January 16, 2021

The Weekend File: 09:20:08

Thanks to Issues, Etc for choosing Internetmonk.com as the “Blog of the Week.”

One of Rod Dreher’s readers at Crunchy Con sent in a deadly honest e-mail describing “white privilege.” I don’t care much for the political applications, but the observations on how some whites view their own behavior differently from the identical behaviors in African-Americans is spot on. This is a way of thinking that you have to stop in your own head, and they way you stop it is with the Gospel; with Kingdom thinking.

I try to make both my white and black students aware of this phenomenon, and I encourage discussion about it. We need to put the light on these kinds of cockroaches of the soul if we are going to make progress on the continuing sin of racism.

Oh….the application to how many Christians view their behavior as compared to other people…oh my!

My rant about evangelism in the SBC didn’t contain one observation that needs to be made. The SBC has become just like the dying mainline denominations: the only voice you hear most of the time is “headquarters,” in other words the denominational bureaucrats tell us who and what we are. Just like every over dying bureaucracy, the denominational payroll isn’t the place to get your vital signs. The voice of the SBC needs to be heard from pastoral bloggers, laypeople speaking up and those who are paying the bills having a forum. The denominational types have been telling us the same bumper sticker analysis for decades, and it all amounts to “More Evangelism! Here’s the next program!” The SBC is a cooperative denomination, not a hierarchy, so that means less lecture from the 32nd floor, and more listening on ground level.

I’m watching a minister I know deal with depression while trying to do his work. I really hurt for the guy, because most people don’t see depression. They call it laziness or incompetence or worse. I can recognize it because I know it. One reason churches in my tradition are going through pastors so fast is the inability to see the specific kinds of brokenness of pastors and how they can help address those issues.

In fact, let me just say that I am never more embarrassed to be a Christian than when some “Christian” group demonstrates that when it comes to dealing with a human being, they will treat that person worse than any similar collection of unbelievers would ever think of doing. I guess it’s the other end of a distorted Gospel: cheap forgiveness means we can tell God we’re sorry for anything really rotten we did, and will probably do again. (But isn’t it awful that those Catholics believe in confession?)

An ugly incident on a prominent Truly Reformed blog this week reminds me that the blogosphere is a place where you can really create some truly spectacular sins, all the while just sitting there telling the world that your theology is correct. Eventually, you start blogging on things like “Why Jesus could have taken a few tips on preaching from Jonathan Edwards….or Me!”

I’m thinking that Justin Taylor may soon be arrested for creating mass hysteria among book-buying Calvinists. Justin, what will you do when mobs with pitchforks appear outside your window weeks before October 15th? Do you have security at the warehouse?

We have friends who used to attend a church that taught children- children!- to interpret dreams. If a local church can interpret dreams, I think they should set up a booth on main street or at Wal-Mart and minister to the community. For example, last night I dreamed that I bought a new shower and a new hot water heater. I then hired a friend to come to my house and install them both. When he did, he found that I had two hamsters in a small cage that had died because I’d forgotten to feed them….for several months apparently. When he finally installed the shower, it turned into a small jacuzzi, but it was in my basement.

Whatever God is saying to me through this may be important, so if you are one of those people, I need to hear from you soon. (I’m suspecting it was the four White Castles.)


  1. Congrats on being the Issues, Etc. blog of the week!

  2. New shower… new hot water heater… hmmm. Let’s see: ah! I know!

    Heating water involves fire, which is a reference to the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles at Pentecost as tongues of flame. And the water is obviously the water of baptism(obviously).

    So this dream is God telling you that you need to be born again of water and the Spirit.

    Oh, and don’t forget to feed your hamsters, mmkay? 😉

  3. Oh, yeah, and I nearly forgot: the shower turning into a jacuzzi means that the proper form of baptism is by immersion (like you lot do it?) not by sprinkling or pouring (like we do it. Dang! Got me there!). And the basement means returning to the foundations, i.e. the primitive Church.

    See? It’s so plain and simple, once you apply proper Biblical principles! 🙂

  4. Christopher Lake says

    Congrats also on being “Blog of the Week” for Issues Etc.! IE is a great show that deserves *much* more attention than it has gotten from most Christian media outlets.

    About the email on white privilege, the author made some very good points that white people (I am one) really need to consider, especially concerning how black people are often viewed viewed, and treated, differently, than white people in very similar situations. The author undercuts the force of some of these good points, though, by going into “political campaign screed mode.” I know, on a personal level, one black conservative man who would have major problems with this e-mail– probably much more so than I do!

    In full disclosure, I write as a white man who was born and raised in Alabama and who basically went to (nearly) all-white schools until college… *but* I also write as a Southern white man who, while in the South, opposed racism in general, and Southern white racists to their faces in particular, and was tormented for it. From a young age, I also had a heart for justice for people of all races, when most of the white people around me (many of whom would have claimed to be Christians) seemingly couldn’t have cared less. My reaction to this e-mail isn’t a “knee-jerk white reaction.” I just wish that the author would have tempered some of his obvious political bias, so that his/her very good points about race in America would not have been obscured by that bias.

  5. Thanks.

    I mentioned in the post that I don’t care for the political applications, but the observation is spot on true.



  6. This blog has long been a joy to read. Thanks for posting the excellent piece on white privilege. I respect you all the more for posting it despite the fact that you don’t care for the political applications.

  7. I believe that the e-mail on white privilege looses some of its force because it blithely mixes true instances of white privilege with political campaign rhetoric. Some of the things people of conservative convictions say about Obama which are here identified as evidence of white privilege are matched pretty well by what folks of more liberal convictions have been saying about George Bush Jr for years, and more recently about Sarah Palin.

    Other phenomena described here under the label of white privilege are simpy the typically human “us vs. them” stuff. We all tend to be more critical of those who are different from us, of “them” in other words, and it doesn’t have all that much to do specifically with racism.

    That is also why one could with equal justification write an essay about “Evangelical privilege” deriding the way Evangelicals apply a double standard when looking at other Evangelicals or those outside the camp, or “Catholic privilege”, or even “Liberal privilege.” Just look at much of the stuff written about Governor Palin, or any prominent conservative Christian, in the mainstream press.

    I am all for opposing racism, but bunging all sorts of human prejudice together under that label is not helpful.

  8. Bob Sacamento says

    Honestly Michael, you have some great insights. Even when I disagree with you, I am often better informed for having read your pieces. But this time I just don’t get it. I read about half of that letter before I had to decide that the rest was just going to be a waste of my time. Sarah Palin does get a pass on some of those things from some people, while others are still jumping all over her. So her “privilege” applies only to some sectors of the population. And, despite her background, she has made it into the halls of political privilege, populated by both white and black. The white lady who lives in the trailer down the road from me would never get a pass on the things that Palin has gotten a pass on.

    This letter is interesting in some regards, but as an analysis of privilege given to an entire demographic group of the country, it is pretty much worthless. Sorry.

  9. I happen to be white and I don’t recall ever having any privilege because of it. I have been held back a few times for it though and have witnessed plenty of privilege for other races. I think maybe 50 years ago there was white privelege, maybe even less years back. There may be some still existing somewhere, but where I am and in my life the privilege is reduced at the same rate as your melenin is reduced. I have gotten to the point where I check off “other” on the race section of applications and such cause I think it doesn’t matter what my skin tone is to go a job. I am not angry, I am dissapointed with society letting it go this long. I try so hard to keep all the hatred and racial crap out of my kids heads to do my part to end this in new generations, but it is so hard, it is all some people want to talk about. I think my generation and the ones younger a so ready to be over the race thing. If the older generations would just let us. We should work to have no race based privilege, brown privilege is not the answer for past years of white privilege. It seems easy to understand to me. At some point it just needs to be dropped like any other form of evil. I am a little utopian some times though, I forget that the world is populated by humans and they are sinners and the world is fallen. Can we ever do enough to accually make a change?

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