Do You Hate Your Enemies Enough To Love Them?

A VERY QUICK THOUGHT EXPERIMENT USING RIGHT WING CONTRARIANISM

In the latest edition of What Nonsense Is NeoCalvinism Preaching today, an employee for John Piper’s Desiring God, referring to Piper’s works, Do You Love Your Enemies Enough to Hate Them?| Desiring God, wants Christians to believe Jesus told us to hate our enemies. A hate, which in turn, will enable Christians to adopt a Crusader theocratic mentality to enact violence upon those we disagree. HATE IN THE NAME OF LOVE YALL. Enter Mr. Parnell:

“And when Jesus said “love,” we should be clear that he didn’t mean hollow good will, or some bland benevolence, or a flakey niceness that hopes our enemies stop being so cruel. Jesus never talks about love that way.”

Good will? Benevolence? Flakey niceness? “Surely now goodness and mercy will FOLLOW me all the days of my life” or “Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you”; the concept of forgiveness means nothing but fire insurance? Oh Parnell probably just means any worldview that endorses nonviolence over bloodshed, and any man (literally) who isn’t a Just War Crusader is probably lacking in the area of masculinity. Did I get that right? Wanna know how many times Mr. Parnell quotes Jesus in his post? ABSOLUTELY ZERO! That’s right! Let’s talk about how Jesus discussed love without actually referring to the Gospels. Makes sense to me.

The one passage from John 5 that the author refers to is concerning the resurrection of the dead, and was completely irrelevant to the subject of Jesus “teaching hate.”

Parnell continues:

“Evil belittles God’s holiness and evidences that his name is not hallowed. We hate evil because it is wrong. But on the other hand, if this hatred is part of loving our enemies, we must hate the evil of our enemies because of what the evil means for them.”

If evil “belittles” God’s holiness, what an absolute puny god you must believe in.

HULK smash PUNY DETERMINIST GOD-LOKI!!

HULK smash PUNY DETERMINIST GOD-LOKI!!

Parnell’s theology (NeoCalvinism) is a god that remains distant, aloof, far above us, with a holiness that stresses separation rather than acts of goodness and redemption. What Piper and other NeoCalvinists are trying to do is to co-opt a set of harmful words usually geared toward the LGBTQIA community, and also apply them to radical Muslims. In both instances, they fail and will continue to fail. Love the sinner but hate the sinner is not only an unbiblical concept, but within the context of NeoCalvinist theology and its view of Total Depravity, it is incredibly harmful. Total Depravity is the extreme version of Augustine’s concept of Original Sin. If we are born inherently sinful, and that sinfulness is (as Original Sin argues) is passed down BIOLOGICALLY, then there is no separation between the sin and the sinner. Since then human fallenness is a natural phenomenon, a person who hates the sin also hates the sinner in Original Sin logic.

Now, not only does Jesus actually talk about what enemy-love looks like, the earliest followers of Christ like the apostle Paul did too. Let’s take a glance, shall we!

Jesus: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:43-48 NIV)

I know Calvinists love Romans a lot, except for that 12th chapter thing. Ethics just gets in the way of everything. Here’s the apostle Paul, as recorded by his secretary, “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[a] says the Lord” (verse 19). Say it isn’t so! Pauline Christianity also means really trusting in YHWH’s justice rather than our own. Looks like Paul takes his cues from Judaism rather than pagan practices. The living, sacrificial love that Piper and NeoCalvinists completely get wrong is not about calling evil good, (warmongering, violence versus Muslims as a necessary evil to bring about “the Gory Glory of God,” but it is overcoming evil with good. It is engaging the defeated powers of death with the awesome, life-giving peacemaking of Christ Jesus. “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head”

Well, now, that’s awkward. Seems like the apostle Paul is saying we are hoping for our enemies’ wellbeing.

Lastly, let us never forget that God does not die for His enemies (the ungodly as Romans 5:6 says) in Calvinism; since the Elect are predestined, they were chosen to be God’s friends since the beginning of time. So God in Christ cannot exhibit love for his enemies in the least, especially since the reprobate have not a chance in hell of getting into heaven (it’s been foreordained, folks!). Enemy-love as defined by Christ and the Good News gets redefined as worldly acts of needless retributive violence in PiperCalvinism.

God loves the righteous and the unrighteous. I mean, if Romans 3 is understood to be saying that we are all sinners, the logic of “love the sinner, hate the sin” turns on itself. I love myself but I also hate myself, and yet there is not one Bible passage that tells us that we lose the Image of God in us during or after “the Fall”? Even in the context of Matthew 5 (verse 22), Jesus condemns his followers if they rely on namecalling (distorting the Image of God in others)to the pit of Hell. Jesus seems pretty intent on us loving others, yes in a BENEVOLENT, HOPEFUL manner. It really shouldn’t come as a surprise that NeoCalvinists would prefer to affirm a god as hateful rather than any form of divine benevolence. They’ve held that error for well over five centuries, and they can keep it!

h00die_R (Rod)

priestly abolitionist time travelling supervillian

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#DoctorWho: Robot of Sherwood: Justice and Doubt

Image provided by Screen Rant

For the past couple of years, I had been rather embarassed to call myself a Whovian. I felt (and still feel) that Stephen Moffat’s writing is just ruining the show, and that they tried to make Number 11/Matt Smith too much like the 10th Doctor, David Tennant. The raw reactions of Doctor Who fans to antiracist critiques led to even more facepalms by me.

Fast forward to this season. As a fan of “The Oncoming Storm” 9th Doctor, I have been pleasantly surprised by the performance of the 12th Doctor, Peter Capaldi. I love the surly, ironic change in the humor. The show’s cast looks like it is looking to get more diverse with the character Daniel Pink. Through the first three episodes, I am indeed here for Number 12, Clara, and Pink.

We start at the beginning of the episode, the Doctor tells Clara they can go anywhere she wants. She talks about her dream of meeting Robin Hood, Earl of Locksley. At first the Doctor refuses the request because he tells her that Robin Hood isn’t real. Finally, 12 gives in, and when they land in Sherwood Forest with no person in sight for a few seconds, the Doctor brags, “No damsels in distress. No pretty castles. No such thing as Robin Hood.” Immediately after he says this, an arrow hits the T.A.R.D.I.S., and lo, and behold, it’s Robin Hood himself!

Robin Hood stakes his claim to the Doctor’s ship: “Don’t you know that all property is theft to Robin Hood.” The Doctor questions if Robin is serious, and Hood responds, “Robin laughs in the face of all.”

After their comical duel, the Doctor acts on his skepticism even after having won over RH’s trust. The Doctor cuts a piece of Robin’s hair and tries to take one of his sandals. “This sandal isn’t real.” The Doctor is suspicious of Robin for about 95% of the episode. When they both find out that the knights working for the evil Sheriff are actually alien robots, the Doctor argues, “Isn’t it time you came clean with me? You’re not real and you know it. Perfect eyes. Perfect teeth. No one has a jaw like that.” Still sadly, no go. It is not until the Doctor sees Robin Hood bleed from being attacked by the robots does 12 begin to be less skeptical.

Stories about the possiblities of justice are really difficult to believe in. In a fallen world filled with injustices and disasters, it can be pretty easy to give in to all of wrong that need to be righted. Even after 12, Robin, and Clara, team up to become victorious over the Sheriff and his “knights,” the Doctor denies himself the right to laugh and enjoy their feat. The Doctor has placed far too much responsibility as the “white savior” of time and space. Robin, meanwhile, puts everything in to perspective. He asks whether in the future, people will just remember him as a legendary myth, 12 answers in the affirmative. Robin replies, “Good. History is a burden. Stories can make us fly.” [....] “Perhaps we will both be stories. And may those stories never end.”

Indeed, narrative can open up our imagination for us to be open to that which we have not experienced, and motivate us to work for a more just society. A different world is possible.

h00die_R (Rod)

priestly abolitionist time travelling supervillian

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Charisma Magazine, Islam, & Racist Op-Eds #CancelTheCrusades

Why Gary Cass Is Absolutely A Fascist

Trigger Warning: White Supremacy, Islamophobia, Orientalism

Recently as “not a reflection on the views of Charisma Media,” Charisma Magazine published an opinion piece entitled, Why I Am Absolutely Islamaphobic (do not link edition linked)  [update: Charisma has deleted the post, here is the Google cached: here and here is the original author's post on his site here ] where the “Reverend” Gary Cass advocated for the complete elimination of all human beings who are from Arab countries (Cass’ phrasing, not mine).  Time to rebuke each argument Mr. Cass gives.

Opening Paragraph:

“I confess: I’m “Islamaphobic,” but for very good reasons.

My fear is not an irrational fear based on uniformed prejudice; rather it’s an historic, clear eyed, informed, rational fear. ISIS is doing to American journalists what every true follower of Muhammad wants to do to you and yours—subjugate or murder you. They believe they have been given a mandate by Allah (Satan) to dominate the world.

Fourteen years of history, both ancient and modern (i.e. the 1 to 1.5 million dead Armenians at the hands of the Muslim Turks in 1915) tell us that Muslims are deadly serious about their infernal goals. Now we get to watch their violent, demonic fanaticism on YouTube videos.

History shows that when Muslims get the power and means to subjugate and behead Christians, Jews, et al, they do it. Why? “

I confess: I have a phobia of Euro-Centric Christianity. My fear is not an irrational fear based on uninformed prejudice; rather it’s an historic, clear eyed, informed rational fear. Police Departments empowered by U.S. Congress are doing to black and Latino U.S. citizens what every true follower of White Supremacist Churchianity wants to do to you and yours- subjugate or murder you. They believe they have been given a mandate by White Supremacist Godhead to dominate the world.

Four hundred years of history, both ancient and modern (between 1885 and 1908, the Butcher of Congo, Leopold II of Belgium murdered an estimated 13 million Congolese persons) tell us that White Supremacist are deadly serious about their nefarious goals. Now we get to watch their violent, demonic rationalism on television.

History shows that as White Supremacists have remained in power and maintained the means to subjugate and murder People of Color, the poor, et, al., they do it. Why?

Next Paragraph:

“Conversion. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see Muslims turn from Satan (Allah) to Christ? But, I agree with Phil Robertson: This is not biblically doable. Why? God has a plan and he revealed it at the birth of Ishmael, the father of the Arabs.

“The Angel of the Lord said … He [Ishmael] will be an ass of a man; His hand shall be against every man, and every man’s hand against him” (Gen. 16:11-12). The Arab Muslims are God’s sworn enemies and are ordained by God to be against everyone.”

First of all, Cass is making a reality tv show star a biblical authority? I guess that’s what happens when any Christian celebrity can have devotional bibles made in their honor. Quoting other persons who are devoted to a White Supremacist God should come as no surprise. “Reverend” Cass insists that his racist eisegesis is the correct reading of Genesis 16. I beg to differ. First off, Cass is reading rather subjectively his racist views into the Bible. Rather than having Christ at the center, Cass has placed Europe as the locus of Scripture, and displaced actual biblical truth to the margins. In fact Ishmael really is not the focus of the conflict between Sarah and Abraham, rather it is the presence of Hagar. As I argued in my post Ishmael & Immigration: A Postcolonial reading of Genesis 16:

“First, let us start with Ishmael’s mother’s name: Hagar. Hagar resembles the Hebrew term hager, meaning “resident alien” “stranger” or “sojourner.” In the context of Genesis 15:13, whereby God promises Abraham’s offspring will be “ger” or aliens in a foreign land for 400 years is a reminder for the Jew in exile that part of their covenant with YHWH entails justice for the resident alien. Fast forward to Genesis 20 , and Abraham himself is considered a “ger” (20:1; 21:23; 21:34), and receives hospitality and compassion from Abimelech king of GERar. This treatment should be seen in stark contrast to Sarah’s banishment of Hagar and Ishmael. Finally, Clare Amos, whose article “Genesis” I am depending upon in the translation of the Hebrew noun “ger,” suggests that Genesis 16:12 is fraught with ambiguity, and that it really does not have to mean that Ishmael “would live at odds” with Isaac’s children. She prefers to hold this reading in tension with another possible translation that Ishmael would live “alongside his brothers.” This allows us to understand the image of Isaac and Ishmael burying Abraham in Genesis 25:9, in Hebron [the city where David begins his reign as king, btw], as a kind of closure. 

Cass’s Third Paragraph on Deport All Muslims Now? I recommend you go back and read my post linked on Genesis 16.

Cass’s last paragraph, his call for genocide reads:

The only thing that is biblical and that 1,400 years of history has shown to work is overwhelming Christian just war and overwhelming self defense. Christian Generals Charles Martel in 732 and Jon Sobieski in 1672 defeated Islamic Turks and their attempts to take the West. Who will God raise up to save us this time? Will God even intervene or turn us over to the Muslims for turning against Him?

Either way, we must be prepared for the increase of terror at home and abroad. This is not irrational, but the loving thing we must do for our children and neighbors. First trust in God, then obtain a gun(s), learn to shoot, teach your kids the Christian doctrines of just war and self defense, create small cells of family and friends that you can rely on if some thing catastrophic happens and civil society suddenly melts down.

Cass goes back and forth between using Arabs, Muslims, and Radical Islam interchangeably. One could call this lazy writing, but the author does not even care about distinctions at this point. So, I will call it what it is: racism. It is very important to note, as other have on Twitter, that what Cass is doing is not calling or practicing Just War/Self-defense. Just War is about having to maintain peace, not escalating violence. He asks, “Now the only question is how many more dead bodies will have to pile up at home and abroad before we crush the vicious seed of Ishmael in Jesus’ Name?” Cass is calling for the Final Solution for people based on their ethnicity and religious orientation. He is committing himself to the sin of Haman, the infamous Agagite and genocidal politician described in the book of Esther. The New Testament is clear: Christ has reconciled Jew and ALL Gentile nations, that EVERY tribe and nation will make up what Cass called “the indestructible Church”, and that it is the Triune God’s will for ALL persons to repent and be saved. May the Church raise up women and men in the spirit of Esther to resist and condemn voices such as those at DefendChristians.Org.

For other perspectives, read Fred Clark’s Charismanews.com goes full on Hutu radio and David Hayward’s Charisma News, Islamophobia, Jesus, and Guns

h00die_R (Rod)

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after fundamentalism: where do you go from here?

This is a cross post (that has been updated) from Unsettled Christianity

Dear friend,

I have heard about your dilemma. Trust me, I have. You’re sick and tired of hearing about how you can’t criticize your senior pastor, because “Touch not my annointed.” Every Sunday you feel like you want to leave, but you can’t. Once you make the decision to leave, this open letter will be for you. So, here’s a few pieces of (unsolicited) advice for when you make the drastic move.

1. Fundamentalist churches rely on closed cultures. Not only do fundamentalists believe that their religious beliefs are absolutely true, they believe that the surrounding culture is evidence of those beliefs, for better or worse. Cultural hegemony is a part of fundamentalist religions, whether they be Christianity or atheism. The best way to resist the idolization of culture, say the dominant cultural norms in the U.S., for example is to learn to appreciate diversity. Many seekers who desire to leave evangelicalism/fundamentalism will begin to see a whole new world open to them, but unfortunately it will not be from a cross-cultural perspective. My advice would be to seek out friendships not just with persons who look like you, but also persons who you probably despised as a fundamentalist. Take risks, reject the cultural boundaries and the racist stereotypes you heard about from congregants, and not only become friends with Persons of Color. Listen to our concerns, fellowship with us in our communities. Consider perhaps the more nuanced perspective that the problem with fundamentalism was not just about much of the legalism that goes on, but also the promoting of American empire that goes with it.

2. As an aspiring pastor someday, I understand the need for both self-care and pastoral care in people’s lives. So I am not going to take it lightly when I say this: if you feel that you need to take a break from attending institutional church services, then do it. A number of persons who leave fundamentalism is because of the spiritual and sexual abuse found within the culture of fundamentalist churches. If the local churches in your surrounding area are not likely to be safe places for you to seek the LORD, I would suggest going the organic church route. Be sure that you stay in a spiritual community, because we can’t do it alone. No one can. I also realize there will be situations where people will choose the valid alternative of rejecting religion and the idea of a higher power altogether. We need to give persons their own space and converse with them on their own terms.  Either way, if you are an expat of fundamentalism, it’s very important that you find at least one person you believe you can confide in. If this is a case of abuse, I would recommend contacting the local authorities.

3. The thing to remember is that if you are a person searching for an escape out of fundamentalist bondage, is that you are never alone. There are thousands of persons like you with a similar story. That being said, be discerning in who you read after you have “officially” arrived in PostEvangelical Land. When it comes to millenials especially, there is not ONE person who represents or speaks for us. Not. One. A number of postevangelical leaders see themselves as the future of Christianity. Having a blog and a couple of book deals, or speaking at a few conferences does not entitle anyone to having a monopoly on what it means to be an ex-fundamentalist. There are many ways to be in community with others without having to adopt labels like “missional” or “emergent” etc. Evaluate all of your options, but don’t pat yourself on the back for it. Learn. Grow. Move on.

4. There are a number of toxic communities that hate-watch Christianity. Do not be a part of them. Your healing does not need to rely on hating the very person you once were. The key is to accept a nuanced and critical view of yourself in the past, and not to live there. You don’t want to be shamed into hating your former life, and therefore shaming your probable family members/friends who are still caught up in fundamentalist culture.

5. Fifth, I would ask that you give peace a chance. Given the fact that fundamentalism requires a culture of violence, and sometimes even pronounced admiration for warfare, the traditional nonviolent ethics first embraced by the early Church and on through the centuries is a valid alternative to fundamentalism’s violence, epistemological, or other.

6. Lastly, go to a library. Google. Research. Study the early church. Learn Hebrew or Greek. Know that your story of leaving fundamentalism is more than about you. It’s about recognizing that Christianity is a centuries old tradition that was birthed out of Judaism. The story of Christ and his work is much larger than we can ever express or imagine. God is bigger than our idols.

Amen.

original post: here

h00die_R (Rod)

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Clement of Alexandria on divine goodness

how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.”-Acts 10:38

 

“Since also God Himself remains blessed and immortal, neither molested nor molesting another, not in consequence of being by nature good, but in consequence of doing good in a manner peculiar to Himself. God, being essentially, and proving Himself, actually, both Father and good, continues immutably in the self-same goodness. For what is the use of good that does not act and do good?”-Clement of Alexandria, The Stromata, book VI, chapter XII

The more I think about it, the more Clement’s teaching of God’s divine benevolence fits nicely with the theme of Christus Victor atonement. I wonder what it would mean to view God’s context as being God’s own benevolence like some Womanist theologians argue? What difference what that make?

God is good. All. The. Time.

h00die_R (Rod)

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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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good cop, bad cop routine?: on police brutality & systemic racism

[The other day last week, I wrote this as a facebook status, but I wanted to flesh out my ideas more here, and add relevant links.

It’s a common trope in procedurals and buddy cop movies to have this “good cop/bad cop” routine, where the suspected criminal under interrogation is given the false hope that the  system will show him mercy through a kind face from within the police department. The system depends on fear of retributive justice to bring about retributive justice upon the law-abiding and criminal alike. Recently in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, a police department was discovered to have “bad cops” who have been doing racist practices, and now the “good cop” union is calling for the chief’s termination.

To be honest, this (facebook) status update has been on my mind for a few days, but I wanted to wait and post it. So here goes. When I talk about racism, sexism, economic classism, or any other oppression, I REFUSE to talk about individuals as “racist” etc., for the most part because oppression happens REGARDLESS of what people intend. It’s like my friends say, Intentions are not magic. Our words and actions do have an impact (POWER), and so that’s why systemic racism is Power+Prejudice, but it can also be Power+ Ignorance too. When one talks about the shooting of #MikeBrown as a tragedy, as an event, it does not happen in a vacuum. News reports have shown how the “riots” in Ferguson, Missouri, are the result of government overreach both in terms of militarizing the police force and over-taxation of Ferguson residents. The tension between the populace and the powers that be are not merely coincidental, but it is racial, because Black people are being unfairly targeted by bureaucrats, members of the police force, and these two groups are empowered by the U.S. Congress. Now, a few details that remain irrelevant from my perspective: FIRST: Whether or not Darren Wilson is a vicious racist or not. Irrelevant, even though the community believed he targeted African Americans, and he was transferred from another police department for being racist and corrupt, as an individual, Wilson is only a participant. Racist opinions and thoughts do not kill people. Racist practices and institutions kill people. SECOND: Whether or not Mike Brown is a respectable “innocent” victim or not. Again, completely IRRELEVANT. [EDITOR'S THEOLOGICAL NOTE!: OF COURSE MIKE BROWN WASN'T AN ANGEL BECAUSE HE IS HUMAN. GOD BECAME HUMAN AND RAISED UP THE GOD-PERSON JESUS SO THAT HUMANITY MAY PARTAKE IN THE DIVINE LIFE, AND THEREFORE BE ABOVE ANGELS, BECAUSE WE GET TO JUDGE EVEN CELESTIAL BEINGS (the apostle Paul, 1st Corinthians 6:3). NOW SIT ON THAT, PLATONIST DOUCHECANOES!] Why? Because White Supremacy as a system also involves a mythology, and part of that mythos involves anti-Blackness, and black men as perpetual, lazy criminals.

When Ferguson, Missouri and the conversations about race becomes focused on strictly the two individuals involved, then the discussion devolves into the right wing politics. What I mean by right wing politics is this, that the US by default is conservative/center-right politically, and that the games of “picking up similar incidents” in the name of being contrarian without regard for context keeps the status quo unscathed. The truth is, as studies have shown, over and again: Ronald Reagan’s War on Drugs  [edit: It was Ronald Reagan+ Democratic Congressional leaders, never forget that] was and has always meant to target large populations of People of Color, the Prison Industry (politicians & multinational corporations) benefits from breaking up Black families (and so before you go into how broken “fatherless” black homes are, ask yourself who is taking fathers/mothers away from their kids), that Mass Incarceration is an unjust racist system that targets Blacks and Latinos, that crime is down while police brutality is up, and that Stop & Frisk Policies target people of color at disproportionate rates. This is not about individuals with views like the Ku Klux Klan. Participants can include your run-of-the-mill carceral feminist or businessman just wanting to make a few extra bucks. Racism isn’t about issues of “mistrust” or dead-wrong personal opinions. White Supremacy is a system, organized institutional negative, lethal, discriminatory policies by the public, private, and religious sectors versus people of color+ false myths and stereotypes to keep racial hierarchy in power

h00die_R (Rod)

priestly abolitionist time travelling supervillian

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Christ in #Ferguson: On The Theological Failure of R.R. Reno’s Comments on Race and Criminality

A guest post

Timothy McGee is a doctoral student at Southern Methodist University, working in the area of systematic theology. His research focuses on 20th century political theologies, especially as they draw on Christological themes in their analysis and critique of the political configurations of life and death.

R.R. Reno, the main editor of the religious journal First Things, recently made a series of troubling posts on Ferguson (8/25, 8/26a, 8/26b, 8/27). Having commented on some of the false and prejudicial aspects his claims, I want to entertain the possibility that, at least on one point, R.R. Reno was correct. The moment when Reno was correct is, however, a complicated moment, similar in more ways than one to that moment in John’s Gospel when Caiaphas supported the plot to kill Jesus by saying: “You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed” (John 11:50).

The complicated moment in which Reno says something right as long as we read it against the grain is this: “We’ve all—black and white—decided to accept the fact that the culture of poor blacks is violent, dangerous, and dysfunctional. The best we can do is keep the violence under control with aggressive policing and incarceration (8/25).” The “we” is the point at which Reno is both terribly wrong and in another way, completely right. For this “we” is not the “we” of all but rather the respectable we—black and white—formed through the denunciation and exclusion of the “violent, dangerous, and dysfunctional.” Reno is completely at one here with his liberal opponents. They may offer different explanations for what causes the problems facing African-Americans: collapse of family values or past and present forms of racist discrimination. They may also offer different solutions: restoring nuclear family or providing governmental remedies for causes and effects of discrimination. But both agree—and the “we” of the nation is formed out of this agreement—that the cohesion and security of the nation depends on monitoring, separating out, and eradicating (civilizing/incarcerating)those deviant or delinquent black others here: for instance, recall how much effort liberals spent to identify “looters” as “outside agitators,” and thus not part of the respectable we.

It is also at this precise point that Reno begins, in a deeply troubling theological moment, to echo the logic Caiaphas expressed: the logic of sacrifice. Reno’s overall point is that the criminal culture of poor blacks necessitates the aggressive policing that targets them, thereby making the black community responsible for the racial disparities in who suffers the inevitable mistakes and shortcomings of police. Policing, therefore, always brings with it the sacrifice of some, but ultimately these sacrifices are what keep the whole nation from being destroyed by this criminality, until this criminal threat—“the culture of poor blacks”—is overcome.This logic of containment, control, management, and transformation through (cultural) death is the logic of the “we” of the U.S., a logic that, as we know, has simultaneously included and excluded—or included as excluded—black bodies ” (most obviously but not only in the three-fifths clause). Conservatives and liberals are at one in that the solution to “black violence” is to increase the inclusion of blacks into this “we,” into us, the respectable law-abiding and law-giving citizens. What Reno cannot imagine—which is, I think, the theological problem at the center of his troubling remarks—is that the Christian community is bound together as a “we” not through a “nobility of faith” that is placed equally alongside “the dignity of work” and “marriage and family.” Rather, the Christian community is formed as those whose lives are bound together in and through the body of the poor, marginalized, unwanted, un(re)productive, criminalized, and crucified Jesus of Nazareth. Christian community is not formed among those justified by the law but among those who are brought into the body of the one condemned by the law (Gal 3:11-14).

And so, with this failure of theological imagination, Reno is unable to imagine poor black bodies as the figure of Christ. At best, he can do so in the same way as liberals: only insofar as these bodies are docile and respectable—i.e., submissive to or tragically murdered by the law (of whiteness). What neither can imagine is black violence as figuring Christ for us (as Nyle Fort has recently argued). For neither can imagine the foundational anti-black violence—the simultaneous exclusion and containment—at the core of our national identity. Or, to put it in more traditional theological terms and from the other side: neither can imagine that only the rupture of our
national identity—the “death” of the we in which Reno speaks—can be a sign of our salvation through this God’s broken body (cf. Phil. 3:4-11).

By his refusal of this rupture, Reno cannot imagine the lives of those crossed out by this we as existing—living and loving and fighting—as a parable for how God comes to us in Jesus of Nazareth. Precisely at the site of exclusion internal to the production of the nation, God has identified God’s own life not with the respectable “we” but with those James Cone calls “the oppressed,” granting them possibilities for life that exceed a world structured by their containment and death. To put it again in more traditional theological terms, if Christ is for and with them in the Spirit, who can stand against them (cf. Rom 8:31-39)? And we—yes, I place my respectable white self clearly in Reno’s we—cannot imagine we have a future with this God without attending to and entering these ruptures created by the struggles and movements of black Americans. That Reno cannot imagine this possibility—the Christological work of joining—but instead rushes to excuse the inevitability of sacrifice while blaming black Americans for their suffering is the theological failure at the center of his deeply troubling remarks on race and Ferguson.

The Political Jesus Collective

Guests posts by friends of Political Jesus ---OR---- Group Announcement from the Bloggers of PJ

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#Negrophobia, Spiders, and America’s Fear of Talking About Racism

trayvon-miles-640x256

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So rather than have an actual conversation on race, the editors of Time magazine decided to publish a post on their Web-exclusive online site entitled “Negrophobia: Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and America’s Fear Of Black People.” A number of persons on Twitter suspected that Time magazine was taking aim at #BlackTwitter, and I think they’re right to suspect so. This article was so atrocious, however, and hardly persuasive at that, that I would have to call this one of the worst attempts at being both anti-racist while trolling for hits.

Let’s start with the actual content of the essay. Mr. Hill starts out with some basic Carl Jungian psychology 101, talking about “phobias,”: “Phobias are extreme aversions embedded deep in our psyches, activated when we come face-to-face with the thing we fear. Some people are afraid of black people.” True to the classical liberal fashion of our society, Mr. Hill opts to discuss racism on an individual level. Anti-Black racism and violence is a problem of interpersonal interactions between powerful individuals and black persons. Our psyches, our subconsciousnesses, our very souls are for the most part, unknowable, and we are left often times to irrelevant pseudoscience. Hill repeats, “Phobias are extreme aversions. They are embedded deep in our psyches, activated when we come face-to-face with with the things we fear. For me, spiders trigger overreactions. For others, it can be people.”

A couple of problems with this sentiment. First of all, when we talk about personhood and face-to-face confrontations, what Hill avoids discussing is the number of practices that make black persons remain fa celess subjects at the bottom of the well. The “triggering” encounters that individuals with anti-black phobias (supposedly) have is not one of face-to-face, but of face-to-faceless, the citizen shunning the fugitive, the civilized keeping the barbarian at bay. Secondly, the comparison of Black people/anti-black racism (even on the individual level) to arachnophobia is highly problematic. Black people are not animals. White supremacist narratives animalize Black bodies, especially Black men as Wild Bucks, in order to justify racist practices such as police brutality. Lastly, if I may make myself an example and come clean. I am not afraid of spiders, or roaches, or bees or wasps. These insects do not BUG me. What insects do scare me, especially when I was in third grade, are crickets. That’s right, crickets. I would see them everywhere in our back yard, and when our basement flooded back then during tornado season, I had crickets in my room hopping around, not leaving me alone. I had not learned anything about what crickets actually were, and what value they had in the food chain. However, I did find out one day that in some cultures, crickets are signs of good luck. From that day on, I tried really hard not to bother them. Who wouldn’t want to have good fortune?

Just as #NotAllSpiders are dangerous, #NotAllCrickets are scary. The thing is, is that I had been socialized to ignore the crickets’ worth. Coincidentally, when Mr. Hill highlights the police officers calling Ferguson residents “animals,”

“I hate to think this is what the police see when they approach any unarmed black person- a predator that has escaped captivity that must be tranquilized before he or she wreaks havoc.”

It is because the officer has been socialized to be anti-black through White Supremacist story-telling, and the practices that reinforce those stories. The idea that there is a “lens of phobia,” a fear that is natural as the hair on our head that plays a major role in anti-black racism is actually a FALSE MYTH that sustains the story of White Supremacy. Racism is not natural and is immoral. It is not a “deep aversion” to be excused for, but a set of practices and beliefs to be torn down. The liberal notions of “diversity” that Mr. Hill refers to at the end of his article will not suffice; only a complete rejection that blacks and the difference we represent have to be “intimidating” in order for justice to pave the way for greater human intimacy.

h00die_R (Rod)

priestly abolitionist time travelling supervillian

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