Dr. Catherine Clark Kroeger (1925-2011)

Dr. Catherine Clark Kroeger has died. Kroeger, a professor at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, helped to change the world for the better by founding two valuable and necessary organizations, Christians for Biblical Equality and PASCH (Peace and Safety in Christian Homes).

Here is her Boston Globe obituary, and a memorial post from Christians for Biblical Equality.

CBE has become a leading voice for what evangelical Christians refer to as an “egalitarian view of ministry.” In its own words, it is an “organization of Christian men and women who believe that the Bible, properly interpreted, teaches the fundamental equality of men and women.”

In the broader evangelical community this remains, sadly, a “controversial stance.” CBE has many opponents and critics among conservative evangelicals, but those opponents quickly learned not to pick a fight directly with Kroeger and CBE. She assembled a dream team of scholars that is to exegesis what the 2011 Phillies are to starting pitching. When it came to disputes over the meaning or interpretation of the alleged “clobber texts,” or over the abuses and distortions wrought on the text by anti-women interpreters, CBE just doesn’t lose. Over the years, they’ve made the proponents of male superiority at the sad Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood look like the Washington Generals. (Sorry for mixing the sports metaphors there.)

Kroeger also wrote an important book called Women, Abuse & the Bible, which became a springboard for PASCH, a resource against domestic violence and an advocate on behalf of its victims within the evangelical Christian community. She continued writing about the topic in books like No Place for Abuse.

In her work exposing and condemning the sin and crime of domestic violence, Kroeger also touched on a theme we’ve addressed here from time to time in our discussions of the World’s Worst Books — theologies that seem to portray God as an abusive husband writ large. The concept of God one reads in some books and hears from some pulpits creepily parallels the usual lists of warning signs for domestic violence. God seems to be a cosmic version of Patrick Bergin in Sleeping With the Enemy — controlling and obsessive and prone to fury if the towels are not just so on the towel rack. Kroeger helped to explore how such concepts of God help to fuel, invite and defend domestic violence — why they’re bad theology and destructive theology.

Dr. Kroeger’s passing has me thinking of my late grandmother, a strict, fundamentalist Presbyterian. Grandma would have frowned on Dr. Kroeger’s work with CBE. My grandmother firmly believed that women were not permitted to lead, to preach or to teach in the church, with the exception being that they could teach other women. So, since she was, in her bones, a preacher and a teacher — someone I think God had called to preach — Grandma taught women’s Bible studies all over North Jersey, dozens of them, working every year with hundreds of women.

And though I never heard these stories until after my grandmother died, that contact with so many women from so many different churches meant that Grandma would have been an enthusiastic support of Dr. Kroeger’s work with PASCH. From time to time a woman would arrive at Grandma’s Bible studies with wounds suffered at the hands of a husband. Such women would quickly find themselves riding home in Grandma’s Nash Rambler, where she would help them pack a bag and collect the children before shuttling them off to a well-hidden Anglican retreat center where the good nuns who ran the place would look after them. And then my grandmother — who in every other case believed that Christians must never divorce — would get her lawyer son on the phone to get started on the paperwork.

Complicated woman, my grandmother, but perhaps no more complicated than the rest of us. I can’t help but think that if Heaven is as we sometimes imagine it, she may be having a fascinating conversation with Dr. Kroeger about now.

"*looks to North Korea where KJU's uncle was killed by a "firing squad" of AA ..."

LBCF, No. 190: ‘Something happens’
"She's a public person in a position of power and responsibility. If you truly can't ..."

LBCF, No. 190: ‘Something happens’
"Your addendum is an argument that non powerful people can't stand up for what's right ..."

LBCF, No. 190: ‘Something happens’
"A few legislators have called her out on doing so, it seems to be a ..."

LBCF, No. 190: ‘Something happens’

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • John: Here’s the thing: there’s a lot of ground between “expresses disagreement with the prevailing wisdom” and “is a homophobe”/”says we should be nice to bigots”/”disparages people’s experiences”. I’ve seen, and been the source of, a lot of venom directed to the latter. I’ve never seen anything directed toward the former.

    I mean, unless you count “gay people/Muslims/women are people and deserve civil rights, there should be a safety net to provide for the less fortunate, we should refrain from bringing up past traumatic experiences for other people as far as is possible, and also kicking puppies is bad” as prevailing wisdom. In which case…yeah, I’m okay with “othering” people who disagree with that, because those people are dicks.

    In georgekaplan’s case, specifically, he got yelled at because he was admonishing people for being–reasonably–upset about a move from a neutral site to a site that actively supports bigotry. His reading of the Uganda post was wrong, but if he’d said something like “Hey, guys, I’m not comfortable bringing Uganda into this for reasons X, Y, and Z” I don’t think there would’ve been any hostility.

  • Will Wildman

    And yet Georgekaplan made an attempt to put a toe into this community, with a post which was not, apparently, a troll.

    I have a hard time characterising someone whose only known action is to have stepped into the room to say “You all suck for different reasons” as someone making an attempt to enter a community.

  • Anonymous

    …and now I see you’re still around, George Kaplan.

    As far as I can tell, I’m still on my handle. Compared to the round of swearing that immediately preceded my post, I thought ‘buzz off’ was pretty light, actually – especially as it was what you had already stated your intention to do.

    I read your analysis, in the context of having closely followed everything that has happened over the past few days on both Slacktivist sites, as being pretty careless and therefore callous. Your next few posts have shown that that was not your intention, but can you at least see where I got the impression?

  • These are all good points; and I hope that I haven’t appeared to argue in favor of bigotry. Personally I hate the stuff.

    My point, though, is that the community is jumping to label people as bigots — sometimes deserved, but sometimes not apparently so. I’ve been following this (lest I also be accused of trying to enter the community without the proper context,) and Fred himself has been accused of ulterior motives of bigotry because of the pervasive privilege-oppression paradigm that is being used to analyze everything. Privilege and oppression are useful, like I said, but one area where their usefulness is limited (though not eliminated) is in the analysis of individual actions and attitudes.

    It’s reached the point where someone expressing a view such as “the move from Typepad to Patheos should not be so cataclysmic” is considered bigoted, marginalizing, and emanating from vast amounts of privilege. Certainly the move should be discussed, and certainly there are many grave issues to be resolved vis a vis the bigoted views of other site contributors, the powers and limitations thereof for Patheos administration, and the design of the comment system itself; however, such a discussion can’t take place if a dissenting view immediately tags its holder as a bigot.

  • Anonymous

    I do think that the old blog was as safe a space as can be, not because assholes never showed up but because we generally dogpiled them as they deserved. I think we can recreate that here, given the chance.

    I talked about this on the old blog but I’ll say it here too, basically because there is a lot of talk of safe spaces and I figure the more point of views the better. I haven’t seen this said up to now but I haven’t read all that much so I may just be repeating a point that was already made… but so anyway.

    I don’t think the old blog was as safe a space as can be. I remember a few years ago it was explicitly “not a safe space” (not said by someone complaining, said by someone explaining the community standards) and to me it was a place where, unlike on more “advanced” feminist blogs like Feministe or Shakesville, you could expect prejudice 101 conversations, trigger warnings were unheard of and there was no effort to create a safe space. To me this was one reason Slacktivist was awesome.

    Now things have changed, there are still 101 explanations (which I don’t think should change) but expectations are higher and there is a definite will to create a safe space. I still think Slacktivist is awesome, partly because my standards have evolved along with the community.

    That said I haven’t been to Shakesville in a long time but my understanding is that it’s even more of a “safe space” than Slacktivist is, if only because they’ve got moderators enforcing it.

    So I don’t think Slacktivist is as safe a space as can be; however I don’t think “safe space” == “good”. I think a community can be an unsafe place and be worthwhile; I also think making a community safer isn’t something one should always self-evidently strive for. I think it’s a choice every community makes about what kind of participants and content they want and there isn’t one good choice for everyone.

    That said the Slacktivist community has made the choice and I’ll strive to make this place as safe as it needs to be to have the current contributors feel comfortable. And when it comes down to it, while I don’t think safe spaces are better than unsafe ones they’re definitely rarer, so keeping this one is a good idea. People who aren’t comfortable with safe spaces have lots of other places to go, the converse isn’t true.

  • Dav

    Hey, asshole, not okay in any way, shape, or form.

  • I have a hard time dismissing someone who raises a reasonable point civilly, without apparent intentional malice, just because they’re not in the circle. Even if he enters the community only for the time it takes to make that point, that’s still an entry, and his idea deserves a little fair play. Blank dismissal of opposing viewpoints is toxic to intellectual honesty; so, too, is blind characterization of those viewpoints. Certainly we shouldn’t accept bigotry, but there seems to be a problem seems to be that the line for bigotry is set so close that an uninitiated newcomer, unknowing of the line’s location, might find themselves unexpectedly under attack. That is not a safe space.

    However, the commenters who are engaging me — and disagreeing with me — without jumping to accusations of privilege or bigotry are doing a wonderful job of both displaying a real safe space mentality and poking holes in my overall thesis.

  • Anonymous

    Regarding seeing the tragedy you mentioned: To be honest… not entirely. Literata — another poster — has put up a fascinating article on her blog regarding the difference between tolerance, pluralism, and “safe places.” In a horribly minimalist nutshell, a “safe place” *will* inherently other a set of people, but a pluralist place will not provide enough safety for those who need it, those who experience their own othering every day.

    This is where my references to privilege come in from earlier. Privileged people already have safe places, a lot of them. It can be said that to a cisgendered, heterosexual, neurotypical male the world already is a safe place. A safe place designed for transgendered, non-hetero people of any gender (male, female, both, neither etc.) is going to be inherently uncomfortable for someone who is not so comfortable with their own identity that they can accept someone who has an identity other than their own. Privilege — as we’ve seen here — leads to a dismissal of the concerns and issues of those who are marginalized. The marginalized, people who are already ‘othered’ by society in large part through no fault or choice of their own, need a place or places to be safe from marginalization. Such a place is going to naturally be antagonistic to those who do not believe that marginalized people need a ‘safe place,’ or have derogatory views of marginalized people. There will be the perception (perhaps real) that an otherwise privileged person — someone who does not experience othering in the ‘outside world’ — will experience othering in such a safe place.

    I am normally uncomfortable with othering in general and in specific. However… In such a safe place, the only people who will be in fact othered are those who do not respect the person-ness or personhood of the people for whom the safe place has been made. Rather than being ‘othered’ by the mere fact of their existence, they other themselves from the community of the safe place by dint of their unwillingness to accept the members of that safe place as people.

    I have probably made a right mash of the debate, and have not conveyed many of these ideas clearly enough, for which I apologize. I also, as you can tell, tend to be wordy as heck. Much of my own privilege probably shows, so do take some of my arguments with the understanding that I may not be entirely cognizant of the exact issues confront that QUILTBAG folk and neuro-atypical folk, and others.

  • Anonymous

    Gah ! I clicked “like” instead of “reply” ! It’s the second time I do it, but at least the first time I didn’t actively dislike what I was replying to…

    If someone says something disapproving of you, it’s not a legal matter. It’s how you choose to deal with it.

    Um, yes ? And we choose to deal with it by calling the assholes out on their asshole arguments ? Has someone called the cops while I wasn’t looking ?

  • Your post was great, actually, so don’t be so self-deprecating!

    I appreciate this description, because often these disagreements can flare up over differences of definition. My issue still stands, though; if it’s a tautology that the only people who will be othered by a safe space are people who don’t respect the personhood of others (I’m paraphrasing you — but is it okay if we call “not respecting the personhood of others” “bigotry”? I was going to, but didn’t want to put words in your mouth.)

    So if that’s a tautology, then we again come to the problem where anyone the community rejects as making this an unsafe place is automatically considered a bigot. I find this to be counterproductive both in creating a safe space and in encouraging honest discussion, the latter of which — I believe — is the purpose of this discussion board.

  • Well, the problem basically boils down to this: nobody likes being told how they should feel. I’m not going to go so far as to say it’s always inappropriate*, but it’s definitely something you should think twice before doing, and something you should think long and hard about *how* you’re doing, especially when you’re coming from a place where you don’t have to deal with things like sexism, homophobia, anti-atheism, etc on a daily basis. Doubly so when there have already been a bunch of douchebags saying things that are like what you want to say only actually obnoxious.

    Georgekaplan’s post came off as pretty unfortunate in a couple of ways:

    1. Equating reasonable anger and concern with insanity. This is a pretty standard derailing tactic, and it’s one that annoys me particularly. It is quite possible to be rationally angry; it is quite possible to be angry at X and still maintain its perspective re: Y; and I think that people here were doing that.

    Seriously. I didn’t see anyone threatening themselves or others, calling Fred a horrible person, calling anyone who stayed on the new site a horrible person, or equating this move with slavery/infanticide/burning puppies. People pointed out their issues with the site, said that they were disappointed in Fred for the move, and requested that he address the issues before moving to Business as Usual. That’s all.

    2. False equivalence. Being angry and upset over the move of a long-time community to a site that endorses bigotry is not just as bad as being a troll. Even being disproportionately angry–which I don’t think people were, as per above–is not as bad as coming in at a sensitive time to poke at people. I’m pretty callous, but frankly? I was on fandom_wank back in The Day, and we weren’t allowed to do that sort of thing.

    3. Honestly? Showing up to say that you’ve never commented and you’re not going to start but you wanted to stop by to explain what everyone else is doing wrong? That’s…going to raise a few hackles.

    Again, I don’t think someone who said “Hey, guys, I get that this is a problem, but I’m a little uncomfortable with the [perceived] comparison to Uganda/I myself am going to give Fred a chance to fix things/I kind of like the posting system,” would have an issue. I myself, in fact, have said two out of the three, and nobody took issue. Not to be Californian or anything, but I think a lot of it is about I-statements, and about not telling people how they should be feeling.

    *I’ve had a number of conversations along the lines of “No, seriously, two single people dating/an author not pairing the characters you want/people celebrating Valentine’s Day is not an effort to oppress you, now get the fuck OVER IT” only slightly more veiled.

  • Anonymous

    As much as I hate to partly agree with this one, he has a point. Both Typepad!Slacktivist and Patheos!Slacktivist are (relatively) unmoderated (and if the Patheos portal is moderated, based on the “Admin’s” post the other day, it is not moderated in a friendly or hopeful manner.) This almost by definition makes them unsafe places.

    Aside from the question mark on the moderation, and I assume issues of principle for those who don’t want to be associated with Patheos in any way, I think the issue is that Typepad!Slacktivist was pretty safe as unmoderated spaces go. This is thanks to the reactivity of the regulars as you point out, but it may also have been because of the readership. We rarely had more than two trolls and/or flamewar-causing clueless person at a time. With the move to Patheos may come a new readership, thus potentially a different amount and breed of trolls and clueless persons. And a whole batch of lurkers who won’t have years of past comment threads to read to understand how things work here. People whose reaction to privilege arguments won’t be “gah those people complaining about privilege, I’ll keep out of it or it’ll be a flamewar again” but “what are they talking about ? That’s just WRONG and I must tell them why !”.

    I hope that we can keep things as they were and I’m all for waiting and seeing but I can understand how others would be apprehensive, especially those who depend on this being a safe space.

  • Anonymous

    I have a hard time dismissing someone who raises a reasonable point civilly, without apparent intentional malice, just because they’re not in the circle.

    John Divine, I’m not sure if you’re still talking about my response to George Kaplan, but if you are I think you’re rather mischaracterising it. You’re attributing a motive to me that I don’t recognise at all – until today I’ve been mostly a reader rather than a commenter, so I’d hardly consider myself part of any circle (if there was such a thing).

    You saw George Kaplan raising a reasonable point civilly; I saw him characterising every other commenter as fitting one of two rather unappealing stereotypes, neither of which quite fit my observation of reality (which of course could be flawed, but it’s all I have to go on!) and doing so in a casual, flyby sort of way. He turned up and said ‘the problem with you lot is…’ That’s not particularly civil.

    As people have said above, a safe space is going to be different for different people, and what is a safe space for one person is going to be fraught with pain and difficulty for someone else. To make this place a safe space for people who are willing to engage in civil discourse, those who prefer uncivil discourse must be told that it won’t do.

    There’s plenty of room for discussion about what is meant by civil and uncivil discourse. George Kaplan’s first post was, as far as I can see, definitely in the uncivil box (with a side order of ‘likely to continue to make people in pain unhappy by caricaturing them as having ‘lost their minds’ i.e. dismissing their pain as unreasonable’). If that wasn’t his intention (and his later posts indicate that perhaps it wasn’t) then there’s an easy way to return to civil discourse – he could apologise.

  • For an example of Doing It Right: someone, who I unfortunately don’t have time to look up, mentioned the reasons *she* had for not calling people bigots except under certain narrow sets of circumstances. People disagreed with her, but politely, and nobody got flamed–because, I think, she framed her post as “I don’t do this” rather than “You shouldn’t do this.”

  • 1. I (partially) disagree. But first, what I agree with: equating things with insanity is a very troubling rhetorical device. It’s made much worse by its frequency, and it bothers me as well.
    Now: people DID all Fred a bad person, though not in as many words; people who on typepad may have in the past appreciated his careful approach to a humanizing theological worldview, in their anger, claimed that they should have expected such a hurtful action from an evangelical christian / cisgendered heterosexual / male. I agree that it’s not for me to say whether their anger is appropriate or not; however, I don’t think it makes me a bigot to claim that it’s not appropriate to automatically assume the worst motives of someone who has given many, many, many reasons for you not to do so.

    2. I don’t think I made an equivalence between the people who are angry over the move and trolls. At least, I certainly didn’t mean to, and if I did then I was wrong, wrong, wrong. Sorry.

    3. This is basically my complaint? That a community which serves the twofold function of being safe for people with marginalized identities and discussing the content and themes of a blog would raise high barriers to people attempting the latter if their actions are so much as perceived to be in opposition to the former.

  • alfgifu
    That post was actually a reply to Will Wildman. I’ve been using the Reply button with the faith that it will display the name of the person I’m replying to. Does it not do so? To be safe, I guess i’d better start writing names at the top of my posts…

  • Froborr

    I haven’t seen anyone accusing Georgekaplan of bigotry. I did accuse Fractal_zero of misogyny, but given that he used a misogynistic slur, that accusation is already proven.

    Here’s the thing you seem to not be getting: Civility is a matter of tone, bigotry is a matter of content. If someone’s content is bigoted, we will call them on it, regardless of tone.

    We will also call people on callousness, which is even easier to do civilly.

    I can see why you’d get the two confused, since calling either out often requires pointing out to a person that they are speaking from a position of privilege. But they really are different.

  • Anonymous

    John Divine
    It probably does. I’m still a little clumsy at following what’s happening here, so it would be easier for me if you made in clear in the text of your post who you were replying to, but that’s probably just me so I wouldn’t feel the need to go out of your way to change what you’re doing!
    Also, sorry for the assumption that your posting is All About Me. :) I’m going to head to bed, before I embarrass myself further. Good night, all.

  • John: Hm. I can’t really respond to point 1 very well, having missed a lot of the typepad stuff. That could be either really not okay or understandable, depending on the phrasing. “It’s easy for you to say/do X, because you don’t have to deal with Y Z Q, and I need to remember that in the future,” seems reasonable enough. “I should’ve expected no better from someone like you” is less appropriate, yeah, given Fred’s general history.

    That said, I’ll have to go back and take a look before I can give a definitive response there.

    2. No, my bad: that was Georgekaplan’s false equivalence, not yours. Should have been clearer about that.

    3. Well, yeah. My thing is that I don’t mind that. There are a lot of people in the world, and a lot of places where people can talk. If a forum where I hang out only gets the ones who are willing to be reasonably careful about what they say and take privilege checks with some amount of grace, I’m…not seeing a problem here.

    It’s a bit like being told that I’d date more if I wasn’t so picky about men, y’know? :) The assumption there is that the thing before “if” is something everyone wants or should want, and I just don’t agree.

  • Why is there no dislike button?

  • Froborr, speaking of tone, you’re being pretty condescending. I don’t think I’ve suggested sacrificing opposition to bigotry in favor of civility. I haven’t suggested that at all, in fact.

    But a claim like “If someone’s content is bigoted, we will call them on it, regardless of tone” displays the attitude I’m taking issue with. Let me be unequivocal: opposition to bigotry is a good thing. But the charge of bigotry seems to have been raised pretty frequently lately, particularly in the emotionally-charged early stages of the move.

    I understand your point about callousness and bigotry, and it returns to what I’ve said earlier about problems with definitions.

    In any case, I should have known much better than to open a can of worms when it is (for me) very late at night. On the upside, all of you that I’ve been discussing this with have been displaying exactly the kind of behavior I’m *not* taking issue with.

  • Also, I am now heading off–points made are not being ignored for content, but because I’m trying to kill my PCs with zombie wolves.

  • Nenya


    I’m so sorry about your sister and your neice. That must be devastating. *hugs*

    It really is hard. I had a whole paragraph about how, well, it’s okay because she’s proud of us in other ways. But it’s not, really. I don’t think she realizes how much it hurts when I email her and go, “This is what I’m doing at work, I’m thinking of taking these courses, how’s Dad’s editing job going?, my girlfriend wants to take me to see the new Captain America movie–she’s such a geek and I love it, we had a huge snowstorm here last week, how are your classes at the Y?” and she replies to everything BUT the pararaph where I mentioned my girlfriend. It’s like I never typed it. No acknowledgement at all.

    That really hurts, and you know what it means? It means I am not going to trust her with my worries about a long distance relationship, or how to break it to someone that I care about them a lot but I’m not in love with them, or how to recover from heartbreak. The kicker being that if it was a boy, especially if I elided the fact that I was sleeping with him, she would be very concerned and be glad to give her advice. Which might be worthwhile advice–she’s been married 32 years and presumably knows something about relationships. But no. Wall of silence for even non-controversial subjects, because it’s a girl. How do I tell her “I may have met the love of my life”? I want that to be joyful, not a trigger a fight!

    So, yeah, there’s a reason what she hears from me is mostly trivia for the last few years. And I think she misses it, too–when I chickened out and gave her the option of saying “Nenya’s best friend” instead of “girlfriend” when I sent her a news article about my lady being awesome in search & rescue, Mom wrote back immediately and told me I had a right to be proud. I think she and my dad want to accept us, but feel like they can’t without compromising their values. I wish they could see how bad a choice that is. (And how much it’s hurt my genderqueer pansexual sister and my gay brother, who have had it harder than me w/r/t my parents because they’ve been braver and more out than I.)

    I kind of want to say to the world (and hey, Patheos while we’re at it)–this is what “polite” homophobia does. My family is one of the nice, kind ones. Nobody got thrown out of the house when they came out–but my sister did end up moving out at 17 because they wouldn’t let her have her girlfriend (who lived 20 miles away) in the house, and moving out was the only way she could see her. My mom has only *this year* acknowledged my brother’s serious boyfriend of three years, and it was “I am praying for you–and [boyfriend]”. My straight brother’s wife? Was chatting about crafts with my mom within a couple of months. And the sad thing is that she’d love our partners if she got to know them–they’re exactly the kinds of people she would have wished us to l o’ove. Except for gender.

    Sorry for the wall o’text. I’m just letting myself be sad about this recently.

  • Froborr

    Seriously? You think that’s condescending? Man, you have no idea how condescending I can be if I try–and next to people like Izzy, I’m a rank amateur.

    As I may have already said (can’t remember if that was the comment I accidentally erased before posting or not), we don’t wear kid gloves around here. I fully expect that, if I say something callous, bigoted, or cruel, intentional or not, civil or not, I will be flamed–and believe me, I have been.

    If you actually read the threads you’ll see there’s been very few people directing anger at Fred, and a lot of people posting that they understand the reasons for the move even as some of them feel unable to continue (or torn about) posting here. A lot of questions, a lot of concerns, but what anger there has been has been directed at Patheos to an extent and trolls in particular.

    As for bigotry? It is really easy to be a bigot. Any act which treats one person or group of people as less than human is bigotry. Any statement that calls into question the equal humanity of a person or group of people is bigotry. Doesn’t matter what the intent behind it is. Doesn’t matter how it’s expressed. It’s bigotry.

    So I have a choice when I encounter a bigoted comment. I can flame it, which tells the victims of the bigotry that I consider their humanity a settled question and the purveyor of bigotry that the statement they just made is unacceptable, or I can be “civil,” which tells the purveyor of bigotry that their statement is acceptable and the victims of bigotry that I am open to discussion on whether or not they are human.

    I think which I would rather do is pretty obvious.

  • With the move to Patheos may come a new readership, thus potentially a different amount and breed of trolls and clueless persons. And a whole batch of lurkers who won’t have years of past comment threads to read to understand how things work here. People whose reaction to privilege arguments won’t be “gah those people complaining about privilege, I’ll keep out of it or it’ll be a flamewar again” but “what are they talking about ? That’s just WRONG and I must tell them why !”.

    I hope that we can keep things as they were and I’m all for waiting and seeing but I can understand how others would be apprehensive, especially those who depend on this being a safe space.

    Change is always unsettling until it becomes obvious what that change entails, then you can either embrace it or fight it properly. Until then it is easy to imagine the worst. My feeling is that regardless of what is on the rest of the Patheos site, and I haven’t done more than skim a couple of the other blogs, so I personally can’t comment, but I will take the word of others that it does not all line up with Slacktivism, as long as what Fred is allowed to post remains unchanged and the moderation of the comments remains unchanged, then the fundamentals of Slacktivist should remain unchanged.

    As regards flamewars, we seem to have had a small one on this post already :)

  • Froborr

    My hopes and sympathies for you, Nenya. It sounds like your mother might be very slowly coming around, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less, I’m sure.

  • Anonymous

    That a community which serves the twofold function of being safe for people with marginalized identities and discussing the content and themes of a blog would raise high barriers to people attempting the latter if their actions are so much as perceived to be in opposition to the former.

    People don’t have a civil right to discuss the content and themes of a blog in its comment section. Actually, if there are enough people that don’t like the community here but want to talk about the blog with random internet persons they can start their own slactivistwatch forum or something. It’s not as if Typepad!Slacktivist was even moderated for heaven’s sake.

    And you are still missing the main point, which is that PEOPLE WILL BE EXCLUDED ANYWAY. There are high barriers to entry either way. Hey, even when slacktivist was less safe people talked about being intimidated by how rigorous the argumentation was so there you have a barrier to entry that’s completely unrelated to political or safe-space issues.

    The question is, who do we exclude ? The people who due to their personal experiences are uncomfortable and wouldn’t post in an unsafe environment ? Or people who are intimidated by having to keep the former people in mind ? What kind of conversations do we want ? Endless privilege 101 flames, or the discussions that arise when you can mention the word “privilege” without having someone derail the conversation into a privilege 101 flame ? (I think the first slacktivist comment thread I ever read, which was years ago, was a feminist privilege 101 flamewar between Bugmaster, Jesurgislac and Hapax. So this isn’t new at all)

    The current community consensus favors the latter. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the former but there’s nothing wrong with the latter either and it’s the one we chose. for now.

  • Anonymous

    the issue at hand is an anonymous, bigoted commenter on this site who may or may not be affiliated with the host site, not discrimination in Uganda. They are not the same, nor should they be conflated lest you disrespect the gay men and women of Uganda

    Don’t you just love this line of argument? “But WHYYYYYY O WHYYY are you so concerned about problem X when problem Y is SOOOOO much bigger? Don’t you see that the existence of problem Y means that you have a moral imperative to ignore your silly little problem X?”

  • Anonymous

    I have hugs for you, Nenya, if you want them.

  • Nenya

    Aw thank you, Froborr. I really appreciate people being somewhat horrified on my behalf–though I know I really, really don’t have it bad compared to a lot of people. And I do have brothers and sisters and cousins and friends (not to mention my girlfriend’s parents) who are amazing and accepting. But thank you.

  • Nenya

    Hell, GROUP HUG for anyone who wants it. <3

  • Anonymous

    Hell, GROUP HUG for anyone who wants it. <3

    Hell yes, it’s been that kind of an evening.

  • Anonymous

    What an extraordinary story! Three children are gay out of how many? Four? Your parents aren’t just in Denial, they are practically in orbit. I hope, however, that time and sheer numbers will eventually bring your parents to their senses. They really sound like they need a zen koan style kick in the head–a moment of real confrontation–and they will be over the hump, as it were. I heard Dan Savage give a very powerful tribute to his mother, after her death, on NPR last year and I think that he,too had to struggle at first with his parents unwillingness to accept him. But in the end they came around. I so hope for you all that its not an “in the end” thing but rather an “in the beginning” thing. Maybe the three of you can take your parents out to dinner sometime and have a–well, I don’t want to say “confrontation” but maybe a “this is life, get with the program” kind of direct action. Life is too short for pretense and avoidance. Your parents are missing out on a whole lot of love and life with you and your siblings and their significant others.


  • Nenya

    Three out of six (I’m bi, my sister’s pansexual (used to ID as lesbian), my brother’s gay–and sings opera to boot :D). The other three are a brother who’s mostly straight but was bicurious for a while, and the youngest two sibs, who are in their early teens and we’re not sure how they’re going to end up identifying. The girl is 15 and adores Mr. Darcy and the boy is 13 and says he once had a dream he was married to a guy, so.

    (Also four out of six of us are redheads and most of us wear glasses. I’ve got a theory for the geneticists about hair colour, myopia, and sexuality…hee.)

    I think you are very likely right. They have changed their minds on some other big, significant things over the years, and are familiar with learning that what they used to believe was Wrong, or Not Helpful. So…it’s possible. I’m kind of feeling like I should start to say something to them at some point. At the least not back down from talking about it, even if they don’t respond. And maybe someday I’ll have the guts to say “This hurts me”. I don’t know–but I haven’t quite lost hope yet.

  • eph317

    Yes, Cathie was always willing to do the right thing–regardless of the “rules.” When a friend sent me news of Cathie’s death, the email heading was “Our dear friend Cathie…” My first thought was that she had gotten arrested for helping someone escape! There aren’t too many 85-year-olds who inspire such thoughts. She continues to inspire me every day to live on the side of love and integrity.

  • Anonymous

    Just to add: I did not purposely ignore the remainder of the discussion, and I appreciate the engagement and would have liked to continue it. Unfortunately, I’m a bit out of spoons at the moment, as RL is being a bit busy. I apologize for leaving the conversation at that point, but please be assured it was not in a huff or in a puff, and I think some excellent and wonderful points and discussion have been made in it.

  • Dr Catherine Clark Kroeger has been an inspiration to many. If you are interested in continuing her work, consider coming to a Peace and Safety in the Christian Home (PASCH) conference she was in the middle of planning when she died: ‘Emerging From the Shadows: loving, reflecting, pursuing justice together’ to be held in Abbotsford (near Vancouver), British Columbia Canada May 12-15, 2011. See website fromtheshadows.ca.
    Elsie Goerzen, Abbotsford, BC

  • Ah, the limits of the Like button.

    Nenya, hugs from me if you want ’em, and my “like” on your sad post should be taken in the spirit of “I support you, and I support your feeling that this community is a safe place to express your sadness when you’re sad, because that’s what community ought to be about, darn it.”

  • Nenya

    Aw, Nicole, hugs from you are always treasured! I am delighted to see you commenting again. (I know you’re busy of late, but hi!!)

    I looked at my post and went, “Damn that’s a wall of text,” but then I thought, “Hey, it’s Slacktivist and I they probably won’t mind. Much,” and also this format makes things wall-ier than usual. So I proffer fresh hay for the teal deer wandering in anyone’s backyard, but also really appreciate all of the support.

    *hugs, and reallyisgoingtobednowreally*

  • thrum swarf

    I am familiar with spoon theory, and I’ve seen it referenced here, and I don’t like it. I just don’t see how “spoons” communicates something meaningfully different from “energy”- and so saying “some of us don’t have the spoons to” just sounds like a jargony version of “some of us don’t have the energy to”. Jargon can be fun to create an in-group; and it can also create an unnecessarily exclusionary ingroup. I like to think that we’ll introduce more people to interesting ideas about the equality of women, disability rights, etc. if we don’t clothe ourselves in jargony in-talk.
    I’m aware that I might have misunderstood some layers of the spoon story here and there are distinctions I don’t see.

  • thrum swarf

    I am familiar with spoon theory, and I’ve seen it referenced here, and I don’t like it. I just don’t see how “spoons” communicates something meaningfully different from “energy”- and so saying “some of us don’t have the spoons to” just sounds like a jargony version of “some of us don’t have the energy to”. Jargon can be fun to create an in-group; and it can also create an unnecessarily exclusionary ingroup. I like to think that we’ll introduce more people to interesting ideas about the equality of women, disability rights, etc. if we don’t clothe ourselves in jargony in-talk.
    I’m aware that I might have misunderstood some layers of the spoon story here and there are distinctions I don’t see.

  • Re: spoons… a few years ago, when I was in rehab after my stroke, I mentioned to a therapist’s assistant that I had to cancel an exercise because I was just out of spoons, and she looked at me confused.

    So I said “I’m out of cope,” and she understood, but was wondering why I’d said “spoons,” and I told her it was an Internet thing and she should google “spoons Lupus” and would no doubt find it.

    The next day she turned up with a half-dozen printouts, which she handed to all her fellow therapists, and thanked me for introducing her to the idea, because it was a perfect illustration of something that lots of people deal with during recovery. Later, she mentioned to me that she had MS, and that article was a spot-on description of what dealing with MS was like, and that she’d cried while reading it.

    All of which is to say: available evidence indicates that something is being communicated through that metaphor that the people who struggle with these sorts of disabilities very much want to communicate, and I very much doubt that it’s “energy.”

    That said, I have no way of knowing if it’s the same thing being communicated in the usages that bother you.

  • You know, I am reminded of something that someone said in a post on the Typepad side a few weeks ago before Fred moved the blog to Pathos. That person complained that Fred only ever mentioned notible Christians who were doing something idiotic or bad. I protested this claim, saying that he mentions plenty of good things done by Christians* as well, and I am pleased that my refutation is supported by posts like this.

    * In this case, I am refering to things done that are tied to or based off a person’s faith. Of course good deeds can come from anyone of any faith, and should be celebrated when they are, but rarely does one see those good deeds as necessarily being driven by that person’s faith.

  • It’s nice to hear the ‘God-as-abusive-husband’ interpretation talked about in such length. My girlfriend has an extensive metaphor/rant on the subject that she once gave me, but since she made her version up from her own atheist heart, I’d never looked around for it in real modern religious scholarship.

  • Kitti

    This may be a little late, and I haven’t read the entire thread (for which I apologize, but I wanted to say this before I forgot about it) but. There’s a particular John Scalzi quote that I think is rather apropos, and it is this: “The failure mode of clever is ‘asshole’.” He was speaking in fairly narrow terms, but I rather think it applies more broadly. I might even go so far as to say it’s a universal principle. And one that I think most people (self included) could do to write in big block letters and display prominently near their computers. Actually I have. Mostly because I think it’s funny, but it’s also a good reminder.