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Nov 29, 2022Liked by Kristin Du Mez

The best response was “What the hell?” Your response was great! Only from a white male conservative American religious sort would that have any, albeit erroneous, meaning. It’s like the classic cartoon drawing of a New Yorker’s view of the whole United States.( The humor is that it misses a great deal and there is a great deal of distortion). Already, in political science, there is a 3 dimensional model to categorize phenomena. The x axis is what we call left right. The y axis is from totalitarianism to anarchy. The z axis deals with economics from communism to unregulated extreme market forces. With these 3 axes, “horseshoe theory” is possible. It’s why Stalin’s Russia, the militant religious Iranian regime, Hitler’s Germany, Xi’s China, and Putin’s Russia are nearly identical in some critical attributes. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry when I read that you, Kristin or Beth Allison Barr, have been described as an authoritarian illiberal. There appears to be a great deal of distortion and inaccuracy.

More importantly, as I have mentioned, Kremlin cronies are bragging on Eastern European language social media spaces that white conservative American Evangelicals are easy to manipulate. According to the Kremlin line, our Evangelical leaders have become “targeted tools”. Their followers-“easy marks” Why? According to the Kremlin, white Evangelical leaders have spent the past several deades defining who was a “true” Christian. There has been a great deal of energy and shame inducement to define who is “In” or “out”. Of course this has been for power and control over the decades. However, the system prevents followers from readily recognizing disinformation and propaganda. This makes some followers more willing to use violence, follow immoral or unethical commands, and dehumanize others. In essence, there is a “potential” army ready to go to destroy our Constitutional republic/democracy on the say so of some extremists in the Christian Nationalist movement. What I am writing here is being shouted out in foreign language spaces by the Kremlin. It’s done to scare Eastern Europeans about the potential imminent demise of NATO or the current US Government. Yes, it’s disinformation, but the conditions the Kremlin brags about, here in the conservative Christian (CN) area are very real

Each day that I see white Evangelical leaders wasting their time trying to categorize others I wince. It’s making conditions worse here and more combustible.

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I'm sure this is going to require a response on my own newsletter, but there are many issues with Jay's diagram -- not the least being the careless way he attached names to his graph. First of all, the inherent problem of using axes to identify extreme positions as if there are no intermediate spaces to be mapped sets up exactly this kind of oversimplified analysis. Second, where his horizontal axis makes some sense, his vertical axis seems woefully undefined. That lets him assert positions that may not exist because he's focusing on the polar points. Third, when I first read it I was struck that there may be another axis altogether (at least one). Perhaps it's an inside-outside dynamic related to institutional power structures or academics vs polemicists. In any case, sorry to see you drug through the mud, especially by a friend/colleague.

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Nov 29, 2022Liked by Kristin Du Mez

I read your Jesus and John Wayne book with immense interest and appreciation for all that it clarified. I was working at the time on a project about White Christian Nationalism, specifically from the standpoint of someone who had read such writers as James Dobson and others and had not realized how extreme the groups (like Focus on the Family) had become. Then came Jan 6, 2021. The shock of seeing people carrying crosses, praying in the streets, and then attacking our nation's capitol building and the police officers who guarded it, threatening members of Congress, building a gallows for our vice-president...I was simply not prepared in any way to grasp the terrible conflation of my faith with violence and treasonous behavior. Reading your deeply researched and profound book was enormously helpful. So I have just read your colleague's strange reductionist graph with dismay. The whole idea of reducing speakers and writers, historians and scholars to some kind of schema seems absurd on its face, especially since he begins by protesting labels such as "left and right." That said, it has become apparent to me that the major stumbling block for conservative Christian groups who have come to at least give lip service to racial equity and respect for other faith traditions...the stumbling block that remains is LGBTQ. There seems to be an inability to recognize the mystery and sanctity of human identity, not to mention the humility to see that we don't know everything. I am particularly struck by the apparent freedom to ridicule and dismiss the whole idea of Transgender people. And the weird insistence on using "religious freedom/ exemptions" as a dodge is outrageous. How many public places do you think would have been integrated in the South after Brown v. Board etc if "religious freedom" had been used as an out?? It was in the DNA of southern conservative Christianity to insist that Biblical teaching opposed interracial marriage, therefore "mixing of the races" in schools or public places was a threat. I am grateful to you for your scholarly and insightful work and saddened that your colleague has placed you in a box of this sort where you most certainly do not belong.

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Nov 30, 2022·edited Nov 30, 2022Liked by Kristin Du Mez

“This confuses his axes but makes sense of where he plots people. Maybe simply affirming the rights of LGBTQ individuals and openly and freely acknowledging them as sisters and brothers in Christ--even while defending traditionalists from accusations of bigotry--is all that it takes to qualify one as illiberal and land one in the Maximalist category?“

I think this is generally the answer every time I’m confused about the moral boundaries of Christianity. The bright line issue that determines whether a person is a real Christian/trustworthy person/“on our side” is whether a person thinks it’s ok to be gay. Almost everything else seems to be negotiable.

I wish the people who constantly make homosexuality a wedge issue would sit and really think for 15 minutes about how they would feel if something extremely personal about *their* lives and experiences were scrutinized and debated at the level LGBT issues have been for the last twenty years. I’m pretty sure that if we spent as much energy on, say, divorce, a lot of people’s brains would break from the stress of it. (Speaking from personal experience here — two decades of the “Christianity and homosexuality” discussion has absolutely broken my brain at the same time it has broken my heart. It’s exhausting to be talked about all the time.)

Also: this guy’s quadrants are definitely bizarre. Why aren’t any of the “emancipationists” actually pro-gay or egalitarian re: gender? Very weird.

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Not illiberal by any means. I've not seen what I'd call a fair "conservative" critique of you all yet - and it might just be because you, Beth, Jemar (and other like Malcolm Foley) actually exemplify what conservatism aims for. Preserve what's worth keeping in our society, doing by subjecting it to a cultural dialysate of honesty, intellectual rigor, and above all goodness. You all always end up arguing in a manner the Rabbis called pikuah nefesh, namely always choosing the welfare and life of people above all. This was, after all, Jesus's praxis too. Happy to call you all role models.

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I wonder whether this whole XY axis thing is way to simplistic-a means of using a form of reductionism in order to achieve a polemic objective. Reducing complex human beings and institutions to simplistic binaries is really not a useful way of seeing anyone or anything.

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I do think it's helpful to think about the means people are comfortable pursuing, as it does seem to be a key divider right now among conservative white evangelicals. But categories must be held loosely, and ideally someone has some basis for placing actual people in certain categories.

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Nov 29, 2022·edited Nov 29, 2022Liked by Kristin Du Mez

Excellent post, BTW-in my experience, which may also be your's, there are expressed reasons for categorizing people and actual reasons which are often unexpressed reasons. Often, we can only guess at the unexpressed reasons-the only way to find out, ofter, is to watch what people do and pay less attention to what they say.

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Speculation on Green’s musings:

Got to balance left/right/up/down.

Kristin’s not publicly illiberal,

but maybe in her heart, she is.

After all,

she doesn’t like John Wayne.

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founding

Honestly, this fellow’s argument sounds as if somebody took a “headline” from the satirical NYTimes Pitchbot social media account and blew it up into a full essay.

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My thought while reading this was why is this guy wasting time with this garbled mapping project? Isn't there something better to do with his time? Always curious about what is the function of his "behavior.."...

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To Christians like Jay who lazily use "woke" in a pejorative way I like to ask how they define that word? Oxford dictionary online defines it as "alert to injustice in society, especially racism". That seems like a good thing to be. I also wonder what they do with verses like "Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” and the parable of the 10 virgins. Seems like we're supposed to be awake and aware.

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He seems to have taken your name and all the others you mentioned out of the emancipatory maximalist section and replaced them with publications - Red Letter Christians (Shane Claiborne's publications) and Sojourners.

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Dec 1, 2022·edited Dec 1, 2022

That’s … interesting. I went back and all of the names have disappeared from that section, except for Megan Rohrer. I don’t think it’s a good look when you create a definition and write polemically against it, and then can’t find any defensible examples of who fits that definition.

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Yes, it's very frustrating that they're deleting parts of articles without following standard journalistic practices noting those edits.

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The distinction between Civilizational and Emancipatory seems fairly coherent. It's basically just whether you believe civilization as it has existed up to this point has been oppressive to individual persons. But the distinction between Minimalist and Maximalist seems a lot less clear. Of course in the general sense, it's a distinction between individual freedom and coercion. But the way these things will manifest will vary a great deal depending on a social structure (what one might call a society's "constitution"). We generally want as much freedom for individuals as possible, but we also hope to reach consensus so important things can get done. For example, there is evidence that a majority of Americans would like lower drug prices, more restrictions on the availability of firearms, and the right to abortion through the first trimester of pregnancy. Yet with our Constitution, it's almost impossible to achieve those things. The Minimalist appears to be overconfident that if we're just patient with individuals, everything humanity needs will happen. The Maximalist may tend to be impatient. I suspect that one motivation for Critical Race Theory is the difficulty of achieving social change in America. Adherents think "we made some in the 60's with the Civil Rights Movement. Maybe if we can convince enough people of the systemic nature of racism, we'll make more now." People of color should be doing better, but is the primary problem really racism or general inequality? People who come into the world with more money will do better whether they are white or black. More whites have generational wealth to pass onto their children. This affects the various kinds of opportunities they get. If we could reduce inequality, I believe that the disparities between whites and people of color would go down, too.

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I don't know much about Green, but I suspect he's a closet evangelical, trying his darndest to appear open-minded ... when, in fact, such open-mindedness is simply impossible. But rather than being honest about it, he veils it in "academic discourse" and analytics, with charts. But the sparks fly, because he's still grinding axes, some of which are likely unclear to him. The evangelical core, by and large, is unable to change its stripes, no matter how hard it works, or the outer clothing it dons. Anyway, I really appreciated your analysis of it, and the manner in which you made clear how flawed is his work at this point. It needed to be said, and thank you for saying it.

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Wow, ‘contested terrain,’ past and present during these ‘culture wars’ can get complicated and confusing!

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