Videogames as Story-Telling: Anthrpomorphism as projections of race

Howdy! As promised in my last post on Videogames as Storytelling, this post  is going to be a further examination of these intersections. In this installment, I’ll be  a bit more specific.

So, last post I explained the case for videogames as a mode of narrative and story-telling and how even they can (and often do) take on white supremacist characteristics and reinforce the privileding of whiteness as “default”.  Additionally, I mentioned a fancy term , “anthropomorphism” – simply the case of giving -human-like form (upright-walking,bi-pedal, two arms and a head, neck and maybe even clothing) to animals or maybe even objects. My point in the last post, that I hope to make clearer in this post, is that racist, stereotypical tropes can sometimes be “sheathed” in anthropomorphism. Exhibit A? – Sega’s  Sonic the Hedgehog franchise.

(There are points during this post, that I understand may come across as silly. And perhaps there is an air of humor to some extent, but ultimately, we must realize that these are highly problematic, racist projections of racist myths.)

Everyone loves Sega’s blue hedgehog who can zip through levels, through flying through loops and bouncing off of launch pads, to defeat Eggman (Dr. Robotnik) in record speeds! My main interaction with Sonic franchise was through Sega Dreamcast in playing games like Sonic Adventure and Sonic Shuffle (like Sonic’s mario party). I then went on to play Sonic Adventure Battle 2 for GameCube and then Sonic Heroes – two of GC’s most successful titles!

It wasn’t until really paying close attention to the music (character themes) in Sonic that I really started to realize some racialized themes going on. So, while we know there’s Sonic, there’s also Tails ( the cheery, intelligent side-kick fox) and Knuckles (the strong, ‘defender of the Master Emerald). Knuckles was always a fan favorite for his immense strength and brawny personality. But if we go with the theory that Sonic, as the main character , on some level, represents some aspect of “default whiteness”, then it should come as no surprise, that Knuckles, is relegated to be the “other” rival. When compared witht he more “even-tempered”, yet heroic (white)Sonic, Knuckles(who I believe is supposed to be the “black man” of the series, has many descriptions as being “heroic, yet stubborn and hot-headed”

Additionally, Knuckles, (supposedly an echidna- whatever that is) has what I guess is supposed to be its “pins” styled in a way that resemble dread-locks- I mean just look at his Rastafarian color-scheme (red, gree, and yellow!)

Now, one way that a character’s “motif” may be rounded out is through music. One especially memorable component of Sonic Adventure that many fans will recall is that characters had a “theme”-song, music that was supposed to “fit” the character. Just take a listen at Knuckles':

It’s not about how “good it sounds” or even that white guys can’t participate in rap. But the fact that Knuckles ( whom I have already began to make the case is an anthropomorhpised black man) is the only character with a music score characteristic of black musical genre( originating from black musical traditions/culture) with the rapping, jazzy saxophone, harmonies,and urban beats. It is tough ot ignore that Knuckles the Echidna has a clear motif of “the brawny black man”

He actually has more themes, for the different stages where the player must play as him, and in everyone one, we hear the same rap/hip-hop jazzy themes and the “swagged-out” male voice:

You get the picture.

And, it doesn’t really stop there. Meet Rouge the Bat:

Rouge, is a morally ambiguous character who is commonly ‘grouped’ with the villainous antagonists like Shadow the Hedgehog ,etc. This seductress is also supposed to be Knuckle’s love interest. WHat’s interesting is her character is a very smooth-talking, seductive, diva-like, Jezebel – which all happen to be racist tropes versus black women. So while we have the morally questionable Jezebel Rouge, guess what the “leading lady” of the Sonic franchise is like?:

A bubbly, much-less busty Amy Rose – who appears closer to what we’d identify as an “innocent white girl”. And furthermore, we have the , once again, the character theme further the motif of Rouge the Bat:

A latin, Bossa-jazz style theme typical of what you’d expect from a black/minority female. And listening to the theme’s lyrics sounds like the Jezebel motif is furthered.

 

Until next time! ;)

Harry

Like a Lotus: Born into the murky, muddy waters I was, l ived, I breathed In awe of starry veil above me and the verdant radiance around me I gazed, I glowed, I gasped Striken with gale winds I braced, I fell, I felt Like a dove He descendeth He is, He lives, He breathes Like a lotus summoned by the sun’s rays I opened, I blossomed, I live

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responses to my post on kindness/civility online: a grace-filled Storify

On Thursday, I posted be ye kind one to another: civility, blogging, and social media, and a lot of people interacted with the post online. So, I decided it would be best to Storify the conversation.

h00die_R (Rod)

priestly abolitionist time travelling supervillian

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On ‘Civility’ and Privilege: a guest post

Travis Greene is a stay at home dad and occasional chaplain in Tampa,  Florida. His convictions are in the Ana/Baptist and emerging church traditions and he is passionate about the collision of the Christian faith with the American prison system and solidarity with those inside it. Follow him at @travisegreene.

First, a social location disclaimer, since I’m a guest here. I am a healthy cisgender straight white guy. I literally have all the privilege, and much of what I have to say is directed toward other privileged people.

If you follow progressive social justice-y Christian type people on Twitter, you may be aware there is often debate about “appropriate” ways to engage around questions of justice with respect to race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. Usually some well-meaning white person will say something , be critiqued for it, and then push back not against the substance of the critique but the tone or manner. Alternately, a person of color may say something, then get critiqued by a more privileged person (again not so much for content but tone or timing or something).

This Sarah Bessey piece (which I like very much, even though there’s a But coming) is a rather vague reaction to all this, I think.

Or, for a not exclusively religious example (though I think there’s lots of overlap), this piece by Freddie diBoer (http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2014/08/21/where-online-social-liberalism-lost-the-script/). He writes,

“It seems to me now that the public face of social liberalism has ceased to seem positive, joyful, human, and freeing. I now mostly associate that public face with danger, with an endless list of things that you can’t do or say or think, and with the constant threat of being called an existentially bad person if you say the wrong thing, or if someone decides to misrepresent what you said as saying the wrong thing. There are so many ways to step on a landmine now, so many terms that have become forbidden, so many attitudes that will get you cast out if you even appear to hold them.”

I think this is a common reaction by people who think of themselves as allies but are concerned about maintaining kindness, civility, etc.

Later, he writes, “On matters of substance, I agree with almost everything that the social liberals on Tumblr and Twitter and blogs and websites believe. I believe that racism is embedded in many of our institutions. I believe that sexual violence is common and that we have a culture of misogyny. I believe that privilege is real. I believe all of that. And I understand and respect the need to express rage, which is a legitimate political emotion. But I also believe that there’s no possible way to fix these problems without bringing more people into the coalition. I would like for people who are committed to arguing about social justice online to work on building a culture that is unrelenting in its criticisms of injustice, but that leaves more room for education.”

Now that in general has been my basic attitude toward this whole question. The “You’re not wrong, but you should be nicer.” And I still think, at least on a purely pragmatic level, there’s merit to that. (Here’s the But…)

But.

Two recent blog posts have helped me think through this all a little better, I hope. The first is Sarah Moon’s post called “No, We Not All On The Same Side”, where she draws on bell hooks to point out how “forced teaming” has the effect of sidelining the concerns of traditionally marginalized groups. I encourage you to read the whole thing, but here was the crux for me:

“…even among folks who all ultimately long for a more liberating world, there are “barriers to solidarity” (hooks’ phrasing–pg. 50) that keep us from truly “being on the same side.” Ignoring our differences–our different standpoints, goals, experiences, and needs–in favor of cheap peace, forced teaming, and shallow “allyship” does not challenge those barriers. It only reinforces them.”

It is vital not to smother potentially productive conflict with false niceness. Moon attributes a lot of this on the part of more privileged allies to conflict avoidance, which is no doubt true, but I suspect there’s more going on in the particular reaction of the privileged progressive to being critiqued by the less privileged. Underneath our reaction to this (and along with many genuinely good motives) is a rather childish desire to be affirmed as one of the good guys, to be acknowledged as Not Like Those People: your racist relatives, Sarah Palin, whoever.

I got a further insight from Rod’s post, particularly this bit:

“We hear from one side, well, yes, I know I needed to be called out, but you could have been a little bit nicer, and then the same civilized party admits later, I needed to be called out to persons who give them similar feedback, but its nicer because their interlocutor may look like them.”

I don’t doubt that this happens, a lot. Race and gender construction affects everything, evening the seemingly disembodied world of online interaction. But I suspect some of the time something else is happening (let’s take race as our example). Perhaps the white person is more responsive/less likely to tone-police the criticism of another white person because they’ve been socialized to take them more seriously (systemic racism). Or they might be more responsive because the white critic, since they are interacting with a past version of themselves, is uniquely able to help the person being criticized. That cannot replace the crucially important movement toward solidarity with marginalized people by listening directly to them, but it may be able to help that process along.

So my proposal is this: maybe those of us (white folks) who do want a more “civil” space, with, as diBoer says, “more room for education,” need to take that on as our particular responsibility – not tone-policing women or gay folks or people of color – not trying to control how they speak and act and engage – but perhaps by being the “good cop” who takes the time to educate people encountering all this for the first time (or perhaps not for the first time, but who are still resistant).

There is danger here. My idea would not be to interpret or speak for (“What John is trying to say is…”). And the point of all this is not to (yet again) center the experiences of white folks, nor to dismiss them, but to relativize them. When I respond to something on Twitter I am not doing so as a generic “reasonable person” who gets to decide what civility or kindness mean, and how all confrontation should happen and when.

Maybe we need to be the ones who engage the trolls. God knows it’s our turn.

The Political Jesus Collective

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be ye kind one to another: civility, blogging & social media

The Internet can be a cruel place. Now that we have means to be interconnected more than ever, the formation of communities is made uh, easier?, but also has the means for divisiveness and harm become easier as well. We see this for example in the sexual harassment that women celebrities are now facing, having photos stolen from their phones (for an excellent discussion on this issue, I would recommend fellow MennoNerd Ryan Robinson’s piece: Rape Culture In Celebrity Photo Theft). I observe the harassment that Women of Color educators/activists face everyday; trolls creating multiple accounts to make racist diatribes and violent threats against persons like Mikki Kendall, Sydette, Trudy, Suey Park, and others. I don’t think I can claim to have encountered a microcosm of what these brave women deal with every day, but when trolls get into my timeline, they usually leave with their feelings hurt because I do them the kindness of confrontation through sarcasm.

Of course there’s a time and place for everything, as the author of Ecclesiastes contends. My good friend Tyler Tully has a good reflection on expanding public theology to cover online behavior. As a Liberation theologian, I understand that all theological statements that are made have political ramifications. The practical is always the theoretical, the abstract really isn’t that far from the concrete. The thing is about a lot of people’s notions of civility or what it means to be “grace-filled” online in the Christian blogosphere is that, as Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig suggests, it is “squishy”: Bruenig: “Anyway, one of the chief defects of demands for civility is that they rarely elaborate as to what they mean by civility.” Not only this, but the rules for civility keep changing, and one right after another, they just keep getting added. We hear from one side, well, yes, I know I needed to be called out, but you could have been a little bit nicer, and then the same civilized party admits later, I needed to be called out to persons who give them similar feedback, but its nicer because their interlocutor may look like them. The civilized party postures as if they believe that all ideas are equal, but in reality their practice reveals something quite different.

What is the norming norm for defining what kindness is? As a Liberationist, I find the Exodus story as the primary paradigm by which Scripture is interpreted. I also like the idea of God’s kindness demonstrated in the narrative. YHWH’s kindness is sort of unruly, and is mentioned a lot throughout the Hebrew Bible. Why NeoMarcionites would want to discard of the First Testament is beyond me! ;-) What is clear however starting with the first chapter of Exodus, YHWH’s kindness is defined first and foremost by observing the cruel treatment of the oppressed Israelites, and then responding to their cries. YHWH the God of Liberation hears the oppressed’s concerns; as a relational God, YHWH first spoke the Word/Wisdom at creation, and now God listens. God’s kindness and compassion are not restricted to ever-fluctuating rules of civility that give those with privilege the advantage. Rather God’s lovingkindness for all persons shines through in God demonstrating God’s preferential option for the poor. It is in the bodies and experiences of the oppressed that have the greatest knowledge of what human wickedness looks and feels like. Conversely, YHWH’s power and glory are made known greatest through those who are labelled as weak in society to shame “the strong,” the powerful, those who falsely view themselves as having the future in their hands, operating in God’s place.

Kindness, in the biblical metanarratives of liberation and reconciliation, is inextricably linked to communal justice, freedom for the prisoner and the enslaved, dignity for the impoverished.  According to the story, Pharaoh  ordered the Hebrew midwives to kill baby boys once they were born. The midwives who feared YHWH showed the infant boys kindness and spared their lives. When Pharaoh asked why infant boys were living, the midwives satirize the essentialist logic of the Egyptians, “declaring” Hebrew women to be stronger (therefore, more capable of reproducing more children, thus the population growth). The Hebrew midwives played with the fears of the oppressor. And in turn for their acts of mercy, Exodus 1:20 says that YHWH was kind to the heroic midwives.

The midwives provide a glimpse of YHWH’s own compassion. YHWH sees, observes, hears the misery of Abraham’s children, and makes it God’s mission to “rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians” (Exodus 3:7).  If kindness involves listening to the voices of the silenced first in the Exodus, the same principle should be applied to our public ethics of civility online.  It is also important to note that the Hebrew midwives, Pharaoh’s daughter in Exodus 2, and YHWH– all three recognize their positions of power.  Their truthful analysis in each case meant a recognition of difference in power, between the lowly and their earthly superiors. The Exodus brand of Kindness requires, #1, listening, and then #2, a joining in the solidarity with those in bondage with a viewpoint that starts from the bottom-up, and neither the top or “the middle way.”

For Christians, Jesus is the Exodus God Incarnate, and embodied an untamed kindness and solidarity with the least of these. The civility party I mentioned previously wants to bracket Jesus as a feminist or civilizing European socialite above his Jewish community. If a public theologian online seeks to be one who wishes to practice lovingkindness and follow the Golden Rule, then the more faithful view point is the kindness we learn of in Exodus.  The marginated do not need other persons, even allies who seek to throw stones; rather, they need accomplices who will join them in the valleys to speak to the mountains, and make them move. 

 

 

 

h00die_R (Rod)

priestly abolitionist time travelling supervillian

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Videogames as Story-telling: Narratives and #Negrophobia

Since I was a young lad, I have always appreciated the art of storytelling – in all of its forms it comes in. Whether through oral traditions of pre-Modern societies, through strokes of a pen in novel form, through film, and yes- even through videogames.

The idea as videogames as story-telling would tend to confuse most people – how on Earth could the likes of Supermario Bros., Crash Bandicoot, or Sonic the Hedgehog be considered storytelling or even art!? Well, recently I happened across a video on youtube that discussed this very topic:

I recommend watching the video as it contains very interesting, critical perspectives further validating the idea that videogames are in fact a method of telling stories. As is said in this video, a stories are essentially humanity’s way of making sense of events that happen that are otherwise unrelated. We fashion these discrete instances into something more coherent- something to make sense of the world. Some might define this as poetry in a way as well. I had a professor who I had blogged about earlier this year who once stated ” a poet is anyone who makes sense of his or her experiences”. This idea of videogames as narratives becomes especially powerful because of their emphasis on interaction – rending them an especially interactive narrative.

So if it’s no secret that racist , misogynist tropes might be propagated through film and novels, or even individuals/institutions built on such problematic narratives, then could we truly expect anything truly different when it comes to videogames? Videogames represent , thus, another form of media to reinforce ideas, myths and mainstays to a general population. So, videogames as narratives combined with capitalistic enterprise portends the pressure from gamers on the gaming industry. If you have even a cursory understanding of  game journalism, you would be familiar with the fact that the relationship between the game-maker and game-player is a fragile, yet reciprocal relationship. The game-makers on one hand are wanting to create games with narratives as a form of their own artistic expression yet at the same time one that will sell – and in order to sell you must create a narrative that will resonate with those that are actually participating (literally) in them. I’m no psychologist but it’s certainly no secret that actually interacting with anything (kind of like doing homework) helps to reinforce behavior and/or beliefs in the mind of the individual.

Hopefully, by now the case is clear as to why something like say, the racial composition of the characters in a videogame, even as seemingly whimsical as Mario Kart 8( and yes, there was even an article about the average skin tone in MK8 being too light- FINALLY!) is so significant. …But at the same time, the fact that we don’t see black (men or women) in videogames as leading ( at least not the popular games) is telling of the demographic exhibiting the most consumer power. Angsty white teenage “geeky” boys are constantly portrayed in other forms of story-telling – books, television, movies- as the demographic participating in games. If there is a black nerd “blerd” or female nerd (who is hardly even portrayed as  black – b/c they’re too busy being” jezebels”, as racist tropes would have it), he or she is often “side-kicked” or rendered secondary to the main , typically white male. White men have the privileged of participating in their narratives – seeing themselves projected as more muscular, “masculine” and handsome, essentially as they imagine themselves to be… or perhaps more jovial, happier, and charismatic- whether they;re Snake( Metal Gear Solid), and Italian plumber (Mario), or even Sonic the Hedgehog, they participate in narratives ( as well as encourage gaming companies to maintain these boundaries) that regularly affirm them as “main” or “default”. And before we even get into “BUT SONIC’S A HEDGEHOG, HOW IS THAT RACIST!?!?!’ – there’s a little thing called anthropomorphism: the fictitious depiction of animals with human-like traits ( giving them a human-like form through the five main appendages, usually – head, left and right arms and left and right legs). And so when animals are made to look like humans, it’s obviously clear that their features ( and motifs reinforced through character themes, assigning cultural traits/style) are going to be racialized. This will be the topic of the next post …

I will end this with a story. It’s been a while since I’ve actually played Nintendo Wii ( it seems to have been forgotten about anyways, since the Wii U), but I had been a part of a skype group of gamers who mainly focused on Nintendo games and I decided to reconnect with them after a few months of not really interacting. I had brought up various instances of racism, sexism, etc. just in the news in general ( not even about games) and I was constantly berated and labeled a “social justice warrior” (SJW) – this seems to be the “trope” that angsty white “geek” teen gamer dudez will throw at you, should you start speaking up on behalf of a marginalized group. Furthermore, I was accused of “ALWAYS talking about social justice issues”  and “making people feel bad for having opinions” – mind you I’m the demon for talking about marginalized groups yet no one says anything about the rampant distasteful, hypersexual ( constantly talking about porn fantasies involving videogame characters) – but no, talking about race? that’s FAR more nauseating! How fowl! But I guess we can’t really be surprised when forcing them to see race forces them to reconsider their narrative – cognitive dissonance, no?

Harry

Like a Lotus: Born into the murky, muddy waters I was, l ived, I breathed In awe of starry veil above me and the verdant radiance around me I gazed, I glowed, I gasped Striken with gale winds I braced, I fell, I felt Like a dove He descendeth He is, He lives, He breathes Like a lotus summoned by the sun’s rays I opened, I blossomed, I live

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Geeky Men, Gamer Misogyny, and Gender

In recent months, I updated my videogame system to a PS3; yes I know its not the latest and greatest but its recent enough for me. Earlier this summer I spent a few hours working and improving on my skills at playing Injustice: Gods Among Us in the hopes of someday playing online versus other games when wintertime comes. I’m learning who are my favorite characters, and they happen to be Wonder Woman, Hawkgirl, Deathstroke, and behind those three, Green Arrow and DoomsDay apparently. So when and if I may the decision to play Injustice online, I have the privilege of being male, and there I am most likely not to be bothered or harassed when interacting with other gamers. 

To the horror of many, this is just not the case for women who are into gaming. When I was in undergrad before there was even a Playstation Network, I was placed in a dormitory with a fraternity that played Playstation One a lot. It was there I heard my first jokes about rape.  If a frat dude was victorious over one of his brothers or a member of another fraternity at a game of NCAA Football 2002 , it was pretty much guaranteed that there would be explicit references to sexual assault when it came to bragging rights. Further along my undergraduate career, the games Halo and Halo 2 were very popular. Being able to talk over the microphone with other players allowed for opponents to drop the n***** word a lot, and of course, there was the widespread practice of Halo teabagging. In spite of their “nice guy” reputation, gamer geek culture is still fraught with the same sexism that they like to point out in professional sports. 

I have written in the past about the harassment that Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency faces before.  Recently, the situation has gotten far more serious with Sarkeesian and her family receiving death and rape threats. Gaming developer Zoe Quinn has faced so much harassment that she has been left no choice but to move in with friends. What’s the outrage all about? An angry ex-significant other wanting to get revenge while gamers claim its about the loss of “objectivity” in journalism. Frantz Fanon, I’ll let you take this one. (he argued in Wretched of the Earth that the concept of ‘objective media’ will always be wielded as a weapon against the oppressed. Like, always).  I still have yet to see Fanon disproven on that one. EDITOR’S POLITICAL NOTE: WHY IS THERE EVEN CONCERNTROLLING OVER REVIEWS OF VIDEOGAMES IN THE FIRST PLACE? WHEN I REVIEW A PUBLISHED REVIEWS OF ANYTHING–BOOKS, MOVIES, VIDEOGAMES, I HAVE COME TO EXPECT SOME BIAS TO BEGIN WITH. 

Really, these controversies aren’t about journalistic integrity or about the videogame industry itself being under any real threat.  This is about gamer geek dudebros losing their power as consumers, and they are reacting in a disgusting manner. I have quoted him a number of times, and I will keep quoting him, but Frederick Douglass was right on the money when he said “Absolute power concedes nothing.” Not one iota. When it comes to dollar signs, human greed+ rape culture in videogames, the combination is a poisonous mix. But actually, I don’t want to really stop here, and just talk about how terrible everything is. I want to reflect briefly on the probable causes for these sexist practices, to drive women’s voices away from the gaming industry. I want to start with this comment made by one of my friends on facebook:

“Geek boys have been told all their lives that their geeky ness makes them “special” and separate from the meat heads who torment them. The male geek persona is at the heart of the *nice guy* culture and is extra fragile-think Isla Vista killer who considered himself the “ultimate gentleman” and couldn’t understand why women wouldn’t even make eye contact with him. Male geeks are just as violently misogynistic as jocks. Obviously.”- M.Sanchez, Facebook 

Athletes are portrayed as hopelessly chauvinistic and hypermasculine. As geeks, we try to define ourselves against this stereotype. We are taught that we can be the nice guy that women will want to depend on if they aren’t “won” over by the jocks. Nerds, dorks, Blerds, we all fail epically when we deceive ourselves that we aren’t in anyway prone to misogyny like those manly men athletes over there. Male geek culture, like the Trio from season 6 of Joss Whedon’s+ Buffy the Vampire Slayer, suffers from the Nice Guy Syndrome. That is, we learn how to and behave as if we are nice, but at the same time, we want something in return. The Nerd who suffers from the Nice Guy syndrome may see himself as “a good listener,” or “a progressive male feminist” but at the same time will refuse to respect women’s boundaries and choices because of his sense of entitlement, ownership over women’s bodies. Maybe it’s time for Gamer DudeBros to get self-critical, and reject the idea that they are “innocent” when it comes to sexism. Rather than the old cliche, “nice guys finish last,” perhaps it would better to start saying, “guys who suffer from Nice Guy Syndrome finish last.”

h00die_R (Rod)

priestly abolitionist time travelling supervillian

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Thou Shalt Slow Down: Ecology, Time, and Sabbath

 

I’ve been having a lot of random (or maybe not so much…) thoughts about the connections between ecology, Christianity, and what has become of modern society. Rather than committing to or promising a whole series about these matters, I will simply write about them whenever I feel inspired (and so, naturally it’ll probably turn into something of a series..)

One thing I’ve been thinking about a lot in the past year is the societal notion of time. It’s an idea that we take so much for granted and may not even realize/notice despite it being so imminent in literally every corner of our lives and consciousness. What’s worse are the ills that come of our problematic relationship with time. Our society moves so fast that we don’t even notice most of the time. Strict rationalism preceded neo-liberal economic thought which preceded private property rights/individualism ( for white men) which preceded maximizing efficiency and acquisition of wealth which preceded greater technological advancements which preceded the fetishizing of progress and speed- that which is faster is preferable to the slow-moving former..
The health disparities (and wage disparities..) associated with FAST food
The enslavement and destruction of life and freedom by those oversees (many children) because of FAST fashion – fresh Nike sneaks, etc.
The myriad accidents that are essentially numbingly mundane that litter our highways with speed limits of 55, 65, and 75 miles per how
Or maybe even the health complications that are born out of and significantly exacerbated by stress related to meeting deadlines and getting to work and obligations “on time” constantly..
And the list could go on further and further, yet humanity still seems to preference this heightening of speed – it’s like we’re moving so blindingly quick and eager off of a cliff- because none of us seems to know why and where we’re headed at this speed. We salivate at the prospect of a bullet train – taking us from NY to Paris in a matter of minutes. We all love our high-speed internet we used to read this blog post. For what purpose? We’ll get to our destination faster but we’re not suspended from the human condition anymore than if we moved slower.
All of these examples come from human ecology, yet natural ecology moves at a rate far slower than its human counterparts. The formation of fertile soil, the growth of crops and food, the development of some of the world’s greatest mountain chains, the decomposition of plants and animals , the water, carbon, and nitrogen cycles, the passage of spring to summer to fall to winter – some of these things happen at timescales millions of time longer than the human life span, others thousands, hundreds, ten times as long- but all of these things ( and many more things) in ecology move SLOWLY compared to human civilization of today. Nature seems content to move at its slow pace, never rushing yet everything gets accomplished somehow.
We gaze out at the backyard finch through our windows in the morning and watch as it chirps and frolics through the air in between foraging for food, building its nest, feeding its young- we begin to envy this critter and many others because of the abundant wealth of time they have. We gaze out at them and then look at ourselves and our obligations and have to shake our heads at the absurdity of the speeds with which our lives and obligations move, a little bit of us even mourns because we know life could be this way. Slowness of pace is one of ecology’s most important lessons.
Perhaps this is what YAHWEH is invoking in instituting the Sabbath. The designation of a whole day to taking a rest from the mundane in our lives, the business and the restlessness. A time to be present with ourselves and with our God and to trust in his ability to sustain.
Perhaps this is what Christ is invoking in Matthew 6:25- 28
25″For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26″Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?… 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.

Our obsession with speed is ultimately an obsession with the desire to control, to master, to possess to eliminate uncertainty about the future. We think be speedily moving ourselves from point A in time to point B we can eliminate the “gook” in between these two points, but a lot of life happens between these two moments that we’re attempting to just erase by moving faster and disregard anything that happens between points A and B. Our obsession with speed is about the angst, anxiety and restlessness of our culture to produce, consume, compete and remain abreast of our competition. Therefore by encouraging opposing this manner of living Christ provides a manner of resisting empire- slow down !

Harry

Like a Lotus: Born into the murky, muddy waters I was, l ived, I breathed In awe of starry veil above me and the verdant radiance around me I gazed, I glowed, I gasped Striken with gale winds I braced, I fell, I felt Like a dove He descendeth He is, He lives, He breathes Like a lotus summoned by the sun’s rays I opened, I blossomed, I live

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the divine feminine: a trinitarian perspective: a series

Let’s be upfront. There’s probably no way for me to write a series like this and not be called the dreaded “H” word: “heretic.” Earlier this year, fellow Southern Baptist Owen Strachan farewelled Rachel Held Evans for a post she WROTE TWO YEARS AGO. I really don’t expect Strachan and the like to change their views. However, there are a lot of Christians who are earnestly seeking to partake in the larger tradition of historic Christianity. Orthodox historic Christianity does NOT BEGIN AND END with The United States of America.

What I am looking for in a Trinitarian theology is a theology that includes both Western and Eastern Christianity, that can reconcile the two, as well as witness to the reconciliation that Christ has brought between men and women.

Now, there are some Christian writers that claim that people who refer to God as She/Her have left orthodox Nicene-Chalcedonian Christianity altogether. Is there a theological surplus that makes room in Nicea-Chalcedon that makes room to discuss the divine feminine? Also, what are the trajectories and ethical implications of including the divine feminine in our liturgical practices and sermons? This I will discuss and more in dialogue with early Christian communities and church historians.

Here is the order of the plan series:

the divine feminine: God the Father

the divine feminine: God the Son

the divine feminine: God the Holy Spirit

the divine feminine: Trajectories and Ethics

the divine feminine: Conclusion

h00die_R (Rod)

priestly abolitionist time travelling supervillian

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Just In: Evangelical Postcolonial Conversations

Well my! That was quick! I mailed in my review book copy suggestions to IVP on Friday, and one of them arrived today: Evangelical Postcolonial Conversations: Global Awakenings in Theology and Praxis editted by Kay Higuera Smith, Jayachitra Lalitha, and L. Daniel Smith. Looking forward to engaging this text!

h00die_R (Rod)

priestly abolitionist time travelling supervillian

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In the Mail: The New Jim Crow

Will all of the books I have stacked in my living room ready for me to review them, buying a book would not make much sense. Not unless it’s Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.  I have done preview reading on the Prison Industrial complex from Christian theological perspectives: The Executed God: The Way of the Cross in Lockdown America by Mark Lewis Taylor  and Good Punishment?: Christian Moral Practice And U.S. Imprisonment.

 

From everything I have read, this is a must read for those who wish to do activism and critical race theory in the first decades of the 21st century. Looking forward to engage this work! If you have time, do yourself a favor and watch this video with author Michelle Alexander:

h00die_R (Rod)

priestly abolitionist time travelling supervillian

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