Where’s the Love for Doug?

There has been quite a lot going on in the blog world over the past few days. It started with Brian McLaren’s post here about a pastoral response to the issue of homosexuality. Then Mark Driscoll, pastor from Mars Hill Church in Seattle, responded to McLaren with this garbage filled response (proceed at your own risk). Driscoll’s comment was so obscene it had to be literally edited by the Christianity Today’s blog moderators!!

There’s been a lot blogged about in regards to the McLaren vs. Driscoll debate and I don’t really want to rehash any of that here. What I do want to address is the issue of Driscolls suggestion regarding Doug Pagitt. Here is a portion of Driscoll’s unedited original comment.

Then, Brian’s Tonto Doug Pagitt, an old acquaintance of mine, wrote the following in a book he and I both contributed to called Listening to the Beliefs of Emerging Churches edited by Robert Webber and due out this spring: “The question of humanity is inexorably linked to sexuality and gender. Issues of sexuality can be among the most complex and convoluted we need to deal with. It seems to me that the theology of our history does not deal sufficiently with these issues for our day. I do not mean this a critique, but as an acknowledgement that our times are different. I do not mean that we are a more or less sexual culture, but one that knows more about the genetic, social and cultural issues surrounding sexuality and gender than any previous culture. Christianity will be impotent to lead a conversation on sexuality and gender if we do not boldly integrate our current understandings of humanity with our theology. This will require us to not only draw new conclusions about sexuality but will force to consider new ways of being sexual.”
Although I am unsure exactly what Doug meant by this last statement for safety’s sake I would strongly recommend that all farmers, particularly those surrounding Minneapolis, lock up their sheep at night effective immediately.

So yeah, Driscoll suggested on a public blog that Doug Pagitt has sex with sheep. And what’s even more amazing is that very few voices in the progressive Christian blogging community have actually taken Driscoll to task for this kind of statement. Most of the focus is on defending McLaren, which I agree with as well, but there’s been very little talk regarding the Pagitt comment. Even Andrew Jones, a blogger who I’ve really respected and enjoyed, pretty much chalks Driscoll’s comment to his “Midrash” personality. Jones does characterize the sheep comment as “nasty”, so it’s not a complete free pass, but geez. How pissed would any of us be if it were ourselves who were publicly accused of having our way with the barn animals?

This post is me officially throwing my hat in the ring and calling out this comment as simply evil and utterly childish. The fact that Driscoll doesn’t feel the need to offer a public apology to Doug is beyond me (if this has happend already, clue me in). I realize none of us are perfect and we all say/write things we regret. No one is completely innocent in that regard. With that said, Doug Pagitt needs to be supported much more strongly within this shit storm that is the progressive/emergent blogging community.

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11 thoughts on “Where’s the Love for Doug?

  1. Before I write anything else, let me be clear that I think Driscoll made a list of poor choices in what he wrote. I’m not defending any of it. That said, for the sake of clarification, I think that most people close to both guys will tell you that Mark and Doug are friends and that Mark wrote what he did about Doug anticipating that Doug would receive it as he’s received (and maybe given) probably dozens of other similar intentionally ridiculous jabs in the context of their relationship. I suspect Mark assumed his comment was so over the top that everyone would know it was a joke – that he wasn’t literally suggesting that Doug has a sheep fetish. At least I hope that was his assumption. Again, I’m not justifying it or saying it wasn’t hurtful, especially given the tone and venue. It just seems fair to note that strong personalities like Doug and Mark probably make these kinds of jokes among friends regularly.

  2. All I can say is, “Ugh.” This sort of behavior from people who are in the public eye must stop.

    God forbid that someone should have a compassionate view of people on the fringes, eh?

    Driscoll’s response is utter crap. And, I hate to feel that way, but it’s just SO lame.

  3. thad, the problem with your explanation is that 99% of those who are reading driscoll’s comment don’t have any clue about any personal connection between him and doug. driscoll, being a pastor, should realize this and if he feels the need to say publicly that doug has sex with sheep, then he should ring doug up and tell him peronsally. At least he’ll spare himself the public humiliation of this asinine comment and he’ll also not be dragging doug’s name through the mud. with a friend like that, who needs enemies?

    for you to suggest that doug would likely say something similar in a public forum is hard for me to imagine.

    regardless of the fact that they may be “buddies”, his comment was still totally ridiculous. nice try though.

  4. I read Driscoll’s rant after it had been edited, but before the “we edited this rant” notice was posted — so I didn’t realize I was reading a sanitized version.

    That’s why my original take on it was like Thad’s: I considered it a couple of friends in ministry taking friendly jabs in a conversation in which they both have differing views, but they don’t let their differences stand in the way of friendship. (After all, they had worked on a book together.)

    Turns out Mark and Doug really aren’t that tight, and that Doug’s feelings were hurt over the comment. However, in Doug’s reply on the same blog, he was too gracious to hit back. Good for him. I haven’t kept up with the saga, so I don’t know if Mark has apologized, but I hope this doesn’t create extended hard feelings between the two.

  5. thanks moondog for clueing us in on that. i wasn’t sure if doug even responded.

    BTW, This was Doug’s reply to Mark’s rant:

    “The word I settled on in the final version of the draft for the book was “inextricable” not inexorably – though I do like the nuanced meaning of inexorably a bit more.

    And, being part Native American I think the Tonto reference was a bit over the top – but maybe I am just too sensitive.”

    Does this sound like friendly banter? Maybe I’m too sensitive!

  6. So much for my disclaimers. My read on it wasn’t really what you suggested, Zach. Sorry if I left another impression.

    First, I never intended to suggest that Doug would have done that publicly; only that it was possible that the two of them have engaged in this sort of banter before as friends, and that Mark was just more brazen about doing it in public. That was mostly speculation on my part, though somewhat informed by folks that know them. If that’s not true of their past or their present, it’s another story, obviously.

    Again, I didn’t and don’t defend what Mark wrote or how he wrote it. I just think the spiral of unkindness can get pretty messy if we don’t at least stop to consider what might have been at work in the guy other than pure hatred.

    I think it was an out of line, hurtful comment (surrounded by other out of line, hurtful comments – I actually didn’t find it the most insensitive of his words because I assumed, rightly or wrongly, that it had some kind of relational context/history and because it was so absurd that I never would have taken it seriously), but I don’t know why Driscoll, as a human, a professing Christian, and a pastor, felt at liberty to say something so extreme. To ask whether his motive was contextual to the friendship doesn’t condone his choice, at least not in my mind. It was just a question I wanted to keep in the conversation so as not to allow myself to veer toward having a graceless heart for Mark Driscoll. Others manage their hearts toward grace through other means, and that’s fine.

    Either way, my point wasn’t to argue with your orginal post, Zach. I like Doug’s writing, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed hearing him speak in large and small settings. He seems like a guy I’d be glad to call a friend. I don’t think he deserves public ridicule, and certainly not something like this. It’s a bad scene that I wish had never happened. I just pray we can find ways to make peace out of the fragments that seem so jaggedly torn in the existing Kingdom.

  7. And just to further clarify how I personally read a comment like the one Mark made – I think, in most people’s eyes, Mark immediately looks worse than Doug. In other words, I don’t think anyone assumes that Doug is into sheep because of what Mark said (or for any other reason). I do think that most people immediately assume that Mark is an insensitive jerk for making a comment like that.

    I just think most folks who communicate and live in absurd extremes tend to indict themselves and that their targets often don’t need much defending because no one takes the accusation seriously. That, as much as anything, affects how I respond to this sort of comment. I never thought less of Doug for it; only less of Mark, while hoping that it didn’t represent something as dark in his motives as it might.

    All that said, we all experience these bizarre moments differently, and I don’t presume everyone should respond as I do.

  8. in my book: a good writer avoids sarcasm that can be misinterpreted.

    driscoll’s rant is very characteristic of him. he studied speech communication, but apparently didn’t learn the ethics of being discreet in a public forum.

    too bad. lets just hope that Mars Hill (which i have attended on numerous occasions), doesn’t suffer from a pastor that forgot wisdom at home when he took “public transit” this morning to distaste central.

  9. I was actually looking forward to checking out Driscoll’s church when I moved to Seattle; I’m very diaappointed, and must say I won’t be doing so.

    I have said / written things I’ve regretted that have hurt people before. Fortunately, those people were gracious enough and spiritually mature enough to forgive me of my wrong-doings; for that I am forever thankful.

    However, I can’t say I feel the same way about being able to love and forgive Driscoll for his condesending comments towards gays; which were nothing more then deamning, cheap shots. He’s up there with James Dobson and Fred Phelps. I’m just utterly hurt and dissappointed — disappointed in Driscoll certainly; hurt for the numerous gay people who are now that much farther from Jesus and the truth, that much more alienated now because of his comments.

    Very, very, poor representation of Christ.

  10. Man what is up with these so called “Leaders” of the Christian faith. From media hounds like Robertson and Falwell and now this absurd remark by Driscoll. Is it any wonder why Christianity continues to be mocked and made of fun?

    “They’ll know we are Christians by our love.” A lesson these leaders would do well to take to heart!

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