Notes on The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill (podcast)

This is a podcast series on Mars Hill, a mega church in Seattle, and this thread will be a place to take notes on the episodes. I’m about five episodes in, and I’m a bit behind on posting notes, but I’ll do so soon (hopefully). I

I guess I could start with my knowledge–or, more accurately, my impression–of Mars Hill before listening to this. I think Marc told me about this church, which could be (and is) described as “punk rock.” The leader, Mark Driscoll, was known as brash, rough-around-the-edges–a preaching who would yell, maybe even swear. Again, this was my impression. In any event, Driscoll gained quite a following. I didn’t know what became of the church until I heard the title of the podcast.

I will say that from the first episode, the circumstances of the fall were similar to other scandals–or at least nothing really novel. I say this because this is not really the type of story I’m interested in. So why did I continue? I think part of the answer involves the hints that the podcast may explore the potential link between Christianity–or maybe Evangelicals, specifically–and authoritarianism. Given the politics of the past four years, I’m especially interested in this question. I would add the first episodes had echoes of Governor Andrew Cuomo, specifically details from the sexual harassment report that recently came out. With Cuomo, Trump, and Driscoll, one big–but very old–lesson is the dangers of high concentration of power. It’s an old lesson, but I’m not sure it’s one that the people living now fully appreciate. (Is there an example of an individual or group having a high concentration of power–without an abuse of power?)

More later.

Christianity Corner

Apparently the original thread died with the older V-I, so I thought I’d start a new thread–a general discussion thread on Christianity. I recently watched a conversation with Tim Keller that made me search for this thread. I wanted to comment on two points he made. I’ll do that in the first comment post.

Christians Don’t Have a Cultural Economy

Dr. Russell Moore, is president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and he has a podcast, Signposts. I recently listened to one with Timothy Keller, who I believe is a pastor and author. They discussed two topics that I found interesting–moral ecology and a cultural economy. Briefly, moral ecology involves a moral system or environment people operate or grow up within. Keller mentions three components–moral teaching, moral discourse, and moral examples. Studying the Bible, discussing concrete applications in real life, and parents modeling the behavior would all be examples of this, respectively. Keller says that if Christians go to church once a week, but during the rest of the engage in discourse from largely secular sources and/or don’t have individuals modeling a Christian world view, then individuals developing a Christian worldview and character will be almost impossible. (I’m paraphrasing him, so what I’m saying may not accurately reflect his views.)

Keller than briefly mentions cultural economy. Here, he mentions academia, the arts, journalism, and business all working together to produce a certain world view and values. His point is that Christians really don’t have a cultural economy–or at least not a very strong one. There are Christians in academia, the arts, journalism, and business, but do they all produce a strong type of cultural economy?

Here are some questions I’d like to explore:

  • Should there be a strong cultural economy in the U.S.? Continue reading “Christians Don’t Have a Cultural Economy”
  • If a Culture and Society Reflects Christianity Less and Less, How Should Christians Respond?

    What does it mean for a society and culture to reflect Christianity? That’s a pretty big question to answer, and I prefer avoiding it. So let me start by an example. Let’s say that homosexuality becomes a social norm. Some Christians may not believe homosexuality is prohibited by Christianity, but for the sake of argument let’s assume that it is. How should Christians respond? Let’s rule out changing this via laws. Should Christians invest energy overturning this? There are many ways this could be done. Christians, particularly prominent Christians, could speak out about this. They could fight against the use of school curriculum that normalizes homosexuality. There are many ways of doing this, that don’t involve legislation or electoral politics. Let’s use another example. What about divorce, premarital sex, and objectification of women? In what ways should Christians act to make this less of a social and cultural norm?

    Honestly, I don’t have a clear answer on any of this. A big part of my attitude assumes that secular–that is, worldly–society and culture will not reflect Christianity very well. Therefore, culture and society moves further away from Christianity, a part of me feels this is natural, and something I shouldn’t fight to stop.

    Then again, shouldn’t Christians try strengthen certain norms and institutions. If Christians took steps to strengthen marriage, including the quality of the relationship, wouldn’t that be a good thing? If women were less objectified, less seen as sexual objects, I don’t see how that wouldn’t be a good thing, and something that would be a worthy goal for Christians.

    Perhaps, the problem comes down to the means by which Christians achieve these objectives. And maybe the motivations and degree of effort Christians put forth. For example, Christians could be motivated because by a desire to preserve a culture and society they are most comfortable with, and maybe this becomes more important than their relationship with God and loving others.

    Again, I don’t clear answers for this, which is why I started the thread. What do you guys think?

    Notes on The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss by David Bentley Hart

    Hart is an Eastern Orthodox scholar of religion, philosopher and cultural commentator, and he has written a response to atheism, which seems in vogue now. He claims that his objective isn’t to prove God’s existence, but to clarify a false premise in the debate. Here’s how he puts it:

    If one imagines that God is some discrete object visible to physics or some finite aspect of nature, rather than the transcendent actuality of all things and all knowing, the logical inevitable Absolute upon which the contingent depends, then one has simply misunderstood what the content of the concept of God truly is, and has nothing to contribute to the debate (p. 327)

    Using this as a starting point, Hart discusses the way this conception of God relates to problems with a strictly materialistic view of the world (which he generalizes, rightly in my opinion, as the main world view of the New Atheists.), going into three aspects of the concept of God that highlight this problem—-being, consciousness, and bliss/

    As in other “notes” threads, I’m going use this to jot random thoughts and notes as a way to help me process the book.