Intersectionality and Christianity

About a month ago I read a five-part article by apologist Neil Shenvi and found it to be the most relevant analysis regarding the cultural conflict in America that I have read this year. I highly recommend reading A Long Review of Race, Class, and Gender when you have time. Read all five parts as parts 3 through 5 cannot be missed.

Here is a sampling:

Part 3 – the Ugly

Critical theory summarized

Critical theory unifies the essays in this anthology. Since critical theory is an interdisciplinary project that spans decades and dozens of distinct fields, defining it can be challenging. Moreover, since it often functions as a worldview (that is, as a comprehensive, interpretive framework for understanding reality), its tenets are often implicitly adopted rather than being explicitly stated. However, I’ll try to list a few of its fundamental assumptions, providing quotes from the book to illustrate each point (see below; more available on request).RaceClassAndGender

– Premise 1: human relationships should be fundamentally understood in terms of power dynamics, which differentiates groups into ‘oppressors’ and ‘the oppressed’
 Premise 2: Our identity as individuals is inseparable from our group identity, especially our categorization as ‘oppressor’ or ‘oppressed’ with respect to a particular identity marker
– Premise 3: All oppressed groups find their fundamental unity in their common experience of oppression
– Premise 4: The fundamental human project is liberation from all forms of oppression; consequently, the fundamental virtue is standing in solidarity against the oppressor

The four principles outlined above are not a random assortment of disconnected beliefs. Instead, they form a unified, coherent framework for viewing everything about our lives, from our identity, to our fundamental problem (oppression), to our fundamental moral duty (fighting for liberation), to the basis for unity between individuals (common oppression/solidarity). If we adopt them, they will dramatically influence how we think about many important issues, from poverty to abortion to human sexuality.

Part 4 – Critical theory and Christianity

In the last section, I gave several general reasons to reject the tenets of critical theory. In the next few sections, I’ll focus on reasons for Christians in particular to reject critical theory.RaceClassAndGender

Both Christianity and critical theory are worldviews; that is, they are comprehensive, coherent ways of looking at reality. However, I believe that they are mutually incompatible. To the extent that a person adopts a Christian worldview, they will have to abandon the basic tenets of critical theory if they are to remain consistent.

The first conflict between critical theory and Christianity relates to the issue of identity. Identity (that is, how we view ourselves and others) plays a tremendously important role in critical theory and in postmodernism. Critical theory would insist that gender, race, ethnicity, class, age, etc… are fundamental components of our identities. However, from a Christian perspective, there are three far more fundamental categories of identity which critical theory ignores. What is more, this omission is not accidental; it is a consequence of critical theory itself. As a result, we cannot simply tack Christianity on to critical theory, or vice versa. One will have to be rejected.

The three categories I have in mind are: 1) human beings as the imago Dei, 2) human beings as sinners, and 3) human beings as united in Christ. (continued…)

 

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Interesting Perspective on Compromise in the wake of Florida High School Shooting

Peggy Noonan is former presidential speechwriter and current columnist and author wrote a recent article called The Parkland Massacre and the Air We Breathe. Noonan perceptively identifies the degradation of our society starting with the dissolution of the family as well as cultural inputs which are negatively impacting all of us.

Near the end of her article she proposes a compromise in public policy goals between Republicans and Democrats when she says,

The idea: Trade banning assault weapons for banning late-term abortion. Make illegal a killing machine and a killing procedure.

In both cases the lives of children would be saved.

Wouldn’t this clean some of the air? Wouldn’t we all breathe a little easier?

It is a provocative and innovative proposal that is likely meant to call both the Republican’s and Democrat’s bluff rather than be taken seriously as a piece of legislation. However, I can see this type of idea being more popular among voters as the debate on guns moves forward.

Noonan clearly sees that each group wants the opposition’s purported rights eradicated on moral grounds.  However, her case is a bit too simplistic in that the moral analogy of banning a gun versus banning the killing of an unborn child are not, in my opinion, equally weighted. The analogy further slips when comparing the two in light of the Constitution whereas one right is explicit and pervasive since the founding and the other is interpreted as implied and added late. However, I see the merit in offering her argument as an olive branch in hopes of some change.

Why the Electoral College Matters

I understand the hurt that pro-Hillary voters feel following their surprising loss to Trump. It was a surprise for everyone. And I still remember vividly the pain I felt after losing the last two elections to Obama. Empathy and concern for all Americans has always been a path toward healing following a divisive campaign season. For those who have not been alive long enough to witness a transfer of power, this process can be uneasy to accept. However, we need to remember two things, 1. this is the way that our government was set up to run and it has sustained peaceful transitions of power successfully thus far, and 2. Most election cycles are filled with deep divisiveness and vitriol due to a disagreeing populace.  This is not the first or last time we will have disagreement on how to govern our country. Disagreement and diversity of opinion is what makes our world (the U.S.) go around.  Majority rule is not the answer.  Trashing the Electoral College is not the answer.

Resources:

Videos: Do you understand the Electoral College? and The Popular Vote vs. the Electoral College

Articles: The Electoral College Still Makes Sense Because We’re Not A Democracy AND Why We Use Electoral College, Not Popular Vote and The Heritage Guide to the Constitution and Why the 2016 Election Proves America Needs the Electoral College

Conservative Republicans as well as liberal Democrats all share in the responsibility to hold the President-Elect accountable at every level. The rise in popularity of Trump has been described well HERE but regardless of the reason for his ascent, it is all of our duty as “we the people” to participate in the conservation of this great Constitutional Republic.

True Class Shown by Hillary and Obama

I am pleased with the class and honor that Hillary and Obama showed following the election. They showed humility and honor to the process and principles that have maintained this country’s greatness.

See below:

HERE Obama’s remarks on peaceful and smooth transition.

HERE Clinton’s concession speech

There is a cynical part of me that wants to not trust the genuine nature certain pieces of Hillary’s speech but I must avoid that temptation.  Her and Tim Kaine both quoted from the Bible and with humility and tact she reached back to traditional American values of hard work and perseverance encouraging people to never give up on what they know is right.  She also used pro-Constitutional language when praising the First Amendment with its freedom of religion and expression.  She lauded our tradition of following the rule of law.

My cynical question is, where was all of this on the campaign trail? She did not show any preference toward the constitution or traditional pro-American values. It was all divisive pandering to the fringe left. She knows that she lost 85% of the evangelical vote to Trump. She knows that evangelicals care about the First Amendment and that the amendment has been the recipient of constant attack under Obama for the last 8 years.  I would hate to think that she somehow used this speech as the beginning of new a campaigning outreach tool  for the DNC so that they can capture more evangelicals next time.

Again, I think her humble approach and sincere demeanor in her speech is admirable.  I hope that she was sincere and I hope that people rioting in the streets in protest to the election outcomes can take her example as the right response.