White evangelical gatekeeping: A particularly ugly example in real time

Say you have a disagreement with another person about the meaning of a particular passage in the Bible. Do you engage them in an argument to try to show them why your interpretation is better? Or do you proclaim them a dangerous heretic and then demand that they be expelled from the tribe and fired from their job?

If you chose the latter, then you’ve got what it takes to be a Gatekeeper in the white evangelical tribe.

Let’s look at a current example of white evangelical gatekeeping as it unfolds before us in real time. This one involves Christianity Today in its usual role as good cop, and one of Al Mohler’s henchmen in his gang’s usual role as bad cop. This is an ugly, ugly business.

The subject is Eric A. Siebert, professor of Old Testament at Messiah College. Siebert is to be chastened by the tribe for a series of recent posts on Peter Enns’ blog:

1. When the “Good Book” Is Bad: Challenging the Bible’s Violent Portrayals of God

2. When the Bible Sanctions Violence, Must We?

3. Learning to Read the Bible Nonviolently

These are thoughtful, cautious essays on a subject that every Christian who has read the Bible must contend with. Genocide, slavery, concubinage, atrocities, slaughter and pillage are all part of the biblical story. At times in the Bible, these horrors are commended. At times in the Bible, these horrors are commanded.

Every Christian who reads the Bible must deal with this.

But white evangelicalism isn’t really about reading the Bible. It’s about using the Bible to enforce the boundaries of the tribe and the hierarchies within it.

Owen Strachan: Tribalist.

So the gatekeepers don’t share Siebert’s questions about these biblical tales of genocide, slavery, concubinage, etc. Those might be excellent questions, thoughtful questions, and crucially important questions, but that’s just the problem — they are questions.

Gatekeepers are not fond of questions. And those who ask them must be chastened.

So first up, the good cop. Christianity Today does its best to portray Siebert as “controversial” right off the bat with its headline: “Is the Bible Immoral? Messiah College Professor Says Yes, Sometimes.”

CT doesn’t engage Siebert’s argument because the important thing — the reason for its report — is not the substance of what Siebert says, but whether or not the tribe finds him acceptable. CT doesn’t want its readers to trouble their little heads wrestling with the texts of terror or with Siebert’s response to them. It’s just sounding the perimeter alarm and informing readers that Eric A. Siebert is dangerous, controversial, etc.

CT’s Melissa Steffan manages to use “mainline” as a pejorative and to hint that Siebert may be a heretic, but she fails to work in the usual gratuitous John Shelby Spong reference. I’m sure her bosses will take that up with her at her next performance evaluation.

Steffan’s piece is mainly just an introduction for the hatchet job by the designated bad cop in this piece of gatekeeping. Frame Siebert as the suspect, guilty until proven innocent. Then frame his inquisitor — the bad cop — as the presumed and unquestioned authority qualified to evaluate Siebert’s standing with and transgressions against the tribe. That inquisitor is Owen Strachan of Boyce College.

And Owen Strachan of Boyce College is a nasty piece of work.

Like CT’s piece, Strachan’s screed isn’t interested in the substance of Siebert’s argument as much as whether or not it is acceptable for tribal consumption. He’s not writing to tell us that Siebert’s argument is wrong, but that it is forbidden. It is out of bounds. And throughout his smarmy little attack job, Strachan keeps the focus on Siebert himself, as a person, and not on his ideas.

Strachan’s title — “Can a Messiah College OT Professor Really Teach the Bible’s ‘Immoral’?” — gives a sense of the awkward style to follow. (I know we’re supposed to recoil in horror from that rhetorical question, but I can’t tell whether we’re supposed to cry Yes! or No!)

Recoiling in horror is Strachan’s preferred mode of gatekeeping. This is the pearl-clutching, fainting-couch, oh-my-I-have-the-vapors school of faux-lamentation preferred by many white evangelical gatekeepers. The more they despise any person or institution, the more they will pretend to be saddened and disappointed  at what has recently befallen them. How art the mighty fallen and oh, what a noble mind is here o’erthrown, etc. etc.

Strachan lays that on pretty thick, indicating he must really hate Messiah College. Here’s his intro:

A Messiah College Old Testament professor named Eric Siebert just posted a shocking piece on Pete Enns’s blog. It’s entitled “When the Good Book is Bad: Challenging the Bible’s Violent Portrayals of God.” You should read it.

If you love the Lord and his Word, it will take your breath away.

You don’t need me to say this, though. Here are a couple of quotations that show just how far this piece is from an evangelical, or even orthodox, conception of Scripture. …

So three paragraphs in and Strachan has already told us that Siebert is a shocking nobody (note that condescending indefinite article), that he has a  breathtaking contempt for God and the Bible, and that he is far from evangelical and far from orthodox.

But that’s the nicest part of Strachan’s punitive gatekeeping effort here.

Strachan’s main objective comes in the next bit, in which he seeks to get Siebert fired:

This is a shameful piece. It does not line up with the statement of faith that guides Messiah College. … At the very least, there is serious friction here between Siebert and his school’s statement of faith.

I’m deeply concerned by this, as one who has had respect for Messiah College. I know a number of alumni, and the school has over the years enjoyed a strong reputation in the Christian community. That a faculty member would publish that that the Bible has material that is “immoral,” “problematic,” and is not fully trustworthy is frightening to me, primarily because of what many Christian students must be encountering in classes ostensibly devoted to building up students’ faith, not tearing it down.

Won’t someone think of the children?

The irony here is that Siebert’s piece was posted on Peter Enns’ blog, shortly after Enns himself wrote this:

Calling for Evangelical involvement in public academic discourse is useless if trained Evangelicals are legitimately afraid of what will happen to them if they do.

There’s no evidence that Strachan read that — or that he read Siebert’s piece either, actually — but if he had set out to prove Enns’ point deliberately, he couldn’t have done a better job.

Strachan isn’t satisfied with merely slapping a “controversial” warning label on Siebert. He wants him expelled from the tribe. And he wants him to lose his job.

This is despicable behavior. Strachan doesn’t like Siebert’s argument, so he tries to get him fired. That’s a total dick move.

Oh, right, we Christians aren’t supposed to say things like “total dick move” — no matter how totally dickish someone is behaving.

So let me put this in language that gatekeepers like Strachan will understand:

A Boyce College professor named Owen Strachan just posted a shocking piece. You should read it.

If you are capable of love, it will take your breath away.

It is a shameful piece. It does not line up with the fruits of the Spirit, the Beatitudes, or the Greatest Commandments.

I’m deeply concerned by this, as one who is now pretending to have had respect for Boyce College. The school has over the years enjoyed a strong reputation in the Christian community. Be a shame if anything happened to that.

That a faculty member would publish something suggesting that the gospel somehow is compatible with his unctuous, oily, disingenuous, stick-so-far-up-his-backside-you-can-see-the-tip-when-he-talks attitude toward those he wants to keep in line is frightening to me, primarily because of what many Christian students must be encountering in classes ostensibly devoted to building up students’ faith, not turning them into twice as much a child of hell as himself.

Or, in the vernacular: Total dick move, Owen Strachan. Total dick move.

 

  • http://www.facebook.com/chrisalgoo Chris Algoo

     American Christians don’t often commit mass violence against each other. Congratulations? Nice standards you hold yourself to.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chrisalgoo Chris Algoo

     Do you see any textual evidence that Fred’s advocating for a “tribe against tribalism”? If so, where?

    Is it tarnishing to point out the truth of somebody’s actions?

  • Senor_Hosenscheisser

    “(Incidentally, demanding that someone address their insults to you in exactly your preferred form is an obvious and obnoxious power play. Furthermore, the state of ones genitals is irrelevant to their courage.)”

    I don’t like engaging in ad hominem attacks in discussions. It’s a waste of time. But, if someone is going to repeatedly get angry, not possess any self-control, and start attacking me for no other reason than they don’t have anything relevant to contribute along the lines of the discussion, then if they’re going to do that, imho they should own it. If they’re going to take an internet discussion personally enough to divert their energies towards such a useless direction, then take it personally enough to do it in the first person. I don’t take ad hominem attacks personally. I couldn’t care less if anyone “likes” me out here in the tubes. But once someone starts down that road with me, it turns into a little bit of entertainment to see how far they’ll go, how much time they’ll waste, whether they’re creative or not, and it’s really becomes a boring show when someone can’t own it. Put on a show, for crying out loud! Show us how much energy you can waste by calling me X, Y, Z! If they’re not doing that, and if I can help them along, I will. That anyone takes any insult personally in the comments section of a thread truly baffles me. 

  • Senor_Hosenscheisser

    “Sometimes, but not always.”

    The Catholic Church is a very hierarchical organization, very top-down authoritative indeed, but it has to have buy-in from enough of the laity to remain as it is. And, it has fairly significant divisions within it, so it does show there are at least a portion of the laity and junior clergy in different parts of the world who don’t agree. My point is that ultimately, any organization has to have the participation of the laity in self-policing. It can’t exist wholly from the top-down, even if it is reinforced from the top-down.

    #5 – But if whiteness is not causative, and “unwhiteness” doesn’t change the outcome, then it really isn’t a valid inclusion. I could correlate all sorts of things in America with whiteness, simply because white people have been the largest demographic. But it doesn’t necessarily mean anything. I’ve been trying to point out that even though such a thing might correlate heavily here, the exact same behavior doesn’t correlate with whiteness elsewhere in the world (in countries that aren’t predominantly white), and thus, pointing it out, as if something could be solved by unwhiting the scenario, diverts the topic from something universal and imminently relevant to all people’s, to a distraction where people could (and do) easily infer that such criticisms don’t also apply to them, because they don’t self-identify with that category. 

    Believe me, there’s plenty to criticize about Evangelicalism in America. I long ago sloughed off that identification. But from experience, I can tell you, white people aren’t the only gatekeepers of norms in Evangelicalism. The 6% of blacks in Evangelicalism are just as gatekeepy, and so are the Latinos, and the Asians, and everyone else. I grew up in those environments, and spent much of my life in non-white churches, and it is exactly the same. It just expresses itself in different norms, that’s all. The only reason people from the outside of the church (or even within it) who focus so heavily on whiteness as a point of criticism to the exclusion of others, is because they don’t actually have any significant experience in anything but a white cultural environment. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

     

    They’re saying that death is deserved for some people, and I take the absolutist position that no one deserves to die.

    “Deserves [death]! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.” – Gandalf

  • Senor_Hosenscheisser

    So, white people can be tribalist all on their own, without any cause, but non-whites are only tribalist against whites because they’re disenfranchised by whites? Non-white tribalism has a cause (in whiteness), but white tribalism is a cause in and of itself? This is exactly the kind of argumentation that really makes no sense to me. But, I start off with an unfortunate bias I guess: that all people are equal when it comes to human nature. They all share the same nature. Isn’t the point that defining everything in terms of color is “superficial”? Culture explains norms. It is the basis of them. Color doesn’t. 

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

     

    That anyone takes any insult personally in the comments section of a thread truly baffles me. 

    Some people care about what other people think and say.
    Some people treat other people in comments section of a thread as though we were people.

    People who fall into both categories care what other people in comments section of a thread think and say.

    It’s really not that complicated.

  • Andrew Thule

    This bit of polemic is racist.

    Ok, we get the idea there’s a controversy brewing. One guy said something others object to, so they engage in ad hominem rather than in the argument.

    But at what point does ‘white evangelical gatekeepers’ come into this? Not being American, that seems like a blatant attempt to push the ‘race card’, a known button for Americans only.

    You know Eric A. Siebert is white right? So are most of his critics. So in fact the polemic of tribalism doesn’t seem to have anything to do with it. But let’s suppose that weren’t the case, does race really have anything to do with ones ability to either make a sound argument, or critique someone else’s?

    Whether or not we agree, Strachan’s counter argument seems to have been whether or not Siebert’s view of scripture was orthodox. To stereotype Siebert’s critics base on race is racist. If Strachan had been black, and stereotyped in a similar manner, there’s little doubt you’d be kicking and screaming.

    Racism directed at whatever race (even in the name of polemic) is a Total Dick Move. Fred Clark. Total Dick Move.

  • AnonaMiss

    Pretty sure the reason for specifying “white” in this context is because non-white evangelicals (e.g. black baptists/pentacostals, Korean methodists) are usually part of completely different church culture in the US. For example, black evangelical churches usually subscribe to liberation theology and are rarely Calvinist.

    Making statements about the white evangelical subculture but labeling it as just the “evangelical subculture” regardless of race would imply that the cultures of the non-white evangelical churches didn’t differ from that of the white church. And given that this is a criticism of the US white evangelical church, that would be an unfair tarring of the non-white evangelical churches.

    Someone’s pretty defensive about his whiteness though. Most of your posts have been tl;dr, so please forgive me for asking: have you brought up your black Muslim friend yet?

  • Senor_Hosenscheisser

    Theologically, the subcultures are not really that different (insofar as some are many black churches are pentecostal to some degree). Culturally they are for sure, and how that plays itself out in politics is often different, but most black evangelical churches aren’t liberation theology. Those are somewhat rare, in the aggregate. 

    The discussion at hand is about theology, not about politics, or social justice. I’d be more willing to accept the whiteness criticism if it were about that, because that’s a fair point of discussion. But the original discussion is about violence, pacifism, and Biblical hermeneutics, none of which have anything do to with race.

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

    Has anyone noticed that the only people who use the term “race card” want to devalue the lived experiences of people of color?

  • Senor_Hosenscheisser

    “Some people treat other people in comments section of a thread as though we were people”

    And many don’t. I didn’t tell anyone to go F myself. I was told that. Also that I was a troll, to go “blow it out my pants”, etc. I was, in other words, not treated like a person. And still I’m not offended by it. Amused, yes, but not offended, because that requires too much wasted energy. It’s all light, and no heat.

  • Senor_Hosenscheisser

    “But at what point does ‘white evangelical gatekeepers’ come into this? Not being American, that seems like a blatant attempt to push the ‘race card’, a known button for Americans only.”

    Exactly. 

  • AnonaMiss

    Disagree. The original post was about an attempt by Strachan to dissuade questioning of the white evangelical cultural framework, by using his position as a white evangelical cultural Christian to suggest that Sieber should be thrown out of a white evangelical cultural institution.

    In addition, treating biblical hermeneutics as though it is divorced from culture, politics and social justice is problematic.

  • Daughter

    OK, Senor, I don’t know what to think exactly. On the one hand, I think you have a point. While Fred has ably made the case that often evangelical tribalism and white racism in the U.S. have gone hand in hand, this particular example doesn’t seem to involve racism or whiteness. In that sense your criticism is valid.

    But then you turn around and make a lot of points about Islamist violence, which is unrelated to the point at hand. Why? It makes your race-neutral criticism seem suspect.

    Yes, in recent decades, white Christians haven’t been as blatantly violent as Islamic fundamentalists, but a good argument could be made that that’s attributable to the acceptance of Enlightenment and progressive valuesmore than Christianity. (Note: I’m a Christian) Because we all know well that in the past white Christians have been as capable of violent extremism in the name of God as Islamic fundamentalists are today.

  • Daughter

    And a caveat: there are still white Christians today who are capable of violent extremism, and plenty of Muslims who are peaceful.

  • AnonaMiss

    But at what point does ‘white evangelical gatekeepers’ come into this? Not being American, that seems like a blatant attempt to push the ‘race card’, a known button for Americans only.

    A person who is a gatekeeper in the white evangelical church is unlikely to be a gatekeeper in one of the nonwhite evangelical churches.

    Or shall we just call them “evangelical gatekeepers” and rely on the audience’s knowledge of the convention that non-white groups will always be explicitly indicated by race, therefore we can assume white evangelical culture is the one being criticized here, because white is the default? /snark

  • Senor_Hosenscheisser

    The Islamist violence was an unintended sideshow that I was forced to spend way too much time on because as soon as you mention any other people group besides whites, people get myopia and can’t focus on anything else besides calling you a bigot. It was just a minor comment that theological “gatekeeping” takes different forms in different places, at different times, but that the act itself is completely universal to humanity – that it has nothing to do with whiteness. All peoples who believe in something and want to keep their distinctiveness about it do this. The entire discussion was for race-neutrality. But lots of people have a problem with that, because they want to find a way to blame white people for pretty much everything. It’s become very fashionable these days, esp. in politics, and has been creeping into nearly every topic in theological circles, even though race has nothing to do with the genesis of that theology. I, on the other hand, want to blame all people for absolutely everything. There is no cause of evil outside of people themselves. Institutions, governments, religions, and any organization of any kind, aren’t evil without people. They aren’t good without people either. But humanity of every color has far more in common with itself than Fred, or people on this thread, want to give it. I’m just trying to point that out.

  • Senor_Hosenscheisser

    “Disagree. The original post was about an attempt by Strachan to dissuade questioning of the white evangelical cultural framework, by using his position as a white evangelical cultural Christian to suggest that Sieber should be thrown out of a white evangelical cultural institution”

    Take “white” out of it, and how does the validity of Clark’s criticism change? It doesn’t. 

    “In addition, treating biblical hermeneutics as though it is divorced from culture, politics and social justice is problematic.”
    But in this case, totally justified. 

  • Senor_Hosenscheisser

    “Yes, in recent decades, white Christians haven’t been as blatantly violent as Islamic fundamentalists, but a good argument could be made that that’s attributable to the acceptance of Enlightenment and progressive valuesmore than Christianity. (Note: I’m a Christian) ”

    I don’t know about a good one, since the Enlightenment and Christianity are pretty interwoven, and the term “progressive” as we know it today really wouldn’t be applied to the Enlightenment thinkers back then. But yes, you could argue that.

    “Because we all know well that in the past white Christians have been as capable of violent extremism in the name of God as Islamic fundamentalists are today.”Of course they are as capable. Because they’re people. Europe is a continent of tribes barely able to contain their hatred for one another (and for at least a thousand years, didn’t contain it). 70 years ago, the white tribes in Europe all mass murdered each other. Nobody on this side is saying they aren’t human beings. I’m just saying such a tendency isn’t endemic to whiteness. 

  • AnonaMiss

    Disagree. The black evangelical community would never consider the proposition that rejecting the terrible things commended & commanded & regulated in the bible was an assault on Christianity itself. Because those very passages were used to keep their ancestors enslaved, and many of them within living memory suppressed & oppressed, and they haven’t lost the cultural memory of that yet.

    It takes a uniquely privileged mindset to look at the atrocities commanded & approved in the bible and say, “God said it so it must be good.” Of US evangelical cultures, only the white one is divorced enough from reality on the ground to claim that.

  • Kiverj

    I wonder when both sides will decide whether the continued fight is worth it…or, is it already too late to be a loving witness for Jesus Christ?

  • AnonaMiss

    To clarify, since I realize on rereading that my point wasn’t clear: This post isn’t about “evangelical gatekeepers (the gatekeepers are white)”. This post is about “gatekeepers of white-evangelicalism“. White is the flavor of the evangelicalism, not of the gatekeepers. It’s not “This wouldn’t be happening if the gatekeepers weren’t white,” it’s “This wouldn’t be happening if the evangelicalism weren’t white.” If it weren’t so steeped in American white privilege that the idea that those atrocities were a good thing  can even be entertained.

    You tell a black American Christian that all the atrocities in the bible were Good Things because God Said So – with particulars, so they have to engage the idea instead of just hearing “the things in the Bible are good things” – and see how they react. Not that there isn’t the occasional Uncle Ruckus, but the opinion would be gatekept out of the church, not in it. Which is how damaging, dehumanizing opinions should be treated.

  • caryjamesbond

    Oh, Andy, sweetness, I’m gonna take your stupid little comment apart like a surgeon. Because I’m bored, primarily.

    This bit of polemic is racist.

    It really takes more than one passing reference to the color of the skins of the people involved to be “racist.” Because, seriously- Don’t Go There.  Evangelicals- indeed, any Christian to the right of Anne Lamott-does NOT what the standard for what is racist LOWERED. 
    Ok, we get the idea there’s a controversy brewing. One guy said something others object to, so they engage in ad hominem rather than in the argument.Actually, no.  One person offered a carefully thought out, obsessively polite, closely reasoned argument that invited open disagreement and dissent. The other person posted an ad hominem response accusing the first person of being an evil sinner who hates Jesus and wants to turn college students gay or something. The THIRD person (Fred) criticized  the second person for their cowardly personal attack.  Persons 1 and 3 are offering reasoned debate and criticism. It’s only the second one, YOUR boy, that isn’t able to have an actual adult conversation and resorts to baseless personal attacks.
    But at what point does ‘white evangelical gatekeepers’ come into this?
    White evangelicals are a group in of themselves. They’re a voting block. They’re an ideologically cohesive group. They follow the same preachers, and by and large, vote the same way. Have you not noticed conservative politicians  specifically pander to a group of white, male, evangelical protestants with exactly the same phrases, year after year- and still get their unquestioning support?
    Not being American, that seems like a blatant attempt to push the ‘race card’, a known button for Americans only.BAHAHAHAHAH.  This is the dumbest thing said in this entire thread, and it includes someone known as Mister Pantsshitter. The American conversation on race is unique to America, yes- so is every nation’s. The British, French, Peruvian, Mexican, South African, Australian, Russian, Serbian, Lybian, Nigerian, Egyptian, Israeli, Japanese, Chinese, Burmese etc. discussions of race are all based in their nations specific history. What all those nations have in common is a history of racial issues (along with all the other nations) that is unique to their circumstance. 
    You know Eric A. Siebert is white right? So are most of his critics. 
    White evangelicals are a cohesive enough group to be separately acknowledged from the larger group “honkies.”
    So in fact the polemic of tribalism doesn’t seem to have anything to do with it. But let’s suppose that weren’t the case, does race really have anything to do with ones ability to either make a sound argument, or critique someone else’s?First- yes it does. Irrespective of race, evangelical christians are  a deeply tribal people, focused heavily on preserving the boundaries of their culture- as evinced by this and many other times when they drum a dissenter out of the unity. (See- Rachel Evans)  And no- race has nothing to do with your ability to make arguments.  When you’re a racial and religious member of a group that can be accurately described and circumscribed by a racial and religious definition, and you’re arguing the exact talking points of that racial/religious group classifying you as a memeber of that group is about accuracy. What you’re trying to do is deny the existence of an extremely tribal group defined primarily by being white and evangelical. When you see a whole ton of primarily white people using language and arguments that are both A) internally consistent and B) separate from both the larger white group AND the larger evangelical group- yeah, you’ve got white evangelicals. 
    Whether or not we agree, Strachan’s counter argument seems to have been whether or not Siebert’s view of scripture was orthodox. To stereotype Siebert’s critics base on race is racist. If Strachan had been black, and stereotyped in a similar manner, there’s little doubt you’d be kicking and screaming.

    No, Strachan’s conter was about how Siebert hated Jesus and wanted to send our precious babbies to hell. And if Strachan had been a black evangelical preacher, identifying him as such would be useful, because the black evangelical subculture is both different from the white, possessed of its own unique approaches, ideals and goals. A different culture with a similar high level of homogeneity.  Identifying someone as coming from that culture isn’t racist- it’s placing their beliefs in appropriate context. 
    Racism directed at whatever race (even in the name of polemic)

    I’m gonna go out on a limb here and guess that this is not a break from your usual schedule of running around and calling out racism.  Mainly because the only time I’ve heard anyone talk about “racism towards ANYONE at ALL is WRONG” they were white people talking about the word white being mentioned in connection with a white person, and were mysteriously absent in any other conversation about race. Fred has some fantastic posts about race- the Frederick Douglass ones are always a good start. 
    I trust that you will be as active in future attacking the scads of your co-religionists who say things that are actually racist (and sexist. And homophobic.) on a daily basis. 

    Total Dick Move. Fred Clark. Total Dick Move.
    This should be “Total dick move, Fred Clark. Total dick move.”  Your grasp of grammar and punctuation leaves as much to be desired as your grasp of racism outside the US.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Has anyone noticed that the only people who use the term “race card” want to devalue the lived experiences of people of color?

    And racism was only ever a thing in the US, and it isn’t a thing in the US anymore.

  • Senor_Hosenscheisser

    Really? So, what about all those black evangelicals who take the Bible literally and don’t ask the question “Is violence in the OT to be commended”, because the Bible said so. Because, that would be the theological position of most black evangelicals, since, as I’ve tried to explain before, the theology of evangelicals, of every color, is largely the same. You have to differentiate between theology and politics. Same theology has led to different political leanings, but not radically different hermeneutics of that same theology (in most cases). Siebert isn’t making a case for pacifism based upon his whiteness, but upon his intellectual tradition, which is pacifist. Buddhists are also pacifists, and they come in all kinds of colors. It’s an intellectual tradition (and/or a religious one), not a color tradition. Strachan isn’t criticizing him because he wants to kick him out of the  white tribe, but the Protestant orthodox tribe. This is an intellectual tradition, that spans quite a few color boundaries, especially outside of the US. It is in the US that people are obsessed with the racial component of every aspect of life. I don’t find that same obsession pretty much anywhere else to the ridiculous degree I see here in the US, and I’ve travelled quite a bit. Not that race is of no concern anywhere else (because I’m sure someone on this thread will think that’s exactly what I’m saying), but that it doesn’t have remotely the same weight in a discussion. Either that means the rest of the world lies in intellectual darkness about the potency of race, or, they just don’t believe it does, or don’t care. Other things are more important to them. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    I wonder when both sides will decide whether the continued fight is worth it…or, is it already too late to be a loving witness for Jesus Christ?

    “Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.”

    Doesn’t quite apply when one notes that speaking (as Fred does, as regular commenters here mostly do, as flybys hardly ever do) in support of loving actions and against hateful and hurtful actions is itself a loving action, though.

  • JustoneK

    Key error:  “You have to differentiate between theology and politics.”  As soon as it becomes separated in practical use will I push for a distinction in semantic arguments.

  • Senor_Hosenscheisser

    Now that’s a step in the right direction, even if I think it’s still incorrect. But I like this better. 

    So please explain how exactly is the theological pacifism, defense of orthodoxy and hermeneutics, in this case between these two white guys, is a case of “white-evangelicalism”, not merely “evangelicalism”? Because when I look at it, if I remove the “white” part from the actual content of the discussion (meaning, the actual theology, defense of orthodoxy, and hermeneutics), nothing about the discussion has changed. I’ve not gained or lost any meaning from any argument being made by the actors, by removing whiteness. They’re all white. With totally opposite opinions. White privilege doesn’t explain the position that the Bible should be accepted as authoritative truth, which is what might people to accept the violence in the Bible as justified (even though I think Siebert is wrong about his unilateral assumptions on how Christians view violence in the Bible, but that’s outside the scope of this discussion). Because not all white people believe that, and that isn’t only a recent truth, it’s a historical one as well. There have been theological pacifists all throughout Church history, most of whom were white. 

    In statistics this is called an independent variable. Meaning, the analysis or outcome isn’t changed by the inclusion of the variable.

  • caryjamesbond

    I don’t find that same obsession pretty much anywhere else to the ridiculous degree I see here in the US, and I’ve travelled quite a bit. 

    Places you’ve never traveled-  South/Central America and the Caribbean. Africa. The Middle East. China. India. Working class Britain (many poor/working class brits are MORE racist than their American counterparts- I’ve heard jokes in working class Liverpool bars that would make a Klansman blush) The Balkans.  Italy (Italy has Northern and Southern Italians being racist against each other. Dramatically so.) 

    So primarily, I’m guessing that as long as you’ve stuck to the upper-middle class sections of northern european countries, no, you haven’t been in places with the same intensity of racial issues that you have in the US. 

    Or, more likely, you’ve been A) oblivious and C) unaware to the fact that racial issues have very different meanings in other places. In the Balkans, for example, you can have some vicious racism between two groups that Americans honestly cannot tell apart. And I’d rather be black in backwoods Mississippi than black in the poor parts of Dublin. 

     Strachan isn’t criticizing him because he wants to kick him out of the  white tribe, but the Protestant orthodox tribe. 

    No- Strachan is trying to kick him out of one section of the Evangelical tribe that is almost entirely white. Black evangelicals in SOME areas (homophobia, particularly) overlap with White evangelicals. However, when it comes to most other things (particularly White Republican Evangelical Supply-side Jesus) they are extremely distinct.  See- treatment of the poor, deification of America, views on welfare. 

    I’d like to separate theology from politics. But talking about White American Evangelicals and then saying “separate the politics from the theology” is the SECOND stupidest thing said in this argument. 

  • Senor_Hosenscheisser

    That’s your bias, not mine. If you’re going to care about semantics, now is the time to do it, not later, when the distinction is obvious enough not to warrant such semantic subtlety. Not every Christian, or evangelical, subscribes to the marrying of theology and politics. I certainly don’t. I think it’s inevitable, as people are motivated by their belief systems, but the way it plays itself out in this country has become more peculiar over time, and is a trend I think has been very destructive to all involved. But I’m not going to abandon the distinction since that  distinction is at the very heart of having an accurate discussion about the topic at hand. If we’re not going for accuracy, or truth, then we all just step away from our computers and enjoy what’s left of our lives somewhere else but here.

  • caryjamesbond

    Not every Christian, or evangelical, subscribes to the marrying of theology and politics. I certainly don’t. 

    Good for you!  You’re a member of a very small minority. Hell, even FRED doesn’t separate his politics from his faith- although both his politics and faith are diametrically opposed to many of his co-coreligionists. 

    If we’re not going for accuracy, or truth, then we all just step away from our computers and enjoy what’s left of our lives somewhere else but here. No chains holding you here. And to say that ignoring the overwhelming majority that link faith and politics intimately to focus on the small fraction that do not is more accurate and truthful is just silly. 

  • Senor_Hosenscheisser

    If you’re thinking that I’m saying that people all over the world aren’t racist, then once again, you’re projecting something on me that I haven’t ever said, implied, or even think. It’s the obsession with race, as a component of intellectual discussion (which is the point of Fred’s post) that isn’t present to the same degree in other countries outside the US.
    I travel to South America quite frequently (2-3 times a year), especially Brazil, as my wife is from there. Brazilians don’t even have the same sliver of racial obsession that we do here, and they have socio-economic issues directly tied to race. They are far more culturally unified – they see themselves as Brazilians much more than they see themselves as color stratified, even though they are more than they think they are. They just don’t care as much. They’d rather enjoy the beach and drink a caipirinha. Every time I get off the plane from there, I am instantly struck by how unhappy Americans are, and bitter over racial issues, that largely, most people don’t care about. But nobody here can have a discussion about anything without racializing it. Also, I’ve lived in townships in very poor parts in Africa, and have had much more productive conversation about race with people there than with nearly anyone in the US, and everywhere I went I was called “mzungu”. I didn’t even have a name, just “mzungu” which means, white person. So what.I’ve already discussed the rest of your comments in earlier posts.

  • JustoneK

    Key error:  “Not every Christian, or evangelical, subscribes to the marrying of theology and politics. I certainly don’t.”  As far as you know, maybe.  Do you question if you can distinguish between your political leanings and your politics?

    Do you think the majority of voters can?

  • Senor_Hosenscheisser

    “As far as you know, maybe”.

    Ugh. I’m not going to get into phenomenology with you. It’s a dead end, as far as practical matters go. 

    All people vote their beliefs, however those beliefs are derived. And most people aren’t aware of any distinctions between themselves and their belief systems, or their political leanings. But that isn’t exclusive to evangelicals. That’s everyone, including “Progressives”. So what? I could spend all day talking about how most progressives  have no clue where their own moral framework comes from (“common sense”, ha!), and yet, are enraged with others don’t conform to their sense of what is moral and what isn’t moral, when, especially with non-religious people, personal morality is exactly that: personal. It’s completely a function of individual opinion, and influenced by cultural norms (which they also influence in reverse). As those cultural norms change over time, so does personal morality (in the aggregate), and as collective personal morality changes, so do the norms.

  • caryjamesbond

     It’s the obsession with race, as a component of intellectual discussion (which is the point of Fred’s post) that isn’t present to the same degree in other countries outside the US.

    If you thought that the use of “white evangelical” as a tribal identifier made race the center of Fred’s post, you really need to re-read it. 

    And, frankly, I’m confused. You flat out say that Brazil has issues with race that are A) problematic, including a severe socio-economic problem tied to race, and B) they’re more racist than they think they are….but somehow that’s better?

    Frankly, what I read there is Brazil needs to act MORE like us- discussion of race, particular cultural racism, are not ever comfortable, but they are necessary to get anything done. I have no doubt that there are large sections of Brazilian life that are able to ignore race- we’ve got the same thing going on over here. The difference is that complacency about racism doesn’t do anything ABOUT the racism.

    Actually, I don’t know why I’m arguing this. Here, from Elon university: http://org.elon.edu/brazilmagazine/2005/article10.htm

    That article makes a point somewhat tangential to the one you made- Brazilians are more focused, as a culture, on personal growth and success, and that the primary concern is the socio-economic distinctions. But since those socio-economic distinctions are tied so closely to race, and race remains a serious and unaddressed issue…

    .tl;dr: Yes, we discuss our racial issues a great deal more than SOME other nations do. Discussing your problems in the public square is a GOOD thing.

  • JustoneK

    I do not understand this reference to phenomenononononology.  I am really sticking to the practical matters here.

    I am not just speaking about the biases inherent in our belief systems, mine included, here.  I am speaking about how those biases actually affect our actions and thus daily personal interactions, and in the long run, legislation.  Our actions affect how everyone else around us lives, and sadly enough, dies.

    The personal is political when the personal beliefs direct who is Normal Human and who is Other.

    You mention cultural norms changing over time as a reflection of the personal.  The idea that the personal is a reflection of the cultural does not seem to be part of your thinking.  Am I incorrect?

  • Senor_Hosenscheisser

    “Discussing your problems in the public square is a GOOD thing. ”

    Sure it is. But it’s all we talk about anymore. It’s like a husband and wife only talking about what pisses them off about each other. It stops being productive and just becomes obsessive, irrational, and retributive, as I think our obsession with race here has become. 

    Brazilians aren’t unaware of racial issues, they just don’t concern themselves with them like we do. It’s not complacency. They just don’t think it’s as important. They’re not at each other’s throats all the time for stuff they can’t do anything about anyway. In my opinion, we should be more like them. They’re much happier as a people. 

  • Senor_Hosenscheisser

    “You mention cultural norms changing over time as a reflection of the personal.  The idea that the personal is a reflection of the cultural does not seem to be part of your thinking.”

    No, I said that it is: “…It’s completely a function of individual opinion, and influenced by cultural norms…”

    The mind is not purely a result of culture, though. Influenced by it, yes. Of course. A pure product of it, no. The mind exists on its own. Otherwise, there would be no “other” within any society.

  • Matt

    Unfortunately, at many Christian schools (higher ed)–especially evangelical and conservative ones–this is what you get.

    But so many Christian colleges, universities, seminaries and divinity schools understand that you should be challenged to think critically and your beliefs should be shaken as you encounter new ideas and a wide range of perspectives. The good schools do this well, and there are plenty of them.

    I agree with you, this is the point of higher education (divinity school too!).

  • JustoneK

    And this the divide between the practical and the academic:  it does not matter quite so much if the human mind exists independently of the social reality.  What does matter is who agrees on what’s in the social reality, and who is able to enforce what’s true and what isn’t.

    The “obsession” with race, as you mentioned above, comes from the privileged frequently telling the less privileged what is Actually Happening and Objectively Real, when it’s not how they are living.  As soon as these two very discrete viewpoints overlap more and the more privileged people accept the reality that the Other folks live in, the more a consensus on what the fuck is actually going on is likely.

    Up until this point where we can actually agree that yes, I am hurting because you called me an idiot, or you are hurting because I have run over you with my car, nothing gets achieved.  Whether or not my intent was to run over you, or anyone, with my vehicle is irrelevant to the needs of you, or anyone else, who is now in pain.

    See?

  • caryjamesbond

    But it’s all we talk about anymore. It’s like a husband and wife only talking about what pisses them off about each other. It stops being productive and just becomes obsessive, irrational, and retributive, as I think our obsession with race here has become.

    Hey, you know who you sound exactly like?  The Birmingham preachers that wrote to MLK.  I think he was in Jail at the time.  Perhaps he wrote back to them?  Maybe if you google “MLK Birmingham Jail Letter” you can find some obscure document…..

    “You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes.”

  • AnonaMiss

    “Why did you have to mention that the trans-vaginal ultrasound debate took place in a Virginia state legislature? If you’d left out the Virginia part, the meaning wouldn’t have changed, because state legislatures are mostly interchangeable! Specifically mentioning that it’s the Virginia state legislature, instead of leaving the state in question unstated, is state-ist!”

  • Carstonio

    MLK could have been writing to William F. Buckley in that video on this page, which Fred cited yesterday.

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

    I do not understand this reference to phenomenononononology.  I am really sticking to the practical matters here.

    If it helps, in science, a phenomenological explanation often seeks to explore an understanding of something that’s going on without trying to go to a derivation from first principles.

    A pretty classic example in quantum mechanics is the exact form of the potential energy function for things like molecules or nuclei. You replace them with so-called “phenomenological” functions which are semi-(if not wholly) empirical in nature and use those as the basis for further description.

    IDK if that’s what whoever was trying to get at.

  • Lori

    I don’t like engaging in ad hominem attacks in discussions. It’s a waste
    of time. But, if someone is going to repeatedly get angry, not possess
    any self-control, and start attacking me for no other reason than they
    don’t have anything relevant to contribute along the lines of the
    discussion, then if they’re going to do that, imho they should own it. 

    I don’t care much about your opinion and I don’t believe there’s anything humble about it.  I can’t “own” what did not occur. I was not angry with you, and I’m not angry with you now. If I was angry with you, you’d know. I am confused about how my not swearing at you is a demonstration of a lack of self-control. Also, the fact that you are accusing someone else, anyone else, of not having anything relevant to contribute to the discussion is laughable.

    I will own what I actually said—you’re “contribution” to this discussion has been to pull it off on a largely irrelevant tangent. Both your initial comments and your defense of them indicate that you did this at least in part because you’re a bigot.

    That anyone takes any insult personally in the comments section of a thread truly baffles me.

    And yet, here you are.

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

    In fairness, about Brazil, van den Berghe did some comparative studies and Brazil was one of his cases, and he found that actually the symptoms of racism differed depending on the nation.

    In Brazil, it just looks like racism is less of a problem because the level of conflict in the racial dynamic is lower. That doesn’t mean it’s gone.

  • Lori

     

    I didn’t tell anyone to go F themselves. I was told that.  

    Actually, you weren’t. After having called my non-swearing “quaint” you were told that if you wanted to be told to go F yourself, you should consider that it had occurred. So, if you feel that you were told to go F yourself I can only assume that you did in fact want to be told to go F yourself. If I had wanted to say that to you, I would have done so in the first place. I didn’t. See how that works?

     

    It’s all light, and no heat.   

    Rather the opposite, actually.

  • Senor_Hosenscheisser

    You’re making a point about racial overtones in America, which exist, but not in regard to this the discussion at hand. I’m not talking about the grand scheme of racial privilege between whites and non-whites, just about Strachan’s gatekeeping against Siebert. Siebert isn’t any less “privileged” than Strachan. There is no racial “other” between Siebert and Strachan. There is a theological “other”, but not a racial “other”.  The obsession with race in America comes in trying to assign some racial component that isn’t inherently a racial discussion, or even related to race. This is the obsession I’m talking about – trying to ascribe a quality to every discussion where it just doesn’t stick. I think this is one of those times. Not that it’s never appropriate, just that it’s not appropriate now. You and Fred, and half the other people on this thread think it is appropriate. I have no idea why, because nobody has been able to cogently explain why race is somehow influenced by, or the genesis of, Siebert’s pacifism – only that Strachan rebuttal to him is somehow originates in race, as opposed to just theology -thought. That Strachan’s gatekeeping is somehow a function of, or related to, his whiteness. I just don’t buy it. And nobody has been able to make anything but a correlation between the fact that Strachan is white, and is an evangelical, ergo, his gatekeeping against Siebert must be a function of his “white” evangelism. This is a sine qua non, to me.

  • Senor_Hosenscheisser

    Aw..I’m a racist now. Good show!

    The underlying cause of Strachan’s “rebuttal” isn’t race. Because you don’t need to be white to want to protect your tribe, and ascribe “otherness” to someone’s beliefs. Back to post 1 of mine, what seems like eons ago.


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