Save Ourselves

Of course the heresy hunters came after Raphael Warnock over his tweet about “saving ourselves”. I would argue this comes down to an issue of exegesis.

In this case I’ll call it the Underwood vs Offerman hermeneutical conflict.

As I read the tweet I took it to mean “saving ourselves” in the corporeal sense.

That is, relating to worldly matters as opposed to salvation in the sense of Jesus’ victory over the powers which hold mankind in bondage: sin, death, and the devil.

So the tweet would present a hermeneutic that we have been released from that bondage by Christ’s victory; that by the guidance of the Holy Spirit we are empowered to save ourselves & our neighbors from powers & principalities that oppress us in the here and now with our own actions as we work to build God’s kingdom based on grace, compassion, and justice while awaiting His return, rather than relying on faith without works.

NOT that we ourselves need to achieve ultimate victory over those same powers, which would be unnecessary since that victory has already been won by Christ.

Further, that the actions wrought through our love of Christ & neighbor to fulfill God’s command that we begin building His kingdom on earth, are worked by those that confess their faith in Christ as well as those who are called to fulfill God’s purpose regardless of their standing with any church or creed.

These critics apparently have a different hermeneutic.

They all seem to believe that God calls us to no action in his creation other than to maintain their orthodoxy of disempowered faith that generates no change in the world to advance God’s kingdom as we await the return of Christ.

As I said earlier, the Underwood vs Offerman hermeneutical conflict:

They all seem to seem to propound the theology of “Jesus, Take the Wheel” as written by Brett James, Hillary Lindsey and Gordie Sampson, and Carrie Underwood.

In contrast, my analysis of this tweet coincides with the theology of “Pray While Turning Into The Skid” as proposed by Nick Offerman

On the Underwood side, we surrender all action to God produce nothing by our faith.

On the Offerman side, upon accepting God’s Grace we embrace our call to do good works as He has commanded.

Of course, perhaps there is no exegesis here at all. Perhaps this has been an exercise in eisegesis. Eisegesis being the process of interpreting text in such a way as to introduce one’s own presuppositions, agendas or biases.

Hard to know*. We’d have to ask Warnock as well as the self-appointed heresy hunting defenders of the faith.

But ultimately it’s irrelevant because this has exposed the underlying theology of the critics which represents a divide in two of the many forms of Christianity that are ultimately and fundamentally irreconcilable.

*it’s pretty obvious that I’ve been reading my own thoughts into this situation 😉

Continue reading “Save Ourselves”

Race

This is a map of “races”. The specific grouping here are: Ethiopian, Caucasian, Mongolian, Malaysian, and American. These classifications are nonsense. If you look at the groupings on the map you’ll notice areas where groups with recent common ancestry are grouped separately while others seem to have arbitrarily determined boundaries that ignore the long standing intermingling of the people on both sides of that boundary.

These groupings are not scientific.

It is true that some early anthropologists tried to determine biological realities that could create distinct biological categories. Those attempts did and have ultimately failed.

Instead, influencial figures like Kant & Hume came to define and popularize the biological notion of race. These were NOT scientists. They were European philosophers formulating justifications for European superiority. They did no research. They provided no evidence.

And the 4-5 categories that emerged are still assumed today to be real. Whether it’s European/Caucasian/White or Ethiopian/African or any other variation, the notions survive and continue to define popular ideas of biology.

To begin dismantling the various forms of racism we need to dismantle these systems of thought. You don’t just find these falsehoods showing up in explicit and overt racism.

You’ll literally find terms like “Caucasian” in medical records.

You’ll find populations with known genetic mutations, like the HEXA gene in people Ashkenazi Jewish descent, being the focus of study, while other groups categorized as a different “race” are ignored. This has resulted in these populations suffering from lack of genetic counseling because the issue hasn’t been identified, such as the prevalence of mutations of the HEXA gene in people of Irish descent, which was only recently recognized because of the lack of research resulting from prejudiced attitudes arising from inaccurate concepts of race. Same has shown to be true of the malaria hypothesis.

You’ll find cases like the industrial redlining in the US. Where postbellum policies led to the creation of toxic industrial zones intentional concentrated in the communities of disenfranchised former African slaves and their descendants, a practice that literally continues to this day. So while many medical conditions were tied to “race” in these communities, we have now clearly demonstrated that the environmental impact of the industrial zones is the catalyst, not ancestry. This is even more obvious in areas where different ancestral groups slowing integrated in these industrial zones and the rates of specific medical conditions rose in all ancestral groups. Similar issues apply to notions of “racial” health risks that ignore the environment impact of sun exposure and folate, which applies to any ancestral population with similar skin tones regardless of geographic origin but relative to the location of that population to the equator.

You’ll even find the incredibly disturbing influence that pseudoscientific beliefs about race had on people of African descent in the US throughout the covid pandemic after several groups & individuals made claims (largely online) that people of African ancestry could not catch the SARS-CoV-2 virus

As Nina Jablonski states:

“Race has a hold on history but no longer has a place in science. The sheer instability and potential for misinterpretation render race useless as a scientific concept. Inventing new vocabularies to deal with human diversity and inequity won’t be easy, but it must be done”

This is by far the most difficult task in confronting racism on all levels because we have become so heavily invested in our erroneous conceptions of race and integrated them so deeply into our identities that we’ll end up kicking and screaming to hold onto them.

I would say that the start is to understand that these categories were created and expounded by non-scientists specifically to justify their own sense of inherent superiority; that all attempts to justify distinct biological race categories have failed because the evidence has shown and continues to show that there aren’t any.

Persistencism

I’ve been trying to define the core element of Donald Trump’s socio-political approach.

Many have just been saying “Trumpism” but I’d rather have it derive for one of the components of the approach.

Finally got it.

Persistence.

If you Google it persistence you get this:

noun: persistence

1. firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.

This perfectly describes his basic strategy. Make a statement and then repeat, repeat, repeat.

No matter what.

And the sad thing is that as a technique Persistencism works quite well.

It plays off some basic neuro-cognitive mechanisms.

Hearing something from someone you trust makes it seem more believable. And hearing something over and over makes it seem more believable.

Persistencism

Likely a lasting force in American politics for the foreseeable future.

Superior

We need to stop using the term: racist.

It’s being misused.

The issue is much broader. It’s a big tent issue.

Plain racism is about ancestry. The belief that those with a specific biological ancestry are superior to those without that ancestry.

There are other terms extrapolated from racism, mostly dealing with historical contexts that have produced some form of lasting inequality.

But the emphasis on ancestry is currently dissolving and pupating into something different. Something more dynamic.

I would use the term: ethnocentrism.

This term can have a few different interpretations as well so here is the specific definition I am using: the attitude that one’s own culture is superior to others.

This is similar to a belief in superiority based on ancestry but with a progressive inclusiveness interwoven. So even though racism may still lurk within the current emergent movement of ethnocentrism, the movement is ultimately evolving past it.

The emphasis in ancestral racism is that something biologically superior has been inherited from parents at birth.

The emergent ethnocentrism emphasizes that something culturally superior has been inherited at birth.

That is why this movement is so much broader. The ancestry of the person is not relevant; they inherit the superiors from the cultural norms and practices of those around them. Or, even more intriguingly, outsiders can inherit that superiority by converting, by adopting the superior culture.

As much as racist views and practices may still permeate some aspects of this movement towards ethnocentrism, the movement is definitely in the process of shedding the racism.

The movement is stronger in its reach because it can recruit more individual without having to birth them.

Irreconcilable

All this talk about

“Coming Together”

“Finding Common Ground”

“Uniting the Country”

I get it, I understand the motivation for unity. But it’s not happening.

Can we reconcile the view that abortion is acceptable with the view that it’s acceptable under certain circumstances? Sure. At least there is the potential for a compromise.

But we absolutely can not reconcile the view that from the moment of conception forward all abortion is murder with any view that some form of abortion is permissible.

There is no middle ground to be found there, the 2 views exclude the possibility that the other can be accommodated.

We might say “well those are extreme views”. Quite right. And in this country those with extreme views are the most politically motivated and they are more likely to shape the makeup of the government.

Same applies with LBGTQ+ stances.

The people who want to be welcoming but not quite affirming could potentially find some common ground with the people who are affirming. Maybe.

But there are those who believe every issue pertaining LGBTQ+ is purely about personal choices and that all of those choices are inherently wrong and evil. They can never reconcile with the affirming.

There is no middle ground between the LGBTQ+ are evil and the LGBTQ+ should be affirmed camps.

Same with many others.

The views cannot accommodate each other.

Our country has been building to this confrontation for a long, long time. Failing to acknowledge this will prolong the current hostility and escalate the final confrontation.

Nick vs Carrie

There is a distinctive split emerging between American Christians when it comes to COVID-19

The split is apparent on many issues to be sure

But the simplest way to distill it is:

The Carries vs The Nicks

On the one hand you have the Carrie Underwood “Jesus Take the Wheel” response

On the other hand you have the Nick Offerman “Say a Prayer While You Steer Into The Skid” response

I know which response I would have when my car started spinning out on a slick road

Choosing a Heritage

It tells all you need to know that the monuments being defended are of pro-slavery figures rather than those constructed to honor the long legacy of southern aboltionism and individual abolitionists.

Pro-slavery figures and abolitionists are both part of southern heritage.

It’s a choice to honor the pro-slavery figures.

It’s a choice to honor the heritage of slavery instead of abolitionism.


Epistemological Crisis

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We are in the midst of an epistemological crisis.

A crisis of what it means to know something

A crisis of what it means to have a justified belief

A crisis of trust that I’m starting to feel will create a permanent divide that cannot be reconciled. And maybe shouldn’t be reconciled.

I’ve seen this crisis building and I imagine you have as well, regardless of your ideological bent. Until now though I’ve been seeing it through a lens of good will.

Because all have our own opinions and interpretations of the world. Our experiences and circumstances influence how we form our beliefs. So it’s natural that our beliefs differ.

No big deal.

And for a long time I’ve believed it was possible to reconcile our differences through dialogue.

Enter the epistemological crisis.

Right now people are revealing that they don’t care to have a justified belief. They’ve revealed that they’re not interested in the foundation of their belief being based on some semblance of objective reality.

Before now I imagined that to be something that only happens on the fringes. But it is not on the fringe. It’s directly in the mainstream of our society.

No better example than those who share memes that contain false information that would be easy to check if the person cared to.

Not only has it become clear that people don’t care to check if the meme they care is true before they share it, if you challenge them to check it after they share it they will refuse.

Because they don’t care if it’s true.

They care that it supports their beliefs to the exclusion of evidence.

The worst part is that it’s just a meme. A picture with a few sentences attached to it. No one should base their beliefs on that:m. No one should trust that as a true and valid source of knowledge.

I’ve come to realize that this is a new development in what it means to lie. Maybe an application of the biblical prohibition on gossip.

Because if you’re going to share information then you are responsible for knowing if it is true. The obligation is on you to verify accuracy.

So sharing falsehood is a malignant lie that spreads more falsehood on a broad scale, resulting in far reaching damage that is much more destructive than an interpersonal lie.

And I’m not talking about people making mistakes or not having all the facts. That’s unavoidable, we all have the potential to make mistakes when we’re not informed by evidence.

The even more perturbing phenomenon is the denial of evidence. Not just denying the evidence presented in an argument, but the denial that evidence even matters at all.

The quintessential example is the moment in a social media post that I’d call the unconfront-able truth, where a person makes a post with a comment to the effect of:

Here’s the proof that I’m right and even if this proof turns out to be false, I’m still right

It’s not that I disagree with people on one subject or another that’s a problem. It’s that we’re approaching a sharp divide on what it means to know something at all.

Christian of a Down

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I find it quite fun to talk about what Jesus really looked like. And my advice to everyone is that your base template, the general phenotypical example to start with, is Serj Tankian from System of a Down. Using him as a template you can then branch out into the numerous variables that would have likely applied to Jesus.

So to start, no one knows what Jesus looks like. But we know where he is said to be from so we can make a lot of solid guesses.

Jesus came from a region around the Mediterranean Sea or Mediterranea if you like (I do). And Serj’s family roots are in Armenia, just up in the right corner of the map below.

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And many of the peoples in this regions share common ancestry. That ancestry is basically the result of people moving around this region constantly & reproductively intermingling.

Groups like Phoenicians who were great at traveling by sea are prime examples but also just people migrating around on land. When traveling peoples interact with each other there is a nearly universal set of interactions: they trade and/or kill and/or have sex with each other. So the different groups went through numerous combinations of these different interactions over long periods of time. Some more so than others but the result was inevitably a sharing of genetic traits with a lot of unpredictable variation.

Serj’s appearance was likely influenced by multiple interactions and reproducing from a number of these different groups making for a mish-mash of traits from all over the Mediterranean Basin. At some points the genetic evidence suggests more affinity with Europe and at other points more affinity with Asia or Northern Africa.

But regardless you’re more likely to find some traits than others.

You might come across mild to moderate to darkly pigmented skin for example. Most likely darker hair, most likely dark eye pigment, and a high incidence of curly hair.

Hair is particularly interesting because it’s just determined by the shape of the hair follicles. The more ovoid the follicle, the more curl. The more circular, the straighter the hair is.

Serj exemplifies these traits perfectly.

He’s got dark coiled hair

"Souls, 2005" - System of a Down Benefit Concert

Jesus would almost certainly have had similar hair. It might have a been a bit darker or light, maybe a bit more curly or straight. But not too much, just slight variation.

Serj also has quite darkly pigmented eye color.

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The same rule probably would have applied as hair color. There’s some room for variation in his eye color for sure. Jesus could’ve had a bit lighter or darker eye pigment but not too much in either direction.

Now we come to skin color. Which I have to say, people with lighter skin pigment are REAL hung up on this one. To be charitable Jesus could’ve had light skin pigment as Serj does…

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But it’s not likely. He was born into a population much further south than Serj’s most recent ancestors probably were. So Jesus’ skin pigment would almost certainly have been darker.

Even if it wasn’t though, even if he was born with less skin pigment, he was some sort of carpenter or builder. Depending on how you interpret the specific working, maybe even something like a modern day general contractor or handyman. He almost certainly spent a lot of time outside working in the sun.

Another trait these Mediterranean populations would’ve passed around to each other would’ve been an ability to tan much more efficiently than peoples further north.

By working in the sun Jesus would almost certainly have developed much darker skin tone by his early 20s. Even if he didn’t work outside, during the ministry described in the Bible he spent a lot of time outside walking and speaking and boating around so that would’ve contributed to increasing his skin pigment.

So when it comes to artistic depictions of Jesus, if we want a semblance of historical accuracy we should use Serj as our template.

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Take some artistic license here and there, skin that’s moderately darker or lighter, give hair more curl or a bit more straight. No big deal. But don’t deviate too far or it becomes grossly inaccurate. Then you’re just remaking God in your own image.

Painting, movies, graphic novels, whatever. Know the region you’re working from and know the general appearance of the people there. It’s not hard.

The way we perceive someone like Jesus, a historical figure who has had an enormous impact on our culture for both the religious & non-religious, makes a difference.

How we see him in our imagination informs how we perceive others, informs the way we think about the broad variety of features we see in the people around us.

When you think Jesus, think Serj 🤘

Patriots

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I love that people think they get to tell me what it means to love my country

So I’ll tell you what it means

When you love someone you support them and accept them

You also encourage them to examine their past

to be better than they’ve been

to make right their wrongs

to confront their sins

to address their complacency

When you love someone

you help them grow

you help them take hold of their potential

you help them fulfill their goals

you help them learn from their mistakes

When you love someone you don’t excuse their misdeeds and sit idly by while they perpetuate patterns of abuse

And that’s how I love my country