Have You Considered Working in a Qualification?

I haven’t listened to either Truth’s Table or Pass the Mic for a while because the impression I generally took away when I listened was that I am guilty of something on the border of racism if not the genuine article. I did not see myself in some of the specific complaints about white people or white Christians in the U.S. But then came the invocation of systemic racism that left me wondering (as with climate change and the wealthy 1%) what was I supposed to do. If I didn’t have to work, perform house and yard maintenance, and be a somewhat normal partner in a marriage, perhaps I could devote my time to reducing racism both in aspects of my personal affairs (by implication, I think) and in the wider society. But even if I did that, what possible difference would it make? If Dr. King did all that he did and racism is still as prevalent as it was in the 1960s, I find it hard to fathom that I could possibly make a difference.

Hint for justice warriors: the need to escalate rhetoric is understandable if you want to move people to see the dangers of which you complain; but if you portray the enormity in catastrophic categories, you may leave the awakened feeling powerless in the face of such overwhelming force.

Part of the problem, then, is rhetoric. Here are some recent examples available without having to download an mp3 file:

There are several reasons why white evangelicals are reluctant to denounce racism, but for the sake of brevity, I will name one: power. Racism is ultimately about power. The power to subjugate, influence legislation, oppress, exclude, marginalize, and lord said power over the powerless. White evangelicals are reluctant to denounce racism because of the benefits that accrue to them as a result of said power. The benefits of being at the head of the table, being the standard by which everything and everyone else is measured against, the benefits of having all of the course curriculum center white authors and viewpoints exclusively from elementary school through graduate school including seminary.

Here the assertion involves apparently all white evangelicals. Since I am a Presbyterian, I guess I’m off the hook. But I wonder if the person who said this would apply it to Ligon Duncan?

Here’s another broad claim:

we live in a patriarchal society that benefits men over against women. Nevertheless, men are definitely harmed by cultural expectations of biblical masculinity. It infantilizes men, by painting them as these warriors and outdoorsmen who are hunters who know nothing about domesticity: cooking food, cleaning the house, caring for their children. In this way, the message that is communicated is that a “biblical man doesn’t need to know those things because that’s the woman’s job.” He can’t even be trusted to stay home with the kids while his wife goes away for a weekend. Additionally, men are confined to these rigid categories that revolve around sports and machismo. Toxic masculinity must be dismantled in order to give men the liberty to express themselves in other ways, through the arts, the sciences, literature, and a host of other ways. We are embodied souls; not droids.

Since I do the shopping, cooking, cleaning (bathrooms and kitchen sink), in addition to the manly work of grass cutting, snow shoveling, and wood hauling, I don’t entirely agree about the patriarchal point, though the missus will chalk up my endeavors to wanting to control everything. But again I wonder if this applies to David Platt?

Here’s one more:

The gospel of male dominance, like that of white supremacy, is a poison dispensed through cultural diffusers. Today’s good Christian man is far too charming for misogyny. But since he is often ignorant to the narratives of oppressed people (including those in the Bible), he does not know he’s being discipled into the role of benevolent master. Like most categories of dehumanization, the misogynist interpretation of Scripture which gave us the “biblical manhood and womanhood” movement (correction: issa dead horse debate), places both subhuman and superhuman categories on women and men, and ignores non-binary identity altogether.

Yes, that is straightforward and the female interlocutors may have a point. But this is so fraught with binary categories as to make me suspect that even Brad Mason is guilty of white supremacy. Can that be?

My sense is that the hosts at Truth’s Table (and Pass the Mic) have a lot of allies in the church and secular society. That reality suggests that racism and misogyny are not as pronounced as they allege, especially since their views are readily available in the mainstream press, universities, and Hollywood. Indeed, another reason for giving up downloading and listening was that I hear these arguments in lots of other forums.

They all are, of course, right about misogyny and racism which are forms of hatred that Christians should fight in themselves and discourage in others. But I have a hard time thinking these assertions about the quantity or pervasiveness of such attitudes are correct. I deem the ladies’ and the men’s depictions of the United States and the “white church” rhetorically excessive.

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17 thoughts on “Have You Considered Working in a Qualification?

  1. “The benefits of being at the head of the table, being the standard by which everything and everyone else is measured against, the benefits of having all of the course curriculum center white authors and viewpoints exclusively from elementary school through graduate school including seminary.”
    Have they looked at a reading list since 1972? Schools go out of their way to emphasize non-white authors, contribution to history by non-whites, etc…

    “we live in a patriarchal society…” As if. Women live longer, consume more, have more medical dollars spent on them, and earn more degrees. Women without kids out earn men in the same boat.

    “Toxic masculinity must be dismantled in order to give men the liberty to express themselves in other ways, through the arts, the sciences, literature, and a host of other ways.”

    Wait, not enough men are into science, art, and lit? I keep hearing science is too (white and) male, same for highbrow lit and arts.

    The problem with this posing is that it is inauthentic. If they are obviously wrong about the stuff I can verify, I am not going to trust their stories that I can’t.

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  2. “Greg, My code? It’s the system.”
    That’s what I meant. Not YOUR personally written code, but whichever WordPress piece renders images on your blog. I wasn’t faulting you personally. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

    “…But this is so fraught with binary categories as…
    This whole mindset is utterly pickled in false binary dichotomies and postmodern critical theory confusion. Which is far out because postmodernism is supposed to be the very ticket to avoiding false binary dichotomies .

    If this isn’t what the apostle was warning against in Colossians 2:8, the verse has no meaning.

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  3. D.G.,
    Whatever you say about justice warriors, you also say about Martin Luther King Jr. So should have just packed it in to focus solely on his own family? If he did, he might have been alive today. But if he didn’t, with all of the racism that still exists, who knows where we would be. For he offered another side of being a social justice warrior than what Carmichael or Malcolm X initially provided.

    One should not be a social justice warrior for the sake of their own legacy. They should do that for the individual, or individuals, they can help. And while you are focusing on yourself, think about those who are not privileged who live on the other side of racially-based privilege.

    Finally, when systemic abuse is being corrected, quite often all-or-nothing thinking is employed for a while. And the reaction to that all-or-nothing thinking is another version of all-or-nothing thinking. So while those who promote justice say everything that the privileged do is wrong, the response is the claim that nothing those being accused do is wrong. The fault here is not in the stars but in the all-or-nothing thinking employed.

    While D.G. acknowledges the existence of that all-or-nothing thinking in the article above. How much he, or myself, or anyone contributes to systemic abuse can only be answered by each individual and God. And sometimes, we are a bit defensive to listen to what God is saying to us through others.

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  4. CW,
    That all-or-nothing thinking applies to people on both sides of continuum including Mao, Lenin, Castro, and Stalin. Should also note that such all-or-nothing thinking is practiced by people who wanted to employ rather than oppose systemic abuse: Pinochet, The Shah, Armas, and Saddam Hussein during the 1980s, and others.

    See, one’s opponents have no monopoly on all-or-nothing thinking.

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  5. “sometimes, we are a bit defensive to listen to what God is saying to us through others.” Amen!
    And sometimes, we think we know wha God is sayng or wants, when he may not care whatsoever.
    “Covenant Seminary so white!”
    “Yawn. Trying being nicer to your enemies. Now back to your life of low achievement. Builds character.”

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  6. Curt, “How much he, or myself, or anyone contributes to systemic abuse can only be answered by each individual and God.”

    so there really isn’t anything I can do to change the world. Only God knows.

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  7. D.G.,
    In terms of the precise amount in which we all, not just you, contribute to systemic sin can only be determined by God. But we can give a partial answer about ourselves and others by observation.

    There isn’t anything you can do to change the world? Is that true for everyone, or just you?

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