Tag Archives: glbtq

Social Justice And American Exceptionalism: Responding to Vladimir Putin

President George W. Bush of the United States ...

President George W. Bush of the United States and President Vladimir Putin of Russia, exchange handshakes Thursday, June 7, 2007, after their meeting at the G8 Summit in Heiligendamm, Germany. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been meaning to write this post, and today is the perfect opportunity since our audience in Russia seems to be busy today.

People of Russia and South Carolina,

Last week, two major representatives from your governments commented on what makes the United States of exceptional in it’s history. As Senator DeMint put it (as only a Tea Partier with a white-washed, cherry-picked view of US history could do), “We are, in other words, a nation not based on ethnicity, but on beliefs, and not coincidentally, that is why we attract people of all ethnicities and they become proud Americans.” Well put, Senator DeMint, I am glad you got around to mentioning African enslavement and the white domination of First Nations peoples…..whoops, you didn’t. I am so glad you mentioned the 3/5th’s compromise or any of the relevant Constitutional Amendment dealing with chattel slavery and black people’s rights to vote. Oh ooooops. The argument that all people are created equal but not all nations are is problematic, and quite frankly, at the bottom just as racist as DeMint’s whitewashed views of U.S. American history.

Now, to Putin,

President Putin, I am so glad you are willing to be so critical of American Exceptionalism even though you were best friends with President George W. Bush, whose very legacy in domestic and foreign policy centered around American exceptionalism [re: superiority and cultural hierarchy, empire]. It took a President whose father was not involved in the Cold War like you to make you see just how wrong American Exceptionalism is. I applaud the effort for peace, that there is always a nonviolent option since war is never necessary. The non-necessity of war applies to all wars in human history. It is a human choice, but it is not the only choice we have, since we are all made in the image of God, we have the capacity to choose what is good, that of peace and justice.

President Putin, I must question a few comments you made however.

“The United Nations’ founders understood that decisions affecting war and peace should happen only by consensus, and with America’s consent the veto by Security Council permanent members was enshrined in the United Nations Charter. The profound wisdom of this has underpinned the stability of international relations for decades.”

How can you say that the world’s relations has been stable? Was is not the Russians who invaded Afghanistan before the United States? Stability is a suspicious term, for whose stability are we speaking? The West’s? The Eastern Bloc? The task of colonialism in all of its forms is to destabilize others’ nations and cultures, so that in its stead, domination and exploitation can take its place.

I commend you, President Putin, for your concern for (international) law and order, and your dedication to the dictates of the United Nations. The US of A signed a treaty, therefore, it must follow that body’s rules and regulations. Speaking of international human rights, the United Nations has a Declaration of Human Rights that says in article 3, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person” and that, according to article 2, “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.” No matter how monstrous you believe that the Chechnyans are, they are human beings and they do not deserve the injustices you have wrought on their population. No matter how disgusted you are with Pussy Riot, they have the right to freedom of speech. No matter your religious commitments, you have no right to abuse your LGBTQIA Russian sisters and brothers.

Indeed what Scripture has to say about what makes nations exceptional (or special) in YHWH’s eyes is completely different from how we understand it today. In fact, Scripture completely flips the Tea Party understanding of national exceptionalism on its head. According to Wisdom literature traditions, in Proverbs, it is justice that makes a land stable (see for example, Proverbs 29:4). One example of this is from the book of Daniel, with the repentance of King Nebuchadnezzar (an agent of colonialism, idolatry, and instability in his own right), where all of God’s ways are truth, and all of God’s ways are justice (Daniel 4:36-37). Every nation is capable of achieving this exceptionalism because our God is a loving God, and considers all nations equal and gives all nations equal access to knowing what it means to be special, that is just. Justice for the poor and the downtrodden, the following of the Golden Rule. This is the objective moral standard, the one of neighborly love that transcends nationalism.

For the needy shall not always be forgotten,
nor the hope of the poor perish forever.

Rise up, O Lord! Do not let mortals prevail;
let the nations be judged before you.
Put them in fear, O Lord;
let the nations know that they are only human.

– Psalms 9:18-20 NRSV

Amen.

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What Zambia And Russia Can't Teach Us About Discipleship

Flag-map of Zambia

Flag-map of Zambia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On More Christian Politics Without Jesus

The last time I responded to the TGC on “natural law” and the “yuck factor,” I do so only through the blog comment section and a post about Paul Over Jesus.  Unlike Thabiti, I do consider myself a “culture warrior,” just a different kind, I like to call it a “multiculture warfare.”  What is particularly bothersome about Thabiti Anyabwile’s latest post on homosexuality, What Zambia and Russia Can Teach Us About Homosexuality and Gay Rights Debate is the lack of criticism geared toward hegemonic violence.  Anyabwile continues to insist that a return to natural-law arguments would be Christians most effective weapon to win back the culture. In his response to my criticism of such an approach, Thabiti said that if Christians were to bring up Jesus, we would be ridiculed.  What? Christians aren’t part of punch-lines right now? What this reasoning boils down to is more Christian politics without Jesus; Jesus’ life, teaching, and Resurrection are stripped of their meaning as church members trust more in themselves, their “man-power” [Republican leadership, control of the policing forces/military] to hold the culture hostage, to restore a 1950’s Utopia that never was.

Christian politics without Jesus the Messiah is andro-centric hegemony.  Apart from the consequence of backlash (when our “enemies” come to power to exact revenge), the idea that the law ever has to be on “OUR” side is a gross misrepresentation of the traditional Christian sex ethic and those who have pronounced it in prior generations.  The Law is unable to teach self-control, and it definitely not able to compel persons to gain will-power.  The Law is violence, both rhetorical and physical violence, it is an unnecessary evil that can never replace the witness of Jesus’ Priestly Office as our Excellent Teacher and Rabbi or the Christian practices of celibacy and sacrament of marriage between one man and one woman. This witness is a nonviolent witness because it seeks to lead by persuasion and not coercion.  It is a Christ-centered approach, the way of being a disciple of Christ Jesus.

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Self-Critique and Me: Rod

An exercise of admitting my blind spots

This is my response to commenter who wanted us to engage in critical self-reflection.

Once upon a time in a far away place, there was this one person who nagged and nagged me, accusing me of having blind spots because this person judged me by my facebook profile rather than actually having a conversation with me. I guess that is the blind spot of social media. We can where as many masks as we want, and try to be as open as possible, and still people will misinterpret your motives.

Without further ado.
First my beliefs:

1) As someone who was born on the margins as an African American male, I have developed quite a hermeneutic of suspicion. So suspicious in fact that I have major trust issues. I try not to let that affect my relationship with God, but with other people, I have a really difficult time, viewing friendships as mostly risks (which, they are, let’s be honest).

2) I, like Chad, uncritically believe in the existence of God, and have never really been bothered by the bourgeousie problem of God’s existence, and it is a class issue really. Who needs God when you have all the material things you need, right? Uh humm. Yeah, I went there. I have not been convinced by other religious arguments even though I have encountered them, so I remain a follower of Christ. Okay, I’ll be honest, I even have a large suspicion of “interfaith” and ‘interreligious” events. I cannot help it. I was raise in a Black Southern Baptist church. No, really, I was. But also, I see major issues that are unresolved, such as racial reconciliation and notions of power differentiation (ah, that trust thing again). I use this blog to randomly bash universalism because there are those persons out there accusing me of being “liberal” and “pluralist” or whatever. Just plain ignorance.. I don’t believe in religious violence or Christian takeovers of culture, whether by force or by “outnarration.” I don’t believe in bashing other religions or pretending that we all have the same beliefs. Those are just different forms of violence under different codes of conduct. So yeah, religious pluralism, I think about it a lot. I tend to come on the side of the story of Israel/Judah and Jesus. The logic of religious pluralism and universal notions of religion just do not cut it for me.

3) I have two warring factions inside. One, it is the iconoclast [the post-colonial ideologue], who sees a tradition passed down from generation to generation or a doctrine or a person who has been idolized for too long (eh, Karl Barth?), and I get this crazy like desire to find a weakness in this person’s or the logic behind that idea. And then when I find that weakness, that blind spot, I push and push, until I find another one, and then another one. I can veg on the couch in self-satisfaction because I just discovered a weapon almost to destroy, well, an idol of sorts. I celebrate my own radical worldview, glorifying in a self-righteousness I so quickly accuse others of.  And then on the other side, there is the outspoken traditionalist, the side that surprises a lot of people. There are a few people in this world who think they have me down pat, like they really know me, as a liberal, or as a conservative, whatever the labels are. I see myself this way. There is a tradition in Christianity, that usually goes unacknowledged but at the same time, is placed into racial stereotypes (oh, blacks are more religious than whites, therefore the men are always more conservative) and I think that is just not true. But I do have a progressive streak in terms of politics and religion, but also a conservative streak in both. I just don’t fit any categories constructed  by the majority. So when I articulate my views, some people will say, well, that’s inconsistent, how can you be pro-life politically, and be pro-womanist/feminist theologically? I think the key issue is my commitment to nonviolence.  While Chad has articulated an interesting position on the GLBTQ equality v. traditionalism debate, I still side on the side of tradition in this case. I however, as I have posted in past blogs, I detest plain and simple, essentialist arguments against the GLBTQ community and consider it a form of violence to call persons who are different names, to denigrate their humanity, as the imago Dei in the Creator.  My views, I believe, calls for nonviolence on all sides, protesting the violence done to the humanity of those who lived in the past (the Jewish authors of the Christian canon) and those who we call the outcasts, who we see in churches, but would not welcome them, as if there is some hierarchy of sin. Another pet peeve of mine. So yes, unlike those who have accused me of otherwise, I do affirm traditional marriage, so quit making fabrications. They know who they are.

4) As far as my racial biases go, I used to see things in “black” and “white” racially; that there was this binary of a “purely” black and “purely” white. I think that was an essentially racist position, in the end. It led to tribalism and a desire to want persons to conform to one standard or the other culturally, while ignoring the idea that culture varies and is not absolute. I still get angry when people accuse me of being “white” because I read a lot or because I have libertarian political leanings. That is just intellectually lazy. I am growing in this area, as everyone should.

Second my words:

1) I make really sexist jokes while claiming to be “anti-sexist.” Yeah, just think of the T.V. show, “The Office.” Okay, enough said.

2) I find myself, more often than not, being more willing to say judgmental things out of my desire for justice rather than encouraging things out of love first. Going back to the iconoclast thing, I love saying things that get me in trouble. Like making fun of cr-Appl and Crac Mac addicts. I don’t know anything about technology. I just love aggravating people, and pretending I do. There, I admit it. Hahahahahhaaha. In yo’ face! You know who you are.

Third, My actions:

1) I have a mean streak. I can be cold sometimes because I get frustrated with life, and it’s not okay. It feels as if I am almost unloving, even towards family members. It’s awful. It’s random, and it does not happen all the time, but on the occasion that it does, there are usually hurt feelings involved. Probably need a lot of prayer in this area.

2). Okay okay, im a procrastinator. I shouldn’t be, and I do get things done, but I get them done on my own time. So sue me. Okay? 🙂

Truth and Peace,

Rod