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Saturday, December 2, 2006

Mars Hill Protest: It’s Off

posted by on December 2 at 15:08 PM

Tomorrow’s protest at Mars Hill has been cancelled—and so has MH Pastor Mark “My Fat Wife Made Me Do It!” Driscoll’s column in The Seattle Times. Now you’re going to have to go to Driscoll’s church to enjoy his sexist ramblings.

Driscoll has, he claims, repented of his sexist ways. After instructing his flock that women are supposed to shut up, have kids, and keep their husband’s balls drained, Jesus spoke to Mark through a woman. And not any woman, but Ted Haggard’s niece. From Driscoll’s blog:

I was contacted by Carolyn Haggard, the neice of Ted Haggard. She said that she had been tracking some of the furor in bloggerdom. She wanted to let me know that her family was praying for me, they appreciated the first blog that caused some people to be upset, and they did not interpret it as personally directed at anyone. At the church Ted Haggard pastored, Carolyn oversees, of all things, media relations. As we have exchanged some emails, God used her as both an encouragement and an instructor…. Through her, God convicted me that I need to hire someone to do what she does. Most helpful would be someone who could keep up with the blogging and media worlds and let me know what is going on so that my critics can be my coaches and help me do a better job of serving Jesus and people.

Wow! God spoke to Driscoll through a woman! How will God speak to Driscoll next? Perhaps through a fluffy bunny?

As Slog tipper Phil M. points out, Driscoll’s apology isn’t really much an apology at all.

…on the surface it might sound like an apology, but it’s really more of a, “I’m sorry that people feel this way, and I’ll word things differently in the future,” sort of statement.

Or hire someone to help me word things differently…

RSS icon Comments


God has an email address?

Posted by otla | December 2, 2006 3:51 PM

"God convicted me"?

Posted by fixo | December 2, 2006 4:19 PM

And lets not forget he also said his, " theological convictions, even the most controversial ones, are as unwavering as ever." So that's quite a lesson learned.

Posted by Carl Ballard | December 2, 2006 4:36 PM
I also learned that as my platform has grown, so has my responsibility to speak about my convictions in a way that invites other people to experience charity from me, which means inflammatory language and such need to be scaled back.
In English bibles, "charity" generally translates "caritas," which translates "agape" -- love based on one's esteem and empathy for others, not romantic love. I think it's interesting how Christian writings so carefully differentiate of one kind of love from another. The word "charity" is particularly tricky, since its etymological roots in "love" are disguised in present day English; contemporary speakers think not of "love," but of "generosity" or "forgiveness" when they hear the word "charity." Of course generosity and forgiveness may have their origins in caritas, love, but recognizing that requires an extra step of thought.

It seems to me that the original binary between agape and eros itself disguises the degree to which erotic and empathic love are not really separable, and that the word "charity" carries that obfuscating distinction further still, allowing us to forget, however momentarily, how much is founded on our empathic connection to other people: I know what it is to love and be loved fully within a heterosexual relationship, and knowing just how great that is, how could I deny it to someone who has happened to find it with another woman? That kind of empathic thinking is fundamental to my own political values, as it is, I think, to most other people who reject bigotries.

In his treatment of charity, Driscoll presses even further into obfuscation than the word itself already does: rather than simply saying he needs to feel more charity for others, or even more directly, that he needs to love others more, he ties himself into a rhetorical knot: now that he's a public figure, he needs "to speak about [his] convictions in a way that invites other people to experience charity from" him. Perhaps I'm courting the obvious, here, but if he genuinely feels charity, I think he will speak with it and others will experience it from him. What keeps him from just saying that he needs to love others more is that he is simultaneously trying to be faithful to his "convictions." I can see that in the contorted structure of his sentence: he's saying, "I need to show others charity without compromising my convictions, because compromising my convictions would be wrong."

This conflict between conviction and charity is an essential difference between the left and right on social issues in the U.S. today. For social lefties, charity holds sway, whereas for social conservatives, convictions hold sway. It's not black and white; everyone occasionally goes with their convictions over their charity, or vice versa. But as a general rule, I think it's true. Social lefties allow their love for others to form their convictions, while Driscoll's love for others, or at least the way he allows himself to express it, is shaped by his convictions. As someone to the far left of the spectrum on social issues, such questions are very simple for me -- if some conviction I hold comes into conflict with my ability to feel charity for others, I come to the conclusion that my conviction is wrong. But for a conservative like Driscoll, the conviction will never be wrong; when conviction comes into conflict with charity, the best he'll be able to do is let sinners know he loves them, but not their sin.

I wish people on the left of the political spectrum here could recapture the degree to which charity -- love -- generates their beliefs. Democrats don't need to talk about God more. They need to talk about charity, and the way conservatives back-seat that essential value in favor of the convictions they embrace as individuals or within small communities.

Posted by A in NC | December 2, 2006 5:28 PM

Ok, I just read every nauseating word of Driscoll’s non-apology. Gawd, what an asshole.

“I learned that my theological convictions, even the most controversial ones, are as unwavering as ever. But I also learned that as my platform has grown, so has my responsibility to speak about my convictions in a way that invites other people to experience charity from me…”

In other words, he needs better marketing. I guess he thinks that everyone is as gullible as the people who attend his church.

I was looking forward to the protest and calling Driscoll out as the sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot that he is, but after reading the comments on his blog, it’s obvious a protest would just confirm his delusions of persecution.

It’s painfully obvious that we’re dealing with someone who has a severe and probably untreatable case of narcissistic personality disorder. Note that Driscoll meets ALL 8 DIAGNOSTIC CRITERIA:

1. has a grandiose sense of self-importance
2. is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
3. believes that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by other special people
4. requires excessive admiration
5. strong sense of entitlement
6. takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
7. lacks empathy
8. is often envious or believes others are envious of him or her
9. arrogant affect.

Can you imagine learning life lessons from a man like that? The big story here is that his followers seem to be more ignorant of his “theological convictions” than those of us who would protest.

Posted by Andrew | December 2, 2006 11:34 PM

Some people are starting to take seriously the long-standing rumor that Mark Driscoll is a homosexual a la Haggard - apparently it was common knowledge during his college days. I'm not sure why someone directly connected hasn't come forth yet.

Posted by steph | December 3, 2006 12:07 AM

It's likely that most successful people have narcissistic personality disorder.

Posted by keshmeshi | December 3, 2006 2:02 AM

Here is the problem. His followers are going to now believe in this man even more because of this. So now instead of raising awareness of who this man really is, he is now giong to come across more convincing with his oppressive, homophobic, masonganistic beliefs. Fuck. This church needs a community protest that is not so easily diverted.

Posted by Secret South | December 3, 2006 8:16 AM

The planned protest had three stated goals (I'm not involved; just quoting from the press release):

  1. To expose to the city of Seattle to Reverend Driscoll's anti-women diatribe.
  2. To see Mark Driscoll removed as a religion columnist for The Seattle Times.
  3. To extract a sincere apology from Reverend Driscoll for his comments and a pledge to cease demeaning women in the future.

It's ridiculous to ask someone to apologize for his beliefs, and I think Mark Driscoll really believes what he preaches. His apology for the wording he used when repeatedly denouncing feminism only serves to muddle the effects of achieving goal #1 (bringing attention to the sexist nature of his preaching). Now that he has "apologized" for stirring up all this controversy, he's going to hire a publicist and find a less offensive way to say the same demeaning things he has said all along.

Here's the gist of his statement (not a direct quote):

A few weeks ago, when Ted Haggard's shit hit the fan, I blogged some tips for pastors -- young pastors, really, 'cause you know how young dudes are -- in an effort to help them avoid marital infidelity in the face of all the fine young poontang that is undoubtedly thrown at them (I should know). Somehow, one of my comments was misinterpreted. It was the one where I said that unlike my fortunately-for-our-marriage-still-beautiful wife, many pastors' wives really don't keep up their appearances, since they basically have their I-have-to-look-good-for-the-church husbands by the balls. Some people thought that I meant *Mrs. Haggard*, had really let *herself* go, and that I thought that this might led to Pastor Ted repeatedly driving to Denver for gay sex and crystallized methamphetamine.

Around that time, a group of Internet troublemakers got together on some chat rooms in the dark reaches of cyberspace. In their painstaking effort to prove their point about my and Jesus' views of women's lesser role in the church and womanly duties in the home, they even Googled my blog and searched Mars Hill's streaming media archive for quotes from me -- as if me denouncing feminism in my own words would implicate me! The blogosphere, always prone to hyperbole, erupted in a frenzy. Eventually, even some real journalists became interested and contacted me in hopes of finding a story. Knowing better than to talk to these muckrakers or to write about this in my next Seattle Times column, I posted a clarification to my blog. First, I joked that if the Episcopalians are going to let just anybody -- like women or men who live a homosexual lifestyle -- lead their churches, then they'll be appointing fluffy bunny rabbits next unless we man up soon. Then I made it very clear that I was sorry that people misunderstood what I previously blogged about pastors' wives.

I had just finished apologizing for people's overreaction to my helpful advice, and the next thing I know, this Internet group schedules an anti-Christianity protest to drag my name through the mud. We at the church don't want any trouble, so we've scheduled extra church security guards and police protection for that day. The elders and I made it clear that no one from the church is to do or say anything on camera that could make us look bad. In fact, I might not even bring my family to church on that day. Think of what the children might think if they saw all those people waving signs with all these old quotes from their dad about women and their mom! And worse yet, some of the protesters aren't just any jackasses, they call themselves Christians -- Christian pastors, even. Imagine the commotion! In addition to these misguided Christians, the protest group seemed to be made up of an eclectic mix of non-fundamentalists and people who are altogether opposed to religious fundamentalism, all of whom support a freewheeling, "anything goes" lifestyle.

At that point, I was having trouble sleeping. All I could think about was how to spin this mess (in the heart of Godless Seattle, no less) all the while facing the potential P.R. disaster of false-Christians, heathens, and secular sodomites banding together to focus on my preaching the gospel.

But then three things happened:

First, I read some Billy Graham books.

Second, I got a call from Carolyn Haggard, who is the niece of Ted Haggard, and better yet, overseer of media relations for his megachurch. God spoke to me through this woman, and He Convinced me that I should hire someone to do media relations for my church. Most helpful would be someone who could keep up with those who seek to use my words against me. I simply don't have time to keep up with monitoring the repercussions of my actions.

Third, some local pastors and Christian leaders, including the organizer of this weekend's protest, invited me to come listen to them talk about their recent frustrations with my preaching Biblical sexism. We met at an undisclosed location. We had a good discussion.

I hoped God would Speak to me through these people, and He Did. At the meeting I learned that even my craziest convictions are as strong as ever. But I also learned that as my influence has grown larger, so has my responsibility to phrase things in a way that will a) not piss people off so much, and b) convince them that I am correct in my convictions. I was really sorry to hear that some people have taken so personally the things I have said about how they should live their lives. A lady "pastor" who was there reminded me that I have to consider how my words will be received not only by my followers, but also by regular hell-bound Seattleites. At my church, I can say whatever I like, because everyone there knows I'm just a guy speaking the word of God -- don't blame the messenger, I'm just a regular douche bag, right? But outside of Mars Hill, I *am* just a regular douche bag. In the secular world people won't cut me so much slack when I say that a) people who advocate for women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men, are nothing but trouble, and b) if women have any problem with this, they should take it up with their husbands or fathers, not with me.

Now that I've admitted that people had a problem with me and have sought assistance from the good Lord and Ted Haggard's P.R. lady, I don't know if there will even *be* any protest this Sunday. But I am sure that as James said, when times get tough and people resist my influence, they will only make me try harder. I thank them for that.

Posted by Phil | December 3, 2006 10:11 AM

Steph @ 6,

That would fit the pattern with narcissistic personality disorder. They believe, often subconsciously, that they have a terrible flaw that they cannot face, and then they totally over-compensate and go into a tailspin of denial and repression.

I've never seen anyone so arrogant with less reason. The only thing he seems to be good at is separating fools from their money.

Posted by Andrew | December 3, 2006 11:27 AM

Steph @ 6,

That would fit the pattern with narcissistic personality disorder. They believe, often subconsciously, that they have a terrible flaw that they cannot face, and then they totally over-compensate and go into a tailspin of denial and repression.

I've never seen anyone so arrogant with less reason. The only thing he seems to be good at is separating fools from their money.

Posted by Andrew | December 3, 2006 11:28 AM

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