ON THE SUNNY Monday before Easter 2015, roughly 60 people, some wearing clerical collars, gathered in front of Key Arena in Seattle. “Build futures, not cages,” one sign read. “Love youth/build hope/invest in futures,” read another.
The timing of this protest against a proposed new youth jail in Seattle’s Central District was no accident: Activists had dubbed it Holy Table-Turning Monday, a commemoration of Jesus flipping over the tables of money changers in the temple square in Jerusalem.
The group, a mix of church people—Methodist, United Church of Christ, Presbyterian, and others—and organizers from Youth Undoing Institutional Racism (YUIR) and Ending the Prison Industrial Complex (EPIC), crossed the street and entered the lobby of a building housing the offices of Howard S. Wright, the contractor hired to construct the proposed detention center. An uneasy PR man walked out from the glass-walled offices and chatted with a pastor in a purple stole.
Meanwhile, members of the group set up a card table and laid a purple tablecloth on it. They piled it high with nickels, symbolizing the 30 pieces of silver Judas received in exchange for his betrayal of Jesus, and cards with hand-written messages. “Change agent,” one said. “Be accountable to our history and dismantle the prison-industrial complex,” said another. The group prayed, acknowledging their own complicity in the system they sought to destroy. Then, as a unit, they flipped the table over.
Nickels crashed to the ground and the tablecloth fell in a heap of purple and lace. Folding up the table, the group walked out. A few office workers peeked out into the lobby.
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What’s it like to share your stories of loss to a room of hundreds? Wm. Paul Young (author of The Shack), Reba Riley (Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome), and Christian Piatt (PostChristian) are about to find out — and help others do the same. The three bestselling authors are launching a two-stop tour — "Where's God When..." — in Seattle and Portland on May 16 & 17, to help others hear, and share, their own stories of grief, heartbreak, and healing.
Sojourners sat down with the authors last week to talk loss, return to faith, and what it’s like to coordinate a tour focused on hard questions about God. Interview edited for length and clarity.
Mark Driscoll, the larger-than-life megachurch pastor who had been accused of plagiarism, bullying and an unhealthy ego, resigned from his Seattle church Oct. 15, according to a document obtained by Religion News Service.
The divisive Seattle pastor had announced his plan to step aside for at least six weeks in August while his church investigated the charges against him. Driscoll’s resignation came shortly after the church concluded its investigation.
“Recent months have proven unhealthy for our family—even physically unsafe at times—and we believe the time has now come for the elders to choose new pastoral leadership for Mars Hill,” Driscoll wrote in his resignation letter.
Driscoll was not asked to resign, according to a letter from the church’s board of overseers. “Indeed, we were surprised to receive his resignation letter,” the overseers wrote.
This week has been a rough one for Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. Following one scandal after another, the Acts 29 Network – which he helped found – removed his standing and his church’s standing within the network. They also encouraged him to step down as the leader of Mars Hill.
To add to that, Lifeway Bookstores, which is one of the biggest faith-based book chains around, decided to stop carrying all of Driscoll’s books. Basically this just means he can join me and all of us progressive Christian authors who have been edged out by Lifeway. You’ll get used to it, Mark.
All of this is good for Christianity as a whole. For starters, it demonstrates the autonomy of the Acts 29 Network from their founder. And despite their many misguided policies regarding women and their proclivity for hyper-calvinism overall, it shows that they, too, have their limits.
As for Lifeway, I can’t really tell if their decision to drop Driscoll is an ethical one, or a matter of mitigating further PR risk by having his titles in their stores. Either way, props for getting his face off the shelves, regardless.
I’d not be surprised, too, if Driscoll chooses to step down from Mars Hill in the near future. At some point, even he will recognize his leadership as untenable.
Seattle megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll has written a letter to his congregation to explain recent controversies, including the marketing campaign intended to place the book, Real Marriage, on The New York Times best-seller list.
Driscoll has been an influential pastor within Reformed evangelical circles for several years, helping to found a church planting network called Acts 29. His own Mars Hill Church attracts some 14,000 people at 15 locations in five states each Sunday.
In recent months, however, reports have emerged that Driscoll plagiarized some of the material in his books. And earlier this month, World magazine reported that Driscoll hired a firm to buy copies of the book he penned with his wife, Grace, so that it would top the best-seller lists.
In a letter posted on Reddit on Saturday, Driscoll apologized for using the marketing strategy.
Life is riddled with a smorgasbord of emotional highs, lows, tragedies, triumphs, and what might feel like monotony to fill in the gaps.
On the newest album from Seattle folk and Americana band The Head and the Heart, you can feel the wear and tear of a group who have simply experienced a lot and probably had little time to rest and reflect.
“When I think about the two records together, the first one feels like we all wanted to fulfill this dream we’d had about playing music, meeting people and traveling around,” drummer Tyler Williams told Sub Pop. “This one feels like the consequences of doing that — what relationships did you ruin? What other things did you miss? You always think it will all be perfect once you just do ‘this.’ And that’s not always the case.”
Seattle-based folk group The Head and the Heart released their newest single, "Another Story," off of their anticipated upcoming album, Let's Be Still. The song beautifully wrestles with the grief and confusion that struck the country during the chaos that followed the Newtown, Conn., shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
One of us was in Seattle this past weekend to speak at a meeting of biblical scholars. The subject:Evangelicals and the Environment. Seattle was stunningly beautiful, with ample sunshine, clear skies, and an occasional happy breeze. Having grown up in nearby Tacoma, seeing majestic Mount Rainier for the first time in a long while brought back memories of this silent guardian from childhood.
Alas, while it was sunny in Seattle, it was theologically cloudy in Dallas, where one of Seattle's famous residents — young, hip pastor, Mark Driscoll — was speaking at a major evangelical conference: Catalyst. By many accounts on Twitter and in the blogosphere (see Nate Pyle's blog), Driscoll said:
"I know who made the environment. He's coming back and he's going to burn it all up. So yes, I drive an SUV."
And after presenting his driving credentials, Rev. Driscoll reportedly added:
SEATTLE — In 1962, when my younger brother was just four years old, this city perched on the nation's northwest rim held a World's Fair that imagined a glistening future.
Grounded in a vision of science and technology, the Century 21 Exposition foresaw a steady economic expansion and an orderly modernity that would continue 1950s prosperity and stability far into the future.
They got the science and technology right. Seattle is now a world hub for software development and Internet commerce, as well as for the caffeine and jeans-clad lifestyle that fuel young techs.
Writing in the Nov. 29, 2011 issue of The Nation, Norm Stamper, who served as Seattle's police chief during the 1999 World Trade Organization protests, says his "disastrous response" a dozen years ago should have been a cautionary tale. "Yet our police forces have only become more militarized."
"My support for a militaristic solution caused all hell to break loose," Stamper writes. "Rocks, bottles and newspaper racks went flying. Windows were smashed, stores were looted, fires lighted; and more gas filled the streets, with some cops clearly overreacting, escalating and prolonging the conflict. The 'Battle in Seattle,' as the WTO protests and their aftermath came to be known, was a huge setback—for the protesters, my cops, the community."