Archive for March, 2013

Steak Dinner: We’ve Got A Winner!

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

Of course, it’s easy to win if you’re the only one gutsy enough to take me up on my offer to buy a steak dinner to any Christian who can defend for me the right — some would say obligation — to defend home and hearth with whatever firepower one can muster, praise the Lord.

A man I’ll call “Gerald” — he didn’t want to be named, and I respect that — finally got ahold of me; we’ll meet when I get back from Western Washington April 10.  In the meantime, I thank Gerald for the irenic way he’s conducted our discussion so far.  While I don’t find his contention that the book of Nehemiah justifies the Christian’s use of guns to in the defense of person or property, I sincerely thank him for coming forward.  In doing so, he showed me there are still some men around here — maybe some men who even, perhaps, lurk about the Kirk — with the guts to take a position and defend it.

Of course, fibromyalgic and arthritic 50-something homemakers with fairly worthless college degrees are generally a dangerously tough lot, but I’ll show up armed only with my wits and my well-worn Bible — and my thanks to Gerald for doing the same.  In this, he sticks out like a bastion of honor in a community of tail-tuckers.

A Sincere WOrd Of Thanks To "Jonathan"

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

I continue to marvel at Wilson’s exchange with Thabiti, and I continue to have to pick my jaw up from the ground when reading the comments from Wilsonian acolytes that follow each of his posts.

Really?  The modern welfare state is worse than slavery?  Black families were better off in 1840 — owned, traded, sold, beaten, exploited, and denied even simple humanity — than the Black family in 2013?  Wilson was right to drop a Levitican law about buying slaves into the discussion of Antebellum slavery — and if anyone is offended, who gives a damn?

THAT’S what qualifies as holding the Scriptures in high esteem these days when engaging in a defense of the faith? 

Unbelievable.

You can wade through the muck yourselves. But one faithful Christian man, known only to me as Jonathan, consistently answers his snarky accusers and badmouthers with wisdom, grace, courage, and a profound desire to advance the Kingdom of God.  I agree with him, as you know, that Wilson’s defense of slavery is, in its many different, and currently mutating, forms, is absurd and offensive on its face.  Given, however, that Jonathan is the only commenter clinging to any shred of Biblical faithfulness and sense of Gospel justice, he is truly a man of honor.  I don’t know him.  I wish I did.

So thanks, Jonathan, and keep fighting the good fight. I’d love to hear from you at siyocreo@live.com.  Happy Easter to you, sir.

Resurrection Day

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

(my apologies:  this originally posted late Saturday as a draft.  Errors now corrected!)

Today, Saturday, late in the evening, Jesus’ disciples had to be utterly awash in disappointment, disillusionment, distress, and not a little fear.  Their Lord had died on a Roman cross, tortured for reasons as political as religious, leaving them, they thought, with nothing but shattered hopes and dreams and a weariness I can scarcely imagine.  The fear and loss likely was most poignantly felt and expressed by the women, the ones who stayed at the foot of the cross ’til the end — ’til their defeated, beaten, dying Rabbi finally called out “Father, unto Thee I commend my Spirit.”

When, moments before his death, Jesus cried out, “It is finished,” his friends were not, they thought, being told anything new.  It was indeed “finished” — their hopes for relief from the twin burdens of Roman oppression, which was profoundly familiar to them, and of sin, the depth of which he had made known to them.  He was dead, disfigured — gone, soon to be forgotten by his tormentors and remembered only in disappointment by his followers.  The hopes of those Jews who dared believe he was the promised Messiah died with him that day, and, as is so often the case, were dashed in even sharper, clearer detail on the morning after.

Life would never be the same for them, while remaining distressingly, violently, horribly the same.

But Mary went to the tomb early the morning of the third day, expecting nothing but a quiet place to mourn.  She found the stone rolled away, the tomb empty.  It seemed that the horror of her loss was drenched with the added obscenity of his body being stolen — desecrated, no doubt, and befouled by his enemies.  I cannot imagine the depth of her despair.

Until Jesus, the one she called Rabbi and friend — more to the point, the One who called her friend — revealed himself to her.  He was Jesus, now fully alive, as alive that morning as he had been dead the two days before.  Waves of promises fulfilled and hopes realized washed over her and, later, the other disciples, until some 500 people could testify that the One they saw killed — not made faint, not simply swooning, not merely unconscious, but with the spark of life in every cell and fiber of his body and spirit extinguished — had truly risen from the dead.  He claimed victory over death and defeated it to its very cold, hard core, and he lived among them until he ascended some 40 days later into his Father’s Heaven.

And he lives today.  Every wise man and teacher, prophet and poet, priest, preacher, and politician, will die or already has.  Jesus is different.  Jesus kicked death to Hell, and Jesus lives.

I live today in the body because I haven’t died yet.  Someday, my body will die.  But because my Lord and Savior died and rose again, my death will be nothing less than an instantaneous translation from alive and hanging out in Moscow, Idaho, to alive and living in glory, a glory not my own nor achievable by anything I’ve ever done, with the Triune God in eternity. 

I owe everything I am, have been, will be, and ever hope for to the One alive now and forever more.  On this and every day, Christ is my all in all, the fulfillment — the resounding, robust “Yes!” — of every promise made by God.  And today and every day, I worship him; I live only because of the hope I have in his life.  This is the message of the Christian faith:  A dead man, fully human and fully God, was lain in a tomb, and three days later, a victoriously alive man, fully God and fully human, burst out with an inextinguishable love that never fails, never falters, and never frees only for this life, but for all eternity.

The message of Easter is the message of eternal life in the One who lives eternally after dying temporally.  No tomb could contain him, and no heart can be fully alive without him.

I Know What Jesus Would Do. What Would YOU Have Done?

Monday, March 25th, 2013

In our recent analysis of Doug Wilson’s online defense of his views of slavery, which include his belief that chattel slavery in the American South was a remarkably peaceful system of mutual affection, patriarchal care and provision, and a genuine example of inter-racial harmony — besides being entirely Biblical. 

I will, ’til my dying death, insist that history, common sense, simple decency, and the teaching of Scripture contradict that, and I will, ’til that same dying death, denounce those who claim to be Christians and yet embrace this and other attendant nonsense — or stay silent when others do.

So I’ll have to ask all of the neo- and paleo-Confederates, strong Calvinists, hearty patriarchs, Sothren gentlemen, and slavery apologists if, had they been at this week’s Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) convention, they would’ve have confronted the racist in the audience who remarked that slaves should’ve been grateful for “the free room and board” slaveholders provided them.  Here’s the clip.  Now, if you’re among the Beholden Toadies, Callous Classicists, or Young Dissemblers, ask yourself how you would have reacted to this if you’d been there, considering your support of Wilson’s and others’ rambling defense of the slave-holding Confederacy, with its pitiful insistence that there isn’t a hint of racism or bigotry informing his argument or enlivening his heart. 

Because if you can hear this man’s verbal vomit and not feel your conscience cold-slapped, there’s something wrong.  If you would’ve just sat there in your disagreement, you’re a coward and no better than the man who uttered these words, and your pallid insistence that there’s no racism involved in your minimizing slavery is an impotent, whimpering lie. 

http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2013/03/15/1729331/cpac-slavery-minority-outreach/?mobile=wt

Just Some Inconvenient Truths On A Lovely Sunday

Monday, March 25th, 2013

We hear constantly, even in the midst of public debates over the merits of civil same-sex marriage, about how that darkly sinister foreign guy — you  know, the President — has saddled our kids with untold billions in debt and all sorts of other horrors only he could inflict.  So I thought, in the interest of truth, it’d be nice to offer this:

http://www.addictinginfo.org/2013/03/06/how-to-prove-obama-lowered-the-deficit-in-four-easy-and-indisputable-steps/

“Integrity” doesn’t often enter into these discussions, but the facts are there. 

Of course, our local Dissembler In Chief will likely dispute this, but I’m sure the independent thinkers among us will at least now make use of this information.

Yep.  I’m sure.

Steak Dinner: Come On, Guys

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

I mean, really, do you HAVE to ignore me just because he says to?  That’s not very, you know . . . manly. 

Nevertheless . . .

With Saturday’s rally in Friendship Square to support responsible gun ownership, I’m reminded of last week’s offer to treat to a steak dinner at Applebee’s the first pro-gun Christian who emails me (siyocreo@live.com) to tell me how Scripture defends the right — some would say the obligation — to own guns.

Crickets chirping, guys.  I know a lot of my readers don’t live in Moscow, but plenty do.  Is it the strength of your argument that prevents you?  Worry not; I’d like to hear it.  Don’t eat red meat?  No problem; order what you want.  Need to bring your wife?  That’s fine.  Afraid I’ll rat you out and write about you on Prevailing Winds?  Never — unless you give me permission, I won’t acknowledge that I’ve ever met you.

But please don’t let it be because The Big Bearded Guy’s told you not to deal with me.  I’m not at all scary.  Neither is he.  I truly don’t understand how a Christian can take from the Bible that he must own guns, much less that he ought to use them to protect his property.  But I’m willing to learn. Isn’t anyone out there willing to teach me?

Surely there’s one classically-trained Christian out there who can make an argument apart from Wilson’s approval.  Show me.  I’d truly hate to think that students and congregants have become as beholden to and cowed by him as his elders have been. 

It’s rare that I hope to be proved wrong — but I’d like to be.  My offer stands.  It’s on my dime.  I’m open to your argument.  And the food’s not that bad.

You just have to show up.

My Last Word — For Now — On Wilson’s And Friends’ Concern For Black America

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

I excoriated yesterday, as I intended to, a Doug Wilson defender who chimed in on Wilson’s continuing attempt to position himself as a rational being regarding slavery and contemporary racism by suggesting that Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion, has been “ten times worse” for Black Americans than slavery was.  This, he based on the number of abortions performed on Black women, which, he says, exceeds by a factor of 10 the number of kidnapped Africans and their descendants enslaved by the Confederacy.

So there, he says.

I found the attempt to minimalize the horror of chattel slavery by comparing it — on the basis of numbers only — with a woman’s decision to end her pregnancy beyond pathologically self-serving.  Something about the equating of a 10-week-old fetus’ well-being and rights with that of a man, woman, or child held in the violent grip of “patriarchal Christian” slaveholders upset me.  I hope it always does.

You can read the post; I won’t belabor my point further.  But I would suggest that the pretense of giving a whit about the state of African-American citizens and the loss to that community of its aborted fetuses is doubtful — profoundly so — when the one who cares so deeply fails to grasp that the slavery he minimizes is part of what continues to plague Black America to this day. 

Emancipation from the slavery he assures us wasn’t THAT bad did nothing to decrease bigotry and violence against Blacks; the “Christianity” of the racist Confederate die-hards did that.  Slavery, Jim Crow, the Klan, lynchmobs, and the stinking theology of neo-Confederate “Sothrens” and Kinists ensured then and ensure now a grossly uneven playing field for people of color, most often in the name of Christ. 

I don’t envy a man whose thinking is so muddled that he fails to consider that God will ask for an account of every careless word he speaks, perhaps most obviously when he wishes us to believe that his bizarre reasoning is the product of genuine care for the well-being of those whose previous enslavement he shrugs off.  I’m not going to fall for it, a Holy God surely won’t, but a great many slavery apologists and neo-Confederates now have additional ammunition for their continued bleating about the unfair judgment slavery has brought against them. 

Loving God with one’s mind would preclude that, of course.  Loving God with one’s heart and soul would lead to repentance and grief.  My prayer is that the classicist Christians who appreciate this man’s analysis would remember that their embrace of Western literature, art, music, and political history — not to mention abortion statistics — is a cheap counterfeit when accompanied by stubborn, obdurate hearts intent on defending what can only be condemned.

"The Bible": Satan’s Resemblance To Obama

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

I haven’t had time to watch the History Channel’s “The Bible” mini-series, but I’m aware of the controversy surrounding the character of Satan, who looks suspiciously like President Obama. 

I’m not alone in finding that offensive; the Internet is abuzz with outrage over the producers’ decision to cast an Obama look-alike as the fallen angel tempting Christ in the desert.

The use of a dark-skinned man to portray an evil entity is just playing to old, hideous stereotypes.  Further, Christians believe that Satan is a fallen angel who, as an angel, is non-corporeal — meaning, not having a body, and certainly not having a body that would look like ANYONE.  I think the Satan-looking-like-Obama issue is not an innocent mistake; I think the producers were, consciously or not, appealing to vicious stereotypes and the awareness that they could score points with that part of the Religious Right that believes Obama to be a sinister, dark, foreign, evil man. 

It’s bad enough that Jesus, in the series, looks and sounds like a late-1960s British Invasion pop star — kind of an odd choice for a Semitic Jew from Palestine who looked, most likely, just like the Palestinians living now.  Of course, Christians throughout the last two millennia have portrayed Christ as a non-Jewish, Anglo-featured man whose features bespeak, perhaps, the Savior Hans Jesus Nordquist from Oslo.  In 2013, I would have hoped that Jesus would have been represented as a man who looks like all of those Middle Eastern men we find so threatening.

Huh.  I think I’ve just discovered why this Jesus looks so . . . well, not like all of those Middle Eastern men we find so threatening.

All in all, I would call this “Biblical epic” and epic fail. 

Cynicism And Ignorance Beyond What I’ve Seen In A Long, Long Time

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

I’m going to make this a shorter column, because the pungency of my argument ought to come through to anyone with a heart of kindness and a mind capable of even minimal discernment.

Yes, it’s related to Doug Wilson’s continuing efforts to proclaim that by calling slavery a wondrously harmonious institution whereby Christian men demonstrated their kindness to other people by owning, buying, selling, and most often torturing them in a dynamic that was irredeemably exploitative and based on their race and his, he’s not in any way defending slavery.  I’ve dealt with this at length and quite often in the last couple of weeks; I’ve made my points and my conscience is clear.  

Wilson’s words regarding slavery were noxious then and his defense continues to be now.  But he is not alone in his stubborn wrong-headedness.  The men — and they’re virtually always men — who both excoriate and applaud him in the follow-up comments say things that are occasionally noble, always provocative, and usually distressing.  But almost nothing I’ve read, in this or any other Wilsonian exchange, has distressed me more than this — another tired, misguided, logically-flawed comparison of the evils of slavery and the comparative evil of abortion, especially in the Black community.

The following comment slipped in among a few dozen after a post on a March 19 post by Wilson on Blog and Mablog.  It is breathtakingly awful and irrevocably ignorant, which, sadly, means that it’s not a lonely voice either from Wilson or from his acolytes.  The commenter used his name in calling legalized abortion since Roe v. Wade “ten times worse than slavery,” but I don’t have his permission to share his remarks here, so I won’t name him. 

(Blog and Mablog, March 13, 2013, comments)

“Are you suggesting that being more concerned with the murder of 50 million babies (and counting–in other words, still happening now) as a direct result of the Civil War than being concerned with eradicating the servitude of less than a tenth of that under chattel slavery in a manner that will directly lead to the slaughter of those 50 million babies is not…’remotely Christian’?  I think some folks are missing the point here. Abolishing an evil in such a way as to give rise to one that is more than 10 times more evil (in terms of body count) is a mistake that we are paying dearly for. And it seems that because of the sensitive nature of the racial tensions swirling around it there are many who would rather suppress this truth so they can come across as compassionate…”

Breathe, Keely.  Breathe.  And forget your earlier promise to keep this one short.

First, though, a word from Dr. W.A. Criswell, the mid-century fundamentalist who championed dispensationalism, founded Dallas Theological Seminary, and was the president of the Southern Baptist Convention for years, reflected the common early 20th century fundamentalist Christian view on abortion.  In the years following Roe v. Wade, this bastion of Biblical fundamentalism said:

“I have always felt that it was only after a child was born and had a life separate from its mother that it became an individual person, and it has always, therefore, seemed to me that what is best for the mother and for the future should be allowed.” 

In other words, in other words, the guy was an effeminate, feminist, Bible-hating pomo, in Wilsonspeak.

It doesn’t matter, for the sake of the argument that I’m making, whether you agree with Criswell or not.  I don’t.  I am opposed to laws banning first-trimester and all medically necessary abortions, but I disagree with the dean of Baptist fundamentalism that the unborn child is not yet a person.  But my beliefs privilege the woman and her doctor, and I’ve known women whose lives were saved through the abortion of the fetus she carried.  I will not intrude on that decision.  Neither should you.

So let’s establish that Criswell was unsure of the personhood of the unborn child.  This educated, devout, Bible-revering Christian man was not convinced that any unborn child was the appropriate focus of State protection.  He didn’t depart from his faith in believing this — he simply didn’t recognize that the unborn child, and particularly the developing fetus in the first trimester when more than 85 % of abortions are performed, was a real person deserving of legal protection and moral stature.  But regardless of the sins of the fundamentalist Baptists during the Civil War and throughout the civil rights era, Criswell would join me and every person who’d ever seen a Black person as recognizing that that being in front of us is a person.

It’s embarrassingly simple, of course, but true nonetheless:  No one, no matter how they viewed slavery, could possibly fail to recognize the fact that the Black person in front of them — remember, someone who, in the Antebellum South, would be sold, bought, beaten, killed, and exploited the way sick and cruel people treat animals now — is a person.  A person to be hated, maybe, or a person to be killed, but a PERSON.

The first-trimester fetus is not obviously a person.  I believe that human DNA is not all that makes a being human, but certainly the fully-gestated, healthy baby delivered nine months after conception is a person.  But, like Criswell, most people don’t immediately, obviously, recognize that the six-week or two-month fetus — again, the focus of at least 85 out of 100 abortions — is a person.  The mother who seeks to terminate her pregnancy in the first trimester doesn’t see the “person” before her; the one who seeks to abort at the end likely does so because the one inside her, perhaps fully formed, is profoundly ill or causing her profound illness.  Unless you believe there’s a cadre of sociopathic OB/GYNs out there who got into their fields because they love the idea of killing babies that could survive outside of the womb — please think that through — you must, if you’re reasonable, conclude that there’s a medical reason for that abortion that you neither know nor have the right to understand.

There’s a reason Roe v. Wade didn’t legalize the killing of three-month-old babies, three-year-old toddlers, or 30-year-old men.  Those are obviously human beings; intent to kill what all involved know to be a human being is illegal and grossly immoral.  The unborn child is, I believe, a human being — but not obviously so, not visibly so, not experientially so.  And not “so” in the way that the Black man, woman, or child on the auction block, in the fields, under the lash, and buried in graves around the South were visibly, obviously human beings.

Fear, desperation, poverty, illness, and other circumstances — defined only by the woman — fuel the abortion of the “not-obviously human.”  Malice, racism, violence and sinfulness fueled the grotesque enslavement of Black people standing, breathing — BEING — right in front of the eyes of the slaveholder.  And while Wilson’s fan will argue that the result is the same under abortion and slave murder — a dead person — the offense of equating the abortion of a fetus to the owning and exploiting, even not unto death, of an obvious human being is nauseating.  Classically so.

I’ll restate it:  Wilson’s defender believes that abortion is “ten times worse” than slavery because the number of mostly first-trimester Black fetuses killed is roughly ten times the number of Black children, women, and men enslaved in the South.  That any thinking person would equate abortion with the enslavement of human beings, quantify the unquantifiable evil of the latter with abortion statistics, and do so to proffer a defense of Wilson’s indefensible views on slavery is beyond galling.  That the one making that argument will never be faced with a crisis pregnancy, never have his life threatened by the life of the fetus he’ll never carry, never know the grip of terror that can punctuate a pregnancy, is utterly pernicious.

Yes, pernicious.  He took statistics on the abortion of invisible, not-seen, first-trimester fetuses and viewed the vicious enslavement of already-born human beings alive in their reflection of the image and glory of God as a lesser evil because of those numbers.  That is not indicative of a heart filled with the Holy Spirit or a mind devoted to a rational, reasonable love of the Holy One.  And nowhere in his comment did he acknowledge that perhaps it’s the legacy of slavery that even today is reflected in the numbers of Black women aborting their unborn.  Why would he?  It’s about the zygote and the numbers, brother.

It takes creativity to defend an apologist for slavery.  But it takes an astonishing degree of contempt to use statistics to assure us that the ending of fetal life in the Black community is anywhere analogous to, much less “ten times worse than,” the 250 years of their post-born ancestors chattel slave status.  Any defense of slavery, any attempt to minimize its horror, is contemptible.

But the man who claims such sorrow for the death of the Black fetal population before him is under obligation, if not to refrain from proclaiming the relative benignity of slavery, then at least to consider that his privileging of the Black zygote over the Black man standing in front of him as a slave is likely to cause thinking people to wonder whether he himself, in all the cognitive and empathic ways that matter, truly can be recognized by all as human. 

"I Meant To Do That" Part 2

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

My, the firestorm that’s erupted over Douglas Wilson’s inane attempt to claim fool-for-Christ-and-to-God-be-the-glory motivation for his equally inane defense of slavery beginning in the mid-1990s.

There are now at least 20 comments following his defense of taking a stupid, un-Biblical position so that any ensuing growth in his ministry would obviously be not BECAUSE of him, but IN SPITE of him through God’s providence.  Wilson, not the most self-aware guy in the world, does seem to understand that odiousness and unnecessary offense in the proclamation of the Gospel isn’t a prescription for ministerial success, and yet, because Wilson has, in fact, prospered and grown in stature through it all, it’s obvious that God wants his work to flourish.

Put simply, he said bizarre, Scripturally unwarranted things in order to soak the altar on which God would ignite the fire of his ministry — so that God would clearly be endorsing his work.

Again, he would say things that would make himself widely considered unfit for ministry so that God would offer a cosmic “Neener, neener” to the world who condemned him.

Unclear about the imprudence of the man and the size of his ego?  He compared himself and his work to the Prophet Elijah.  Not even in claiming the earned humility of a stumblebum intellect can Wilson manage to sound even remotely humble.

In clear-thinking circles, and as reflected in the comments that follow today’s Blog and Mablog post, on which I’ve already written, this sort of thing is considered silly at best and sinful at worst.  Commenters have suggested that rather than say stupid things and then, nearly two decades later, insist that you did so for God and God only to get the glory, the one who said those things should simply recognize his error and apologize.  That won’t happen.  If “the market” finds his words odious — but odious for God’s glory, remember — the fault isn’t his, no matter how noxious and reckless those things, like a Biblical defense of antebellum slavery, really is.  No, our erstwhile fool for Christ only says what’s true and good and beautiful; that he’s misunderstood and reviled is the risk he gladly takes when asking God to bless his ministry in spite of — what? — the true and good and beautiful positions he takes. Which, of course, can’t be understood that way — that is, true, beautiful, and good — when it proclaims the marvelous harmony that results from a Black person being bought, sold, owned and abused when created in the image of the same God the white slaveholder professes to revere.

Head spinning?  Welcome to life in Moscow.  Some of us here remember that while a few homos, liberals, feminists, and misguided evangelicals took issue with him, the controversy over Southern Slavery As It Was, no out of print and re-tooled as Black and Tan, was actually very good to Wilson.  He suffered only the fools who dared criticize him; what actually happened, as he himself knows to be true, is that in hitching his dwarf star to the impending cultural supernova of neo-Confederate Presbyterianism, he enlarged his stature in areas — particularly, the Anglo-Celt homeland of the American South — where he was largely unknown.  That he was and continues to be foolish is undeniable.  What is deniable is he actually suffered any repercussions at all, or at least none greater than the warmth with which he was received in those patriarchal, neo-Confederate, Scottish Presbyterian, racialist quiverfull homes in which he had not previously been received.

It’s been a comfy, lucrative fit that has catapulted Wilson to unwarranted prestige in some circles and shamefully heroic adulation in others.  He caught, as it were, the biscuit-and-gravy train of simmering secessionism and Confederate heritage, and he’s riding it still.
Wilson wasn’t looking to debase himself by proclaiming truth so that God would be glorified in his eventual prosperity.

He was looking to proclaim debasement so that he would be made prosperous in circles that didn’t know him beforehand.  If it took a little stink, a little filth, a little toxin insouciantly tossed off to libs, homos, and feminists, well . . . it was a fragrant aroma to the Sothren who embraced him.  To pretend that it was a fragrant offering on any kind of altar to the Lord Jesus ought to recall in him and in his supporters nothing more than the mossy, sour stench of filth on his shiny new Confederate boots.