The roller coaster’s rolling on

The roller coaster’s rolling on March 24, 2022

• Last week, 67 years after Emmett Till was beaten to death for speaking to a white woman in a store, Congress finally passed the bill named after Till which makes lynching a federal crime.

The New York Times editorial board marked the occasion by publishing an editorial lamenting that Americans no longer seem able to speak freely without facing potential consequences and pleading for the return of the unfettered free speech that characterized America back in 1955.

The exalted executives who wrote that editorial would insist that it was not published as a direct reaction in opposition to the Emmett Till Antilynching bill becoming law. They would argue that they were simply, like many others of their station, caught up in the current moral panic about “cancel culture” and that none of them was, even for a second, thinking about Emmett Till’s America when they wrote that editorial.

That’s probably true, but it’s not at all the excuse they imagine it to be.

• Robert P. Jones offers “7 Things White Christians Can Do to Address White Supremacy at Church.”

Ten is a nice, round number, so let’s make it 10 Things: 8. Stop talking and just listen; 9. Pass the mic; 10. Leave your white church and start attending one that hasn’t been consistently, sinfully, demonically wrong about the largest moral issues in American history. (Seriously, if they haven’t gotten it right yet, do you really think giving them another 157 years or another 403 years or another 530 years to get their act together is gonna make any difference?)

• From NPR’s Odette Yousef, “Book bans and the threat of censorship rev up political activism in the suburbs“:

This past year, many of these parents have watched their schools become battle turf over mask mandates, vaccines and inclusive education. Locally, conflicts over book bans are often framed simply as the next in that series of culture wars. But to some political science experts and historians, the book bans resemble censorship campaigns that could strike at the very heart of democracy.

Some might find that word “some” in the last sentence there somewhat odd. NPR suggests that “some political science experts and historians” see book bans and government censorship as incompatible with democracy — meaning, apparently, that somewhere there also exist some legitimate political scientists and historians who think book-banning and government censorship are wholly compatible with democracy.

Some of us might suggest that any alleged historians or political scholars who are part of the latter “some” and not part of the former aren’t really “experts” at much of anything at all and should not be invoked in order to both-sides away the actual expertise of “some” actual scholars who actually know and understand things.

Book-banning and government censorship are un-democratic and anti-democratic. That’s a true thing that NPR should state as such without needing to subcontract the stating of it to “some” faction of experts.

• Over at the Anxious Bench calls on Emma Fenske to explain white evangelical romance novels to those of us who find them baffling: “The Redemption of Redeeming Love: A Movie Review and Marketplace History.” Fenske’s studying this stuff as a window into the sometimes hidden world of white evangelical women, and she offerssome helpful context and insight into the popularity of Francine Rivers’ born-again best-seller and of its new movie adaptation.

That’s all good and helpful, but this bit still remains unexplained and unexplored:

Based on the book of Hosea, this film tells the story of Angel, a prostitute in Pair-a-Dice, who finds the redeeming love of God through Michael Hosea, a Christian farmer who was told by God to marry Angel. … Christianity is at the center of the film, as it is based on the book of Hosea.

That’s a contradiction. If this story is “based on the book of Hosea,” then Christianity cannot be at the center of the film. The book of Hosea is about Israel. That book’s story of judgment, punishment, and restoration simply defies any attempt to force it into the white American Christian framework of individual and personal salvation.

If you start with Hosea and try to twist it into something compatible with white evangelical soteriology, it’ll never allow you to end up at a Billy Graham-style altar call. It will, instead, lead to some form of Christian nationalism that presents America as the new Israel, with all the Very Not Good implications of that.

Redeeming Love also gets a brief mention in a recent episode of Pete Enns’ The Bible for Normal People podcast, “The Minor Prophets and Why We Shouldn’t Call Them That” with Anna Sieges as their guest.Alas, as actual biblical scholars, all they can do at the idea of turning the book of Hosea into a white American Christian romance is recoil in horror.

But that podcast episode is still a terrific discussion of the Book of the Twelve, aka the “minor” prophets, including some delightful insights like Sieges’ spot-on description of the character of Jonah is the Colbert Report version of Ezra’s Bill O’Reilly.

• The title for this post comes from this old fave from local heroes Dr. Dog:

 

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