Smart people saying smart things

Adam Ericksen: “Same Sex Unions: A Faithful Response

[Christians] who embrace same sex unions are attempting to be faithful followers of Christ. I know because I’m one of them. We read the Bible. We know our Christian history. We have sound doctrine. And it’s because we are rooted in those places that we feel called to embrace those who find themselves excluded.

For example, let’s take a look at Original Sin. This doctrine is based, in part, on the human tendency to form our identity against an “other.” In other words, once we eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we know who is “good” and who is “bad.” And, of course, “I” am always the good guy, which means (sorry about this!) “you” are the bad guy. I take it that Original Sin is universal. In some way we all grasp for a sense of goodness, which means we grasp against someone else. For some reason, humans don’t like to share “goodness” so we compete for it. We make religious and political rules that distinguish “us good guys” from “those bad guys.” We feel the need to exclude “them” from our community, thinking that they hold some special power that will contaminate us. We start making distinctions between “clean” and “unclean.” Indeed, that distinction is made in scripture, but scripture also critiques that distinction.

Anthony B. Susan: “Douglas Wilson on Slavery: The Evangelical White Man’s Burden

So let’s recap: we have one Calvinist preacher and a neo-Confederate, and they agree on two things: slavery and the evils of same-sex marriage. At no point does Wilson acknowledge or condemn the League of South’s extremist leanings. He can’t, really. Wilkins is a necessary ally in the culture war.

Wilson goes to explain that he is not racist; in fact, he identifies racism as the South’s great sin. I think he sincerely believes this. He also sincerely believes that African culture during the antebellum was “inferior” to white Southern culture. …

… Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter if Wilson considers himself a racist. He explicitly locates non-white cultures as inferior. That is itself racist. The belief that others must be civilized, and taught to assimilate into Western cultural mores, is racist.  Racism isn’t just an irrational hatred for other ethnic groups. If it were, the degree of entrenched racism revealed year after year to still be present and relevant in the United States would reflect the size and influence of the white power movement. It would certainly not be so pervasive. But it is, and so racism’s definition has to be expanded. It’s more than hatred; it is an attitude of cultural superiority and the characterization of the American black as something Other. And by this standard, Douglas Wilson is a racist.

Caleb Wilde: “Ask a Funeral Director …

Very religious people are used to putting on a front and/or trying to accept the belief that “it all happened for a reason” that when it comes to grief and loss, they have a hard time realizing it. They’re trying too hard to act like their immutable and impassible god that doesn’t exist.

Part of the reason death doesn’t affect us is because we have a theology that promotes an unaffected God. I wonder how pastors would approach funerals and the bereaved if we really believed that Jesus not only wept, but he probably still weeps with us today?

For many Christians, it’s too easy to major on orthodoxy and minor on orthopathos. During death, perhaps there’s nothing more in line with living like Jesus than attempting to feel with the bereaved family.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    Connecting the points of the first two links, I like Anthony Susan’s formulation of racism as a rebuke to the many, many people who insist they aren’t bigots because because “I don’t hate gay people!”:

    “It’s more than hatred; it is an attitude of cultural superiority and the characterization of [LGBT people] as something Other.”

  • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

    Richard Land is retiring, though not until October of next year.  Anyone want to speculate on how much damage he will cause in the interim?
     

  • ReverendRef

    For many Christians, it’s too easy to major on orthodoxy and minor on
    orthopathos. During death, perhaps there’s nothing more in line with
    living like Jesus than attempting to feel with the bereaved family.

    I cry at funerals all the time; which can be problematic since I’m usually the one leading the service and not actually (supposed to be) grieving the deceased.  For me, there’s almost nothing more embarrassing than breaking down on the job.

    But when an unknown family comes to me wanting a church burial for their dad and then spends the day before the funeral cleaning up the flower beds, or when the wife of an inactive member and prominent citizen wants a church burial and we have an SRO crowd because of the lives he touched, or when a fellow volunteer firefighter calls me in the middle of the night because his infant daughter died from SIDS and I was the only one he could think to call and would I please do the funeral . . . how can I not be touched to the core, and how can I not grieve with the family and community?

    Yes, as Christians we have a faith that tells us (in so many words) all will be well.  And yes, in the Episcopal church funerals are white because they are an Easter liturgy that celebrates resurrection and new life.  But that doesn’t remove the fact that right here, right now, the pain of death and loss is real, and it sucks.

    The standard platitudes of, “God has a plan,” or, “God needed another angel,” or “It all happens for a reason,” often make me want to yell, “Oh bullshit!”  Yes, God has a plan, but I’m pretty sure children dying of SIDS isn’t part of it. 

    Our faith helps us get through these times; it’s not the reason for these times.

  • Magic_Cracker

    I just don’t understand how someone can think that thinking that white culture — whatever the fuck that is — is superior to other cultures isn’t racist.  Thinking that something or someone is better than something or someone else based on race is the very definition of racism.

  • Wingedwyrm

    Note: Intended Irony contained with in.

    The answer, Magic_Cracker, is that it’s bad to be racist.  So, he doesn’t see himself as racist.  He sees himself as the superior race to another race, which is nigh the dictionary definition of racism.  But, racism is bad.

    You know, much like how waterboarding isn’t torture because America doesn’t torture.

    We incorporate the moral judgements of words more easily than their actual definition.  For example, a friend of mine, working for a phone company, had once been called a terrorist because the phone company needed to be paid in order to provide phone service.  Even if we ignore the factor of quantity, the quality of the non-service for non-pay isn’t anywhere close to textbook terrorism.  What this customer was saying wasn’t that my friend or the company was attempting to instill terror in people for the sake of political or personal gain, but that my friend or the company was bad… really bad… I mean really a lot of bad, seriously!

    Similarly, Douglas Wilson doesn’t see himself as bad.  He’s a good guy, really…  I mean really really.  And racism is bad… really bad… Really!  Therefore, this guy who, come on guys he’s such a good guy, isn’t bad can’t be something bad.

    This is also a bit of one of my major moral objections to the majority of Christianity as it has been presented to me, the judgement of God as good preceeds all actions.  I realize that this isn’t all of Christendom, but it’s the majority of what I’ve come into contact with and I’ll be willing to bet real money that it’s also Douglas Wilson’s view of God…  Well, not a bet, previous articles talk about Douglas Wilson’s view on God re: genocide to say just that.  That attitude is nothing if not a practice in how one views morality in general.

  • Monala

    It’s not only Christians. I once met someone from the Optimists’ Club, and decided against joining because there are elements of their creed that disturb me. Some of the elements of their creed are wonderful, and I’d love to grow more in those areas (e.g., “To make all your friends feel that there is something in them”; “To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements
    of the future”;  “To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about
    your own.”)

    But other elements really bothered me, e.g,: “To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature
    you meet a smile”; “To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and
    too happy to permit the presence of trouble.”

    Sorry, I just don’t think that’s healthy or human.

  • Magic_Cracker

    We incorporate the moral judgements of words more easily than their actual definition.

    This is a nearly perfect example of a simple truths simply stated. A former friend and I broke up over this very issue.

    “I like you Alice, but I can’t truck with your racist attitudes.”

    “I’m not a racist; I’m a racialist.”

    “Uh, okay. I guess I don’t like you after all.”

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    What on earth is the difference between ‘racist’ and ‘racialist’?

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    It’s good to be occasionally reminded how starkly different certain cultures are from others. That there is a culture in this country in which the idea is in any way new that racism is “more than hatred; it is an attitude of cultural superiority and the characterization of the American black as something Other” absolutely shocks me.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Those “other elements” sound like Scientology. Definitely not healthy.

  • Dan Audy

    Since I had the same question I googled it and as far as I can tell it can be used to mean two things.

    First as a self-identifier (as Magic_Cracker’s Alice used) it is a ‘value neutral’ term to describe racism without the pejorative associations it carries.  A racialist would believe in the superiority of a race but disavow separatism, hatred, and genocide.  Personally I think it is a pretty thin hair to split and that anyone who self-describes this way has thought about the issue enough to know they are choosing hate.

    The second is as a scientific term to describe the belief that there are biological, physiological, or social differences between members of different races.  While I actually agree with this I find it a concept with a negative value in our society where racists will misinterpret any research or data on differences between ethnicities to bolster their world view of racial supremacy.  

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    racists
    will misinterpret any research or data on differences
    between ethnicities to bolster their world view

    An irritating fact about fools and liars is that they either fail to understand or fail to care whether the facts support their position. Whatever facts we uncover, they claim it supports what they’ve believed all along. And if we uncover no new facts at all, they go right on believing what they’ve believed all along.

    So, mostly, I don’t endorse judging the value of data based on what fools and liars will do with it.

    But boy do I wish there were fewer fools and liars around.

  • EllieMurasaki

    The second is as a scientific term to describe the belief that there are biological, physiological, or social differences between members of different races.
     
    Of COURSE there are social differences between members of different races. Put enough effort into telling kids that, for example, black men are more prone to committing crimes than white men–say it in so many words, or typecast black male actors as criminals and sharply restrict the black male roles that aren’t criminals without typecasting white male actors as criminals or restricting white male roles at all, or what have you–and then back that assertion up by having the percentage of folk-searched-by-police who are black men be higher than the percentage of folk-in-the-area who are black men (which has the natural effect of, among other things, making the percentage of folk-caught-with-drugs who are black men higher than the percentage of folk-in-the-area-who-use-drugs who are black men; the folk-in-the-area-who-use-drugs demographics consistently look very like the folk-in-the-area demographics), and back that assertion up by putting worse penalties on crimes committed by poor (disproportionately black) people than on crimes committed by middle-class and wealthy (disproportionately not-black) people, and back that assertion up by propping up systems in which the wealthier and/or more powerful a group of people are the whiter they’re likely to be, and so forth and so on culminating in a four-years-and-counting tantrum to the effect of the President is insufficiently American to be President and the reasoning for that is (said in as many ways as possible without using so many words) that the President’s daddy is from blackest Africa…does it really fucking surprise anyone that black kids realize early on that the system is weighted against them, and that many of these kids behave accordingly?
     
    (It is my personal theory that if Obama had spent his formative years in the continental US instead of in Indonesia, where US race relations don’t apply, and Hawaii, where race relations are radically different from the rest of the US because Hawaiian demographics are radically different from the rest of the US, we would probably still be waiting for a black president. Obama simply never got the early programming that black kids in the US typically do, and if he had, that would have worked against him.)

  • Dan Audy

    Of COURSE there are social differences between members of different races. Put enough effort into telling kids that, for example, black men are more prone to committing crimes than white men

    Sorry, I should have been more clear.  They believe that there are innate social differences between the races that are not the result of nurture or environment but because of differences in the structure of the brain or the nature of the soul of people of different races.  They are the people who take a research paper on how Conspicuous Consumption varies between the races (research done in response to Bill Crosby’s scathing 2004 NAACP criticism of black culture) and attributes it to black’s being more impressed by social displays rather than an effect of generations of policies designed to push people of colour back down when they started moving up the economic ladder.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Oh, those social differences. Those deserve nothing but a good headdesking. Preferably the head and desk of the people saying this shit; my head hurts enough.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=141304249 Sarah Jones

    This is Anthony Susan! Glad you liked the post. I think it can also work for complementarians: “Women aren’t inferior! I just expect my wife to submit to me!” I’m not certain you can really call it “cultural superiority” when applied to gender roles but an attitude of superiority is definitely in play. So I’m comfortable referring to complementarians as sexist, and opponents of same-sex marriage as bigots, and slavery apologists as racist. It’s all based on a belief in the superiority of one’s own particular identity. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=141304249 Sarah Jones

    It shouldn’t be new, I agree. And I think there is a cultural narrative that associates “racism” with its most egregious manifestations: slavery, Jim Crow, the KKK. People like Douglas Wilson are then able to place their beliefs outside this narrative without examining critically the foundations of those beliefs–which are fundamentally no different from those held by any white power militia. The only difference is in the way these beliefs are applied politically.


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