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The Evolutionary Perspective
Category Archives: Rationalism
Posted: November 25, 2021 at 12:08 pm
With the European Research Council (ERC) the European Commission fosters excellent researchers and innovative research aims. The Technische Universitt Braunschweig welcomes aspiring ERC grantees in one of Europes most active research regions and offers great advisory and mentoring support.Light-weight, fuel-efficient vehicles suitable for serial production, quiet, low-emission aircraft, active agents for combating infectious diseases, personalised medications, metrology for nanotechnology, or strategies for the interlinked city of the future: by focussing our research activities in these four areas, we make significant contributions to the great challenges our society faces today.To reach this goal, we cooperate closely with the internationally renowned research facilities in the Braunschweig region. In your research work you will benefit greatly from this close-knit scientific network. 36,000 people working in research and development, 27 research institutions and 250 companies in the high-tech sector make Braunschweig the most active research region in Europe. With 9,5% of the GDP spend on research and development it is also Europes top investment region, with the highest level of spending on sciences (Eurostat 2018). This is why the region is a driver of innovation attracting a large international scientific community.Young scientists at TU Braunschweig can rely on a broad range of advisory, mentoring and further education offers. Participants benefit from individual career counselling and best practice examples taken from the careers of outstanding TU Braunschweig scientists. Our team in the Research Services and European Office has many years of experience supporting EU funding programmes. Our service is designed to support you in the development, application and management of projects in such a way as to ensure optimum project preparation and implementation.Extra support for highly-qualified external researchers is offered through the Agnes Pockels Fellowship Programme. External junior researchers who would like to come to TU Braunschweig with an ERC Grant can apply for an Agnes-Pockels Fellowship as part of the Early Career Programme and receive up to 40,000 per year for a period of three years.The city of Braunschweig is a middle sized German capital with some 250,000 inhabitants, located between Hanover and Berlin. If you need a break from your research, take a little shopping stroll and discover the lively inner city with its historic centre, the cathedral, and the half-timbered houses. Enjoy the many cultural events offered at the Lion City, with theatre plays, concerts, readings and numerous exhibitions at museums and art galleries. And nature enthusiasts will love Braunschweigs many parks and will particularly enjoy canoeing on the Oker River or strolling through the Harz Mountains.As you see, TU Braunschweig has a lot to offer. But don't just take our word for it come and see for yourself!
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Posted: at 12:08 pm
Its time to stop. Please stop writing papers on South Korea as a middle power. For an author who was an early advocate for South Korea to fulfil its role as a middle power in international society, and over the years wrote several papers and op-eds encouraging it to do so, its a hard thing to say. But its really gone too far. Its time to abandon the term.
There are today academic and think-tank papers on South Koreas middle power counterinsurgency capacity, middle power environmental leadership, middle power public diplomacy, and its middle power human security. There are papers on South Koreas rise as a middle power, its identity as a middle power, and its future as a middle power. There are papers on South Koreas status as a middle power, its aspirations as a middle power, and on the ontological realism, epistemological relativism, and judgmental rationalism of calling South Korea a middle power.
A crude Google scholar search shows that as the new millennium dawned, there were a mere 84 works containing the term middle power and Korea. It has grown every year since. In 2019, it surpassed the year-on-year total of Australia and Canada. In 2020, it reached a peak of 782. If current trends continue, the total number of works over all time containing the term middle power and Korea (9680) will soon surpass Australia (10,100) and Canada (11,200).
It may be a source of pride to some that South Korea will soon surpass Australia and Canada. South Korea will be the middle power. Yet, the evolution of these two states shows that abandoning the term is actually a natural progression. After an intense period of middle power activity in the 1990s, both Australia and Canada went through periods when the term fell from grace and replacements were put forward. Entrepreneurial power, pivot power, regional power, great power, innovative power, top-20 nation, or significant power anything but middle power.
Abandoning the term is also backed up by some weighty arguments.
First, there is no clear definition of what constitutes a middle power. Over the last twenty years, China, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Italy, Iran, the Vatican, even Microsoft or its ilk,have all been labelled as middle powers. The jumble of definitions essentially makes any claim meaningless.
Second, the vast majority of research focuses on defining or redefining the concept in the context of one state or another. Thinking about what makes a middle power and providing innovative colourful academic interpretations is all very well, but in the end doesnt help understand policy and policy choices.
Diplomats and savvy politicians have long known that having a catch phrase or coin term opens space for dialogue and sometimes persuasion.
Third, a number of analysts have pointed out that the middle power moment is over. Increased tension between China and the United States makes characteristic middle power initiatives of mediation, facilitation, institution building or norm strengthening substantially more difficult. Its not insignificant that recognised periods of Australian and Canadian middle power activity occurred at the end of the Second World War and the Cold War not as tension was rising.
The middle power concept will never really die. Diplomats and savvy politicians have long known that having a catch phrase or coin term opens space for dialogue and sometimes persuasion. This is how the modern term emerged as Canadian and Australian representatives to the 1945 United Nations Conference on International Organisation in San Francisco sought to secure greater influence in global governance.
South Koreas relationship with Australia is marked by long-term disinterest and underinvestment by both sides. Ministerial dialogues and intermittent sponsored track-1.5 and track-2 dialogues regularly rehash the same basic points. Yet middle power rhetoric, and its utilitarian faade of similarity, understanding, and shared interests, provides the semblance of a much deeper, more meaningful relationship. No politician or diplomat will give up such a useful ploy. Academics and think-tankers who fear abandoning the term can rest reassured, indubitably therell be another Australia-Korea middle power dialogue around the corner.
Its been a whirlwind middle power ride. Under this diplomatic aegis South Korea created the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), secured hosting of the Green Climate Fund, and became a member of the OECD-DAC. It played with a number of initiatives to alleviate regional security risks, played roles in the G20 and G7, and established MIKTA. At the same time, it failed to follow the lead of other middle powers in holding up the rule of law, let its early mover green credentials wane, and let North Korea cloud and distract its middle power propensity. Now, its time to move on. Its time to abandon the middle power term.
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Posted: at 11:52 am
Buz Livingston| Walton Sun
Im thankful for the United States Constitution and would be more thankful if people read it. Its a fantastic document that has given our nation a framework for the longest-lasting republic on the planet. When it was completed, a woman asked Ben Franklin, What have you given us? He replied, A republic if you can keep it.
Im thankful my hurricane panels stayed in storage. However, I am not thankful for my windstorm premiums.
While it gives me great joy to see the Georgia Bulldogs win the SEC East, Im more thankful for my diploma. Without it, my life would be vastly different. When your kids come home from college for Thanksgiving, encourage them. A degree doesnt make you more intelligent, but it may open a door somewhere down the road that may not be on your radar today.
Speaking of college, Im glad tuition was reasonable then. It is stunning Congress specifically singled out student loans from being discharged in bankruptcy in 2005. Not to be Debbie Downer around turkey day, but student loans now total over $1.5 trillion, more than automobile or credit card debt.
Im thankful for Spellcheck in Word and Grammarly on the web. But, if someone would invent Dumb Check, I would be set for life.
I am thankful John Bogle decided to market an index fund. It was not an immediate hit; instead, it was closer to a flop. I am glad he stuck to his vision; you should be, too. Remember Woody Allens quote, Ninety percent of success is just showing up. Keep plugging away; something good may happen.
I am thankful for the most expansive infrastructure program in my adult lifetime. Infrastructure jobs pay well and cant be exported.
Let me give another turkey day shout-out to Bill Bernstein, author, neurologist, and investment advisor. In The Birth of Plenty, he points out several necessary conditions for prosperity to blossom.
First, property rights and the rule of law are essential; they are prosperitys foundation. Second, as with property rights and the rule of law, scientific rationalism is essential for economic growth. For centuries, religious dogma and state tyranny thwarted the scientific method. Third, another leg supporting prosperity is easy access to capital markets. Fourth, efficient transportation and communication provide the final boost. Initially, it was river transport followed by steam power, then railroads, and today theinternet. Once, China and the Middle East were more advanced than Western Europe. Both areas stagnated because they discounted property rights and ignored the rule of law while allowing religion and state tyranny to trample the scientific method.
I am so thankful for the girls and boys who make the noise up and down the A; our musical talent mesmerizes me. Thanks to the venues that support them, too.
All my peeps will be here for Thanksgiving and that makes this holiday extra special. And for my wife, Susan, like Hayes Carll I will stay.
You cant always get what you want, but Buz Livingston, CFP can help you figure out what you need. For specific advice, visit livingstonfinancial.net or drop by 2050 West County Highway 30A, M1 Suite 230.
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Posted: at 11:52 am
As non-controversial as Thanksgiving is today, you might imagine the proclamation met with universal acceptance. It did not.
Reflecting the sharp polarization in national politics, many Democrats and peace proponents refused to acknowledge the presidents proclamation of the new holiday, and some even denounced it as an attempt to impose a particular brand of New England fanaticism on the whole country. Lincolns proclamation unleashed the social resentments of many voters who resisted the growing influence of evangelical churches and the concurrent growth of social reform movements from abolitionism and temperance to Sabbatarianism and womens rights.
To borrow from todays political lexicon, Lincolns opponents nursed an intense dislike of that eras wokeness. Back then, they called it ism referring to the set of religious social reform movements of the day that sought to refashion the nations social and political systems in line with evangelical Protestant sensibilities. These critics recoiled at the pace of social change that these movements represented and resented the suggestion that they think or pray a certain way. Conversely, many Republicans greeted the presidents proclamation as a sign that the government in Washington embraced their worldview. The controversy over the first annual national Thanksgiving is a useful reminder that Americans have long argued over religion and culture, and that topics seemingly disconnected from politics can take on unexpected meaning in moments of rancor and disunity.
We tend to misremember Thanksgiving as a holiday born in Plymouth Colony and celebrated faithfully every November hence. In fact, early colonists frequently declared fast and thanksgiving days, partly in keeping with Puritan practice and partly in appreciation of bountiful harvests or victories in war with local Native American tribes. Presidents George Washington, John Adams and James Madison all proclaimed days of thanksgiving sometimes, but not always, in November (Adams and Madison issued such proclamations in March) and by the late 1840s, some form of harvest thanksgiving celebration was observed in 21 states, though on different days in November. The holiday was generally meant to inspire prayerful reflection and gratitude for Gods beneficence toward us (Washingtons words), reflecting its origins in Puritan New England as a harvest season observance.
But as late as 1863, there was no fixed national holiday.
Throughout the Civil War, both Lincoln and Confederate President Jefferson Davis issued multiple calls for national days of thanksgiving and prayerful reflection. Lincolns first such proclamation, in August 1861, came on the heels of the Unions defeat at the First Battle of Bull Run and was intended to calm the peoples nerves and steel their resolve. It was hardly a moment that inspired celebration. The president called on citizens to bow in humble submission to [Gods] chastisements; to confess and deplore their sins and transgressions in the full conviction that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. It was, for Lincoln, an uncharacteristic display of public religiosity. Referring to the battlefield defeat, he recognized the hand of God in this terrible visitation and pointed to our own faults and crimes as a nation and as individuals as a sure cause of the Unions loss.
Even before the war, Lincoln told an audience in Wisconsin that holiday celebrations had the potential to bring us together, and thereby make us better acquainted, and better friends than we otherwise would be. He was particularly influenced by Sarah Josepha Hale, the editor of the popular magazine Godeys Ladys Book, who had for many years spearheaded a campaign to create a national Thanksgiving holiday on the last Thursday in November. Taking his cue from Hale, who had approached him with a specific proposal, on Oct. 3, 1863, the president issued a proclamation setting aside Thursday, Nov. 26, as a day when Americans, as with one heart and one voice, would thank God for the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies and pray that God heal the wounds of the nation and restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.
On the face of it, a unifying and uncontroversial gesture for the time. But in 1863, hardly anything in American life was beyond dispute.
By 1863, the state of Union politics was deeply fractious. On the Republican side, conservative, radical and moderate Republicans largely agreed on the imperative of crushing the Confederacy, but not on the urgency or even the wisdom of either emancipation or arming Black soldiers and sailors. The Democrats, the opposition party, were split down the middle between War Democrats who supported the Lincoln administrations military policy, though not necessarily the Emancipation Proclamation, and Peace Democrats (whom Republicans disparaged as Copperheads) who supported an immediate armistice which would effectively allow the Confederacy to leave the Union on its own terms, with slavery intact.
Particularly in the border states and throughout the Midwest, Republicans and Peace Democrats eyed each other with mounting suspicion and loathing. Republicans viewed Peace Democrats like Ohio Rep. Clement Vallandigham as traitors to the country, while Democrats bitterly opposed the Lincoln administrations high-handed violation of civil liberties. (Lincoln had suspended the writ of habeas corpus throughout vast parts of the country, jailed newspaper editors and pro-secession state and local officials and even banished Vallandigham, who had agitated against military conscription, to the Confederacy.)
But there was more to it. For years, many Southerners and pro-slavery Northerners had pilloried the Republican Party as an organization of religious fanatics bound by a commitment to extreme and even (for the time) zany evangelical reform movements in the words of Sen. Stephen Douglas of Illinois, the black republican army is an allied army, composed of Know Nothings, Abolitionists, Free Soilers, Maine Liquor Law men, womans rights men, Anti-renters, Anti-Masons, and all the isms that have been sloughed off from all the honest parties in the country. While some of these movements strike the modern reader as incongruous, in the antebellum era, some of the strongest advocates of abolition and womens rights also wanted to restrict immigration and impose sobriety on a nation of heavy drinkers. Race the debate over slavery and abolition was always at the center of the political debate. But it intersected with a broader array of cultural concerns.
In the same way that some Americans today lump their cultural resentments under the banner of wokeness, many conservatives in Lincolns day decried the Republican Partys affinity for isms an abolition conglomerate of all the isms at war with the rights of the States, all the isms combined in the superlative ism, which I denounce as demonism, as Gov. Henry Wise of Virginia stated the case. George Fitzhugh, a leading Southern polemicist before the war, echoed Douglas when he denounced the Bloomers and Womens Rights men, the I vote myself a farm men, the Millerites, and Spiritual Rappers, and Shakers, and Widow Wakemanites, and Agrarians, and Grahamites, and a thousand other superstitious and infidel isms.
While most Americans in Lincolns time identified as evangelical Christians, and while the ranks of War Democrats included many evangelicals, the churches were closely associated with many of the reform movements including abolitionism that Democrats so sharply opposed. Particularly in the Midwest, many Democrats resented the increasingly partisan tone that political priests assumed in their Sunday sermons and, as one newspaper editor wrote, the fanatics [who] have assumed the cloak of religion to carry out schemes entirely at variance with the Almightys commandments.
It became increasingly popular for administration critics to lump the offending religious reform movements under the moniker of Puritanism, given the central role that New England played in organized abolitionism. It made little difference that Puritanism bore nothing in common with evangelical Christianity, either intellectually or theologically. By 1863, the term had become a political descriptor, devoid of its original meaning. The Republican Party, as one Confederate political cartoonist portrayed it, was built on the foundation of PURITANISM, supported by pillars that included WITCH BURNING, SOCIALISM, FREE LOVE, SPIRIT RAPPING, RATIONALISM and NEGRO WORSHIP.
Puritanism, said influential Peace Democrats like Clement Vallandigham and Samuel Cox, was the origin of all the isms that had propelled America to war. Shortly before his Thanksgiving proclamation, Lincoln received a letter from Indianas beleaguered Republican governor, who reported that every democratic newspaper is teeming with abuse of New England and it is the theme of every speech. They allege New England has brought upon us, the War, by a fanatical crusade against Slavery.
Little wonder, then, that many Democrats resented the spirit of Lincolns proclamation, to say nothing of their ministers Thanksgiving sermons the following Sunday morning. Many Democratic newspapers, like the York Gazette in Pennsylvania, scarcely mentioned the holiday, noting simply that shops would be closed, and instead devoted column space to fulminations against political preachers who stoked anti-Southern passions and promoted endless war against the South. Further west, the Indianapolis Star railed against the administrations Puritan abolition game to protract the war till the period of another Presidential election is passed, to be decided not by the people, but by the army.
Little wonder that the label Puritan so easily came to mind. Thanksgiving was, after all, steeped in Pilgrim lore. In response to such criticism of the presidents call, Harpers Weekly ran a satirical Copperhead Editorial that offered Lincolns union Thanksgiving as final damning proof of the utter subserviency of the present imbecile Administration to the rankest Puritan fanaticism. The joke was funny because people had grown quite used to hearing Democrats reduce the term Puritan to a catch-all phrase encompassing a broad swath of Christian reform causes foremost among them, abolition.
To be sure, it didnt help that New England abolitionists homed in on Thanksgivings Puritan roots and rejoiced, in the words of an abolitionist newspaper, in knowledge that it had now gone forth with her children to all the continent.
Lincoln would again declare the last Thursday of November a national day of Thanksgiving in 1864. And again, the Democratic opposition press ignored or disparaged the Puritan nature of the proclamation. Only in subsequent years would the holiday assume its more saccharine and secular character.
Much else has changed in the past 150 years, including the timing of the holiday (it now falls on the fourth Thursday of each November, rather than the last) and its meaning. Few people stop to remember its Civil War origins, or the controversy that surrounded it. Evangelical churches so core to radical reform in the 19th century are now more closely aligned with opponents of social change.
But some things stay the same.
As Americans sit down to their holiday meal this Thursday, we remain steeped in a debate over isms wokeness political correctness. Just as it was with Puritanism in 1863, in todays political landscape, the actual meaning of terms like critical race theory is less important than what such terms symbolize to many people who are unnerved by the pace of social change in American society, and, conversely, to those who welcome it.
Americans might celebrate Thanksgiving very differently than they did in 1863, but one tradition remains the same: We still argue about politics on the holiday.
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Posted: at 11:52 am
Image: The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth, by Jennie Augusta Brownscombe, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
For theHumanizepodcast, our bioethicist colleague Wesley Smith had a very interesting and wide-ranging conversation with Stephen Meyer, aboutReturn of the God Hypothesisand much else. They discussed the implications of Darwinian materialism for Smiths own expertise in the subject of human exceptionalism, and threats to scientific integrity from the insistence on a stifling consensus. Meyer observes that you rarely hear people refer to a consensus in science when there actually is one.
Whats needed, he says, and what is increasingly under siege in our culture, is the idea of science as an open form of inquiry, where science advances as scientists argue about how to interpret the evidence. Meyer would like to see more scientific debate, across the board, from climate change to Darwinian evolution to many issues that have arisen in response to the Covid epidemic. I couldnt agree more. I want to offer a thought about something that underlies the impulse to clamp down on debate, and it relates to Thanksgiving.
At the end of the podcast they touch on the fragility, the brittleness of the materialist picture of reality. Materialism is as oppressive as it is because it cant afford one slip-up, not one exception to the iron rule that nothing exists beyond nature. Wesley cites a fascinating interview with two well known proud atheists, Harvard cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker and his wife, the philosopher Rebecca Goldstein. She wrote a particularly good book that I read when it came out,Betraying Spinoza: The Renegade Jew Who Gave Us Modernity. Both are committed to Spinoza-style rationalism. In theinterview withSalon, Pinker and Goldstein make clear how fragile their atheism is:
[SALON:] I know neither of you believes in paranormal experiences like telepathy or clairvoyant dreams or contact with the dead. But hypothetically, suppose even one of these experiences were proven beyond a doubt to be real. Would the materialist position on the mind-brain question collapse in a single stroke?
GOLDSTEIN: Yeah, if there was no other explanation. Wed need to have such clear evidence. I have to tell you, Ive had some uncanny experiences. Once, in fact, I had a very strange experience where I seemed to be getting information from a dead person. I racked my brain trying to figure out how this could be happening. I did come up with an explanation for how I could reason this away. But it was a very powerful experience. If it could truly be demonstrated that there was more to a human being than the physical body, this would have tremendous implications.
In defense of the materialist position, whether on the nature of the mind or anything else, there can be no exceptions, no miracles, no genuine wonders nothing that cannot be fully explained in naturalistic terms. Just one tiny miracle, if genuine, and materialism would collapse in a single stroke. To her husbands admission, Goldstein adds that she has had some uncanny experiences, the most noteworthy being apparently getting information from a dead person. Wesley, who says he has had some interesting experiences of his own, quotes her revealing comment: I did come up with an explanation for how I could reason this away. She had to!
Smith and Meyer also discuss the science censorship in which Darwinists specialize, and I think this frailty can explain that, too. Darwinism cant permit a Divine Foot in the door, in biologist Richard Lewontins famous phrase (a moment of candor which I have no doubt he deeply regretted). One foot, one little toe, and its all over for them.
Which brings me to the phenomenon you probably notice each year when we arrive at the beloved American holiday that falls tomorrow. Thanksgiving, for many vocal atheists, has become increasingly intolerable. Why? Our friend Michael Medved describes the highly providential first Thanksgiving and other marvelous events from the founding of our country as instances of the American Miracle.
This might clarify the impulse, which youll see on full display across the mainstream media, to tear down the holiday as a shameful, racist fraud. If it were a statue, they would have already pulled it down in disgrace. They cant allow a Divine Foot in the door. Happy Thanksgiving!
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Posted: at 11:52 am
THE exhibition Landmarks: Hugh MacDiarmids Brownsbank has been on show at the Biggar and Upper Clydesdale Museum for the last few weeks and will close on Sunday. Portraits by Alexander Moffat, landscapes by Ruth Nicol and a selection of my poems are on display in a state-of-the-art gallery beyond which the museum extends, tracing the history of this small Lanarkshire town through the
19th century to the earliest human habitation of the territory.
When the museum was opened at Gladstone Court, on May 25, 1968, Hugh MacDiarmid, who was then living with his wife Valda at nearby Brownsbank Cottage, said this: Some people are inclined to brush aside the past as no longer relevant to the present let alone the future. That is a great mistake.
A host of things of which we may be completely unconscious are nevertheless determinants of our beings and only to the extent to which we learn something of these things are we able to evaluate our impulses, come to some understanding of our natures and potentialities and how these have evolved.
READ MORE:Sorley MacLean: the Gaelic bard whose work still resonates down the years
Man know thyself is a profoundly wise injunction and only in the measure to which we develop that kind of knowledge can we really begin to know anything at all. The eyes of the fool are in the ends of the earth, and local knowledge is apt to be despised as trivial, parochial, and of no general consequence.
That is all wrong. There is nothing so universal as the local, and it is a healthy sign that today more and more histories are concentrating on what can be gathered from parish records, private documents, from field-workers and research people, all that type of material which does not appear in standard history texts.
Acknowledging the tireless work of the museums founding father, Brian Lambie, MacDiarmid went on: This is the kind of thing that Mr Lambie has undertaken here. He has confined himself to what is for the most part almost within living memory, but at no previous period in human history have there been such tremendous changes as within the brief period of a century or a century and a half. We live in what has been called the technological age. The pace of modern life is tremendous and human nature is changing in accordance with it or, where it fails to do so, is driven into mental and other illnesses.
I am myself old enough to remember little shops in small Scottish burghs 60 years ago where if one wanted sugar it was chipped off the sugar loaf with a hammer and chisel, and if one wanted treacle one went with a jug which was filled from a barrel with a tap.
How very distant these days seem now when we are already familiar with supermarkets and all manner of packaged goods. Our grandparents or great-grandparents would feel pretty much at home in the little shops and workshops Mr Lambie has reconstituted here, but they would be like fish out of water altogether in present-day Biggar.
WOULD they feel that things had improved that life had become easier, happier, and more secure?
I doubt it. It is this sort of question, probing the very basis of our lives, that this museum evokes from us, and it is a healthy and desirable thing that we should be forced to ask such questions.
We take progress far too much for granted. Vast changes there have been, but have they really been for the good? There is another way of looking at the matter. Professor Carstairs of Edinburgh University in his Reith Lectures on the BBC, a year or two ago said that it was highly desirable that we should retain as much as possible of our local idiosyncrasies and traditions and that to the measure in which we do so we will be the better equipped for the new world-community on which we are entering.
He was underlining the danger if uniformity at the expense of the rich variety of humanity a danger accentuated by the great mass-media of making people everywhere as like as each other as peas in a pod.
That is why the great problem today is the problem of identity, when the great masses of people are rootless.
The methods, concepts, and styles of exploring and explaining the past are necessarily rooted in the whole pattern of a communitys culture. So far as national community is the most intense and self-conscious in the modern world, history must indeed stay nationalist.
So far as wider communities are also real in the sense that there is a level of culture common to the English speaking world, or to the Latin peoples, or to Western Civilisation as a whole when compared with Indian or Chinese Cultures, then historiography too can become rooted in these wider cultural patterns and so can expect to reach some consensus of opinion about the past, but try to press synthesis beyond this level, and in the manner of 18th-century rationalism or 19th-century positivism attempt a universal synthesis, comprising European and Asiatic, liberal and communist, Christian and Islamic, understanding of the past and it soon becomes apparent that the Muse of History has outreached her grasp.
Thats as good an argument for Scottish independence as any Ive ever heard. It aligns with the social ideal of democratic accountability through breaking up and ending the British Empires toxic legacy and all its assumptions of superiority, centralised power and exploitation.
The Labour Partys great betrayal could yet be corrected by supporting independence. In the current world context of the early 21st century, the urgency is compelling. A great deal has changed since 1968 and all of it only emphasises the strength of the argument.
That urgency is measured in the crisis of ecology and consumer capitalism, the latter surely the biggest winner at COP26. Big businesses run on with their suicidal intent to prize money over everything else.
Their practice is a disease of astronomical size and global application. Extinction is what they deserve. But of course, businesses fight for their desperate, fatuous lives, and flourish at the expense of ours and all others.
READ MORE:Mystery of Edinburgh milkmaid in 18th century Scottish painting
And the extinction they bring about is not only of flora and fauna but of the human work the arts have done for millennia and continue to do. The murderers of the world have only grown more powerful.
In his book, A Writer of Our Time (2021), Joshua Sperling describes John Bergers articulation in the first decade of the 21st century of the destructions wrought by our civilisation: The blunting of the senses; the hollowing out of language; the erasure of connection with the past, the dead, the place, the land, the soil; possibly, too, the erasure even of certain emotions, whether pity, compassion, consoling, mourning, or hoping.
And: It is not only animal and plant species which are being destroyed or made extinct today, he [Berger] wrote, but also set after set of our human priorities. The latter are systematically sprayed, not with pesticides, but with ethicides. There were hollow words: freedom, democracy, terrorism. And then there were real words: Nakbah (catastrophe); saudade (longing); agora (forum); Wag (the woodcutters path).
And for me, the most haunting word of all: duende, the word made known most through the work of the poet Federico Garcia Lorca, before he was murdered by Spanish fascists. It means the song that comes from the wound that never heals. And that is what we sing today.
Posted: at 11:52 am
The world has turned topsy turvy in India since BJP came in power on the Hindutva agenda. PM Narendra Modi got away with the genocide of Muslims in his home state of Gujarat. Even the US had refused a visa and maintained its stand and succumbed to its temptation of looking at which side of the bread was buttered. This is not surprising because the Americans are deft in the pragmatism of where the dollar does not stop. Furthermore, the Trump administration could work out to have even the White House taken over by the extremists of white supremacists cliques. The commander in chief Trump was directing the attackers from the premises of his official residence. If genocide can be accepted then why not take over the White House.
It took Chief Justice of India N V Ramana by surprise when he said on Monday, November 22, 2021. He was delivering the 40th convocation address of the Andhra Pradesh-based Sri Sathya Sai Institute for Higher Learning. Unfortunately, the modern education system tends to focus only on the utilitarian function of education. Such a system is not equipped to deal with the moral or spiritual function of education which builds the character of our students and allows them to develop a social consciousness and a sense of responsibility.
Read more: Hemant Karkare: Tribute to a hero
Martha Nussbaum also had put her fingers on the same when she found that rote learning in Gujarat had become the order of the day. She dubbed it as clash within. In other words, the Indians were to blame for it. What can you make out of the pronouncements of RSS boss Mohan Bhagwat for a whole month from his claim that Hindutva can make India a vishwaguru or world-teacher! And now he has the temerity to say that the Hindu religion can teach other people how to live. It has sarcastically failed to teach even those who are the descendants of the Hindu religion.
If Hindutva can be so procrustean as Boko Haram and IS what do the most rational Hindus say? Chidambaram comes from Tamil Nadu who has a streak of rationalism still vibrant in our time. Jaya Lalita could order the police to arrest a Shankar Acharya and still have a cordial relationship with Yusuf Ali Lulu who had donated crores of rupees when Gujarat faced the most devastating earthquake. Most of it was allegedly pocketed by Brahmins belonging to RSS. Here is what the gentleman from South has to say: Hinduism does not have One Church, One Pope, One Prophet, One Holy Book or One Ritual.
There are many of each, and a Hindu is free to choose among the many or reject all. Some scholars have argued that one can be a Hindu as well as a believer or an agnostic or an atheist! Every place is my village, every-one is my relation. The first line is inscribed on the walls of the United Nations. The poem is believed to reflect the way of life of the Tamils 2,000 years ago and earlier. Shashi Tharoor: the word Hindu did not exist in any Indian language till its use by foreigners gave Indians a term for self-definition. To my knowledge, no Tamil Hindu king waged a war to establish the supremacy of the Hindu religion over other religions. Hinduism does not claim to be the only true religion. Swami Vivekananda said, I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true.
Hinduism allows a Hindu to worship other gods and saints. Thousands of Hindus go to worship at the shrine in Velankanni or pray at the Golden Temple in Amritsar or offer obeisance at the Dargah Sharif in Ajmer. Historians are not agreed whether the Sai Baba of Shirdi was a Muslim or a Hindu; he was perhaps both because he did not see any difference between the two.
Read more: Kashmir teetering on the brink of disaster
Dr Doniger also points out that Gandhiji never called for banning cow slaughter, and quotes him as having said: How can I force anyone not to slaughter cows unless he is himself so disposed? It is not as if there were only Hindus in the Indian Union. There are Muslims, Parsis, Christians and other religious groups here. However, many Muslims and Christians do not eat beef and many non-vegetarians do not eat red meat at all.
Jinnah was also very secular in his outlook and believed that all religions can one day disappear when people reason and live together. He felt awful with the respect to Gandhi being so devoted to Hinduism albeit he respected the mahatma.
CJI Ramana added that true education is one which imbibes moral values and virtues of humility, discipline, selflessness, compassion, tolerance, forgiveness and mutual respect. Education must elevate your character and broaden your thinking. It must enable you to take the right decision when faced with the complexities of life.
He said education is often understood to mean academic learning. But being truly educated means much more. True education should result in a far more holistic positive change and advancement in the life of a student.
Given this wide ambit people like Moeed Yusuf, Hemant Karkare and Suboth Kumar Singh (of the Dadri fame killed in the Bulumdshar cow-slaughter case, Haren Pandya. On the other side would be found Ajit Kumar Doval, Yati Narsingha Sarasvati, Yogi Adityanath. DG Vanzara, etc.
Read more: What led to the great divide of India and Pakistan?
Akhlak he did not eat beef and yet they killed him and others. Hence not to lose sight of historians like WD: Dr Wendy Doniger, Professor of History of Religions, University of Chicago, who studied Sanskrit and ancient Indian religion for over 50 years, has observed: Scholars have known for centuries that the ancient Indians ate beef.
It is remarkable to note that Sardar Patel, Narendra Modi (a telli, Amit Shah, a baniya Jain, have skewed perception of being holier than thou attitude. Jinnah was shocked that at the round table conference in London Sardar Patel would not sit at the dinner table with Jinnah so how could they live together. Much of the unprecedented hatred for Muslims in India is on account of such people. The South Indians are different and saner.
Mustafa Khan holds a Ph.D. on Mark Twain. He lives in Malegaon Maharashtra, India. The views expressed in this article are the authors own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.
Posted: November 17, 2021 at 1:27 pm
Rationalism and empiricism are two distinct philosophical approaches to understanding the world around us. They are often contrasted with each other, as their approach to knowledge is completely different. Empiricists believe that we learn about our world through our previous experience, while for rationalists, reason is the basis of understanding anything. Both views can help someone attain knowledge, but they have certain disadvantages.
1 Empiricism Advantages
An empiricist would say that the laws of electrical conductivity are dependent on human observation. It's because we've seen electricity going through a piece of metal and not wood thousands of times that we consolidated the fact that metal is a conductor and wood is not. Our senses don't lie -- under normal circumstances -- and experience can show whether a phenomenon repeats itself and therefore it abides by certain laws or it happened randomly. Scientists for example use experiments to test through observation whether an assumption is true or not.
2 Empiricism Disadvantages
Perception is not universal: What a person perceives as true can be false for another person. For example, a book can be red for one man, but for a color-blind person it may be green. Does this mean that because one or many color-blinds perceive the book as such it is indeed green? Furthermore, perception is also affected by external factors: the same experiment under different conditions (temperature for example) can give different results, unbeknownst to the careless researcher.
3 Rationalism Advantages
Rationalists believe that there is a reason each object or phenomenon exists. An object comes back to the ground when thrown upwards not because a million people have observed so but because there is a reason for it to happen: the law of gravity. In addition, metal is a conductor because it facilitates movable electric charges, unlike wood. Rationalism tries to find the already existing general principles (man didn't create them) behind each phenomenon, which are independent of each individual's perception of knowledge. The result is undisputed theories explaining the laws of the world surrounding us.
4 Rationalism Disadvantages
Rationalism suggests that people are born with innate ideas, truths in a particular subject area (such as math concepts) that are part of out rational nature and we only have to bring them to the surface. However, as philosopher John Locke suggests, there are "idiots" who are not aware of -- and cannot understand -- simple notions, contradicting the universality of innate ideas. Furthermore, laws or logic describing the world are not infallible, as they may be based on human misconceptions, otherwise scientists would not conduct experiments and just rely on logical arguments.
See original here:
Posted: at 1:27 pm
Although lip-syncing, synchronized dancing, and comedic skits tend to catch the most attention on TikTok, another form of art is gaining popularity: witchcraft. Last month, the Washington Post even ran a feature piece taking readers inside the life of a teenage witch, from spellcasting to podcasting.
The Wiccan organization Covenant of the Goddess defines witchcraft as a magical religion with many diverse traditions derived from various cultural sources around which covens and individual practitioners base their practices. The hashtag #WitchTok has roughly 20 billion views, making it one of the more popular hashtags on TikTok.
One can find thousands of videos on potions, tea leaf and tarot card readings, pendulum boards, astral projection, magic charms, wands, crystals, automatic writing, channeling, and spellcasting. These occultic practices, which would have been much more fringe and less accessible in previous generations, are now highly accessible and even trending for Gen Z, thanks in part to the rise of postmodernism.
A substantial amount of witchcraft on #WitchTok can be referred to as a form of neopaganism. Linda Jencson, a professor of Anthropology at Appalachian State University, defines neopaganism as the revival of pre-Christian pagan gods, goddesses and spirits, their worship and ritual manipulation. It also involves an animistic sense of spiritual power and a reverence for nature. Neopagans focus much of their spiritual practice upon practical results, the ability to affect their environment for magical means.
Jencson goes on to explain that neopagan practice involves shamanistic states of trance induced by dancing, chanting, percussion, meditation, and the manipulation of other ritual tools such as power bundles, crystals, wands, feathers, and knives. Virtually all of these neopagan practices can be found on #WitchTok.
There is also a large presence of users who encourage interaction with pagan deities. Neopaganism functions as an umbrella term for all kinds of different folk religions that employ witchcraft. Some users seek guidance from a transcendent mother goddess, while others pantheistically seek divinity within themselves and nature. Some attempt to channel personal spirit guides while others look towards ancient Egyptian, Roman, or Norse gods and goddesses.
Different neopagan traditions are represented on #WitchTok, like Gardnerian, Alexandrian, Celtic, Georgian, and Dianic, to name a few. Because of this, you can find occasional frustrations and controversies between witches of different traditions, covens, or levels of experience.
It is no secret that witchcraft has been on the rise in the United States since the late 20th century. Wicca, one of the more organized of the neopagan traditions, has seen its number of adherents multiply by more than 40 times just from 1990 to 2008. The widespread rediscovery of paganism in the United States coincides with a radically transformative change in Western civilization.
Many contend that atheistic rationalism is to blame for the crippling of Christian influence in the contemporary West. Although that development should not be neglected, the rise of postmodernism is also contributing to aggressive attacks on both established religion and atheistic rationalism.
Dogmatism, whether religious or rationalist, is fiercely criticized as arrogant and intolerant. However, instead of turning to nihilism, members of Gen Z are expanding their spirituality outside of conventional Western religions by incorporating neopaganism.
As Heather Greene reports, While interest in tarot and other forms of divination often corresponds to a complete rejection of traditional religion, that is not a given. Greene goes on to explain that a lot of Gen Z individuals continue to identify with a traditional faith, while looking beyond established structures for spiritual growth.
Despite its massive reach, #WitchTok should not be considered the cause of this cultural transition. It should instead be seen as the consequence. Gen Z is hungry for spirituality. Yet the spirituality they hunger for is one liberated from dogma, organization, authority, prescription, and constraint.
They want to harness spiritual power on their own terms, from their own self-chosen deities, and for their own self-chosen purposes. Neopaganism provides witchcraft as an answer to their wishes.
Our consumer society is quick to capitalize on these desires by providing an abundance of crystals, pendulums, tarot cards, hoodoo oil, and even witch starter kits. Most importantly for this trend, it provided TikTok, which is becoming the most effective virtual platform for converting young religiously frustrated individuals into liberated neopagan consumers.
Online witchcraft practitioners and the consumer sector are both paying close attention to this radical development. Parents should too.
Taylor J. Anderson received his B.A. in Christian Studies and an M.A. in History from Grand Canyon University. He currently works as a Grading Assistant for undergraduate classes at the same institution.
Posted: November 15, 2021 at 11:30 pm
Now is the time to bring our conversation about whiteness and world-viewing into the present tense. The language and concept of worldviews are somewhat clear in many corners of evangelicalism today, but how does whiteness figure into these concepts? And to what degree could this possibly be a problem among the everyday faithful?
We may well acknowledge some of the historical problems (like Kuypers arguments around race and colony) without really thinking that the very form for thought established in those days could itself be a problem. Looking ahead, I acknowledge this is tough work, hard to do well in a short space, and requires good-faith effort from both writer and readers.
In that spirit, for those who have followed this series since the first installment, I want to reaffirm my prior provisos and commitments. This work is about understanding how Americas churches arrived in their current predicament, studded within Americas social divisions rather than offering a compelling alternative. And ultimately, I continue in hope that genuine faith in the living God can reorient our lives, as will come into view in the next few installments.
Below I will introduce the evangelical project since the 1940s when some younger folks set out to restore a biblical worldview (for political engagement, through institutions of higher education and other cultural fixtures) to the silent majority of Americans. And I will observe where the energy for public engagement among visible leaders and movement elites undeniably took on a particular character and color.
This protest provides an opening to understand how Christian world-viewing can go wrong in this case, how evangelical witness picks up its silent letters as whiteness.
Then, I will highlight the witness of one early Black evangelical leader who protested the public witness of mainstream evangelical leaders. This protest provides an opening to understand how Christian world-viewing can go wrong in this case, how evangelical witness picks up its silent letters as whiteness. Before we break, I will spell out some defining features of whiteness relative to world-viewing.
The worldview concept took shape within 1940s evangelicalism as part of a conscious attempt to end the cultural isolation and infighting that had characterized Christian fundamentalism for decades.
Fundamentalists had been searching for new ways to speak of faith in a society that was increasingly marked by Modernism. Framed in terms of materialism, rationalism and scientific naturalism, Modernism (capitalized to present as a competing worldview) seemed to threaten traditional religious values. The fundamentalist struggle against such threats sometimes spilled into public view, as in the Scopes Trial that took place in Tennessee in 1925.
Exacerbated by a sense of alienation from the wider culture, Christian fundamentalism was marked by divisive infighting about theological and moral minutiae. The rhetoric ran hot, and friendly fire abounded.
But seeing threats like fascism and Communism abroad and interpreting them as the fruition of godless worldviews, some younger fundamentalists hoped to stop their ilk from eating each other alive while the world burned down around them. Early spokesman and pastor-theologian Harold John Ockenga imagined a progressive Fundamentalism with a social message.
While recognizing the need to continue working out the theological details, the younger group seemed to believe the particulars of a worldview framing social life together would be easier to agree upon even commonsensical among the unvoiced multitudes (Ockengas words in 1942) of evangelicals. They spoke of the guileless, organic unity of biblical Christians and aimed to promote a common sense of public responsibility under the standard of a new evangelical worldview.
As historian Molly Worthen puts it, The rise of Nazism prodded some Westerners to realize that the conflict required not only manpower and matriel but a coherent intellectual front as well. Here is another way we might understand world-viewing as a kind of impulse. The first was an intuition about race and virtue; the second is a somewhat reflexive, involuntary response to ideological threats.
Dreaming of the possibilities for a National Association of Evangelicals, Ockenga called those who maintained their deep roots in orthodoxy to branch out and meet societys greatest needs. Overall, the strategy would depend on concerted leadership from the brain trust of the evangelicals dispersed in various organelles throughout society media outlets, an organization for colleges and universities, the schools themselves, a clearinghouse for missionary work, organized political lobbies, and more. This placement could facilitate the development and broad dissemination of their worldview over the long haul.
However much the emerging plan was about getting active, Ockenga located the hope of genuine social change in individuals prepared to do the rethinking and the restating of the fundamental thesis and principles of a Western Culture. There must be today men who have the time and the energy and the inclination and the ability and the support to be able to redefine Christian thinking and to fling it forth into the faces of these unbelievers everywhere. Ockenga served as the founding president of not only the NAE but also Fuller Theological Seminary.
As early new evangelical leaders eagerly planned a revival of the evangelical worldview a notion often styled more simplistically and more presumptuously as the biblical worldview they left unnamed a number of other salient details they shared in common.
The genuine like-mindedness of many leaders of this movement and more than a few enthusiastic early supporters extended invisibly (to them) beyond any official theological statements into other commonalities like race and political ideology in a still-segregated United States, but also gender and sexuality among others. They were evangelicals indisputably, but they were also straight, white, affluent, male Protestants (to suggest a 21st-century spin on the old WASP acronym) with an affinity for a particular wing of the Republic party.
So, this relatively small number of folks did share a history and a set of convictions sufficient to envision and work toward common goals. Yet as they drummed up support and stepped into the limelight, they named only their cherished religious identity as the essential difference between them and the various threats they perceived.
For those following this series, it should be relatively easy to see how this appeal to the Bible as the source and framework for their worldview turned out to be primarily a rhetorical figment. The new evangelicals clearly supplied extrabiblical ideas to fill out their worldview not unlike Kuyper weaving his racial hierarchy and support of colonialism into the biblical narrative.
To start rather simply, Ockenga cast a classic Christian nationalist vision, revising Americas golden age as driven by evangelical influence. Filling out the principles of a biblical worldview, he described Christianity as one bank of the river Capitalism, with democracy as the other bank. Assessing the threats to American society, Ockenga worried about the erosion of Christianity on the one side and the frenetic overcompensation of the government on the other.
With an eye toward the question of race in this history, we also might note the tendency of folks in the new evangelical circle to favor voluntary segregation and otherwise slowing down social efforts moving toward integration (not least the possibility of intermarriage). Ockenga himself, at the 1957 NAE gathering, proclaimed, There is nothing biblically, nothing morally, nothing legally against (integration), but it is not wise, that is all, for expediencys sake because it is selfish.
There is nothing biblically, nothing morally, nothing legally against (integration), but it is not wise, that is all, for expediencys sake because it is selfish.
Many comments like this and public arguments around activism and policy toward the goals of socially conservative whites could extend this point further. (See my book for more receipts.) Then as now, white evangelicals tended to offer personal-spiritual solutions to racism and to deny the very possibility of structural or institutional problems.
Rather than moving through too many specific examples here, I want primarily to call attention to what little wonder we should have at the lack of ongoing conversation between the new evangelicals and Black evangelicals. The power dynamics generated by the formers unvoiced identities along with the more overtly exclusive aspects of their movement meant racially diverse others kept their distance from the emerging evangelical establishment. This has continued to be true even among those who would subscribe to the NAE statement of faith or otherwise connect with the primitive lexis of the evangel.
But the folks out front were organizing world-viewers against threats felt along very specific lines. And, for purely historical reasons that became ensconced in biblical references, their anxieties about the direction of American culture simply did not include movement toward racial reconciliation or much by way of advocacy for civil rights.
To look at one specific instance, as protests grew during the long filibuster of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Ockenga chided Northern whites involved in demonstrations in St. Augustine, Fla., as doing more harm than good. He argued: The whole situation is rapidly deteriorating. If we break the law by forcing the situation, we are going to encourage the extremist groups. We ought to be careful what we do.
Evangelicals, as identified in terms of key beliefs and practices or historical connections with earlier Pietistic movements, always have been more diverse than the white, mostly northern elites who led the new charge starting in the 1940s.
Making this statement about evangelical elites in 2021 is somewhat humorous. Recent concerns around this subject have tended to underscore the disconnect between visible, relatively progressive scholars and rank-and-file evangelicals. At issue is the ongoing fallout around the supermajority of white evangelicals who voted for Donald Trump. Twice.
At this point in my argument, however, I am talking about the younger evangelicals who raised their voices in the days Richard Nixon was running for president. In those days, elites like Ockenga were stumping for Nixon. To the younger folks playing for the other team in 1972, Ockenga wrote, I for one cannot understand how any of you men of evangelical conviction can back Mr. McGovern. And more often than not since those days, white evangelicals issuing their political judgments as the fruits of the biblical worldview have favored the GOP.
Ockengas strategy here suggests one way the scope of the biblical worldview creeps outward even as it plays a regulative role. Gesturing toward the most basic set of shared convictions is useful to the visible and influential as they define and limit membership in the orthodox party. Underlying their use of the concept is the assumption that, if you start with the same biblical principles, and if you operate in good faith as a born-again believer, you should come to the same political conclusions. And if you do not, you will be defined out of the picture before you ever make it to the convening table.
Not coincidentally, Black American evangelicals are typically not self-identifying as such but rather identified by their adherence to, admittedly problematic, sets of beliefs and practices. And this demographic has tended to fill out their worldview and engage in politics under different assumptions about how the vision should cash out in public.
Historian Mark Noll has noted, The very high level of evangelical support for Donald Trump is like nothing seen in Americas recent religious-political history except for the even higher percentage that since the 1960s Democrats have received from Bible-believing, born-again African Americans.
Considered the father of Black evangelicalism, Bill Pannell found his footing in a space that others (both Black and white) struggled even to see. Describing the mostly white audiences from his days as an itinerant evangelist, he has said, Some were reluctant to take me seriously because I was a Black person, but they felt obliged because I sounded just like them, believed as they did, was evangelical as they were. Meanwhile, Pannell found members of major Black church denominations to be uncomfortable with the term evangelical because they see it as a denotation of white culture.
Throughout his early writings, Pannell described how he began to discover within his own patterns of thought signs that he had been raised to think whitely not least in his training at mostly white Fort Wayne Bible College. He said of himself and of other Black evangelicals he knew, From a cultural and theological perspective we were white men. The essentially white evangelical ghetto in which he lived and moved from his growing up years through Bible school fostered a particular identity politics that the communitys self-understanding could not even begin to articulate.
Pannell awakened to the power dynamics affecting evangelicalism after the 1963 bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham that killed four young Black girls. He confessed that he was initially critical of the Civil Rights Movement but came to see the disparity between the good news preached by predominantly white revivalists and the social scene that they were inept at addressing. In those days, Pannells view of Jesus and his work on the Cross was radicalized (vis--vis other evangelicals) as he began to see its parallels in the experience of Black persons in America.
Importantly, Pannell identified the racial overlays on the American values of democracy and free enterprise. As for democracy, he said, The problem is that ones internal commitment to democracy has little to do with ones treatment in this democracy. When you are judged by your color before you can open your mouth, the republic has become a pigmentocracy.
Speaking of the freedom advocated by American patriots, he named its limited or parochial application in the United States. Pannell boldly charged, The mentality that produced and prospered the system of slavery is still with us. Today, we dont own slaves, we rent them, and for the non-white this system of enterprise is anything but free.
As he weighed the feedback he received from his conservative white evangelical frenemies, Pannell called out the tendency toward a certain set of politics. He mused, My white brother taught me to sing Take the World but Give Me Jesus. I took Jesus. He took the world and then voted right wing to ensure his property rights.
Pannell learned to see that too many evangelicals were perpetuating the myth of white supremacy and associating Christianity with American patriotism (its called nationalism when we criticize its manifestation in Africa), free enterprise, and the Republican party.
Given his training, Pannell could speak as an insider to white American evangelicalism. Pannells message was primarily the gospel itself. But he came also to the conclusion that he needed to confront socially conservative white evangelicals. The gospel that claimed all their lives equally did not, as the basis of an all-encompassing worldview, lead to the policies the white folks were advocating.
While they claimed to represent all biblical Christians, white evangelical elites simply could not do that in good faith.
While they claimed to represent all biblical Christians, white evangelical elites simply could not do that in good faith. After all, they were not really in conversation with a diversity of biblical Christians. And this put them at risk for baptizing commitments that came to them in other ways and, in effect, honkifying the gospel.
At this point, I can start speaking more directly to what whiteness is and how it gets bound up in the fabric of churches and parachurch organizations like schools and associations. And we can unpack Pannells comment about learning to think whitely in his Bible college education and maybe answer his plea for the courage and humility to confront fellow believers honestly about attitudes that divide them.
Here some actual Critical Race Theory might help us. Learning from the work of folks like Wendy Leo Moore, we might see the parallels between (a) how race comes to determine outcomes within the legal system and to suffuse the culture of law schools and (b) how whiteness lingers within the institutional cultures of churches and parachurch organizations, especially those that began as whites-only institutions.
Speaking in the context of American law, Moore describes how, once the norms and practices were generated in the absence of diverse actors, the experts could assert the law is a neutral and impartial body of doctrine unconnected to power relations. I, for one, sense a strong resonance between this description and Ockengas gesture toward the authority of the Bible alone uninterpreted by traditions as a virtue of evangelical faith.
But if you want to know why whiteness is in the air for so many institutions, Moore argues, attention must also be paid to the historical racial exclusion that provided the context for the uncontested construction of white institutional space. Advantages are structured into institutions by way of founding representation and are invisible from the start because of the regulating influence of founders and early adopters. They set in motion a social machine that will invariably strive to maintain homeostasis, to conserve itself amid the push and pull of latecomers.
And while structures may formally open to, or even invite, a diversity of faces, the prevailing norms and practices came into being without the input of diverse voices. Under these conditions, institutions tend to attract and, in some ways, to select for new folks who look different but think the same. This phenomenon is known as managed diversity.
The formal reality that churches are voluntary associations serves to mask these dynamics within any given institution, not least many churches intentionally branding themselves as multiracial or multiethnic in culture. (More on this later in the series.)
It is axiomatic that institutions struggle to change and prefer to conserve energy if possible, appearing to change more so than really changing. Certainly, there is more integration now than before, even less intentional racism, and often a move toward colorblindness (which carries its own trouble, but that is a conversation for another day). However, these kinds of moves tend not to be accompanied by deep analysis or change around the guiding norms or basic principles that continue to sit underneath the institutions.
This axiom is true even on the evolving, progressive side, where we can see the lingering effects of white institutional space. In 2018, students at Fuller Theological Seminary interrupted graduation events to protest the curriculums pervasive white cultural frame. (This at a school with centers dedicated to Black church studies and Asian American theology and ministry as well as a Centro Latino!) We must learn to wrestle more honestly with the many realities (daresay, traditions) within which we learn to interpret the Bible.
From the outset, what I mean by whiteness is not exactly about ethnicity or specifically about skin color, although that has been a clear marker over the last 400 or so years. As we shift toward naming something like a way of seeing the world, we call it whiteness because some of its most obvious features coemerged in the colonial moment with modern racial hierarchies. And we have the testimony of Black voices throughout this history (like W.E.B. Du Bois, but also Bill Pannell) naming the reality and their exclusion from it.
As I say in my book, whiteness might be understood through a culinary metaphor as a kind of blandness, a basicness that is home to the dopamine-releasing fats and sugars our bodies crave. More literally, whiteness is the unquestioned aptitude to participate in the norming group in any given room, the privilege of not questioning whether one really can or ought to try ordering, grasping, or even viewing the whole world.
Whiteness is the easy, unquestioned, often invisible extension of ones own ideas into the world as the norm in a world where some folks are routinely unseen, oppressed and otherwise left out of the conversations that generate public definitions (including what it means to be evangelical).
Whiteness tends to manifest as just feeling right, feeling like a well-meaning person.
Without adequate reflection on our many identities, social power is routinely transfigured into theopolitical power. Put bluntly, persons and groups that already enjoy social power (for example, heterosexual white American evangelical men) effortlessly become authorities on Jesus identity, Gods will and so on. As such, whiteness tends to manifest as just feeling right, feeling like a well-meaning person (for example, good intentions even if a sinner), and so on.
Worldview conceptuality did, in fact, take root in the elite evangelical circles, but it clearly has taken on a life of its own and a mass appeal. And this observation makes the everyday use of the concept and the common impulse to engage in this style of thinking fair subjects for analysis.
Not everyone enjoys the special powers that come with being a part of the elite group of world-changers who might first come to mind. But as a spiritual posture, whiteness can be performed by anyone who has a social media profile, who argues at a table with their family members, who casts a vote in this or that election. And, quite clearly, this also means that thinking whitely in the way I am criticizing is not limited to folks who could be identified racially as white.
Anyone can gesture toward the biblical worldview in place of a detailed argument for their judgment on an issue. And if the folks who have done the most work to develop this theory have clear blind spots, others who deploy it are bound to exhibit some sort of family resemblance.
What I am concerned about under the heading of whiteness is not limited to evangelicals or even to the specific language of the biblical worldview. The problems can be manifest in the way Southern Baptists (among others) throw around the adjective gospel to describe their perspective on some issue. For others, kingdom (of God) or even the narrative language of the Great Story can tend the same direction.
In any case, within the fold (whichever fold), these underspecified concepts are invested with lots of energy and become serviceable to address the current anxieties of whoever has the mic. The folks on stage can gesture toward these relatively empty signifiers to justify their positions and consolidate support without having to make much of an argument for the folks who already agree.
The continuous, silent creeping of the biblical worldview to cover and encompass more terrain in the world is part of its trouble.
The continuous, silent creeping of the biblical worldview to cover and encompass more terrain in the world is part of its trouble. Particularly because it is so often unnamed, this activity of the mind covers more conviction sets and loyalty bases than most folks care to admit let alone announce. What was clear to Pannell but invisible to many mainstream white leaders was this: the growing number of neo-evangelical organelles maintained and articulated a worldview that was both more and less than biblical.
If we can, even for a moment, honestly assess ourselves, or maybe it is safer to start with powerful expositors like the case studies in my book, then we must see how the form of a world-view its all-seeing, all-ordering tendency drives human beings to narrate whatever they think they know, however grizzly it may be, as the stuff of divine revelation. And in so doing, one can enjoy the support of likeminded others and claim the moral high ground without making much of an argument and swatting away Christological scrutiny.
At the same time, the world-viewing impulse drives us to see ourselves through the ideals of the worldview, which have tended to romanticize our minds in terms of unified, rational thought structures. Many of us have been trained to think of ourselves as singular individuals who freely associate with others as we please and engage the world through such frameworks or create problems as we allow the emotions to leach into our thinking. To this shortcoming of worldview theory as well as some hopeful alternative ideas for understanding ourselves, we will turn next.
This is the third in a series of articles introducing the hypothesis of the authors new book, Worldview Theory, Whiteness, and the Future of Evangelical Faith.
Jacob Alan Cook is a postdoctoral fellow at Wake Forest University School of Divinity. He is the author of Worldview Theory, Whiteness, and the Future of Evangelical Faith as well as chapters on Christian identity, peacemaking and ecological theology. He earned a Ph.D. from Fuller Theological Seminary.
Related articles in this series:
What if your Christian worldview is based upon some sinful ideas?
A short history of the roots of colonialism, racism and whiteness in Christian worldview