Tag Archives: Rodney Thomas

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

The Big Announcement: Chad to Blog here!!!

Last week, Brian and JohnDave added Robert Jimenez to their team at Near Emmaus.

For some time now, I had been looking for contributors to this blog, since I may from time to time be unable to post constantly; at the same time , I wanted someone with both an interest in biblical studies focus.  I first met Chad in a few classes at  school, if I am correct it would be Introduction to Biblical Greek and our Exegesis in the Gospel of John course. We had some fascinating conversations on theology and biblical interpretation as well as ministry and politics, because that’s how we role, and that’s how we will blog in conversation from now on. Don’t be surprised if other contributors appear. 😉 Just a heads up.

Here is the blurb about Chad:

[Message Redacted- Signed, the authors of the book of Ezekiel]