September 15, 2019

Let’s Discuss: Some IM Statements about Culture

Steeple and Street. Stuart Davis (1922)

Let’s Discuss: Some IM Statements about Culture

Here are some thoughts about Christians and their relationships with the culture(s) around them, especially here in the U.S. We eagerly await your responses and discussion.

Does the gospel change the way you look at the people the culture war tells you to fear and dislike?

• MS – 2009

• • •

We will never get this right. We can’t really understand what our culture is any more than a fish can understand what water is. We can only pray to have our eyes opened, study a far wider world than we experience, and stop thinking our way of doing things is the only way.

So the challenge becomes humility and discernment. I have to know what it is I don’t know, see differences I didn’t even know could exist. I have to be wise about what in my culture is truly Christian, merely neutral, or demonic. I have to learn from people of other backgrounds, both Christian and non-Christian, and see what aspect of God shines through them. I have to consider which unthinking, deeply held beliefs are in fact leading me farther from God and my true nature, even if they seem to me to be the only obvious way. My religion will be cultural, but may that culture be more and more the culture of the Kingdom of God.

DZ, from a 2010 post – Religion and Culture

• • •

We are seemingly obsessed with protecting ourselves and others (especially others) from sin in any art form. You do know that the rating system we use for movies today was developed by Father Daniel Lord, a Jesuit priest, who based it firmly on Catholic theology. This was an attempt to keep movies “safe” for families as well as promote religion. The promotion of religion has gone by the wayside for the most part, but we still cling to the safety factor, setting limits on the rating level our kids can watch. We feel better about ourselves when we keep our kids from seeing things that might make them think about sin.

The same goes for books, music and visual art, like paintings we allow in our homes. We expect them to present to us a “safe” view of life, one where if sin is committed, it is punished swiftly. Where crime does not pay. Where we think only on nice things. Where the sun always shines, birds always sing in tune, and life is always wrapped in a neat red ribbon. We demand that our artists conform to this vision of safety. They cannot explore issues of life like sexuality or doubt about faith, because that might make the consumer of the art uncomfortable or, heaven forbid, lead them to sin themselves.

And as you might imagine, safe art is no art at all. For art to reach into one’s soul, it must address four issues:

  1. Who are we?
  2. What makes us unique—what is our purpose in life?
  3. What has gone wrong?
  4. How can we get back?

JD, from a 2010 post – Selling Jesus By the Pound

• • •

Culture war Christianity is as wrong-headed and off-center on the left as it is on the right. Working for “justice” can be as much an exercise of works-righteousness and self-righteousness as any promulgation of rules enforcing traditional moral frameworks. Groups like this, which develop their own constituencies, strategies, and rhetoric can be as unloving, aggressive, and even militaristic as any group touting “traditional values.”

The agenda of a church and denomination should be Christ. When Jesus is removed from the center, it becomes a free-for-all. And it doesn’t matter whether you replace Jesus with “family values” or “justice.” No matter which side of the debate you’re on, you’re missing the point.

CM, from a 2018 post – Culture War Christianity…from the Left

• • •

So now I’m going to make someone really mad, but I don’t care: While you are allowed to have your convictions on the morality of human conduct, you are to keep your nose out of your neighbor’s business. What your neighbor is doing may be immoral, but it’s not your problem and it’s not your responsibility. “Love your neighbor as yourself” does not have fine print giving you permission to be a moral policeman in the bedrooms of people whose choices about sex differ from yours and mine.

…I don’t have to accept or endorse anything to be his friend, neighbor or fellow human being. I don’t have to oppose everything a homosexual does in life to say I believe the Bible is clear on this subject. But what he does, in his life, and how he lives before God is not my business. I respect his right to live before God and his own conscience. I am not (normally) called to violate the sanctity of another person’s moral competency, especially if their behavior is outside of my immediate family and children, and isn’t illegal.

MS, from a 2006 post – The Nosey Evangelical Neighborhood

• • •

I think that the practice of “vulnerability” as personal transparency may have gone to seed. Just take one flip around the TV channels and you can see that. What are all of these confessional talk shows, reality shows, and religious testimonial programs if not examples of “letting it all hang out” to an extreme? And don’t even get me started on social media! I could find more than enough examples on one screen shot from Facebook or Twitter to make my points. The information age has led in many cases to “TMI.” “No secrets” has become “no limits” on the personal information some will share.

Is it possible we no longer know how to value virtues like privacy, modesty, or restraint?

CM, from a 2013 post – Virtue and the Limits of Vulnerability

• • •

Whether we understand it or not, the Civil War has shaped each and every one of us who is an American. I am still learning to appreciate this as I grow older and reflect upon my own sheltered life. I am particularly moved when I consider the state of racial relationships in our country. Though measurable progress has been made, we have far to go.

As a privileged white man in America, I take so much for granted and far too often ignore the ongoing plight of those whose lives have continued to be difficult and discouraging since our greatest national conflict. And yet the circumstances have been all around me, crying out, every day of my life. My youth was salted with television news accounts of the Civil Rights movement, my heart stirred by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s dream. Members of my family were part of the “white flight” from Chicago’s city neighborhoods to the suburbs, as the descendants of slaves whose families had traveled north in the Great Migrations moved in.

I now live in the city where Bobby Kennedy calmed the crowds after Dr. King’s assassination, a city that ironically once housed the headquarters of the Ku Klux Klan, whose mission was to stir up racial hatred and violence. I visit her neighborhoods in my work; neighborhoods that remain largely segregated by race and class. I still wince when I have to speak of “the black church” after attending a service in the city for one of my patients of African-American heritage. Why not simply “the church”?

Returning to my small town residence south of the city, I drive past homes where Confederate flags still fly, where people of color remain few and far between, and where prejudice still speaks, albeit in quieter tones. Even in recent years, a few schools in our region have been penalized for overt demonstrations of racism at sporting events. You won’t find African-Americans in the local congregation where I worship, I’m ashamed to say. For the most part, black is black and white is white, and we maintain our distance.

Biblically, tolerance of this state of affairs is unacceptable.

CM, from a 2011 post – 150 Years Ago, Today

Comments

  1. Wow, reading Jeff Dunn’s old post was fun!! Lots of names in the comments of people who no longer visit us here at IMonk. Loved the topic and his writing.

    Thanks for sharing these blurbs, CM. I’ll peruse the others tomorrow.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > reading Jeff Dunn’s old post was fun!!

      Agree, fiercely.

      It is hard to even remember; startling how much times have changed.
      It felt like it would just go on and on and on.
      Today the Jesus Junk Empire is a ghost of its former self.
      As someone who lives in an epicenter of the JJE economy, home to Zondervan, et al.
      Empty buildings and grass growing in the widening cracks in the parking lots.
      What remains now comes in containers from China [ironically, given the givens].

    • Joanie D.,Martha and others. Haven’t seen them in awhile.

  2. I appreciate the article and as usual from Chaplin Mike it is thoughtful and thought provoking. My own personal observation on this article, is that it is too broad and covers so much territory. I also believe it is somewhat dated and has a ring of talking points without acknowledging the progress on many fronts or the lack of support for many of the ideas cited here. For example, the Confederate flag issue will die out completely and be as quaint a relic as the Gadsden Flag. Young people under 30 do not know or care about the culture and history of the South as in the past. Your statement that a few schools in your region have been penalized for overt racism , well is that not tremendous progress in a state that was the stronghold of the Klan? A few and it was covered in a major way and with great shaming , I am sure. Major and minor examples of racism are now widely reported and condemned by all segments of society. I know that we are not there yet but certainly as a culture, a society, a nation and most people of faith they are sincerely working on judging people by their individuality and personal character other than their race and where they are from. From my travels and what I have observed America is the least racist country in the world and is honestly trying to live up to her ideals that all men are created equal.
    Chaplin Mike, I say this in good faith and not as a gotcha question. If you are not the Pastor of the church you attend , why would you not worship in a black church? It may be of a different denomination but it would be Christ centered for sure. You could be the bridge, the door opener. I ask this of you personally but the question is for anyone who attends church and laments the diversity of places of worship. Why wait for the minority to join your church or ask for a merger. I asked this of my sister and she stated honestly she would be uncomfortable. I asked her how did she think her black church member friends felt in their home church. I am still waiting for her report if she approached her friends on the subject, I do not think she will as it would be uncomfortable for her. We went often when visiting to Mass with my Mother in Law and there were about the same amount of minorities at her church as my sisters. My late Mother in law cared more if people were Catholic than their race or whatever. again she was from a different time period.
    I am not into the white privileged concept as we can apply the term to any non choice condition of life, Americans are privileged, good looking people are privileged, athletic people are privileged, talented people are privileged , Hispanic people in Miami are privileged , gays in SF are privileged, how do you overcome what you have no control over? Do you think your grand children are going to more privileged that Jay Z’s , Jennifer Lopez, Bill Gate, President Trumps, Tom Brady’s kids, Michael Jackson kids, Jesse Jackson etc. It is economics , class and social perspective and the times are a changing but it is not perfect.
    Again, just thinking out loud and not being negative. However there is and continues to be real progress. I do appreciate the honesty and openness of the article posted. That is how we grow.

    • –> “However there is and continues to be real progress.”

      I can point to Barak Obama being elected President as evidence you’re right. No way he would’ve been voted in during the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s.

      –> “However there is and continues to be real progress.”

      But that’s not to say further progress isn’t needed. Neo-Nazi white supremacists in Charlottesville, VA, just two years ago (and increasingly visible elsewhere) is evidence of that.

      • …or that things can’t retrogress.

        • Things have retrogressed, even though there were “some very fine people on both sides” at Chalottesville (sarcasm alert for the second part of my sentence).

        • Adam Tauno Williams says

          > …or that things can’t retrogress.

          +1

          It seems clear that they have.

          • Is it retrogression, or is the narrower commonality shared by Americans today (and/or other factors) emboldening people to express themselves, who would have been held back from that expression in earlier years by social constraints? Real question. I think this ties in with the subject matter of the post.

            Dana

            • Adam Tauno Williams says

              Ok, I will call in an “effective regression”. 🙂

              The energizing of that effect I believe is due to a confluence of things, one of which is certainly “narrower commonality”.

    • … the Confederate flag issue will die out completely and be as quaint a relic as the Gadsden Flag. Young people under 30 do not know or care about the culture and history of the South as in the past.

      The young white nationalists (they were young) who marched on Chalottesville were very obsessed with the Confederate flag and other symbols of the Confederacy, and the culture and history of the South. As long as we have such deep, unresolved racial problems in this country, those symbols and that history will continue to live on and exert their influence, and be cherished by white supremacists and neo-Nazis, young and old.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Young and On-Fire for The Righteous Cause.
        Where have we seen this one before?

      • Christiane says

        the white supremacy hate-groups are merging with each other now and we are beginning to see some signs that that particular ‘culture’ is finding a home in some California communities where the public school children give evidence of it openly so, yes, we’ve got problem:

        https://chicago.suntimes.com/2019/8/20/20813794/high-school-students-nazi-salutes-singing-war-song

        where are these kids getting those songs from ???

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          The one they were singing was a German Army march song called “Erika” (“Heather Flower”); never heard of it before, but the Nazi connection (written by the Reich official for propaganda songs) was way too close for comfort.

          Others that get called “Nazi Songs” when sung these days are:
          * Deutschland Uber Alles — Old German National Anthem from German Unification, predates the Nazi era. Still the German national anthem, with the omission of its jingoistic first stanza.
          * Horst Wessel Lied — The actual Nazi Party anthem; you know it as “Tomorrow Belongs to Me” from Cabaret. Used to be “filked” for novelty songs. Never heard the original lyrics.
          * Der Panzerlied (“Tank song”) — German Army march song from the period; was in use for a couple decades after the war by the Bundeswehr. Used in the soundtrack for the Hollywood movie Battle of the Bulge.
          * Lili Marlene — German romantic pop song of the period; favorite of both German and British WW2 soldiers.
          At least these are the four I can distinguish by ear.
          The tunes are very distinct, and do not resemble each other at all.
          I have never heard “Erika” sung, so I wouldn’t recognize it.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > why would you not worship in a black church?

      Serious question: would they want that to happen? That’s not meant as an antagonistic question. The privileged entering someone else’s space(s) may not be perceived by them in the way the privileged would dictate that they should.

      It is not so straight-forward as “bridge building”.

    • ” For example, the Confederate flag issue will die out completely and be as quaint a relic as the Gadsden Flag.”
      I don’t know where you live, but here in Indiana (yeah, I know. Part of the old South, apparently, which must have good Hoosier soldiers rolling in their graves) I see Confederate flags frequently. Hanging from the windows of houses, flying behind trucks, bumper stickers plastered on cars. And this isn’t Southern Indiana, but much closer to Michigan. Gadsden flags are equally popular, although I would bet most of the people flying them have no clue what they really are.
      So, I would argue long and loud that it is not and will not die out anytime soon.

      • I live in South Carolina but recently spent several days in semi-rural northeastern Ohio. I was surprised to see more Confederate flags there in 4 days than I see in many months down here.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          The Second Klan of the Roaring Twenties was VERY strong in the Great Lakes area. (Remember “The Great Klan State of Indiana”? Until the Grand Dragon running for governor went down in a sex scandal with fatality just before the election.)

          One of my former contacts, “The Michigan Wildman” (if you met him, you’d know how he got the name) related a story of coming across a Klan rally (burning cross and all) in the backwoods while out hunting. This would have been some time around Y2K.

        • My family is from NE Ohio, and my grandfather told me once that the only reason he never joined the KKK is that they never asked him.

  3. Adam Tauno Williams says

    > So the challenge becomes humility and discernment. (DZ)

    This. And a key component of Discernment is knowing when to simply walk away, go elsewhere. Not every fight needs to be fought. See MS’ “don’t have to accept or endorse anything to be his friend” below.

    > Culture war Christianity is as wrong-headed and off-center on the
    > left as it is on the right (CM)

    I can’t do this one. It feels too much like sides-ism; finding equivalents where they may not be. Of course, I could be reading it wrong. I don’t find Christianity on the Left, it barely exists there, and thus cannot be equivalent. “””Groups like this, … can be as unloving”””, sure, but I do not see a “works-righteousness” equivalent. No fellow lefty has ever chastised me for not showing up at the right events, not participating in X, etc… It isn’t the same as in the Evangelical sphere where active policing occurred and people held interventions.

    > I don’t have to accept or endorse anything to be his friend, neighbor
    > or fellow human being … I am not (normally) called to violate the
    > sanctity of another person’s moral competence (MS)

    +1,000 this. This is one that grinds my gears; how does being someone’s friend ENDORSE anything? Just as their being my friend does not endorse my X, Y, or Z.

    > “No secrets” has become “no limits” on the personal information
    > some will share. (CM)

    Yes, this one is weird. But it is only “some”; although SM can make it seem otherwise.

    > Whether we understand it or not, the Civil War has shaped each and
    > every one of us who is an American. (CM)

    Spot on.

    Although “…where prejudice still speaks, albeit in quieter tones…””” feels very 2011. The good old days. 2010 – 2015 were good years.

    • “how does being someone’s friend ENDORSE anything?”

      Have you not heard of the Geek Social Fallacies? If you’re friends, you have to agree on EVERYTHING.

      http://www.plausiblydeniable.com/opinion/gsf.html

      • See addendum, “Friends All Like The Same Things”

        http://faerye.net/post/geek-social-fallacy-addendum

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        That exists.

        See my first point: “knowing when to simply walk away, go elsewhere”

        Today I’d wander off and talk to someone else. 🙂

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          “You got to know when to hold them,
          Know when to fold them,
          Know when to walk away,
          KNOW WHEN TO RUN…”
          — Kenny Rogers, “The Gambler”

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Coupled with addendum/definition:
        “ENEMY OF MY ENEMY IS MY FRIEND.”

      • Richard Hershberger says

        “how does being someone’s friend ENDORSE anything?”

        This is pretty much LCMS policy. The objection to any ecumenical activity is that they interpret it as endorsing those other peoples’ doctrine. This is how you get an LCMS pastor disciplined for participating in a prayer service after 9/11.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says

          That’s crazy.

          Endorsement is a discreet act, usually beginning with either the phrase “I endorse . . .” or writing a check.

          Not that ‘tacit agreement’ isn’t a thing, but there is a wide spectrum, especially inter-personally.

    • Richard Hershberger says

      “I can’t do this one. It feels too much like sides-ism; finding equivalents where they may not be”

      Yup. When I see a both-sides-do-it argument, I want specifics, including an analysis showing that the people doing it are roughly equally numerous, and equally influential within their respective sides. This is why I am unimpressed by breathless stories about some overenthusiastic group of undergrads at Oberlin doing something stupid.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        +1,000,000,000,000,000

        There are several religious writers/thinkers whom I very much appreciate – – – but, man, the Sidesism gets so old. As if they have any idea what happens ‘over there’.

  4. The Civil War….. I remember the first time I drove south from Pennsylvania to Florida. Now I had spent a lot of time riding New York subways so I was familiar with what it’s like to be a white minority and had processed and reflected on those thoughts numerous times. This was different though. Here I was a white minority among whites. Totally different thing. It wasn’t widespread but pointed. It was really just one interaction with one guy in a hotel parking lot. He heard me speak and told me to get my Yankee ass the &”$% out of there. WOW! An entire world opened to me in a split second. I had NO idea. I was 25 and was completely oblivious. I knew about racism and the Klan and so on but never knew I was a target. Many years later I was told by a guy in San Antonio that anyone north of the Red River (Texas’ northern border) was a damn Yankee. Almost got in a barroom brawl with a rodeo clown down there because I spoke the Yankee dialect. The deep seated feelings get passed on for generations in numerous cultures around the world with tremendous tenacity. It’s a real awakening when you experience it first hand. Wanton, unmerited, indiscriminate hate and discrimination pointed at little ol’ you. A tough nut to crack, this world of ours. Festering hatred as the default state.

    • Not to say that I don’t have my own racism to deal with as well. I do. Just surprising when you feel it yourself with such venom.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      I spent a lot of time in The South during summers during my youth. Someone game me a Confederate Air Force baseball cap, I don’t recall how I came to have it. I was of pre-teen age. Wandering and riding around I was lavished with praise and generosity; people even took pictures [this was back when film cameras were still a thing]. Amazing experience as an [amoral] pre-teen blond haired blue eyed boy – cha ching!
      Developing a moral conscience very much infringes on access to the low hanging fruit.

      • Had I kept my mouth shut and worn the right clothes…love instead of hatred. These deep passions are castles built on sand.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says

          Yep.

          Question: “Can’t we all just get along?”
          Answer: “Of course! The cost of peace is merely your soul.”

          • Christiane says

            you can get along with the Christian far right as long as you keep SILENT about trumpian atrocities, like the latest one, this:

            https://commonwealthmagazine.org/immigration/trump-administration-ending-protected-medical-status-for-immigrants/

            so if you want to be ‘in’ with the ‘right people’, ‘look away, there’s nothing to see here’ is the rule: to speak out about the inhumanity is a no-no, an offense to the trump, so silence is the only way

            keep quiet, say nothing, it’s much better that way . . . just look away, nothing to see, or if you see it, don’t believe your eyes, just listen to the trump messiah

            at least no one is taking bets on how long that kid with cystic fibrosis will last once he’s deported, at least not yet . . .

        • Richard Hershberger says

          How do you pronounce “shibboleth”?

          • Adam Tauno Williams says

            Apparently “airforce”. 🙂

            I kept that hat for a long time. I believe I only lost it ~5 years ago when some family moved.

            *I* thought it was hilarious: Confederate AIR FORCE. That is was a 12-13 year old mind saw.

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says

              There was a group called the Confederate Air Force (now the Commemorative Air Force). They preserve and restore historical aircraft (mostly WW2 warbirds) to flying condition and bring them to airshows. They also have an aviation museum at their home field in Texas.
              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commemorative_Air_Force

              The name “Confederate Air Force” was originally chosen as a joke name.

    • You had the Damn Yankee experience in the South. I had just the opposite experience. I moved from New Orleans to Bellevue (think “white suburb of Seattle”) as a middle schooler back in 1973 and faced some crap for my accent. White minority among whites indeed. Crazy. It actually took a while for me to adjust to that subtle bigotry.

      Lord have mercy on us all. (Oh… Maybe he does….)

    • ChrisS. What year was your experience dealing with being a Yankee.. I live in Georgia, not in Atlanta, have a condo in Hilton Head and travel though out the South. I am believe those days are mostly over partly because of the demographics and so many Northern born retiring and moving to the South. Many young work age people are moving. Some to the comments I read here are somewhat dated. Yes, they do happen but it is not the prevailing culture. The last primary George Wallace won in the Democrat primary was the non southern , non racist state of Michigan. The times they are a changing and have been a changing. No more progressive city than Charlotte N.C.
      Really the Klan is a joke and a straw man. A Klan rally would have 25 nuts , surrounded by 2000 anti Klan activist and good plain people. Morons carrying tiki as torches from Wal Mart or Lowes , how stupid and you would think it was large as the original 1933 propaganda stage massive parade honoring Hitler being name Chancellor . I saw a bunch of pathetic losers with brains and the press was absolutely honest and devastating to their “cause”.
      We need to keep things in perspective and be real in our emotions and reporting.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        You’re talking Fourth Klan, the dregs left from the collapse of the Third circa 1960s. They’ve long been eclipsed by the skinheads in attracting the Young, Restless, and Truly WHITE.

        The Second Klan of the 1920s was the really dangerous one. Massive membership over all 48 states, well financed by Klektokens (dues/tithes from members), took over several towns (including the one I live in) and came within two days of taking over the state of Indiana (a stepping stone to The White House).

      • Yes. That’s why I pointed out that it was one guy in a parking lot. It was one incident but it was harsh enough to open my eyes to something I would not have believed was real. I have lived in Texas for over 30 years now and have been fairly Texanized. The shocking thing to me was that it happened at all. I was totally blindsided by the force of his feeling and it’s the same with small groups in Serbia or Ireland or Tunisia, etc. These feelings linger long through generations and well after the fighting is over. Sometimes they give birth to new wars. My experience was in 1985 and it was semi rural Georgia.

        • ChrisS. Thanks . So one bad experience in 1985 proves what? I am not being a smarty pants, do you think we have progressed. Do you think that your fellow Texans are deep rooted , violent racist? Are race relations and many other areas better now? What do you mean by being Texanized? To me it use to be love Texas the Alamo, the Texas Rangers, not the baseball team, the Dallas Cowboys , Texas High School and College Football, packing a gun, and in general the history, culture and traditions of Texas. Do you think that Texas is better now than 30 years ago. Do you think Texas will be better in 30 years compared to the present. I live in rural Georgia , it is about 5 to 8 years to turning blue or liberal. So bottom line has progress been made in many areas noted in Chaplin Mikes article ? Not a finished product but a work in progress. Thanks for replying to me . I just trying to get a handle on what others think as my nature and political leaning are conservative to most but I just use the label to simplify my id.

          • Hey Randy,
            Texanized just means that I have adapted to this culture and speak the language and look the part if I need to. Chewed tobacco for awhile. “Y’all” is part of my vocabulary. It’s a good word. I have a few phrases like ‘lower than a snakes belly in a tractor rut’. It’s said with some humor and affection for the place. Let me say first that the Dallas Stars are my hockey team. Secondly the Cowboys and then the Rangers and the Mavericks are all my teams. I’ve seen all of them win championships except the Rangers who did make it to two World Series in a row.
            I think we have progressed since 1985 and I’m not putting a blanket indictment upon every southerner. As I’ve said I’m pretty much a southerner myself now. I was not too inclined to tell people I was Catholic early on. Bad for business. No kidding. Now Dallas is overrun with Yankees and Californians so it’s cosmopolitan by and large. Texans with strong Texas accents actually are in the minority. Country bars are filled but with very few real cowboys. Now if you head out west or down south I don’t know that much has changed. I used to go dove hunting with some buddies out west and the N word was used all day long by some of the guys we bunked with. They saw me as a city punk but I never felt threatened. My only point is that it was a shock to me that the Civil War was still being fought. It was not so much racism as it was an unfinished battle between people of the same race. That was the part that so surprised me. Granted, it shouldn’t have as it was fairly well-known that people were still fighting that battle but I was naïve. Obviously with the blatant racism of late we know there is an ongoing battle in this country and everything we can do to counter it, in ourselves mostly, is called for.

            • Clay, thanks for your reply, Your morphing into a Texan makes sense . I just get lost in the narrative and this is a sincere question, where is the blatant racism of late that you refer to? Again , I know there is still racism and am a realist but that is the ongoing battle you allude to. Are most Texans racist, do they hate Mexicans what do they do now that was not done before. I see real racism declining everywhere but especially in the South. I always felt the South was more honest in their racism than the Northern states, but I digress. I keep hearing of the increase in racism and hate from media sources but do not see in in real life. Just get lost in the talking points and cable news talking heads filling up the 2/7 cycle. Do you think this country is more racist than ever or anytime in the past 30 years. I do not but that is why I am asking.

              • The blatant racism of late is all the stuff we have seen on the news. White supremacists. “Jews will not replace us!” The Charlottesville mayhem with the driver killing that woman. The “Alt-right”. People wanting time to speak this sort of hate on college campuses. There’s been a ton of this stuff going on like a sudden upswelling. Overall I think we are less racist than we were in the past but I think we are subject to mob think right now as a society and racism is viying for our attention anew. There are plenty of Texans that hate ‘Mexicans’ but there are so many south and Central Americans in Texas that are ingrained in the society that it’s hard to quantify. There was a guy banned from Texas Rangers games a few weeks ago for verbally abusing a Hispanic family at the game. With little kids no less. For being invaders or some such. I’m sure you could look it up on google. People were absolutely outraged and demanded that the Rangers track him down by his seat number and ban him, which they did. It’s definitely alive and well but white people, white Texans, responded with kindness and embarrassment, not support the hateful imbecile. P.s. I suppose I really have been Texanized. You called me Clay. That sounds Texan. Like Troy or Clint or Tanner.

                • Headless Unicorn Guy says

                  There are plenty of Texans that hate ‘Mexicans’ but there are so many south and Central Americans in Texas that are ingrained in the society that it’s hard to quantify.

                  And that doesn’t even count the Tejanos (Hispanic Texans), descendants of Spanish and Mexican colonists north of the Rio Grande. They got lumped in as “Mexicans” and treated like dirt for over a century after Texas independence and annexation by the USA. (Two wars with Mexicans proper — of the same Mestizo ethnic type — didn’t help.)

                  Problem is, with a lot of Anglos in Del Norte (the border area), all Hispanics get lumped in as “Mexicans”. I know the one real racist in my family did.

      • bad49brains says

        Hi Randy – I live in the Dallas area. I’m in my late 40’s and moved here about 30 years ago from California. I can’t speak to how North Texas compares to other places, but I can speak to what it’s like here.

        I see racism on display here all the time. I’ve worked at several jobs over the years, including my current one, where ownership and management have used the N-word and the word Sand-N amongst themselves. I’ve heard casual (non-official, out of the office) hiring discussions where race was included as part of the potential evaluation process. If you think the N-word is just a word and doesn’t mean anything when it comes to actions, I would suggest people who talk like that reveal their contempt or their disregard/disrespect for people of color – to think it would not affect their actions is foolish. I hear it directly and overhear it when white people are in (or think they are in) a safe space and make racist comments about minorities. And i’m not being a fragile/triggered liberal here, when you hear someone at a party say things like “we had to move, it was getting too dark” with an implied wink/nod to the group, well you and I may disagree, but I think that’s racist. My college age son has a variety of friends, many black, and I can assure you, from talking to and knowing them and hearing first-hand stories, racism toward young black men is alive and well here, often subtly, sometimes overtly. It is not uncommon at all here to hear Mexicans spoken about or referred to in a way that is tied into their work ethic, whether it be implying they are harder working or lazier than other races. The influx of Indians and Middle Easterners here in North Texas (otherwise often described more ominously as, wait for it…. Muslims!) is frankly something people are pretty comfortable expressing their distaste for. My former church held a seminar on how to pick apart and challenge ever-threatening religion of Islam, basically how to combat it and it’s followers, because, you know, first thing I want to do when I greet a new neighbor is begin by showing them how wrong and dangerous their religion is. I really can give many examples.

        So frankly, I feel like you are in an exceptional situation, or maybe you are being obtuse, or perhaps you are numbed or immune to the subtle examples around you, or again, perhaps your town is racism-free, I don’t know.

        My issue is your continued focus on the issue of progress because I hear this a lot. Has there been progress? Of course – we aren’t still bring people over in slave ships and blacks are allowed to learn to read now and we can all eat at the same restaurants, etc. Obviously there’s been progress.

        But let me ask you this: if someone walks up to you once a day and punches you in the face without warning for a year, and then the next year, they just do it once a week, are you excitedly and gleefully telling everyone you’re only getting punched in the face for no reason once a week – I mean, how great is life now!? Do we all want cookies because things aren’t as bad as they used to be? It just annoys me when people use the fact there’s been progress to try to get other people to lighten up or settle down about the current state of affairs. I’m not saying that’s what you’re doing, I don’t know you and you seem like a decent fella, so if that’s not you then you’re not who I’m talking about, just sharing my experience and impressions on this subject.

        I am not content with the current state of affairs. Not one bit. I do keep things in perspective, and in my humble opinion, none of us should be content, and focused on keeping our emotions in check, whatever that means, is not the priority here – we should all be outraged.

        Things are clearly better, but that does not mean they are good.

  5. The truth is, we ARE the culture. It’s not something that exists hermetically sealed over there somewhere to be avoided or penetrated by stealth. I’m absolutely not a Pollyanna; I’m a ex-pat southerner – I can’t afford to be. But there really has been a sea change. When I was a kid the KKK still marched in the 4th of July parade in the little town I sprang from. (My Uncle Thomas was the Grand Wazoo of the local chapter by the way.)

    I can detect a little bit of the spirit of Revelation 12:12 in current events. Trump has awakened a vile portion of our culture that rages because it knows its time is short. I don’t expect Paradise anytime soon but something is dying and something else is slouching towards Bethlehem.

    • I sincerely hope the vile portion does slouch towards Bethlehem. Again, I don’t know where you live, but in my neck of the woods, I’d say Bethlehem is a long, long ways away and the slouch will take a very, very long time.

  6. Burro (Mule) says

    On race, it’s extremely hard to say anything constructive these days. Public opinion forces everyone to say things that they don’t really believe in their hearts. African-American culture is different from the dominant (European) American culture yet everyone has to pretend that they’d all act like Norwegians if people stopped treating them so poorly.

    I live in a majority black neighborhood in Atlanta. The public high school for this district has a reputation close to that of Rikers Island but it produced a National Merit Scholarship finalist. My kids are past high school age now but if they were to attend that school I would want them equipped with a set of skills that would allow them not just to survive but to thrive in that environment. They are not the same skills that would allow them to thrive in Forsyth or Cherokee counties (majority white suburban counties). Some of these skills I as a white parent would be unable to provide. They would have to come from some sympathetic black parents whose aid I would have to enlist.

    Despite my basic racism I believe that the proximity of African. European, and indigenous humans in this hemisphere is something very much under the Providence of God and we should hesitate to separate what God has clearly joined.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > They are not the same skills that would allow them to thrive in Forsyth or
      > Cherokee counties (majority white suburban counties).

      Or I would wager the same set of skills which would succeed in many schools in rural America.

      There are innumerable cultures, some correlated to race, others not.

      I attended an All White rural High School. I believe we had a couple African American students for roughly a week; they – – – I **ASSUME** – – – had the good sense to move on. It was also the 1980s. It was also in the context of pretty steep economic decline. The fond memories are few.

      If I had High School age children today, where I am now, yep, they would need a very different set of of skills than I had [or, rather, lacked].

      One positive is that I am very confident that, in general, people today are much more aware and have better vocabulary for discussing context than ‘we’ did in the 1980s.

      For goodness sake, there was a poster up in my High School for awhile; red background, white block lettering; “CONFORMITY PREVENTS CONFRONTATION”. So . . . pretty much anything is a step up.

    • Norma Cenva says

      You’ve got courage Burro.
      There aren’t many who’d dare even the slightest critique of two sacred memes in progressive culture, namely ‘white privilege’ and ‘systemic racism’.

  7. “So now I’m going to make someone really mad, but I don’t care: While you are allowed to have your convictions on the morality of human conduct, you are to keep your nose out of your neighbor’s business. What your neighbor is doing may be immoral, but it’s not your problem and it’s not your responsibility.”
    _________

    Decades back; my wife and I had a next door neighbor selling drugs from his home.

    I didn’t let that pass actually. His business, due to physical proximity, was my business too.

  8. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/27/nyregion/gifted-programs-nyc.html

    So , does this follow in the VP Bidden line of thought that poor kids are just as bright and talented as white kids. Is holding Asians and whites back from merit achieved selection racist or not? MLK great speeches and appeals to judge people by the content of their character not the color of their school seems to be losing favor .
    Harvard was and maybe did limit the number of Asians due to merit test scores as it was not fair to people like me, not too bright.. This is maybe the new racism , maybe not but whatever it is it is not good for a society.

    • “poor kids are just as bright and talented as white kids” – yes, they certainly can be. But as recent scandals and studies have shown, being white and rich means an awful lot more than being non-white and talented. Until society as a whole is colorblind in practice, school admissions cannot be “colorblind” in selections.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Just keep in mind that any Affirmative Action will have a side effect of sparking Resentment in those who are not in the Affirmed group. Firewalling it in all Righteousness (“What Could Possibly Go Wrong?”) has the danger of triggering a backlash reaction (“MAGA!”) should that resentment build to Critical Mass.

    • Do you believe that black and hispanic children have had, on balance, the same opportunities over the past four decades as white children?

  9. Clay, Why do you think the children in NYC who get accepted into the magnet schools are predominately Asian? Do they have more opportunity than the other children in NYC? Do the white, black and Hispanic children in NYC not have the same “public opportunity” as the Asian children. The difference is the family expectation, nurturing , discipline and insistence on excelling in the academic world. Education and learning is what has made the Jewish population such a power house in almost every academic field historically. It is the family unit that is the vital unit. Ben Carson’s Mother is a great example of setting the bar high and not accepting less. Go to a private school anywhere and a public school, the main difference is parental involvement. Go to a great public school and the main ingredient is parental involvement. Any child born into a single family , low income, struggling parent situation is going to have a tough time regardless of race, religion or ethnic background. Nothing new about privilege any society. America society has the most opportunity for everyone but it cannot raise and nurture a child. It can take a village if you are in a backward , third world country but in America it takes nuclear family or , of course money.

    • I don’t really believe it’s that simple, but if it was, then it’s even more unfortunate than it would otherwise be that America has systematically and unsystematically ripped black families apart from the time the first African people were kidnapped, enslaved, and forcibly brought to these shores.

  10. Robert F. If it is not all that simple , what is it? Lot of clichés, sound bites and talking points here. Since slavery ended where is the systematic and unsystematic programs ? To update and get into the 21st century give some current examples of the systemic methodology ripping black families apart. We all know the Lyndon Johnson Great Society edict to remove the common law husband out of the black community social setting really hurt the black family structure. That is a given. Now the family structure of all economic, social , race and ethnic background groups is experiencing a crisis fostered not by the government but the forces of society and culture. The amount of children being born and raised in a single parent situation is alarming. We need to work together to find a solution to this issue that is not good for children, parents and society.

    • Slavery>Jim Crow with all its economic and social handicaps to black communities and families for a couple generations> systematic exclusion from the post-WWII American economic boon by denying black families loans to buy homes in the newly developing suburbs (just on the cusp of Jim Crow’s demise)> 2 generations trapped in poor inner cities with access to only dead end jobs> mass incarceration of black men and fathers, many for non-violent crimes of selling drugs to white suburbanites (who were enjoying their new found affluence underwritten by “buying up” from one house to another and mortgaging their real estate for greater education and income for themselves and their children)> continuing dysfunction of fatherless children, imprisoned black men, drug addiction, economic water-treading in dead end inner cities with no way out.

    • And it’s interesting how the opioid problem became a crisis demanding special federal intervention only after white people started dying in greater and greater numbers, despite the fact that for two generations it’s been a blight on black communities, killing addicts and destroying families.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Just like the cocaine/crack problem before it.

        And switching from drugs to pop music, Ragtime, Jazz, and Rock-and-Roll only became Respectable when white kids started listening to it and white bands started playing it. Before that, all three were “n*gg*r music”. Echoed in anti-Rock sermons about “Jungle Beats”. (I consider Rap and Hip-Hop more free-verse poetry than actual song, but the same holds.)