Press "Enter" to skip to content

Posts published in “Day: December 4, 2006”

The Driscoll watch, and beyond

The protest didn't amount to much, but that hardly mattered. The point, in the case of Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church, was made and it won't be let go.

Driscoll's church (he founded it a decade ago) is one of the largest in Seattle, with a congregation of about 5,000 at three campuses at Ballard, Shoreline and West Seattle - a megachurch. He is a speaker of national influence, and locally has been highly visible as a religion columnist in the Seattle Times. Combine that with the increasingly direct role religious organizations and leaders play in our culture and politics, and you have a figure highly influential in public affairs. What he says has effect beyond the religious instruction of a congregation; it ripples through the larger society.

That Driscoll would comment after the recent scandal involving fellow pastor Ted Haggard - who has ackowledged buying illegal drugs from a male prostitute - would be expected. His exact comments, posted in a blog but not delivered, apparently, in a sermon, set teeth on edge: "It is not uncommon to meet pastors' wives who really let themselves go . . . A wife who lets herself go and is not sexually available to her husband ... is not responsible for her husband's sin, but she may not be helping him either." (You wonder what Driscoll's wife thought of that. )

(The roles of the sexes seem to bring out the controversial in Driscoll; in another blog, he remarked (after Episcopal church leaders chose a woman as bishop), "If Christian males do not man up soon, the Episcopalians may vote a fluffy baby bunny rabbit as their next bishop to lead God's men.")

In response, a protest was brought on Sunday by the group People Against Fundamentalism, which blasted him. Driscoll's quick response was an apology, a smart move letting air out of the balloon: “But I also learned that as my platform has grown, so has my responsibility to speak about my convictions in a way that invites other people to experience charity from me, which means inflammatory language and such need to be scaled back.” Also by then, the Times had decided to end Driscoll's religion column (the recent controversy not being the reason why, editors said).

All of which suggests a lower profile for Driscoll in the months ahead.

Maybe. The basic principles and ideas under dispute and debate here are the kind of kindling that need only a small match.

OR: The budget ahead

Government budget planners have a tough job this season. Across the Northwest, and for the most part nationally, they're coming off a couple of years of good revenues that exceeded their earlier expectations. There'll be a temptation to run with that, to say that the good times will continue to roll in the next couple of years and that such questions as "where will the money come from?" won't be especially relevant in the near term.

Oregon governor's budget booksWe're more pessimistic: Read the bond market (often a good indicator of long-term trends) and the housing market (the undergirding for the current money flow) and you get a clear sense that 2007 will be a tough patch, and maybe 2008 as well. Which gives us some basis for an early assessment of the state budget proposals from the governors of the northwest, one today from Oregon, one later this month from Washington and the last early in January from Idaho.

Early on in his press conference today about his budget proposal (technically released on Friday to meet state code requirements, but delivered in practice today), Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski was asked about and acknowledged the concerns about a slowdown. His answer suggested that the concerns have been factored in. Maybe; but some associated details paint a more ambiguous picture.