Dueling Bubbles

Jim Wallis goes out on a limb by dumping on white evangelicals:

The issue here is not Christians voting differently from each other. That is normal and likely healthy given the independence that people of faith should show over partisan loyalties. This is about the moral hypocrisy of white American evangelical religious right leaders like Jerry Falwell Jr. causing a crisis in the church, dividing American Christians on racial lines, and astonishing the worldwide body of Christ — the international majority of evangelical Christians who are people of color — and whose leaders keep asking many of us what in the world is going on with white American evangelicals.

That number, 81 percent, has become an international symbol that tragically now represents what white American evangelicalism stands for. It dramatically and painfully symbolizes the white ethno-nationalism that Donald Trump appeals to and continues to draw support from among white American evangelicals. It is the most revealing and hurtful metric of what I will call the racial idolatry of white American evangelical Christianity, which clearly excludes American evangelicals of color and the global majority of evangelicals. The 81 percent number ultimately signifies a betrayal of the body of Christ — which is the most racially inclusive and diverse community in the world today.

But what are white evangelicals to do when the other side, the one that thought it was on the right side of history, looks at born-again Protestants the way that Jim Wallis does? Damon Linker explains how evangelicals, to be accepted, are supposed to agree with progressives, or else receive not policy papers but denigrating insults:

As I’ve argued on previous occasions, declaring opponents unacceptable, illegitimate, and out of bounds is a perennial temptation. That’s because politics always takes place on two distinct levels. On one level is the back and forth of partisan conflict, involving persuasion, argument, electoral battles, triumphs, and defeats. On this level, pretty much anything goes as long as it abides by the rules of the political game. But there’s also a second, more fundamental level of politics that involves a competition over who gets to set those rules, the boundaries of what is publicly acceptable — and precisely where those boundaries will be positioned.

Far more than conservatives, liberals love to rule certain positions out of bounds in this second-order sense. They do this by appealing to the courts — the branch of government that reviews, alters, and overturns the rules of the political game. They also do it in the important institutions they control within civil society — such as mainstream media outlets, universities, corporations, movie studios, and other arms of the entertainment industry. When these institutions informally decide that an issue, or a specific position on an issue, is simply unacceptable because it crosses a moral line that leading members of these institutions consider inviolable, they render it beyond the pale. As I wrote in a previous column on the subject, “Over the past several decades, a range of positions on immigration, crime, gender, and the costs and benefits of some forms of diversity have been relegated to the categories of ‘racism,’ ‘sexism,’ ‘homophobia,’ ‘white supremacy,’ or ‘white nationalism,’ and therefore excluded from first-order political debate.”

So to keep this straight, evangelicals are hypocrites for caving on moral convictions. But liberals (and the evangelicals like Wallis who loves them) are hypocrites for caving on reasonableness. At least evangelicals are still relatively green in politics. What’s the left’s excuse?

17 thoughts on “Dueling Bubbles

  1. So white evangelicals are dividing the church along racial lines for voting for Republicans, but black evangelicals, who are voting -in even greater numbers- voting Democratic, are blameless?

    It does take two to tango.


  2. First, when you cover liberals and conservatives, you leave the Left out. I agree that both liberals and conservatives are hypocrites. And what discourages me on days like May Day, many of my fellow leftists do the same thing with their strident speeches and violence–that is in some place.

    Each side has reasons to be more accountable for their actions than the other sides. For the Left, we have Martin Luther King Jr. But what good is it to have someone on your side if you no longer read and know what he said?

    For liberals, they have the claim that they are champions on tolerance. But they are often no better than the conservatives they criticize.

    For religiously conservative Christians, we have the Scriptures. And the question becomes what should be a candidate’s deal breakers when the Scriptures is our guide.

    So D.G. makes a very good point in challenging liberals and conservatives but is mistaken in conflating liberals and leftists.

    Finally, what seems to keep these Americans locked into repeating the same voting pattern is a passive authoritarianism that makes it all but impossible for them to break tradition and vote for third party candidates.


  3. Not that smart to be able to connect the dots of the European goldfinch to the post point, nor why that bird to some a ‘Christian’ ‘symbol’, but I really appreciate its beauty -God’s great handiwork!


  4. So the same people who could predict the outcome of the election based on polls are to be trusted when they assure us that 81% of white evangelicals voted a certain way? Strains credulity.


  5. D.G.,
    If living in the real world is living in the world conservative inhabit, then I would say that you are wrong about leftists. But like conservatives and liberals, our downfall is due to the tribalism to many of us exhibit.


  6. I heard a former socialist explain that socialists are the most morally concerned group you’ll ever meet. However, they don’t think about economics at all, and if they do, it’s just to denigrate how much that study matters. Of course, economics tries to explain the real world, and some people are only concerned with “ought.”


  7. Joel,
    Economics has more than one school of though. And for some, in the end, economics is about the financial bottom line. But what happens to people in those economics where the financial bottom line is the only line?

    Reality is about much more than economics. Economics really has no tools to address environmental impact let alone care about it. And certain schools of economics only care about owners and thus revise the traditional definition stakeholders so that stakeholders and shareholders have become synonymous. Economics is only about a part of reality. And the more materialistic one’s economics becomes, the smaller the reality that is being reflected by economics is smaller and smaller.

    History also shows a portion of reality. And the history of France, Russia, and Spain during their pre-revolutionary times shows the Church aligning itself with wealth. And what happens to the Church and the reputation of the Gospel during and immediately following their revolutions? Here, the predominant branch of the Church has also aligned itself with wealth so that it is ignoring inconvenient facts from the sciences. What do you think will happen to the Church and the reputation of the Gospel because of that?

    Finally, there are different kinds of socialism as well and I do not agree with utopian socialism. In addition, there are economists who are socialists. Perhaps you should acquaint yourself with that before you pigeonhole all socialism by what one socialist says.


  8. I’ve read a number of socialists and it seems that it boils down to the belief that one can have freedom from nature itself. The idea of equality stems from that freedom from nature. Socialism, then, is a fundamental denial of reality. It presumes abundance (freedom from the constraints of nature) instead of scarcity, and so it redistributes everything accordingly. That’s another denial of reality.

    Yes, economics is materialistic, because it is a study of the material world, not the idealistic fictions of socialist preachers. If you are concerned with the poor, you should learn how the material world operates, including money. Just wishing money and scarcity away does nothing.


  9. Joel,
    Freedom from what nature are you talking about? And what socialists have you read?

    Reality has different faces. There is a reality taught by history. There is a reality by the Scriptures. There is a reality taught by morality. There is reality taught by the future. What is our future if we continue the way we are?

    Finally, let suppose economics is materialistic. What happens when we reduce our reality to economics? And who says I am wishing money away? And I understand how the material world operates. Because of the greed of some, many do without. That is reality, but it doesn’t have to be. It is also sin and that can be no other way. And I believe that even Calvin opposed greed and closing onesefl off from those who are vulnerable and live in deprivation. From what you write, I don’t think you know as much about reality, economics, socialism, or even Calvin as you claim to know. But I do think you have been channeling Ayn Rand rather aggressively.


  10. The insight that Marxism favors freedom from nature ruling over individual humans was from Andrew Kliman.

    If economics isn’t about the material world, what is it about? You basically said that economics is important, just not the material part of it. That’s like saying transportation is important, but we shouldn’t focus on vehicles that get us around, but on how people feel about cars. Of course, my initial point was that socialists don’t care about the real world of supply and demand of scarce goods, but morality. You proved me correct.

    So you see greed as the primary reason that there isn’t enough supply of goods and services? This is one of the first interactions with economics beyond your moralizing, so I want to understand the causation. How exactly does someone being greedy and rich make someone else poor?


  11. Joel,
    Freedom from nature? Doesn’t the Gospel promise us freedom from nature? After all, what do you think Paul’s comparison between the fruit of the Spirit and the works of the flesh were about? Weren’t they about freedom from a nature that is fallen?

    And what did I say about economics? I said that it isn’t the only sphere we must pay attention to. So perhaps you need to read more closely before commenting.


  12. Yes, I’m sure that Marx (or Kliman) was referring to the same concept as Paul. We should teach Marx in our seminaries.

    You’ve only said so much about economics to talk about how its study is essentially irrelevant to your moralizing. I think you’d benefit from understanding how, for example, the pricing mechanism alleviates scarcity and poverty. Instead, you just want people to look away from economics to understand oppression.


  13. Joel,
    I think your confidence is misplaced. But the Paul’s example points to an error of arguing by nature. For if nature is self-destructive or destructive to others, what good is it to argue by it?

    And if you want to argue economics, include the plight of all stakeholders. In other words, don’t think that arguing economics from the perspective of the Capitol will rationalize the injustices practiced in the districts (in case you didn’t notice, I am referring to terms from the Hunger Games movie series). BTW, wasn’t oppression quite normal in Israel and yet the prophets preached against it.


  14. Yes, there is a place to discuss oppression, but not to the exclusion of everything else. And there’s no need to inject discussion of oppression into understanding of something like the pricing mechanism. It’s kind of like you might first want to understand (and maybe appreciate!) how a car engine works instead of just complaining about how the traffic jams harm your neighborhood.


  15. Joel,
    To the exclusion of what then? What, according to you, are we allowed to include when discussing oppression and what should we exclude? And why isn’t there a need to inject discussion into the pricing mechanism?

    See, I wouldn’t assume that the pricing mechanisms used in our economic system is the only used in the universe.


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