Mark Driscoll’s been a busy boy lately. Not on his blog. That’s gone almost two solid months without an update. I mean in real life. But he has a clickbait update-that-isn’t-an-update for his readers that, as usual, explains nothing–except his own need to glorify himself. Today, Lord Snow Presides over Mark Driscoll’s ZOMG MEERKUL YAWL.
Where in the World is Mark Driscoll? — Asked Nobody, Ever.
The series Lord Snow Presides got its kickoff mocking Mark Driscoll. He’s so easy a target, being as he is the worst kind of arrogant, ignorant, -ism addled, belligerent, chest-thumpy fundagelical. He lost his entire Mars Hill empire through his own poor leadership and personal shortcomings, after all.
But Christians can’t let go of their idols, so he popped up again in short order in a smallish church in Arizona, where he appears to be regaining his income if not his immense popularity. And, of course, he got a Patheos blog on the Evangelical channel, where he runs excerpts from his published (ghostwritten) works and a few nearly-incoherent essays of his own. The column enjoyed some popularity before dwindling to mist.
After almost 2 months of silence, he popped back up a week ago.
That Ad Hoc Fallacy Though.
Ironically, he titled his new post “What Mark Driscoll and Family Have Been Up To.” I say it’s ironic because it doesn’t really constitute an update about what he and his family have been up to. However, it does accidentally reveal where his headspace is these days.
He begins with a deepity.
The big lesson that God has been teaching us in recent years is that everything in life is a gift if you patiently wait and learn what to do with it.
That’s not really a lesson, of course. It’s simply an example of an ad hoc fallacy. An ad hoc fallacy occurs when someone offers up an explanation for something that could explain it, but never gets around to demonstrating that their explanation does explain it.
In this case, Mark Driscoll professes having no idea in the world why all this stuff has happened to him–so he offers up an explanation that his god made it happen as a special gift for him, to teach him things he couldn’t learn otherwise.
Besides being incredibly arrogant, this explanation makes so many assumptions that one hardly knows how to begin refuting it. I suppose it’s always good to begin with asking the nutjob to demonstrate that any gods exist in the first place.
The Complicated Reasons That Aren’t Really Complicated.
Besides, I could easily tell him why all this stuff has happened to him. A great many people could, for that matter. It’s only a mystery to someone who is categorically invested, body and mind, in avoiding reality. He continues,
If I can figure that out, then God uses it to do something good in me, which in turn He can do something good through me to bless others.
Mark Driscoll is a man hellbent on avoiding reality, as we see here. Why is it so hard for him to understand why things have unfurled in his life the way they have? Why does a god need to make that stuff happen? By his own theological lights, his god should have been talking to him nonstop in prayer for years–and yet never mentioned that maybe his golden boy Markie Mark shouldn’t be making inappropriate comments to and bullying his sub-leaders?
But he professes complete mystification about what went down at Mars Hill.
Some years ago, our family had to move for a variety of complicated reasons. I was bemoaning and questioning what the Lord was doing, though we knew clearly God was directing it.
“Complicated reasons,” my left ass cheek.
It ain’t complicated at all. He sowed discord, disrespect, bullying, and his own unique blend of Christian frat-bro misogyny for years. Literally, he reaped what he’d sown.
Nothing about his downfall justifies that phrasing. It was anything but complicated, and no gods needed to lift a finger to make it happen.
That ZOMG MEERKUL YAWL Though.
BUT! Never fear! He’s got a ZOMG MEERKUL YAWL story for us. He clearly thinks it proves that his god loves him best.
Christians love their ZOMG MEERKUL YAWL stories. Those are the stories they tell breathlessly, expecting all listeners to nod along wide-eyed at this marvelous coincidence-that-must-be-miraculous. But when we examine the stories, we find that the coincidences actually don’t seem miraculous at all. In fact, they say something terrible about the person telling the story–and about their god.
He’s arranged his story in three different and remarkably short snippets to gain three clicks instead of one, a sure sign of desperation, so let me summarize for you (here’s part 2 archived, and part 3, if you want):
Just as the Driscoll family settled into their new and expensive-looking Seattle-area home, they had to move away from the area. OH THE HUMANITY! WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHRISTIAN BIGOT? So they had to put their expensive-looking home up for sale. But shortly after they had moved, but before the house had sold, a tree fell on the part of it where Driscoll and his wife Grace used to sleep (and probably argued like two cats in a sack).
Mark Driscoll takes this event as a grand miracle. He insists that the falling tree would have totally killed the couple in their sleep had they still been living in the house.
ZOMG, y’all. It’s totally a miracle! A MEERKUL! Checkmate, atheists!
This Is What He Thinks a “Blessing” Looks Like.
After an agonizing paragraph outlining what he thinks would totally have happened had the tree killed him and his wife, Driscoll realizes what really happened here.
Suddenly, I saw that the burden of moving was actually a blessing.
Of course, that “burden” only landed on his shoulders because he was a colossal asshat to thousands of people at Mars Hill. He terrorized them, bullied them, slandered them, demeaned them, harassed them, and, according to his own elders in their list of formal charges against him (linked above and here) “created a culture of fear” for every person working there. Pretty much any time he could get away with bullying anybody, he bullied them.
Abusing people titillates Mark Driscoll. It provides him the jollies he needs to slog his way through his wretched little life. And way too many people gravitate to fundagelicalism for precisely the same reason. It provides them a cover and a permission slip to behave toward others the way they want.
A god didn’t orchestrate the need for him to move. Driscoll’s own behavior necessitated it–no gods required. But that won’t stop him from throwing a little pity party for Poor Widdle Markie Mark, unfairly put upon by meaniepies who just couldn’t handle his Jesus-licious awesomeness. It’s downright hilarious that he tries (on the 2nd page) to claim that he moved to Arizona “for safety reasons.” I don’t think this blustering bully has ever outlined or provided evidence of what happened to make him pee his pants so hard the stream catapulted him all the way to Arizona.
Not Actually a Shocking Development.
We begin by questioning why we must accept that his escape from a falling tree is all that bizarre. It isn’t.
Over 600 people die every year in America after run-ins with falling, projected, or thrown objects–which obviously would include falling trees. A lawyer’s site asserts that over 100 people are killed by, specifically, falling trees. A United Kingdom nature blogger worked out the stats for his country and I assume it’s not much different for mine; he discovered that it’s not a common way to go. It’s rare enough as an event for a Christian to conclude that escaping it is worthy of a miracle claim, but then again, they claim that first-row parking spots opening before them are miraculous.
We don’t know if Driscoll hired a tree inspector for his land before moving his family into it. Nor do we know if the tree came from his or a neighbor’s land. In fact, one news site suggests that homeowners not only conduct these inspections before purchasing a home, but also to re-inspect all trees on the property every five years. Dude had a lot of trees there, so a falling tree doesn’t land anywhere near the realm of a shocking accident.
The Wearisome Immorality of Miracles.
So besides a blatant (but unnecessary) demonstration of his own lack of comprehension, Mark Driscoll also reveals his narcissism.
If at least a hundred people don’t escape falling trees each year, then what must we say to their grieving loved ones? This god doesn’t choose to save everyone. Why is Mark Driscoll so important? Because this god needed someone to lead an obscure little church in Arizona full of gullible marks eager to hand over their fleece to whatever opportunist lucked into them, and he’d earmarked Driscoll from the beginning of the universe to do the job of separating a few hundred overly-trusting followers in Arizona from their money?
What, did no other opportunists exist that this god could send, that he had to rely upon disgraced, discredited, utterly humiliated failures from half a continent away to further drag Christianity’s already-tattered reputation a little further downward?
The Christians making these miracle claims can’t ever adequately answer those kinds of questions. If one person is saved from a brutal death, then that makes us ask a lot of questions about all the others who don’t narrowly escape similar fates. And it definitely makes any sensible person ask questions about just what it was about the “rescued” person that merited special divine treatment for them, when countless victims of that fate could have done demonstrably more for that god.
The Problem of Suffering.
All I’ve ever personally seen Christians offer in response is a smirk and a wafting of their palms skyward, along with a sanctimonious-sounding wheedled plea that they just don’t understaaaaand howwwwww, but their god totally has a plan and obviously that Christian’s deeply integral to it, somehow, so this god just couldn’t allow them to perish.
The message comes through loud and clear: This Christian is totally important, so merits special treatment. Your loved one? Not so much. Sorry, they should have Jesus-ed harder. Like this guy. Jesus as hard as he does, and you’ll also be safe from harm.
What I’m describing here comes down to the Problem of Suffering. Like the Problem of Evil, it’s a dealbreaker for many people–and Christians haven’t ever resolved either one of them in any kind of satisfactory manner. The existence of this kind of suffering (death through no fault of one’s own; grief and bereavement–not to mention the sheer chaos for loved ones dealing with the aftereffects) bears enormous implications.
Either the Christian god simply cannot prevent such deaths, which means he ain’t omnipotent, or he doesn’t want to prevent them, which means he ain’t omnibenevolent. (We may also conclude that he doesn’t exist, which is the most likely explanation. But I digress.)
Every magic trick, a character informs us in the 2006 movie The Prestige, has three acts. In the first act, “the pledge,” the magician shows the audience an object to demonstrate that it is real and unaltered. In the second act, “the turn,” the magician makes the object do something remarkable. And in the third, “the prestige,” the magician brings the object back to its original status.
Christian hucksters operate under similar principles. Mark Driscoll has opened with his natural state: lackluster, frightened, uncertain, put-upon, blustering. Then he shows this miracle he thinks demonstrates just how amazing he thinks his god is. Sure, it backfires, but that’s not the point. Finally, he must restore the balance. And he does so by turning his post into a sales pitch.
See, most of this guff he just relayed comes from some new book he’s got out, Spirit-Filled Jesus, which appears to be largely about his miraculous travails and successes since losing Mars Hill. Since that is all he relays from the book, one assumes the rest of it runs along similar lines: Look how ordinary I am, and yet how important I am to Jesus! Look how hard I can Jesus! Don’t applaud–just throw money!
Though he forgets to italicize the book’s title, he does provide an Amazon link for pre-order.
And he provides that link on page 2 of his multi-part post.
The Hilarious (Multi-)Part.
I know something about these multi-part posts that Mark Driscoll does not know:
Clickthroughs to subsequent pages run from barely there to pathetic in number. Seriously. They make optimization managers very happy, but they have some serious downsides. I don’t use them because I know they annoy a lot of people, but also because if I’m going to drop 2587 words on a topic then I want people to read all 2587 of them. But clickthrough suffers more with every page someone adds to a multi-part post. By the end, only a fraction of readers have stayed for the entire ride.
The material needs to be very goddamned compelling to keep people clicking to the end. And it’s hard to imagine a lot of people finding Driscoll’s first page to be compelling enough to go to page 2. Page 3 is just a continuation of the anecdote on page 2, and I feel bad for the people who go to page 3 expecting anything more than an authoritarian bully patting himself on the back for having deeply-indoctrinated children.
Answering the Question.
So what have Mark Driscoll and his family been up to in the last few months?
Not too much, really. He hints at some very serious conflicts on the last page, but like most Christians selling something, he smooths those over. They’re resettling in a land far from home, and Mark Driscoll himself is trying very hard to pretend that he is exactly where an omnimax god of the universe personally decided he should be.
In a way, it’s a reassuring mediocrity. We’ll talk later about the Just World Hypothesis, but for now, let’s just say that sometimes things work out all right, taken as a whole.
NEXT UP: This week we have a look at that stupid Andy Stanley op-ed about why people leave his religion, and we’ll be looking at “Original Christianity” too. Stay tuned–see you next time, same Bat-Time, same Bat-Channel!
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Lord Snow Presides is our off-topic weekly chat series. I’ve started us off on a topic, but feel free to chime in with anything on your mind. Pet pictures especially welcome! The series was named for Lord Snow, my recently departed white cat. He knew a lot more than he ever let on.