• Book Reviews,  Christianity,  Theology/Bible

    Why White Fragility Fails

    Earlier this week, I finished Robin Diangelo’s New York Times #1 Bestselling book White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People To Talk about Racism (Beacon, 2018). A lot of ink has already been spilled over this book, and I suppose that I have little more to add. I won’t write a full review here. If you want that, I recommend Tim Challies’ three–part series. Nevertheless, I do have some observations that I would like to add to the conversation. The basic gist of the book is this. White people participate in a complex system of privilege and white supremacy. Whether they mean to or not, they are therefore…

  • Christianity,  Culture,  Theology/Bible

    Is “Systemic Racism” a Useful Category for Christians to Use?

    I’ve been watching the misadventures of Matthew Franck’s insightful article criticizing the concept of systemic racism. It originally appeared for two hours yesterday morning at Newsweek online. Apparently the opinion editor fought to have it posted, but the editor-in-chief swooped in to remove it without explanation. Franck explains the behind-the-scenes chicanery at The Public Discourse where the full article is now posted. It’s not encouraging. Is the concept of systemic racism so brittle that it can’t be scrutinized? Or are Newsweek editors too afraid to allow a thoughtful piece questioning the new orthodoxy? Who knows? In any case, it’s a shame that Newsweek would not stand by Franck’s column because…

  • Christianity,  Social Justice

    The Dead-end of Research Justice

    I’ve been reading through Helen Pluckrose’s and James Lindsay’s new book Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity–and Why This Harms Everybody. I’m sure I will have more to say about this book in coming days, but I thought I would highlight one particular item that the authors address in the early chapters—research justice. In Cynical Theories, the authors demonstrate that modern Critical Theory is essentially applied post-modernism. Applied post-modernism involves a number of ideological commitments including: Skepticism about whether objective knowledge or truth is obtainable. A belief in cultural constructivism. A belief that society is formed of systems of power and hierarchies, which decide…

  • Christianity,  Theology/Bible

    If you think God is wrong, you can never be right.

    I was just reading an article by a biblical scholar who argues that God’s command for Israel to destroy the Canaanites cannot be excused or justified. In other words, God was wrong in Deut. 20:16, and the Israelites were wrong to obey Him. It is not my aim to explain the ethics of the conquest of the Holy Land in this short blog post. Rest assured, however, that Christianity does account for it. Even though our convictions on this account are often very difficult for modern readers, they are coherent. Michael Kruger, for example, has a really fine short treatment of this question in “Is God Guilty of Genocide?” Likewise,…

  • Christianity,  Theology/Bible

    Reflections on a Review

    Well, I think my review of Aimee Byrd’s book may have touched a nerve. At least it seems that way from the wide array of responses I have seen on social media this week. There are a whole lot of folks that really appreciated it, and there are a number of folks for whom—let’s just say—it was less than edifying. Years ago, I used to be more of a Twitter warrior and would have been online answering all the criticism. Not so much anymore. I don’t have the bandwidth for that kind of interaction, and I’ve come to see it as mainly futile because Twitter is often dominated by foolish…

  • Christianity,  Culture,  Politics

    A Revolution Is Underway

    Racial hatred really exists, and it really is evil. Marxist revolutionaries really exist too, and they really do mean to overturn the social order. It is happening before our very eyes. There seem to be so few who can or will see both challenges as the seeds of revolution spill out into the streets of major cities across the country. The difficult thing for Christians in our current moment is that we are told that we have to pick a side. But we can’t choose either side when biblical Christianity obliges us to oppose both racism and Marxist ideologies that contradict scripture. As Christians, we are not aiming for some…

  • Christianity,  Politics

    Roger Scruton on Marxism and Totalitarianism

    In Roger Scruton’s book A Political Philosophy: Arguments for Conservatism, he makes some trenchant observations about Marxism and totalitarianism. He writes: It is not the truth of Marxism that explains the willingness of intellectuals to believe it, but the power that it confers on intellectuals, in their attempts to control the world. And since, as Swift says, it is futile to reason someone out of a thing that he was not reasoned into, we can conclude that Marxism owes its remarkable power to survive every criticism to the fact that it is not a truth-directed but a power-directed system of thought. [p. 149] He goes on to explain Marxism’s revolutionary…

  • Christianity

    Crucifying Jim Crow

    NPR has an article making the case that racism has deep roots in white Christianity in the United States. The article lays out the long sad history of white supremacy in the U.S. with a special emphasis on how churches and Christians were complicit in it. This history is well-known  even among the most conservative American evangelicals. It is a great moral stain that so many Christians failed to see the evils of slavery, Jim Crow, and segregation and, even worse, that some even tried to defend these positions from scripture. But the last section of the NPR article sort of lost me. It seems to blame these failures on…

  • Christianity,  Culture,  News,  Social Justice

    Can we weep with those who weep?

    Last week, The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by Heather MacDonald titled “The Myth of Systemic Police Racism.” In the essay, MacDonald provides compelling empirical evidence to prove that blacks are not shot or killed by police at a level disproportionately higher than whites. She writes: In 2019 police officers fatally shot 1,004 people, most of whom were armed or otherwise dangerous. African-Americans were about a quarter of those killed by cops last year (235), a ratio that has remained stable since 2015. That share of black victims is less than what the black crime rate would predict, since police shootings are a function of how often officers encounter…

  • Christianity,  Culture,  News

    Second Comings

    Writing in a time of chaos and hopelessness, W. B. Yeats subverts the Christian story of the world and paints a dark picture of the end in his poem “The Second Coming.” It is easy to slip into this kind of hopelessness when things are coming apart. That is why it is imperative that we remember right now that the true story of the world does not end in chaos and destruction. The true story of the world is better than how the anarchy of the moment makes us feel. The only people prepared to bear witness to this truth in a week like this one are those who know the…