How liberals lost the working class

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“Uneducated white males.” That’s a phrase I heard from pundits leading up to the election and after it; that’s the base that elected Trump more than any other demographic.

The phrase itself illustrates the main reason Trump won.

It’s true that Trump drew racists and alt-right supporters; that he drew people afraid of what would happen if Hillary became president — including people who believed and re-tweeted the fake stories accusing her and her staff of literal witchcraft. But he also drew a significant segment of the regular-guy population sick of being labeled “uneducated” by politicians; he galvanized the working class by promising to shake up an establishment that treated them with contempt. He promised to bring their jobs back. He promised to resist the tide of globalization sending work overseas. Regardless of the fact that he’d sent his own manufacturing overseas; regardless of rising economics favoring microchips over human workers, they took a chance that he, a big businessman, could help their own bottom line.

This in spite of the fact that worker’s rights have traditionally been championed by the left — the hard-core left and the progressive movement, which plucked turn-of-the-century manufacturing out of the hands of children and instituted the 40-hour workweek, sick leave, child labor laws. The move towards worker’s rights ran contrary to monopolies and top-down capitalism. It was not an easy fight — and in some cases resulted in actual bloodshed.

This in spite of the fact that even in recent years, Republicans have voted against workers’ rights. According to a New York Times breakdown on labor policies, “conservative Republicans supported the right of employers to take money [in this case, tips] that workers had earned. This disregard for the earnings of workers is only an extreme manifestation of a more common phenomenon among Republican legislators: their indifference to the problem of wage theft.”

The left lost the votes of the working class when it began patronizing them, becoming, as many working-class people accused them of, “the liberal elite.” The pontificating college professor, the yuppie stay-at-home mom with nothing better to do than manufacture outrage about a “culturally appropriated” textile pattern or two. The left got out of touch with the working class because it saw “uneducated white males” as the problem, the root of racial tensions, sexual “micro-aggressions” and climate change denial. It tried to educate the “uneducated” with graphs and pats on the head — with accusations and not-so-patient sighs. Unsurprisingly, this didn’t work well. And along came a guy who appealed to the visceral rather than the intellectual, along came a guy who spoke in short sentences and said he was on their side. That he would make their country great again. That he’d mop the floor with the people who looked down on them. And they voted for him.

If the left wants the working class back — and they should, for the sake of the working class itself — they’ve got to stop playing it so safe and calculated and intellectual. They’ve got to stop being patronizing. They’ve got to stand for something rather than merely against something.

They’ve got to find their heart and soul again, and they’ve got to be comfortable with callouses on their hands and dirt under their fingernails.

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The morning after

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I lay awake last night wondering why I felt so afraid. An aging orange caricature, a would-be media star screaming dissonant sound bites and superlatives, has launched himself to the highest political office in the world. What could possibly go wrong?

I’m afraid for myself, for the wandering hands of every man emboldened by this self-styled pussy-grabber. In crowded spaces, women know the lingering touch of the males who feel entitled to run their hands wherever they fall: the faux-polite “I’m behind you” sweep across the lower back or shoulders, the “accidental” ass-grab, the “you’re just so pretty” ass-grab, the “don’t worry about it, you’re wearing leggings” ass-grab, the “you can’t be offended because I’m a little buzzed” ass-grab. I’m afraid for my friends, for my nieces, for the young girls growing up in this world. I’m afraid because in those situations, I turn around, angry, ready to punch someone in the face, and I meet a crowd — no single person to chastise, only the crowd of men who might have done it. And how can you fight a crowd? How can you fight a nation of men who gleefully emulate the guy at the top crowing that his position, his wealth, his status, allow him to do whatever he wants to whichever woman he chooses?

I’m afraid for the land, the bones of the country, for the seams holding us together and giving us clean water, clean air. I’m worried that our public lands will be handed over the highest bidder, our national forests razed, our waters polluted, our earth mined for oil and ore until houses collapse and the air grows unbreathable. I walked through the quiet Austin neighborhoods this morning and leaned into a domesticated oak, and my heart ached. What would we be without our wilderness, without the trees pumping water inland to our fields, to our herds and the wild animals of the forest? Where would we be without clean water to drink? And will the powers that be realize the dangers before we’ve killed our tenuous ecosystems, killed the plants, the animals, and finally ourselves?

I’m afraid for my brothers and sisters of different ethnic backgrounds, especially those fighting on the forefront of keeping their land from being harmed. I’m afraid to see them unarmed in the face of armorment, see them go up against a system where they cannot win. Peaceful protest will land them in jail, and armed revolt would be worse.

I’m afraid for what this means for international diplomacy. For trade and maintaining the peace. My job hinges on international and cultural understanding; the market-driven rather than political kind. The market is always affected by politics, however. Nationalism is bad for the economy, and I’m worried now to see the Dow plunge, the markets panic. To see nations begin to shut themselves off, suspicious of a people who would elect such a uniquely unqualified candidate.

I’m afraid as a journalist. This man’s supporters have issued death threats to journalists; the man himself has threatened the entire First Amendment of our Constitution. I’m afraid for anyone who does not think exactly like this man, whose creed, color or language sets them apart. And I’m afraid for those who are exactly like him. This is perhaps the most dangerous position: the position of complacency and safety — even of victory — where so many others are threatened.

And perhaps these fears will not come to pass. Perhaps the people of the United States will rise above the man they’ve chosen to lead them. Perhaps his words will not define us. Perhaps his narcissism will be curbed and directed by more seasoned individuals. But you will forgive me for my sleepless night, for pressing my cheek into the oak this morning and wanting to cry.

 

Elevate the Vote Austin

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I arrived in Austin, Texas, two days ago. Yesterday I attended an Erinn Lewis class at Sukha Yoga; I stumbled into one of her classes last year and decided she had to be the best yoga teacher I’d ever found. So I made sure to go back, listening to her tell stories interwoven with the intricate vinyasa flow, relaxing into her maternal exuberance. At the end of class she announced that she was leading a free yoga session on the State Capitol lawn on election day, a counterpoint to the frenetic anxiety of the news cycle and the polarizing candidates. So I went. It was beautiful. It was probably the most hippie thing I’ve ever done, but it felt healing to sit in a flash mob community, to be silent, to pray, meditate and laugh with people I didn’t know.

 

 

Do what feels good

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“If it feels good, do it” ranked among the top most blasphemous phrases of my homeschooled youth. You were not supposed to do what felt good. Because obviously, what felt good was probably a sin. Like drugs. Or fornication. Or maybe just smiling to yourself about how you were really, really excellent at math.

“If it feels good, do it,” was supposedly a catchphrase then, how everyone out there lived their lives. At the same time, it became apparent that even out there in carnal society, women were fighting against what felt good in order to look good: short-term pain, long-term gain; feel the burn; don’t eat that cake. They were pitting themselves against their bodies, caving for a guilty indulgence of half a pie, then punishing themselves on the treadmill for their trespasses. The cult of self-flagellation, the deity of looking svelte in spandex.

When I moved to France to study abroad and live with a woman who spoke no English, I had sworn off cheese because I was convinced it was making me fat. I said I didn’t like it, which was only semi-true. Thankfully, that didn’t last. I was plunged headlong into the tradition of French dinner, French food, French cheese, bread, wine, duck, beef, l’apéretif, l’entrée, le plat principal. I ate the best food I’d ever tasted, regularly. I did not get fatter.

I watched French commercials for food, all about le plaisir: the idea that pleasure is your birthright, that food and life are made for enjoyment. Pleasure was practically a dirty word in English, fraught with images of forbidden horrors, cocaine-fueled orgies in rivers of whipped cream and lobster tail. But it was intrinsically part of the language in France. You couldn’t even say please without referring to it. S’il vous plaît, if it gives you pleasure. And nobody blushed.

The verb to pleasure is a raunchy-sounding euphemism in English. It’s sexual, overtly and gratuitously. The corresponding verb plaire has none of these connotations; il me plaît, he pleases me, meaning I enjoy him as a person. But enjoy isn’t quite right, because joy is different than pleasure. Pleasure is pure sensation, pure response. The taste of food, the feel of the wind, the flutter of what is good down into your fingertips. There is not even a shred of intellectualism or higher calling in pleasure, the way there is in joy. Joy is considered a virtue in nouveau puritan circles and the homeschooling community: you deliberately are joyful because that is what is required of you. JOY, some of us were told, stood for Jesus first, Others second, and You last. Joy, therefore, as self-denial and self-sacrifice, was the antithesis of pleasure. Joy was also the only truly acceptable state of emotionality there was.

screen-shot-2016-09-21-at-4-30-35-pmProbably, if you were miserable, you were on the right track. As long as you were miserable and dealing with it well. Being miserable meant bearing your cross daily, learning sanctification like a true Protestant, with all the Calvinist hatred of indulgence.

That first time in France, none of this really sank in. I decided I liked French food a lot, but that was about it. The second time I moved to France, I rediscovered what I’d been missing in the intervening years — time around the table with shared rituals and the shared understanding of an entire country intent on eating the best food possible. France’s relationship with food got into my psyche a little more, and I didn’t feel all that guilty when I marched across town and got pain au chocolate on the left side of the river, and then my favorite flan on the right side. Not that guilty, but maybe overdone on sugar.

When you pit yourself against your body, you learn to ignore signals like “this is too much glucose” or “your tendon does not appreciate this.” Also, to some extent, “this pious guy is lying to you” and “you will regret this tomorrow.”

When I started doing what felt good, I ate less sugar, fewer processed carbs. Not because I wanted to deny myself, but because I had the luxury of not eating what would make me feel foggy and hyper. It was a nice luxury. It wasn’t “short term pain, long term gain,” it was “I can do whatever I want, so why would I do that?”

Also “it’s Ok to spend money on things that make me feel good long-term instead of buying the cheapest, quickest option, or gorging myself on these free cookies.”

In general, the crowd that preaches against the temptations of pleasure decry hedonism, excess. They guard against sin. They assume that if you can do whatever you want, you’ll do the worst things, and thus destroy yourself.

But being able to do whatever you want often means the opposite. It means you’re careful with your choices, and intentional about them. If you truly believe you can eat whatever you want, and you’re not hung over from years of not believing this, then you choose wisely. You have a limited stomach, after all. Limited time. Limited insulin. Of course you choose wisely if you want the best.

So the next time you spiral into I-want-this-but-I-can’t-have-it, consider that you can do whatever you want. It’s not a shift that happens overnight. It requires that you listen carefully to your body, treat it like a friend, like an ally who is there to protect you and keep you safe. Your body is made for the best life has to offer. It knows things you may not know intellectually.

It knows what the best thing is; it contains conscience, intuition, sensitivity. It has its own wisdom, its own story to tell. Don’t be afraid of it.

Her body in marriage

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I’ve been in the process of moving, which means downsizing, sorting through old boxes, and (in what I considered a stroke of genius) setting up a roomful of stuff to give away and hosting a party to minimize what I haul to Goodwill. If I give my friends enough wine, undoubtedly they will be persuaded to appreciate my junk.

It was in unpacking a box of books that has sat around for years that I came across my old copy of Her Hand in Marriage by Doug Wilson. I remember reading it maybe a decade ago or more and not being totally repulsed by it, in spite of the fact that I quietly disagreed with statements like “Sons are trained for independence, whereas daughters are trained to pass from one state of dependence to another.”

Actually, I remember being heartened by a couple of passages. So I skimmed through the book to find them, and there they were. Doug’s assertion that according to Mosaic law, the price of immorality falls on the man rather than the woman. I remember thinking ten years ago, huh, that’s an interesting take on things.

But the context of this assertion is appalling on closer reading, and something clicked. It all made sense. Many people have asked the question, as I have: why does Doug keep harping on the supposed (and fictional) “secret courtship” in the Jamin Wight abuse case? Why does he consider this relevant to modern law on consent? Why does he put so much emphasis on, you know, forgiving the poor sinning bastard and making sure that he isn’t punished too much?

The answer: because, first of all, he’s basing his teachings on modern courtship on laws in which women are stoned on their father’s doorsteps for not being virgins. The burden of maintaining the woman’s virginity lay on the father, says Doug. And it still does.

Because, second of all, Doug is teaching sexual mores from an ancient law requiring women to marry their rapists. Because Doug is somehow claiming that this law means “in a biblical society, the price of immorality was high, on fell on the man.”

On page 54 of the book, Doug quotes Deut. 22:28-29, the law saying that raped women have to marry their rapists, and that the rapists need to pay for them like they’re virgins. Doug doesn’t interpret this passage inaccurately and try to argue away the rape: he says in cases of “seduction and rape, such a bride-price is mandatory.” He points out that a woman’s virginity was valuable, monetarily speaking, and that if a virgin got raped in Old Testament times, then her rapist had to pay her bride-price, and a pretty good one at that. In fact, maybe a higher one than he would have had to pay in other circumstances! This is what Doug Wilson is referring to when he says that the burden of “immorality” is on men. There are two wildly bizarre twists of logic in this statement. First, that rape = “immorality,” (a word used to describe consensual fornication) and second, that paying a generous dowry (with or without marrying the woman you rape) is somehow a higher price than, you know, being raped and then being forced to marry your rapist.

Why would Doug largely ignore modern laws on consent when he talks about Jamin Wight’s abuse? Why would he write a letter to the judge blaming Natalie’s parents for not somehow preventing this? Why would he talk as if seducing/raping a 14-year-old is akin to a romantic relationship? It’s all in his book on courtship. In Mosaic law, which is what Doug’s book on courtship focuses on, consent didn’t factor in to sex-related punishments except in one case: if the girl was betrothed or married and someone heard her scream for help and then made this known, then she didn’t get executed for adultery.

The punishment for a single girl having a roll in the hay with her boyfriend: her dad could require they get married and that the guy pay her bride-price.

The punishment for rape, if it’s a single girl getting raped: her dad could require they get married and that the guy pay her bride-price.

What’s at play here? The girl’s value, aka her virginity. Her being forced or not forced is not a factor in the punishment. This was pretty consistent with other bronze-age ideas about women, maintaining a clear line of progeny and so on, which is why other religious texts adopted similar laws that are still in effect.

Doug has the gall to assert that according to these bronze-age laws, men and women are treated equally: that men are expected to remain physically as pure as women are. However, this is not remotely true and Doug doesn’t even try to make a case for it. There’s no equivalent law to the one he cites where if a woman marries a man and thinks he’s not a virgin like he said he was, she gets to call his parents to task and demand that they prove he’d never had sex before. “Bring out the journals where you did a room check every night! Give me the sworn affidavits from all the village girls and the visiting prostitutes! Where’s the doctor’s note saying he’s free of VD?” And if they can’t prove this, that he gets stones hurled at him on his dad’s doorstep until he dies. Men’s virginity comes up as an issue in Mosaic law exactly never. It’s not even mentioned. Do men get capital punishment for adultery? Yes, if the adultery is that they’re sleeping with a married or betrothed woman (see Deut. 22: 22-24). Do men get killed for adultery if the woman is single and it’s the dude who’s married? It’s not even addressed, so no. Adultery for married-men-only didn’t exist, because in the event of extramarital sex with a single girl, the already-married man potentially got to marry again regardless of whether or not he forced her. Polygamy to the rescue.

So, again: what’s at play here? The girl’s value, based entirely on her virginity.

What’s at play in Doug’s hissy fits over the Greenfields “not protecting” Natalie? her value, based on her virginity. It had nothing to do with her trauma, since Doug has never acknowledged there was any. It used to be said in Christ Church circles back in the day that the Greenfields were a constellation of shining stars: all beautiful, statuesque, admired. There were a few families like that, and it was well-known who they were.

Having virtuous, beautiful women in his congregation is a major way Doug Wilson measures his pastoral acumen — you can tell by how often he mentions that submissive women under godly authority are beautiful, by how he brags about what the women in his congregation look like — and conversely, how ugly all the “small-breasted-biddies” and “lumberjack dykes” out there in non-Christian society are. You can tell by how he claims that non-Christ Church people favorably compare the women in his congregation to other women elsewhere.

When Jamin Wight abused Natalie, Natalie was whispered about in Christ Church — I know because I heard the whispers. She’d had sex. She was not a good girl. She was no longer a star in the Christ Church constellation. She was no longer a face and a body that Doug Wilson could comfortably pad his congregation with, could wallpaper the background with when visiting dignitaries paid him court.

Her value was in her virginity. Her consent or non-consent was of secondary, if any, importance. That’s why Doug responded the way he did to Jamin’s crimes. His theology of sexual ethics, drug straight from Deuteronomy 22 and explained over the course of 100 pages.

Doug asks his readers to consider the painful outcomes of not espousing the model he sets up in this book — presumably, divorce, maybe single motherhood or something like that. But let’s consider the painful price to the many, many people who have tried to follow his teachings and have gotten a raw deal instead. Even some of the ones who don’t think they have — I keep hearing about some women (though certainly not all of them) in his denomination who literally say of married sex, “women don’t like it, just lie there and pray for it to be over quickly.” I keep reading smothered evidence of abuse on CREC fronts that have yet to become public; I keep reading essays and comments from people who have been deeply wounded by Doug’s teachings.

Doug Wilson’s fruit is not how many beautiful, talented, chaste women he has sitting in the Logos Fieldhouse on any given Sunday. It’s what they say about him when they’re no longer bound by family, job, community or the threat of hell.

It’s what he does to the least of these.

 

 

 

 

The Shubin Report and the man behind the curtain

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Recently, there was a kerfluffle on Facebook in which one of the Christ Church deacons accused Natalie Greenfield of lying on multiple occasions. Despite repeated requests, he was unable to point out what he was referring to. Later commentary from another kirker mentioned the “parent-approved relationship” that Doug Wilson has consistently touted and which Natalie has denied. Keep in mind: this is the reason Wilson gave for blaming the Greenfields in personal letters and his letter to the judge over a decade ago; for downplaying Jamin’s crimes; for assuring the judge that Jamin is “not a predator.” This is the excuse he has given for his current treatment of Natalie and her family on his blog. This is the line he spun repeatedly at the heads of household meeting on the topic. This is the only thing he’s been able to get any sticking power with in his own congregation when he refers to her “lies.”

I’ve mentioned before that Wilson was relying on Jamin’s testimony when he made these claims, but this is made exactingly explicit in an exchange that has just been made public. Rachel Shubin put together a 499-page report (which she ended up giving to the CREC inquiry) into the topic, and e-mailed Doug with questions she had.

Doug Wilson has built his entire case for laying part of the blame for Natalie’s abuse on the Greenfields, from his letter to the judge onwards, on the word of a man he says he does not trust. Starting on page 45 of the report, there’s an email exchange between Shubin and Wilson that concretely lays out the fact that Wilson is relying on Jamin Wight’s testimony, and nothing else, when he claims that Natalie was in a “parent-approved” relationship:

RS: … From what I can tell and what you have said in the past, all of what Jamin did sexually with Natalie was beyond the knowledge of the parents, correct? Natalie has said that she was aware of no “parent-approved” relationship or secret courtship. So, three questions:

  1. How can Natalie have been part of a courtship she was unaware existed?
  2. Please define the particulars of what you understand the relationship to have been (What were the parameters? How long did the parent approved relationship/ secret courtship last?)
  3. Since you were not one of the primary parties involved in the relationship (those being Jamin, Natalie, and Gary and Pat), how did you find out about the courtship?

DW: Natalie could not have been in a relationship that she was unaware existed. But at least one of the parties (Jamin) says that she was very aware of it. This is why Natalie should open her journals up (if she wants the whole story told) and that would probably establish who is telling the truth at this point.

According to one source, the parameters were things like hand-holding, sitting together, etc. I am unsure how long the approved relationship existed.

I believe I found out about the courtship when the thing blew up, but do not know exactly.

RS: Have you read her journals? You’ve said that you have access to them.

DW: It is possible that I saw some back in the day, but don’t recall distinctly. I said that I had access to them because Jamin’s attorney has copies, and I thought the review committee might ask to see them. After I said that I discovered that the court seal applies not only to the copies at the courthouse, but also to any copies that Jamin’s attorney has (I presume because they were part of the plea arrangement). If we had had copies from back in the day, I don’t think the court seal would apply, but I don’t believe we do.

RS: Doug, what I really, really don’t understand with all of this is whyyyyyy do you believe the word of a man who abuses whatever women or adolescent females are naïve enough to let him get close for any length of time (as per court records pertaining to both Natalie and [redacted] and then lies to everyone he can during and afterwards all the way up to his own pastor (as per Leithart’s apology) and the court itself (perjury conviction)? And I’m not just talking about Natalie’s abuse. Jamin has a well-documented, years-long record of lying about huge things including when his own wedding was and whether or not he was drinking when he was legally bound not to do so. Please help me out here. I cannot figure out why you believe or count the testimony of any more than zero words that come out of his mouth.

DW: Simple. I don’t believe him. I don’t accept anything Jamin says as true unless it is independently confirmed. The same goes for Natalie. She has lied repeatedly also — but I can accept what she says if it is independently confirmed.

So, to recap: Wilson has “one source,” Jamin, who says one thing. Wilson appears to staunchly believes this one thing, or he would not have told everyone that it was true. The only other potential proof Wilson can offer is documentation that Wilson cannot recall ever having read and has no access to. And Wilson doesn’t know if this documentation would actually offer proof or not; he suggests Natalie publish her journals, which the court sealed, on the off chance that there’s something to substantiate his claims (that is, Jamin’s claims) in them. Natalie actually published excerpts, as it turns out, and there’s nothing there to suggest that Wilson’s line of reasoning has any basis.

So, let’s apply this same reasoning to Wilson. I’m going to hypothetically accuse Doug Wilson of lying to me about the fact that he had an affair with a woman who has hypothetically committed perjury. She’s hypothetically told me that Wilson did all kinds of untoward things to her. All I’ve got to prove it is her word on the matter. And Doug Wilson’s journals, maybe, although obviously I’ve never read them (or maybe I have… I can’t remember). I guess if Doug opens up his journals, we will know who is actually telling the truth here. Until he does, I’ll tell everyone who will listen to me that Doug is an adulterer and a liar, and that the reason he’s not publishing his journals like I’m asking him to is because he’s an adulterer and is obviously afraid of the truth coming out.

See, I do think Doug is a liar, or at least highly inconsistent in his own mind (so maybe psychologically unbalanced; he probably does mental gymnastics with himself so his contradictory realities exist in separate spheres that never touch). But even so, it would be absurd to insist that he committed adultery based on such tenuous “evidence.”

Just like it’s absurd to tell his congregation that Natalie is lying about a parent-approved relationship because Jamin Wight claimed that there was one.

Devil’s Dictionary: CREC edition

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Abortion: the reason nothing else should be considered morally wrong, including racism, slavery, the mass murder of adults, the sexual abuse of minors, and stealing other people’s ideas.

Community: the kindness of the church-goers for one another is paramount, because it presents a helpful distraction if anyone raises an objection about the way the church hierarchy functions.

Post-traumatic stress: a sign of rebellion against God’s plan for your life.

Depression: also a sign of rebellion. Don’t be depressed. If hearing that doesn’t cure you, you’re a sinner.

Pantywaist: a term used to describe a perceived lack of masculinity, which allows the user to employ the slightly naughty word “panty.”

Robust: a code word meaning strong, hard and/or persistent.

Insist: a strong, masculine verb used to describe an opinion voiced in one-sided internet arguments. Most often used in blog posts and sermons to cover for the author’s failure to prove his point with evidence and logic.

Full throated: intended to mean hale and hearty; actually means obnoxious, strident and abusive. As in “we employ a full-throated defense of the gospel.” Meant to connote the idea that straw-man stereotyping and name calling are all in good taste and for a good cause, whereas they are actually fallacious misrepresentation.

Conventional marriage: when a robust man takes possession of a physically mature yet emotionally stunted woman from her father, and then colonizes her garden.

Garden: polite euphemism; using the medical term is a sign of serious sin. Having your garden colonized may not be a very pleasant experience for you, but remember: flowers have no say in how they’re fertilized. Their duty is to bring joy to their gardener. The gardener’s skills in the flowerbed is obviously completely immaterial to the garden’s lack of enjoyment. Ladies: just shut your eyes and pray for it to be over quickly.

Feminine: concerned with being deferential to those in authority over her; also probably dressed in modest but tasteful attire attuned to her gardener’s needs. Absolutely no tattoos or outlandish piercings.

Feminist: a woman with small breasts who eats lentils and screams about how much she hates the patriarchy. Actually desires to be a man, which is the only reason she has any carnal desire for men, because sex drives are entirely masculine. Also known as a “small-breasted biddy” and/or as a “lumberjack dyke.”

Tattoo: the outward declaration that you belong to a tribe that is not our tribe. In our tribe, we all look like Edith Schaeffer, the face of 1950s-era Christian wholesomeness.  

Classical education: a term used to describe the process of enculturating youth into a dead culture, specifically that of 1950s-era Christian wholesomeness.

Biblical education: see classical education. Inculcating children with highly specific political and theological viewpoints backed up with tenuous Bible verses (“How are you today?” “Better than we deserve”). Includes shouting these viewpoints en masse, in unison, during assembly.

Shepherding students: includes but is not limited to spanking sessions doled out by the male principal to particularly beautiful, sassy young girls. Also includes eavesdropping on private conversations and critiquing hairstyles as moral failures.

Culture: building an army of loyal, full-throated, robust men and feminine women using the methods above.

Loyalty: the most important trait a human can have, unless you’re Doug Wilson and are striking out on your own.

Plagiarism: a common mistake that most people make when they write books, and not important to consider when choosing which biblical education text to purchase.

Student plagiarism at New Saint Andrews: reason for expulsion, no matter what the excuse.

Co-author: someone available to take the fall should it be discovered that the more prominent author is part of yet another plagiarism scandal.

Editor: check collector; this position requires no actual work, other than sending a mass email to CREC friends asking for contributions, and then running their contributions through spellcheck (but definitely not a plagiarism check, because nobody cares and everyone does it).

Dean: the person you complain to if a girl in your NSA class excludes you from a study group in a way that you’re just positive is on purpose, even if she says she was just having a few friends over and it was not on purpose at all.

Parental authority: what the dean appeals to when he calls you into his office to ask why you excluded someone from your study group.

Sermon: a good way to admonish “fictional” girls who exclude others from NSA study groups.

Generosity: the act of giving many thousands of dollars to the pastor so he can go on vacation and purchase good scotch. The church’s financial generosity should only be extended to people and causes the church deems appropriate, and definitely should not be used to feed and clothe degenerate widows and orphans.

Spot on: any idea thought of by any Wilson*.

*or published by without citation; may not actually be original.

Kicking the devil in the teeth: phrase celebrating how the gospel is like Game of Thrones; meaning the most vicious, bloodthirsty people win.

Persecution: opposition.

Bitterness: what you display if you are upset at being abused and wish to stop others from being abused by the same person or people. Bitterness must be confessed and repented of.

Iron sharpening iron: the notion that people within the church are actually quite different because they have complex debates about very minor theological and cultural differences.

Elder: a church officer chosen on the merits of loyalty, whose chief responsibility is to present a united leadership front and agreement with the pastor. Encouraged to believe he thinks independently because of iron sharpening iron.

Belief: you don’t believe what you say you believe, you believe what we say you believe. For example, if you say that you believe child abusers should be jailed for public safety, we know that actually means you don’t believe in the gospel. If you say you believe the elders made mistakes, we know that actually means you believe the elders are evil. Since the elders are not evil, and since the gospel is real, what you believe is a lie.

Strawman: only a logical fallacy when our enemies do it. See also: every other logical fallacy there is. Logical fallacies are actually great for debate, because they sidetrack the conversation and hence we win.

Letter of censure: a means by which elders and pastors can insist on the veracity of their own authority by kicking congregants in the nether regions as they flee out the door.

Slander: to tell an inconvenient truth. Any criticism of our leaders that doesn’t have a bulletproof, court-ready set of evidence and proofs to back it up. And even the ones that have that proof and evidence, because God, Gospel, Church Authority and Obviously.

Divisiveness: the act of pointing anyone to publicly available documents in support of critique, since critique by itself is dismissed as slander. If you are a peon and the other person is a pastor, you are guilty of divisiveness regardless of the facts.

Orc: anyone causing divisiveness.

The internet: a ridiculous place where people who do not agree with the church slander publicly and with impunity. Not a reliable place to get information, unless you are Doug Wilson; are writing textbooks edited by him; or are reading Mablog or any offshoot Wilson/CREC blogs.

Wikipedia: discouraged as a source for Logos papers, but an excellent place to copy and paste from without citation if you’re writing textbooks.

Scurrilous: any criticism of the leaders that isn’t couched in mountains of fawning and deferential language, or that offers a critique of any substance with or without the fawning language.

Ax to grind: phrase used to indicate a person whose specific assertions can be safely disregarded because they are known to criticize the leaders. Anyone who does that more than once is scurrilous, and hates God and therefore must not be listened to.

Fellowship of the Grievance (FOG): anyone who dislikes Doug Wilson’s teaching and who is friends with anyone else known to dislike Doug’s teaching is automatically part of the FOG. The only possible reason they could be friends is because they love being scurrilous together. Anything else they share is a lie.

Bedfellow: word to describe what a person becomes when they criticize the leaders, as some other reprobates have before them; namely, they get into a metaphorical bed with the rest of the scurrilous and thereby prove they have an ax to grind by joining the FOG.

By Katie Botkin, with St. Tara

Doug Wilson plagiarism Bingo

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Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 1.06.05 PMTo play: shuffle excuses, print them out, distribute to friends. Obviously, this is more Bing than Bingo, but it should provide for some entertainment while we wait to see how many of these regurgitated excuses we’ll hear from Doug Wilson before the dust settles. We’ve heard many of them from him before.

Thanks in no small part to Rachel Miller’s academic skills, we know that Doug Wilson has his name on the cover of at least four works (nine volumes in total, given that all six volumes of the Omnibus have his name on the cover) that contain plagiarism. In this latest instance, he is featured as an author and, perhaps more importantly, as an editor. Named editors are (in theory if not in practice) responsible for overseeing the compilation of text into a workable volume, and checking all the text for potential plagiarism. This includes sidebars and captions — in some cases, involves writing or directing the sidebars or captions, where applicable. “Editor” in this sense does not mean copyeditor, although it should involve some measure of that also — it means quality control overseer; editors are hired for their domain expertise and ability to get the best. And to do this, they should (in theory, if not in practice) oversee the final work and OK it for publication. As the managing editor for my magazine, I sign off on individual pages for publication. And I also oversee running corrections if we make a mistake, which we’ve been known to do.

So far, Doug Wilson’s response has shown a profound lack of awareness of his responsibility as an editor. Which means there are two options: either he has no idea what editors of academic volumes actually do, and has no business being one — or that he does have an idea, and is unwilling to take responsibility for his failings, which means he has no business being an editor or a pastor.

As to one of the points he raised about using open-source information in the copied Omnibus text: It is true that it is not uncommon to use open-source information to create glossaries, captions and so on. The problem is not using open-source information; it lies in acting as if this open-source information is proprietary; your own intellectual property. This is true even if you went to a lot of trouble to format and combine the information. For example: our magazine publishes a localization-industry glossary compiled with the help of any number of crowdsourced and open-source sites — and individual contributors. However, 1. we note that we used other sources, 2. nobody is listed as an author, and 3. we don’t sell it. It’s free online to everyone.

People create free, open-source information so it can be shared by everyone, not profited from by a few. Taking open-source data and changing a couple of lines, and then selling it, would be a little like stealing from the collection plate for personal use. Which, come to think of it, Doug Wilson doesn’t seem to have a problem with either.

 

 

Serving Tash

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If anyone says he does what is right, remember that the test of this is not how loudly he claims it, or how many followers he has; how much praise, but his ability to do good transparently and consistently, even to his enemies.

I was recently reminded of a C.S. Lewis quote from The Last Battle, where Aslan, speaking to Emeth, says “because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou hast done to him [Tash, the demon-god]. For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath’s sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted… For all find what they truly seek.”

I read this as a paraphrase of something Jesus said, specifically that the measure of a Christian is someone who loves God and loves his neighbor as himself. The two are alike, and in this lies all the laws and the prophets. The Bible can be, and has been, used as excuse to commit heinous acts such as the Spanish Inquisition and mass genocide, so backing up an action with a glib “the Bible says this” does not make the action good or even Christian (according to Jesus, anyway: “you have heard it said, an eye for an eye, but I say unto you…” and “If anyone says he loves God, but hates his brother…” and “I was naked and you did not clothe me”)

So with this in mind, let’s look at a few things Doug Wilson wrote about how to “pray” for enemies (remember, those people Jesus specifically said to bless?) and notice that Doug wants even the children of his “enemies” to be blotted out, orphaned and shown no mercy (how very pro-life of him). And then consider if Doug perhaps would act to his “enemies” in accordance with his own prayers, by committing extortion against them, by blotting out their children. For all find what they truly seek.

And keep in mind, the “enemies” Doug prays these things about may be former congregants (such as my ex-husband). In fact, I’m guessing that Doug has prayed these things about me, given that I’ve publicly critiqued him. If not me, most likely others who have recently critiqued him, such as Natalie and other former congregants of his. Doug’s imprecatory prayers are not limited to official church prayers either, as I discovered many years ago during a private Christ Church Bible study.

Here, for your consideration, the window into Doug’s prayer life: “Let Satan be continually at their right hand, accusing them… When they cry out to You, let their prayers be reckoned as sinful. When they pray to You, let the ceiling above them remain silent. Cut short their days.”

“Add iniquity to their iniquity; make a great heap of their sins. Do not let them enter into Your righteousness. Blot them out of the book of the living. Do not record their names alongside the names of the righteous.”

“Let their children be orphaned, cut off without a father. Let their wives be widows, and we pray that their children would be desolate, having to beg their bread in empty places. We pray that the extortioner would come back at them, catching them in their plots, and taking all that they have. May strangers and aliens pillage them and leave them with nothing. We pray that when this happens, and Your hand is evident, that no one would show mercy, and that no kindness would be extended to his fatherless children. Cut off his posterity; may his name and his line come to nothing. Recall how sinful his father was, and call up again the sins of his mother. May their sins come before Your throne continually so that their name may be blotted out, and remembered on the earth no more.”

When I consider that these words, or similar ones, may be directed at me and my family through Doug, I have to conclude that the deity Doug is invoking with these words is a malevolent one, created in Doug’s own image. And as such, I do not believe his prayers will be answered. When you toy with malevolent deities, you bring destruction upon yourself, draw your power from the sickening rot of anguish. And this, more than anything, makes me very sad for the man.

Translating Beowulf

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I have a day job, which I occasionally reference here — I work for MultiLingual magazine, managing the content for the translation industry’s most global magazine — we ship to 80-plus countries and cover translation and localization topics from around the world. As such, I occasionally get asked to write for other industry publications, appear at industry events and so on. A couple of days ago, I did an interview which theoretically will appear on the website of the European Parliament’s Directorate-General for Translation. It sounds important, but it’s for a side project.

All of this to say, I’m somewhat versed in the practices of the translation industry.

So I can say with pretty clear certainty that Doug Wilson’s “translation” of Beowulf looks to most translation experts like a kid rearranging Shakespeare quotes on refrigerator magnets and claiming he’s written a new piece of poetry. Because that’s essentially what the translation is. Doug even admits it. He rearranged “about five different translations” into his “new” translation, and occasionally, he said, consulted the original and changed some words here and there. On Amazon, he calls this a “new verse rendering.” Elsewhere around the web, the book is heralded as a “new translation from Doug Wilson,” which is exactly what it is not.

This would be like me taking two translations of Les Miserables and copy-and-pasting them into one document, then claiming that me glancing at the original and switching out some poetic words from a thesaurus somehow made this an academic achievement.

If you think this comparison is too hard on Doug, let me just say, I actually speak French, and am capable of translating it from scratch. Whereas Doug’s grasp of Anglo-Saxon is about as good as mine — which is to say, not very. We took the same Anglo-Saxon class together, and I was highly amused to see him, with an introduction written from what could have been regurgitated notes from the first few days of class, put himself forward as some kind of Anglo-Saxon expert.

His goal, he claims, is to give people the feel of the original by using alliteration. Only he fails. To my ear, after reading the original aloud, his version is more clunky and less like the original than, it seems, any of the actual translations he borrowed from. So, essentially, he steals a thing and makes it worse.

Now, somehow, and I have no idea how, Doug appears to have gotten signs-offs from a few academics (although, please note, no Old English experts) and plastered them everywhere. After comparing their enthusiastic descriptions with the actual product, I was flabbergasted. And now I’m wondering if Doug paid them for their time, indisposing them to glowing reviews.

Let’s take a look. One of the translations Doug pulled from is a side-by-side edition from Howell D. Chickering, Jr. Chickering’s translation runs close to the original in content, and has the five opening lines thus:

Listen! We have heard    of the glory of the Spear-Danes

in the old days,    the kings of tribes —

how noble princes      showed great courage!

Often Scyld Scefing     seized mead-benches

from enemy troops,     from many a clan

Seamus Heaney, whom Doug also admits to borrowing from, has it thus:

So. The Spear-Danes in days gone by

And the kings who ruled them had courage and greatness.

We have heard of those princes’ heroic campaigns.

There was Shield Sheafson, scourge of many tribes,

A wrecker of mead-benches, rampaging among foes

So, if I take these two translations to guide me, consult the original to see the rhythm of the piece, add in some linguistic twists to make it flow better for a modern audience, here’s my stab, just for the sake of amusement:

Hark and hear,      how in days gone by,

 the kingly spear-danes     came to glory

and noble chieftains     charged with courage.

Oft Shield Sheafson,    scourge of tribes,

would mangle mead-benches,     seized from foes

Then I look at Doug’s version, where he claims he’s done something similar:

Hear the song of spear-danes from sunken years

Kings had courage then, the kings of all tribes

We have heard their heroics, we hold them in memory.

Shield Sheafson was one, scourge of all tribes

took a maul to the mead-benches, mangled his enemies

… is it just me, or does Doug not know how to write with the Anglo-Saxon ethos in mind? Take “we hold them in memory.” Not only is this nowhere in the original, it’s a Romance-based (and therefore anti-Anglo-Saxon) phrase. Doug appears to have interpreted a translation akin to “We have heard of those princes’ heroic campaigns” (a far more rhythmic and potent line) into a limp-sounding phrase about “memory.” He adds that Sheafson “mangled his enemies,” although the passage does not say this. Again, Doug seems to be interpreting a translation he doesn’t understand. Also, Doug’s verses do not flow grammatically.

So, there you have it. One more example of Doug’s scholastic work in action. As a linguist, I would never dream of publishing “my version” of Beowulf unless I could be pretty sure it was adding something that other translations hadn’t. Doug’s version adds muddiness, and completely misses the point. Instead of piercing, throaty, blood-burning verse, we get floppy, gratuitous violence masquerading as the real thing.

Which is not at all surprising, given Doug’s track record with accuracy, and his apparently limited knowledge of the original text.