m Left, and I’m not afraid; most of my Left friends I would not describe as afraid. That is big difference for marketing purposes.

        • I agree about the right having just a couple of targets, but not sure the left is lacking in that during some eras, such as during the GW Bush years.

          I also think the left uses fear quite a bit itself. It just seems to do it more in a subtle fashion, as opposed to Rush’s rants.

          • The “left” media presence grew dramatically during the Bush years. I remember when Rush and G Gordon Liddy ruled the airwaves here.

          • I think the presence was there before that (Network news, NY Times, Wash Post, etc…-more open starting with Cronkite on the Vietnam War?), but was called out/named by those personalities you mentioned.

            Why talk radio has been more conservative (apart from NPR) is an interesting question though.

      • I’m progressive, but I have to say I do not have any interest in watching/listening to the left-wing propaganda shows. Liberal attempts to recreate what the right does so well are just unappealing. If I dislike the very idea of propaganda in the guise of news, why would I want to watch the same idea where the only difference is it panders to views I might hold?

        Many of my acquaintances are also liberal, yet I don’t know any of them who get their news and ideas from these kinds of sources. I just don’t think it plays as well on the left.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          I’m a Liberal. I have several friends who are Daily Show and Rachel Maddow acolytes. It isn’t pretty.

          The more of that bilge they consume the more coarse, over-confident, and combative their views become.

          If a good portion of your “news” involves laughing at someone – anyone – you are in dangerous territory.

  10. Asinus Spinas Masticans says:

    Progressive Christians are not “thoroughly right”, and they are not in the main “backing a righteous cause”. Unfortunately, this doesn’t make Driscoll right, or any more sensitive to the feelings of others.

    Both Belle and Gaston thought they were better than other people. Only Belle was smug about it.

  11. flatrocker says:

    Today is the Feast of the Transfiguration. From the Lectionary we receive the glorious mountaintop with Elijah and Moses, Daniel’s prophetic glimpse of heaven, Peter’s inspiration in his second letter and the soaring words of Psalm 97.

    And what are we talking about today? Mark Driscoll.

    We find what we are looking for.

  12. Hopefully people are praying for M.D.,, perhaps better than marching. ,I have pity for him, yes I know he did it to himself, but God loves him, right? Sometimes I feel smug that I would never be taken in by these “teachings.” That is wrong, I know. Love conquers all, right?

    • —> “Sometimes I feel smug that I would never be taken in by these ‘teachings.'”

      I don’t feel smug, just “fortunate.” What if I’d been one of the first in his church, with him at the beginning, when it was a Bible study in his home? Would I recognize where he’s at today? Would I be able to separate the good from the bad, would I accept his version of the gospel, would I be immersed in his theology? Would I be telling people, “Come to Mars Hill! The people are awesome, and we have this pastor who’s incredible! We even serve donuts and espresso!”

      I’ve had my own faith journey, for sure. I haven’t had any Mark Driscolls in my life, but there are plenty of folks who are unafraid to foist their own theologies, beliefs and such on you. I’ve had to work out my own version of who God is rather than accept any one theology. God is good. Jesus is Lord. I thank them and the Holy Spirit for leading me to where I’m at today.

      • There you go with those donuts again. And espresso, too? What, no cappuccino?

        • Hey, Mars Hill is in Seattle. They can now serve pot. As in Mary Jane.

          The church I attend is in the greater Seattle area, too. I tell people that we need to begin a “pot” ministry. That would draw in a certain crowd that might not normally hear the gospel!

          • Robert F says:

            That’s a bad idea; that ministry would go to seed in no time.

            Stick with the donuts. Just remind everyone: Don’t bogart that cruller, my friend,….

          • Rick Ro. says:

            Roll another one, just like the other one…you’ve been holding onto it, and I sure would like a bit.

          • Robert F says:

            Time to make the donuts.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        > We even serve donuts and espresso!”

        Long johns with custard filling? If so then I am so there!

        • Robert F says:

          Long johns! The Dunkin’ Donuts here in Lancaster County, PA, don’t make those, though the ones in New Jersey did. Those are phenomenally wonderful, and I miss them; I’d put up with a mile of Driscoll nonsense if they served them at Mars Hill, and I lived in Seattle. I’d just make sure I was very unforgivably late for the service, and unfashionably early for the coffee hour/fellowship time.

        • Robert F says:

          Only I have the sneaking suspicion that what you describe as a long john with custard filling in my neck of the wood is called, more properly, an eclair.

  13. Hmm…not sure I agree with the thrust of the article. Are we to be thankful and happy that David had Bathsheba’s husband killed, just so we can point to one of the heroes of the Bible and say, “Wow, if God lets murderers in to heaven, there’s hope for me”? Are we to be thankful and happy that Peter said he wouldn’t deny Jesus, then went out and did just that, just so we can point to one of the heroes of the Bible and say, “Wow, if Jesus called Peter his friend and Peter’s such a loser, then maybe there’s hope for me”? I mean, it’s awesome that we CAN look back and think those things, but there’s no joy in the sin these two committed.

    Same with Driscoll. This article seems to say, “Thank heavens for Driscoll’s sins, because his sinning helps us in various ways.” It feels a lot like what Paul says, “Shall we go on sinning so that grace may abound?”

    Sure, I’m glad God has places in his Kingdom for people like Mark Driscoll and me, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore the wrong being done in HIS name or that we should look at the wrong Driscoll is doing and be happy with him and his shortcomings because they help US. We should be defined by the fruits of the Spirit, not by the sin in someone else’s life, and we certainly shouldn’t be happy about letting ourselves be defined by a man doing wrong in His name.

    • I think the article is using the idea of being grateful for these things in a sarcastic way; it’s a form of self-criticism. He’s pointing up his own sin, and the sin of other progressives, in secretly taking delight and advantage of Driscoll’s transgressions, in defining themselves by their foil rather than their affirmations.

      • Oh, I read the article that way. Not sure others did, though.

        • Robert F says:

          Then you’re not disagreeing with the thrust of the article, but with it’s rhetorical style, because it might be misinterpreted? Right?

          I guess I may be confused by the rhetorical style of your comment.

  14. Just what I thought this thread would turn out to be like — donuts and talk radio.

    • Vega Magnus says:

      Two things that will make you horribly sick in large doses.

    • If you leave the screen door open do not be surprised that flies get in the house. And yes, I’m one of those flies.

    • Rick Ro. says:

      You expected nothing less from the iMonk crowd, did you? 😉

    • Just today on talk radio (The Dennis Prager Show) I learned of the plight of the Yazidi people in Iraq. Thousands fleeing persecution at the hands of Islamist extremists in Iraq. Stranded on a mountain top, running out of water, afraid to descend the mountain and be slaughtered.

      Let me know if you see that story on the CNN, MSNBC, FOX, ABC, or CBS this evening.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        In their defense if they did a story on every persecuted, suffering, or isolated people group they would do nothing else. I do not believe this represents bias; it is just isn’t a story that is all that relevant to their viewers. Of course neither is some murderer five states over, but people *feel* like that is relevant to them [for some reason I cannot fathom, I hope it is more than just because everyone involved looks and dresses like themselves, but… sigh].

      • It was in the NY Times and the Washington Post today.

  15. Christiane says:

    Lately there has been much in the news about the images that some Christian leaders seek to project.
    And about how people are FINALLY responding to the arrogance of those leaders. Some with amused glee. Some with pity for the person who needs to be elevated in order to feel ‘in charge’ and unchallenged.

    For the ones who do feel ‘pity’ for these men, here is something I can share that even the most arrogant leaders might need to consider in order to finally ‘get real’ in their God-called shepherding profession:

    Some lyrics from an old sixties song . . .
    “. . and Jesus was a sailor and He walked upon the water, and He spent a long time watching from a lonely wooden tower . . . ”

    if a Christian leader feels he needs to ‘be raised up’ in the eyes of his flock in order to be respected, all he has to do is to remember the manner in which Our Lord Himself was ‘raised up’.

    Then the leader will quietly walk away from all thought of pedestals; because he realizes that the Only One Who ever deserved to be up on a pedestal, chose the Cross instead

    • Rick Ro. says:

      “…the Only One Who ever deserved to be up on a pedestal, chose the Cross instead.”

      Amen.

  16. So, it’s PROGRESSIVES who have a problem with Driscoll? This doesn’t surprise me…for the less than obvious reasons. The lurch to the extremes on the left and right in both American religion and politics leaves average people looking out of the norm in comparison. The patriarchialism of Driscoll, Wilson, et al leave most complementarians looking quite egalitarian in comparison. The sovereign citizen movement is making even the tea party looking like flaming liberals in comparison. And as both extremes state, there’s nothing worse than a moderate. What 30 years ago was a respectable, conservative, GOP position is now a sell-out to the left. NEITHER Right nor Left equate to truth. What lies on the extremes of the left AND right is not ultimate truth but a precipice to the same chasm below. NEITHER the left nor the right is the enemy; the devil is. The devil doesn’t care which cliff you go over.

    So, let’s stare at our navels while these monsters push both the church and the country over that precipice.

  17. And in other news:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/zhoag/2014/08/08/breaking-acts-29-removes-mark-driscoll-and-mars-hill-church-from-network-asks-driscoll-to-step-down/

    Ironically, someone actually had the stones to stand up to Driscoll. Driscoll should be happy. He wants men to be tough, strong, and bold, right? Righhhht.