Here’s the Controversial Audio

Here’s the Controversial Audio July 12, 2013

Remember the “racist” kerfuffle, in which I was accused of excluding minority voices for saying at a conference, “We have a better version of the gospel than the regnant version in the West”?

Many of you asked for the audio of that talk so that you could decide for yourself whether I was being exclusionary, and whether my theology is, as the accompanying image screamed, for “Whites Only.”

Well, now you can listen to it:

Here it is, on this week’s Homebrewed Christianity Theology Nerd Throwdown.

If you’re new to this conversation, you can see my follow-up posts in which I articulated the two major themes of the gospel, in my opinion: reconciliation and liberation.

OK, readers, you’re the judge, jury, and executioner. Whaddya think?

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  • Amanda

    Listening to this, I don’t think you were talking about race. I don’t think race ever entered your mind; I think you were contrasting the (predominantly white) progressive American church with the (predominantly white) conservative American church. Since I grew up in the latter and joined the former as an adult, I (think I) knew exactly what you meant. When you said “WE have a better theology”, I never questioned whether or not “we” included me. I totally enjoyed the talk, by the way, both Caputo’s and your parts.

    Thing is, pretty much the only times in my life I’ve ever questioned whether a speaker at an event I voluntarily attended was including ME in his/her first-person-plural pronouns have been when I’m a racial minority at said event. This doesn’t happen to me very often because I’m white. I do live in a mostly African-American neighborhood, though, and I was in a relationship for a long time with a Latino guy, so being in the minority has happened a few times. In these
    situations, I have often felt that “we” does not include me by default, but
    that it applies to me only provisionally and/or when the thing “we”’re talking
    about isn’t very important. I find myself thinking about race a lot in these
    situations. If I asked them whether I were included in the “we”, my neighbors/boyfriend’s community would just say “of course, WTF are you talking about?”, but I wouldn’t 100% believe them, so I don’t ask. Instead, I just feel like an ass for thinking about race so much when I know perfectly well that nobody else is thinking about it; they’re just carrying on with their normal conversation.

    I don’t mean to imply that my experience of race is just like Cleveland’s ,because obviously we’re coming from very different places. I just want to say: when she heard this speech and thought, “I’m not one of his “we”, and WE need to think about this in terms of race, even though that’s not what he’s explicitly talking about”, I can totally, totally see why she would feel that way. The whites-only photo seems a bit over the top, but so is half the stuff every blogger puts on every blog. (I heard it makes people read them.)

    My advice: be loyal, Tony. You said that, I think, because people were not loyal to you and you were pissed off about it, but you have to be loyal to them, too. Maybe Cleveland did not feel that she was one of the “we”, “us”, and “each other” that you were talking about, but I think you meant that she WAS, which means you owe her a certain amount of loyalty. When she says things you disagree with, you are fully within your rights to argue back, and especially so if you feel she’s unfairly misquoted and attacked you personally (though it’s always good to not take oneself too seriously :-)).

    However, when you responded to her original blog post, there was none of the
    friendly humility of “you’re gonna hate my book but we’re still friends, right,
    Pete? hahahaaa” for her. Which does add some legitimacy to the idea that you
    never really considered her an integral part of your community in the first place.

    The bigger the tent gets, the harder it is to be loyal, I think. But stay loyal.

    • Great comment, Amanda. I think you’re right on. I still hope that Christena and I can iron things out.