Chris Uggen's Blog: oh my - wwjd/wwjk

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

oh my - wwjd/wwjk

I've tried to avoid trite statements of righteous indignation over responses to hurricane Katrina, but some reactions provide ideal-typical examples that can be useful in teaching. I took a break from putting together a powerpoint slide on "deviance and morality" for my second lecture on "defining deviance," only to see this item (from the American Family Association's Agape Press by way of Volokh):

Rev. Bill Shanks, pastor of New Covenant Fellowship of New Orleans, also sees God's mercy in the aftermath of Katrina... Shanks says the hurricane has wiped out much of the rampant sin common to the city. The pastor explains that for years he has warned people that unless Christians in New Orleans took a strong stand against such things as local abortion clinics, the yearly Mardi Gras celebrations, and the annual event known as "Southern Decadence" -- an annual six-day "gay pride" event scheduled to be hosted by the city this week -- God's judgment would be felt. “New Orleans now is abortion free. New Orleans now is Mardi Gras free. New Orleans now is free of Southern Decadence and the sodomites, the witchcraft workers, false religion -- it's free of all of those things now," Shanks says. "God simply, I believe, in His mercy purged all of that stuff out of there -- and now we're going to start over again."

Am I correct to assume that Rev. Shanks' statements would be considered deviant and negatively sanctioned in most churches? They seem to be cited approvingly in Agape Press. I'm aware there is an old (testament) tradition supporting some variant of them, but I'm surprised to see a local pastor make such points. I thought the "Who Would Jesus Kill" bumperstickers were cheap religion bashing, but Rev. Shanks seems to have some clear answers to this question. I'll use the quote in class tomorrow, but only alongside a humanitarian statement from a religious leader to balance the presentation. Here's one from Catholic Relief Services:

10 Comments:

At 3:21 PM, Anonymous sarah said...

Oh dear, I think your forcefield may have been breached by anonymous!

I've been considering a blog entry of my own on this topic, however, I've been too incensed, so insulted as a person of faith by these extremists who make Jesus out to be a fire-breathing, war-mongering, judgemental bastard, that I have refrained. I would encourage Rev. Shanks, Pat Robertson, and all the rest of 'em to sit down and read the Gospels again before opening their self-righteous traps. Ooo, that's probably a bit over the top, even for me (future employers I implore your mercy). But, I would encourage anyone reading rants like these to regard them as extremist and not representative of the vast majority of Christian believers.

I often look to Jim Wallis for a more rational, compassionate, Biblical, theologically conservative-yet-socially liberal response to such things.

 
At 3:30 PM, Anonymous chris said...

thanks, sarah. some folks might jump all over such statements, but most know that they don't represent the views of anyone but the speaker. thanks for the link to Wallis!

 
At 4:04 PM, Anonymous sarah said...

I dunno 'bout most. I seem to run across quite a few folks who take such speakers as representative, or at least use it as a reason to write off people of genuine faith...but perhaps I am overly sensitive. I can own that bias.

 
At 11:20 PM, Anonymous Ochen K. said...

"I took a break from putting together a powerpoint slide..."

?!?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/29/AR2005082901444.html

 
At 1:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rev. Shanks is casting some mighty big stones--do you suppose he is without sin himself? If not, perhaps God, in His mercy, will continue purging.

 
At 7:41 AM, Anonymous chris said...

you got me, ochen k. powerpoint may be evil and the death of serious thought, but it seems to provide a useful roadmap for students in 75 minute lectures. mine get 3 slides on one side of the page plus space for notes on the other. they continue to take notes, of course, but like seeing the substructure of lectures explicitly. I hear that david byrne has a book on ppt. -- think there was a similar backlash against the overhead projector?

anonymous: I would be less surprised if the comments came from an "armchair moral entrepreneur" far from the devastation (in minnesota, say). it is strange to see someone so close to the innocent lives lost take such a "you got what was coming to you" position.

 
At 2:37 PM, Anonymous valerio said...

that is weird. i just read in my local newspapers how a catholic priest said practically the same thing related to the tragedy in new orleans. we have this annual queer festival in my city, and as a reaction to that the priest said something like: "you've seen what god did in new orleans...it was a sign that sodomy is a sin and that it shouldn't be allowed." all that wouldn't be that weird if the priest was from the us, but he is from croatia (a country in the southeastern Europe where i live)! i guess i don't have to share with you my disgust with his statement.

btw, i just want to mention another thing, relate to whole queer, gay, lesbian situation in croatia, a few years ago there was a gay pride parade in zagreb, and it was the first one. so, there were a lot of people who were demostrating against it, among them some skinheads who were quite aggressive etc. but the greatest (funniest) thing was that there were signs among the anti-gay demonstrators that said "gays, go back to serbia!" (connection between the national and gender identity is more than obvious, right) but it makes it even crazier when my friend from belgrade told me that during their gay parade, there were signs saying "gays, go back to croatia!" :-) i just though you find this story interesting…:-)

 
At 5:08 PM, Anonymous chris said...

valerio, that's one of those "don't know whether to laugh or cry" stories. i may have to work it into a lecture at some point. minnesotans often say someone is "not from around here" when we disapprove of their attitudes or behavior, though I haven't seen any "go back to wisconsin" signs yet...

 
At 6:25 PM, Anonymous valerio said...

i can get you a lot of those "don't know whether to laugh or cry", where i'm from...:-)

btw, top news in last few days in croatia is the bank robbery that took place in zagreb. robbers killed two guards and took approximately 250 000$, and they did all that in 75 seconds. this is one of the rare times a homicide occured in a violent robbery, so everybody is on their feet. but the thing is that the last four or five major news were related to crime. it's not that all the crimes were "in itself very important", but it seems that most of them have a political background (there have been major shifts in our “ministry of homeland security”). it's really interesting to think about how all of them became no. 1 news in the country one after another. did you read the 1988 Hilgartner and Bosc AJS article “the rise and fall of social problems”? i really like that one, and i'll certainly go back to it again. crime is not usually the top social problem in the country (except the ones related to economy, but that's to be expected as we're still having the "primary accumulation of capital" thing going on). hm. what is going on?

chris, something that could interest you is the fact that there has been a lot of pressure from many different groups and individuals (head of police even) to introduce the death penalty for the guys who robbed that bank and killed the guards. that would be really a huge change in the system because, as far as i know, the highest penalty in the country is 20 years of prison.

 
At 6:47 PM, Anonymous chris said...

that's interesting valerio. katherine beckett has a couple terrific books on the subject -- opinion surveys fluctuate wildly on whether crime and drugs are the "most important problem" in the US.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home