Weighed down by sadness by yet another mass spree killing, I find myself plunging into stuff I can understand a little better. And yeah, it’s been another week of low- to no-effort posts from Mark Driscoll. He’s been veering wildly between regurgitated posts from his books about stuff like demons, Halloween, and what it’s like to live what he calls a Spirit-filled life. It’s the blog equivalent of watching a kid play Mario Kart. And yeah, they’re all about what you’d expect a seasoned fundagelical to write, with all the usual boring and meaningless talking points and thought-stoppers that don’t actually answer anything at all. Nestled among those stink-nuggets of pseudo-wisdom and willful ignorance, he’s given the world a couple of posts about marriage, of all things. We’ll look at that later. For now, we’re looking at his Halloween post about, of all things, zombies. Today Lord Snow reminds us of what’s really important–and what Mark Driscoll will never, ever have.
Finally, He Remembers to List an Email Address.
Hey, Mark Driscoll is not a professional writer or speaker or anything. He’s not used to communicating for a living. So we shouldn’t hold it against him that it’s taken him a solid month to remember that if he’s going to pretend that people are asking him questions, then he needs to make it easy for these theoretical people to communicate with him. But he isn’t opening his blog to comments–he’s no dummy. He knows exactly what would happen in a venue with a large contingent of people he doesn’t and can’t control. Someone might as well walk into a classroom full of fourteen-year-old kids and say the word “penis.”
So his first post of the week, “What Should Christians Think about Satan, Demons, and Zombies?” finally includes an email address.
An email address.
It got me thinking about how people use the internet to communicate these days. Email’s fallen out of favor as a communication medium on a personal level, it seems. One guy sure thinks so. He writes about how push notifications and communication apps (like instant-messaging that ties to our phones) are becoming the communication of choice for impromptu person-to-person communications, leaving email for more formal stuff. The Seattle Times called that one back in 2008, meanwhile, concluding that email hounds us so much at work that we’re less willing to spend personal time on it.
All I know is, almost everything I get are my site metrics, subscriptions to stuff I thought sounded cool but rarely have time to read, and alerts for the forum. I don’t get a lot of email (which means I earnestly consider those few reader comments–I know how seldom people are moved to write emails). Nowadays, people are way more likely to just jot down a thought here or to find me on Facebook or Twitter or whatever. Email’s essential in the way that having a physical checkbook is essential: sometimes, rarely but sometimes, a real physical check must be written out and in those cases only a real physical checkbook will do.
(On those few occasions, I’m sure the astonishment that registers on my face is nothing short of hilarious. Last time it happened, I blurted out, “You mean… like a check? Like on… paper?” Probably had that lady from Idiocracy’s look on my face, too. —->)
But at one time a checkbook was a lifeline, the same as email once was. When I first moved to the state where I live now, I had a little flip phone that could do email–just a lil WAP connection, like Earthlink and AOL–and I remember sitting on the carpeted corner of the dining nook of my newly-leased and still-empty kicky little boho garden apartment, aiming my phone at a fast food place across the street because they had an open WiFi connection, and clicking and tapping and ticking out letters on that tiny little thing to communicate with my loved ones and friends. And I was amazed and grateful to have it. That clunky Sanyo SCP-5300 was a dizzyingly cutting-edge bit of technology all the way around–in 2002, at least.
But that was 15 years ago.
The world did what it always does, which is to say that it moved on.
That flip-phone could almost legally buy itself a beer now. Children conceived that year are either in the beginning of their freshman year of high school or dreading their second go-round. EBay had been invented but it was still a wild and woolly frontier. Amazon.com existed, and I mailed checks to them for the books I ordered. (They didn’t sell anything but new books at the time, either.)
Among a lot of other monumental changes, the world and the connections we make here became a lot more transparent.The connection between communicators and audience got a lot thinner. Blogging, as a medium, turned into this amazing two-way experience.
And someone like Mark Driscoll is never going to adjust to that level of give-and-take. He’s like one of those weird insects that prefers dank, dark places where the light never reaches–one of those really bad ones with a bite that’ll send you straight to the hospital if you get too near it.
An Un-Asked Question is the Safest Kind.
In his Halloween spooktacular, Driscoll goes into great length to set up a question about supernatural threats. I think it links to a tiny little video he puts on the page (I think he messed up the linkage somehow) that is just more word salad and Christianese catchphrases. His totally-for-sure-sent-in-and-not-made-up-question just happened to ask what he thinks the Bible says about zombies. He thinks that Haitian voodoo is responsible for the myths about zombies, then concludes that the Bible talks about the Great Zombie Uprising in Jerusalem when Jesus was put to death, saying “Well, that must have been quite a day,” but omits the fact that not a single contemporary in Jerusalem at the time wrote a word about that “quite a day” event.
(Mr. Captain, hearing that story, said “Don’t mistake me here. He’s Darth Cockmongler, Dark Lord of the Sith.” When I asked if he meant Jesus or Mark Driscoll, he said “Oh, Jesus is just a fictional character. I meant Mark Driscoll. He’s pure evil.” I’ve chosen not to remind him that the Sith are also fictional characters because nothing’s worse than someone who spoils an excellent joke.)
The one amusing bit is when he tells a Haitian acquaintance who’s just told him about a village with a “zombie problem” that “if you have one zombie, you have a problem.” That, at least, I can agree with in full. Also, a postage-stamp-sized Mark Driscoll is right about where I want him, if anywhere at all.
As for the idea of curses like those that are said to produce zombies, I don’t believe in curses in a supernatural sense. I haven’t for years. Even when I went in for the supernatural, I was firmly in agreement with Schmendrick the Magician from The Last Unicorn in believing that “the most professional curse ever snarled or croaked or thundered can have no effect on a pure heart.”
That’s because curses are fictional, while pure hearts are real–if rarer than we’d like. Just as blessings can’t do anything, curses can’t either–unless backed by people in one direction or the other. And every single time I hear a Christian try to make the supernatural sound totally for real, I’m once again reminded–every single time, without fail–of how happy and relieved I am to be away from a religion based on untrue assertions.
It comes down to this:
Behold humanity, dear friends.
It’s the best and most beautiful, the worst and ugliest, all together. It’s all these myriad angels and demons of our nature vying to move us forward year after year and birth after birth, even if it feels like we drunk-stagger two steps forward and a step and three-quarters back every time.
And oh, sometimes, does it ever. Something terrible has once again happened–with the painful inevitability that accompanies all of these dark deeds these days, and with no assurance whatsoever that it’ll be the last anytime soon. As WereBear said on the last post, our country “Of the People, By the People, For the People” has somehow been replaced by crazy billionaire money remakes. (And as Jack Baynes replied, a strikingly large number of our citizens appears to think that the best way to fix that problem is to send another crazy billionaire wannabe to the Oval Office.)
We lurch forward somehow despite it all. We’ll fix that too, in time.
No supernatural forces are required for any of that movement to happen, either, nor in what sparks that movement. None have been needed since before we were even humans. It happens anyway. When we finally lick the problem we’re having with mass violence, no supernatural forces will be involved in our success. All it takes is human beings creating new problems and then fixing what went wrong.
And yet all Mark Driscoll perceives is more to conquer, more power to seize, simply more that he doesn’t have yet and bitterly aches to gain. For all the heights he’s reached that I never will, the wealth he enjoys even now, the power he once wielded and will again if he has any say in the matter, I pity him with all my heart right now. He’ll never understand why, either. I couldn’t even tell him if he asked.
Not that he would.
He’s there to decree, not to ask; he’s there to hold forth, not to wonder. In fundagelical terms, he’s not ever going to lower himself enough to create a real two-way channel of communication–because to do so would be to negate the power he’s scrabbled together in the wake of his disgrace.
But it’s lonely at the top of his internal mental ladder. Because of his need to be at the top of it, he’s missing out on one of the purest joys in life: being around good people, having fun, exchanging thoughts, being witty, laughing together. Think about all the fun we have here around these halls. He’s missing out on all of that. He’s as constitutionally incapable of understanding that joy as he is of admitting he’s made some serious mistakes, and for the same reasons. He’s almost a zombie himself, except that his driving hunger focuses on power rather than brains.
So…my dear friends, we who are the best goddamned commentariat on the entire internet, what would you want to ask Mark Driscoll about “Satan, Demons, and Zombies?”