Tag Archives: free market

Quitting the Progressive Christian Internet: Weeds Along The Moral High Ground part 1

Further Explorations Into A Liberationist Theological Approach For Online Engagement

When I made the fateful decision to start blogging I was nervous at first. What were the chances others would be reading my work? Why was I even going to try? It was 9 years ago that I would write Facebook notes and post on Xanga and MySpace as well. Remember those? I don’t want to!

The vast majority of Christian blogs I read were overwhelmingly either Calvinist or biblical studies. The center of these conversations focused on the dominant culture, the prominent megachurches (Yes Mark Driscoll, but also Kenneth Copeland). If the Christian blogosphere was a cliquish high school prom, conservative Republican evangelicals would be considered the life of the party. In 2007, I decided that in addition to working two part-time jobs during seminary, making the Dean’s list as a full-time student, and being active in several campus organizations, blogging would be my outlet. I figured, what was there to lose? I had just began thinking about what I wanted to cover for my ThM thesis — early church history and black liberation theologies — so why not blog about these topics? My aim became to network with other writers and scholars who loved liberation theologies and/or early Christianity prior to the 4th century. Since I intended to appeal to a broader audience, I also decided that I could occasionally discuss nerdy pop culture items as well. My audience, as I had intended, would be both”the Church” and “the World.”

If it were not for this blog, Twitter, or Facebook, I would not have met friends like Drew Hart, Austin Channing, Christena Cleveland, Emily Rice, and who could ever forget my homey Joel Watts, (one of my first commenters on my blog, and we still talk to each other on the phone at least once a week!). It was always sort of my dream to at least  take part in an online conversation that focused on articulating Black Liberation and Womanist Theologies, and as the years have gone by, I am definitely seeing more and more of this take place. Real dialogue can be intentional in origin, but can have unintended consequences. Perhaps there is no better example such as this than when it comes to talking about notions of civility and kindness online as I did last week.

Explaining the liberationist approach to theology and ethics in general is difficult, given the hostile environment that it is placed within (Read: racially segregated, class-stratified, kyriarchal economy, church and academy). The logic of Liberation Theology is one of viewing the world from the bottom up. It is this posture that remains the primary source for the refusal to view things from “the middle way” or “the top-down approach.” In fact, from a Liberationist perspective, given the way ideas and practices happen, “the middle way,” by default is still a Top-Down vision of the world. The differences between the Top-Down/privileged, the Middle Way/Privileged, and the Bottom-Up/marginated views of society are very real. However, there remain many persons who ignore this reality. Liberation theologians seek to emancipate the oppressed and the oppressors who are located in BOTH “the Church” and “the World” for the sake of reconciliation and love. The dominant culture resists and suppresses the voices of the marginalized because it cannot see reconciliation  in anything but its own terms: hegemony, assimilation; some call it “diversity,” others name it “THE CHURCH.”

New Vocabularies And Practices

On New Year’s Eve last year, Zach Hoag wrote about his concern for what he regularly calls now, “The Progressive Christian Internet.” I, too, share concerns with all of the Christian Internets, but since many lump me in as Progressive, I guess the Progressive Internet is my home whether I want it or not. Hoag describes one part of the PCI as:

The Progressive Christian Internet is perpetually collapsing on itself in a series of its own mini-schisms, where the other is not subversive/anarchist/feminist/womanist/affirming/allied/inclusive/academic
/philosophical/whatever enough. And these judgments of inadequacy are typically made solely on the basis of 140 character “conversations” which often begin with the other’s accidental or mistaken use of certain words or phrases, and then spiral into raging fits and subtweet rants and block wars from there.

It’s rather unfortunate that these Social Justice Warriors use of Twitter is just so toxic and damaging to Hoag’s ecclesiology. If only they could be more relational and stop the subtweeting, and making secret facebook groups, then everything would be a bunch of roses! I know I joked earlier that the Christian blogosphere was like a high school prom, and I wish I were just kidding about the PCI but these things happen.  Anyhow, when a person creates a neologism (like a made up word), there has to be some concrete examples to go along with it. I learned that in my education from a really great Black theology professor, and for that I am grateful. So again, a new word/concept that has been defined by a writer must have a visible example, otherwise that writer is throwing flatulence to the wind.

In the days since Quitters of the Progressive Christian Internet have left behind the subtweeting and vaguebooking and all that jazz, Hoag has nevertheless returned to comment on the Progressive Christian Internet:

Subtweets are such a strange creature, but as someone once said, they always hit their intended target. A few of my friends had a few days prior writtten a letter and a few emails to an organization that Hoag works for, asking questions about the lack of racial and gender diversity for their forthcoming event.

SURPRISE IT WAS MISSIO ALLIANCE!

SURPRISE IT WAS MISSIO ALLIANCE!

There you have it. The Progressive Christian Internet are a group of “Survivor-esque” alliances making anti-sexist and anti-racist criticisms of gentrified missional Christian organizations. Not a coincidence to see that the Missio Alliance’s content/blog curator would harbor resentment — and a dismissive attitude — toward an anti-racist, anti-sexist letter writing campaign geared towards the organization. Missio, by partnering with think tanks that teach that People of Color suffer from pathologies and that the colonial church that endorsed the enslavement of Black people was good for the marginalized, has likewise shown its true colors and “commitment” to reconciliation.

I also think that part of the problem with Christian Conferences & that industry is that persons are far more concerned about platforms, and the money they have invested in them, than their investment in the lives of people. This is a problem at the congregational and denominational level. Rather than discussing what we have put in financially or how many minutes this or that speaker deserves for “leading” the movement, our questions should be, what does the Kingdom of God look like? Are we really pushing towards the “One Church, Many Tribes” model described in Revelation? The stances I see in churches and online are exactly the ones that Drew Hart criticized in his post on White Privilege last week as well as my friend Amaryah Shaye in her post “White Privilege as Inheritance.” I find the theme of even “The Once And Future Mission” (references to King Arthur, Merlin, and even C.S. Lewis) as slightly problematic because from the get-go, the idea of a “post-Christendom to begin with, as I continue to argue, is based off a narrative centered on whiteness, to exclusion of Christians who are POC who suffered under the cruelty of what emergents call “Christendom.” It wasn’t “Christ”-endom to begin with, perhaps SatanDom, in the eyes of persons like Frederick Douglass and others.

If I may quote Christian anti-lynching crusader Ida B. Wells, who today be cast as an angry Social Justice Warrior,

“Why is mob murder committed by a Christian nation? What is the cause of this awful slaughter? The question is answered almost daily, always the same shameless falsehood, that Negroes are lynched to protect womanhood.”

If the very notion that America is a Christian nation is a falsehood, then so must the concept of Post-Christendom when this country is gazed upon from the Bottom-Up. When my friends critiqued Missio Alliance for their all-white-male-lineup, it was one of Missio Alliance’s employees who labelled them with the dubious distinction of “Progressive Christian Internet.” My friends were called angry, impatient, prideful antagonists, violent and retaliatory. The act of writing a letter/email was seen as an act of violence. Think on that for a second. Challenges to the Brogressive status quo, the nonviolent writing of letters, is framed as an act of coercion; not only is this problematic, but it is indicative of the Top-Down approach of the Imperialist world order. It is clear American Christianity has a racism and sexism problem. Neo-Anabaptists, Missio Alliance, emergent churches are no exception to the rule.

In the second part of this essay, I shall take a critical look at the Incarnational ecclesia that Quitters Members of the [actual] “Progressive Christian Internet” have formed.

20 Things The Working Poor Do Every Day

 

On The Glorification Of The Wealthy

 

Whoever mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker- Proverbs 17:5 NIV

Income Inequality

Income Inequality (Photo credit: mSeattle)

 

Every once in a while, the interwebz throws the wretched of the earth a bone, a glimmer of hope, perhaps a random kid becomes a youtube sensation-turned-international sensation. Maybe it’s the rise of a popular reality t.v. star. Yet, the uber-rich always seem to want to share their secrets (seems funny, the only thing they want to share, huh?). TAXES IS STEALING!!!! And every now and then, there’s an article that goes viral like, “20 Things That Make Rich People Morally Superior To Poor People.” The Opulent make sure that celebrity status doesn’t reach divinity, but they do demand (from their regular publicity campaigns) admiration and respect for their values and efforts. Scary part about the making of capitalism sacrosanct is that we find the history of private property rights cannot be neatly severed from the history of enslaving other persons. All of this whitewashing of history hides the experience of the losers in history, and really the REAL SECRET about economics throughout history. Read the rest of this post and its conclusion to find the answer. Without further ado, 20 things the Working Poor Do Everyday.

 

1. They have to endure myths such as “poverty is the root of all evil.” If the rich do not believe that “money is the root of all evil,” that means the do not believe the Bible. WHAT ARE THE ODDS, YAHOO FINANCE! What this does is inform the working poor that they are the living embodiments of all that is wrong with society.

 

2. The Working Poor believe that selflessness is a virtue. The Rich believe that selfishness and self-centeredness is. O R L Y?

 

3. The Working Poor really value meritocracy. The Wealthy practice nepotism and “networking.”

 

4. The Working Poor see education as an invaluable means of liberation. The Wealthy view education as thing to be purchased and to lord over underlings with, a tool for power.

 

5. The Working Poor do the things they have to do to survive and spend time with the people they love. The rich are sometimes fortunate enough to do the things they love more than people.

 

6. The Working Poor earn capital. The Wealthy rule cities and states, steal money from the working poor, and then they get richer.

 

7. The Working Poor realize that relationships are more important than money. Rich People find restless nights over their acquisitions.

 

8. The Working Poor read as many books as they possibly can in the limited free time they have. The Wealthy have libraries of books to show how much time they have on their hands.

 

9. The Working Poor see an inclusive society as ideal; The Wealthy benefit from a hierarchal, stratified world.

 

10. The Working Poor make the connection between the importance of having a strong social safety net. Wealthy persons look down upon social programs and their dependents.

 

11. The Working Poor have to walk past fast food chains, living in lives of food insecurity, sometimes even on food stamps. Fast food restaurants, smoking parlors, and liquor stores target the working poor. The Rich mock and demean the poor, and rob the poor of their wages, ahem, McDonald’s.

 

12. The Working Poor are task oriented and driven, multi-taskers. Rich persons are narrow minded and with singular visions.

 

13. The Working Poor who are parents do not have time to read fiction books to their children. How many rich families take the time to read books at homeless shelters?

 

14. The Working Poor cannot often say what’s on their mind. Usually, that’s because the big bosses upstairs have deprived them of their freedom of speech, and first amendment rights because unionization is banned. The Rich love to talk abstractly and universally when it comes to free speech, except for when it comes to the expressions of black people.

 

15. The Working Poor do not believe in luck. The Rich do because it’s pretty convenient!

 

16. The Working Poor have very little access to exercise programs because neighborhood gyms avoid locating where they live. The rich have all of opportunity in the world to go to 24 Hour Fitness.

 

17. The Working Poor know how to use public transportation and build community on buses, trains, and other commutes. The Wealthy disparage such things and ask, “why don’t you get a car?”

 

18. The Working Poor know that the lottery is a hoax to get the impoverished addicted to gambling. The Rich rely on the Lottery as a voluntary tax on the poor so they can get access to education.

 

19. The Working Poor want to learn from the past. The Rich have delusional, naive hopes about the future.

 

20. The Working Poor are logical in their money-decision making. The Wealthy are too emotionally caught up with their money to make reasonable decisions, in the name of “following their passions,” like three summer homes!

Are you rich? Or are you poor and you want to be rich, and you find some of my comments in this post downright offensive? Well good, because this is the kind of frelling crap that Christian idols like Dave Ramsey tells people each day in their books and on their radio programs. It’s this baloney, these lies made against the poor that keep the rich in power. False myths about poverty abound, even about homelessness.

The dirty little secret to all the posts and books about the secrets to being rich is this: THERE ARE NO SECRETS. The rains falls on the just and the unjust.

Intersectionality And Peacemaking: Class And Naming NeoColonial Empire #TheNewPacifism

On WAL-MART PHILOSOPHIES AND THE HIDDENNESS OF MAMMON

World empires and colonies in 1898, just befor...

World empires and colonies in 1898, just before the Spanish-American War, Boxer Rebellion and Boer War (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday I talked about sex sex sex, and today,  I want to talk about money and power.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” – Ephesians 6:10-12 NIV

Many Pacifists really don’t like to talk about power. It’s like they are allergic to it. As persons who desire to be peacemakers, we need to have conversations about who has power (well all of us do really), but who has used their power to set up systems of domination. In high school history classes, we learn that after World War II, the United Nations made a push to “decolonize” all of the populations of People of Color that a few European countries had oppressed for decades. Sometimes this was done by treaty, and in some instances, war, and in the case of places like India (cough cough, and the USA), non-violent protests.

Simultaneously, the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) were deeply involved in a Cold War, which consisted of espionage, the tactical maneuvering of nuclear weapons, and lots of education-as-propaganda (One Nation, Under God added to the pledge for ex.). Interestingly the move to put “In God We Trust” on the American Dollar (which god? did he endorse racial segregation and lynching?) I say was a move of great significance. Rather than sending missionaries overseas, the U.S. sent businessmen, to spread the good news about America’s free market (which just so happened to be sustained by an oppressive apartheid system). The Almighty Dollar had become the center of USian society, and it’s exportation through the use of exploitation of workers here and abroad that continues today which makes neocolonialism alive and well. Even symbols of resistances, like the Guy Fawkes mask are made in factories in the Two-Thirds world, and Time Warner owns the image, so, here’s your sign. But that’s what is so special about contemporary postcolonial empire, isn’t it? That the multi-national corporations own everything, including their opponents!

Empires after World War Two are defined by economic activity and the political coercion of developing nations to accept oppressive neo-liberal reforms. One embodiment of postcolonial empire is that of the university setting. Education has become learning the minimum amount of knowledge we need so we can get a good job and move up in the world. Colleges and universities in the United States exist to sustain the mainstream status quo by implementing desired virtues one ought to have in the “real” world. For example, issues pertaining to responsibility, networking (sororities and fraternities, for example), as well as tolerance for human diversity are part of the morality behind university life; what is hidden from view is neocolonial corporatism, that is, that these values are necessary to maintain the economic system currently in place. Mammon is hidden; we do not see it. A New Pacifism must confront structural sin, and that includes the hiddenness of mammon.

Christians in general are really good about condemning greedy individuals and “Wal-Mart” philosophies like a certain article about marriage that trended earlier this week. The funny thing about these “Wal-Mart” philosophies is that they never get around to confronting companies like Wal-Mart and their bad histories of gender and racial discrimination, or their horrendous record on workers’ rights. But hey yall, Black Friday is just around the corner! The devastating impact that economic violence has on generations of families must be addressed. In order for cycles of poverty to be broken, the New Pacifism must open up its definition of violence to include the oppression of the impoverished. The DOLLAR must become viewed as the representation of institutionalized greed. Because God has given us power to defeat “The Powers,” New Pacifists must dismantle the lies and false hopes of neoliberalism. Peace theologian John Howard Yoder rightly argued in the Politics of Jesus that once a believer is part of the Kingdom of God, private property rights are no longer absolute as they are in capitalist societies, for we are obligated to give it all up. The New Pacifist must be willing implement non-violent principles into economic practices for the sake of liberating the downtrodden.