Sunday, April 22, 2018

Nikita Koshkin's 24 Preludes and Fugues: Prelude and Fugue in C major

Prelude and Fugue in C major
Fortunately for this one we have a video performance, which you can watch here.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5RURKrp1nY

Prelude (start of video)

This has a mid-tempo feel to it but is like a brisk walk (quarter equals 132 bpm).  After a single measure introduction the lilting, rising gesture of B, C, D, E in quarter notes appears in measure 2, followed by a  small leap to G and a descent from G through F and E in staggered and repeating rhythms.  That this central motto begins on a leading tone rather than a tonic is the crucial element of this motto throughout the prelude, because it allows Koshkin to introduce mercurial modal mutations by manipulating how this motto is presented in terms of modal mutation on one hand and in terms of harmonic juxtaposition on the other.

No sooner has this opening motto (five measures) in C major been presented, Koshkin presents a new form of it in E flat major.  Even this E flat major phrase mutates into parallel minor in enharmonic spelling.  Though this is a little prelude there's a dramatic arc at play.  The third phrase on the motto turns it into a two-measure sequence of quarter notes that brings us back to C, but C minor.  Koshkin's used his second phrase on E flat to move quickly back to the tonic key but in its parallel minor, building up to a climax that has us in the "wrong" key for a prelude in C major, the climax of the movement in terms of being the literal high point of the melodic journey and by being in C minor rather than major.  Koshkin makes a swift yet gentle descent through passage work that evokes Bach's Bourree from BWV 996 without actually quoting it.

As he continues to wind down with descending melodic activity Koshkin has some interesting harmonic pivots I'd write more about if I were writing, say, a treatise.  Instead I'm going to note that he wraps things up with an augmentation (in half notes) of his initial melodic motto and ends with a semi-half cadence that prepares the way for the fugue.

Fugue (starts at 1:22)

As fugues go this subject has an unusually large ambit, a compound fifth.  The fugue is what is known as a "white" fugue, a fugue in C major in which no accidentals or chromatic alterations occur anywhere in the piece.  Given how unstable and prone to modal mutation the prelude was, composing a "white" fugue could seem as though it can't effectively be "preluded" by what we've just heard.  But there's a unifying element, you can see it in the score and hear it, the prelude and the fugal subject are defined by mottos that lean on the leading tone and third degree of the tonic chord.  This allows for even the "white" fugue to retain a faintly jazzy air by having a subject that outlines a C major seventh chord in its opening two measures. 

The fugue has three voices (tenor, alto, soprano for choral thinking).  The entrances can be described as follows
1. Subject enters in alto on the tonic
2. Answer enters in tenor on the dominant
3. Subject reprised in soprano on the tonic.

There isn't exactly a countersubject but if there is one then the countersubject candidate in the initial voice is a gesture that is freely inverted when it appears under the third entrance of the subject.  Since countersubjects can appear either in prime or inversion form that's worth noting as we start blogging through all of these preludes and fugues. 

Since it would be difficult to try describing episodes in fugues even to people already familiar with fugal writing I'll stick to commenting about something that's easier to hear and identify in a score.  There are a number of middle entries in this fugue.  Middle entries are moments in the fugue in which the subject is presented in its full (or fully identifiable) form before proceeding to episode development. The first appears at measure 44 and is in E minor.

The second middle entry is in G major and is at measure 48. What makes this middle entry interesting is the subject is presented in canon against itself.  The episodic material is rather extensive moving along from here and the next middle entry is in F at measure 60, followed by another canonic middle entry at measure 62 and in this case the canonic relationship is switched.  In the first canonic middle entry the lower voice starts first and is followed by the upper, while in this second canonic middle entry the upper voice begins and the lower voices responds. 

The climax of the fugue could arguably be at measure 64, where the subject in the alto is supported by the tenor (i.e. bass) and is answered in the soprano by a free inversion of the subject as a quasi-stretto passage where the subject is answered by an inversion.  

As fugues go this one is elegant and simple.  Starting with a "white" fugue has precedent enough in the Shostakovich cycle and Koshkin has indicated that Shostakovich and Stravinsky are among his inspirations. The juxtaposition of a harmonically violent prelude and a gentle "white" fugue is a nice way to start this cycle. 

Nikita Koshkin's 24 Preludes and Fugues: Prelude and Fugue in A minor

Prelude and Fugue in A minor
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nUuvxGdLGk

Prelude (starts at 0:20)

The prelude here is an aggressive, relentless perpetual piece with running sixteenth note activity throughout, that starts in the bass line.  A somber quarter-tone melody floats above the perpetual motion. Perhaps the simplest way to describe this menacing but charming prelude is as a march in a strophic/binary form. The marching chorale tune appears in the treble strings in the first half and in the second half in the bass strings while the perpetual motion switches from being in the bass strings to the treble strings.  Being in the relative minor to the preceding prelude and fugue in C major this companion piece in the cycle is ominous and agitated where the C major dyad was calm and serene.  Each half of this prelude has a tonic and dominant phrase that gets rounded off with a cadential push into the next phrase.  In this case the prelude ends with an attaca, incomplete cadential gesture that leads with a very brief pause into ...

Fugue (starts at 1:54)

This fugue opens with an ominous and languid subject that moves by fifths across the root, fifth and ninth. For those who don't have the scores at hand this subject seems like one where some kind of written description will help elucidate what you can hear at the start.

A E B F (pause) B C D | C G D A (pause) D C B | A E B F (pause) B C D | C G D A (pause)
fourth measure closes with what can be thought of as a locrian flourish in sixteenth notes.  

This is another fugal subject with a fairly wide ambit, an eleventh rather than a twelfth. While in more parochial terms this could be considered a difficult fugal subject what makes the large ambit work is that although the subject has a large range it is spacious, particularly at the tempo Koshkin calls for. There's a lot of room for rhythmic variety.  This will become audibly clear as the voices enter in the exposition.

This is, like many of the fugues in the cycle, a three-voiced fugue. There are, however, four statements of the subject.  One of the many things you can do with a fugal exposition is introduce additional entries of a subject before completing an exposition if you have a subject that lends itself to an extra statement.

So we have the following:

1. Subject appears in tenor
2. Subject is answered at dominant in alto
3. Subject appears in soprano
4. Subject appears in tenor/bass at the dominant.

In this case the parallelism of the four measure phrases builds a momentum that I think needs to be respected, and Koshkin respects it.  The reason for this has to do with the harmonic movement in the subject.  Despite the quintal activity in the subject the root movement progression is between the minor tonic and the major mediant. Given the ambiguity possible in a subject so anchored to mediant root movement, offsetting that potential for ambiguity by reinforcing the tonic dominant relationship in the entries of the fugal subject within an extended exposition is a very wise compositional move.  It also lays down what I'd call a kind of rock and roll momentum for the subject at hand, because if anyone's hear The Police song "Message in a Bottle" this has a comparable kind of vibe in intervallic terms, though Koshkin's subject is more menacing and substantially less repetitive.

This fugue also introduces what I would call a true countersubject, the descending minor third in sixteenths that leads to a briefly repeated tonic or dominant pedal tone depending on whether we're in a statement of the subject or its answer at the dominant.  That this countersubject is dropped in the fourth entry of the subject, the second entry of the subject at the dominant, is a signal that the exposition is wrapping up and the development of the fugue is beginning, which is also a fine compositional move. 

After the episodic work begins at about 2:30 we get to a very fun passage at about 3:12 where Koshkin introduces material that is derived from his subject and countersubject that is in the whole tone scale.

At 3:33 we get the first middle entry, in E minor. This is followed immediately by another middle entry in the tonic key.  Now among those who teach counterpoint for any instrument but the guitar there might be a complaint here that if you observe the old Baroque ideal sometimes called a "tour of keys" model for fugal composition nobody should be getting back to the tonic key so quickly.  Sure, there's that theoretical and philosophical complaint that could be made, but seeing as so few guitarist composers the world over have composed cycles of fugues I honestly don't see this as something to be pedantic about unless you're willing to compose a fugue in A minor with a middle entry in B flat major.

So there are just a couple of middle entries in the dominant and tonic keys before a structural climax is achieved in the 90s measures.  The subject and countersubject re-appear in climactic form at 4:19.  This is followed up by a number of flourishes on the locrian riff from the end of the subject.  At 4:51 (measure 102) we hear the subject enter at the dominant in the lowest voice and get answered at the tonic by the upper voice. 

By this point the fugue, though formally having three voices, has had a two-voiced texture in many areas.  As George Oldroyd put it in The Technique and Spirit of Fugue one of the mistakes contrapuntists make at the student level is wrongly assuming that once you introduce X number of voices that X number of voices must always be active throughout the duration of the fugue.  Koshkin does not make that mistake here.  Given the liveliness of his countersubject it makes sense to let the spacious subject be offset by an active countersubject and let two voices convey a contrapuntal richness that the guitar can certainly imply but cannot necessarily execute in a flesh and blood performance.

Now at 5:04 Koshkin introduces another stretto point.  He's not composing grand stretto passages but what he does introduce here is the subject in the upper voice which is answered in imitation by the inversion of the subject in the lower voice. After this closing stretto passage Koshkin presents the subject in augmentation with percussion effects.  Then the augmented quintal subject is presented again with its tonic to mediant harmonic movement as a kind of grand chorale (though one that relies on the natural resonance of the instrument to convey its effect rather than attempting to present all of these stacked fifths as a single harmonic/melodic moment.  There's a brief semi-comic semi-menacing pizzicato passage, and then Koshkin closes the fugue on a gentle A major chord, bringing a fugue full of agitation and gloom to a paradoxically sunny, gentle conclusion. 

So, we're finally blogging through Nikita Koshkini's 24 preludes and fugues for solo guitar

I've been meaning to do this for at least a year, no, more than a year.  Starting this weekend I've finally started into that project. 

Given the sheer length of such a project and the complexity of writing about the first published polyphonic cycle for solo guitar to have been composed by a guitarist I can't realistically try to knock out everything to be said about any paired prelude and fugue in blog posts.  That said, I'll try to blog about them in posts where I can pair up discussions of a major key prelude and fugue and a minor key related prelude and fugue.  So I'll start with C major and A minor. 

Where possible, of course, I'll link to video performances so that you can listen.  This will only be possible for a fraction of the entire cycle, however. Since much more of the first half has been made available online it will be easier for those who do not already own the scores for this cycle to read the blog posts where video performances are already available.  Where practical I'll try to describe what happens that I find interesting along the way in each of the pieces.  But if you don't have the scores yourself there's only so much I can do.  Since, however, I am intending to advocate on behalf of this cycle I can at least write something and publish it here at this blog.  On account of this blog having a ... history of discussing and presenting information about more controversial topics like the history of a religious movement within the Puget Sound I hope readers who may be new to reading this blog can appreciate why the default position here is all comments are moderated and may not get published.  Now that the blog is finally roaming about toward topics that aren't constantly connected to Mars Hill that doesn't mean I've reached some epiphany that insists that people are well-behaved on the internet. :) 

So, with that caveat in mind, if you feel inspired to comment about this series of tagged posts discussing Koshkin's contrapuntal cycle you're welcome to comment, even if I can't exactly promise that comments will be moderated or published right away (if at all). 

"how lies spread" on social media, a few thoughts on sociological and horizontal propaganda

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/08/opinion/sunday/truth-lies-spread-online.html

...
Surprisingly, Twitter users who spread false stories had, on average, significantly fewer followers, followed significantly fewer people, were significantly less active on Twitter, were verified as genuine by Twitter significantly less often and had been on Twitter for significantly less time than were Twitter users who spread true stories. Falsehood diffused farther and faster despite these seeming shortcomings.
 
And despite concerns about the role of web robots in spreading false stories, we found that human behavior contributed more to the differential spread of truth and falsity than bots did. Using established bot-detection algorithms, we found that bots accelerated the spread of true stories at approximately the same rate as they accelerated the spread of false stories, implying that false stories spread more than true ones as a result of human activity.
 
Why would that be? One explanation is novelty. Perhaps the novelty of false stories attracts human attention and encourages sharing, conveying status on sharers who seem more “in the know.”
 
Social media can be fairly easily identified and classified as horizontal propaganda at one level and sociological propaganda at another level.  Ellul's book on the subject has been pretty helpful to me in the last few years so we'll let him define the terms and see whether they could be applicable to social media.

PROPAGANDA: THE FORMATION OF MEN'S ATTITUDES
JACQUES ELLUL
Translated from the French by Konrad Kellen & Jean Lerner
Vintage Books Edition, February 1973
Copyright (c) 1965 by Alfred A Knopf Inc.
ISBN 0-394-71874-7


page 64
Sociological propaganda springs up spontaneously; it is not the result of deliberate propaganda action. No propagandists deliberately use this method, though many practice it unwittingly, and tend in this direction without realizing it. For example, when an American producer makes a film, he has certain definite ideas he wants to express, which are not intended to be propaganda. Rather, the propaganda element is in the American way of life with which he is permeated and which he expresses in his film without realizing it. [emphases added] We see here the force of expansion of a vigorous society, which is totalitarian in the sense of the integration of the individual, and which leads to involuntary behavior.

from pages 64-65

Sociological propaganda expresses itself in many different ways--in advertising, in movies (commercial and non-political films), in technology in general, in education ... All these influences are in basic accord with each other and lead spontaneously in the same direction; one hesitates to call this propaganda.  Such influences, which mold behavior, seem a far cry from Hitler's propaganda setup. Unintentional (at least in the first stage), non-political, organized along spontaneous patterns and rhythms, the activities we have lumped together ... are not considered propaganda by either sociologists or the average public.

And  yet with deeper and more objective analysis, what do we find? These influences are expressed through the same media as propaganda.  [emphases added] They are really directed by those who make propaganda. To me this fact seems essential. A government, for example, will have is own public relations, and will also make propaganda. Most of the activities described in this chapter have identical purposes. Besides, these influences follow the same stereotypes and prejudices as propaganda; they stir the same feelings and act on the individual in the same fashion. These are the similarities, which bring these two aspects of propaganda closer together ...

... Such activities are propaganda to the extent that the combination of advertising, public relations, social welfare, and so on produces a certain general conception of society, a particular way of life. ... the individual in the clutches of such sociological propaganda believes that those who live this way are on the side of angels, and those who don't are bad; those who have this conception of society are right, and those who have another conception are in error. Consequently, just as with ordinary propaganda, it is a matter of propagating behavior and myths both good and bad. Furthermore, such propaganda becomes increasingly effective when those subjected to it accept its doctrines on what is good or bad (for example, the American Way of Life). There, a whole society actually expresses itself through this propaganda by advertising it's kind of life.

By doing that, a society engages in propaganda on the deepest level. ... [emphasis added]

It would seem that the very nature of social media fits the description of sociological propaganda.  Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc can be thought of as instruments and media for sociological propaganda.  However, that said, what arguably makes social media as potent as it is comes from the fact that this is not "just" sociological propaganda.  Social media arguably combines the power of sociological propaganda, which seems to spring up and go viral from the ground level, so to speak, with that "horizontal" element--horizontal propaganda is the next category we get to:

page 81
This propaganda can be called horizontal because it is made inside the group (not from the top), where, in principle, all individuals are equal and there is no leader. ... But the most remarkable characteristic of horizontal propaganda is the small group. The individual participates actively in the life of this group, in a genuine and lively dialogue.

page 82

Vertical propaganda needs the huge apparatus of the mass media of communication; horizontal propaganda needs a huge organization of people.
...

A member of a small group must not belong to other groups in which he would be subjected to other influences; that would give him a chance to find himself again and, with it, the strength to resist.

page 84
Horizontal propaganda thus is very hard to make (particularly because it needs so many instructors), but it is exceptionally efficient through its meticulous encirclement of everybody, through the effective participation of all present, and through their public declarations of adherence. It is particularly a system that seems to coincide perfectly with egalitarian societies claiming to be based on the will of the people and calling themselves democratic [emphasis added]; each group is composed of persons who are alike and one actually can formulate the will of such a group. But all this is ultimately much more stringent and totalitarian than explosive propaganda. Thanks to this system, Mao has succeeded in passing from subversive propaganda to integration propaganda.


Horizontal propaganda could have been a proverbial "whisper network" in the past, gossip inside an organization perhaps, but social media can be thought of as a kind of bullhorn for what in the past might have been confined to a more literal whisper network.
 
We now live in an era in which thanks to social media horizontal propaganda is now powerfully, almost effortlessly easy.  Mars Hill's use of The City and php discussion boards; Mars Hill leadership encouraging members to jump on everything social media ranging from Myspace (yes, that was a thing in the 2007-2008 period) through Facebook to blogging and Twitter; Mars Hill had a leadership culture and a general culture that embraced social media use and attempted to innovate and being on the cutting edge of technology application in this realm.  The City can be thought of as an instrument for sociological and horizontal propaganda.  I don't doubt that the people who designed it were not thinking in terms of those categories when they were working on it.  If they had been they might have had some qualms about the nature of the endeavor but the past is the past. 
 
As I look back on the twenty some years of what used to be Mars Hill one of the defining traits of the culture was its interest in mass and social media in particular.  Driscoll made a point of deploying as many forms of social media as possible.  Justin Dean has a book out in which he essentially insists that if you are a pastor or a church community and you are not using every social media tool available to you then you're already "losing" in terms of public relations
 
We don't just live in an era of urban legends, we also live in an era of supermyths, myths that are promulgated and entrenched by scholars. While scholars and academics would like to believe they debunk myths Ellul has pointed out that propaganda doesn't work well on the truly uneducated and illiterate, it has its greatest power over the educated who regard themselves as such and want to make sure they are up to date.  But that's arguably another topic for some other time. 
 
In sum, when we look at social media we're looking at a compound propaganda platform.  We're not just looking at something that allows for sociological propaganda but also for horizontal propaganda.  The question of how lies spread is in some sense the "wrong" question, the question should perhaps first be about how anything is spread on social media by way of its technique.  Then we can get to the secondary question lf whether what's distributed through social media is true or false. 

if Alan Jacobs is considering a blog-through reading of Ellul's Propaganda I say, feel free

Alan Jacobs has mentioned reading through Jacques Ellul's Propaganda lately.

http://text-patterns.thenewatlantis.com/2018/04/revisionist-blizzard-of-alternative.html#comment-form
...


Maybe I should blog a read-through of Propaganda.

Having blogged a bit on Propaganda as a book that can illuminate and elucidate a whole lot of what was going on in the culture of Mars Hill I say go for it.

I'm not sure that "emergent propaganda" quite convinces me here.
http://text-patterns.thenewatlantis.com/2018/04/propaganda-and-social-media.html

That horizontal and sociological propaganda could be outsourced, so to speak, to bots would not, I think, change the basic nature of what category or level of propaganda they're used to create.  But it sounds like Jacobs is reading through and not at the "has read all of" Propaganda as yet.

Jake Meador on the crisis of Christian discipline has half as many categories as seem germane to our moment.

Among a strata of American and British Reformed thinkers ... there's been a crisis of or about church discipline for about twenty years. 

Over at Mere Orthodoxy Jake Meador has written about the crisis of Christian discipline. Much of what he has written is stuff that, if you're familiar with Mere Orthodoxy already, I probably don't have to really unpack or explain.  I'd rather not cover ground Meador covers well enough himself. 

That said, he lists a mere three categories ...

https://mereorthodoxy.com/church-discipline-liberalism-and-the-benedict-option/
...

Second, the obvious failures of our existing institutions raises further questions about discipline as it relates to spiritual and theological formation and as it applies to major institutions.

We can see the failure of evangelical institutions under three main headings.
§  Sexual Failings
§  Race-related Failings
§  Dogmatic Failings
... 
 
Just those three?  I’d say that’s missing a fourth and fifth and sixth category.  These failings do not seem any less significant, though I hardly want the above three categories to be treated lightly, either.
 
4 Financial failings
5 Intellectual failings
6 Misuse of power (either in terms of application of acquisition)

Not coincidentally these three additional categories are available from consideration for how things went down at the late Mars Hill Church.

FINANCIAL ISSUES-who gets how much for what?

For those who are not already familiar with the late Mars Hill a financial controversy was over the transparency and purpose of Mars Hill Global.  When Mark Driscoll announced Mars Hill Global in 2009 it was clearly a fundraising approach, inviting any and all who were consumers of Mars Hill products of ministry to financially support the expansion of the Mars Hill brand. If you listened to podcasts and sent money in that would go to support Mars Hill's global expansion.  How that would be implemented was not really a question. During the Sutton Turner era, however, more Global fundraising was done with an eye toward promoting foreign missions and resource distribution yet the distribution in practice had not changed.  One of the crises associated with Mars Hill Global concerned questions about the ethics and clarity of using images of kids in Africa to raise money for Mars Hill Global if it turned out that only a fraction of the monies raised were ever actually going to overseas activities. 

While those who did and would defend Mars Hill Global as having been entirely above board have protested that everyone who gave knew their money was going to get used where ever Mars Hill leadership thought it was needed that's not exactly the point of the objections.  Non-profits have some expectations and requirements that fundraising activities have something observable to do with the means of raising.  The gap between observable means and applied ends made Mars Hill Global a controversy because some, even many people, felt that the use of African children to raise money for expansion that would involve getting real estate in the state of Washington was not of a piece with African children.  Had the Mars Hill elders made films petitioning people to give to Mars Hill Global so that Mars Hill could land some sweet real estate in Bellevue or Tacoma or Spokane would that have been as powerful a marketing tool as using African children?  No, perhaps, but it would have arguably been more honest fundraising.

Then there was, of course, the Result Source controversy in which it was revealed that Mars Hill Church contracted a company to secure a number 1 spot on the New York Times bestseller list for Real Marriage. Not too much needs to be said about that by now.

On the whole, the financial controversies of Mars Hill could be summarized as concerns about the fiscal competency and viability of the financial practices of the church.  When I stopped being a member about 2008 my concern was the church was committed to an expansionist policy that was not going to be fiscally solvent in the long run.  I was also not convinced Mars Hill leadership was competent enough of transparent enough to be trusted.  So that's a sliver of my own story in connection to this whole category.   Where your treasure is your heart will be also and arguably way, way too many celebrity Christians are not transparent about how much treasure they have here and now or about where their hearts might be with these earthly treasures. 

Which, I suppose, gets me to another controversy within the culture of Mars Hill.  When Driscoll kept talking about the challenges of urban ministry in Seattle it was not a small deal that it turned out he had been living in Woodway for a year or two, an expensive city to live in that wasn't even in King County.  A Mark Driscoll who could afford to live in Woodway who still hectored members about needing to give more sacrificially was trying to avoid transparency about his own location.  Sure, he cited safety reasons but that's not entirely separable from his public persona (hint, William Wallace II).

INTELLECTUAL ISSUES-wanting to be taken seriously as thinkers using second and third-hand thoughts (without always giving credit where it's due)

As for intellectual issues, Driscoll's plagiarism controversy alone should suffice for that but I'm surprised how many evangelicals and socially conservative Christians don't regard the intellectual property issue with Driscoll as ultimately salient.  But Driscoll is not even the only celebrity Christian for whom intellectual integrity by way of intellectual property could be a concern.  It's not as though Doug Wilson and Randy Booth didn't have a failure of scholarship with A Justice Primer.  Comparing the plagiarism controversies of Mark Driscoll and Doug Wilson was something we looked at over here.

https://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2016/01/comparing-and-contrasting-plagiarism.html

To avoid rehashing a lot of old material, Doug Wilson may be a grandstanding soapboxing hack in a way similar to Mark Driscoll, but Wilson has gone a long time without singularly alienating his own support base.  That he had to retract A Justice Primer after it was shown to be riddled with plagiarism didn't hurt his intra-group reputation, apparently.  The irony that a book that was praised by the likes of Kevin DeYoung as relevant to the question of justice in the age of the watchdog blog was retracted after being shown to be full of plagiarism by a watchdog blog of sorts would be hard to overstate.

To the extent that evangelicals may ask where the Christian intellectuals are the answer to that may be there won't be any for as long as Christians assume that the kinds of plagiarism scandals that surrounded Mark Driscoll and Doug Wilson are not indicative of intellectual and moral failure.  If you think that Doug Wilson made a couple of boo boos but that he's basically defensible in the wake of retracting A Justice Primer then you're most likely not the kind of person who care enough about scholarship to become an intellectual, Christian or otherwise. 

But this is not just a failure of individuals, it's also a failure of industries.  The more I waded through Real Marriage and the more I and Warren Throckmorton and others went through the plagiarism issues with Driscoll the more I realized that without publishers to not be bothered to flag this stuff down before publication the plagiarism controversy as it played out with Mark Driscoll simply could not have happened.

The young, restless and Reformed crowd and the neo-Calvinist, new Calvinist crowd have become so insular overall that the odds that they can introduce any intellectual heft seems ... remote.  The insularity of the neo-Calvinist scene is something I've written about before and I'm not even the only person who's taken this up.  But ...

https://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2016/06/at-mere-orthodoxy-jake-meador-on.html


As for misuse of power ... there's a litany of blog posts with the tag "governance" that you could consult.  Misuse in the accumulation and application of power will basically get you to all the aforementioned categories of sin.
 
It’s not that Meador’s wrong to highlight the first three because those are all important.  An evangelicalism that confronts sexual sin, racial animosity and false doctrine will also have to confront financial abuses, scholarly incompetence and dishonesty and the power brokering that so often is associated with defending those entrenched habits of mind and heart.  Meador's list of failings is both sexy and obvious, the stuff that's fairly easy to say publicly we need to tackle because we do, but what if we propose that those kinds of sins are the acne that is a reflection of underlying skin issue that led to the acne?  Skin-deep analogy, I suppose, but it's what I have at the moment.  Meador's mere three categories could look like a desire that the zits go away without addressing the skin condition. 

Now, of course, Meador would likely argue that if we had real church discipline that had teeth we really could deal with the underlying issues.  Yes, I suppose we could.  But that's also why I'm proposing the additional three categories that weren't in his litany.  Jesus, as I'm sure Meador knows, is someone progressives have described as being more confrontational about the acquisition and use of money and power more than about sexuality.  There's something to be said for that even if the way progressives tend to handle things is itself also dubious.  The Hybels situation suggests the possibility that the egalitarian and complementarian divide that Anglo-American Christians fight over is a secondary or even tertiary concern.  If we're fighting over whether rock star pastors should be complementarian or egalitarian rather than rejecting the ethos and praxis of the rock star pastor then we've already lost the more significant battle.  Sometimes I get the impression that when evangelicals ask where the Christian intellectuals are too many of them mean they wonder why we don't have more rock star pastors.  They don't put the question that directly, of course, but a perceived crisis of a lack of individuals we could call "intellectual" seems denotative and connotative of rock star rather than scholar. 

I have been feeling for the last five years that both the religious left and the religious right in Anglo-American scholarship, as well as the critical theory scene, too, have all reached points where the way to describe them is ... insufficiently dialectical. ;)  The insularity of the neo-Calvinist scene or new Calvinist scene seems to be such that they're never actually going to matter but they can certainly hope that they will. 


 

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Andy Girton no longer Associate Pastor at The Trinity Church

For those who have kept track of the emergence of The Trinity Church, Andy Girton was a name associated with the early years of said church. Take this article by Nina Shapiro from a couple of years back.

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/former-mars-hill-pastor-to-start-new-church-in-phoenix/

Mark Driscoll finally made it official: He’s starting a new church in Phoenix. The culmination of a comeback that has been gaining steam over the past year, the former Mars Hill pastor announced the news of The Trinity Church on Monday by email, Twitter and a new website.

In a folksy video on the site, which begins with a “howdy” from Driscoll, the pastor said he and his wife, Grace, sitting by his side, were “hoping, trusting, praying, planning and also a little” — he made a jokey grimace — “worrying about planting a church here.”
Driscoll also noted that he was “healin’ up” in his new home. And his bio on the site refers to the Driscolls recently facing “the most challenging year of their lives,” one that prompted the pastor to take a year off.                

But aside from those remarks, there’s no reference to Driscoll’s troubled and controversial history at Mars Hill. Indeed, there’s no direct mention at all of the megachurch he presided over for 18 years in Seattle, until snowballing allegations of plagiarism, emotional abusiveness and misogyny led him to resign in October 2014.

“It’s the elephant in the room,” said Warren Throckmorton, a psychology professor at Pennsylvania’s Grove City College who has diligently chronicled the Mars Hill saga on the Christian website Patheos.                

The absence is all the more strange because Trinity’s website lists two other former Mars Hills’ staffers, Andy Girton and Brandon Anderson, as associate pastors of the new church. Their bios also neglect to say where, exactly, they once worked.
...

For folks who want a snapshot of Girton's early role.

http://archive.is/oOXVf#selection-731.8-731.216

ANDY GIRTONASSOCIATE PASTOR
Associate Pastor Andy Girton was born and raised in a small town in the Midwest. Soon after moving to the Northwest with his family, he met his high school sweetheart and future wife Darlene. Shortly after high school, Andy and Darlene married and started a family.
Through involvement in a church plant in a small suburb of Seattle, they were both baptized as believers and began volunteering in ministry together. The Girtons helped plant two churches, assisted in a church merger, and led various teams. Today, they have a son and a daughter who love the Lord and also serve alongside their parents in ministry.
there is currently no sign of Girton on the page for local staff and leadership.

http://thetrinitychurch.com/local-ministry-leaders-and-staff/

Were you to plug in any random tweet status into Google to find out what Girton's twitter handle might say, you might run into this:

Andy Girton · @AndyGirton. Andy Girton Follower of Jesus, husband of Darlene, daddy to Cole and Reagan, associate pastor of creative and technology @thetrinitychrch.

But if you go to https://twitter.com/AndyGirton now you'll see:
Andy Girton Follower of Jesus, husband of Darlene, daddy to Cole and Reagan.

So the associate pastor part isn't in the description any longer. 

Sometimes guys just vanish from ministry roles at churches founded or co-founded by Mark Driscoll.  These things are known to happen.  What happened is not clear, obviously.

Things at the former Mars Hill Portland seemed to be in some kind of transitional time earlier this year, for instance, but exactly what has been transpiring down there is not yet spelled out, either.

So, for folks who keep tabs on these things, Andy Girton is gone.  In the midst of Mark and Grace Driscoll promoting the forthcoming Spirit-Filled Jesus this question about one of the two men who were described as part of local leadership at the start of The Trinity Church might be an interesting question to get an answer to if it seemed possible that an answer could be provided, or would be. 



Christianity Today has new piece on the Hybels situation ... the blink and you miss it thing about "his jet" is hard to ignore, that and that Mark DeMoss is saying stuff on behalf of Willow Creek

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2018/april/bill-hybels-willow-creek-promises-investigation-allegations.html

...

Once the deal was done, Girkins says Hybels insisted on meeting with her personally throughout the publishing process, rather than working with her staff.
 
That meant a number of one-on-one meetings: often at his beach home in Michigan, on his yacht, on his jet, or at restaurants near Hybels’s summer home. During those meetings, the conversations often got personal, she said. And at times inappropriate.
...
 
on his yacht?  on his jet?  Rock star pastors with rock star gear ... reportedly acting like ... rock stars ...
...
The church also said it has investigated all past claims it has received—and will try to meet with those who have made allegations.
 
“In recent weeks, many of us have persistently requested meetings with people mentioned or quoted in media accounts, but our efforts have been unsuccessful,” the church told CT in its earlier statement.
 
“The church will listen,” said Mark DeMoss, a spokesman for Willow. “All I can say is, try us and see.”
 
Why does that name ring bells?
 
Maybe ...
 
 
Church Leaders and Pastors Praying for The Trinity Church
...
Mark DeMoss – Founder
DeMoss Public Relations
 
...
Then there's this piece from November 2014
 
http://online.wsj.com/articles/sarah-pulliam-bailey-how-the-cussin-pastor-got-into-megatrouble-1415924941
...
'The same rough edges that can land you in hot water are the very same things that attracted, in some cases, tens of thousands of people to you in the first place,' Mark DeMoss, whom Mars Hill hired to do public relations for six months before Mr. Driscoll’s resignation, told me."
...
 
Justin Dean could, perhaps, be in a position to confirm or deny that Mars Hill Church hired Mark DeMoss to do public relations for them or what the nature of said hiring, if confirmed, involved.  Since Mars Hill Church was dissolved and is no more it's not clear that ... actually, it seems pretty clear that if your church is hiring someone like Mark DeMoss something has gone wildly wrong, probably at a foundational level.  But if DeMoss himself confirmed that he was hired by Mars Hill to do public relations for them for six months before Mark Driscoll's resignation that's a reminder of an observation I couldn't help making while I was writing a review of Justin Dean's book PR Matters, the problems Mars Hill Church had as a church and as a leadership culture were beyond the pale of anything that could be solved by even an actually good-to-fantastic PR professional.  There was no way Justin Dean was going to prevail where Mark DeMoss might have failed.
 
Not coincidentally, DeMoss is still listed as a supporter of Mark Driscoll's new church and there's still this complement paid to Mark Driscoll's realistic sense of vision.
 
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/02/21/mars-hill-s-controversial-pastor-mark-driscoll-is-back-with-a-new-megachurch-in-phoenix.html
02.20.16 9:01 PM ET
...
Driscoll’s new website lists more than two dozen church leaders who are “praying for The Trinity Church.” Among them is Mark DeMoss, owner of a Christian public relations firm who worked for Mars Hill in 2014 during the church’s many crises. DeMoss is not working for The Trinity Church, but said he’s just trying to “be a friend,” and offered insight into what he says are Driscoll’s plans.


“I think he’s very realistic and he realizes that he might launch a church speaking to 100 people. I don’t think he’s under any big idea that he’s going to open the doors and have a megachurch immediately. But, I think he has the potential to do that again.” [emphasis added]

Although DeMoss wouldn’t name anyone in particular, he says Driscoll “spent a considerable amount of time reaching out to people that he knew or thought he had offended or hurt in some way and did whatever he could do to right those relationships. He’s had some success with that, but there have been some people who were not receptive to a restored relationship.”
But here we are in 2018 and Spirit-Filled Jesus, to be published by Charisma House, is on the way. DeMoss was certainly welcome to believe Mitt Romney was the bee's knees but let's recall how things panned out for Romney in the 2008 election. 
 
So if DeMoss is saying stuff on behalf of Willow Creek that's hardly reassuring. 

There are times when I can't help but think that Richard Brody is a ultimately the kind of moralizing scold he formally distrusts, such as his review of the "regressive politics" of A Quiet Place

A good deal of the time, really, I find it hard to think of Richard Brody as more than the embodiment of much of what is worst about The New Yorker (not that it's all bad, mind you, in that magazine, Menand is sometimes worth reading and I've enjoyed Alex Ross and Ethan Iverson's writing about music quite a bit over the years).

For instance, Brody recently wrote about John Krasinski's film.

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/richard-brody/the-silently-regressive-politics-of-a-quiet-place

The title conveys the judgment, but it wouldn't be a piece by Brody were there not a lot more.  Last time we looked at his stuff was on the topic of food allergies and Peter Rabbit, which as straight up moralizing goes was understandable and defensible because the guy admitted he had kids with food allergies and that it was not possible to separate that knowledge or withhold that knowledge from his review of the film in question.

But then there's his more recent bit.

The success of “A Quiet Place,” the new horror thriller directed by John Krasinski, is a sign of viewers craving emptiness, of a yearning for some cinematic white noise to drown out troubling thoughts and observations with a potently simple and high-impact countermyth. The noise of “A Quiet Place” is the whitest since the release of “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”; as horror films go, it’s the antithesis of “Get Out,” inasmuch as its symbolic realm is both apparently unconscious and conspicuously regressive.


“A Quiet Place” is the story of a white family living in rustic isolation that’s reduced to silence because a bunch of big, dark, stealthy, predatory creatures who can hear their every noise are marauding in the woods and, at any conspicuous sound, will emerge as if from nowhere and instantly maul them to death. I won’t spoil the plot twists, but Krasinski ultimately delivers a pair of exemplary images, a lone bearded man (whom he himself plays) with a rifle, and a lone woman (played by his real-life wife, Emily Blunt) aiming a rifle into the camera.

...


skipping ahead ...

The only moment of authentic inner expression, the acknowledgment of any identity at all, arises when, under siege from the creatures, Evelyn challenges Lee when their children are in danger: “Who are we? Who are we if we can’t protect them?” In that moment, “A Quiet Place” disgorges its entire stifled and impacted ideological content. The movie’s survivalist horror-fantasy offers the argument for turning a rustic farmhouse into a virtual fortress, for the video surveillance and the emergency lighting and, above all, the stash of firearms that (along with a bit of high-tech trickery that it’s too good to spoil) is the ultimate game changer, the ultimate and decisive defense against home intruders.


In effect, “A Quiet Place” is an oblivious, unself-conscious version of Clint Eastwood’s recent movies, such as The 15:17 to Paris,” which bring to the fore the idealistic elements of gun culture while dramatizing the tragic implications that inevitably shadow that idealism. The one sole avowed identity of the Abbott parents is as their children’s defenders; their more obvious public identity is as a white rural family. The only other people in the film, who are more vulnerable to the marauding creatures, are white as well. In their enforced silence, these characters are a metaphorical silent—white—majority, one that doesn’t dare to speak freely for fear of being heard by the super-sensitive ears of the dark others. It’s significant that when characters—two white men—commit suicide-by-noisemaking, they do so by howling as if with rage, rather than by screeching or singing or shouting words of love to their families. (Those death bellows are the wordless equivalent of “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”) Whether the Abbotts’ insular, armed way of life might put them into conflict with other American families of other identities is the unacknowledged question hanging over “A Quiet Place,” the silent horror to which the movie doesn’t give voice.

We're not given, Brody asserts, characters who have any observable inner lives.  This seems like one of those bugbears for Brody.  That part of the set up for a horror film like this is that absent any safe way to express yourself you're trapped within your own emotional cycles and that those cycles can be permeated by terror could actually be part of the premise of the narrative.  Brody pointed out that voice over could be used, but voice over can altogether ruin a film; The Thin Red Line was ruined for me by Sean Penn's stupid voice-over monologues both that film and Saving Private Ryan were overhyped war movies but for different reasons.  On the whole a lot of films have been weakened by soundtrack issues, too much music, too much sound.  A film that re-examines the idea that the jump scare depends on the anxiety the viewer brings to a moment and not on what the director imposes upon the audience might be a welcome change of pace and to go by other reviews of A Quiet Place that seems to be what genre fans have liked about the film.

Now exactly what constitutes "authentic inner expression" for Brody would involve reading vastly more of his work than I think any reasonable person should bother with.  That said, this is the same Richard Brody who concluded that Susan Vernon didn't break any of the "important" rules of moral conduct in her quest for a husband for herself and a husband for her daughter.  Anyone who watched Love & Friendship and got the impression that Susan Vernon was not the central villain of the whole story is an idiot.

In middle age I realize I am not a cinephile and I have never thought of myself as one to begin with, actually.  So I'm not in any rush to see A Quiet Place.  But, that said, the last film I saw to which both Krasinski and Blunt lent their acting was the English language dub of Hayao Miyazaki's The Wind Rises, which I regard as a masterpiece. Unless there's some evidence that Krasinski and Blunt are Opus Dei types or Mel Gibson types declaring that the politics of a movie they worked on are regressive seems like a bit of a stretch, but it's the kind of stretch Brody seems comfortable making.  The sum of what Brody has done is not even, really, a review of the film itself but we'll get to what (and all) he has effectively done momentarily.

The film A Quiet Place telegraphs its high concept exploration even in trailers, riffing on a horror story in which making a sound could lead to your death. Horror films explore ways in which seemingly pedestrian aspects of daily life in its social or physical forms can put us on the threshold of death.  It may be full of cheap ways to re-enchant life and it's even more obviously a history of stereotypes. Now maybe the politics of the film are exactly as regressive as Brody insists, but Brody has demonstrated that venerable tradition that someone described in `Scott Pilgrim' vs the Unfortunate Tendency to Review the Audience, although in Brody's case he's got to be at least slightly more direct because, you know, he's writing about a film for The New Yorker.  But he conveys his review of the kind of audience he believes will enjoy A Quiet Place in the first sentence of his article.  His concluding wind up, that the kinds of people who will enjoy the movie are paranoid white racists, doesn't convince even on the terms of its own presentation.  It's a conclusion which has its premise built into it from the opening sentence and merely winds itself up to a more direct statement at the end.  I liked Get Out, too, but the idea that Krasinski's film has to be seen as an anti-Get Out because Brody insists on the point is not an assertion that has to be accepted.

I mentioned Krasinski and Blunt working on the English dub of The Wind Rises to highlight what Brody has conspicuously failed to do, situate the couple's work in genre (since they are, in fact, a couple, and by now obviously have some demonstrable shared interest in genre work) in some context beyond a gotcha hot-take piece.  Imputing to anyone who might enjoy Krasinski's new film, by some kind of implication, the status of being white reactionaries requires some kind of support, and there's nothing in Brody's review that produces any support.  Which, again, is not to say I'm going to even go see the film.  I'm more focused on writing about other stuff, like music.  But what Brody has done is to essentially write a review of the kind of audience he thinks would enjoy this new film and what he thinks of that audience.  The film?  The film becomes a pretext for the real review.  That way, by not really saying anything about the actual political or social commitments of Krasinski and Blunt, if that issue were ever pressed, he could say that he was writing about the audience that enjoys this kind of film that he says A Quiet Place is rather than say that he ever implied or accused Krasinski and Blunt of having what he regarded as regressive politics.  

But a review of the kind of audience you think will like the film is ultimately not quite the same as a review of the film, even if the film gets discussed along the way. 

marswhillwas.us back up as some kind of gambling site; Repentant Pastor is a German site advertising stuff, We Love Mars Hill front page modified into a payday loan advice column

First let's start with Repentant Pastor

https://repentantpastor.com/

German domain now.  Those who can read German can work out what stuff's advertised there.  If you want to read stuff at Repentant Pastor for stuff to do with Mars Hill The Wayback Machine is where you want to plug the domain into.

As noted earlier, http://marshillwas.us/ is now some kind of Indonesian gambling blog something.

As for http://welovemarshill.com/, the named stories are still available but ... the topmost post is ...

http://welovemarshill.com/desperate-for-a-place-in-a-good-college-le-rejection-of-racial-and-social-diversity-is-the-main-motivation-of-parents-fraudsters/

since March 2, 2018

So it's possible that while the domains were expired they got bought up by other entities and that in the case of welovemarshill.com somebody figured out how to log on and post ... whatever that thing up there is.

As mentioned before, if you want to find out what was on the aforementioned websites that had to do with Mars Hill rather than gambling or jewelry or some kind of rant then TheWayBack Machine is your best bet.

UPDATE
04-21-2018
12.00pm
while the main site itself for We Love Mars Hill as a custom domain has some wonk to it, the tumblr is up and looks to be intact.

http://welovemarshill.tumblr.com/
http://welovemarshill.tumblr.com/archive

UPDATE
04-21-2018
03..00PM

Mars Hill Was (i.e. not the "us" site) is still up and in good condition.
http://www.marshillwas.com/

The http://marshill.se/ website is also up and working, too.  This one is particularly useful as it has been where I have been able to go to trawl up a decade's worth of preaching and teaching in its original form, which is important because as Mark Driscoll keeps re:cycling and re:habilitating his re:sources it's useful to know when he cuts out material.  There's no quick or easy way to do that, but thanks to the mirror site at the .se domain people who want to try tackling that process (other than or in addition to yours truly) can have a place to start.

and ... there are backup search options not just at TheWayBack Machine but also http://archive.is/

marshillwas.us is back up, as ... a gambling blog(?) and revisiting Matthew Paul Turner's links to content MH sent him in 2012 that they purged in 2014.

While Andrew Lamb eventually identified himself to the world the person who went by "Amy" did not eventually identify herself, though she chose to talk with Matthew Paul Turner, who ran her story in 2012.  The main focus was on a demon trial, though other things came up in the conversation.  In 2018 after so many people spoke about what they did or regretted doing at places like We Love Mars Hill (still up) or Mars Hill Was Us (domain expired with the old content, which we've tried to document when possible, and now the domain is some kind of poker/gambling site, I am not kidding about that) or Repentant Pastors (also down)  
 
In the cases of the expired/replaced domains in both cases you can use The WayBack Machine to pull stuff up.  For instance, here, although the search is limited because of what is or isn't captured.  That's to suggest that enough people have shared their real names by now that any would be historians and journalists and scholars may want to contact those willing to go on record first moving forward.  Tthe bar has been raised some for how anonymous you can be. There is still value, of course, in being anonymous, though, and I'm not suggesting anyone decide to go for broke with names across the board now.  Some people got harmed in ways where discretion about names is still a worthwhile commitment. 
 
But I want to direct your attention to something that Turner wrote at a few points about the story of "Amy".  He was told that there were materials Mars Hill had made available about demon trials and spiritual warfare that he provided links to.
 

EXORCISM AT MARS HILL: ONE WOMAN’S STORY OF SEX, DEMONS, AND MARK DRISCOLL

 
June 20, 2012 By
 
**UPDATE**According to Mars Hill, Mark performed a “Spiritual Warfare Trial” (a definition and instructions for a Spiritual Warfare Trial can be found here, toward the bottom of the page). They also deny using the word “exorcism”.**
 
 
**Late yesterday, I notified Mars Hill Church’s publicity department that I was running this story and offered them an opportunity to comment along with a few questions. Initially, they were going to issue a statement, but later said they would wait to comment until they read the story. They also directed me to this sermon series by Mark Driscoll.
 
It was not, in fact, a sermon series. The 2008 spiritual warfare session was a leaders-only teaching seminar given in February 2008 that was eventually made available to the public. Now somebody wrote extensively on just "some" of the problems with "I see things" back in 2011, but by 2012 there were other things people were paying attention to.  By 2014 the very teaching content that Matthew Paul Turner was advised to consult that was given by Mark Driscoll had been taken down. Just a few days before that content went down Wenatchee The Hatchet featured a post comparing what Mark Driscoll said in his 2008 teaching on spiritual warfare about bitterness being demonic to the pervasive bitterness he was saying he had in his 2012 book Real Marriage toward his wife on the issue of sex.  The question raised at the time was if bitterness was a demonic root of influence and Mark Driscoll said he was bitter for years and years about the issue of sex why couldn't Mark Driscoll, by his own taxonomy of demonization, not be considered demonized himself?  That question was inherent in the comparison of the material, or so I thought.  Perhaps people in charge of purging content at Mars Hill's websites thought so, too?
 
So while Turner indicated that he was recommended content had he not jumped on the ball and downloaded the content in 2012, had he decided to only get around to listening to the content some time in 2014, it was no longer there for him to peruse.  Not that you can peruse four and a half hours of lectures ....
 
 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

a piece by Malcolm harris on freelance writing and what it does and doesn't pay

https://medium.com/s/story/how-much-is-a-word-worth-7fcd131a341c
...
One of the benefits to freelancing is that writers can place value on rewards other than money — like being part of a hip new project, like the 1924 New Yorker. But the downsides are many, and as a result, most pros today find themselves still answering the same spiritual question Lardner did, but for a whole lot less cash.
Freelance writers have no collective with which to bargain, they are not subject to minimum wage laws, and their pay fluctuates all the time. For those reasons, it’s hard to keep track of the averages (and few organizations are compelled to try). But back in 2001, the National Writers Union published a report on pay rates for freelance writers. The report figured that to earn the median wage for college grads — $50,000 per year — writers needed to pitch, sell, report, write, edit, publish, and be paid an average of $1 per word for 3,000 to 5,000 words a month. (That’s the length of this article.) Adjusted for inflation, that’s about $1.40 per word today.
Most freelance writers didn’t hit those numbers then, and they don’t hit those numbers today. Based on my reporting, my own experience, and interviews with more than a dozen writers, the current median price for a freelancer’s work is between 25 and 50 cents per word (though, to be clear, most places no longer pay per word; they pay lump sums that work out to about $500 for a 1,000- to 2,000-word article). Speaking to Black Enterprise, Ben Carruthers, vice president of the Society of American Travel Writers, suggested that a similar $500 rate was standard…in 1977.
During the past 52 years, a single dollar has lost nearly 87 percent of its value, and so have the words of professional freelance writers. That has meant, unavoidably, a big change in the quality of the job. [emphasis added]
It’s hard to understand how it happened. Ring Lardner was an elite writer of his time, but even his charity rate doesn’t look bad these days. Adjusted for inflation, that five cents per word is now worth about 70 cents, which is considered a respectable fee at legacy publications and well-funded startups. The $1 per word Lardner got from Cosmo, on the other hand, is worth over $14 now. I’ve spoken with dozens of freelance writers throughout my career and can report that’s more than twice as much as I’ve ever heard of a writer receiving, period. Twelve of Lardner’s stories — let’s call that a year’s worth of work for a feature writer — would earn him $600,000 in 2018.
Either Lardner is the greatest writer of all time by a wide margin or something screwy happened to writer pay over the past century. No offense to Lardner, but evidence suggests it’s the latter.
When I was in my twenties I wanted to be a writer.  I wanted to get into journalism.  That didn't happen.  I managed a few freelance projects here and there.  Sometimes I still land a few little projects at a few spots.  I obviously love to write.
I have also written a lot for not just no pay but what practically has amounted to writing a lot at my own time and expense.  I have refused to monetize this blog and the plan is to keep on keeping on not monetizing the blog.  What I write here I write because I want people who may read it to have an opportunity to learn about things without having to go through a paywall.  I also have a day job which, however modest its income might be to many is at the moment more or less more than sufficient for yearly needs.  I also live in a city with a pretty impressive library system so there's a lot I can read or watch without having to pay for as long as I'm willing to wait months or even years to see stuff that I might not feel able to afford to go see in the news-making phase of a cultural item.
Growing up in a fairly conservative Protestant home I got the impression that mainstream reporters did not seem to know or understand the subject of religion very well and also really did not want to understand that range of topics.  Twenty and thirty years later I don't see that that impression has been discounted.  Had I thought that either the independent or mainstream press had been doing an adequate job covering what was going on Mars Hill I might have stuck to writing that big analytical series on the guitar sonatas of Matiegka, Diabelli and company back in 2011 and 2012 when I really first began to want to do that.
But I felt obliged to write about what was going on at Mars Hill in the late 2011 through 2014/2015 period and I never made a cent writing about that church.  I'm proud to say that. 
But I also realize ,as a writer once told me, the institutional press only takes itself seriously.  If a local Seattle paper ran a story mentioning that Mark Driscoll got $X advance for Real Marriage they might just mention that information.  Exactly where or how that information was available for public consideration might not show up. That's not to say there was no possibility of someone getting ahold of documents connected to Real Marriage that weren't already published here, just that it was interesting to finally publish some of those documents and then observe that the institutional press could run with information that, as best I can tell, I made available for public consideration which was reported in the institutional press without any reference to where or how they got the dollar amount of Driscoll's advance on Real Marriage.
But $400,000 is a lot of money and those kinds of advances for what amount to self-help books (because, really, what else are we going to ultimately call Real Marriage if not a self-help/advice book?)  could inspire any of us who write to ask what it takes to land a deal like that?  Would a publisher offer Wenatchee The Hatchet a comparable sum to write a Dostoevsky-sized history of the movement formerly known as Mars Hill Church?  That seems pretty much impossible to imagine and, honestly, I'd be dubious about who would want to pony up that much money and why they would because after what I saw of the culture of Mars Hill and how popular/mainstream Christian publishing dealt with the Mark Driscoll plagiarism controversy that's about where I am at, a bit more jaded than I'd like to be about the integrity of Anglo-American Christian publishing.  I mean, if Carl Trueman or Darryl Hart wanted to compare notes ... but by and large I've gotten to a point where if someone gave me a Thomas Nelson published book as a gift my first thought would be to burn the thing.
My own gut reaction, which is all that it is, is that what it takes is for a writer to be willing to compromise on matters of scholarly integrity and intellectual consideration that are not worth making. 
If, as libertarians have been raving for decades, the American currency is being debauched that's not exactly news to people who try to pay any attention at all to those kinds of things.  But it's perhaps so commonplace a commonplace it couldn't even be considered news.
Come to think of it, something I have been thinking hasn't come up is that there was a giant, substantial musical work published a bit more than a year ago and I have not seen a single review or heard of a review of the work anywhere.  That's the kind of thing where, just on the principle of the thing, I'd make a point of writing about that musical work at some point if there were a suitable venue or platform for it.
And I will, eventually.  But for now this is about the money or lack thereof from writing.  Particularly freelance writing.  I wouldn't be entirely surprised if, for instance, the blogging I did about Ferdinand Rebay's music for guitar was longer than what's usual for discussing Rebays' music in the English language.  I do still plan, per what I wrote late last year, to blog about a few things musical.