Tag Archives: Mark Driscoll

What @PastorMark & @TyndaleHouse Can Learn from Shia LaBeouf #fleshYGod

AFFLUENZA AND CELEBRITY PASTORS IN CHRISTIAN CULTURE

affluenza

affluenza (Photo credit: debaird™)

So I am pretty much over blogging and writing about celebrities. You thought this post was going to be about Mark Driscoll and Shia LaBeouf, didn’t you? Whoops, well, it’s not. Sorry to disappoint. Today, I want to talk about a disease that is devastating our country right now. Worse than the chicken pox and the measles, our society is suffering from what is now being diagnosed as The Affluenza.

Last week, in my beloved state of Texas, a judge mercifully sentenced teenager Ethan Crouch (mercifully) to a few years at a six-figure rehabilitation center for driving drunk and murdering four people. Poor Ethan, his parents were so wealthy that they never bothered to set boundaries. No research has ever been done on Affluenza, but let me tell you that it is real. In fact, I know a quite a large population here in the United States that is sick from its own Affluenza: its Church.

In the United States, no matter what church you are a part of, regardless of its doctrine, the one thing that makes teachings all relative is the worship of MAMMON. In seminary, I was once told that I should keep checks on myself since Black Baptist pastors have a reputation for being overly ambitious and levying a lot of power of their congregations. The funny thing is, this quest for power knows no skin color or creed. Affluenza is color-blind. Take the example of Mark Driscoll for example. He is a mega-church pastor, has a large following, and posts that STAN for him say as much: his defenders CAN’T be found disagreeing with Driscoll because he has “saved” them (ummmmm I thought only Jesus saves, SOLUS CHRISTUS???????)

Absolute power in the United States is venerated as untouchable, and what I have learned recently is that sometimes money and power DON’T go together. And I may have to write about how that works some other time, but for now, I want to discuss how power consolidates itself. Okay, so you’re an uber-popular profit of the Lord, and a publishing company makes a money from your “work,” then that publishing company is going to STAN for you. The most recent and just shameful example right now is Tyndale House, publisher of Joel Watts’ beloved NEW LIVING TRANSLATION bible. Joel, to his credit has been quite prophetic and critical towards a book corporation that has given Joel a lot of gifts. In fact, as Joel has pointed out, Tyndale House is covering up Mark Driscoll and his lying and his stealing WITH EVEN MORE LYING. They are telling half-truths like Janet Mefferd apologizing????? Ummmmm no! First of all she was sorry she didn’t go to Tyndale first, but then again, given Tyndale’s disastrous response to this disaster, I think maybe she did the right thing in the first place!

Tyndale is just one company, but they are a big example of what Christianity looks like today: the Church is dying from Affluenza. Joel is wrong. This whole Driscoll/plagiarism thing is NOT ABOUT ACADEMIC INTEGRITY. There is no need to contact Amazon. Christianity is a religion where the TEN Commandments are pretty important, haven’t you ever read, “Thou Shalt Not Steal”? I mean Conservatives use this verse all the time right to talk about taxes, but now they are STANNING for Driscoll who is stealing authors’ private property. Commitment to power and money is what causes people to act hypocritically a lot of the time. The Affluenza of Christian Celebrity culture has got to stop. But where can we find healing from this disease?

I would suggest, given this Advent season, and this first post for Tyler Tully’s and my synchroblog, #fleshYGod, that the answer lies in the dirty, straw-filled manger. In the Gospels we have a story about an infant who’s parents were too poor to buy animals to sacrifice, so they had to purchase doves instead. How embarassing that our Savior’s family was not even privileged enough to do something as normal as that. It’s sort of like families who aren’t able to afford a yearly vacation out of the country, EXCEPT IT’S not. My point is, is like liberation theologian Joerg Reiger said years ago, that we should watch the money, watch where it flows, who has it, and how it is used. We should also be watching WHO LOSES the money, who doesn’t have the power, and confront those institutions and practices that do enable monetary predators and power-mongers.

Recently, Transformers star and actor Shia LaBeouf was caught plagiarizing a comic book for an “independent” film that he “made.” Shia admitted his fault on the Twitterz, and more than that, has taken down the video. Now Shia must face ADDITIONAL shaming from movie fans (in addition to being a part of Michael Bay’s Transformers trilogy, am I right???). Tyndale and Logos Bible Software have yet to do the same with Driscoll, as Driscoll has yet to admit any wrong doing other than the ole “blame the intern/plebian routine.”

LaBeouf said it best,

“Copying isn’t particularly creative work. Being inspired by someone else’s idea to produce something new and different IS creative work. In my excitement and naiveté as an amateur filmmaker, I got lost in the creative process and neglected to follow proper accreditation. I’m embarrassed that I failed to credit @danielclowes for his original graphic novella Justin M. Damiano, which served as my inspiration. I was truly moved by his piece of work & I knew that it would make a poignant & relevant short. I apologize to all who assumed I wrote it. I deeply regret the manner in which these events have unfolded and want @danielclowes to know that I have a great respect for his work. I f***ed up.”

The thing is, Shia LaBeouf doesn’t have to claim he stole “for the Glory of God;” Hollywood might be white supremacist and suffer from just as much Affluenza as the church, but at least these artists follow through on their own ethical code. Meanwhile, Christians? We have the Decalogue. Let’s, ummmm look to it, maybe?

Jesus Presented in the Temple

 When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”, and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.- Luke 2:22-24 niv

I Watched #Hellbound Before I Changed It to Buffy #btvs

Last night I was pretty bored and I needed to watching something while I did some fall cleaning. Lo, and behold, I decided to watch the documentary, Hellbound?, written and directed by Canadian Christian writer Kevin Miller. From all that I had heard and read, it was supposed to be a worthwhile film, and maybe someday I will go back and finish. But just not this year. The movie was fine, I could see the direction it was going: BIG NINE-ELEVEN TWO THOUSAND AND ONE DRAMA! The Phelps and their hate speech where 99.99999999% of the people living in the world are going to burn in hell for all eternity! Mark Driscoll implying anyone who disagreed with him was not manly enough and kind of queer. So NOT authoritarian! Liar and heretic Ray Comfort even had an appearance.

Nope none of these persons were problematic enough to trigger me into watching something else. Then, Miller first started making claims like all religions are about narrative, and story is ooooh so important to what it means to be human. It’s a familiar argument, one that Brian McLaren was writing about in the ’90’s. You see, there are a variety of Christianities. There’s the fundamentalists who claim to take the Bible “literally” but never seriously. And there are also Christians who read Scripture as literature and somewhat more seriously. While the latter sounds better, at least the BIG OLE SCARY fundies are honest and forthright about the implications of their beliefs.

Then, Hellbound started interviewing the likes of Wm Paul Young and Frank Schaeffer. Throughout his few minutes, Schaeffer repeatedly referred to Evangelicals as Pharisees. This claim went unchallenged, and given the lack of racial diversity in the film (it’s a Christian documentary, so not surprising given the “nature” of the business). Frantz Fanon argues in his Black Skin, White Masks that once you find an anti-Semite, there’s not an anti-Black antagonist far behind. Part of my path down the narrow road of anti-racism was taking a Jewish-Studies course that coincided with a Black Church studies class on Exodus. It was there that I first learned of how problematic loosely calling others Pharisees was. Jesus and Paul were Pharisees,

Cover of "Black Skin, White Masks"

Cover of Black Skin, White Masks

Pharisees were some of the very first Christians in Acts, but in liberal and conservative Christianity, people continue a willful ignorance of the history of antiSemitism and anti-Judaism. I’m sorry, but the Pharisees are not the villains you make them out to be. That’s why it’s no surprise when in liberal “Christian novels,” such as Wm. Paul Young’s The Shack, anti-Judaism goes unchecked.

 

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But I think that there is something that goes much deeper. At the heart of the problem is the notion of story. I have discussed on here before the problem of seeing everything as a story here before, as it relates to postcolonial criticism.

So last night, when I changed the show I was watching on Netflix to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I decided to watch the season 7 episode “Storyteller,” the story of Andrew who was shooting a documentary about Buffy, the slayer of vampires, and I found this relevant quote:

“Buffy: Stop! Stop telling stories. Life isn’t a story.
Andrew: Sorry. Sorry.
Buffy: Shut up. You always do this. You make everything into a story so no one’s responsible for anything because they’re just following a script.”- Storyteller, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 7, Episode 16.

This is exactly the problem with emergent dudebros. They do not have to take responsibility for the histories of biblical interpretations or practices there of. They can just call it “STORY” since it sounds so much nicer. No way should they be held accountable for the real, historical experiences of the oppressed because when it comes to the Grand Narrative, only an arbitrarily limited account provided by men from the majority culture.

Perhaps then this is why the story of the Hellmouth remains truer than that of Hellbound? .

This can't be the end of the conversation. #TheNewPacifism

For me, as a Christian woman of Mexican descent, there are certain words for which, thanks to their cultural usage in both Protestant Christian and secular circles, I have a very complicated box of associations. One could say that they have a loaded history, a charged atmosphere. A sense of danger.

Pacifism is one of them.

On the one hand, I have people like Mark Driscoll who by his outright rejection of even the idea of pacifism and his very ironic Bible verse cherry picking, that those “very selective in the parts of the Bible they quote,” and “wrongly preach that Jesus was a pacifist” will be among those suffering the Prince of Peace’s wrath.

Take a moment to let that irony sink in. I couldn’t make satire that good even if I tried.

I think I understand a little why Driscoll doesn’t want to take Jesus’ commands in the Beatitudes seriously or literally: to offer your other cheek after being slapped, walking two miles with soldiers who occupy your country and are making you upon point of death carry their supplies one mile, and giving your clothes AND your coat to the one suing you (just some of the hard things in Matthew 5: 38-48) — I also don’t want to do these things for my oppressors, much less pray for them. But Jesus commands those things of his disciples. Jesus is my example. He took up his cross and endured a very bitter cup of unfair persecution without retaliation. And it killed him. On the other hand, I also, in this loaded discussion about pacifism, read bloggers, who, in critiquing Driscoll’s lol-arious eisegesis, quoting only from a white cis male perspective, who still unintentionally make me cringe and want to run far away.

If I read only DisposableSoul’s article, my heart would still feel crushed, because here are numerous white male theologians in positions of authority who do not feel the lacerations of racism and misogyny, the effects of colonization, white supremacy, or patriarchy, or the confusion I experience when pacifism sounds like a game that people play, a fascinating debate, or a theoretical exercise.

And there’s a huge line of martyrs in the history of our faith that would say that that’s a price I should be willing to pay. I agree with those martyrs, but only very reluctantly. (Death is still pretty far down there on my list.) If I chose to embrace pacifism in the uncritical ways that I’ve heard it proffered, I could literally die, as Sarah Over the Moon states, and not for much (“just” for being a WOC). And if I say that it’s unfair, and try to shame my attackers into NOT attacking me using logic or emotional appeals, I will experience tone-policing, silencing, and could still die.

A thought from Arundhati Roy on that: “It would be immoral of me to preach violence unless I’m prepared to pick up arms myself. It is equally immoral for me to preach nonviolence when I’m not bearing the brunt of the attack.” 

And another for anyone who thinks that tone policing or gas-lighting isn’t a problem:

“The abusive man’s problem with anger is almost the opposite of what is commonly believed. The reality is: Your abusive partner doesn’t have a problem with HIS anger; he has a problem with YOUR anger. One of the basic human rights he takes away from you is the right to be angry with him. No matter how badly he treats you, he believes that your voice shouldn’t rise and your blood shouldn’t boil. The privilege of rage is reserved for him alone. When your anger does jump out of you —as will happen to any abused woman from time to time —he is likely to try to jam it back down your throat as quickly as he can. Then he uses your anger against you to prove what an irrational person you are. Abuse can make you feel straightjacketed. You may develop physical or emotional reactions to swallowing your anger, such as depression, nightmares, emotional numbing, or eating and sleeping problems, which your partner may use as an excuse to belittle you further or make you feel crazy.”  — Lundy Bancroft, Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men

So, how do I resist abusers? How do I protect myself and others in harm’s way, while still following the call of pacifism?

But if Jesus is my example, he also gave me the whole cleansing out the temple example using homemade whips and lots of yelling and public disturbance. He called certain politico-religious leaders of his day “a brood of serpents.” He also told leaders that if they caused small children to stumble, they deserved to go drown in the ocean. (Probably the equivalent of today’s “DIAF.”)

He spoke and acted in ways that made people angry enough to kill him for the sake of the status quo. So, I have to agree with Driscoll a little (SHOCK, I know). Those who ignore Jesus’ radical defiance combined with his pacifism aren’t getting it right either.

So, how does a vulnerable, oppressed, and/or marginalized person follow that call of Jesus in a way that doesn’t damage themselves and perpetuate lies about themselves from their abusers, persecutors, and oppressors?

If Jesus in the Beatitudes calls us to be peacemakers, what is peacemaking?

One way and means of peacemaking is to listen–

–listening to the voice of Jesus, who was not a white rich Western, English speaking man in a white supremacist patriarchal system (and in fact was almost the opposite), and listening to the men and women of color who have come before me, and dialoguing with a community that has to decide together how to fill in the valleys and level the mountains that keep us apart and sow seeds of bitterness and hatred, and literally kill some of us.

One way and means of peacemaking is to remain and flourish.

“For an indigenous person, choosing not to vanish, not to feel inferior, not to hate oneself, becomes an intensely political act.” — Theresa Harlan, “Creating A Visual History: A Question of Ownership”

“For women, the need and desire to nurture each other is not pathological but redemptive, and it is within that knowledge that our real power is rediscovered. It is this real connection which is so feared by a patriarchal world…Interdependency between women is the way to a freedom which allows the I to be, not in order to be used, but in order to be creative. This is a difference between the passive be and the active being.” — Audre Lorde in “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House”

One way and means of peacemaking is to protect others by shaming and destroying the status quo.

If Driscoll and others like him could begin reading Revelation using one of its original purposes, critiquing empire and power, and look at the imagery of Jesus riding in on a white horse, clothed in white but dripping in HIS OWN BLOOD, they would see that power and empire and status are being turned upside down.

Mountains that considered the most stable, long-lasting, and powerful are being leveled in this Kingdom. Valleys that have been for so long low, dark, and dreary are being raised and transformed into livable, beautiful places.

Pacifism is not being nonviolent for the sake of nonviolence, for the sake of ideological purity and pride in not having let someone get to you and make you mad.

Pacifism is in order to live, and promote and protect that life in others.

“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” — John 10:10

Pacifism isn’t just a conversation. It can’t end with just words. But it can definitely start with listening to those who long for peace most.

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