Comments Are Open

Leon Brown wants to have a conversation about race at a blog where comments are always closed. So let me help him out — servant serving servers I am — by opening up comments at a site where even spammers get through.

Brown’s post about the tragic death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and the subsequent interview with Scott Clark has me puzzled and that is why I would like to open the comments.

First, I’m not sure I recognize myself as an American of European descent in Brown’s post. On the one hand, he acknowledges whiteness and says that whites should not be ashamed:

Let’s be transparent: the majority of both readership and authorship on this blog are white. Do not be ashamed that you are white. I am unashamed of this visible difference. You should be unashamed, too, and take great pride in God’s creative genius to create us visually different. Yet, simply because we are in Christ does not flatten the beauty of ethnic and cultural distinctions that we maintain. Galatians 3:27-29 provides no grounds for such a conclusion.

That’s all well and good but then Leon goes on to mention white perceptions or treatment of blacks that should make every white American very ashamed:

With these ethnic and cultural distinctions, therefore, we may see the Mike Brown proceeding through a different lens. For some of us this simply highlights what we have always known, or at least believed, to be true: young black men are unsafe in this nation. For others, perhaps some of you, especially if you have been following this event, may wonder, “Why do they (i.e., African-Americans) have to make everything about race?” Based on your observations, you have concluded that blacks, and/or other minorities, unnecessarily pull the proverbial race card. Some African-Americans, or other sub-dominant cultures, might respond, “Why do whites always dismiss the possibility that race, or ethnicity, was a motivating factor in said event?” . . .

Consider the recent and ongoing immigration debate. How has it affected you? What do you think when you see a Spanish speaking image-bearer, one who knows, or at least it is assumed, very little English? What has caused your conclusions? Do you remain unaffected by the outcry of some in the media who thrust names on them, such as, “illegal,” “unwanted immigrant,” or “wetback”? The point of the news, while to inform, is also to sway opinion, and I think we may lack transparency if we claim we are not, at least in part, somehow affected by what some branches of the media portray about immigration.

The same can be stated about African-Americans. For years in this nation, African-Americans have been, and continue to be, portrayed in shrouds of untruth. “We are lazy, good-for-nothings,” some have and do say. “We are animals,” it has been said. Or in the words of PCUS minister, Benjamin Palmer (1818-1902), “The worst foes of the black race are those who have intermeddled on their behalf. We know better than others that every attribute of their character fits them for dependence and servitude. By nature the most affectionate and loyal of all races beneath the sun, they are also the most helpless.”

I don’t deny that these attitudes exist or that they are worthy of shame. But Leon doesn’t seem to understand that whenever he (and others) bring up race in ways that shame whites, he introduces a one-way street of discomfort. Whites do and should feel uncomfortable. But Leon doesn’t seem to show any awareness that such an uncomfortable subject may shut down conversation — sort of like a wife wanting to talk to her adulterous husband about his affair; what do you say, “honey, let’s talk more about how I betrayed you”? In which case, what kind of conversation does Leon want?

One way to facilitate conversation might be for Leon to notice at least two segments of his white audience — those who are racist and those who don’t think they are (though they may harbor some residue of prejudice), don’t generally make stupid comments to black pastors, and who empathize with black frustrations and resentment. If Leon wanted to have a conversation with the second of these groups, what good does it do to bring up insensitive remarks? Doesn’t this miss the target? But if the former group, doesn’t the introduction of matters that should cause embarrassment (or require explanation of why it’s embarrassing) — again — shut the conversation down?

Another question worthy of conversation, it seems to me, is whether Leon would be interested in discussing the black church and its own lack of integration. I don’t raise this as a tit for tat. I have great admiration for African-American Protestants. Here you have a group of Americans disproportionately Protestant compared to Americans of European descent. Here’s is what a Pew survey found:

The Landscape Survey also finds that nearly eight-in-ten African-Americans (79%) say religion is very important in their lives, compared with 56% among all U.S. adults. In fact, even a large majority (72%) of African-Americans who are unaffiliated with any particular faith say religion plays at least a somewhat important role in their lives; nearly half (45%) of unaffiliated African-Americans say religion is very important in their lives, roughly three times the percentage who says this among the religiously unaffiliated population overall (16%). Indeed, on this measure, unaffiliated African-Americans more closely resemble the overall population of Catholics (56% say religion is very important) and mainline Protestants (52%).

Additionally, several measures illustrate the distinctiveness of the black community when it comes to religious practices and beliefs. More than half of African-Americans (53%) report attending religious services at least once a week, more than three-in-four (76%) say they pray on at least a daily basis and nearly nine-in-ten (88%) indicate they are absolutely certain that God exists. On each of these measures, African-Americans stand out as the most religiously committed racial or ethnic group in the nation. Even those African-Americans who are unaffiliated with any religious group pray nearly as often as the overall population of mainline Protestants (48% of unaffiliated African-Americans pray daily vs. 53% of all mainline Protestants). And unaffiliated African-Americans are about as likely to believe in God with absolute certainty (70%) as are mainline Protestants (73%) and Catholics (72%) overall.

These same African-Americans profess the faith (though in separate communions) that their former masters and oppressors used against them. It would make more sense to me if I were African-American to be a Muslim than to be a Baptist, Methodist, or Pentecostal. Why have anything to do with the religion that white Protestants used to justify slavery and segregation? But for some reason, African-Americans remain a devout people.

The strength and institutional significance of the black church means that establishing mixed race churches as Leon wants to do may be akin to integrating Major League Baseball. With Jackie Robinson’s joining the Dodgers also came the beginning of the end of the Negro Leagues. No offense to Leon, but I doubt his efforts will bring an end to the black church. But the idea of attracting African-Americans to white churches does raise a few additional questions for the desired conversation.

Do the African-Americans who come to Presbyterians churches leave black churches or are they converts? In other words, how much sheep stealing may be involved in trying to integrate white churches? And if some respond that we want African-American Baptists and Holiness folks to leave the churches and come to the best expression of Christianity (Reformed Protestantism), then can we lay off the Machen’s-warrior-children put down of confessional Presbyterians who raise questions about whether Baptists or evangelicals are Reformed? I for one welcome support for the Reformed cause. But to be militant about Reformed Protestantism in discussions about race relations can raise another delicate subject — namely, whether the black church is good enough. It may not be (from the perspective of the Reformed confessions), but what white Protestant who does not want to insult fellow Americans or professing Christians wants to argue that black churches need to be more like white Reformed ones?

A final question that deserves comment is why Leon decided to make further remarks about race in the highly charged context of the Michael Brown slaying. Since his post was personal let me be as well. The news of apparent police brutality carried out again against a black young man was deeply discouraging. Leon uses the word, “unfortunate.” I’ll use “tragic.” I cannot imagine the grief to his parents, siblings, friends, teachers, and neighbors, nor the fear of living with police that appear to be capable of such actions, nor the resentment that a minority people that has taken lots of hits now having to endure another. But this incident also sent me looking for news about the St. Louis neighborhood, Mark Brown himself, and even church life in Ferguson. Well, aren’t I special. But why didn’t Leon try to present more information about the incident and aftermath? Why did this piece remind him to remind us that American Protestants are still divided by race?

For that reason the piece about Ferguson that American Conservative posted might have been more instructive and even hopeful than Leon’s post:

Adam Weinstein put it more bluntly at Gawker. “The U.S. armed forces exercise more discipline and compassion than these cops.” He cites the first page of the Army’s field manual on civil disturbances, which emphasizes proportional, nuanced responses. “Inciting a crowd to violence or a greater intensity of violence by using severe enforcement tactics must be avoided.” The manual also notes that “highly emotional social and economic issues” inform such disturbances, and that “it takes a small (seemingly minor) incident” to set off violence “if community relations with authorities are strained.”

Unlike the military, who are trained in nonviolent options for conflict resolution, the police often lack such knowledge. Bonnie Kristian expounded this failure and reasons behind systematic police brutality earlier this summer, noting also that cops are rarely held accountable for abuse. “Only one out of every three accused cops are convicted nationwide, while the conviction rate for civilians is literally double that.”

The entrenched racial injustice behind Michael Brown’s death will be difficult to root out, as it has been over centuries of American history. But the decades of policy that allowed for police abuse of Brown, and his town’s peaceful protesters, could be reversed—and if the public outcry over Ferguson is anything to judge by, Americans will be keeping a closer eye on the police in the coming years.

Let me be direct: Leon, some of us white American Presbyterians (vinegary though we be) want to know what to do. We want to be good neighbors and good fellow presbyters. As the American Conservative piece indicates, racial injustice and racial prejudice are hard to transform. But trying to curtail police abuse sure seems like a policy and social good. That might not help with planting mixed race churches. But churches may be beside the point in instances like this, or if they are part of the point, American Protestantism is a whole lot more complicated than churches separated along racial lines.

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179 thoughts on “Comments Are Open

  1. Well, not to be too racist, but besides mob influence, beer and baseball, the most noteworthy thing about St Louis that had some national recognition was that you didn’t want to be white in East St. Louis after dark. I even understand that there was a time police wouldn’t patrol E. St. Louis after dark. Yes, I know E. St. Louis isn’t Ferguson but also Brown said it was disingenuous to be color blind, so, here’s me being authentic. Some of this even gets comically immortalized in National Lampoon’s Vacation.

    On the other score, the negative effects of militarization and joint training of local law enforcement post 9/11 does seem to be getting traction across various mixed political and ethnic fronts. Which, in my mind, is a necessary and even overdue observation.

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  2. First, let me suggest that I have nothing to do w/ the comments section being unavailable at the Reformation 21 blog. Your remarks about that are irrelevant to my purposes. Secondly, you completely missed and rearranged the authorial intent of my comments about God creating us different and therefore being able to take pride in his creative genius. What does that have to do with the insensitive comments that are made to ethnic minorities, or anyone for that matter? Citing wrong, as you suggest, may shut the conversation down, but if citing wrong is wrong, why are you apparently seeking to dismantle my comments and therefore suggest that I am wrong?

    You bring up the African-American church. You then say that you are not doing that in a tit for tat manner. Let me first suggest we handle the problems we have here. Your tactics, in my opinion, are typical and expected. It’s points the finger away from one’s current predicament to focus on another. While I believe predominantly African-American churches have issues with which they must deal, I am not in a predominantly African-American church nor denomination. I will, therefore, deal with the issues I have facing me presently.

    You also claimed that I do not, perhaps cannot, recognize the various “groups” of white people (e.g., racist and those who are not or perhaps unaware of their racism). Have you read anything I’ve written? Here again, it’s another misinformed comment.

    Although I desire to have a conversation about these things–trust me, I’ve been attempting to do so for some time; I’ve been black all my life–it may be better for you to take the student’s seat instead of attempting to remain behind the lectern. That is one way you’ll learn in this instance.

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  3. When I was a news photographer I experienced acts of kindness and assistance in some very bad inner city (read: black) neighborhoods. I also had co-workers who had to pull guns to defend their lives and property. Echoing Sean, is it fair (racist?) to say that some blacks get a bad deal from cops, occasionally resulting in wrongful death, and some inner city neighborhoods are rightly considered no-go zones for whites, who rightly fear for their safety? Could there be racists in all camps and might the resulting tensions be exacerbated by government policy, law enforcement, or even certain Reformed bloggers?

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  4. As Mexican-American that has grown up for about 3 decades in South L.A., I cannot sympathize with everything Leon says.

    I don’t think Leon can deny that the area where he grew up also harbors unjustified racism towards white people, not to mention between Hispanics and black people. I have been referred to as white in a derogatory way at times by both black and Hispanic people; I remember being confused the first time this happened to me in middle school. I was in a Target in Inglewood, CA once and a man was speaking of white people in a very disturbing way. And although I grew up with a pious Pentecostal family, the surrounding culture led the children of some to also harbor rage against white people (public schools and peers were one source of this). This has led me to think that some white people need to build up the courage and be a bit defensive, perhaps even offensive; of course this should be done intelligently so as to avoid charges of racism. From the way I perceive things, people assume that white people are the worst of racists.

    Perhaps as well some within the communities Leon refers to are unwilling to join some white churches because of their own prejudice?

    As to the attire of some (skinny jeans, bored ears, etc.), I can tell you with certainty that many black and Hispanic churches would disagree with Leon. Many black churches are know for being filled with people who dress in their Sunday best. Also, I grew up with Hispanics that did not view in high regard the informality present among some American churches.

    Overall, I must admit I hate these conversations. I actually prefer older men with more experience to speak on these matters. But I also think that perhaps blogs are not the best place to make changes. It would perhaps be better, if we are dealing with churches, do this in a more organized manner over a long period of time. So don’t take your cues from the present news headlines, and perhaps wait to comment on controversies after some of the emotions have died down.

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  5. Leon, thanks for replying. So you can’t hear how some folks who are sympathetic to your point about race relations might hear you?

    I replied to a post in which you said you wanted a conversation. Comments are still open. No need to play the victim of being patronized by the professor.

    Let’s talk. A crucial point that even your reply here points up is this notion of celebrating difference and then pointing out how difference is bad (i.e. separation/segregation). It seems to me that if we want to affirm what we have in common, we don’t play up our ethnic differences. This is one of the fundamental issues in discussions of assimilation. What are your thoughts.

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  6. As I shared previously, I am not dealing with predominantly African-American churches nor, as was recently highlighted, Hispanic churches. There is no reason to mention that segment of our brothers and sisters in the Lord. I am dealing with issues that I presently face. If you desire to highlight other churches/denominations, I will refrain from commenting. As the recent interview on the Heidelcast and the blog post suggested, I am specifically commenting on NAPARC member congregations.

    A black racist? Am I understanding Alberto’s comments correctly? I wonder how you define racism. In my opinion, it involves more than hatred toward someone else. It also includes one’s ability to alter the way someone lives. If the latter understanding is true, I am unaware of how an African-Americans, as minorities, can be racist toward the majority. Please consider listening to Dr. Degruy for a fuller understanding of my point.

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  7. I watched 15 minutes of late night grainy footage of a Ferguson confrontation. Police in military gear telling people they can’t use cameras and sending canisters into a neighborhood. A group of blacks chanting about revolution shouting foul language. A black man from the neighborhood disassociating himself from the blacks on the street saying he just wants to go home to his family but can’t because of the police. There’s a lot to sort out, and not all the sorting out is racial.

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  8. Now I wish I had never said anything. I’ll take my best option and exit the conversation. I think others can speak better on these matters.

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  9. I’m sorry for commenting Dr. Hart. If you want take my stuff down along with what Erik is referring to, go right ahead.

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  10. No one is playing the victim, Sir. Please don’t accuse me of playing that role. Do you have any idea of how I might take your accusation? If anything would shut down the conversation, that is one thing that will, but since I am accustomed to such comments, I will gladly continue.

    Yes, I gladly celebrate our similarities! I gladly announce that the gospel is for all peoples. I earnestly desire our Presbyterian churches to accurately reflect the demographics in our communities. After all, if the gospel is true, and I believe it is, and if reformed theology is accurate, that means it is for all peoples everywhere. That does not mean, however, that we also cannot celebrate our differences. Our differences provide an avenue for us to learn from one another. Our differences enlighten our minds to understand just how broad the world is and how big our God is. The Bible nowhere claims that we should flatten our differences for the sake of the gospel. In fact, I believe it’s almost the opposite. The gospel brings us together despite our differences, and it is through the gospel-lens, if I may use that terminology, that we are able to discuss our differences. In fact, we have something the world does not. Pagans can come together across all manner of differences, but that will only survive so long. The gospel is unites and is permanent.

    You see, segregation, as you noted, is bad, but having differences are not. Maintaining distinctions versus segregation based on ethnicity, culture, etc. are two completely different things.

    Lastly, you highlight assimilation. Assimilation to what or to whom? Assimilation to which culture? Assimilation to which church culture? As one African-American PCA minister recently stated (and this is paraphrase), he feels like many in our circles want us (i.e., blacks) to be among them as long as we keep our cultural baggage at the door. In other words, enter our space and become like us. For those who believe that, why must we become like you? This isn’t the cry of just one African-American minister in the PCA. Believe me.

    Assimilation is an important topic, but again, assimilation to what and/or to whom?

    Here’s my question(s) for you. Are topics like this important to you? (I assume they are). Are you desirous to see the gospel affect all types of people, specifically in your community? (I assume you do). If so, what are you doing about it? Your community, if I’m not mistaken is upwards of 20% minority. Is that reflected in your personal relationships? Is that reflected in your church? —-these are honest and genuine questions.

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  11. Leon, you were dealing with the white church and black church. That is an implication of your larger point about race relations. And if you don’t think your current church might appeal to members of black churches, then why can’t I ask why that is not the case? All church planters have to think about sheep stealing. So what are your thoughts?

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  12. Alberto, stick around if you care. Race relations involve ethnic relations (as if those categories aren’t a tad constructed). There are lots of minorities in America and lots of minority Christians. Heck, even some European-American Christians might even think of themselves a minority (or once did as in the Dutch). I do believe the black experience here is different from all other minorities except for perhaps Native Americans. Having all groups understand the others’ grievances and having all consider their responsibilities it seems to me is a worthwhile endeavor, as long as it stays polite.

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  13. Leon, evangelization is important. Hillsdale is hardly 20 % minority. I see a minority maybe twice a month. So integration of mixed race endeavors are removed from life here. But our congregation supports home missions and we pray for church plants in many mixed-race settings.

    What I detect is that you don’t necessarily consider the blessings of segregation. The Negro Leagues weren’t too shabby. African-American colleges have a long and valuable history. Black churches have done extraordinary work. Do I say this in order to promote segregation? No. But if you throw out segregation what happens to those black institutions? (or for that matter, what happens to families which last I checked are often very segregated — as in the Harts don’t live with the Jones and they have separate existences.) We live with segregation at some level. I’m trying to see how far you go. It’s a conversation.

    I also don’t think it is quite so easy to say that Reformed theology is just simply true to all people. It grew up in Western Christianity developed at a particular time and place. Having other people who have different historical circumstances figure that out is going to be hard. We don’t want to be like George Bush and assume that all the Iraqis understand liberty and want it just the way the Tea Party does.

    That does not mean that Reformed should remain in an ethnic denominational ghetto. It is simply to point out why blacks, and native Americans, and Asian Americans are not necessarily tracking with the historical background on which Reformed Protestantism relies.

    In response to assimilation, what do you think of the gentrification of African-American neighborhoods? Is that a good kind of assimilation? Or should the people new to the neighborhood try to fit in to the neighborhood?

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  14. Leon,

    I hope you are well.

    The biggest problem with your article in my opinion is that is lacks the nuance necessary in these sorts of discussions. I think there is a ton of agreement on the fact that race issues need to be addressed and that white people often misunderstand them, but I didn’t find your article providing any sort of substantive analysis or creative ways to think about race relations. Instead, I found a reductionistic perspective that stifles the much needed dialogue. For example, you said,

    For years in this nation, African-Americans have been, and *continue to be*, portrayed in shrouds of untruth. “We are lazy, good-for-nothings,” some have and do say. “We are animals,”

    And then,

    “Do you remain unaffected by the outcry of some in the media who thrust names on them, such as, “illegal,” “unwanted immigrant,” or “wetback”?”

    There is no denying that many elements of racism persist. Sometimes its subtle. Sometimes it is overt. So I don’t deny that historical contextualization is needed, but your statements are hyperbolic, particularly given your intended audience in conservative Reformed churches. What media outlets do you have in mind calling immigrants “wetback”?

    What percentage of conservative Presbyterians reading Ref21 do you think are perpetuating the notion that blacks are “animals?” I won’t deny the hideous history of Presbyterianism with racism. Reading Dabney or Benjamin Palmer makes my stomach turn, so I can only imagine your righteous indignation. I’m just not sure though that you are connecting with your audience because you are talking about outrageous examples of racism which your readers can easily avoid. We need to be addressing the more insidious racism that we are blinded to. To state this another way, I agree with what you’ve said, I’m just not sure that it actually generates meaningful discourse about this most important topic.

    Moreover, I can appreciate your solution to the problem being more integrated churches, but churches have been divided this way long before Christians knew the America’s even existed. The sort of catholicity you’re advocating for is one way to bring different people together, but I’m pretty skeptical that it can or even should function the way you’ve described.

    Knock Catholicism for its weaknesses, but one of the things about Catholicism is that there are different ethnic liturgies and traditions that are allowed in their churches. There is not a pressing uniformity in liturgy or worship style, but their faith unites them amid their differences. Tracing this back to the earliest Roman Christianity, the cities various churches were divided by ethnic, economic, and geographical disbursement. Yet, all of these churches, though they worshiped in different areas, maintained their catholicity and mutual support of one another and other Christian communities throughout the area.

    I think we need to do a better job cultivating these interracial connections, but it almost seems unrealistic to expect the church to look much different from the social situation it finds itself in. How is a church in a small Montana town supposed to achieve this sort of diversity? My point is not to minimize the fact that the church should be aware of racism, but it is to point out that the things you’ve listed to quantify our success are superficial and can lead to poorly reasoned attempts at reaching out to these individuals.

    There are very real issues here and I believe that we need to prize catholicity and difference in a way that does not eviscerate the very real cultural differences that exist in American churches–something that I think your proposal may unintentionally do. I think we need to think harder and deeper than this in order to actually do more than rouse white church-goers for the obligatory “Ya, we have really screwed things up.” The race issue is a subset of a broader problem of catholicity, and I think that attempts to address the issue of race must incorporate discussions of catholicity.

    One final thought about the post as well. I concur with Dr. Hart that this is a tragic scenario. There is clearly a pattern of young black men being arrested and in instances discriminated against because of their race. That sets the backdrop of this situation. But you say,

    I wish I could say this is a unique occurrence; it is not. As one author said, “Michael Brown is not special. In all its specificity, the 18-year old’s death remains just the most recent example of police officers killing unarmed black men.”

    But this seems to oversimplify the facts of a highly disputed case. We don’t know what happened exactly we have conflicting testimony. We know there was a scuffle in the police car and a shot was fired. We know that Michael Brown was moving away from the police car and witnesses have testified that Michael Brown put his hands in the air (and some outlets report that he said “Don’t shoot”). One side of the story is that Brown was pulled into the car by the police officer and was simply defending himself. The police have stated that Brown engaged the officer in the car and reached for his gun, causing it to discharge. If true, this would surely cause us to reconsider the notion that “this is the most recent example of police officers killing unarmed black men.”

    As the legal proceedings unfold, we should temper our judgments one way or another until the details of the case are available, but in the meantime we can discuss how the scenarios are perceived by minorities, particularly blacks. It’s important for us (whites) to understand the anger that comes from unjustifiable oppression for generations of blacks in this country, but we need to be careful that a history of oppression does not cause us to be unable to critically process the facts of this particular case.

    Personally, I know that we are after the same thing. Racial reconciliation. Greater understanding. More catholicity in diversity. So take these comments as an “Amen,” to all that we agree in and good faith constructive criticism. Be well, Leon.

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  15. One more element of complexity that should be considered in this story is it isn’t only about race (even if it is primarily about race). There is a broader trend of police shooting unarmed citizens of every color and ethnicity that should be discussed at least to some degree.

    An unarmed white guy was shot and killed by police in Long Beach a few months ago. Last year LAPD officers shot 103 times into a truck of two unarmed Mexican women delivering newspapers (during the search for Christopher Dorner). Family friends of ours just received a big lawsuit payout for their adult (white) son having been shot and killed by police in Long Beach while he was standing on his lawn holding a garden hose nozzle. Maybe it’s a Long Beach thing.

    Again, this is not to say that race didn’t play even the major role in the St. Louis situation, but it is not the only thing at play here that we should be discussing.

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  16. @Leon Brown – I can’t play the youtube video on my decrepit computer, so I poked around a bit to get a better understanding of where she is coming from. Based on scanning a few essays, I think I see where she is coming from. It is interesting, and I’ll have to look at this more carefully – thanks for the link. I do worry that this could be used as an excuse for our disparate treatment, as it isn’t necessarily progress to go from hearing, “I can’t find qualified blacks for my business because they are inferior” to “I can’t find qualified blacks because they are lazy” to “Blacks are underrepresented at my business because of PTSS (because in the words of Dr. Degruy those with PTSS have a self destructive outlook, are prone to violence against property and others, and suffer from learned helplessness and literacy deprivation). I suspect most of the disparate outcomes African Americans face are tied to problems with our criminal justice system which is in dire need of reform.

    Regarding racism, are you saying that racism is really only systemic? In this case a black manager who dislikes white people and thus treats white employees worse than black employees may be racially biased but isn’t a racist as the mistreatment isn’t systemic in society. Or are you saying that there are so few black managers who could mistreat white workers that in the grand scheme of things it is distraction to worry about that? I would agree with the later, but not the former. Sure there are black people who are biased against white people, but this is not really a broad social problem the way it is when people who hold lots of power in society are biased against a minority.

    I do think dgh raised a number of good points, and I would like to hear your response. I’m not sure how you can bracket the African American church from this congregation – to increase the number of African Americans in the conservative reformed churches so that they are demographically representative of their communities (to say 15% – more like 30% in the south where most the conservative ARP/PCA congregations are), we have to draw from somewhere. There are the unchurched of course, but that is a pretty small slice of the African American population, so we are left with “sheep stealing” if we want to put a dent in the racial imbalance of our churches. Is that really a net gain for the black community?

    This isn’t an entirely hypothetical in my case – I attend a PCA church in the south. Our attendance is about 600 on Sunday. We have a number of african members, but very few african american members (mostly adopted kids in white families or college students). If we wanted the composition of our congregation to reflect the composition of our state, we should work to attract 200 african american members. A couple of years ago, a local African American church lost their building. We offered them the use of our Fellowship Hall for their worship services. It is weird that we have two church services on a single campus divided by race. We have a joint service about once/quarter and the pastors trade off preaching. They have about 100 congregants, so if we merged our congregations permanently, we would become a slightly less white congregation. But would this really be in the best interest of the African American members of the church using our fellowship hall? I just don’t see it.

    Perhaps this isn’t what you mean at all… maybe you just mean that our church should do a better job of evangelizing across the color barrier, the socio-economic barrier, etc… if so you are probably right, but how is that going to have any kind of effect on the sorts of things going on in Missouri. I agree with Bill Stuntz that our criminal justice system is travesty and in desperate need of reform. It seems to me that a lot of the ills facing the black community (high rates of single parenthood, low labor participation rate, disparate rate of violence, disparate rate of high school completion, etc…) find their origin in the need for major reform of our criminal justice system – the fact that only 5% of our prison population had a jury trial and about a third of black men will spend time in jail is a tragedy. I do see hope in the momentum to reform mandatory sentencing laws, look more closely at prosecutorial abuse, rein in the militarization of police, and expunge juvenile records. These are positive movements that will do more for the welfare of the black community than any national “conversation” on race or blending of congregations in my opinion.

    These reforms are also very politically tricky (who can be soft on crime?) and will likely depend on cooperation between lily white libertarians and black activists (imagine Rand Paul and Jamelle Bouie working together). Unfortunately it was a lot easier to pan Rand Paul for the “white-plaining” in a speech in which he called for the end of mandatory minimums than find a way to get things done that actually matter. But as long as white folks are invited to a “conversation” on race and then told to sit down and shut up when they arrive, I fear the momentum we see will be ephemeral.

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  17. I have seen police brutality up close and personal- not in regards to me but in regards to watching it unfold in a variety of places. I have had conversations with police officers who like to talk about how well trained they are to handle any kind of situation that may confront them- with a gleam in their eyes. They protect and have each others backs and are quite frank about that too. They will even tell you stories about how they annihilated those who were “uncooperative.” They know when and where not do so too- although some still act impulsively in situations where they know they should not but don’t control themselves. I think it is more of a problem than most law-abiding citizens know about.

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  18. Let me sum up Thabiti Anyabwile’s talk at T4G in 2008. Instead of seeing them as black, white, brown, red, see this: are they exclusively in Adam, or are they in Christ? Then act accordingly.

    “Can’t we just all get along”?

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  19. I think that this is a more appropriate time to have an uncomfortable conversation about socialized police. Even if every police officer was an outspoken racist, if we abolished the socialism of modern policing, then this Mike Brown incident would not have happened. We don’t expect socialism to produce a quality product in any other sphere of life, why do we think that giving a socialist bureaucracy a bunch of guns is a good idea when it comes to security services? Fundamentally, I don’t think that this is racism issue, it is a police v. the rest of us issue. The people of Ferguson clearly are not being well served by the police there, but again, when has socialism produced a satisfying product for anyone other than those with political power?

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  20. To set up what I want to say about racism, I want to refer to what Chilean the economist, Manfred Max-Neef, said about understanding poverty. He said that understanding poverty is like understanding love. Just as one will never understand love regardless of how much one studies it unless one falls in love, so one will never understand poverty unless one has been or becomes poor. So he voluntarily lived in poverty to experience it and to learn the language of those who are poor.

    The constant reminder of racism disturbs many of us Whites partly because we will never understand it and it infringes on the ethnic pride we wish to enjoy. We’ve never been the targets of the systemic racism which Blacks have experienced and so, try as we must, we will never understand their experience. That does not mean that we should try to learn about and study it, but there is something about experiencing that enables us to understand that can’t happen by merely studying it. And I think many Blacks want us to know that racism is still a significant problem. They want us to know because they are still living under it.

    And as for our desire to enjoy ethnic pride, we should note that the Christian faith destroys all such pride in the flesh for those who seek to have an advantage over others–read Romans1-3 and Philippians 3.

    So we need to learn as much as we can about the past and current racism so we can be more aware while acknowledging that we will never understand what Blacks understand. But we also need to step back and take a wider look here because racism is an instance of one group oppressing another based on the presumption of being superior. We also have economic classism that is as prevalent and oppressive as racism. This makes economic classism and racism brothers. Another brother to racism can be patriotism where we assume superiority over others because we assume that our nation is superior to other nations. And needless to say, we do the same thing with religion either between religions or in intramural conflicts with brothers and sisters from other denominations and other theological schools.

    All of this acting superior while oppressing others is based on seeking to enjoy being proud of one’s group as if that group made one better than others. And it seems to me that if we are going imitate Christ in His first coming as He came to us as God’s suffering servant, we should seek to listen, learn, and support those who are being oppressed not because we want be proud of rescuing others or because we presume to understand their experiences, but because this is how Christ came to us when we were legitimately condemned by God rather than unjustly judged by people.

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  21. BTW, I made an error in the middle of the second paragraph. I wrote

    That does not mean that we should try to learn about and study it, but there is something about experiencing that enables us to understand that can’t happen by merely studying it.

    when I should have inserted a “not”

    That does not mean that we should NOT try to learn about and study it, but there is something about experiencing that enables us to understand that can’t happen by merely studying it.

    Sorry about that

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  22. Last night on the Heidelcast I heard a whole lot about injustice toward poor blacks and poor whites in America. There is PLENTY of injustice in every other demographic as well. The fact that the news media in America does not draw ratings from injustices perpetrated on middle class white guys does not mean they do not happen.

    Regading the Michael Brown death, there are several things that we still don’t know — in spite of all that we are seeing and hearing. It is a terrible, terrible thing when somebody is killed, for any reason. But unless somebody is on the inside of this investigation, they don’t know how to judge this matter.

    Lastly, I am in my mid forties, I am white, college educated and of Irish decent (arrived in mid 1600’s). I don’t see a whole lot of people my age group and under, fitting into the bigoted stereotypes — and I live in Indiana, in an area not traditionally known for their hospitality to black Americans. A whole lot has changed here. Leon, as far as I am concerned, your people are my people.

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  23. I would agree that the only thing new from Ferguson is that even local police forces are now militarized, which is a bad thing. Everything else — monumental mistrust exists, police make mistakes, police officers are fallen humans, some police officers cannot be trusted with great power they have, the criminal justice system is not “fair,” some whites are racist, some blacks are racist, inner cities are lawless and unsafe places, the black “community” has long since been destroyed (mostly due to govt. policy), the black “community” is exploited (mostly by Jacksons and Sharptons) — we knew.

    Not to be overly simplistic, but getting cops out of cars and on foot or bicycles would probably do as much to solve some of these problems as bloggers who parachute in, shoot up up the place with vague suggestions and veiled rhetoric, then leave.

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  24. Darryl, as much as possible, given how clear Scripture is on these things.

    Boy, it sure helps having the Bible define things. Wasn’t God good to give it to us?

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  25. Ted, which is it? Are you actively uniting with a black congregation because God tells us to? Or are you offering unbiblical advice?

    Authority of Scripture, don’t minister without it.

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  26. Darryl, both/and, not either/or.

    Scripture calls every schismed church to embrace the whole body of Christ, under qualified eldership as per Titus 1:5-9. You don’t want to be known for all eternity as a Titus 1:10 guy, do you?

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  27. Ted, you’re waffling. This is what you said: “The solution is easy. Merge the churches where you each live so there is one body of Christ under one set of qualified elders. No more black church, no more white church. Just Christians, redeemed from their sins and loving each other as more important then themselves.”

    Have you done this? Well, HAVE YOU!!???

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  28. My son Jonathan is married to a black girl from Zimbabwe and due to the difficulties in my life I have only had about 2 or 3 short conversations with her. I don’t think my son or her like the theology I believe in and keep harping about on my facebook page and I doubt if our communication gap will ever be resolved in this life. I found this at my son’s facebook page and I think it typifies how difficult and complex the communication gap is between the black church and Protestant theology. Here is the video- it reminded me of watching the old Cosby show when it first came out on TV:

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  29. We’re working at it, (I mean, WE’RE WORKING AT IT!!!), inviting every church we speak to in our region to end schism. Some are considering it, others scoff because they don’t love the brethren.

    Can you imagine the apostles planting ethnic churches? Weird, right? Why would they schism Christ’s baptized body along ethnic lines (1 Cor. 12:13)? It would occlude the gospel (Eph. 2:15ff). Yet, planting black, or Chinese, or white, or any kind of demographic church is wisdom in today’s Christianity. Either the apostolic gospel has changed, or we are doing more than disobeying it’s clear implications where we live. We are justifying schism as the wisdom of God.

    The solution is easy, but getting religious men to submit to Scripture, when it means separating from scripturally disobedient traditions, isn’t. Our tools are Scripture, love for all those where we live who love Christ with an incorruptible love, and godly lives, per Titus 1:6-9.

    I’m sure glad to own a Bible. It gives me Christ.

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  30. Chortles, how’s that undercover spy mission for Jesus going in your church there?

    Are you recommending we look to an authority outside of the Bible? We appoint elders based on 1 Tim. 3 and Titus 1, not the color of a man’s skin. We also expect all the ethnicities in our church to submit to elders whose skin color is not their own, too. So if you were an undercover spy for Jesus in our church, we’d still call you to obey His holy word. You know, just as 1 Thess. 5:12-13 is written by the finger of God, and not the fantasies of men.

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  31. Ted, if the soundest church in my area was all black (until I got there) I’d expect to be well treated and I’d be happy to be at the best church around. I would not expect them to cater me or make special provision for my tastes. Churches grow up the way they do for all sorts of reasons. I cannot call them all sinful/schismatic. I do observe that nearly everg overtly, intentionally multi-ethnic church is wobbly on worship and weak on doctrine and denominational affiliation. That’s no problem for baptists and independents though, since they are lightly armed on doctrine, worship, and accountability anyway.

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  32. Ted – never minding race, socio-economic status, or other civic issues for a moment, I can’t see how your suggestion would ever work if for no other reason the vast differences in worship forms. There are already plenty of schisms between denominations over CW, liturgies, charismatic expressiveness, etc. How are you going to get all of that into a blender and pour out something that will satisfy everyone. (and you can’t cite scripture here, because it is either silent on these issues or people have too many divergent views of what it says about them)

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  33. My sample size is a small and fallible and as my mind, I’m sure. I’m thinking of mostly broad churches who blend worship styles (horrible word), modify order, and remain un- or loosely affiliated to anything resembling confessional churches. It’s as if Doctrine and Order say to Diversity “We must decrease that It must increase.”

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  34. All you guys are way more evolved than me. The thought of insisting upon integration never occurs to me. I do live in an area where the white population is a minority-hispanic majority, so that may explain our lack of incentive, and the most transient demographic reality we deal with is military families coming and going. Beyond that, it’s an all consuming effort just to remain presbyterian and not fall prey to creeping So. Bapt.-eeeevangelicalism-ind bible church-congregationalism.

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  35. Pastor Brown, thank you for providing a Presbyterian voice on this issue. I’ve watched the news and see the pain and anguish on the faces of the people marching in Ferguson, and hear it in their voices as they desire justice (beyond the death of Michael Brown and the questions of what exactly happend, which is unclear at this point). I listened to your interview with Dr. Clark, and I am still listening and praying about what I should do as a Presbyterian. Thanks and peace in Christ, Tim

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  36. I wonder if I am an offender here. I live in a nearly all minority urban neighborhood, and on my drive to my all white suburban church, I pass by something like six black Missionary Baptist churches. It would be far more convenient and enjoyable to walk to my neighborhood black church where my neighbors go. Pesky confessions hinder us from that racial integration.

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  37. Joel,
    Could be the sermon content too especially if sermons are tailored to the racial experiences of one group or the other. And tailoring sermons to those experiences is necessary to a large extent

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  38. Curt, I don’t know because I’ve never visited. Maybe I should. I don’t think the RPC still considers “occasional hearing” a sin anymore.

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  39. Regarding Deej’s link to Leon’s post about stupid comments white people make to black people in church, I encountered the reverse of most of those on a regular basis while I attended a very large black church during college. I wasn’t offended since I figured these comments and instincts were natural when someone of a one race visits or attends a church that is almost entire composed of a different race. They were trying to be nice and welcoming to me, which I appreciated. I was more offended that after six months attending there regularly the same greeter would still ask me every Sunday morning if I was a visitor. I resisted the temptation to reply, “No, I’m one of the six white people who attends your 1,000+ member church.”

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  40. Upon learning of tragedy, loss, and injustice(s), especially when they are the more terrible, what can anyone who cares so deeply really say, or even do, when they are not relationally or physically close to those who are afflicted, but sincerely pray and trust in God’s ability to minister to the suffering.

    We can reach out to those from other races and cultures, seeking friendship, exchange, and fellowship, but even if the relationship is not mutually reciprocal in the depth/degree of relationship, but is/remains kind and amicable, the relationship is still fulfilling the Greatest Commandment(s) and the Great Commission, respectively.

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  41. Curt – To set up what I want to say about racism, I want to refer to what Chilean the economist, Manfred Max-Neef, said about understanding poverty.

    Erik – Is he related to the knights who say “neef”?

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  42. Curt,

    I was reading a piece from The New Yorker last night about the government-caused famine in the late 1950s-early 1960s that killed 30 million in China.

    Way to go, Marxism!

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  43. I’m not accusing Leon of this, but the main fear of engaging in a conversation regarding race as a white dude is the kafkatrap. The kafkatrap is:

    “a form of argument that, reduced to essence, runs like this: “Your refusal to acknowledge that you are guilty of {sin,racism,sexism, homophobia,oppression…} confirms that you are guilty of {sin,racism,sexism, homophobia,oppression…}.”

    It takes many forms and the majority of conversations regarding race et al. I have engaged in, the kafkatrap always makes it’s appearance at some point. There is no escape.

    http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=2122

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  44. Since then the Chinese have learned that the way to be successful Marxists is to be successful free market capitalists.

    The reason the famine took place was because bureaucrats in the Countryside were incentivized to give wildly inaccurate projections about grain production. Based on these high projections, the central government requisitioned large quantities of grain to feed people in the cities. Because actual harvests were nowhere near as high as the inaccurate projections there was not enough grain left over in the rural areas to feed people, so they starved. After unsuccessfully resorting to cannibalism, that is.

    During the period that people were starving, China was a net exporter of grain.

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  45. On race, about all I can say is that no law or action by anyone else can make black people wealthy, successful, loved, or part of intact families. Black people can only do those things for themselves. The more they wait around for someone else to do it for them, the longer they’ll stay where they’re at.

    Read Thomas Sowell on Race & Culture. Look at the Chinese. Wherever they go in the world they make their own way whether people like them or not. As we speak they loan us endless amounts of money so that we can buy their stuff until their economy becomes bigger than ours.

    People and cultures either do smart, rich people stuff or dumb, poor people stuff. Those that do the former advance, those that do the latter decline. It’s that simple.

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  46. Erik,
    I don’t think that question has been addressed but I am sure there is a website available that could tell you. Nevertheless, I think he makes a good point and it is one he lived out.

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  47. Erik,
    We could get into the details of the that, though you would also have to compare what China did with what India did, but that isn’t the issue. The issue is why do you think we are all alike? Below is one of my blog articles that might address that:

    http://flamingfundamentalist.blogspot.com/2014/03/what-makes-socialists-like-me-mad.html

    Finally, America ethnically cleansed this land of millions of people and enslaved and/or murdered millions more all because of race. In addition, we fought to help the French regain control of S.E. Asia, overthrew tens of democracies around the world and installed dictatorships, and are currently experiencing one of the greatest wealth disparities in the world while perceived as the greatest threat to peace by most of the world’s people. Why be American?

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  48. Erik,
    BTW, the Chinese are far from being free-market. To show that all one has to do is to propose installing China’s economic system here and see the reaction. Besides, what about socialism have you read that has not been written by its antagonists? And I believe that you simply are changing the subject of this comment section to get a rise out of someone. Typical capitalist.

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  49. Erik, the Chinese, Irish, Jewish Americans are all examples of what you say. But African Americans do have a very different complaint. Even aside from slavery, anyone of African descent in the U.S. between 1865 and 1965 faced structural opposition that other groups did not. That’s what makes the recent debates about reparations relevant. Or this.

    The Fair Housing Act of 1968 ended government redlining and segregation, allowing black families to accumulate wealth through homeownership. For subprime lenders, this was quickly seen as a prime opportunity: a largely low-income community struggling with stagnant wages and a rising cost of living, whom they could persuade to use their homes like an ATM.. As far back as 1993, African-Americans were five to eight times more likely to hold subprime loans than whites. Even homeowners in high-income black communities were twice as likely to have subprime loans as homeowners in low-income white communities. And these loans were typically cash-out refinances (loans taken out for more than the home is worth, so the borrower can pocket the remainder cash) and lines of credit for homeowners with substantial equity —attempts by the lenders to get at the meager wealth created by black families, and expropriate it.

    But there is a key difference between the housing policies of the past and the present: the lenders themselves. In 1960s Chicago, contract sellers were the only people African-Americans could turn to if they wanted to purchase a home. But these days, banks pride themselves on lending to African-Americans; in fact, just last week their trade group, the Mortgage Bankers Association, charged government mortgage policies as racist.

    Indeed, the key subprime loans in the 2000s were either originated by or funded by our biggest banks. Coates recognizes this, pointing out that the Justice Department successfully sued not fly-by-night originators, but Wells Fargo and Bank of America, over housing discrimination. Loan officers at Wells Fargo, the leading originator of home loans to ethnic minorities, referred to black customers as “mud people” and their offerings as “ghetto loans.” The problem in the 1960s was that black people couldn’t get loans from the banks; the problem in the present is that they can too easily.

    In other words, the plausible deniability of the financial industry’s role in racist housing policies has now withered. Coates writes that there used to be two housing markets—one legitimate and one lawless. Now there’s just one, but it’s largely lawless, backed by the government and controlled by our largest financial institutions. Government’s laissez-faire attitude toward regulating the subprime sector allowed this transformation from exploitation by individual contract sellers to a formal Wall Street moneymaking scheme. The housing discrimination lawsuits, like most of the attempts at accountability for the predatory practices of the foreclosure crisis, resulted in a pittance compared to the actual impact. Restitution for banks deceiving borrowers with loans they couldn’t afford and taking away their homes illegally was as low as $300.

    Virtually all of the ’60s-era contract seller tactics that Coates describes have analogies today. Contract sellers loading up borrowers with payments they cannot meet? That’s a good description of an adjustable-rate mortgage, which resets to unsustainable levels. The story of one woman who had an insurance bill added to her payment without her knowledge? There’s a modern-day scam called force-placed insurance, where banks install high-cost junk insurance policies on borrowers whose homeowner’s insurance has lapsed. Contract sellers lying about building code compliance? There’s a long record of appraisal fraud that put buyers into homes at inflated prices.

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  50. Concepts like reparations presume that the world is a very fair place, which it obviously is not. The only people who have the luxury of acting as if it’s fair are very rich people, and as soon as they start to act on that notion, goodbye being rich people.

    Note how the Chinese deal with the world vs. how the U.S. deals with the world: The Chinese go into other nations asking the question, “what’s in it for us?” whereas the U.S. seems to go in asking, “How much of our money can we blow here to little or no effect?” See also – Iraq, Afghanistan.

    The founders of the U.S. were more like the Chinese are today. They saw land that Native Americans & Mexicans owned, and they took it (or bought it, from the French). They bought slaves to work their fields when it was economically to their benefit.

    This is a world that is governed by the aggressive use of force and as soon as a culture forgets that, their decline begins.

    For African Americans the notion that help is coming is deadly. A black man can sit around his whole life waiting for that help. Fair or not, help is not coming. He needs to help himself.

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  51. On predatory lending here’s a tip: Rent and work like hell to save money Once you’ve saved up a sizable down payment, you’ll get as good of terms as the next guy regardless of your skin color.

    Too many people tried to buy homes who can’t afford to own a home. I frankly hate owning a home. It’s a money pit.

    That being said, Chinese and Canadians were two of the biggest beneficiaries of the crash. They came in and paid cash to buy foreclosed and depressed homes for cash.

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  52. The greatest lesson I ever learned on race was signing a lease with the mother of a Haitian tenant. Mother was a nurse, daughters were a veterinarian and a grad student. Looking at them one would have guessed they were poor and uneducated. The mother pored over the lease and asked probing questions like no one else I have ever encountered.

    If you’re smart, if you’ll read, if you’ll think, learn, and make your own way in the world you don’t have to take any crap off of anyone. No one will do that for you, though.

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  53. In the de Gruy Leary video, she asked the audience how whites could adversely effect the lives of blacks. Audience members mentioned education, employment and health care, to name a few, ways.

    Then she asked how blacks could adversely effect the lives of whites. The audience was largely silent. How would you answer her question?

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  54. George writes,

    “and you can’t cite scripture here, because it is either silent on these issues or people have too many divergent views of what it says about them)”

    Actually, Scripture is clear in both precept and example about one church for the whole body of Christ in each locale, and anything you’ve heard or learned otherwise comes from unbelief. Haven’t you heard of people saying Scripture doesn’t clearly speak to certain issues, only to be reproved time and again?

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  55. D.G. Hart,
    Please don’t make that kind of comment especially when much of the affordable care act reflects economic classism as lobbyist wrote most of the bill.

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  56. “Please don’t make that kind of comment…”

    Surprise, surprise, the socialist wants to regulate other people.

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  57. Leon, some of us white American Presbyterians (vinegary though we be) want to know what to do. We want to be good neighbors and good fellow presbyters. As the American Conservative piece indicates, racial injustice and racial prejudice are hard to transform. But trying to curtail police abuse sure seems like a policy and social good. That might not help with planting mixed race churches. But churches may be beside the point in instances like this, or if they are part of the point, American Protestantism is a whole lot more complicated than churches separated along racial lines.

    Stipulated: To “curtail police abuse” is a social good. Bringing in riot troops the first night was also WTF. And as the town is 2/3 black, it’s also got a “consent of the governed” problem, bigtime.

    Darryl, you may be pleased or mystified that you inspire me to do much more than argue with you. JGreshamGresham’s archenemy, Harry Fosdick Ralph Waldo Fosdick [“Shall the Fundamentalists Win?”] had a beautiful cathedral built for him and liberal theology by John D Rockefeller Jr

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riverside_Church

    [Of course you know, Dr. DGH, just catching your readers up.]

    They’ve see-sawed the power game between their white liberal politically-oriented base and the black folk who fill the seats come to worship and just praise Jesus. [Enthusiastically!]

    Out: Brad Braxton [male, black] 2009

    Interim pastor: Some white guy

    In: Amy Butler [non-male, non-white] Just elected in June 2014, after a 5-yr interregnum

    I remain fascinated. WWJGMD? Brad? Amy? And what of Aretha?

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  58. Curt, who is blaming blacks? I was answering a question about how blacks may hurt me. Rather than playing on stereotypes I tried to recognize the accomplishments of the first black president of the U.S. No loss for winning.

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  59. It’s unfair to crticize events outside of Curt’s head. The problem with socialism is people. if it weren’t for them, it’d be slick.

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  60. With regard to the contributions of the Negro Leagues and the Black Church and whether Leon is sheep steeling in a dangerous way that would weaken the black church: Appreciating the contributions of black baseball leagues and churches does not remove the historical reality that black baseball players didn’t freely wish for this type of league, nor did the black church wish freely to be segregated when it began. Both institutions had no choice. They were formed our of necessity due to sinful racial prejudice. I don’t know, but perhaps Leon Brown thinks as I do that the sinful prejudice of the church provided moral legitimacy for such institutions, much in the way that the Dutch reformed sanctioning of segregated communion in South Africa provided moral legitimacy for apartheid—-the church’s ecclesial failure and the larger failure of apartheid mirror one another. I don’t know what Leon Brown would say, but looking at the good baseball played in the Negro Leagues and the good and resilient manifestations of the black church is, perhaps, akin to pointing out how much the victims of abuse have learned about God’s Fatherly mercies in Christ in spite of the sin against them. Of course, God did something great; Gen 50:20 always wins in the end. But, surely the grace of God to work in spite of sin is no reason not to try to deal with the root of the problem. And here is where Mike Brown comes into play and Leon’s comments about Abraham. Local churches that don’t embody the reconciliation of the gospel between races don’t show the power of the gospel to alleviate racial animosities. Your points about police brutality are well taken, but it seems that as a pastor Leon’s concern about the local church is right in line with his calling. There is indeed much to discuss in all of this.

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  61. D.G.,
    Yes, you were answering how Black might hurt you. And you responded. Don’t know if you realize how that sounds. Let me put it another way. Suppose after a Black person ran into my car, I said that Blacks by their driving because one ran into my car? How would that sound?

    BTW, did the President construct the act and press for that act because he was Black or because there was made to be made in it by the insurance companies since much of the act was written by lobbyists?

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  62. Just chiming in here – part of what turns out to be problematic re: black reformered theologians and their fellow travellers (Russ Moore and everyone at TGC) is that, philosophically, at least, they seem to accept all the categories of race and power peddled by Foucault, Derrida, Cornel West. There’s a certain amount of “consensus” with this crowd that I find troubling – hold the wrong view about the Civil War, or MLK’s adultery or modern-day immigration – and all of a sudden you’re putting the Gospel in danger.

    One gets the impression that for some of our Reformed brethren, a writer like John McWhorter is a coward on race.

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  63. Curt, if racism is racial prejudice plus power, and now an African-American is the most powerful man in the free world (whatever that means), then how does Obama affect the charge of racism? That’s why I brought up Affordable Care Act. Notice too, oh charitable Curt, I did not label is Obama Care.

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  64. Glad to see the comments come back to police brutality and black church/white church issues. I am confused about how to connect the dots between socialism vrs. capitalism and housing legislation with the above two issues. Maybe a good question to ask is the black church and white church in agreement about what the Gospel is. What is being taught in the white church and the black church that might make unity a difficult thing.

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  65. Jay, the analogy between baseball and church breaks down on several levels, and one of those was that African-Americans precisely wanted separate churches and those churches were the institutional guardians of African-American life. I didn’t bring up sheep stealing as a danger. You applied that word. But I wondered what Leon Brown would think about the integrity of the black church, its historic role in the life of the African-American community, and how some blacks might perceive NAPARC churches planting mixed race congregations. It may be a danger to those churches. It may be a boon to the African-Americans who join our communions to receive Reformed preaching. I was simply curious whether Leon Brown had thought about this potential wrinkle.

    As for a church embodying the gospel through racial reconciliation, does that apply only to churches of European descent? Does it apply to Asian-American (as if that does justice to the real antagonisms among the Japanese, Chinese and Korean-Americans) congregations? If you think it applies only to white congregations, does that imply that you think whites are really capable of doing something that minorities cannot do? Is that very loving?

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  66. JohnnY, one connection between the housing crisis and congregational life is whether African-Americans have had the same opportunities to suburbanize as whites. White flight happened in cities in part because of mortgage lending practices. And segregation of neighborhoods or cities and burbs would generate segregated churches (in the South they were already segregated by 1870). So if normal patterns of economic assimilation had been available to African-Americans, would that show up in the burbs where the congregations have lots of people (or their families) who used to live in ethnic ghettos.

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  67. DGH, but that is so 1970’s and 80’s, and who says that the ethnics really want to live in the suburbs these days? A lot of money has gone into the inner cities in making the living conditions and housing better there (gutting out warehouses and turning into lofts, cheap apartment complexes, brownstones, etc). I see that was an issue back then but it has been corrected. I think your point to Erik was that it was a big disadvantage to ethics that wanted to flee the problems of the inner cities. Now, a lot of the issues that were in the inner cities that were making people want to flee there in the 70’s and 80’s are taking place in the suburbs. I think most of the money came from government programs and government lending. With the government in such huge debt the only place to turn for money in regards to social issues is big business or churches who are willing to do something about critical social issues. That is where I see some problems with 2K’s thinking about the spirituality of the church. There is a certain rigidity to the thinking- especially in critical situations.

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  68. D.G.,
    Does having a Black president change the power dynamics between Whites and Blacks in society?

    BTW, though I understand, I don’t prefer the formula of racism = prejudice + power. I think it is there regardless of power.

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  69. JohnnY, cites are no longer experiencing financial difficulties (think the decrease of manufacturing)? Urban school districts are so great that suburbanites send their kids downtown? Suburbanites don’t benefit from better school systems by having more attractive (and more valuable) property/homes?

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  70. Curt, well if part of the point of integration was to include minorities into a set of political institutions that excluded them, voting rights, African-American congressmen, mayors, governors, and presidents does change power dynamics. Or are you saying we are still living under Jim Crow?

    The reason power is important to racism is that it explains why the Black panthers were not racist. They had a prejudice (perhaps well earned) against whites. They didn’t have power. Ergo, black Panthers weren’t racist.

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  71. D.G.,
    Actually, there is a new Jim Crow but it is run through the conjunction of selective law enforcement in the war on drugs and the prison system. Those released from prison face such high and multiple hurdles in terms of the restrictions put on them that recidivism seems to be built into the system. Michelle Alexander wrote about this new Jim Crow but I forget the exact name of the book.

    In addition, not all old prejudices died as a some sociology research has showed–would cite but we would both have to have paid subscription to services. But what I hear from the people who study this is that discrimination is being shown such as when people apply for jobs.

    BTW, the old Black Panthers practiced a limited form of Black nationalism and freely associated and worked closely with predominantly White leftist organizations–at least this is what happened on the West Coast. And having listened to some of them I would easily tell you that not all Black Panthers were racist. My trouble with subtracting power from race is that it seems to minimize prejudice–though we should always try to understand why people are prejudice regardless of whether they are in the power group or not. The parable of the two men praying sways my thoughts here.

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  72. Curt, how can the new Jim Crow be Jim Crow if African-American politicians — mayors, district attorneys, legislators, and presidents — are responsible in part for it. It is simply foolish to say that a system in which African-Americans share power is the same as one that excluded African-Americans from power. If you want to talk about economics, or that race is still a major factor in the criminal justice system.

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  73. D.G.,
    Because it goes back to the targets. A similar comment can be made about South Africa. Yes, they got some political freedom and, as some say, there are Black faces in the Limousines. However, life for the most Black South Africans have not changed simply because the economic system there maintains White supremacy.

    Yes, there are some Black mayors, DAs, legislators, and even a Black president. But have things changed for the average Black person. Look at the stop & frisk stats, the incarceration rates, and the wealth disparity. In addition, your statement of there being Black mayors, DAs, and so forth is vague. How many and what is the percentage? And don’t forget, that money more than race runs politics.

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  74. Curt Day
    Posted August 17, 2014 at 5:09 pm | Permalink
    D.G.,
    Because it goes back to the targets. A similar comment can be made about South Africa. Yes, they got some political freedom and, as some say, there are Black faces in the Limousines. However, life for the most Black South Africans have not changed simply because the economic system there maintains White supremacy.

    Yes, there are some Black mayors, DAs, legislators, and even a Black president. But have things changed for the average Black person. Look at the stop & frisk stats

    Stop & frisk has been ended in NYC.

    the incarceration rates

    compare to black crime rates, and since 90% of crime is intraracial, black crime victimhood rates. Further, it was black politicians and Democrats Kennedy and Kerry who spearheaded the cocaine laws after the death of Len Bias. You could look it up.

    and the wealth disparity

    examine crime rates during the Great Depression, which were low. Perhaps it’s all your party’s talk of income disparity that fans the ressentiment Perhaps the anger–and we are talking about feelings here, not facts–is the real issue.

    You have not made the necessary link between “income disparity” and the kid getting shot and the civil unrest that followed. Unless you concede it’s all about anger and resentment–without which your party ceases to exist.

    In addition, your statement of there being Black mayors, DAs, and so forth is vague. How many and what is the percentage? And don’t forget, that money more than race runs politics

    True. But how much of black America’s predicament is due to–or rectifiable by–politics?

    [And of course, by lumping black America like this, we end up ignoring the majority of American blacks, who live above the poverty line and neither commit crimes nor riot or loot. Still, a minor sin. We all want black folk to live well, all of us–their fellow blacks, the white-guilt liberals, even conservatives!]

    [As a side note to DGH, the Ta-Nahesi case for reparations not for slavery but Jim Crow conspicuously ignores the fact that as recently as 1950, black marriage and employment rates were equal to those of whites. It is those pathologies that hamstring the underside of black America, not the residual tendrils of Jim Crow.]

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  75. Curt, what is “the average black person”? Is that a fair concept? Is the African-American cop an average black? The manager of the water department? The high school teacher? The McDonald’s franchise owner? There’s more variety than your comment implies. Does that mean you only think of blacks as the urban underclass? Is that very sensitive?

    But why would you think that I disagree about law enforcement? What about the long quote from the American Conservative that I included don’t you understand?

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  76. D.G.,
    What is the average Black person depends on what measurement is being referred to. For example, when talking about wealth disparity, then the average Black person would be measured numerically by accumulated wealth either per household. If we are talking about education, then the average Black person would be measured by the average level of education for each Black person who is either in a certain age range or above a minimum age. And it goes on from there. In addition, since average is not always the best measurement because of outliers, we could use trimmed mean instead. And we also want to filter things to see where Blacks have experienced the most success and where their progress has stagnated.

    So we can take a variety of measurements including the ones above to try to get a picture of how much change have Blacks experienced overall. Yes, we could identify Black politicians, but we have to look more closely and see if their success are outliers to what the majority of Blacks have experienced. So when we judge the welfare of the Blacks, to note that we have a Black president is evidence but not conclusive proof of how much progress Blacks have experienced. That is because we don’t want to judge progress by focussing on outliers.

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  77. TVD (a.k.a Tom ),
    Under your secret identity, I was answering to see if you were disguising yourself as a mild-mannered, or should say well-mannered, blogger knowing the costume you were wearing underneath. But you’re here to hassle under both identities and so don’t expect an answer from me.

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  78. Curt, I’ll repeat: “Is the African-American cop an average black? The manager of the water department? The high school teacher? The McDonald’s franchise owner?”

    We are not talking merely about statistics. We are talking about the experience of real life human beings.

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  79. D.G.,
    Average is a statistical measurement and so when talking about “average Black person,” you need to be more specific. The average Black person with regard to what is what we need to look at and we want to look at multiple average measurements or multiple whats. Just saying what the is average Black person is too broad just as saying what is the average white person

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  80. Curt, what about “African-American cop” don’t you understand?

    Average can mean ordinary, as in how was your day. “Average.”

    Don’t make me sympathize with Tom.

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  81. I had to refresh my memory on Jim Crow Laws:

    The Jim Crow laws were racial segregation laws enacted between 1876 and 1965 in the United States at the state and local level. They mandated de jure racial segregation in all public facilities in Southern states of the former Confederacy, with, starting in 1890, a “separate but equal” status for African Americans. The separation in practice led to conditions for African Americans that tended to be inferior to those provided for white Americans, systematizing a number of economic, educational and social disadvantages. De jure segregation mainly applied to the Southern United States, while Northern segregation was generally de facto — patterns of segregation in housing enforced by covenants, bank lending practices and job discrimination, including discriminatory union practices for decades.

    Some examples of Jim Crow laws are the segregation of public schools, public places and public transportation, and the segregation of restrooms, restaurants and drinking fountains for whites and blacks. The U.S. military was also segregated, as were federal workplaces, initiated in 1913 under President Woodrow Wilson, the first Southern president since 1856. His administration practiced overt racial discrimination in hiring, requiring candidates to submit photos.

    There is a lot that goes on in places that are dependent on government aid that statistics and laws never really come to terms with. I have been forced to live and learn how to survive in areas that are dependent on this aid since November of 2012. And I am still dealing with it as I write. There are huge hurdles to overcome in getting decent jobs because of the retarded back-round checks that are required even for minimum wage jobs. Getting a good job is out of the question unless you luckily run into someone who does not do back-round checks or who knows what a crock of you know what these back-round checks are. Many, who know those in the know, can get their records expunged, etc., etc. And the staffing agencies that help people get jobs are being paid by the employers who are demanding these back-round checks and drug tests. It is not helping the economic well being of the country and it splits families asunder. These DUI laws are ridiculous too- all they do is line lawyers pockets and allows cities to build huge criminal justice wealth creating systems that shifts income to governments. It is a self-perpetuating system that grows out of control. People who have to deal with this start creating their own black markets to get things to survive. The drug culture gets deeper ingrained and those having to deal with it learn how to play the game in the system they have to deal with. There is a lot more to say about this- I have only scratched the surface.

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  82. I would like to know statistics of how many people are being turned down for jobs because of these back-round checks, how much money lawyers and the judicial systems gain on DUI’s, domestic violence cases, petty drug busts, credit card fraud, petty theft, etc., etc. How many lives are effected adversely by people having to spend time in correctional facilities for these petty crimes and then how difficult it is to get you life back on track again. It seems to me these are the real issues that something can be done about fairly quickly. And it would help what ails the American system.

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  83. Another thing I have noticed is that a lot of these people stuck without being able to find jobs start working for drug lords or find places of employment at places where money is given under the table. These people have no medical benefits and they get treated like dogs by the employers that hire them and take advantage of their situation.

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  84. Mathew 22:1-14:

    1 And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, 2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, 3 and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. 4 Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.’ 5 But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, 6 while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. 7 The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. 8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ 10 And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12 And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”

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  85. Curt,
    Shouldn’t you be defending one of the few completely socialized industries in the U.S.? Capitalists always agree with socialists when socialists point out that the government is failing them, though perhaps not why. Why is our socialist system of justice failing to produce justice, and how can socialism be the answer for that? The answer is that socialism fails to solve both the knowledge problem and the coordination problem, which is usually provided by pricing.

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  86. A audio from a newly-found cellphone video seems to confirm the police version of the Ferguson events — which would mean that many “witnesses” have been telling whoppers. If it shows the police account was accurate will the focus of Xian pundits shift to the problem of 9th commandment violation in this or that community?

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  87. D.G.,
    What is it about average vs other central tendency measurements do you understand? My guess with incarceration rates being what they are, the answer is that neither most nor the median number of Blacks are cops If you wanted to look at average, then I would look at wealth disparity or income. And the issue there is that wealth disparity between Blacks and Whites has continued to grow. And that is the issue along with income, incarceration rates, and the percentage of Blacks holding upper and middle class jobs, the percentage of Blacks who are unemployed, percentage of Blacks who have college, graduate, and post-graduate degrees.

    Now if you want to equate average with ordinary, how do you define ordinary, what is its formula, and where do you find that? A certain degree of precision over loose slang is important. But going back to my previous answer, with incarceration rates being what they are, I doubt if the ordinary Black is a cop if my understanding that those who have been convicted of crimes cannot be cops is correct.

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  88. John,
    Jim Crow was more than just laws, it incorporated a whole culture. For example, lynching Blacks was part of Jim Crow and yet there were no laws mandating the lynching of Blacks.

    Jim Crow was about more than just segregation, it was about humiliation, oppression, and subjugation. But outside of that, you are sharing some important information. And what would be better is to add to what you’re sharing interviews of people who are affected so that their stories can be told. And that is what is missing between the races; it is the listening to each other’s experiences.

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  89. Curt Day
    Posted August 18, 2014 at 6:49 am | Permalink
    TVD (a.k.a Tom ),
    Under your secret identity, I was answering to see if you were disguising yourself as a mild-mannered, or should say well-mannered, blogger knowing the costume you were wearing underneath. But you’re here to hassle under both identities and so don’t expect an answer from me.

    I get tired of typing in my identity info sometimes, when it’s obvious it’s me. No subterfuge.

    And the reason you don’t want to respond is because you can’t. The only question now is whether you believe all those leftist shibboleths you breathe like air or are just another innocent victim of our corrupt educational-industrial complex.

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  90. Curt, see The Wire. And be sure to keep watching until the breathtaking dialogue between Omar (the African-American Robin Hood and Obama’s favorite character) and Bunk (the average homicide detective of African descent). I believe it’s in season three.

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  91. Who knew that the Lutheran funny man could make so much sense (thanks to our Grand Rapids correspondent):

    But if you believe that individuals in power are maliciously trying to confiscate the weapons of law-abiding citizens, why is it completely outside the realm of possibility that an individual in power would maliciously use his weapon against a law-abiding citizen? When this principle of “power corrupts” is the driving force behind a conservative’s approach to the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government, why are so many conservatives unwilling to apply it to those who enforce many of the government’s laws? In the days since Michael Brown’s death, we’ve seen video footage of police firing teargas onto people’s private property (language warning). We’ve heard reports of police arresting journalists who were not engaging in any illegal activity. If power seems to be corrupting those charged with keeping the peace during the recent unrest in Ferguson, why do some conservatives refuse to consider the mere possibility that a police officer may have been corrupted by power in the event that sparked the unrest?

    The answer is, I think, quite simple. For many conservatives, especially those of us living in nice, comfy suburbs, it’s hard to apply the “power corrupts” doctrine to law enforcement because we’ve never seen corrupted enforcers of the law. We’ve never been wrongly arrested. We’ve never witnessed our children put in jail based on the false reports of police officers. We’ve never seen our neighbors beaten or tazed without cause. And in the extremely unlikely scenario that a police officer drove into our neighborhood and murdered our unarmed friend in cold blood, we cannot possibly fathom a scenario where the justice system wouldn’t be on our side and where that police officer wouldn’t spend the rest of his life in jail. Therefore Brown must have been a violent, gang-sign flashing thug, foolish enough to think he could swipe a cop’s weapon because, in our minds, there’s no conceivable way that a police officer would gun down an innocent man.

    My only supplement would be that those of us in comfy suburbs or hip urban centers have seen the Department of Motor Vehicles administrator chastise us for not waiting behind the yellow line or the convenience store clerk challenge us for taking the receipt straight from the register. We’ve seen how people like to use power. But it doesn’t threaten in suburbia the way it appears to in Ferguson.

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  92. D.G.,
    I am amused when people talk about Obama being sort of Robin Hood as if taxes were stealing from the rich or that our biggest gov’t expenses go to welfare. Much of our clothes are made by sweatshop labor and much of our food is picked by migrant workers some of whom are trafficked and yet we don’t give it a thought, especially when we are paying lower prices, whether they are being paid fairly. Nor do we consider how businesses are the ones stealing from the public funds to maximize profits. The military budget is spread throughout several budgets including what is paid to the Pentagon. Medicare cannot negotiate for lower drug prices and the insurance industry played a significant role in writing Obamacare and we think that Obama is stealing from us to give to the poor. And most money designated for foreign aid goes directly to American companies while those companies send their military equipment to the countries. And that doesn’t even include how the American gov’t has supported the financial sector. So why are you targeting Obamacare? Nobody on the left likes it either but at least we don’t see Obama as trying to be a Robin Hood.

    We assume that we’ve earned everything we have and that is far from the truth. Such an assumption does not take into account the gov’t supported infrastructure and the low pay for workers whose products allow us to focus on accumulating stuff.

    In short, we have a syncretism, at the least, and conflation, at the most, of Christianity and American Individualism. And it is time we refrain from patting ourselves on the back for being American individualists while being blind to inter-dependencies of our economic system.

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  93. D.G.,
    BTW, in my list of how businesses steal from the public funds, I forgot how businesses use government assistance to subsidize their payrolls. And that gov’t assistance has been collected by those who are bank employees to some rookie airline pilots to food and retail workers, to name some. The total figure runs in the billions. And yet, some only see what is spent on those in need.

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  94. “as if taxes were stealing from the rich or that our biggest gov’t expenses go to welfare”
    Well to be fair our biggest expenses in the federal budget are indeed transfer payments. Medicare/Medicaid and Social Security account for about half of our federal budget alone, so yeah most of our budget goes to “welfare”…I know, I know, we like to pretend Social Security is different because we “pay in”, but that is just a semantics game. We pay taxes to support current retirees and someday our kids will pay for us (as if).

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  95. I forgot how businesses use government assistance to subsidize their payrolls.

    Right… my builder is paying framers $16/hr and he is having trouble finding workers who can do three things, swing a hammer, show up on time, and show up sober. This is an entry wage in a southern state where the median income is 23k/yr. Wage stagnation is largely driven by the increased cost of benefits (which aren’t counted in wages) and how income is reported. At the university where I teach, the employers contribution to our health plan is 15k. For entry level clerical workers, their salary is 22k. If you put in the retirement and various other worker insurance benefits/employment taxes paid on behalf of the employee, the cost of their compensation is over 40k. When I pay myself in the summer, my fringe rate is 38%. Of course this is just the average integrated over the university. It is ~0% for our president making 700k and is nearly 100% for our entry level secretaries. Of course if you count full compensation, then you’d double the lowest earners and leave the top1%’ers where they are. Voila there goes half of the growing income disparity.

    To be sure there are serious structural injustices in our society, but wages and benefit levels aren’t it. The poor do pretty well economically in that regard. The low hanging fruit is with the criminal justice system. When prosecutors can ramp up charges with no consequence in an effort to force a plea, we end up in the state we are now with the highest incarceration rate in the world (only 5% of whom had a jury trial). The poor (particularly black and hispanic) bear the brunt of this situation – prosecutors can appear tough on crime and advance their career by seeking draconian sentences for petty (and young offenders). In the black community where 1/3 of males will spend time in prison, this has catastrophic social consequences – a criminal conviction makes gainful employment, welfare, and education almost impossible to get which drives up recidivism rates. It also makes them not marriage material which has two pernicious effects – if they get their girlfriend pregnant, she has little incentive to marry (an ex-con in the house makes life more difficult). Given the preference most women have for a man without a conviction, non-offenders have quite a bit of bargaining power given the dating market making marriage even less likely for them. This has played a significant role in the very high illegitimacy rate. The chokepoint isn’t minimum wage or allocation of welfare benefits. The real limiting factor is structural problems in the criminal justice system. Socialism won’t convince risk adverse soccer moms that the tough prosecutor is making things worse.

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  96. “…in our minds, there’s no conceivable way that a police officer would gun down an innocent man.”

    That’s stereotyping also. That a cop would murder a black guy for the hell of it is possible of course, but not in the middle of the street in front of witnesses. Too stupid and messy. That’s the part that doesn’t add up.

    Many of the cops I’ve unfortunately crossed paths with had that hardass mentality. But to hassle them back–as the dead man apparently did–is the real head-scratcher here, especially if you do indeed believe cops are racist and needlessly violent.

    The anger and I-don’t-give-a-damn nihilism that makes somebody hassle cops is what we need to get at. Unfortunately, one political party’s survival depends on fanning it.

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  97. I am white and was born 15 miles as the crow flies to the south of Rev. Brown about 10 years later. Reading the article and listening to the Heidelcast, I think Rev. Brown’s points are these:

    different races will approach a situation through different lenses. Minorities will see a majority-white society differently due to different backgrounds. Alberto’s points about whites experiencing racism and intra-minority tensions is still valid as those from SoCal well know. We must deal with our contexts and emotions. Books on the Harvard negotiation project say the same thing.

    Reformed churches are still mostly white. This is not necessarily a problem unless we don’t try to consciously match the surrounding demographic. We should try to match the surrounding demographic. From what I’ve seen, this tends to happen automatically in NAPARC churches with a strong gospel and willingness to find qualified non-white elders.

    The covenant of grace and the gospel provide a way forward.

    That said, I think a lot of Alberto’s points are true: the internet probably isn’t the place for this. Older men should take the lead. And we musn’t pretend only whites are to blame and have no grievances (Rev. Brown said the same thing). Darryl has a good point also: other people like blacks have to want this too. In my experience, non-whites like their non-white churches as much as whites like theirs.

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  98. One, Leon needs to realize that as reasonably competent minority in reformed circles, he’s going to get glommed onto by those who just might be tainted by the guilty white liberal mentality and shoved forward to be their poster boy/hip new celebrity. Just sayin.
    Two, while I might be interested in what he has to say, when we lead off by saying we can’t talk about segregation in AA churches, well, imagine a romanist or a baptist coming on here and playing the exemption card, the tuquoque being Bryan’s forte.
    But AA is different? IOW we are to respect persons?
    Sounds like racism to me. Of the politically correct variety.
    No thanks.
    Besides we already get to listen to Curt lecture us on our inherent racistsexisthomophobeantisemitefascist tendencies because we are reformed.
    But being an Equal Opportunity hater that we is, we do our thing.

    (Like the latest that the Black Panthers were not a bunch of racist thugs? Run that by David Horowitz a few times, pal and let him fill you in on what Huey the Newton was doing before he got shot by the police.
    Oh, but David is white and he can’t really know what it’s all about is the whine in rebuttal.
    Fine, but let me tell you something about white people then, since we at least got some street cred on that. For a lot of them – not all – it boils down to “can you do the job, yes or no?” But if you need affirmative action racism to get over, they are not interested. You know. Kind of like the Ray Charles thing. You show up on time for the gig or get fired. It doesn’t make any difference if you are a bro or not.)

    IOW I didn’t bother to listen to the Heidelcast, but I did read the article.
    It was pretty disjointed/confused. Why pick Mike Brown, who was a bit of a thug hisself. Not that that means he should necessarily get shot, but it sounds like there are plenty of bad apples to go around – not just on one side – of the fence in Ferguson.

    More to the point though, is how come the Duke and the Dauphin of Racial Melody, Harmony and All Things Nice weren’t out in full force baying like a pack of rabid jackals in frenzied heat when Miriam Carey was gunned down in Washington DC by the Capitol police? Sisters don’t count? The praetorian guard/admin of our first racist black liberation theology president gets a bye? Hmmm. IOW we wants the genuine proof EO prejudicism, not the fake kind.

    Yeah, there’s a bunch of things the reformed church should be doing, but isn’t. And while I am glad to see the reformed faith making inroads in minority communities/churches, mebbe what Leon doesn’t take into account is that the reformed churches are already minorities themselves in the church world. Yeah we’d all love to see more people in reformed churches, but most people – purple or polka-dotted – seem to prefer the broad evangelical charismaticky contemporary wurshup schtick. What are we supposed to do about that? Beat our breast till they are bloody in a show of mock humility/piety? Rather we do what we can, where we are at and let the Lord open or shut doors. No more, no less and no guilt trips about it.

    FTM Leon might want to check out the RPCNA. Until recently they didn’t have very many churches south of the Mason Dixon line because early on they opposed slaveholding among their communicants.

    The PCA? That’s a different story. There are reformed men and congregations, but there is a lot of broad conservative evangelicalism that passes for being reformed. Let him not confuse the two and perhaps the corresponding cultural attitudes.

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  99. sdb,
    And are you forgetting that Social Security is fully funded and not only does not add to the National Debt, but is the biggest lender to the US. Medicare is also funded. What goes unfunded, because Corporations seek to avoid paying taxes, is the corporate welfare and state capitalism referred to above.

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  100. Curt, you over read almost everything. I didn’t say Obama was Robin Hood. I said his favorite character on The Wire was Omar, a Robin Hood-like character, gay to boot. I love Omar too. Does that make me a Democrat or a homosexual?

    Maybe you need simply to see a Marx brothers movie and chill.

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  101. “Maybe you need simply to see a Marx brothers movie and chill.”

    Or listen to some Lennon music? That would be Marx & Lennon.

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  102. Sbd says this:
    “It also makes them not marriage material which has two pernicious effects – if they get their girlfriend pregnant, she has little incentive to marry (an ex-con in the house makes life more difficult). Given the preference most women have for a man without a conviction, non-offenders have quite a bit of bargaining power given the dating market making marriage even less likely for them. This has played a significant role in the very high illegitimacy rate. The chokepoint isn’t minimum wage or allocation of welfare benefits. The real limiting factor is structural problems in the criminal justice system. Socialism won’t convince risk adverse soccer moms that the tough prosecutor is making things worse.”

    John Y: There is a huge lack of communication between those who are living in areas where they have to deal with government support and those who live in the suburbs and don’t deal with it. It is like living in two different worlds. I would argue that woman living outside the suburbs look for men who will protect them and provide them with food and things they want who in turn abuse these woman too. They learn to live with it and deal with it. And they have no common ground with those living in the suburbs and who may try to help them get out of their bad situations. You don’t see these types of woman in subarban churches either. Complete communication breakdown.

    On the other hand, it is the mothers against drunk drivers (soccer moms) who are driving the ridiculously harsh DUI penalties. And I doubt if the harsher laws have decreased drunk driving caused fatalaties. From what I have read that is an extremely low percentage of fatalaties anyways. But I really do not know the exact statistics on this and from what I understand you cannot audit all the data involved in where all the money goes for DUI convictions. Of course, it is tragic when anyone dies in a traffic fatality caused by a drunk driver but it is very rare from what I understand. And everyone hears about it when it happens.

    Those wage statistics were interesting and I would like to see more of that in regards to other industries too.

    On the

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  103. D.G.,
    My first note to you in this thread was that to say that perhaps you didn’t know how you sound at times and by how you sound you have to take into account what others have heard or read. I didn’t over read your note, I only read it once or twice. But similarities between what you wrote and what others I have read wrote spark connections.

    BTW, if you are democrat, you are still politically too conservative for me and if you are homosexual, I believe in marriage equality in society but not in the Church. So does that cover things?

    And as for John Lennon, he aptly said that he though most of the world’s leaders were insane. I guess based on the world today, some things never change.

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  104. @Curt – Regarding SS/MC – that is just political propaganda. The feds collect taxes through several different streams and use them to pay for their outlays. If I say that I’m getting a part time job to pay for my poker budget, and I can’t make ends meet for my other expenses from my full time job, you’d think I’d be crazy if I said – well poker isn’t a problem. It is fully funded. Our national tax revenue from local, state, and federal sources is comparable to most other developed nations as a fraction of GDP. Parroting talking points about corporations not paying taxes doesn’t change that.

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  105. I read both of Leon Brown’s posts and listened to about half of the interview on the Heidelcast, before I got a bit cranky at the seemingly arbitrary nature of Mr Brown’s judgments and pronouncements.
    I don’t claim to understand the ins and outs of the multifaceted culture that is the United States of America;I’m not American. So why post? Well, Mr Brown wasn’t only discussing his little bit of the landmass which is part of the Kingdom of the World, he was also focussing on the Kingdom of God, where I too, by God’s grace, am also a citizen.

    Leon Brown is right to be angry at the corruption all around us in the world, but by dwelling on the temporal cultural concerns of the moment, or what the media want us to think about as the cultural concerns of the moment, is he in danger of losing an eternal perspective? By using demographics, are we in danger of simply mimicking the Kingdom of the World and its solution to the problem of sin? Are we in danger of focussing on the horizontal aspect of sin against our fellow man instead of remembering that against God and God only we have sinned?

    When Paul called himself the chief of sinners it wasn’t because he was a Roman and part of that regime of oppression and injustice, it was because of what he had done with Christ and His church. When Mr Brown speaks of the guilt and shame of those whose ancestors may or may not have been slave holders or those who have been complicit as part of a State that discriminated and oppressed, has he forgotten that as far as East is from West, so our transgressions have been removed from us? The blood of our Saviour cleanses all of us who are in Christ, from all kinds of unrighteousness. As others have noted in previous posts, it is not primarily, or ultimately our ethnicity that is the problem, it is whether we are covenant breakers or covenant keepers in Christ. Those still enslaved by sin or those set free by God’s grace, who are being sanctified to regard the other as more important than ourselves.

    Each one of us is made in the image of God and His son Jesus was made like us in all things and tempted in all things as we are. Where is the differentiation in race here? If we lose the focus on our common humanity – that we are in Adam, the image of God effaced, but not obliterated; or in Christ – we lose the plot.

    That is why this conversation needs to be had, though by the wise and godly leaders in our Reformed churches. Man looks at the outside, God looks at the heart…and I’m not sure that census taking is always legitimate.

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  106. SDB, the poor do well economically? How many poor people do you know?

    4,362. How about you? The poor don’t suffer from economics. They suffer from other systemic problems exacerbated by a culture that drives them to make really bad decisions. There are jobs out there as I noted. If you are an addict or drunk, if you have a criminal record, or if you have a poor work ethic – you’re screwed. Systemic structural problems may have economic consequences, but a higher minimum wage isn’t going to create opportunities or wealth for people who aren’t doing well under the current system – it will create competition for those jobs from higher productivity workers and drive further automation. Even socialists utopias like Sweden with high levels of ethnic solidarity are rolling back significant aspects of the social democratic system – as Thatcher said – eventually you run out of other peoples money. Socialism is an incredibly inefficient (and thus unsustainable) way of allocating goods and services. The question is how to create opportunities for people to maximize their productivity so that they earn value. The answers to the easiest problems to fix are tied to how we run our criminal justice system and finance post-secondary education.

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  107. The federal gubmint destroyed much of the fragile (more or less because of all the factors cited by the geniuses above) black community and family structure with its urban renewal and Great Society programs. If single mother homes are encouraged and supported by policy, if marriage is penalized, if dependence is encouraged, if you can make more working than not working — who can be surprised that we have what we have? And who can we thank for the welfare state? Revivalist turned pietist Xians, I say. The same ones that brought us prohibition, (watch out) women’s suffrage with its “compassionate” tilt, and a host of society-fixing, America-firsting schemes. So it all comes down to doctrine and church order, see? Oh, and we could afford to keep this little master-slave state going for decades more if not for a string of unfortunate and unwise wars.

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  108. In conclusion, the Gospel-Industrial Complex plus the Military-Industrial Complex = bad news. I shudder to the think what full complex(es) full-blown socialists (with or without the help of the Roman church) could come up with (sic).

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  109. Chortles,
    The problem with many who talk about Socialism is the same as with many who talk about Capitalism. Both talk about those ideas as if they were monoliths. Neither Capitalism nor Socialism are monoliths. So Chortles, which form of socialism are you referring to?

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  110. Chortles,
    The government destroyed the Black community through urban renewal and Great Society? How many Blacks have said that? I know that the only ones who have said that are political conservatives.

    Now I do know Blacks will say that the government has seriously hurt the Black community through selective law enforcement and the war on drugs. But I also know that Blacks also find fault with those businesses that pay non-living wages. Or take the Banks and financial institutions that sold predatory loans. Or we could cite other examples of harm done by the private sector.

    Please talk to a variety of Blacks with regard to political views and economic status and see what they think about what has hurt the Black community rather than deductively arriving at a conclusion that defends conservative politics.

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  111. Chortles,
    Since you mentioned the Great Society and Urban renewal in the same sentence, I had a different take on urban renewal than you did. The urban renewal you’re talking about makes business and middle class consumers the beneficiaries. There was no interest expressed for the poor in that. Since you paired them together, I thought you were strictly referring to programs that targeted the poor. You weren’t.

    The Great society programs targeted the poor but fell short. Why? If you believe Martin Luther King’s view then you would attribute failures of the Great Society programs to funds lost to increased military spending to pay for escalations in the Vietnam War. The Great Society programs did have a measure of success though not as great as they could have. But included in such programs must be work opportunities and with factory flight from urban areas, there weren’t enough jobs to provide economic hope for those in the lower class who lived in the cities. BTW, many of the job opportunities from urban renewal that would benefit the poor residents were retail jobs.

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  112. Chortles,
    Forgot to say that you still don’t know about the kind of socialism I advocate and all you have to do is read a variety of people to know what I am talking about.

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  113. Judith, this is an excellent point:

    “When Paul called himself the chief of sinners it wasn’t because he was a Roman and part of that regime of oppression and injustice…”

    You’ve surely noticed he didn’t get too exercised about earthly institutions either, except to exhort submission and a kind of mandatory contentment with “the way things are.” Deal with it, look ahead, and look up — if I may paraphrase.

    Curt, what would Paul think of your being enamored with the Occupy movement, I wonder?

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  114. Chortles, I’m sure Paul would yawn and tell Curt he is a poor man at being a load of total crap compared the people one had to deal with in the Roman Empire.

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  115. More on Ferguson:

    In Ferguson itself, many people have seen the 2009 case where a black man was charged with bleeding on the uniforms of the Ferguson PD officers who beat him. But I know that police harassment is also a daily occurrence for many black residents. For instance, for the past three years, my best friend worked for an alternative learning center located at West Florissant and Canfield, just a few hundred yards from where Brown was shot. The center specializes in teaching students who dropped out but have come back to earn their diploma.

    Even before this shooting, my friend complained frequently that the Ferguson police stopped and searched his students on their way to school nearly every morning. The problem became so bad that the teachers contacted their administration to ask for name tags for students so that the police would stop harassing them and allow them to get to class on time. In another case, a student was arrested and held for 24 hours because he was short and had dreadlocks, which matched the description of a robbery suspect—and probably a thousand other men in the area.

    What happened in the Michael Brown case is still unclear, but what is clear is that the black community in Ferguson has lost all faith in local law enforcement. Speaking as someone who has lived in the area almost all of my adult life, I understand why. What’s more troubling is that I know that problem is hardly limited to Ferguson.

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  116. And local po-po in my Appalachian wonderland stop anyone shaggy and poor-looking and unconstitutionally search their vehicles for drugs in the name of the War on Meth. If they find anything they get to keep the car, auction it off, then use the money for new toys. I think they used some of their drug money to buy a surplus Humvee, now painted a menacing black. This is the result of Federal Gubmint policies, by and large. But it’s not dramatic because everyone’s white.

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  117. Chortles,
    Why don’t you channel Paul and tell us?

    However, while you look up his writings, notice the significant contextual differences between then and now that might change how we do the same thing, that is spread and bring honor to the Gospel. Those who are satisfied with merely imitating everything he said or did regardless of the contextual differences could be missing the real point.

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  118. D.G.,
    Though sometimes we might not agree 100% on things, I wanted to thank you for sharing what has been going on in Ferguson. It sounds similar to the discriminatory way Stop & Frisk was being administered in NYC only a little bit more extreme.

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  119. Spoiler, those who love socialism aren’t going to like this guy’s take.
    LBJ’s Great Society has not helped the black community and it needs to be discarded if the root issues are to be resolved.
    IOW more big government is not going to help Ferguson.
    If we are going to argue for voluntary socialism, fine, but then that means people can opt out.

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  120. Bob,
    What I find with my fellow theologically Christian conservatives is that they haven’t a clue as to what socialism is. That is because their knowledge of socialism comes from reading its antagonists rather than its protagonists.

    In addition, there are areas where LBJ’s Great Society helped the Black community but here is the problem and it was identified by Martin Luther King. LBJ’s Great Society’s ability to help the poor was hampered by competition from the Vietnam War. Not all of the resources King saw as necessary would be available to LBJ’s programs because the Vietnam War was taking away the funding.

    Finally, government is like love in this way: size doesn’t matter, fidelity does. And this where government has failed. Gov’t is seeing business behind our collective back and few conservatives oppose this. Few conservatives will call a government that fosters state capitalism, big government. When we increase the spending on the military, few conservatives call that big government. When the US gives out foreign aid by way of weapons, nobody calls that big government when tax funds are sent to American arms manufacturers so that weapons can be sent to almost every Middle East country.

    See, the problem isn’t size, the problem is that the government is cheating on the American public by providing special, solicited services to big business. And while the financial sector used predatory loans to prey on the poor or fraudulently foreclosed on houses or did money laundering, the government gave a wink and a nod even though many of the victims were the poor. And when factories moved out of the cities, much of the economic hope of the people who were crowded together in the cities disappeared because the service sector could provide enough jobs to give people financial hope.

    We’re in this together and for anyone to think that their actions don’t produce negative impacts on others is delusional. So the solution is not NECESSARILY to shrink the government but to get more citizens involved in directing the government’s actions so that the government becomes a faithful partner to all of the people and not just the financial elite.

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  121. What I find with my fellow theologically Christian conservatives is that they haven’t a clue as to what socialism is.

    And maybe Curt, thou art the man.
    But ala Tom Rose of Grove City College: socialism is govt. control of the economy, period.
    There’s the college level socialism where govt. controls/regulates the market, i.e. fascism/corporatism/crony capitalism.
    And the high school level of socialism where govt. owns the means of production, i.e. communism. But it’s all ice cream.
    IOW the Soviets don’t recognize the Nazis as their economic comrades in arms.
    What we have now is fascist version and the big govt. siamese twins of so called conservativism and liberal progressivism arguing about whether we should be spending more money on warfare or welfare. That’s called a hobson’s choice. It’s not capitalism, but it is socialism.

    Stockman isn’t a theological conservative, but you might learn something from his Great Deformation, The Corruption of Capitalism in America to round out your paradigm.

    DG, agreed. Eric The WithHolder of Justice, Civil Rights and All Things Constitutional for White People can make it better by making it worse.

    Meanwhile Jemar Tisby over at the Aquila Report fails to mention that, just like men compared to women, minorities punch above their weight when it comes to violent crime. Is it always and only discrimination/persecution/the Middle Passage?
    And where were the riots and looters when it came to the Wichita Massacre and the Knoxville Horror?
    Kind of like Jesse Dirkhising compared to Matthew Shephard.
    cheers

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  122. Bob,
    Socialism = gov’t control of the economy. Hardly! But if you want to go that way, we’ve had socialism in this country ever since the government has been feeding the industries providing military goods and services. And then you would also have to include Milton Friedman who said that there were two separate enemies to the free market: government and business. And he included that gov’t’s role with regard to the free market is to ensure that businesses don’t become too big as to reduce or eliminate competition in the free market. Isn’t that gov’t control.

    BTW, the Nazis were not the Soviets comrades in arms. Fascism is significantly different than even the elite centered rule of the Soviet Union. Note that in Fascism, whether it was in Nazi Germany or Italy under Mussolini, the driving support behind the totalitarian rule was business. In soviet union, there was the false claim to represent the workers but it was the state, not driven by business, that was in control.

    Obviously your buddy has not read what socialists say for themselves. His emphasis on gov’t control conflates democratically controlled governments with elite controlled governments. There is no distinction for him. In addition, he seems unaware of libertarian socialists or democratic socialists. And this why I said many of my fellow religious conservatives haven’t a clue as to what socialism is. But I am not the only one to say that and neither are the socialists friends I have. But former colleagues from other countries look at how we define socialism in this country and simply laugh at us. And we could reverse that process simply by reading outside of our narrow boxes.

    finally, that brings us to the US. Yes, capitalism is corrupted here, but it was always was. And the start of that corruption was business. Gov’t is controlled by business, not the other way around. Based on what was written above, this puts us on the road to fascism, not the socialism of the Soviet Union or Red China.

    Again, my former colleagues from outside of our country laugh at us for how we define socialism. And that is because that definition of ours is limited by the reading we allow ourselves to do. BTW, was hoping that the link was to an article I could read now rather than a book.

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  123. Again, Curt, there is direct and indirect control of the economy by govt. Yeah, it’s wider than your definition, but we still don’t know what your definition is. Funny that. You’ve had plenty of time to tell us. (And remember the bumper sticker, multum in parvo, if not brevity is the soul of wit. We’re not asking for a treatise.)
    At bottom socialism doesn’t work because it’s a violation of the ninth commandment, unless it’s voluntary and socialists don’t go for that. They need coercion.
    Again, whether direct or indirect, fascism or communism, collusion with and regulation of business or direct ownership by govt. of the means of production.
    Neither is Tom Rose my buddy. He is a retired econ prof from Grove City College.
    Nor is Anthony Sutton who wrote books respectively on Wall Street’s support of both the Bolsheviks and Nazis.
    Stockman’s website is http://davidstockmanscontracorner.com/

    But the original ultimate socialist Marx was fraud. He never worked a day in his life and was financially supported by Engels, who inherited a factory from his family.

    Your turn to push the string.

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  124. Bob,
    Go back to Marx and you will see the first tenet of Socialism. That first tenet is proletariate/worker control. By that definition, Lenin did not implement socialism in Russia. This was pointed out by a number of socialists and indicated by Lenin when he chided the left wing in Russia. Rosa Luxemberg gave a solid definition of what Lenin did. Lenin, according to her, instituted a bourgeois dictatorship by centralizing control over the Communist Party. Kautsky, whom Luxemberg opposed as well, criticized Lenin for silencing other socialists. So what we saw with Lenin was not an actual turn toward Communism but variation of the Tsar, Tsar meant Caesar in Russian, government.

    There are three basis tenets of socialism. The first is worker control. The second is a collective. The third is the international. At the closest, what we have seen is a collective but without worker control. Here, what we see is managerial control of the workers.

    Finally, how is Socialism a violation of the 9th commandment? The problem in America with its emphasis on the individual is that ownership of property is based solely on wealth. And wealth, the accumulation of capital, is most highly valued. At this point we could say that our Capitalist economic system violates the warning about the love of money.

    The problem is that while we should be working from the bottom up to give people more control, we prefer to ride in on the coat tails of the elite and so we give them special privileges over others. As a result, what you end up with in America is elite centered rule only America’s elite comes from the private sector. At this point, we need to distinguish, and this is a distinction made in business, between power and authority. Authority entails position. Power entails the ability to affect change. Thus, those with power are not necessarily those with authority. And that is a place where many get confused and are wiling to give private sector elites carte blanche in terms of permissions thinking that because they are not in government, they have no power.

    And before judging all socialists to be the same, which like Capitalists they are not, read the definition of libertarian socialism.

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  125. Hopefully this fellow went into half a lifetime of student debt to eat up this crap, or at least spent a healthy chunk of his inheritance.

    Of course, the education establishment who fleeced him, his parents, or the taxpayers are the real criminals here.

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  126. One of the main points here from the Gospels is Jesus making a beeline to the elect in places where most were unwilling to go. How about the guy who lived in the cemetery or the many other instances that the Gospels record? God is sovereign and just- we fallen sinners are not; see Romans chapters 9-11.

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  127. Just providing an update to this case:

    http://www.cnn.com/2014/10/22/justice/ferguson-michael-brown-autopsy/index.html

    The autopsy does not necessarily validate Officer Wilson’s case, but the more evidence that is “leaked,” the more the eyewitness testimony appears to be either impossible or embellished. There is still a lot of evidence to consider, but the autopsy is corroborating evidence for Wilson’s version of events.

    I think it is worthwhile to also point out that on my way into work I heard Dan Patrick speak about the racial tension in the Seattle Seahawks locker room reported in this article:

    http://www.complex.com/sports/2014/10/russell-wilson-isnt-black-enough-for-seattle-teammates-according-to-seahawks-sources?utm_campaign=complexsports%2Bsocialflow%2B10%2B2014&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social

    No amount of racism in one case excuses racism in another, but I think it is worthwhile to note how “racism” (a word I believe is being unduly restricted to melanin when other social factors contribute to race) is unfortunately alive and well in varying social strata throughout our country.

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  128. Brandon,
    Always remember one of my piano playing roommates at UoW back in the day talking about how the Africans in some sort of black history of jazz/sociology 101 course he was taking, got fed up and started venting one Friday afternoon in class. Evidently the American blacks wouldn’t let the Africans go out with the black Amer. women/wouldn’t invite the Africans to black American parties etc. etc. You get the idea.
    I wuzn’t there, but the look on Al “The Snitch” Sharpton’s face must have been priceless. “How am I gonna turn this into a lawsuit and make some more money off white folks this time?’

    Of course in all the scraping, bowing and politically correct genuflecting to the new black moral supremacy paradigm common in some circles, no mention of a certain fellow who spent 20 years in the black version of a KKK church before he moved on and up to a casa blanca. After all, Black Liberation Theology can’t be a racist Christian heresy that politicizes/externalizes original sin and buys into the Enlightenment dream of the perfectability of the black man as long as we can get rid of the racist white folks can it?

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  129. Maybe comments should be closed:

    I’ve had a number of students over the past few days ask me for my opinion of the events in Ferguson, MO. They register shock when I tell them I don’t have one. “You see,” I say, “Ferguson is not my place. I don’t have intimate knowledge either of it, or of the events there. In the absence of such knowledge, any opinion I have is going to say more about me and my concerns than it will about Ferguson.” We live in a world that resists judgment when we have intimacy, but encourages it when we don’t. I don’t really have the right to pass judgment on the events of Ferguson. I’m an outsider and would almost certainly oversimplify things. In any case, I’m not sure it’s any of my business.

    This usually stops them in their tracks, but also gets them to think. The strongest claim for concern, I believe, comes from arguments grounded in racial solidarity, and from a viewpoint of (presumed) shared experience. Otherwise, as is often the case, the less said the better.

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  130. Have Leon, Thabiti, or Jemar considered this (Jim La Grand via John Fea)?

    Some have gone deeper into America’s history of race relations looking for analogies. James Lawson, who during the 1950s and 1960s trained hundreds of young people in non-violence resistance, today calls “what happened in Ferguson lynching.” So too historian Jelani Cobb writes about “the long shadow of lynching” in Ferguson. Some protesters in St Louis and Berkeley dramatized their frustration at events in Ferguson through mock lynchings.

    These statements and actions are all rooted in the belief that little to nothing has changed in race relations from the Jim Crow era of the 1890s-1950s to the present day. If one of the tasks of History is to assess the complex relationship between change and continuity over time, these voices suggest that on the issue of race and race relations, the answer is pretty simple. 2014 = 1965 or 1955 or the 1890s.

    But in looking at the past, it’s hard to make these claims hold up. The Jim Crow era stands as a distinctly grim, brutal period in America’s history for its Black citizens. After the end of Reconstruction, Black men who had recently won the franchise had it effectively taken away. The promise that Black Americans would own the product of their labor too became a bitter lie. All public spaces in the Jim Crow South became divided by the color line.

    This racial code was enforced through lynchings and other forms of brutal violence. The Equal Justice Initiative has recently documented 3,959 African-Americans lynched between 1877 and 1950. Lynch mobs cast a wide net. They targeted Black men accused of crimes, those accused or suspected of sexual relations with white women, and those seen as being “impudent to white man,” in the words of one lynching record. Lynchings were barbaric, often involving the ritualistic burning and dismemberment of dead bodies. Not for nothing do many historians refer to 1890-1920 as the nadir of African-American history.

    …We don’t live in a post-racial America. But neither do we live in Jim Crow or 1950s America, despite what many recent analogies would suggest. Not every overbearing authority can be a Bull Connor, not every place of tension is Selma in 1965 or Little Rock in 1957. Not every mistreatment can be labeled a lynching. Otherwise, the power and influence of these historical people and places and practices may be lost.

    The moral capital of the civil rights movement risks going bankrupt if it’s drawn on excessively and unconvincingly. I hope that when future Black History Months come around, my students (and all Americans) will have retained the capacity to look at the Jim Crow era and the civil rights movement with the accuracy needed for genuine knowledge and informed passion.

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  131. “Let me be direct: Leon, some of us white American Presbyterians (vinegary though we be) want to know what to do. We want to be good neighbors and good fellow presbyters.”

    I am amazed how many times I have been asked the same thing in Reformed churches by Reformed folks who should know better.

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  132. The conversation we never have:

    While I’m grateful that the commissioner’s bride apparently has not experienced racial tension and been sinned against, that is a far cry from most of the minorities with whom I’ve spoken in the PCA. Shall I provide examples? In an attempt not to diminish the monumental overture passed, I will refrain.

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  133. Bill Smith tries to keep the conversation going. Will Jemar and Jarvis respond?

    It is not inference or implication that “Critical Race Theory” strongly influences the thinking of Dr. Willams and Mr. Tisby. One can draw a straight line from “Critical Race Theory” to the way these man look at race, culture, politics, society, and the particular form of society that is the church. It is impossible to miss the reality that when they speak about racial reconciliation within the church they are borrowing the language of “Critical Race Theory.

    A few questions:

    1. Are the ways of looking at race associated with Critical Race Theory compatible with the views of our Lord and his Apostles? Or is “Critical Race Theory” a grid through which the texts of the New Testament are read by scholars such as Dr. Williams and Mr. Tisby?

    2. Is what the Presbyterian Church in America and the Southern Baptist Convention mean by racial reconciliation what Dr. Williams and Mr. Tisby mean by racial reconciliation?

    3. Re Drs. Duncan and Mohler: Do they (a) agree with, (b) are they concerned about, (c) or are they dealing with the views of Dr. Williams and Mr. Tisby in their institutions?

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