Podcast: The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill

Originally published at: Podcast: The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill | Boing Boing

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At first glance, I thought this was about Mars Hill, NC, a sleepy, small college town in the Blue Ridge mountains.


Added. I’m curious about how evangelical churches try to attract young people to partake of a debased form of Christianity so inimical to a youth culture that tends to value inclusivity and that recognises that post-Boomer generations are screwed economically… The answer, as always, seems to be for Xtianists to identify and then appeal to their worst instincts.


I like Rev Ed Trevors’ message. I think he is off YouTube at the moment while he moves parish; but I hope he’ll be around again soon. I’m not religious, but he has a positive and inclusive take on current affairs. Some of his fellow clergymen*, that he reports on are rather less enlightened.

*And it is usually men. :slightly_frowning_face:


For me, the most damning part of this (VERY well-produced) podcast isn’t the failure of one narcissistic leader, it’s the groups of people who consistently enabled said leader to behave terribly. Funny what some Christians will excuse from fellow believers in power that they’d never tolerate in other settings.


Christians like to talk about how much disdain they have for separation of church and state.

But you’ll never catch them calling the cops whenever clergy is caught doing bad stuff.


Hi, lonnnng time Boing Boing reader here with a very important correction. This is not about the Mars Hill Church in Grand Rapids, pastored by Rob Bell. It’s about the one in Seattle, pastored by Mark Driscoll, where I went for 9 years and helped destroy. This podcast, from Christianity Today, doesn’t center victims and is totally unwilling to examine the toxic beliefs that led to so much abuse there. If you listen to that one, please listen to the recent Veterans of Culture Wars episode with Stephanie Drury, as it goes places the CT one won’t.


Looks like the problem was there were giant men walking around tiny seated women, neither of them appearing to do much at all.

CT starts with the presumption that these were “godly men” led astray or just human failings rather than the more likely and obvious “they started this entire con to make millions, gain power and influence and knew what they were doing from day one”.

“Give back to God but make the check out to me” is the mantra of almost every one of this type of “preacher”.


raging 2000s masculinity

The what? The decade when Emo got popular?

" Funny what some Christians will excuse from fellow believers in power that they’d never tolerate in other settings"

You won’t see me anywhere near Mars Hill or any place like it, but really, isn’t this the human condition, regardless of belief system?
We see the faults in the “other” and ignore or minimize those in our own herd.
Here’s a bit from RAW’s fine essay “How to Read,” written some decades ago. The man was known in part for myriad, scathing, but well-founded critiques of organized religion, but equally for calling out BS of all kinds.

“To ascribe predicates to a people is always dangerous.” Nietzsche, unpublished note, 1873

Racism, sexism, and stupid prejudice in general consist, in logical terms, of ascribing predicates to groups. This takes the form, All K are x . K represents a class or set or group and x is the predicate quality (e.g., “crooked,” “stupid,” “great sense of rhythm,” “wise,” “honest,” or whatever).
Once one leaves pure mathematics, the ascription of predicates to groups always introduces fallacy. Remarks about “all Jews,” “all Blacks,” “all women,” “all men,” “all plumbers,” etc. are fallacies because the world consists of a phalanx of individuals. In Korzbyski’s handy notation, we never meet the groups; what we encounter are
woman1 woman2 woman3 etc
plumber1 plumber2 plumber3 etc
One of the irritations that provoked this piece in the first place was certain neo-pagans in California who regularly speak about Christians in the way that Hitler used to speak about Jews. When I tried to explain to them that hating Christians as an undifferentiated mass was as illogical as hating Jews as an undifferentiated mass, they couldn’t understand me. They knew that anti-Semitism was unfashionable, but anti-Christianity (being comparatively rare) [this was written in the 1960s] is not unfashionable yet. That is about as deep as their understanding goes. They never harbor unfashionable prejudices, but they also never suspect that prejudices, per se, might be rather stupid.

ETA–was not responding directly to one person

Toxic masculinity very much existed in the 2000s. Especially in church youth groups.

I think I was called a faggot more in church than in school, to be honest.


Not really. Some of us expect better from those in “our own herd”, especially when they’re in leadership positions. Some of us are also not so quick to forgive betrayals of core principals, especially when we’re not hobbled by the morally stunted and exclusive version of forgiveness practised by Xtianists like those at Mars Hill.

As for RAW, he’s addressing unfair generalisations about a very broad group (“all Christians”) instead of the specific sub-set of debased evangelicals being discussed here.


The 2000s was also the rise of “metro sexual”.

I think masculinity broadened for some people, and then narrowed for others as part of the back lash.


Thanks for the recommendation. I will definitely listen.

Personally I wasted the better part of the last decade with a con-man like this until I finally figured him out. I’m sure he knew what he was doing from the start.

“Mars Hill” definitely does not go into the territory of whether these are wolves in sheep’s clothing as Christians are warned about in the Bible and called to identify, never-platform, and even actively shun.

Our biggest weakness in identifying narcissists in a community like this is that if you follow a certain mold and protocol to appear sincere in your efforts to “conform to Christ,” you get a very long leash and a benefit of a doubt, and you start to believe that you are there to smooth out their “rough edges” as “iron sharpens iron.”

Until you discover that they actually have far less interest than most of us do to do the right thing, and they will hide their pet vices from you very well, if you happen to be in position to hold them accountable.

And then discover the trail of hurt they had left behind, and that you were “one of the enablers,” just simply because of the fact that you had remained with the community, and the abused believe “I guess it’s just me then.”

after a long hiatus, Cracked dropped this well-researched, surprisingly “insider” gem very recently

If Megachurches Were Honest | Honest Ads (Mars Hill, Hillsong, Bethel, Lakewood Church Parody) - YouTube

"our entirely untrained leader overseeing the personal lives of thousands is either 35 years old or doing his best to look like he’s 35 years old.

with fly ass shoes so expensive selling them could house and feed a family for a year and i know what you’re thinking but we’re doing everything we can to ensure his patterns of abuse and assholery won’t come to light for at least a decade if we’re lucky he’ll be dead long before anybody learns about those massages with blessed endings"

They slipped in that reference to “Preachers with Sneakers”


I’m into the wholesome openness of Sithrak.

Sithrak is a god you can really count on.


Came here to say the same thing; the rise of the hyper-masculine evangelical church occurred in no small part as a reaction to perceived feminization of men in the culture of the 2000s.

There is a good book on that… but it’s about the feminization of labor in the 1970s through to the 90s…


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