How Should White People Think about Racism?

It is difficult for white people like myself to have conversations about racism, for a number of reasons. Here are a few I can think of:

  1. Because we think of racism primarily in terms of conscious, intentional patterns of thinking and deliberate actions and typically do not consider the possibility that it might far often manifest itself in unconscious assumptions. For this reason, we believe it’s a problem that some extremists may need to deal with, but certainly not us.
  2. Because we live a culture that is hypersensitive on racial issues, which has led to allegations of racism around every corner by professional race-baiters, and we do not want to give any legitimacy to that industry.
  3. Because our culture’s hypersensitivity leads us to think that we have to walk on eggshells when it comes to this topic for fear of saying the wrong thing. It is easier simply to avoid it altogether.
  4. Because the concept of systemic injustice is often vague and abstract to us, given that we live in a majority white culture and lack the experience that makes it a concrete reality.
  5. Because we are sinners who recoil from being confronted with our own sin.

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What Does It Mean To Be “Personally” Pro-Life?

Tim Kaine, vice presidential candidate, has been in the spotlight lately for claiming to be personally pro-life (as a Roman Catholic) yet publicly pro-choice (as a Democrat). His voting record in the Senate, with a 100% approval rating from Planned Parenthood, is a clear indication that his “public” self is the one who comes to work everyday. In making this kind of distinction, Kaine is continuing the tradition that a number of Roman Catholic Democrats have been carrying on for decades now. Here is why the distinction simply doesn’t work. Continue reading

Christians and Culture: What Is the Way Forward? (Part 5)

See Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 first.

It turns out that none of the four (or five, according to Niebuhr) models surveyed is free of weaknesses, and that seems to be owing to the fact that all of the models are ultimately reductionistic. Among the ones surveyed, I personally believe the two kingdoms model offers the broadest theological vision for navigating this issue, but it must be supplemented by insights from other models as well, lest it become imbalanced. Continue reading

Principled Resistance: Some Thoughts on the Fourth of July

Because of the holiday today, I have decided to forego a post on my normal Monday series and offer some thoughts on the meaning of July 4th. I have always been thankful for my country and its heritage, but for many years, I would have to say that I was rather ambivalent about the actions of our founding fathers. I was glad to be in a position to reap benefits of the American Revolution, but I was unclear on whether the resistance of the American colonies to the authority of King George III was morally justified. Today I hold the conviction that their actions were not only justified, but praiseworthy. Continue reading