Category Archives: liberation theology

Was Jesus “Bound By His Times”?

So, Jimmy Carter thinks that, if Jesus “were alive today,” He’d approve of gay marriage, abortion, women’s ordination, etc. . . .
One of the popular notions of “Christian” liberals is that “Jesus was bound by His times,” that if He had not been so bound, He’d have approved of all the things they want to do–things that, at the same time, they remind us were popular in most pagan cultures, anyway. So, 1) How was “Jesus” bound by His times for teaching people not to do things that pagans and in some cases even Jews allowed?
2) If they truly believe Jesus is God, how could He be bound by the times He chose to be born into,
3) if Jesus is God, and the Jews were God’s Chosen People who received His Law, how could the time and place Jesus was born into *not* be what He wanted them to be?

“Just believe in yourself”

“God just wants me to be happy,” says the contemporary Christian singer about her divorce and remarriage.

“Believe in yourself,” says the new age guru.

“The real Bruce Jenner,” say the headlines.

“Born that way,” says Lady Gaga.

Apparently, Jesus says “Affirm yourself, put down your cross, and follow your heart”?

Oh, no, wait.  That was, “Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Me.”

On Riots, Racism, and Standardized Testing: All you need is Love, and that means Christ

Our nation is in turmoil.  Everything distopian novelists and “crazy conspiracy theorists” have written about seems to be coming true.  Early in the Obama administration, for example, people said he’d create a national crisis to declare Martial Law and establish a dictatorship.  Well, the tensions are arising, and Obama  established aprogram under everyone’s noses to begin nationalizing local police forces.  Major cities keep erupting in race riots.  The Supreme Court is likely to overturn every state law on marriage and establish yet another fictious constitutional “Right.” Some people are being driven out of business for expressing thir Christian beliefs while other businesses are denying Christians their services.   Hillary Clinton says if (and when) she’s “elected” President, she wants to force all religions to accept abortion.

All of it just shows society’ need for Christ.   

Attempts to “fix” broken schools with more money and more legislative interference for 50-60 years have only made things worse.  All we have is a “race to nowhere” with high stakes standardized tests that demonstrate nothing about real learning, line the pockets of educational conglomerates, and cause students to burn out, or worse, from the stress.  When I was in elementary school, the teachers would say, discussing the differences between the US and Communist countries, taht Communists made students take tests that determined their entire lives.  When I was a young adult, a teacher friend went through a few years where a faculty member had a heart attack or stroke during standardized testing, because it was so stressful.  

We can’t fix something unless we know why it’s broken, and what’s broken is a lack of transcendent values.   
If the reason people riot is lack of advantage, or discrimination by police, what is served by looting or burning small businesses and charities?  One of the reasons the July 1832 revolt that Hugo immortalized failed was that most of “the people” were mad at the students for stealing their stuff.  But, at least they knew whom they were revolting against (a just, Catholic king who was popular for giving he people more rights than the “Republic” or Napoleon) and why (they believed that secular government could and should end poverty). I saw a meme pointing out how people riot over sports games, and implying that race riots at least have a point.  The way I see it, it’s equally meaningless: unbridled anger, expressed in random violence.  If revolution is ever effective or just–and the Church has always been wary of revolution, even in the case of the Cristeros–it needs to be focused on the right enemy.  

I often refer to Catechism 676, the passage that tells us to beware of any movement that claims to try and solve all the world’s problems through  secular means because that is the “spirit of Antichrist.”  This was the reason the Church condemned Freemasonry.  It’s what Pope Benedict XVI expounded on in _Caritas in Veritate_, saying taht charity must be from love and truth, both of which are personfied in Christ, and that since the Church is the arbiter of Christ’s teachings and the Natural Law, economic justice cannot be divorced from the Church.

Prayer, fasting and forgiveness are the only solutions to these crises.  The more we abandon Christ as a society, the worse thigns will get.  If as 1 Samuel warns us, we choose a “King” over God, the warnings Samuel gave to the Israelites will continue to be proven. 

Cindee-relly

Having discussed people’s criticisms of the recent “revisionist” trends in Disney movies, and how they are celebrating Branagh’s Cinderella for a fairly straight-up remake of the classic Disney animated version, I’d like to express my agreement with “catholic All Year” that _Cinderella_ is probably the best movie I’ve seen since _Les Miserables_.

When I was in graduate school, in my Shakespeare course, we had a unit on “Shakespeare in film,” and one of the things we did was compare the Olivier and Branagh versions of _Henry V_. The professor talked about Branagh’s use of cinematic allusions. She showed us Branagh’s version of Act I, scene 2 and said how it’s an homage to a scene in _Citizen Kane_. She asked us to see if we could catch any other references. I’d seen the film many times before, but I never thought of it till she asked. As soon as the black figure of Henry’s silhouette entered, his cape flowing around him, and he began stalking through the line of soldiers, with Patrick Doyle’s score dramatically thumping, I raised my hand. The professor paused the video, and I said, “Darth Vader!”
Thus, I was pleased to catch at least one self-reference, besides the presence of Derek Jacobi as the king and Doyle as the composer. Without giving away spoilers, it’s in the climax.

Then there are the fairy tale archetypes. Surprisingly, Branagh cuts out the Three tasks, a motif dating back to the Cupid and Psyche archetype from which most European princess fairy tales derive. However, he introduces the hunt for a stag, a common motif in many stories, using it as an opportunity for the characters to meet before the ball. They actually have a sincere conversation, and their love is based on something more than superficial attraction but rather shared values.

This Cinderella is not the animated version, flying to a man for escape–indeed, she’s happy to return to her life of slavery just to know she has a friend. She’s not Rapunzel, falling head over heels for the first man she meets. She’s more like the animated Aurora–indeed, it’s a very similar scene–having a brief but meaningful conversation.

Another element the folklorist in me liked was the part derived from “Beauty and the Beast”–Ella’s request to her father when he leaves on his last business trip.

As far as fitting with 21st century sensibilities while remaining fairly traditional (or, as I noted in my previous post, returning somewhat to what real fairy tales are like), the film does make Lady Tremaine a more sympathetic figure without going all-out _Maleficent_. There is a slight disjoint, though, in the final act. We see her pain watching her new husband ignore her, favoring his daughter over her and even agreeing with his daughter that her stepmother and stepsisters are “trying.” She tells Cinderella how she herself married for love, had her heart broken, and then married for money and lost that. She never really explains, though, why she’s quite so antagonistic to Ella. They say that a well-written and acted villain is the hero of his or her own story. This was supposedly the goal of _Maleficent_, and while it was nice that they kept her evil, one of the film’s few real flaws was *not* falling into “cookie cutter” mode. In general, the characters’ motivations are better developed.

The other element of the film that plays on post-_Shrek_ approaches is the repeated use of the adjective “charming.”
It was fun picking out the who’s-who of Disney movies, Branagh movies and/or movie musicals.

Perhaps the best part of all, though, is how the feminists are ticked off by the film. That alone was reason to pay to see it.
Some are criticizing how “unrealistically thin” her waist is, and how it’s obviously modified with CGI (I think the actual movie is a bit wider than some of the promotional images or trailers).
Cinderella Poster
But you know what else is unrealistic? Anthropomorphic mice and fairy godmothers. Depictions of women’s bodies are a matter for another discussion, but think about this: 

 

 Meanwhile, in the context of the film, I’d say her waist is fine; it’s the rest of her that doesn’t make sense. She’s doing an entire household of manual labor 16+ hours a day, sleeping either in the attic or on the floor in front of the fireplace. She’s fed table scraps and shares them with her mice friends (she is apparently a bit nutty, a trait shared by all our shut-in princesses). She *should* be completely emaciated.
Of course, to the “progressives,” it’s not just her appearance but her behavior they find revolting: she offers up her suffering. She follows her mother’ dying advice to “have courage and be kind.” Normally, I would be suspicious of “kindness” as the standard for virtue, but her understanding of kindness is far more like the virtue of caritas. She understands, like C. S. Lewis’s presentation of Psyche, the Christian values of humility and self-sacrifice. Those who love the philosophy of “no right, no wrong, no rules,” who agree with Satan’s “non serviam,” find Mary’s “fiat mihi” repulsive and oppressive. Christianity is seen as a tool of “oppression” by those who say, with Milton’s Beelzebub, “Better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven.” Yet the lie, as Elsa realizes in _Frozen_, is that no one really reigns in Hell–one either becomes a slave, or imprisoned in frozen isolation.
“The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” “Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me.” “Though He was in the form of God, Jesus did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at. . . . ” In the Orwellian society we live in, these teachings are condemned as “evil.” Whether either the writer-director or his character are aware, Cinderella epitomizes Christlike behavior, and this is why those who celebrate _Maleficent_ hate _Cinderella_, and vice versa.

If I were to suggest one thing to movie studios about remakes and adaptations, it would be to have Shakespearians write and/or direct them. The amazing thing about Shakespeare is how open to interpretation his characters are, and Shakespeare adaptations often tell very different stories from the same texts just by switching or deleting certain lines, and by how the characters are acted.

The man with no feet doesn’t need shoes

I still remember when I was about 8 or 9, and, reflecting on the other kids I knew with genetic disorders, I thought about the proverb, “I cried that I had no shoes until I met a man with no feet.” While perspective is important, and I’ve been on both sides of the metaphor, it’s also kind of a stupid saying. As I figured it, the man with no feet doesn’t *need* shoes. He’d appreciate that your feet hurt.

This is what hurts me about the “white privilege” issue. If my kids have a fight (and, as other recent posts, I keep seeing my children as a microcosm of society, which they are), and one of them comes up to me crying, I will sympathize with the one who’s crying. If they’re in the process of fighting, though, I’m going to deal with whomever threw the most recent verbal or physical swing. When a kid says, “You always side with [him/her], and you never hear my side of the story,” a) that doesn’t particularly make me amenable to the child’s side, and b) I find that it only makes the tantrum worse if I *try* to address that argument.

But that’s what we have in society: lots of people throwing tantrums and refusing to listen to reason, whether they’re Tea Partiers, Occupiers, ranchers in Nevada, African Americans, Latinos, Cops, or whomever. Everybody insists *their* pain is worse than the other guy’s, and few are willing to say, “Hey, aren’t we all in this together?” Worse, if you *say* that, everybody turns on you.

The best episode of _Buffy, the Vampire Slayer_, is “Earshot,” the one that was delayed because of Columbine–when I say it should have been on every channel in the wake of Columbine. Buffy gains temporary telepathic powers and is overwhelmed by hearing everyone’s deepest thoughts and fears, in the midst of which she hears, “Tomorrow, I kill you all”. She and her friends investigate the threat, and she finally finds a bullied student in the clocktower with a rifle. Though it turns out he’s going to kill himself, she says the following:

My life happens on occasion to suck beyond the telling of it. Sometimes more than I can handle. And it’s not just mine. Every single person down there is ignoring your pain because they’re too busy with their own. The beautiful ones. The popular ones. The guys that pick on you. Everyone. If you could hear what they were feeling. The loneliness. The confusion. It looks quiet down there. It’s not. It’s deafening.

Racism, Hatred and Bulverism

I read a cartoon twenty-some years ago: Two guys are sitting on a bench. One is reading a newspaper and says, “African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans; I’m glad to be a simple White, Anglo-Saxon Protestant.”
Guy #2 says: “You look more like a Jute to me.”
In the US, we group “Hispanics” or “Latinos” into one category, yet the term “Latin America” was coined by the French to counteract the Monroe Doctrine, arguing that American countries/colonies predominated by Romance-language, Catholic peoples. Even the predominantly Spanish-speaking cultures in “Latin America” see huge differences among themselves.
On the biology side, there are really only three “races,” a distinction the Bible suggests with the three sons of Noah. I read an article once about the biology of “race,” and how the similarity of Asian/Semitic peoples—modern anthropology having proven that Columbus wasn’t too far off in identifying Native Americans as “Indians”–is evinced by the existance of a relatively isolated tribe of cannibals in southern Africa who descend from Asians who migrated back into Africa about 10,000 years ago or so. Their language categories two kinds of animals–“food animals,” and “people”. They have no other categories of zoology or race/ethnicity. When they see people of Asian, North African or Native American descent, they recognize them as “people.” When they encounter darker-skinned Africans or Europeans, they categorize them as “food.”
One of the motivations behind “White Privilege” seems to be a desire to refuse to acknowledge that the so-called “WASPs” have brought suffering to lots of people they consider “Other”; not just darker sinned peoples. But to point this out is itself called “racist.” I keep seeing preemptive comments by angry African Americans about how the don’t want to hear about the suffering of the Jews, the Irish, the Italians or whomever, that “their” suffering is all that matters.
Suddenly, it’s “white privilege” because most “white” ethnic groups supposedly have more acceptance in mainstream American culture, or do not suffer the kind of persecution that “blacks” do. Nevertheless, as I noted in my previous post on this topic, this has not been the case in my own family’s experience. The upper class “whites” and the “minorities” of all socioeconomic levels tend to look down on us. Some people see freckles as a disease–there is a _Barbie_ book called _Freckles_ (1997), in which Barbie “helps” a little girl who’s embarrassed about having freckles by teaching her that, essentially, freckles are something to be ashamed of. People would be justly outraged by a book about how a darker skinned woman could be prettier if she made herself look more “white”, but if a “ginger” points out such kinds of bigotry and discrimination, that’s still somehow considered “racist” or a distraction.
We’re told that “white privilege” matters because of a “racist system” that is resulting in the violent deaths of thousands African Americans around the country a day, but pointing out that the minority of those are at the hands of officers, and the vast majority are at the hands of other African Americans, that’s dismissed as “racism.”
I’m told that if I check my car locks or clutch my wallet when somebody walks by, even though I do that when almost anybody walks by, I’m being a “racist,” if the person who walks by happens to be black.
I’m told that if I insist on overcoming racism by not being racist, that makes me a racist.
“Racism” is a perfect example of the logical fallacy C. S. Lewis calls “Bulverism,” a kind of ad hominem which he exemplifies by a scenario where a man says, “1+1=2,” and the woman says, “You just say that because you’re a man.” Person B doesn’t care whether the proposition is true or not, factual or not, but whether it fits the preconceived ideology, so some psychological or ideological presumption about Person A.
Bulverism is an offshoot of moral relativism. The most objective truth can be dismissed by saying the other person is delusional, or, in this case, “racist.” Emotion overrides logic. Logic itself becomes part of “white male patriarchal hegemony,” or whatever.
That is essentially the entire narrative of postmodernism.
And it doesn’t fix anything. It just perpetuates the cycle of hatred and violence, as the assassinations of Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos this weekend demonstrates.
True racism involves hating people because of their skin color. It involves doing violence or oppressing people because of their skin color. What is the point of labelling a person’s every action, thought or word as “racist” just because of, well, the person’s race? How does that build community, understanding and love?

Could somebody please explain to me what this “White Privilege” is, and where I can get some?

1. I understand completely that darker-toned people are often discriminated against, in subtle ways. I was told directly once when a police officer pulled me over (rightly, I admitted, I had experienced a perfect storm of circumstances and realized that I was driving way too fast right when he turned his lights on) that he had to prove I was “not an illegal immigrant or an Arab.” He said if I showed up in court with my license, he’d drop the ticket to the first offense minimum, since I was cooperative, which I did and he did. So, yes, I understand that police are sometimes harsher to people of darker skin. *However*, the person immediately before me in Court, who got the same deal I did, was an African American woman.
Meanwhile, there were plenty of white people having to talk to the judge.

2. This article tells me that a Jewish woman never realized she had “white privilege” till some liberal sociology professor browbeat her into it, yet she doesnt explain what it is.

So,

3. I really don’t get it. How do I, as a lower-middle class, disabled, “white” man of predominantly Irish and Slovak (the name means “slave”) descent enjoy more “privilege” than my socioeconomic pers of other so-called “races”? In my experience, the “privileged” whites are more willing to accept the socioeconomic hardship of “minorities” long as they have acceptable political views), and, like “racism,” “privilege” is a term the liberal social engineers have invented to shout down anyone with the “wrong” opinions.”
If I point out the many incidents I’ve experienced where I’ve been clearly been discriminated against because I’m “white,” that just means I’m “racist” or “privileged.” I don’t get it.

I have nothing to lose, so I’ll say it:
I graduated from the South Carolina Honors College in 1997, when I was 20, a year after open heart surgery. I spent my first two years at USC Sumter. I got my Master’s from Valdosta State in 2003. Afterwards, I began applying for jobs in the USC system, particularly in 2006, when I had a few years of part time teaching experience and had been working as an admissions counselor. Then both my non-teaching dream jobs came up in a matter of months. First, two full time academic counseling jobs opened up at the Honors College. They were advertised as “entry level,” and I had more than the required credentials. I applied, did not even get an interview, and when the new bios were posted of the hirees, they were an African American male and a white female. One, IIRC, had a Master’s. At least one had no graduate degree. Neither had any teaching or academic administrative experience–both had worked in retail-type jobs. A few months later, a position opened up as director of advising at USC Sumter. I won over even the most skeptical committee member, a liberal psychology professor who never had me as a student but remembered me. I was all but told I had the job. Perhaps too eager because I had (and wanted) to move to take the job, I checked a couple times, to finally be told that HR at the main campus selected another candidate. When the job was filled and the person was added to the campus website a month or so later, it was the same woman who’d been hired over me at the Honors College.
We moved back to SC a few months later, anyway, and I continued to naively apply for jobs at USC. I applied for well over 40 positions in 2 years, trying to get a full time job, with nary an interview. The last time I bothered, I even threatened to sue them for discrimination against the disabled in my last cover later if I did not at least get an interview. Still nothing. Of course, I couldn’t afford a lawyer to carry through on the threat.

So, tell me, where is my “privilege”?

I’m not angry or bitter–at least not as much as I used to be–I am grateful for God’s providence in leading me where He wants me to be and where is best. If you want to tell me I have “privilege” as an American that I should be grateful for and try to help others with, I believe that, and I do. I know very well I’d be dead if i’d been born in just about any other country in the world, even those the liberals claim have “better” health care than we do.

However, it infuriates me to be told that I enjoy more advantages than my socioeconomic peers of other “races,” when so often the look down on me and my family for not having “nice enough” material possessions, and so often I’ve seen minorities receive advantages for which I was equally or more qualified.