Thursday, March 03, 2016

Ponderings After Supper Tuesday,2016

As I watched Supper Tuesday results come in and followed reactions to the results in my social media feeds there was much chatter about Sanders and Clinton, and Black people and people of Color. Sanders did well in North East, and won in Oklahoma, states with small minority populations.

  1. There’s talk about what is good for Black people and whether Black people voting for Hilary Clinton (as they seem to be doing especially in the South) is against their interests. I agree with those who see this line of questioning as patronizing. It is clear that Bernie Sanders has not been able to convince large numbers of Black voters. Bernie Sanders appeals to certain white voters, though I’m not sure what exactly can be said or not said for white voters. 
  2. Among some of Bernie Sanders supporters there does seem to be subtle misogyny and racism and that for some  is enough to discredit Sanders as a candidate. For those who see Sanders discredited by the subtle misogyny and racism of some of his supporters, also see Sanders as primarily a candidate for White males.
  3.  I follow on social media a number of People of Color who are Sanders supporters so it doesn’t exactly seem accurate to me to say that Sanders only has appeal among whites. Though Sanders certainly failed to draw Black voters in the South.
  4. I don’t need to understand Clinton's appeal among Black voters. Yet There voices like Michelle Alexander"s who in her piece for the Nation said that she doesn’t believe that Hilary Clinton deserves that loyalty. This isn’t the same as saying that somehow Black voters are working against their own interests. However, Alexander also doesn’t give a ringing endorsement for Bernie Sanders either.
  5.  Thus far Sanders has been unable to make his case with those who suffer under the continuing effects of a racist white supremacist system. It matters little if I as a White male understand all the reasons why. But I have a sense of it: Sanders most generally ties race into class, and insists that his focus on class would remedy the issues of race. I do think Bernie Sanders is wrong in this assessment (at one time I would have agreed). My guess is that this is at least part of why he is floundering with people of color. It’s likely that Sanders plans to alleviate class inequality (aside from whether or not he could get them through congress), wouldn’t automatically eliminate and alleviate inequalities based upon race, nor would they address the way our system remains racist and white supremacist.
  6.  It would appear that Sanders has a blind spot for the degree to which racism persists because the system is still racist and white supremacist. Also, he has been clear he isn't going to seek to address this directly but believes racial inequality can be addressed by not addressing it, that is by addressing issues of economy and class. He clearly racism as an important issue but one that can be addressed by focusing on other things. 
  7.  With Hilary Clinton we will not get change, but, in limited ways, race will be addressed. If Michelle Alexander is correct it won’t bring about racial justice, but it probably will keep us aware that issues of race won’t be addressed simply by addressing issue of class. Clinton admits that she and the Democratic Party needs the black voter. It is likely then that issues important to Black folks and people of color will at least get some attention. 
  8. Of course Republicans at the moment want to pretend there are no issues of class or race, while White separatists are gaining a foothold again and a fascist who has spouted various bigoted rants is well on his way to win the nomination. 
  9. A possible positive outcome of all this is that the curtain is being pulled back and we are able to see how, in differing degrees and differing ways, the global power structures that were created to facilitate the slave trade for the benefit of Whites still is the system under which we function. Our government and our politics also perpetuate that system. 
  10.  What is happening right now is that we are arguing over what aspect of this system we want remodeled or kept the same or accentuated.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Limits of Popular Sovereignty

The title for Michelle Alexander's (author of Mass Incarceration and the New Jim Crow) recent piece for the Nation is a little misleading, though it is ostensibly the focus of the piece (Why Hilary Clinton doesn't deserve the Black vote, spoiler no one deserves the Black vote according to Alexander), she doesn't endorse Bernie Sanders, nor is she too pleased with the Democratic party  (Republican isn't an option).  She indicts the system and the establishment of the two Party's that run our country, and Bernie only fares relatively better in her mind to Hilary and the rest of the Democratic party.  Alexander call's for Black citizens and all U.S citizens to reject the claim of only two possibilities and truly take up our popular sovereignty.

 The AP  recently reported that President Obama, spoke about how voters do strange things when they are afraid, at fundraisers for the Democratic Party.  These remarks I think unmask what is and always has been the case, that what popular sovereignty in the U.S. means is that we elect our rulers from the class of rulers.  Now, from time to time this class admits to its ranks those who were once excluded, Obama is a case in point, Kennedy is another case in point.  This give us the illusion of having a say and of progress, and that anyone can become president, as I remember being told repeatedly in California public schools..

Now this ruling class consists of both Republicans and Democrats (As Michelle Alexander points out), in fact the two party system is part and parcel of that which maintains a ruling class and simultaneously limits popular sovereignty..

Coming to terms with the above, means that we also need to recognize that all the political candidates for president are part of the establishment.   We also need to see that populism and progressivism are part and parcel of the ruling class' means to keep its power and keep citizens (always only seen as voters) voting for whom the establishment admits as political candidates.

Bernie Sanders is trying to revive a particular interpretation of this system where the ruling class seeks to lessen the effects on the citizenry of the system they oversee. This establishment populism and progressivism is  perhaps best represented by the Roosevelts, Theodore and Franklin D.

Even so I do believe we are currently seeing a shake up in the establishment. We are in a point of turmoil within the ruling class itself.  Cracks are appearing, and have been appearing. We citizens are noticing, and we are grasping at differing forms of populism ( vaguely socialist or fascist), and grasping at differing reiterations of established vision of the U.S. (secular and religious).

Not sure where this is going.  Though , as I read the A.P. report and Alexander's piece I saw that the curtain is being pulled back. Yet we still are going along as if nothing has been exposed.  Perhaps because collectively we need the curtain. We're mainly looking to find that presidential candidate that will reassure us that all is well: Is it Clinton who says she will just keep on keeping on, building on the legacy of Bill Clinton and continuing the policies of  the Obama administration, or is it the "socialist" populist progressivism of Sanders hearkening back to the Roosevelt presidencies, or is it the varieties of fascism offered us by the Republican candidates.

Our current presidential election cycle is showing us that our ruling class isn't monolithic.  I see much evidence that the ruling class has been in disagreement for sometime about the nature of our governance, where the force of the State will be directed, and the nature of our civil religion and the degree to which it should remain vaguely Christian.

We have trouble seeing that the ruling class includes Trump and Sarah Palin, and Barack Obama and the Clinton's, and Bernie Sanders, and yet it does.

We don't popularly elect a President of the United States.  We should remember that United States Senators originally were to be appointed by the each state legislature.  Neither the Senate nor the Presidency is supposed to be the result of popular sovereignty, or popular election. Thus, it is a very real likelihood that due to supper delegates that in the case of New Hampshire that Bernie could win the primary in terms of popular vote and loose the state in terms of delegates.  This is equally true for the Republican Party.  The system is rigged and has always been rigged (though it is now less so) to limit popular sovereignty not to encourage it.  Alexander's point is, in part I think, aiming in this direction and calling us to take up our citizenship and our sovereignty and stop acquiescing to the demands and scare mongering of the establishment and ruling class.

It's not so much that there is no choice , just that our system of "popular sovereignty" also has a deep suspicion of the will of the people, and has always sought and continues to seek to curtail and limit the exercise of that will.  And so there will be remarks from our leaders and politicians like that of President Obama, that simultaneously shows a distrust (and a distance) from common citizens qua voters, and seeking to placate and cajole them into voting the "right" way.

Michelle Alexander's piece for the Nation is also a call for Black people to rebel against this curtailment of popular sovereignty, and looks to a time where we the citizens of the United States (following this Black refusal of the limits on popular sovereignty) will tire of always picking the lesser of two evils the ruling class (Democrat and Republican) of the United States gives us, and throw off the limit to our sovereignty.

Yet, it is possible that we actually find the limits to popular sovereignty comforting, safer to stick with what we know and have known.  Better to pretend our presidential candidates are either our saviors or comforting parental figures that will keep things stable and take care of us.

Few I think will embrace (at this time) Alexander's call for U.S. citizens to take up their popular sovereignty and reject our two ruling parties, not even the editors of the Nation have had the guts to make such a call but consistently advocate for the lesser of two evils, which always means Democrat.

Guess what, no one deserves any ones vote.  And Obama is in part correct we are often motivated out of fear.  We  are told all hell will break loose if we look to anyone other than our two ruling parties This fear of opening up our electoral system to a range of parties and political options means that we will continue to accept the limits of popular sovereignty imposed upon us by the ruling parties and the ruling class.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Systems and Structures: Seeking police criminal justice reforms in Chicago

I see a contradiction in responses to the murder of Laquan McDonald by Police:  On the one hand we speak of this as an example of racist structure and system in place on the other we say it is the problem of certain individuals: officer West as a bad apple, States Attorney Alverez misconduct in the execution of her office, the Chief of Police and Mayor Rahm Emmanuel.  When we want to explain how this effects people of color and is an example of how law enforcement treats Blacks and people of color we speak systemic racism, and the racist structures and policing as part of that system.  Yet, when we speak of reform at least in the case of Laquan McDonald we focus on the individuals in the system, and removing from office those who we believe should have responded differently.
However, if the system in which these individuals work is racist, if the structure of policing is bound up in the history of racism (racism being structural and not bound to the attitudes of an individual human beings, which is what it means to speak of the system of racism and racist structures) then in singling out these public officials we are at just removing those who acted most overtly within the system doing what the system encourages and even demands.  We are also, then rewarding those who adept in perpetuating the ends of the system in underhanded and covert ways and able to perpetuate the system while adapting it to certain demands for reform.
I understand the contradiction: We want to put a name to things we find shocking and which peak our conscience, and in putting a name to it we also want the named problem solved. The removal and resignation of public officials feels like something has been done to solve the systemic problem.  But, none of those officials could have done what they did if the system didn’t support their actions.  The cover up was an act of the system not merely the individuals.
After all this is what it means to talk about systems and structures: there are mechanisms and policies in place that sanction and empower a certain set of affairs without the needing the overt or active assent of individual actors.
What we have in the case of Laquan McDonald is certain officials acting out overtly and obviously what the system wishes to keep low key and sublimated.  But those officials we wish to remove from office were simply enacting the systemic and structural realities they just that in the case of Laquan McDonald’s murder and the handling of the investigation we simply have the extreme manifestation of the system.
But we don’t change the system simply by removing those actors.
This shouldn’t mean that we don’t call for them to resign and work towards removing them, but in doing so we shouldn’t think that another individual will make the difference, and we have thus solved the problem. We then need to go and look at the root of the problem in policing itself and in the state and city structures themselves.

It’s much tidier to believe this is an issue of a group of bad apples, but if it is systemic and structural then those aren’t bad apples they are simply the fruit of the system that we see exposed today in how policing in this country treats blacks and people of color.

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Mythology of "America" as Blindfold

I confess that this Thanksgiving I wasn’t feeling very thankful.  I personally have good things to be thankful for.   But because our national fable and mythology of America was hollow. I struggled to give thanks because our mythology of the U.S.A. causes us to view any contradiction of that mythology and fable as an aberration.  Mostly, these aberrations are individual actors or un-American groups who are labeled throw backs and regressive.

Symbols of our mythology and fable (like the Statue of Liberty) are trotted out as proof, in the face of fear of immigrants and refugees, that we’ve always welcomed immigrants and refugees.  When even a cursory glance at our history shows that there’s always been hatred and animosity towards any group of immigrants or refugees.  Not to mention that immigration was never random and open, but always regulated by quota’s and the makeup of the U.S. was not accidental.   Our mythology and Fable makes us look at the internment of Japanese Americans as an aberration even though it is consistent with White American xenophobia throughout its history.

This mythology causes us to believe that there was a pure non-xenophobic, non-White, non-racist idea of America a beacon of justice and hope for humankind.  We tell ourselves that we very quickly (almost immediately) fell from this ideal reality and have been working towards fulfilling.  Yet if such an ideal existed and was held by true Americans at a certain time, why has it so rarely been achieved?

We are unable to look at our system as fundamentally flawed and in contradiction to the mythology that system needs us to believe about it.  Yet, we also need to believe it.  The reality is too stark.  Easier and more comforting to believe the mythology and fables we tell ourselves, and create scapegoats of those who in perusing the ends of the system do so in ways that to readily and easily puncture the fa├žade of our fables and mythology of the city set on a hill and the manifest destiny of America, the great democracy that will save the world.
However, if we really want justice and true change we will have to face that the America of our ideal doesn’t exist has never existed and in fact was never meant to exist except as a fable and mythology of national unity.    The U.S. is a nation state that both accepts and reject immigrants and refugees.  The U.S. is a Nation State that has committed war crimes and genocide.  The land that makes up the U.S.A was stolen; it’s wealth is founded upon slave labor.  Its system was created by Whites for Whites.  People who continue in this vein aren’t being un-American, they may be the most honestly American, using the mythology as a cloak to hide behind.  The rest of us just use it as a blindfold to keep us from seeing who we really are.

We want to believe the enslavement of Africans is behind us that our conquering and displacement and removal of the Native Americans is just a phase of our history that we can leave in the past.  Yet, there are still reservations, yet the wealth of this country and its position in the world is in part due to the exploitation of Africans as slaves.  In the middle of the 20th century and by a “progressive” administration and President, Japanese Americans were put in concentration camps, their property confiscated.  These things weren’t done by an illiberal and America hating people, but by the U.S. Government in the name of advancing and protecting American ideals.

This isn’t to deny the good that is mixed with this evil. Rather it is to say that we aren’t special but just like any other nation state and all other human beings, mixed with propensity to good things and propensity to do evil.  But they don’t cancel each other out, both have ongoing and continuing consequences.    Both carry on in time.  All our efforts to change, as long as we won’t admit as American those things that contradict our mythology and fable of America, will be constantly be bound up with that which we wish to deny.

This is deeply difficult to accept, probably most especially for progressive Whites, that our system and ideals are corrupt at the root.  The bad fruit is produced by the plant of our system not some external infestation.  America isn’t the solution it is the problem. 

This shouldn’t lead to inaction but a clear eyed action that is willing to look at what needs to be done and do so without an appeal to the authority of America and the founding fathers of this Nation State.  They were just human beings, with mixed motives who did both good and horrendous things. FDR did a great amount of Good and he dropped two nuclear bombs on civilian populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and put the Japanese in concentration camps.  He wasn’t a good man; he wasn’t an evil man.  Just a flawed human being mixture of good and evil as we all are.  So too is the U.S.A. which is only a group of human beings flawed and with a distorted desire for some semblance of the good.

We achieve the good and truth at times, and perhaps at times our mythology and fables have lead us to achieve those good ends, yet at this time our ideal blinds us to the true mixed reality of the U.S.A. and that “America” has never existed and can never exist.  We must seek something else, something less elegant and more down to earth.  A recognition that our human achievements are always less than.  That is, there needs a bit of humility especially if we are White, and perhaps especially if we are White and progressive.


A theological account of this can be found here .

Saturday, July 04, 2015

The clash of ecclesial and national identities on the Fourth of July

The Fourth of July is a day of conflicted emotions, thoughts, and experiences.  Personally, being a citizen of the United States has been beneficial, and deeply influences my approach and view of the world.  Also, the ideals of this day do move me and offer hope and do also offer hope to many. Yet, I know that to a large degree this is true for me because I'm white and male.  For people of color and certainly African Americans access to the freedom and ideals of personal development and independence at best offered and allowed intermittently.  Also, I know from stories handed down in my family about the experience of immigration that even for Swedes and Germans, access to the benefits of these ideas comes at the price of submission and conformity.

There is a totalitarianism to our offer of freedom.  Only certain types of diversity are allowed.  A free people must be a uniform people who all share the same values.  Our culture wars are over what sets of values we all must conform to in order to be a truly free people, where we may have our individual expressions as long as they are morally acceptable to the majority.

Yet, I have the freedom to speak this dissenting and questioning voice.  This is the contradiction.  There are intense pressures especially on this day to only speak of our imaginary best self as the United States.  As if some how the declaration of independence and certain limited (limited in the sense that all human endeavor is incomplete unsatisfactory and flawed, by virtue of our inability to truly encompass existence) achievements in democracy and freedom (of which I'm a beneficiary, and one slated due to gender and race to benefit the most.), can cover the multitude of terrorism, atrocities and expansion that has stolen wealth and land from those deemed unsuited to possess what we wanted and felt we need to expand our interpretation of freedom.

But also part of the conformity is that I'm only supposed to love this nation and this culture, or at least supposed to love and think the U.S. is the best. the problem is that the truth is I don't think this, nor do I feel it in the depth of my soul.  The reality is that the French flag and images of the French landscape and cities and culture evoke the same feelings of patriotism and love of a people and land as the American flag and images of our cities and landscapes.  It is odd that two years as a child living in a country can have such an enduring and deep effect upon on one. Yet, this is the emotional truth.  But it also shows me that the emotion has little do with whether it is true that France or the U.S. are in fact great nations, or worthy of my pride and joy.  We confuse our love of country with its deserving of that love.  As if it's values are the best or the most universal or the truest.  Those are all mistakes, or my equal love and patriotism for France and the U.S. is wrong. Yet, no matter how much I know about the flaws of both countries, their imperialist and terrorizing activities in the past and present, makes one difference to the emotions associated with the symbols of these two Nation States. Patriotic feeling has little or nothing to do with actuality and has more to do with being identified with something larger than oneself to which you give your love.
identities
This is even more disturbing for one who takes seriously that the affirmation Jesus is Lord means that I have accepted that all earthly political and national loyalties are made relative by the God who is the source of all existence, who oddly enough is joined to that existence through one historical biological human being Jesus of Nazareth.  This Oppressed and Crucified One is the God of the universe.  All the good any nation believes in or wishes to be is a mere shadow of the goodness to which I'm called as one devoted to Jesus Christ.  And  this One renders all achievements of Powers and Governments and Nations States wanting and at base violent and bound to the Power of Death. My love for these powers only binds me to death and a sense that the limits of biology and arbitrary human boundaries are the final truth.  In Christ I'm offered freedom from death and the petty human boundaries and values that pretend to be universal, and yet bind me to death.

What ever good there is in being French or American, it is at best merely poor copy and reflection of the truly good.  It is an imperfect, relative, and limited good.  The U.S. is neither a Christian nation nor any sort of light to the nations, or example of freedom and democracy for all.  In fact as one who affirms God to be the light of nations, and Jesus of Nazareth the Christ, to be the light of the world, any suggestion that a particular nation or people, is such a light, is a heresy.  To affirm it is to betray my faith.

So my joy today is within limits.  A thankfulness for relative values and relative freedom. But in Christ I must renounce it, turn aside and say my true home and citizenship is in a realm that cares little for the boundaries and the mythologies of the Powers, and Governments and Nations and peoples.  That seeks to follow a way that slowly frees us  from our petty loves that we may find ourselves overwhelmed for a love for all that isn't generic that somehow impossibly loves each person in their interconnected person-hood, ultimately found in their relation to God no longer bound by limited and relative values democracy, or freedom or any human mythology or fable.

This conviction is hard to maintain on this Independence Day in which I'm to ignore American injustices and celebrate the ideal of the U.S. that has never been actual or real except in very limited and always at the price of others freedoms, and even at times maintained through the death of others deemed less deserving of life and freedom.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Racism, Slavery, and Confederate Battle Flag

While I agree with the call to take down the Confederate Battle Flag flying over a confederate memorial in the capital of South Carolina, I've seen something around this call that disturbs me: identifying the Confederacy as a "Racist state" implying that the Union was not also racist.  Such an implication is a whitewashing (pun intended) the historical realities of the United States and thus our present.  Some at this moment want to attempt to exorcise racist hatred and violence by claiming the Confederacy was the repository of all racism in the United States.  We want to move the Confederacy to history museums (and by implication, pretend racism is in the past).  The Northern states and the Union weren't less racist they were just racists that ceased to believe in the economic and social benefits of enslaving blacks.

This article lists a number of statues of Confederates (Many who also served in U.S. congress) whom the article calls racists. Yet while the Civil war was fought over slavery, it wasn't that the North had repented of its racism and the south stubbornly clung to it. rather it was simply to versions of the same racist system, one that still is in existence up and until this moment, even with a Black president.

I'm not defending states flying the Confederate battle flag and given that among the things the Confederacy stands for it was among the last defenders of enslavement of Africans. So, that it represents oppression of Blacks is simply the reality of the secession of the Southern states to form the Confederacy. But to suggest that some how the Confederacy is the sum total of the repository of racism as the only racist State because of its defense of slavery equates racism with slavery.  That is a dangerous equation.

Enslavement of Africans is only one aspect of the systemic racism of the United States.  Also, even as the northern states outlawed slavery, the economy of the United States continued to benefit from slavery. Another aspect of the racist economic and political system of removal from their land and genocide of Native Americans.  To this day across this country Native Americans are on tracts of land the White American Government didn't find useful.

In truth many of the people we honor in our country are racists. Presidents of the United States owned slaves.  Congress and the Presidency had up and until the Civil Rights Movement both tacitly and actively endorsed racist policies and benefited economically from them.

The racism we are still facing, still exists in part because it is much larger than (though it includes) the Confederate battle flag, and the hate filled and racist attitudes of a Roof .  Roof and that the Confederate Battle flag has been flying in Southern State capitals, is only the tip of the iceberg.

The larger reality of racism isn't something we can put in the Confederacy, then apologize for slavery and then attempt to move on as if that erases the racist economy and politics that allowed for our imperial expansion from east coast to the west coast and created much of the wealth we take for granted, including the land all of us live on.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Imprecatory Psalms, Caitlyn Jenner, and the Woman Caught in Adultery

Came across this video via Daily Kos (the full hour long sermon/teaching is here.)  I don't recommend following either links.   But you may need to follow the links to understand my meaning in this post.  But if you can make sense of what I say you will avoid some unpleasantness.

The video is of a pastor preaching on prayer. He is some type of Baptist in Arizona (It's good to remember that Baptists are a diverse lot, so please don't see this pastor as representative, check out Anglobaptist and Justin Thornburgh for a very different sort).  The Daily Kos post focuses on the end of the hour long teaching, where the Pastor is finishing up talking about imprecatory prayer  of which a number of Psalms are an example, in which the psalmist prays against enemies or the wicked, praying for God to be victorious, even praying for the death of "wicked" and "enemies".  Eugene Peterson in his book on the Psalms see these prayers as Biblical examples of expressions of human emotions in the midst of conflict and or of the oppressed for oppressors.  Desire for deliverance in the face of evil and those who perpetuate it.  Peterson finds in these imprecatory prayers examples that we can be angry even to the point of desiring another's death in the face of God. However, Peterson sees these prayers as moving towards other goals, We can pray these (and there may be circumstances where the removal of the wicked an oppressor, or those who work grave injustice in the name of law and order) yet there isn't' the expectation that we should pray these sorts of prayers.  Pastor  Anderson in the last nine minutes of this sermon has a very different take. there is a should,  and not can.  The Psalms doesn't lead us to express our anger against oppression and injustice but to pray against people we see as irredeemably evil. Daily Kos picks this up not because the pastor says that we should pray for the death of serial killers and abusers of Children (which he also says) but because he targets Caitlyn Jenner as deserving his hate and prayer for her to die following  his understanding of the example of the Psalmist.

Eugene Peterson doesn't interpret wicked or enemies in a moralistic way and sees imprectotory prayer to be more revealing of our human propensity to hate than revelation of the heart of God. Steve Anderson in this sermon is the exact reverse of Peterson's interpretation, he interprets wicked and enemies both moralistically and as revealing the heart of God.  This is why he turns his words against Caitlyn Jenner she is morally repugnant and in part due to her public persona a danger to morality.  For Anderson there are just some people who are beyond the pale.  What Peterson takes as contextual (though we don't always know the context) Anderson takes as law.  In some sense it is his duty to pray against those who corrupt the youth (yes I used that deliberately). Anderson's god is the maintainer of the order as he sees it, specifically the order of sex, gender and sexuality, as well as I'd guess the political status quo, police and any authority. This god is one who supports values of love of family, country and "brotherhood", above all else.

Here we have two very different readings of imprecatory psalms and what they teach us about ourselves and God. For Peterson in these Psalms we find that we can be human before God and express our deep anger against unfairness, oppression and those who oppress and commit injustice and commit injustices against us. Even that we can pray before God for deliverance from these wicked who oppress and commit injustice, and oppress us. Yet, expression of our anger and our desire that those who are wicked should cease in there injustice and oppression if necessary through their demise, doesn't mean that is what God desires for them.  In fact, a psalm even says that God doesn't desire the death of the wicked.    Anderson, by reading examples of expressions of frustration anger even hatred before God, is turned into that we should express these things and should desire that certain wicked people should perish and go to hell (something not in view for the Psalms). For Peterson the Bible is about our relationship with God, thus the Psalms show us how to be in relationship to God even with our more negative feelings, for Anderson the Bible is all about telling us what to do and how to do it, thus prayers of deep intimate relationship with God such that we can truly bear our soul before God becomes a rule for how to ask God for things so that we can be sure we are doing it correctly.

Lastly,  Anderson rhetorically enacts the story of the woman caught in adultery.  Including his assumption that Jesus would agree with him on his desire for Caitlyn Jenner to die and to be stoned to death.  So convinced he is of his own righteous judgment of Jenner that he can't hear Jesus (whom he supposedly follows), not of Anderson's imagination, say he who is without sin cast the first stone" and "I do not condemn you, go and sin no more."  Even if Anderson were correct about Jenner's sin (which I don't think is the case), Jesus Christ stands and says  "If you can claim to be without sin pray for her death."  There's probably a great deal the Jenner has done wrong and things from which she needs to repent, even so Jesus Christ stands inviting us into repentance refusing death as the solution to sin.  And Jesus stands and tells the self -righteous like Anderson to remember their own sins before calling another person "reprobate".  Sure there are wicked people who it seems deserve to die, those who have enslaved and profited form enslavement of others, those who benefit from the economic exploitation of the poor (I in small ways am in that category).  But if Anderson would stop a minute and remember that James (which he quotes a number of times in this hour long sermon) says that true religion is the care for the outcast the vulnerable and the poor (widow and orphan), he may be less certain of his righteousness and righteous judgement.  Were Anderson to stop and actually here and know Jesus Christ the second person of the Trinity, he'd realize that he too is the wicked and reprobate participating in a system that benefits from exploitation and has yet to deal truly with its enslavement of Africans and continual oppression of African-Americans.  And that is to say that Pastor Steve Anderson whether he realizes it or not is preaching a White Gospel that was used to justify slavery and segregation and thus has little to do with the God he claims to follow.