Boy does it have a lot of buttons

Apr. 17th, 2014 06:41 pm
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Posted by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

I spent this last weekend at Port Ludlow, hosting and teaching at the Strung Along April retreat, but you all know that – and I don’t want to go on about it (although it was seriously one of the most awesome things and I am not even kidding you a little. A fantastic combination in every way. Great students who were a perfect foil for each other, great teachers, great food, great goodie bags, great wine, great weather… I’m on the edge of gushing, I know, but it really did go just so perfectly well. I’ll shut up.)  Instead, let me tell you about this.  I got my new camera.

newcamerafront 2014-04-17

I’m so thrilled I can barely hold it together. Look.  See what I just did there? I’m so excited about my new camera that I took a picture of it with my other camera. (Also, it is not the first picture I have taken of it. There’s a smallish gallery developing.)

cameraback 2014-04-17

(See that? I did it again.  Be glad we are not friends or there’s an 80% chance that I’ve been texting you pictures of a camera for days, just like it’s a new puppy or something.) That second picture is part of what I want to talk about.  From the front, this camera looks a lot like my old one. From the back though? Holy smokes.

marketplacepic1 2014-04-15

(I’m pretty happy with this picture. I took it at the Community Marketplace on Saturday night. That’s ridiculously beautiful Local Color Fiber Studio yarns, and yes. I did buy a little. I’m only human.)

It came with 374 page instruction booklet and I’m only on  page 89, and It’s clear to me now that I’m going to have to read the whole thing and go to school on this.  It does so many things that I keep turning pages in the book and waiting to find out that it’s not just a camera, but a tiny little coffeemaker – because really, I think that’s the only thing that could make it better.  Right now – the experience of taking pictures with it is super exciting, but the pictures aren’t.  I’ve managed to take only a very few great ones.

winebeadsnice 2014-04-17

(I’m almost happy with this picture.  It’s my current project, or what was my current project until I discovered that somewhere between Toronto and Port Ludlow my tiny little crochet hook for beading departed my company. Super frustrating – and now this is on hold until I can get another.)

partyfavours 2014-04-15

(This is a picture of the table set for dinner the last night of the retreat. We had such beautiful party favours, courtsey of Habu – but it took me about 26 shots to get this one.  I have 25 others that are too light, too dark, too blurry, and one that is spoiled by the presence of Debbi’s arse, which is not to say that her arse isn’t perfectly nice, or that the camera screwed up that one. It was just an accidentally intimate picture.)

ballwinderout 2014-04-17

(The weather was so nice that we set up the ball winder on our balcony. It was nice to be out there, but more fun to watch people below try to figure out what we were doing.)

The first bunch I took were out of focus (then I figured out that it was on some crazy 39 point autofocus thing that predicts the movement of objects like birds – but somehow can’t cope with yarn.) Then the next bunch had the white balance all wrong, and I looked up those pages. Then the bunch after that were all screwed as I figured out how I wanted the metering set up.

mountains 2014-04-17

I can admit that the last few days have been disappointing – I think there was a tiny little part of me that really hoped that money could buy skill, and that my photos would automatically go up in quality in a way that was directly related to the quality of the camera.  I saved up for four years to buy this, and I think that I had the experience built up in my mind into something totally unfair.

flights 2014-04-15

On some little level, I thought that out of the box, this camera would be just like my other one (even though it is nothing like my other one) and everything would work the same way (which is nothing short of insane) and that it would solve every photographic problem I’ve ever had without me having to learn anything new – which is also a big fat slice of crazy pie, complete with a nice dollop of delusion right on the top.

judithfindsaslug 2014-04-17

(That’s Judith finding two really big slugs on a bracket fungi.  I am in love with the look on her face, and I’m just glad that I was able to get the exposure right fast enough.)

The truth is that this is going to be a lot like anything else. It’s new. It’s complicated, and that means that I’m going to have to do three things that aren’t instant.

cedars 2014-04-17

I’m going to have to learn. I’m going to have to practice, and I’m going to have to suck for a while while those first two things happen.  (That’s the part I hate.) I think maybe things will get worse before they get better. Stand by.  I’m reading the pages on “Bracketing” today.

(PS. I updated the gig page.  In the next few months I’ll be in Minneapolis, Buffalo and at Squam.)

 

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Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

At Junk Charts, Kaiser Fung drew my attention to a graph released by Reuters.  It is so deeply misleading that I loathe to expose your eyeballs to it.  So, I offer you this:

1The original figure is on the left.  It counts the number of gun deaths in Florida.  A line rises, bounces a little, reaches a 2nd highest peak labeled “2005, Florida enacted its ‘Stand Your Ground’ law,” and falls precipitously.

What do you see?

Most people see a huge fall-off in the number of gun deaths after Stand Your Ground was passed.  But that’s not what the graph shows.  A quick look at the vertical axis reveals that the gun deaths are counted from top (0) to bottom (800).  The highest peaks are the fewest gun deaths and the lowest ones are the most.  A rise in the line, in other words, reveals a reduction in gun deaths.  The graph on the right — flipped both horizontally and vertically — is more intuitive to most: a rising line reflects a rise in the number of gun deaths and a dropping a drop.

The proper conclusion, then, is that gun deaths skyrocketed after Stand Your Ground was enacted.

This example is a great reminder that we bring our own assumptions to our reading of any illustration of data.  The original graph may have broken convention, making the intuitive read of the image incorrect, but the data is, presumably, sound.  It’s our responsibility, then, to always do our due diligence in absorbing information.  The alternative is to be duped.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions, with Myra Marx Ferree. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

(View original at http://thesocietypages.org/socimages)

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Posted by Fred Clark

Congratulations to the Wayside Community Association on the successful purchase of the land beneath their homes. Bravo! More of this, please.

It’s a simple rule for white men: If you’re invited to be part of a panel, or a faculty, or a board of directors, or a conference, conclave, cabal, colloquy, council, coven or club, it’s your job to first ask whether or not everyone else invited was also white and also male. If so, then you say, “No, thank you,” until that changes. Simple. Follow that rule or else crap like this is your fault.

• No, Bryan Fischer never has read the Gospels. Why do you ask?

• Jennifer LeClaire — news editor and demon-sex beat reporter for Charisma magazine — claims to have gay-dar. Or maybe she just thinks all female artists are lesbians. Anyway, that Honey Maid graham-cracker ad that made most decent people sniffle? LeClaire hated it.

Ex-pastor turned cable-TV host Mike Huckabee says that white Christians like him are being so cruelly persecuted here in the U.S., that “I’m beginning to think there’s more freedom in North Korea sometimes than there is in the United States.”

He must be right, because you’ll never see a North Korean appear on North Korean television to disagree with Huckabee by saying, “I’m beginning to think there’s more freedom in the United States than there is here in North Korea.”

• If you want to kiss the sky, better learn how to kneel: “50 Shades of Grey or Contemporary Christian Music Lyrics: A Quiz.”

• Here’s a pretty good outfield for the next Old-Timers Game: Doug Glanville in left, Ralph Garr in center, Hank Aaron in right. Those links go to three separate stories discussing America’s traditional pastime. And they’re also about baseball.

• “I take the Bible very seriously – hence returning from the States to the UK to do a PhD in theology at Durham University. My support of same-sex marriage comes from respecting the Bible so much, rather than so little. For me it’s the product of much study, hours of reading, and pages and pages of great scholars’ work.”

• Item: “Half of Americans Believe at Least One Conspiracy Theory.” This is bad news for two reasons. First, it tells us that some Americans believe in more than one conspiracy theory, which suggests that such people are ridiculously credulous. And second, it suggests that half of Americans have not yet selected their one allotted conspiracy theory. Everybody gets one. But only one. Choose yours carefully.

 

Three Kisses Plus One

Apr. 17th, 2014 08:39 am
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Posted by Dave Hingsburger

We were seated, at a window, having a cup of tea when I saw them. Two young men, barely past their teens, stopped, just on the other side of the glass. In greeting they hugged and then kissed each other. They walked away holding hands.


A revolutionary kiss.


Revolutionary because it spoke of the pure humanity of those two boys. It was a kiss that expressed their deep love, their absolute affection, their spontaneous expression of joy. I watched them walk away and I felted deeply honoured to have simply been witness to a time that made this possible. Many are horrified at Public Displays of Affection. I am not. I do not feel comfortable with public displays of sexual behaviour. But these days people mistake sex for intimacy and sex for affection. Public Displays of Affection remind us of the transformative power of love.


XOX


I was a new staff, taking a group of people to the 519 Church Street Community Centre when they hosted the Friday Night Club, a club by and for people with intellectual disabilities. It was a blast and the people who I was there to support dumped me as soon as they entered the room. I wandered about and finally found a place to sit amongst crowded tables. It was early in the evening and the DJ has just started. One lone couple got up to dance. They both had Down Syndrome. They held on to each other, dancing a slow dance to fast music. Then she put her hand behind his neck and drew his lips to hers. They kissed.


A revolutionary kiss.


Revolutionary but it spoke of the pure humanity of that young couple. It was a kiss that would have been disallowed by almost every policy of every agency of the day. It was a kiss that easily could have lead to punishment, a stern talking to and a forever ban on dancing. But none of the punishment, none of the upset and none of the meetings could ever erase what had happened. A kiss had happened. An expression of love had happened. Two lips touched and our certainty of the place in the world that had been created for people with disabilities was shaken. Public Displays of Affection remind us of the transformative power of love.


 XXOXX


I sat and listened. She had made herself a coffee, spilled some milk into it, lit a cigarette and began to tell me a story. It was part of a conversation that had been ongoing for several months. I was the behaviour therapist, she was the mother of a young girl with cerebral palsy and an intellectual disability. The room was one that was full of the evidence that this child had accessible play. She was a good mom, she had a good husband and together with their child they made a strong family. But the story she was telling me was about the moment that she realized that she would have to take a stand regarding her relationship with her child. She had been in a doctors waiting room. Other young mothers were there, their kids crawling all over the place. Her child did not crawl, She sat beside her mother in an adapted stroller. The eyes of the other mothers showed pity, which barely veiled hostile sentiment. They were glad of theirs, thankful they didn't get hers. "I picked her up from her stroller, held her in my arms and I kissed her." It was in that kiss she recognized that her love for her child would have to be seen. It would be seen in her affection but it would also be seen in her advocacy for her child's right to be seen and treated and respected as human. "That kiss told those women exactly what they could do with their pity," she said stubbing out her cigarette.


A revolutionary kiss.


XXXOXXX


I lay in my hospital bed. Surgery behind me. Uncertainty in front of me. I had just woken from the anesthetic. Joe was there. He leaned over the rail of the bed and kissed me.


A revolutionary kiss.


A kiss that said, now is like then, all is well.


XXXOXXX


The world is changed when we are changed.


And sometimes it starts with something a simple and as powerful as a kiss.

Rub My Feet?

Apr. 17th, 2014 11:14 am
[syndicated profile] daily_otter_feed

Posted by Daily Otter

Rub My Feet?

Photo by Mark Medcalf, who won the portrait prize in the 2013 Scottish Nature Photography Awards for this photo, called “Will You Rub My Feet?”

Via the BBC (scroll through the slideshow) and submitted by Ian!

Joy Is a Wiggly White Goat

Apr. 17th, 2014 02:57 am
[syndicated profile] loveiswhatyoudo_feed

Posted by jgoudeau

When I met Hela, she was heavily pregnant with her third child. She had no idea how she could help her husband support their family; she barely spoke English. We went to visit her in the hospital a few weeks later when her red-faced baby boy was just a few hours old. The doctor had taped a brown paper towel above the bed. Scribbled in blue pen was the word “Skoo,” which she told me was Karen for “push.” I can only imagine the stress she endured–no insurance, no language, no midwife, no family. Just her and a very young husband, bewildered and alone, pushing a new baby into this upside down new life.

Hela started working at my daughters’ preschool a few years ago. It’s the kind of job we want–decent pay, good hours, kind people. She’s home in time for her kids to get back from school, but she gets to be in a place where she’s valued and loved.

This past week they had a Western Day at the preschool and the babies dressed up in their cowboy/cowgirl finest. (Is this just a Texas thing?) Watching our new little one see baby bunnies for the first time in her life was sheer joy.

photo-4

It was delicious watching her delight that the bunnies were just right there. The picture doesn’t do it justice.

But then I caught this shot of Hela and it almost brought me to tears.

photo-3

Watching her holding a goat, a toddler’s pink cowgirl hat stuck jauntily on her head, all dimples and laughter, I realized how far we have come together. Not that everything in her life is perfect or that they’ve finally stopped being stressed, but the fact that this strong, confident, hilarious women is able to work and have fun and be herself is a huge, huge accomplishment.

It’s an arrival and a completion, a new chapter beginning and an acknowledgment of how far we’ve come.

[syndicated profile] geekfeminism_feed

Posted by lizhenry

This morning as I was about to get on a plane back from a conference I found out that Dana McCallum, aka Dana L. Contreras, a software engineer at Twitter as well as a feminist activist, was arrested in late January and charged with several felonies including rape, false imprisonment, and domestic violence. Some details of the charges are described on SFgate: SF Women’s Rights Advocate Accused of Raping Wife.

Many of us associated with geekfeminism.org and its sister organizations would like to make a statement in response.

This is horrifying and came as a shock to many of us in feminist communities, as McCallum has been a fellow feminist activist for some time. The bloggers at geekfeminism.org would like to express our empathy and support for the victim/survivor and her family.

Another aspect of this case is that the media coverage of the rape and assault charges are almost universally misogynist and transphobic both in their perpetuation of rape culture (for one, by providing an uncritical platform for McCallum’s lawyer) and in their misgendering and obsessive focus on McCallum’s gender identity and history.  Some radical feminist activists (and their many obvious sockpuppets) have also been writing hateful “trans panic” or TERF articles and tweets. We strongly repudiate such responses.

Rape is a horrible violent crime no matter who the rapist is.

The National Center for Transgender Equality director Mara Keisling says on a comment on a post by Nitasha Tiku,

“Rape is a horrific crime. Sexual violence is never okay. But this isn’t a transgender story. We can’t speak to the specifics of this case but sexual assault knows no gender. That’s why the FBI recently revised their definition of rape. As this case gains more attention, we must avoid using it as a reason to misrepresent transgender people.”

For anyone who has experienced abuse or sexual assault, it can be helpful to turn to local or broader resources. Here is a list of trans-friendly and inclusive rape survivor organizations and resources.  In San Francisco,  San Francisco Women Against Rape is a good resource;  WOMAN Inc, the Cooperative Restraining Order Clinic, and GLIDE also provide many resources for people in the SF Bay Area who have experienced domestic violence. Please don’t go through this on your own; reach out to people around you — you’re not alone.

- Liz Henry

cosigned:

Leigh Honeywell

Valerie Aurora

Brenda Wallace

Tim Chevalier

Annalee Flower Horne

 

 

[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

I was initially so taken aback by the weirdness of Daniel Darling’s straw-man attack on Rachel Held Evans that I didn’t say much about Darling’s odd misuse of statistics.

And it is weird to see Darling presenting the old bogus opposition of charity and justice, reframing the rejection of justice as “too nice.” I mean, when we look at the many, many passages of the Bible Darling wants us to ignore — everything demanding justice — it seems odd to regard those passages as flawed due to an inappropriate concern for niceness.

I’m accustomed to seeing people like Darling ignoring passages like this, from James 5:

Come now, you rich people, weep and wail for the miseries that are coming to you. Your riches have rotted, and your clothes are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you, and it will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure for the last days. Listen! The wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.

But it’s rather innovative of Darling to reject those verses because James is being too “nice,” or that he’s being overly sentimental and just wants to be liked.

Or how about Amos?

Hear this word, you cows of Bashan who are on Mount Samaria, who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, who say to their husbands, “Bring something to drink!” The Lord God has sworn by his holiness: The time is surely coming upon you, when they shall take you away with hooks, even the last of you with fishhooks.

Who would have ever imagined to criticize Amos there for a “false gospel of nice“? It shows some real creativity on Darling’s part to imagine that the prophet is straying from anti-justice “orthodoxy” there because he’s desperate to ingratiate himself to the high society in Bashan.

(I suppose, in a sense, this is a refreshing change from the usual tone-policing approach of complaining that talk of injustice and discrimination is “uncivil” and that it’s not sufficiently nice to refer to bigotry as bigotry.)

But we shouldn’t let Darling’s novel approach to the defense of injustice completely overshadow the other strange assertions in his column. Like the fact that his numbers don’t add up.

Eric Miller responds to that aspect of Darling’s column at Religion Dispatches:

Early in the post, Darling cites Christian researchers Bradley Wright and Ed Stetzer to counter the popular narrative about millennials leaving Christian faith en masse. But those who click on his links and read their contents will notice that Wright and Stetzer only support his claim in very particular ways.

Though he rejects the idea that Christianity is in crisis, for instance, Wright confirms that evangelical identification in the 18-29 age bracket is in descent, currently at a 40-year low and dropping. And though Stetzer downplays the findings of that 2012 Pew Research report, he also acknowledges that there is “great cause for concern.”

These judgments do not square with Darling’s smugness. “One might argue that young evangelicals aren’t fleeing core conservative institutions, but flooding them,” he writes.

Indeed, one might argue that. But then, one might argue a lot of things.

Stetzer is a follow-the-numbers guy. As the Southern Baptist Convention’s top data dude, it’s his job to say what the numbers are, not what people might like them to be. So when his LifeWay research finds that “baptisms have declined six of the last eight years, with 2012 the lowest since 1948,” Stetzer doesn’t try to spin that news to support Darling’s claim that young people are “flooding” conservative institutions.

What Stetzer actually says in the link Darling provides is that “evangelicals have been relatively steady as a percent of the population over the last few years.”

That’s very interesting. ”Day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved” the book of Acts says of the early Christian community. But Ed Stetzer’s data tells us that nothing has been added to the number of American evangelicals over the past few years.

That may, in fact, be evidence that young people and “Millennials” are not fleeing evangelical churches to a worrisome extent.

I all these people are “coming forward,” and no one is leaving, then shouldn’t evangelicalism be growing?

But if that’s true — if the “relatively steady” evangelical population means that no one is leaving evangelicalism — then it must also mean that no one is entering evangelicalism. If the size of evangelicalism has not changed and no one is leaving, then evangelicals must be terrible at evangelism.

In other words, this steady state theory of evangelicalism suggests that all the work of all the evangelists out there preaching the gospel, distributing literature, broadcasting televangelism, conducting revivals and “crusades” and altar calls all over the nation produces very little in the way of actual converts. The “relatively steady” size of evangelicalism means that we could calculate a Soul-Winning Rate for all of those evangelists and all of their efforts put together. Every year, a certain number of evangelicals die. The population remains steady because they are replaced by new members born into the community and by new members born-again into the community. So the formula seems simple: Death rate minus birth rate equals soul-winning rate.

Evangelists claim to be “bringing people to the Lord” in droves. But if young people are not really leaving evangelicalism “in droves,” and the overall size of the herd remains unchanged, then something doesn’t add up.

I’ve long believed that the claims of evangelists are overstated — that their “soul-winning” statistics are all greatly exaggerated. But I’ve never doubted that they did, indeed, produce some number of new converts that was greater than zero. And if that’s true, yet the overall population remains “relatively steady,” then somebody must be leaving to make room for those new converts.

Darling’s claim, in other words, is that white evangelicalism doesn’t have a problem with young people leaving, it has a problem with no one joining.

Ah, but what if we say lots of people are joining and no one is walking away? That could be true with a “relatively steady” population if we just plug different values into the soul-winning rate formula. The lack of growth in the population could be accounted for if we assume a higher rate of natural mortality — a death rate that is much higher than the birth rate. But if that’s the case, then what we’re dealing with must be an aging, graying population. That puts us right back where we started — with an apparent problem involving the lack of appeal to younger people.

Darling’s torturing of statistics to reframe stasis as growth ultimately just leads us back to the essential weirdness of his overall thesis that “orthodoxy” requires the rejection of both social justice and niceness.

Darling is very cross with Rachel Held Evans and the many other young people who say they feel alienated by evangelicalism. (Their testimony is merely anecdotal, and if it’s fair to dismiss a single anecdote, then it must be fair to dismiss millions of them one at a time.)

But Darling’s main complaint isn’t with those who testify that evangelicalism is becoming repellent to them as young people. His main complaint is that evangelicalism isn’t repellent enough to everyone.

Like his Southern Baptist mentors, Daniel Darling is working hard to ensure that no one associates evangelicalism with social justice or with being nice. And he’s certain that will ensure its population doesn’t remain “relatively steady” for long.

I suspect that much is true, just not in the way Darling imagines.

[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

As the community that would eventually become the “church” began in the book of Acts, Luke says, “And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.”

That description doesn’t seem to apply to white evangelicalism these days. That’s not surprising if you read the rest of that chapter in Acts, and everything leading up to that consequence of “the Lord added to their number”:

All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

The early church grew because they sought and won “the goodwill of all the people.”

Or, if you’re Southern Baptist Junior Spokesman Daniel Darling, the early church grew because it preached a “false gospel of nice.” Squishy liberals just wanna be liked, Darling says.

Darling — like his SBC mentors — aims to be a contentious prick. For Jesus. He seems to think that devotion to “orthodoxy” requires that we be abrasive, belligerent and deliberately unlovely. Darling quotes the words of Jesus, “If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you.”

That’s scripture! That’s from John 15:18. Here’s the verse before that: “I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.” (Oh Noes!1! Even Jesus is a squishy liberal preaching a false gospel of nice!)

Frederick Douglass’ problem, according to Daniel Darling, is that he was too “nice.”

Folks like Darling see a conflict between “the world hates you” and “having the goodwill of all the people.” A Southern Baptist is bound to find that confusing because Southern Baptist theology was invented to be otherworldly — to accommodate and to bless injustice in this world. It is what Christianity looks like when Christians are trying to both: 1) Read and follow their Bibles, and 2) Own, buy, sell, steal from, beat, rape, scourge, torture and proselytize other human beings.

This is why Southern Baptist theology — the intrinsically white theology of American evangelicalism — will always be conflicted and always be confused when it attempts to engage the book of Acts or passages like John 15. This is why this white theology will never allow itself to understand what Jesus was talking about as “the world.”

Darling seems to think that “the world” in John 15 refers to the same thing as “all the people” in Acts 2. He thinks “the world” means the hoi polloi, the riff-raff, the public, the rabble, the unwashed and the unsaved and the unclean. As if those were the people in charge of this world. As if those were the people who run this world. That’s why if you want to understand what Jesus is talking about there in John 15, you’re much better off turning to Sister Sinead than to any member of the Southern Baptist hierarchy.

Poor Daniel Darling dimly grasps, as Steven Sondheim said, that “nice is different than good.” So far, so good. But he then takes a wrong turn by concluding that means that being un-nice is all that one needs to do to be good. To be good, then, means not seeking “the goodwill of all the people.” It means, rather, disdaining that goodwill.

And, actually, “good” isn’t even in the picture. Darling isn’t interested in “good,” only in “orthodox” — an orthodox white theology which is even more different from good than nice is.

Yeah, I know that 1845 was 169 years ago, and that Southern Baptists are probably tired of me talking about slavery. Tough. The fact is that you cannot understand the theology of white Southern Baptists today, in 2014, without understanding how that theology was shaped by and for slavery. That’s the whole of it. Take away the centuries spent concocting a theological defense of slavery and you could never, ever arrive at anything like today’s white Southern Baptist theology. You can’t get here without starting there.

Just look at Darling’s contempt for social justice. Look at the way he frames his argument as requiring a choice between either fidelity to the Bible or social justice.

Please go and read a Bible. Read the whole thing. Read the law, and the prophets, and the Psalms and Proverbs, the chronicles of kings, the Gospels, the Acts and the epistles and the apocalypse. Now consider what it requires to be able to read all of that and still be blind to how social justice is woven into every part of that story of redemption, from Genesis to Revelation. Consider the vast scope of the mechanism involved that would allow one to read that and somehow to see it as something separate from and opposed to social justice.

That astonishing achievement is only possible thanks to centuries of hard work reinterpreting, selectively disregarding and dismissing everything the Bible says about this world. It is the culmination of generations of rationalization in defense of the indefensible. It required an entirely new hermeneutic, and so a new hermeneutic was developed, a white hermeneutic in support of white theology. It required a redefinition of scores of biblical themes — salvation, redemption, love, justice, mercy, virtue — and so, over the years, these things were all redefined and their earlier meanings were rejected and forgotten.

American slavery may have ended more than a century ago, but the theology that evolved to defend it still thrives and flourishes. No one will ever accuse that white theology of being “nice.” But no one will ever mistake it for being good either.

 

PyCon Open Thread

Apr. 16th, 2014 04:02 pm
[syndicated profile] geekfeminism_feed

Posted by Annalee

Were you at PyCon? Did you stop by the Geek Feminism Hackerspace? What did you think of the talks? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.

John Roberts And The Color Of Money

Apr. 16th, 2014 01:32 pm
[syndicated profile] tanehisicoates_feed

Posted by Ta-Nehisi Coates

My friend and MIT colleague Tom Levenson watched, with some interests, the debate between myself and Jonathan Chait. On a whim, Tom pulled together some more thoughts on campaign finance reform that, I think, help spin this conversation forward. His insights are below.

There has been plenty of talk about  the Ta-Nehisi Coates-Jonathan Chait argument over the term "black culture" in the context of the ills of poverty and the question of progress as seen through the lens of the actual history of America.

A drastically shortened version of Coates’ analysis is that white supremacy -- and the imposition of white power on African American bodies and property -- have been utterly interwoven through the history of American democracy, wealth and power from the beginnings of European settlement in North America. The role of the exploitation of African American lives in the construction of American society and polity did not end in 1865. Rather, through the levers of law, lawless violence, and violence under the color of law, black American aspirations to wealth, access to capital, access to political power, a share in the advances of the social safety net and more have all been denied with greater or less efficiency.  There has been change -- as Coates noted in a conversation he and I had a couple of years ago, in 1860 white Americans could sell children away from their parents, and in 1865 they could not -- and that is a real shift.  But such beginnings did not mean that justice was being done nor equity experienced.

Once you start seeing American history through the corrective lens created by the generations of scholars and researchers on whose work Coates reports, then it becomes possible – necessary, really  -- to read current events in a new light.  Take, for example, the McCutcheon decision that continued the Roberts Court program of gutting campaign finance laws.

The conventional -- and correct, as far as it goes -- view of the outcome, enabling wealthy donors to contribute to as many candidates as they choose, is that this further tilts the political playing field towards the richest among us at the expense of every American voter.  See noted analyst Jon Stewart for a succinct presentation of this view.

But that first-order take on this latest from the Supreme Court's right wing misses a crucial dimension.  It isn't just rich folks who benefit from the Roberts Court's view that money = speech.  Those who gain possess other key identifiers. For one thing, they form a truly a tiny elite.  As oral arguments in McCutcheon v. FEC were being prepared last fall, the Public Campaign delivered a report on all those who approached the money limits the court struck down.  They amount to just 1,219 people in the US -- that's 4 in every 1,000,000 of our population.  

Unsurprisingly, most of the report simply reinforces the main theme of the reaction to the Supreme Court's decision:  this is one more step towards securing governance of, for and by rich people and their well-compensated servants.  One of the most troubling aspects of the story is that the top donors in this country simply don't encounter ordinary folks, the middle class no more than the poor:

Nearly half of the elite donors (47.6 percent) live in the richest one percent of neighborhoods, as measured by per capita income, and more than four out of every five (80.5 percent) are from the richest 10 percent.

Equally unsurprisingly, the world of top donors is overwhelmingly male:

Of donors for whom gender data were available, only 25.7 percent of the elite donors in 2012 were women, even lower than the paltry one-third of donors giving at least $200 to a federal campaign that election cycle. Also, 304 superlimit donors have a spouse or other family member as another member of list, which could indicate either a very politically interested family or a way for one donor to circumvent the existing limits through contributions in his or her spouse’s name. Of the donors without another family member on the list, only 17.7 percent are women.

And against the argument that regardless of the source of the money, cash is gender blind, I give you both data and Nancy Pelosi:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) identifies big money as a key factor holding this number down: “If you reduce the role of money in politics and increase the level of civility, you’ll have more women elected to public office, and sooner, and that nothing is more wholesome to the governmental and political process than increased participation of women.”

In contrast, further increasing the role of money in politics by removing the aggregate contribution limit means the Supreme Court may end up pushing down women’s role in campaigns even further. CRP’s “Sex, Money and Politics,” report also found that “Women tend to make up a larger percentage of the donor pool when contribution amounts are limited by law.” It continues to note that the three cycles in which loopholes for sending unlimited contributions to political parties or outside groups like super PACs were largely closed, women played a larger role: “In the 2004, 2006 and 2008 cycles, which were the only three since 1990 with strict donation limits restricting the amount of money a single individual could give, the percentage of women as a portion of the donor pool increased.”

But even these pathologies are vastly less severe than those to be found through the lens of race.  People of color are almost entirely absent from the top donor profile, and none more so than members of the community that white Americans enslaved for two centuries:

While more than one-in-six Americans live in a neighborhood that is majority African-American or Hispanic, less than one-in-50 superlimit donors do. More than 90 percent of these elite donors live in neighborhoods with a greater concentration of non- Hispanic white residents than average. African-Americans are especially underrepresented. The median elite donor lives in a neighborhood where the African-American population counts for only 1.4 percent, nine times less than the national rate.

IOW:  political money and hence influence at the top levels is disproportionately white, male, and with almost no social context that includes significant numbers of African Americans and other people of color.

This is why money isn't speech. Freedom of speech as a functional element in democratic life assumes that such freedom can be meaningfully deployed.   But the unleashing of yet more money into politics allows a very limited class of people to drown out the money "speech" of everyone else -- but especially those with a deep, overwhelmingly well documented history of being denied voice and presence in American political life.

Now take the work of the Roberts Court in ensuring that rule of cash, the engine of political power for an overwhelmingly white upper-upper crust, with combine those decisions with the conclusions of the court on voting rights, and you get a clear view of what the five-justice right-wing majority has done.  Controlling access to the ballot has been a classic tool of white supremacy since the end of Reconstruction.  It is so once again, as states seizing on the Roberts Court Voting Rights Act decision take aim at exactly those tools with which African Americans increased turnout and the proportion of minority voters within the electorate.  There's not even much of an attempt to disguise what's going on.

Hell, add all this to the Roberts decision to free states from the tyranny of being forced to accept federal funds to provide health care to the poor.  When John Roberts declared that Obamacare's Medicaid expansion would be optional, the decision sounded colorblind -- states could deny succor to their poor of any race -- in practice, that is to say in the real world, this decision hits individual African Americans and their communities the hardest …. as Coates wrote way back when.

So:  money, which disproportionately defends existing power structures, is unfettered; ease of voting, which at least in theory permits challenges to such structures, is constrained; and a series of decisions seeming devoid of racial connection presses thumbs the scale ever harder against the chance that in the real world African Americans will have get to play on a level field.








A Big Day

Apr. 16th, 2014 09:30 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

Today is kind of a big day for me.

Many of you know, because I wrote about it here on "Rolling Around in My Head," that I had to cancel my trip to the UK this year because of a health issue that had to be taken care of right away. I started treatment right away and I hope for a quick recovery. What I got was a slow but steady improvement. I had an upcoming two week trip booked, 4days lecture, three days off, 4 days lecture. Well, that was approved by my 'Health Support Team' yesterday, and today, I booked the tickets.

I really enjoy, not the travel, but the opportunity and indeed the honour to share information and to present a 'point of view' regarding service provision to people with intellectual disabilities. That that is now back on the table, I'm relieved and, in a very simple word, happy.

So today I had to make the arrangements for travel, calling the airline, working with them to get the seats booked, deal with accessibility issues and have them do a thing or two that meets my unique needs as a traveller. I have sometimes found this the most arduous part of any trip - other than the travel day itself.

Today, though, I got through to an Air Canada agent, whom I had called because I can't book on line due to some of the things I need to be able to travel. The agent, once I explained to her what I needed, said, "That's not a problem, all that can easily be done, but I'll have to call several departments and it might take a little time." I told her that I had time and over the next hour she came back from hold to ask a question or two, and then, an hour later, it was all done.

Easily done.

Wow.

This has sometimes taken me the most part of a day! But the agent was helpful, knowledgeable, full of good humour and incredibly reassuring along the way. She apologized for the wait and stayed with me on the phone until the tickets arrived via email.

Air Canada, from me to you, THANKS! For me, as a traveler with a disability, you almost always get it right.

I feel so happy about my health, about the future that I could almost, no I think I will ... fly.

New Documentary: The Illusionists

Apr. 16th, 2014 02:00 pm
[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

1

Writer and director Elena Rossini has released the first four minutes of The Illusionists.  I’m really excited to see the rest.  The documentary is a critique of a high standard of beauty but, unlike some that focus exclusively on the impacts of Western women, Rossini’s film looks as though it will do a great job of illustrating how Western capitalist impulses are increasingly bringing men, children, and the entire world into their destructive fold.

The first few minutes address globalization and Western white supremacy, specifically.  As one interviewee says, the message that many members of non-Western societies receive is that you “join Western culture… by taking a Western body.”  The body becomes a gendered, raced, national project — something that separates modern individuals from traditional ones — and corporations are all too ready to exploit these ideas.

Watch for yourself (subtitles available here):

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions, with Myra Marx Ferree. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

(View original at http://thesocietypages.org/socimages)

Why, 2K!

Apr. 16th, 2014 02:14 pm
[syndicated profile] ursulav_feed
That's right, as of...well, sometime last week, probably, I haven't been checking that closely...we cracked 2000 copies of Nine Goblins sold! How cool izzat?

Thank you, everybody who ordered a copy! You're awesome, and I hope you enjoyed it!

The following bits are probably only of interest to self publishers, but I wanna contribute what smidgeon I can to an often opaque set of numbers, so read on if you like that sort of thing!

In terms of numeric breakdowns, after expenses (mostly editing services and coffee) we're looking at around $5.5K. For self-pub, that's not the extreme end of the bell curve, but definitely a very respectable success. If you figure it took about 100 hours to write, that's a very good wage (although if you figure that it took since 2006 to write, the numbers look...um...less good. And it's not like you can just sit down and put in a 100 hour work week and have another book. Well, I can't, anyhow. You know, trying to work this out like this is probably a fruitless exercise...)

Anyhow, as far as I can tell--and I am extrapolating from VERY little data here, so I could be very wrong, anyone with more experience, feel free to chip it!--the initial sales burst comes in the first month or two, then it begins to taper off. I'd guess there's a spike in sales when you put out a new book (or at least, so I am told!) but as the next Goblins book may take another couple years at this rate, we'll find out if it applies to other releases by the same author.

Around 90% of sales were via Amazon Kindle. Smashwords is definitely worth it, though, as there's a lot of readers who, for whatever reasons, will not use Amazon and it sucks to leave them in the lurch. I've heard from friends that direct sales from their website do very well, and that's something to consider, although I dread the tech support aspect there. Suspect that may be the wave of the future, though, as Amazon eventually will start to squeeze.

The nice thing about slow taper, though, is that while it's not paying my rent as it did for the first two months, it's still solidly buying groceries, and even as we slither downward, I can probably expect it to keep me in hard cider money for awhile.

That is due entirely to the readers, let me hasten to add--I'm not promoting it beyond posts like this one and links on the website, and it's the plethora of good reviews and (gasp! the legendary!) word-of-mouth that's moving copies. I am super grateful for that--I even had a fan tell me the other day that they bought a copy and loved it and didn't know it was by me. Which, I mean, pen-name and all, but that means the book has a life of its own beyond just yours truly, and that bodes very well for it.

So all in all, my first self-pub adventure has been a rousing success, despite all the weeping and bloodshed that it took to bring it into the world. (Come to think of it, there's a few more typos found...need to get that deal with in my copious spare time...) Thank you, everybody!

And yes! Promotion! I can do this! If you want to buy a copy:

Smashwords

Amazon

Birder Directions: A Play In One Act

Apr. 15th, 2014 10:32 pm
[syndicated profile] ursulav_feed
So there we are, at a hawk watch station, asking for directions to the nearest Aplomado Falcon.

And we got them, but they were Birder Directions, which are a special kind of instructions similar to country directions, only worse and more so. "Go down to the end of the road, turn left at the scary-looking goat, look for a house with a green roof, and there's a tree in the yard there, and if you wait five minutes, an Oak Titmouse will pop up." There are directions like this in books.

These were delivered unto us by two elderly gentlemen, one of whom was as sharp as a tack and one of which was a trifle fuzzy, but could tell a hawk from a handsaw when it migrated overhead.

Needless to say, the fuzzy one was the one primarily giving directions, while Tina took notes.

(As I cannot remember the names of the two elderly gentlemen involved, I shall call them Bob and Frank.)

BOB: So you come out of here and you get on the big road...ah...511. 510? Maybe it's 510. Does it have a number?

FRANK: 511, I think, if it's the place I'm thinking about.

BOB: Right, right. So you take 511 and you go past the battle.

URSULA: ...the battle?

BOB: Ah, you know, the old battle. There's a marker. Maybe it's a national park. Can't think of the name of the battle. They've got a marker, though.

FRANK: Palo Alto.

BOB: Right, right. Don't know why I couldn't think of that. Anyway, it's on the left. I think. There'll be a marker or a park or something. Anyway, go past that.

TINA: Past it. Got it.

BOB: I don't know how far past...couple of miles, I guess. You should pass Port Isabella Road. Not Port Isabella, though, the road. The old one. There's a new one, but not this one. Actually, you could just take that road if you wanted...Do that. It's easier. Well, anyway, so you pass the battle, right? Couple miles, I think. Do you know, Frank?

FRANK: Not that far.

BOB: Right, right. Okay, so then you come up on a road. Named after that fellow. Emerson Road. Is it Emerson Road? Doctor Emerson, that's it.

FRANK: Thought it was Hugh Emerson.

BOB: Definitely Doctor Emerson.

FRANK: If you say so.

BOB: So you go past that, there's a stoplight.

FRANK: Two stoplights.

BOB: Four stoplights.

FRANK: I don't know if it's that many.

BOB: Anyway, then you'll see a bridge to nowhere.

FRANK: Heh.

BOB: It's an overpass. You'd go under it, right? Except you don't. Don't go under it. There's a frontage road, right? You know how they love their frontage roads here in Texas. Go on for miles. Every on ramp is like a mile long. They love 'em.

URSULA: We've noticed.

BOB: But not this one. It's short. Up to the bridge. Which doesn't go anywhere.

TINA: Does it just...end...?

BOB: Sorta. Anyway, you take the frontage road and then you turn left and go over the bridge that doesn't go anywhere--

URSULA: *has horrifying visions of the rental car hurtling off a cliff with Tina yelling "DO YOU SEE A FALCON!?" as we plummet to our deaths*

BOB: --and it'll turn into a gravel road, right? And then you go--lord, Frank, how far is it? A mile?

FRANK: Not even.

BOB: Maybe a mile.

FRANK: Not a mile.

BOB: Well, anyway, there's a railroad track. The old railroad track, they don't use it any more. Maybe a mile down.

FRANK: *gazes upward*

BOB: And you go over the railroad track up to the bend in road--is it a mile to the bend, Frank?

FRANK: It is not even close to a mile.

BOB: And at the bend in the road, you stop and look left.

FRANK: There's a nest box on a pole.

BOB: And a bunch of palm trees.

FRANK: Yuccas.

BOB: Yuccas. Right. Don't know why I said palm trees. Anyway, there'll be a falcon in the yuccas.

FRANK: They eat the yucca blossoms, and don't ask me why a falcon eats yucca blossoms, but they do. It's very strange. You'll need a scope.

TINA: *stares at directions in mild dismay*

URSULA: *begins laughing with quiet hysteria*

So we did. We didn't mean to, but we got lost trying to avoid a toll road and suddenly there was Dr. Hugh Emerson Road, and we passed it and the world's shortest on-ramp (we had to actually reverse on the highway to get to it, it went by so fast) and the overpass did indeed go to a gravel road almost immediately, and nothing like a mile past the railroad tracks we stopped the car and looked to our left.

Sitting in solitary splendor among the yuccas was an Aplomado Falcon.

So, y'know. Birding.

NRA: Driving while Katz

Apr. 15th, 2014 09:18 pm
[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist; pp. 231-234

When you’re writing an adventure story in which the hero is fleeing from Country A to Country B, it shouldn’t be too hard to keep track of which country is which. It should be even easier in a book like Nicolae, in which the entire world has been simplified down to only two countries.

Yet here we are with Buck Williams, making a run for the border with his friend, the fugitive former rabbi Tsion Ben-Judah. Jerry Jenkins aims for a bit of suspense with an old reliable set piece: the bit where the man on the run encounters a policeman who seems not to recognize him. You’ve likely seen this scene many, many times, but I wouldn’t call it a cliché, because as often as this scene is portrayed, it still works. That’s why it’s so common and so popular, because when it’s done capably, it still creates a palpable tension. On the surface there’s a polite conversation, but the possibility of sudden violence simmers beneath. Even Jenkins is almost able to make this work.

Almost. There are bits of this scene that might have been suspenseful and exciting, except that Jenkins — who prides himself on being the fastest novelist in the business — finds a novel way to screw up even this tried-and-true stock scene. And he does so in a way that turns this entire Tsion Ben-Judah subplot into complete nonsense.

Jenkins gets Country A and Country B mixed up. Buck Williams, fleeing Country A for the safety of Country B, gets stopped by a policeman from Country B.

Buck is driving an old school bus toward the southern border of Israel, when “In the wee hours of the morning, about ten kilometers south of Beersheba, Buck noticed the heat gauge rising” and remembered Michael’s advice to make sure he kept the radiator full.

Buck pulled far off the road onto the gravel shoulder. He found a rag and climbed out. Once he got the hood popped up, he gingerly opened the radiator cap. It was steaming, but he was able to dump a couple of liters of water in before the thing boiled over.

Buck’s sudden shift to the metric system seems odd. Buck and the authors have, before now, always referred to miles and gallons. These books were written by Americans and for Americans, and here in America no one uses the metric system except for the sciences, soda and the drug trade. We tried switching to the metric system back in the 1970s, but such a switch proved culturally impossible at the same time that millions of Americans were reading Hal Lindsey’s The Late Great Planet Earth. The use of such internationalist measurements was seen as a stepping-stone toward the Antichrist’s coming one-world government. Today it’s kilometers and liters, tomorrow it’s the Mark of the Beast.

While he was working he noticed a [police] car slowly drive past. Buck tried to look casual and took a deep breath.

He wiped his hands and dropped the rag into his water can, noticing the squad car had pulled over about a hundred feet in front of the bus and was slowly backing up. Trying not to look suspicious, Buck tossed the water can into the bus and came back around to shut the hood. Before he shut it, the squad car backed onto the road and turned to face him on the shoulder. With the headlights shining in his eyes, Buck heard the [policeman] say something to him in Hebrew over his loudspeaker.

Buck held out both arms and hollered, “English!”

In a heavy accent, the [policeman] said, “Please to remain outside your vehicle.”

That would all be pretty standard stuff and a decent set-up for this kind of scene, except that the bits I’ve put in brackets there actually say something different in the book. It doesn’t say “policeman,” it says “peacekeeper.” And it doesn’t say “police car,” it says “Global Community peacekeeping force squad car.”

And that just doesn’t make any sense at all.

The Antichrist, Nicolae Carpathia, has been elected/assumed/acclaimed as the dictator of the entire world — except for Israel. Every other nation has been dissolved and subsumed into the Global Community, a one-world government united by a single leader, a single (new) religion, a single currency (dollars) and a single language (American English). But not Israel.

Israel’s exceptional sovereignty is a major plot point and a cornerstone of Tim LaHaye’s “Bible prophecy” scheme. The seven-year Great Tribulation could not officially begin, according to LaHaye, until the Antichrist signed a peace treaty with the separate, distinct nation of Israel. And the entire prophecy timeline of that Great Tribulation is based on the status of that peace treaty. For the first three and a half years of the Tribulation, the Antichrist must honor that treaty — respecting Israel’s security and sovereignty. And then the treaty will be broken and a war of Israel vs. Everybody Else will begin, culminating in the battle of Armageddon and the End of the World.

So at this point in the story, LaHaye’s whole prophecy scheme requires that Israel and Israel alone be sovereign, independent and separate from the regime of the Antichrist. And the current subplot involving Tsion’s flight from Zion only makes sense if Israel is a sovereign, independent state separate from the regime of the Antichrist.

But here we see that it isn’t. “Global Community peacekeeping force squad cars” routinely patrol the highways within Israel’s borders, cooperating with Israeli police to hunt down fugitives from Israeli law. Hebrew-speaking Israelis serve as GCPF officers — apparently having been granted a special exemption from the one-world language requirement imposed on the rest of that paramilitary secret police force.

If all of that is true, then what good will it do Buck and Tsion to make it across the border, out of Israel and into the OWG of the Global Community? If the border doesn’t mean anything to the Global Community peacekeeping force, then why should it mean anything to Buck and Tsion?

This is another example of the authors’ rejection of continuity — a dizzying approach to storytelling that weirdly winds up being less intrusive than the kind of smaller contradictions we usually think of as continuity errors. If, say, the Range Rover Buck Williams drove in one scene suddenly became an Escalade in the next scene, readers would notice the mistake and find it jarring. That kind of mistake is comprehensible because it’s not comprehensive. Readers are able to notice it because readers are able to understand how it ought to be corrected. “That shouldn’t be an Escalade,” we think, “that should be a Range Rover.” We’re able to identify the error because we’re able to identify the solution.

But larger mistakes like this one baffle our attempts to correct them. Their ramifications are so broad, so all-encompassing, that mentally correcting them would involve reconstructing the entire world of the novel, the mechanics of LaHaye’s prophetic plan, and most of the plot of these books. That’s a lot of work. We can’t do that work while also continuing to read and to turn the following pages of the book, so when we encounter such nonsense, we quite sensibly opt not to notice it. Rather than allowing ourselves to be completely derailed, we tend to just embrace it the way we do the logic of dreams, hoping to get past it by reading faster and less carefully until we wind up reading as fast and as carelessly as Jenkins himself worked when typing these books.

In this particular case, the familiarity of the wanted-man-at-a-traffic-stop scene offers us enough momentum to carry us through these pages. We already know what we’re supposed to be thinking and feeling. We’re supposed to be wondering if the policeman will recognize Buck, if the Good Guys will get away. So we keep our end of the bargain and do just that.

I’m fascinated by our capacity to do this as readers or viewers. This goes beyond the simple willing suspension of disbelief to something more like the willing abandonment of the expectation of sense. I suppose part of it, at this point, is a form of the sunk-cost fallacy — we’re 200-some pages into the third book of a series and if we stop now we’ll never get to the rewards we were implicitly promised as a storytelling audience. We should at least keep going until we get to the earthquakes and demon locusts and such, right? And maybe something in the chapters or volumes ahead will somehow make sense of all this nonsense.

For the fans of these books, though, the stakes are even higher. They have to believe that this story makes sense because this story is a vehicle for the theology they rely on to make sense of their own lives. I suspect that, too, is a big part of why those fans are able to keep reading here without getting thrown off by the absurdity of this Hebrew-speaking “Global Community peacekeeping force” officer shredding the plot by showing up in the wrong jurisdiction. LaHaye’s disciples can acknowledge and forgive minor continuity errors because they don’t reflect on the validity of that core theology. But they cannot afford to acknowledge the way these books repeatedly reject continuity and logic because to allow themselves to notice that would force them to confront the fact that LaHaye’s theology, like his story, just plain doesn’t make any sense.

Buck shrugged and stood awkwardly, hands at his sides. The officer spoke into his radio. Finally the young man emerged. “Happy evening to you, sir,” he said.

“Thank you,” Buck said. “Just had some overheating problems is all.”

The officer was dark and slender, wearing the gaudy uniform of the Global Community. Buck wished he’d had his own passport and papers. Nothing sent a GC operative running more quickly than Buck’s 2-A clearance.

Jenkins’ non-descript description has me picturing this officer as a young Muammar Gaddafi, wearing epaulettes and a sash festooned with ribbons and medals.

“Are you alone?” the officer asked.

“Name’s Herb Katz,” Buck said.

“I asked are you alone?”

“I’m an American businessman, here on pleasure.”

“Your papers, please.”

LaHaye and Jenkins really should have sorted out the whole “when is it OK to lie?” business before they started this story. I think they realized that appearing to condone lying to the Antichrist’s police would draw criticism from some in their target audience. In the white evangelical subculture, “situational ethics” is an all-purpose epithet — a dimly understood slogan meant to condemn liberals and hippies and various other infidels. So even when it seems prudent and unavoidable for Buck to lie, they have him relying on a weirdly evasive casuistry. He doesn’t want to lie by offering a direct answer to the officer’s direct question, “Are you alone?” And even when he’s traveling under false names, he likes to say, “The name’s Herb Katz” instead of “My name is Herb Katz,” because the latter would be a lie, while the former might not quite be, in some technical sense.

The result is that whenever Buck needs to lie to escape the Antichrist’s forces, he winds up sounding squirrelly and suspicious.

“Mr. Katz, can you tell me where you got this vehicle?”

“I bought it tonight. Just before midnight.”

“And you bought it from?”

“I have the papers. I can’t pronounce his name. I’m an American.”

“Sir, the plates on this vehicle trace to a resident of Jericho.”

Buck, still playing dumb, said, “Well, there you go! That’s where I bought it, in Jericho.”

… “Are you aware of a manhunt in this country?”

“Tell me,” Buck said.

That phrase “in this country” underlines the strangeness here of a Global Community policeman patrolling “in this country” — the one country in the whole world where he has no jurisdiction. Or maybe it’s meant to suggest that GC police are only participating in that manhunt within this country, and that GC officers on the other side of the border won’t care about the hunt for Tsion. Or …

No, we can’t make sense of it. We just have to plow ahead.

The officer tells Buck that the original “owner of this vehicle was detained, just over an hour ago, in connection with aiding and abetting a murder suspect.”

“You don’t say?” Buck said. “I just took a boat ride with this man. He runs a tour boat. I told him I needed a vehicle just to get me from Israel to Egypt so I could fly home to America.”

Buck shows him the ownership papers for the school bus that Michael had given him. The officer — whom I now picture as looking and speaking like a young Maj. Strasser from Casablanca — examines them and says:

“We have reason to believe that the man who sold you this vehicle has been harboring a murderer. He was found with the suspect’s papers and those of an American. It will not be long before we persuade him to tell us where he has harbored the suspect.” The officer looked at his own notes. “Are you familiar with a Cameron Williams, an American?”

“Doesn’t sound like the name of any friend I’ve got. I’m from Chicago.”

“And you are leaving tonight, from Egypt?”

“That’s right.”

“Why?”

“Why? –” Buck repeated.

“Why do you need to leave through Egypt? Why do you not fly out of Jerusalem or Tel Aviv?”

It’s not Buck’s fault that he isn’t readily able to answer that question. All he knows is that God/the authors gave him a dream within a dream in which he was Joseph from the Christmas story, having the same dream Joseph had in that story, in which he (Joseph/Buck) was told to flee to Egypt. That’s the only reason he’s headed for Israel’s far border with Egypt.

Buck explains that he wants to leave for home that night, and he was able to charter a flight out of Egypt. Buying the old school bus, he says, turned out to be cheaper than hiring a driver for the trip. That seems vaguely plausible.

Or, rather, it might seem plausible if this conversation weren’t occurring just three days after the Global Community Air Force had nuked both Chicago and Egypt.

See how that works? That’s how powerful our defensive mechanism is as readers when we encounter the rejection of continuity. We’re so instinctively determined to keep up our side of the storytelling bargain that we have to actively, consciously force ourselves not to forget a nuclear war.

[syndicated profile] tanehisicoates_feed

Posted by Ta-Nehisi Coates

I think Roxane Gay's piece on The Biggest Loser is pretty phenomenal. Gay, wh watched the show for several seasons, pegs her essay to contestant Rachel Fredrickson's alarming weight loss--155 pounds over the course of the season, nearly 60 percent of her body-weight. But the heart of the piece is all Roxane Gay:

My body is wildly undisciplined and I deny myself nearly everything I desire. I deny myself the right to space when I am public, trying to fold in on myself, to make my body invisible even though it is, in fact, grandly visible. I deny myself the right to a shared armrest because how dare I impose? I deny myself entry into certain spaces I have deemed inappropriate for a body like mine—most spaces inhabited by other people. 
 
I deny myself bright colors in my clothing choices, sticking to a uniform of denim and dark shirts even though I have a far more diverse wardrobe. I deny myself certain trappings of femininity as if I do not have the right to such expression when my body does not follow society’s dictates for what a woman’s body should look like. I deny myself gentler kinds of affection—to touch or be kindly touched—as if that is a pleasure a body like mine does not deserve. 
 
Punishment is, in fact, one of the few things I allow myself. I deny myself my attractions. I have them, oh I do, but dare not express them, because how dare I want. How dare I confess my want? How dare I try to act on that want? I deny myself so much and still there is so much desire throbbing beneath my surfaces. 
 
Denial merely puts what we want just beyond reach but we still know it’s there. 

Wow.

It's so hard to get naked on the page. It's one of the hardest things to convey in my essay classes. You must be naked. You must understand that clothes are the illusion, and  your readers are naked too. Humans are at war with themselves. Once you can accept this, your own wars become less shameful. I don't mean exhibitionism. I mean honesty. The clothes are the illusion.

I'll be teaching this in workshop, tomorrow.

As an aside, Roxane Gay writes the greatest zombi stories in the world.








Where Warhol meets Venus

Apr. 15th, 2014 01:05 pm
[syndicated profile] wonders_and_marvels_feed

Posted by CarolineLawrence

by Caroline Lawrence

MACM_venus_display2014In 2010 a millionaire art collector bought a four story house in a pretty hill town on the French Rivera and made it into a boutique museum for his marvellous collection of Classical and modern art. This is the Musée d’Art Classique de Mougins, or MACM for short.

For any lover of ancient myths and ancient history, gods and heroes,  Greece and Rome, Christian Levett’s collection is a delight. And all the more so because he has sprinkled in some later works of on Classical themes.

So you get a delicate Matisse charcoal of the Emperor Caracalla glowering at an ancient bust of himself, identical to the one Matisse was sketching.

A wax and insulin sculpture by Marc Quinn and a pair of Gormleys call to mind the plaster casts from Pompeii.

My favorite is a case devoted to Aphrodite, goddess of love. Ancient busts and torsos are set against the backdrop of a Warhol screenprint and flanked by an Yves Klein torso and Salvador Dali’s Venus as a Giraffe.

MACM_caracallasThere are over 800 pieces in this museum and every one is a gem. Blue underlit marble stairs and a glass elevator give it a contemporary feel and its compact size makes it do-able in under two hours. Big info boards in French and (real) English plus plasma touch-screens in every room make it kid-friendly.

The museum has given a new lease of life to the village where Picasso spent his last few years (plenty of his stuff on show). After your visit, wander the snail spiral streets of the old town, a work of art in itself. And if you are there at lunchtime, the restaurant L’Amandier serves a wonderful lunch special for under 20 euros. You can dine with a view of the valley with its olive trees and red roofs.

The museum is a great supporter of local schools, like Mougins School, to which they give a prize for art once a year. Kids love visiting the museum. They like spotting the “odd one out” in a case of Greek helmets or votive figurines of Theseus. But children and adults alike will be stimulated by the juxtaposition of old art and new, all on the same wonderful theme of the Classical World and all it entails.

Caroline Lawrence writes history mystery books for kids and loves mixing old and new. 

Happy Birthday, Emile Durkheim!

Apr. 15th, 2014 04:00 pm
[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

Source: Deviant Art.

Have a scholar we should commemorate? Send us a cool pic and we will!

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions, with Myra Marx Ferree. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

(View original at http://thesocietypages.org/socimages)

[syndicated profile] geekfeminism_feed

Posted by gfspamspam

  • So You’ve Got Yourself a Policy. Now What? | Stephanie Zvan at Freethough Blogs (April 10): “We know from situations in which they’ve failed that “zero-tolerance” policies, policies in which any act that is deemed to be unacceptable results in expulsion and exclusion, don’t work well. They fail in three main ways. People who are against harassment policies in general are quick to point out that they leave no room for honest mistakes. They are correct when talking about zero-tolerance policies, even if they make the same criticism about all policies.”
  • What’s Missing from Journalists’ Tactic of Snagging Stories from Twitter? Respect. | Tina Vasquez at bitchmedia (March 21): “Christine Fox does not consider herself a social justice advocate. On March 12, Fox’s timeline took a decidedly different turn. That night, to illustrate that there is no correlation between clothing and sexual assault, Fox asked her more than 12,000 followers to share what they were wearing when they were sexually assaulted. It was the first time Fox facilitated a conversation on this scale and it was also the first time she publicly shared her story as an assault survivor. She walked away from her computer that night feeling positive about what took place—and many tweeted to thank her, saying that through the tears, the discussion felt healing. But the next morning, Fox felt her hands go shaky. She felt nauseous and sweaty. She’d later learn from followers on Twitter that after reading through hundreds of tweets about assault, she had likely “triggered” herself, a term she was relatively unfamiliar with. Still, she knew something powerful had happened and she was proud to have sparked it. And then BuzzFeed came along and fucked everything up.”
  • My Cane is Not A Costume – Convention Exclusions and Ways to Think About Oppression at Cons | Derek Newman-Stille at Speculating Canada (April 7): “On a regular basis at speculative and other fan conventions, I get knocked around, shoved, pushed out of the way. People assume that because I am using a cane, I am taking up more than my fair space, after all, I have THREE whole legs on the ground (two legs and a cane). I hope this is because they assume that my cane is the equivalent to their lightsaber, a performative piece, a part of a costume… That is my hope. However, I have seen issues of systemic ableism at cons.”
  • Why are People Perennially Surprised By Internet Misogyny? | s.e. smith at meloukhia.net (April 14): “I have a confession: I was tempted to cut and paste this piece, since I’m pretty sure I’ve written it before. I realized that my desire to cut and paste was kind of an indicator of how endlessly circular this topic is, though. [...] I really don’t know how many times people need to say this before the message will sink through: the internet is a dangerous place for women. It’s especially dangerous for women living at the intersections of multiple marginalisations.”
  • Collecting Inspiration with Supersisters | Liz Zanis at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (April 3): “Published in 1979, the Supersisters trading cards were a playful, informative, and accessible way to spread feminism to younger audiences. The series was inspired by Lois Rich’s daughter, an eight-year-old baseball-card collector, who asked why there weren’t any pictures of girls on the cards. With a grant from the New York State Education Department, Lois Rich and her sister, Barbara Egerman, contacted five hundred women of achievement and created cards of the first seventy-two to respond.”

We link to a variety of sources, some of which are personal blogs.  If you visit other sites linked herein, we ask that you respect the commenting policy and individual culture of those sites.

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on PinboardDelicious or Diigo; or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

From Our Archives: Taxes

Apr. 15th, 2014 01:00 pm

Wrestling with Bunnies

Apr. 15th, 2014 07:17 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

Photo description: Ruby and Sadie with Chocolate Easter paintings of bunnies in various activities.
I have a bit of a thing with the Easter Bunny.




To me, Easter is the holiest of the Christian holidays and I've always thought that the cultural celebration with bunnies and chocolates trivialize one of the cornerstones of my faith. So you won't be seeing me chowing down on Easter eggs - I'm lacto - ovo vegetarian so I'd be allowed - over the holidays. I'm not into it. Don't care for it. And, of course, it's easy to simply opt out.


Even so, when the girls came to visit last weekend, Joe and I had picked up some Easter chocolates for them. They love the 'bun' they love the 'eggs' they love the whole fun of the whole thing. While I enjoyed watching them try to eat the various colours: Ruby, "I haven't ever had green chocolate before in my whole life!" Sadie: "The bunny is an artist like I am!!"


One of the benefits of having worked with people with intellectual disabilities over the years is learning the difference between: what is mine and what is not mine; fact and opinion; my rights and your choice. Many of these lessons have been very hard ones for me. Many of these lessons have been written on both my heart and my soul. These lessons have taught me that I don't need to subjugate someone to my point of view to make my point of view valid. That I don't need to assert my will to prove that I have a will. That force accomplishes nothing.


Neither of the girls asked why we weren't eating Easter candies. We didn't make a show of our abstention, we didn't want to subtly draw them away from their fun and into a discussion of our point of view. There is time enough, when they are older for them to come to their own conclusions about their faith and their traditions.


Of course I think that children need guidance, but knowing what they need guidance about, and when they need it is part of any adult's relationship with children. For me, and for Joe, wrestling a fictional bunny to the ground in front of two children seems a bit ... a bit ... unEastery. If that isn't a word, it should be.
[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

It’s overcast here at Slacktivist world headquarters, which is interfering with my viewing the lunar eclipse that started just before 2 a.m. Maybe it’ll be a clearer night for the next one, in October, or the one next April or in September of 2015. Yeah, four eclipses in less than two years — pretty cool.

Unless you’re a “Bible prophecy scholar.” In that case, four lunar eclipses in less than two years isn’t just a neat series of astronomical events – it’s a sign of the End Times. But of course, if you’re a “Bible prophecy scholar,” then everything is a sign of the End Times — eclipses, earthquakes, floods, droughts, Wednesdays, dandelions, war in the Middle East, peace in the Middle East, Middle Eastern restaurants in the Midwest. …

“Prophecy” enthusiast, mega-church pastor and pretty good saxophonist John Hagee of San Antonio — who has been preaching an imminent Rapture for more than a generation — sees great prophetic significance in these eclipses occurring around four Jewish holy days. In his view, that must mean … something. Seriously, that’s what he says in the title of his book: Four Blood Moons: Something Is About to Change.

I don’t often agree with Hagee, but I’ll give him that one. I, too, believe that “something” will “change” between now and September of next year. Maybe even more than one something.

This is a prophecy with solid precedent. We’ve had total lunar eclipses before, and after every one of them, something changed.

Hagee says he’s just applying a “literal” interpretation of a passage from the book of Joel: “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord.” (That passage may be familiar since it is quoted again in the Bible, in the book of Acts. And because L. Frank Baum borrowed a bit of it for The Wizard of Oz.) During a lunar eclipse, the moon appears to turn red — just like that verse “prophesies.” The verse also seems to mention a solar eclipse, but folks like Hagee are quite skilled at ignoring the bits that don’t fit into their “prophecies.”

I’m less impressed than Hagee is with the prophetic significance of a lunar eclipse in April coinciding with Passover. Lunar eclipses only occur when there’s a full moon. And Passover starts with, yes, the full moon.

Hagee’s “prophecy” also seems a bit parochial. Yes, tonight’s lunar eclipse will be visible in San Antonio — throughout most of North and South America, in Australia and in the Far East — but you know where it won’t be visible? Jerusalem. Over there in Bible Prophecy Central, the sun will be shining. That’s how lunar eclipses work — they only appear in the parts of the Earth where it’s nighttime.

That’s an inconvenient fact for anyone attempting to glean some global prophecy based on the appearance of a lunar eclipse. Lunar eclipses can’t be global. Perhaps, then, this series of lunar eclipses in 2014-2015 doesn’t mean the End of the World, but only the end of San Antonio.

Anyway, in the spirit of tonight’s lunar event, here’s Bonnie Tyler and her Dancing Ninjas:

Click here to view the embedded video.

That video came out in 1983, so I’ve now had more than 30 years to try — and fail — to understand what it’s supposed to mean. Fun fact, though: That’s E Streeters Roy Bittan on piano and Max Weinberg on drums.

Home at Last...

Apr. 14th, 2014 11:36 pm
[syndicated profile] ursulav_feed
So Texas was wild and crazy and I stepped in a chigger nest, and boy, that's a thing, isn't it? My feet and ankles look like I have chicken pox.

But it was worth it! We saw marvelous and strange birds. Lots of them. 35 lifers* for me, out of over 150 species seen, between the hill country and the Rio Grande.

Of particular note--the Tropical Parula is beautiful, the endangered Golden-Cheeked Warbler is stunning, the Common Pauraque is...um...a freakish mutant bark bird, and the Ringed Kingfisher is noble and magnificent. Green Jays are wonderful, Great Kiskadees are awesome. Wires full of Green Parakeets preparing to roost (in the trees around a Walgreen's, corner of 10th and Dove in McAllen, Tx) are bizarre and delightful.

But the dawn chorus of the Plain Chachalaca is really unbelievable--a half-dozen chicken sized dinosaur-birds, at the top of a tree, screaming a very unmusical "Cha-ka-cha-ka-cha!" A few of the birds do a kind of descant over the top--"Eee-ow-ee-ee-ee!" We stood in the parking lot watching several trees full, which would go in sequence--Tree One would scream for about fifteen seconds, then stop, Tree Two would scream, then stop, Tree Three would scream, then stop, and Tree One would start up again. It was a sort of round, done by an utterly tone-deaf choir.

Obviously I fell deeply and immediately in love with them.

Since they prefer dry scrub and I cannot immediately import an entire flock to North Carolina, I returned home with a somewhat heavy heart, and also I was exhausted because I've been getting up at variations of 4:30 for a week. But I came back to the best season, when the trees are full of new leaves and there is a blinding green haze of leaves and the dogwoods are blooming and the moss phlox is covered in flowers, which always surprises me, and the groundcover roses I'd planted around the birdfeeder to discourage cats have come back from the dead with a vengeance. And I am terribly, terribly glad to be home.

Could do without the chigger bites, though.


*In birding terms, that's a bird you've seen for the first time, and now enter into your lifelist, the record of all the species you've ever seen. My life list stands at around 450, with 427 of them what are known as ABA species--those appearing in the US and Canada, as recognized by the American Birding Association. If you keep such a list, you are what's known as a lister (and not all birders are) and you can aspire to see over 700 ABA species, although to get there, you have to chase after a lot of rare birds blown in from Asia and Europe. (Not counting rarities, there are probably 650 species that actually live in North America or immediately off shore.)

A lifelist at or over 700 ABA birds is very difficult and requires a great deal of dedication and travel. My buddy Tina is over 600, and the joke is that that puts her halfway to 700. At 427, I am in a respectable neighborhood, but not a terribly elite one.
[syndicated profile] tanehisicoates_feed

Posted by Ta-Nehisi Coates

If you haven't yet, it's work checking out Barack Obama's address before the National Action Network, last week. I think it's one of the most significant and morally grounded speeches of his presidency. I think we will eventually regard this current effort to suppress the vote through voter-ID laws, ending early voting, restricting voting hours, etc., in the same way we regard literacy tests and poll taxes. (It's worth recalling this piece for the magazine by Mariah Blake which helps historicize voter suppression.)

I believe in judging Barack Obama's rhetoric and policies not as though he were the president of black America, but of the United States of America. On that count his speech soared. There aren't many topics more important than the security of our democracy. The president did not attack that topic gingerly, but forcefully, directly and without hedge.

It's an important speech.

As an aside, I'll add that I still can't get over seeing a black dude, who is the president, standing in front of Garvey's red, black, and green. Strange days, I tell you. Strange days, indeed. No one knows where this is going.








Where Did Your 2013 Tax Dollars Go?

Apr. 14th, 2014 02:00 pm
[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

Each  year the National Priorities Project releases a visual illustrating how our tax dollars are spent.  This is the one for 2013, sans medicare and social security taxes.

1At the end of Sociology 101, I like to ask my students: “What is the state for?”  This often takes them aback, as most of them have never considered the question before.  Is it for defense?  It is to maximize happiness or reduce misery?  Is it for maximizing GDP?  Protecting private property?  Do we want to use it to influence other countries?  How?

There are many questions to ask and they are not purely theoretical.  I like how the spending of our tax dollars helps make the conversation more concrete.

Cross-posted at Business Insider.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions, with Myra Marx Ferree. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

(View original at http://thesocietypages.org/socimages)

[syndicated profile] tanehisicoates_feed

Posted by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Last week I was lucky enough to sit on a panel with social scientists Patrick Sharkey, Paul Jargowsky, and Sherrilyn Ifill who heads the NAACP-LDF. We focused our conversation on concentrated poverty with  a strong emphasis on its effects on black people. I've talked about Sharkey's work quite a bit. His presentation is as impressive as his research. At one point, Sharkey displayed a chart which showed that the average black family making $100,000 a year lives in the same kind of neighborhood as the average white family making $30,000 a year. It's worth your time.

Here's a link to the Pew study on the wealth gap I reference. In turns out I underestimated the wealth gap.  Here's a link to Paul Jargowsky's disturbing study on the concentration of poverty across America.








Thanks for Nothing

Apr. 14th, 2014 07:31 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

Years ago I wrote an article called 'Culture to Culture: Issues in Deinstitutionalization.' In it I remarked that people with disabilities can get 'gratitude fatigue' from the constant expectation of their 'forever gratefulness' that they were home, in the community, from the institution. Some of what I wrote in that paper was considered a little controversial and a little outrageous. It's all old hat now, and, indeed, I hadn't thought about the paper for a very long time.


I did on Saturday.


Joe and I were leaving the aquarium, long ahead of the rest of the family, as I was uncomfortable in my chair and I was tired from steering my chair around so many people. The concentration involved in getting around and not slamming into someone is almost superhuman. So, we said our goodbyes just as the kids were about to experience SHARK BITE.


The exit out of the aquarium is, conveniently, through the gift shop. We picked out two tea shirts, that came with matching tiaras, for the girls. I waited just outside the store, just in front of the exit gate marked with the disability symbol. There were two mid thirties women and one man, of the same age, who were standing outside, also waiting for someone. When I saw Joe clear the line up, I pushed the gate open and exited. I was being watched by the group, I am a travelling entertainment extravaganza, I smiled at them hoping that would end the observation.


One of the women called over to me, "We knew you could get through that gate yourself."


Again, from me, a smile.


And a thought, "Why am I in this conversation with strangers."


She continued, "We didn't help because you didn't ask."


I said it, I didn't want to, but I did, "Thanks."


Shit now I have to be grateful when people don't do a freaking thing! I wrote about gratitude fatigue and now I'm experiencing it.


Don't go all hyper-critical on me. I am grateful. I think gratitude is a wonderful thing. But what's really tiring is having gratitude pulled out of me. I just wanted to go through the gate, join up with Joe and head home.


But no.


I had to be grateful for being not helped first.

[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

After the FlusterCluck and the ClusterDuck, and after the latest Proud Ugly Sneerfest in which white evangelicals defined their faith by cancelling their sponsorship of 10,000 poor children, it’s reasonable to ask why anyone would still want to be identified by that term “evangelical.”

That question is particularly pressing for someone like me. I’m pretty much constantly being told I’m not “allowed” to call myself that. So why keep fighting that? Here are 12 reasons why I still want to call myself an evangelical:

1. I fit the theological definition. How do we define “evangelical” as a theological category? Many rely on David Bebbington’s theological “quadrilateral” — and those parameters include me. Others, like the folks at Barna Research or the American Bible Society, rely on survey questions regarding spiritual practice — prayer, Bible-reading, etc. — and all of those mechanisms would also peg me as part of the tribe.

Yes, I know that’s all pretense. “Evangelical” is not actually a theological category at all. It’s a partisan political category. Theology don’t enter into it. All that really matters is that you’re a white Protestant who wants to criminalize abortion. (You must also be enthusiastically pro-Hell and anti-gay — but if you’re quiet about those while being really, really loud about wanting to criminalize abortion, then you may be permitted to stay.)

But as long as the tribe is committed to that pretense, I feel I should play along and continue to abide by the charade that “evangelical” has to do with religion and faith rather than with party affiliation. If they’re going to pretend their words are honest and meaningful, then I’ll play along and pretend that too.

2. You can kick the boy out of evangelicalism, but you can’t take the evangelicalism out of the boy. It’s Palm Sunday, and so therefore I have had the song “Hosanna” from Michael W. Smith 2 stuck in my head all day. I like that song.

3. Where you’re from is never the totality of who you are, but it’s always a part of it. I was raised in and shaped by American evangelical Christianity. That’s where I learned to think. That’s where I learned how to think. It’s important to remind yourself of how your identity and thought processes were shaped and bounded because otherwise you may forget that they are shaped and bounded, which can lead to all sorts of blindnesses, assumptions and presumptions that can in turn lead to all sorts of foolish mistakes that you won’t even be able to see as mistakes.

4. Because just walking away from Omelas doesn’t actually help that poor kid. (Scene from the trailer for The Omelas Liberation Front: “We’re gonna walk away [cocks gun] … but that girl is coming with us.”)

5. I went to Eastern University, so I understand my role as part of the tribal buffer zone. Evangelical institutions like Eastern — with its dancing, beer, evolution and Campoloism — play an important role in the tribe. They keep the gatekeepers busy, which keeps places like Wheaton safe. If the gatekeepers didn’t have Eastern to nitpick at, then they’d be closely scrutinizing the more “mainstream” schools. If we allow Eastern to be kicked out of the tribe, then places like Wheaton, Gordon and Calvin become the new “fringe.” Once purging the fringe becomes the pattern, then no one is safe.

I came to understand this function during my years at Evangelicals for Social Action. The folks at Christianity Today were always calling for a quote from my boss (if they couldn’t get Jim or Tony on the phone first). Ron Sider is one of the least inflammatory people on the planet, but no CT piece was complete without including some “fringe” voice to act as a lightning rod for the inevitable outrage of the perpetually offended. A quote from some “controversial” evangelical redirected the gatekeepers outrage toward them and away from CT, thus ensuring that Tim Stafford wouldn’t get Ciziked.

6. It creates jobs. In the aftermath of the Great Recession, with 7-percent unemployment as the “new normal,” every job is precious — even that of tribal gatekeepers. These men have to feed their families and pay their bills. I appreciate that, and it would be churlish for me to condemn others whose particular talents and experience may have left them without any more respectable means of employment.

Look, yeah, my job ain’t great either. Mulch is heavy and dirty, the hours are lousy and the pay is pathetic. But there’s nothing inherently shameful about the work I do. My body aches, but my soul isn’t being slowly corroded. It would seem like ingratitude for me to deny the odious, soul-destroying work that must surely be the last resort for any poor schmoe who finds himself in the horrid role of professional tribal gatekeeper.

Just think of what it must have been like for them when they first began this work. “I’m going into full-time Christian ministry,” they announced at church — the proudest, most joyful sentence any young person could say in that community.

“That’s terrific! Are you going to be a minister? Or a missionary?”

“No. I’m going to be a tribal gatekeeper, an inquisitor endlessly monitoring the words, deeds and thoughts of others while looking for any pretext to declare that they’re not really true Christians.”

The disappointment they saw that day in the faces of their parents, youth pastors and mentors must have seeped into their bones, gnawing at them every miserable day.

But, hey, it’s a job. Nitpickers gotta pick nits. Gatekeepers gotta keep gates. Pipers gotta pipe. Mohlers gotta Mohl. Trevin’s gotta wax. And without people like me to “farewell” they’d all be out of work. So, yes, I’m a pro-feminist, pro-gay, science-loving, evangelical. The gatekeepers need me. Without people like me in their tribe, these guys would wind up lugging mulch too, and I’m not sure they’re cut out for that.

7. Having said that, the bottom line is still that tribal gatekeepers are simply bullies. That’s what the ugliness of the World Vision spectacle showed, just like the Duck Dynasty spectacle and the Chick-fil-A business before that. Bullies like to pretend that they own the playground. They don’t.

8. White evangelicals crave cultural hegemony. That requires strength in numbers. For all the gatekeepers’ talk about whittling down the tribe to its purest essence of real, true evangelicalism, when push comes to shove, they need and want to be able to claim there are tens of millions of us.

That’s why all those “farewells” and tribal banishments ultimately don’t stick. They can’t afford to lose the numbers. Just think of how white evangelicalism counts the presence of charismatic and Pentecostal members of the tribe. Speaking in tongues scares the bejeezus out of most of the most-vocal tribal gatekeepers, but if they don’t count all the Pentecostal types as “evangelicals,” then the tribe is less than half the size they want to claim. So the gatekeepers are always trying to speak for the largest, most inclusive number of evangelicals while simultaneously suggesting the narrowest, most exclusive definition of what all those numbers represent.

The same dynamic is true for the third of white evangelicals who are pro-choice. The gatekeepers want us to shut up, so that they can continue to pretend to be speaking on our behalf. And so they’ll use the threat of tribal banishment to silence us. But they can’t afford to banish all of us, because that would expose how few people their narrow views actually represent.

See also: LGBT evangelicals. Stay in the closet or be banished and farewell-ed, the gatekeepers warn, but they can’t afford to follow through on the threat. They’re just trying to keep LGBT evangelicals and any others who support them quiet, so that they can continue to count our numbers while pretending we support their false claim to speak for us.

I’ve been “banished” from the tribe more times than I can count, but hey, look, I’m still here. Those banishments were attempts to get me to either leave or to shut up. They failed on both counts.

9. I’m lucky/privileged. I’m in a position where I can speak up without jeopardizing my livelihood, my family, or my emotional well-being. A lot of other evangelicals aren’t so lucky. For them to say, “I am an evangelical and I believe in evolution,” or “I am an evangelical and I am gay,” or “I am an evangelical and I think ‘inerrancy’ is illiterate, arrogant, myopic hooey” or “I am an evangelical and I believe abortion must be legal” could mean losing their job, their community, or their personal safety. I can speak where they cannot. I couldn’t do that if I were to accept some bogus banishment from the gatekeepers, or if I were to concede ownership of the playground to the bullies.

10. ”I know that the tide is turning ’round. So don’t let the bastards grind you down.”

11. I’m a Baptist, dammit. The doctrine of believer’s baptism means that we choose for ourselves. We don’t get baptized because our parents chose it, or because the bishops chose it, or because the state chose it for us. We choose for ourselves. Soul freedom, baby. You can chase Roger Williams through the winter woods and bar him from Puritania, but you don’t get to tell him what he can or cannot say about who he is and what he believes.

12. Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.

Mani Petty

Apr. 13th, 2014 08:43 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

Yesterday Mike, Joe and I split up, all off to different duties. Marissa and the girls were off getting something called a mani-pedi or some such thing. Joe had gone home to make a quick lunch, Mike was heading back to be with the girls when they finished, and I went to do some banking as Joe and I needed some cash. As always, my wheelchair made being an equal participant a given.

I entered the bank and saw the long row of bank machines with only one being used. The accessible machine, of which there is only one, was right next to the two young men using the other machine. I thought nothing of it. I prefer this machine, though I can use other machines, because it's accessible and as a result is MUCH easier for me to use than any of the others. As I was alone, I didn't want anything to happen for which I might need help.

When I pulled into place at the bank machine, I first heard the chat between the two young men stop and then felt their activity cease. These bank machines are in a long row, all tucked up to each other. Between each of them was a small barrier. I began to tense up. Questions about safety came to mind. Why where they no longer talking, no longer doing their banking.

One of the men spoke, breaking the silence, "Why, when all the other machines were free, did you come right over by us?" Then the other spoke, "Yeah, what's up with that?" I felt their hostility flow over me, and, to be frank, didn't understand it. I backed up and turned towards them, "Why are you even talking to me? I'm just doing my banking."

The guy who spoke first said, "There were all those," indicating the long row of machines, "and you came to this one beside us. What's with that?"

I said, "Really?? You are really asking me that?"

Now they are both standing in front of me now. In answer I just pointed to the wheelchair symbol. "See that?" Then I pointed to my wheelchair, "See this? I don't know how far you got in school but I'm sure you passed matching one thing to another."

They were quiet so I continued, "So, I answered your question, let me ask you one. Why did you choose to come and stand right by the disabled access one when you had a lot of other choices, are you looking for easy victims or something?"

Now, I don't care that they stood where they stood, but they had questioned my motive and I was then in the mood to do the same. Turn about, fair play. They stumbled an apology.

I didn't feel very good about this interaction. I didn't like the feeling of vulnerability that came with being alone, in the vestibule with the bank machines and facing two young inexplicably angry men. I didn't like the sudden need I felt to get back at them.

No bell rung but I won that bout.

But, I didn't feel even slightly like a winner.
[syndicated profile] sexisnottheenemy_feed
“Unless you have opted out of this dance completely – and if you have you will almost certainly be known for it, for to be a woman who doesn’t join in the beauty culture is to be an outsider, a freak, someone to be pitied or ignored – then you will pay with time, money, pain and effort to fight a never-ending battle not to look like what you naturally look like, until age comes along and you eventually lose. But even then you will still have to shave your legs.”

- I don’t need Veet to make me feel any worse about my leg hair | Paris Lees | Comment is free | theguardian.com (via miserablism)

Inclusion: Small And All

Apr. 12th, 2014 08:38 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger











Last night we all packed into the kitchen. Ruby and Sadie, their dad, and Joe and I. We were all set tasks that would result in individualized pita pizzas. The girls wanted to be involved in all aspects of production. From putting on the pizza sauce, cutting the vegetables, shredding the cheese and assembling the entire thing.

Even with such a small kitchen, there was room for all of us, room for eveyone to make a contribution. The girls loved being involved in the whole process, and, of course, so did all of us. It's wonderful to everyone acknowledge everyone's desire to participate, everyone's opportunity to try things that interested them, everyone to feel valued and to feel like they were wanted, welcome and that their contribution had worth.

Wanted.

Welcome.

A Contribution with Worth.

It's not much to ask for. Children who had been previously running and playing and laughing, now were highly focused on the task of making dinner.

It would have easier to have just made them ourselves.

But it would be wrong.

Because exclusion is, isn't it.

If we can make inclusion happen over just a pizza, surely it can be done on a larger scale over justice and peace.


[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

The new cable TV series Salem looks scary. I don’t mean scary-movie scary. The trailer for the show looks a bit creepy, but the most frightening part of it is a simple statement that’s not just wrong, but lethally wrong: “There is something worse than a witch hunt: A witch.”

Click here to view the embedded video.

No, no, a thousand times no. A thousand years no. This is a matter of measurable fact and of documented history.

Look back over the past thousand years — or the past hundred years, or the past 10 years — and tally up the death toll from witch hunts. It’s uncountably vast. Young women, old women, widows, children, Jews, Native Americans, African Americans, albinos, redheads, the left-handed, Protestants, Catholics, Anabaptists, “infidels,” freethinkers and “deviants” and dissenters of every stripe  … the body count goes on and on and on.

“Salem” debuts this month on the WGN network.

None of them was killed by a witch. They were killed by witch hunts and by witch hunters, and all were innocent of the supposed “crimes” for which they died.

There is nothing worse than a witch hunt.

It’s not fair to judge a show by its trailer. I haven’t seen Salem, so I can’t say if the whole thing is as irresponsible and reckless as this trailer. And it’s possible that the storytellers behind this show understand my complaint here — that they understand that the most monstrous parts of human history (including current human history) involve the panic and frenzy of total war against imaginary monsters. It’s even possible that this is the main point of the show.

After all, one way of deconstructing the deadly mythology of witch-hunters is to play a kind of what-if game. Accept the outrageous premise they claim to believe and then imagine a story in which the phantoms and fantasies of their fears were real. Such stories might, if done well, help to expose and to underscore the unreality of those fantastical fears here in the actual world. Such stories can show the vast gap between those wild nightmares and the real world that we really live in.

So maybe that’s this show’s agenda. But if that’s what they’re shooting for, they’d best not miss, because that could mean reinforcing one of the deadliest lies ever told — the lie that “a witch” might be more dangerous than a witch-hunt.

The all-too-real body count resulting from that lie is vast and still-rising. Here’s hoping this show doesn’t add to that damage.

[syndicated profile] wonders_and_marvels_feed

Posted by Holly Tucker

    
By Holly Tucker (Editor, Wonders and Marvels)

This year, I have been working closely with my colleague, Lynn Ramey to design a unified web portal (Imagining the Past) for students and faculty working on public-facing projects related to early cultural history.  We are obviously still in the early stages–as evidenced by the infelicitous Latin-esque.

As part of this initiative,  students in my Honors Seminar at Vanderbilt University: (“Leeches & Lancets:  Early Medicine in Cultural Contexts“) created a website on the “darker side” of early-modern medicine, hosted on the Imagining the Past portal.*  The goal was to make it attractive to a general audience, as well as those already knowledgeable about the subject.

I had no idea how the students would respond to the Medicine & Magic web experiment.  But my adventurers rolled up their sleeves and really got to work.  They even helped put together a shared Spotify playlist–the choices were interesting, we’ll just leave it at that.

Me?  I can tell you it has been one the most invigorating teaching experiences in my career.

COURSE DESIGN

The course was divided into two parts.  The first was structured as a traditional lecture/discussion course.  We focused on the scientific, philosophical, religious, and gendered contexts in regard to:

  • the Rise of the Medical Professions
  • Anatomy & Physiology,
  • Therapeutics,
  • Surgery
  • Embryology & Childbirth
  • Epidemics,
  • Mental Illness
  • the Establishment of Hospitals

The second part of the course was taught as a COLLABORATIVE LAB, with a focus on creating well-researched and compelling web content on the history of medicine.  Students worked in groups, both in- and outside class, on one of three different topics:

The course blog documents the core texts each group read in preparation for their work–as well as the guided, multi-step process they followed to create these websites.  I was there–not as an intractable “expert” but instead as a guide.  My job was to guide them toward appropriate resources and to ask the right questions at the right time–as well as help shape tasks and assignments to help them move their projects forward. But it was the students themselves who determined their own research question(s), reference corpus, approach, and presentation strategies.

CHALLENGES

The comment I heard students say most often?  ”This is harder than I thought.”  And it was.

For as much as we all have become consumers of web content, most people–including and especially college students–have had little opportunity to be producers of this content. From the start, their attention to audience and medium challenged them to dive into their research in different ways.  It wasn’t a matter of making a linear argument that would be read by a single person (the professor).  There was also no possibility of feigning “expertise” through page count (the longer the paper, ostensibly, the more “important” it is).

Students had to attend to many things at once:  audience, content, voice,  organization, judicious use of images, responsibility in research.  Now, this is something we would hope they’d be doing in traditional assignments anyway.

But what gave students frank trepidation was the fact that the project was going to be public.  They knew from the beginning that I would be tweeting their progress (@history_geek), and that I’d be reaching out to both fellow professors and general readers for commentary/suggestions on their work.  **BETWEEN APRIL 12-19: Help me with this!  Click here for a direct link to a short survey.  You can also leave general comments here.**  

We had some interesting discussions about why they could not assume an unlimited readerly attention span for online content. (Actually, why students assume that professors would have an unlimited attention span when it comes to traditional papers, and especially poorly written ones, is still a mystery to me. If only they knew.)   They also had think through what it meant that, unlike in an academic papers, readers would not necessarily move through their site–their “argument”–linearly.

At one point in the process, I worried that the complexities of medium were eclipsing the content focus of the course:  early-modern medicine.  When I asked students about this, the answer was that they have never worked harder, probed deeper, and learned more about a topic.  They had no choice.  The new medium challenged them to think about research and writing in new ways.

TECH BASICS

A quick word about technology:  It was gratifying to see that students needed instruction on Word Press basics (not one of my students had used Word Press before).  But once they became acclimated to the basics, they were able to learn–on their own–how to do some ambitious and effective things.

It helps that the Imagining the Past portal itself was designed by a team of fantastic web designers (the same ones who designed and maintain Wonders & Marvels).  It meant that the students had a consistent and stable space to work in.  No wheels had be reinvented as they spent hours looking for just the right template, which may or may not be stable.  As part of a collection of well-maintained and related sites, it also means that the chances are higher that work will be accessible for longer.  This would not be the case if it sat as an ad hoc, unhosted site on WordPress.com, for example.

However, outside of the shared design and general infrastructure that is Imagining the Past portal, what you see in Magic & Medicine subsites was entirely created by students.

So, you know it’s been a good semester when you’ve worked very hard–but you’re also sad to see it end.  I did. And I am.  But I also delighted by the lasting, and public, evidence of all that we accomplished together.

—————-

*The students in Lynn’s Medieval French Studies have also been working on a site on Violence & Crusade, and I am also supervising several independent studies and graduate students working on sites related to “Crime & Passion” in early-modern France–again, hosted on the Imagining the Past portal.  These sites are still in development, so stay tuned.

 

[syndicated profile] geekfeminism_feed

Posted by gfspamspam

  • Women do not apply to ‘male-sounding’ job postings | Klaus Becker at Technische Universität München (April 3): “If the advertisement described a large number of traits associated with men, the women found it less appealing and were less inclined to apply. Such traits include ‘assertive’, ‘independent’, ‘aggressive’ and ‘analytical’. Women found words like ‘dedicated’, ‘responsible’, ‘conscientious’ and ‘sociable’ more appealing. For male test subjects, on the other hand, the wording of the job advertisement made no difference.” (Citations follow the press release.)
  • Is the Oculus Rift sexist? (plus response to criticism) | danah boyd at apophenia (April 3): “[M]ilitary researchers had noticed that women seemed to get sick at higher rates in simulators than men. While they seemed to be able to eventually adjust to the simulator, they would then get sick again when switching back into reality. Being an activist and a troublemaker, I walked straight into the office of the head CAVE researcher and declared the CAVE sexist.” Warning: as discussed at the end of the piece, boyd uses some language that trans people have criticised, explaining it as the language of her trans informants.
  • Introducing ‘Sexism Ed’ | Kelly J. Baker at Chronicle Vitae (April 2): “But look: We could lean in until our backs were permanently bent forward and still face discrimination, bias, harassment, and more recently, rescinded job offers… I’ll be writing an occasional column—I’ll call it Sexism Ed—as a way to continue the conversation on sexism and gender discrimination in higher ed.”
  • Creepshots: Microsoft discovers an on-campus peeping tom | Nate Anderson at Ars Technica (April 5): “The Muvi camera [found by a Microsoft vendor employee] contained ‘upskirt’ video footage of women climbing stairs or escalators—or sometimes just standing in checkout lines—and some of it had been shot on Microsoft’s campus.”

Lots of goodness in Model View Culture‘s Funding issue, including:

Check out the whole issue!

The Guys at The Conference

Apr. 11th, 2014 12:17 pm
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

Hey Guys:

I don't know if you read my blog or not, but if you do, I'd like to apologize, just a little bit for our brief chat yesterday. I'm sitting here and trying to figure out which college you said you attended, but I think it was Fanshaw. We met just as I was getting ready to leave the conference site, which was just after I had presented with my team, Chanelle and Donna, on the topic of 'Determined Indifference'. A session which you had attended.

You stopped and told me that you were students and that you really liked one of my books, 'Power Tools' - one of you even said it was one of the best books he'd ever read. You joked and said that I was kind of like royalty down at the college, another said something about a 'rock star' we all laughed. It was nice. I made a silly joke and then we were all on our way.

In moments like that, I often don't do or say what I'd really like to do or say. I have always been a little shy about praise or notice, it wasn't something I grew up with or have grown used to. As a result, I get flustered and use humour as a way out of it. I would have liked to have said something much different.

I would have liked to have told you that your impulse to stop and give someone positive feedback is wonderful. What's even more wonderful is that you did it. You had the courage to be positive publicly. So many compliments, so much praise remains unspoken. Almost all positive feedback is left unsaid. We think these things, we, many times, do not move from thought to action. Keep fresh your ability to act on positive thoughts and impulses. One of the things I'm sure you are learning is about the positive approach ... well, you all demonstrated that in one fell swoop.

More than that, I would have told you that you have chosen a field in which there are far fewer men than women. I know when I chose to work with people with disabilities there were those who thought that 'caring' was the job of women - that men didn't do 'that kind of thing'. They couldn't be more wrong. This is a field that needs people who have kindness, compassion and a drive for social justice. I can think of many men who fit that description. Good on you for your choice. Good on you for following your own path. It's a path that I have walked, and then rolled, for over forty years. Forty very good years.

I also would have told you that what you said really mattered to me. I like to know that my work has made a difference, that my writing is being read. It makes it all matter.

So, guys, I'm sorry.

I should have said those things, and more, but didn't.

Hope you enjoyed the conference, hope you had lots to talk about on the way home. Glad to have met you all. Really!
[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

Flashback Friday.

If whiteness is the neutral category — meaning that people of color are commonly understood to be raced while white people are not — then to be non-white is to be different in some way. The “bad” difference is the deviant (for example, the “welfare queen,” the “thug”), while the “good” difference is the exotic, the interesting, the hip, the cool… the hot or spicy.  Whiteness, in contrast, is boring, bland, or “vanilla.”

This two-page advertisement for Crystal Light beautifully illustrates these cultural ideas.  Notice the way the ad goes from black-and-white to color, from a white model to a model of color (but not too dark-skinned), from straight to curly (but not too curly) hair, from a rather plain dress to one that looks vaguely ethnic, and from awkward standing to dancing (of course).  In the ad, whiteness is, quite literally, bland and being of color is framed as more flavorful.

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Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions, with Myra Marx Ferree. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

(View original at http://thesocietypages.org/socimages)

[syndicated profile] daily_otter_feed

Posted by Daily Otter

Rescued Otter Pups Find Emergency Help at Taipei Zoo 1

Via Zooborns, which writes:

Thanks to inter-agency cooperation, two rescued Eurasian Otter pups are getting the emergency care they need at Taipei Zoo in Taiwan. The abandoned pups arrived recently from Kinmen National Park and are being bottle-fed around the clock by staff at the zoo. In Taiwan, Eurasian Otters are a rare and protected species.

Rescued Otter Pups Find Emergency Help at Taipei Zoo 2

Rescued Otter Pups Find Emergency Help at Taipei Zoo 3

Here’s a video of the pups, as well as other baby animals at Taipei Zoo:

And head over to Zooborns for more photos of these little ones!

Matthew 18 abuse needs to stop

Apr. 10th, 2014 10:55 pm
[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

Somewhere, at some point, I’m sure, someone must surely have cited Matthew 18:15-17 honestly and accurately, sincerely trying to be true to the spirit and the meaning of that passage. That’s probably happened too.

But 99 percent of the time that biblical text is invoked it’s by someone who’s being an insufferable, sanctimonious git.

Matthew 18:15-17 is one of the most abused passages in the Bible. It’s a slice from a series of pericopes in which Jesus is teaching about forgiveness. Forgiveness is important. And what Jesus had to say about forgiveness here is, as usual, pretty scary. Forgive others and you will be forgiven, Jesus said. Refuse to forgive others and forgiveness will be refused to you.

That’s daunting stuff — so much so that we tend to tune it out, even when we’re reciting it as part of the Lord’s Prayer (“forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors“).

Matthew 18:15-17 is actually the least intimidating part of this little string of stories about forgiveness. It’s followed by the whole “70 times seven” bit, and then by the parable of the unforgiving — and therefore unforgiven — servant. Compared to those passages, Matthew 18:15-17 seems like a modest, pragmatic bit of advice. Here’s what it says:

If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax-collector.*

The problem here is not with the passage itself, but with how it is used and abused. Christians who have treated others badly — who have, in fact, sinned against their brothers and sisters — treat this text like it’s their Miranda rights. They appeal to a legalistic application of this passage to distract from the wrong they have done. And thus Matthew 18 has become a refuge for scoundrels.

That’s Jesus speaking there in Matthew 18:15-17 — the same Jesus who also said things like this, from Matthew 5:39: “If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also.” Imagine you’re greeting the pastor after the service on Sunday. You reach out to shake his hand and he wallops you on the right cheek. And then he does it again, and again, and again. And as he’s standing there, hitting you in the face, he piously reminds you that as a good Christian you’re required to “follow the Matthew 5:39 process” and turn the other cheek.

That’s exactly how Matthew 18:15-17 is usually invoked. That is the primary function of “the Matthew 18 process.” It has been twisted into a device for putting the onus on the victim — and for preventing any discussion of getting this person to stop hitting you in the face.

“‘Let such a one be to you as a Gentile and as a tax collector …’ what the …?”

One important thing about both of these teachings of Jesus is that they’re about conflicts between two, and only two, people. Both of them get quite a bit more complicated when there’s a third party involved. “If anyone strikes you on the right cheek,” Jesus said, “turn the other also.” But what if they strike someone else? ”If another member of the church sins against you,” Jesus said, “go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone.” But what if the other member of the church sins against someone else? You can’t turn someone else’s other cheek. Nor can you require someone else to do so.

Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness is, like most of Jesus’ teaching, a threat to power and to The Powers That Be. Forgiveness inverts the power-dynamics that favor TPTB — making them the supplicants  and putting their victims in charge and in control. That terrifies TPTB, so they’ve set out to eliminate that threat by twisting Jesus’ upside-down teaching back into something they regard as right-side up, reasserting their power and control over others by demanding that they be forgiven for their every crime, injustice and abuse. This perversion of forgiveness — this attempt to turn it into something that can be compelled and commanded and required — turns mercy into a tool of oppression. That’s the sort of despicable maneuver that made gentle Jesus meek and mild start talking about millstones and saying things like, “in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured.”

Yes, Jesus taught us to forgive one another — not seven times, or 70 times, but 70 times seven times. But that does not mean that if you steal from me 77 times you’re entitled to recoil in holy offense when I call you a thief. That does not mean I can punch you in the face 489 times and then pretend I’m more righteous than you are because you demand that I stop.

Samantha Field has been dealing with the sanctimonious liars of the Matthew 18 Police ever since she threatened the unjust status quo of TPTB by exposing the dismal history of enabling abuse at fundamentalist institutions (see: “‘God Is Done With You’: Pensacola Christian College and Sexual Violence”). As she wrote yesterday, the Matthew 18 Police have been telling her:

If you wanted things to change, you should have approached the administration privately. You should have engaged in conversation with them, shown them gently and lovingly how they were failing, and worked with them in Christ to make things better.

You should have followed Matthew 18.

There it is. Again, 99 percent of the time, this is the way this passage is used and abused — as a cudgel to beat truth-tellers back into silence. How dare you expose my wrong-doing? Jesus commanded you to come to me privately, so that we could work this out just between the two of us, and so that I would have time to organize a cover-up and to launch a smear campaign designed to destroy your credibility.

What’s that? You’re upset by the lies I’m spreading about you in that smear campaign? Well, then, you know what Matthew 18 says. You mustn’t complain about those lies or try to correct them publicly, you must first come to me, privately …

That’s a despicable little game. And the way it enlists Jesus as an excuse for this despicable behavior is pretty much blasphemy.

In an odd way, though, I’m pleased to see the Matthew 18 Police rehashing their stale shtick with Samantha. That means her speaking truth to power is having an effect. They only send the Matthew 18 Police when they’re scared that you might be a serious threat. When these clowns arrive, blathering about “The Matthew 18 Process,” that’s a sure sign you’re doing some good. It’s a sign that injustice is worried that its days are numbered.

I’m also encouraged by Samantha’s response to the pious threats of the Matthew 18 Police:

However, Matthew 18 isn’t the only thing the Bible has to say about confrontation (and I also have problems with forcing Matthew 18 to be about confronting power systems, hierarchies, and institutions). There’s also Ephesians 5:

Let no one deceive you with empty words … Therefore do not be partners with them … Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them … everything exposed by the light becomes visible–and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.

What PCC has been doing for decades and that they are continuing to do today are the deeds of darkness. They have done wrong, damaging, hurtful, and evil things in order to protect themselves as an institution, and they are still doing them. I will have nothing to do with it, but will rather expose them.

The same Jesus who gave us the teaching in Matthew 18, after all, also told us this, from Luke’s Gospel:

Nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed from the housetops.

Jesus himself said that the Matthew 18 Police were doomed to fail. Their efforts to silence and to conceal will ultimately prove useless, and the truth they’re trying so hard to hide will be shouted from the rooftops. More than that — it will be posted online. A 21st-century paraphrase of that passage from Luke might say “what you have whispered behind closed doors will go viral.”

- – - – - – - – - – - -

* This passage is oddly anachronistic (at least in our English translations). Jesus refers to “the church” before there ever was such a thing. And a few decades later, once there was such a thing as “the church,” that church was a community that explicitly embraced Gentiles and tax-collectors. This passage requires two things that cannot exist at the same time. Before Pentecost, there was no “the church.” But after Pentecost, there were no “Gentiles.” The church refused to exclude Gentiles and tax-collectors because Jesus did not exclude them, and because he commanded the church not to exclude them. So it’s kind of weird, here in Matthew 18, for Jesus to be saying this. (The “tax-collector” bit is especially weird in a Gospel attributed to Matthew, who was a tax collector.)

These are some red letters I’m inclined to gray marble.

[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

This is, by far, the best response to inquiries about male -bodied cross-dressing that I have ever heard. If you don’t already love Eddie Izzard, you might now.  Asked why he wears “women’s dresses,” this non-cisgendered man responds, in a nutshell: “I’m not wearing women’s dresses. I’m wearing my dresses. I bought them. They are mine and I’m a man. They are very clearly a man’s dresses.”

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Johnny Depp does a similarly good job of refusing to take the bait in this clip from the Late Show with David Letterman. Letterman queries his rationale for wearing a women’s engagement ring. Depp just plays dumb and ultimately says that it didn’t fit his fiancée, but it did fit him. So… shrug.

The phenomenon of being questioned about one’s performance of gender is called “gender policing.” Generally there are three ways to respond to gender policing: (1) apologize and follow the gender rules, (2) make an excuse for why you’re breaking the rules (which allows you to break them, but still affirms the rules), or (3) do something that suggests that the rules are stupid or wrong.  Only the last one is effective in changing or eradicating norms delimiting how men and women are expected to behave.

In these examples, both Izzard and Depp made the choice to disregard the rules, even when being policed. It seems like a simple thing, but it’s very significant. It’s the best strategy for getting rid of these rules altogether.

Thanks to Dmitriy T.C. for the links!

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions, with Myra Marx Ferree. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

(View original at http://thesocietypages.org/socimages)

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