Thursday, November 1, 2007

What Makes Sheep Self-detonate?

A local evangelical named Keely Emerine Mix offers these comments on the source of this lost sheep’s message of “religious bigotry.” She wrote it on the local listserv:


I can’t help but comment on the irony of Moscow’s most well-known bigot calling for the defeat of City Council incumbents Ament, Lamar, and Pall on the basis of “religious bigotry.” One would expect that anyone as familiar with the practice of true bigotry as Christ Church Pastor Doug Wilson would hesitate to elevate mere neophytes to the masterful status he himself as reached, but his “Blog and Mablog” shamelessly instructs his Moscow readers to do the right thing simply by voting against the incumbents, who, Wilson says, deserve defeat because of their orchestrated campaign of unfair treatment of his flock.

Wilson is indeed a man of many contradictions. He denies that he is a racist, an unabashedly sexist patriarch, a virulent homophobe, and an unnecessarily divisive, bitter presence in our community, and yet consistently demonstrates more fluency in the language of bigotry than in the language of the Gospel. He is an affluent, powerful and greedy consumer of white, Calvinistic male privilege and all it offers, and nonetheless bleats the wailing lament of the truly persecuted when the marketplace of ideas rejects his. Appearance is everything to this Oxfordian pretender and hearty man of chest, and yet little of his public persona and behavior can be taken at face value. His blog is a proper venue for his political counsel; I couldn’t possibly care less if he preaches politics from his pulpit, as I understand Christ Church has chosen to not take advantage of the tax-exempt status afforded houses of worship. It’s not the platform from which he speaks that angers me. It’s the continued “running with scissors” approach to community engagement that I object to every time I see tales of woe cut from whole cloth while shards of truth flutter impotently to the ground. It seems not too much to ask that Moscow’s most well-known pastor simply deal with the issues head-on, acting with integrity and honor, and his position as well as the public nature of his Blog, even if intended for his followers only, requires that he avoid even the appearance of deception.

But deception often exists long before out-and-out lying ever makes an appearance. Counting on the desire of his flock to prove themselves worthy of his approval, and taking advantage of their belief in his unassailable wisdom coupled with a heavy dose of political naivete, Wilson exhorts his congregants and supporters to remember that all of the incumbents are anti-religious, anti-Kirk bullies. Families peppered with the demands of young children and busy schedules no doubt appreciate the helpful mnemonic he’s devised to help them remember the right way to vote. Simply combine “Lamar” with “Ament” and you get — oh, this is goooood! — “LAMENT.” (An aside — one wonders why he didn’t go whole hog here by suggesting that a liberal council would be a “PALL” on the City of Moscow . . . ). His helpful voter’s guide then lists several instances of “religious bigotry” that he insists spews forth from the incumbents. The list includes, of course, Aaron Ament’s regrettable “Education-free zone” and “Androids” comments regarding New St. Andrews, and then continues with the NSA-in-the-CBD boondoggle and a host of lesser-known offenses that together make a compelling case for a wholesale clean sweep in City Hall. That is, if they were founded in truth and integrity.

They’re not.

Wilson and I agree that Ament’s remarks were intemperate. “Poorly-chosen,” if you want to be polite. “Stupid,” if you don’t. Where Wilson and I part company — indeed, where he departs from the Biblical standard of bearing truthful witness — is in his delineation of the current Council’s alleged and intentional sins against the Gospel, or at least that part of it Wilson convinces his flock he represents. An example might be Wilson’s story of the Council’s insistence that NSA provide a specific number of parking spaces outside of the immediate CBD for students and staff. He knows that suggesting that “no other business” in the central business district suffers under such extreme hardship is disingenuous at best; no other business on Main Street, much less in the CBD adjacent to it, is comprised of nearly 200 staffers or students. Indeed, the assumption that schools can only function by attracting large numbers of students — numbers greater, say, than the number of ladies getting perms at the Plush Brush — is a key argument for why they ought not be permitted in major pedestrian-oriented retail zones. He insists that the foaming-at-the-mouth religious bigotry of Pall and Ament is what led to the removal from the CBD two years ago of the Atlas School for Boys. (Tom Lamar, who joined the council too recently for the Kirk to fully suffer from the flex of his anti-Christian muscle, would’ve been in on it all, too, Wilson supposes. This is because liberals are icky, mean-spirited haters of all that is good and decent; I’m paraphrasing, of course, and in doing so I’m likely granting Wilson too much). This experiment in under-the-radar, world-changing classical Christian education illegally, not to mention secretly, occupied part of the NuArt theater, a violation of code made more egregious not only by Wilson’s foreknowledge, but also by the safety risk posed to children studying in second-floor rooms not designed or outfitted as classrooms. Atlas and its supporters shrugged, but the City didn’t. Fire safety, occupancy loads, zoning, liability, access — these things aren’t the stuff of proper municipal oversight to Wilson. They’re simply the thorn in the side of good Christians everywhere who want only to educate their children as they see fit — the law be damned, it seems, as it would be in the most literal sense according to a Wilsonian eschatological and social worldview. And, of course, he makes much of the boarding houses vs. party houses debate that occupied much of Moscow’s summer, although it’s not really a debate, not “apples and oranges” as much as it is “spatulas and carburetors.” The boarding house prohibitions focused on the integrity of city code-protected neighborhoods; the party house issue speaks to the “public disturbance” aspect of living in community. Any overlap here is simply another bit of irony in an argument already dripping with it.

Wilson’s litany of complaints against the liberal incumbents is far too lengthy for me to fully analyze here, and I’d invite Visionaires to examine it on Blog and Mablog. Wilson’s appreciation and analysis of fiction is evident there in his disgust over the revelation that Harry Potter’s Dumbledore is into the “guy-on-guy” thing, but I’d remind the good pastor that something higher than civic honor requires that he correctly identify fiction from nonfiction in his political commentary. Dumbledore isn’t real; his “sins” make no difference whatsoever in any of our lives. Ament, Lamar, and Pall, on the other hand, are real, and leveling accusations of vehement religious bigotry against them is a kind of fiction that makes a great deal of difference in the lives of every one of us who call Moscow home.


Oh, one more thing:

Wilson cites the denial of St. Mary’s Catholic School’s parking-expansion plans as another example of the anti-religious, liberal City Council bias that must be remedied with the defeat of Ament, Pall, and Lamar. It wasn’t, of course, but what’s really important here is that two of the three “liberal incumbents” weren’t even on the Council then. Pall was; Ament and Lamar weren’t. Certainly Mr. Wilson wouldn’t misrepresent their records, and so I’m eager to see what form his acknowledgment of error takes. And if I’ve made a factual error in this or any other post, please let me know — publicly and immediately, and I’ll correct it that same way.

And thanks to GFR for the reminder/info on St. Mary’s — she gets the credit for remembering the details.


“And there shall be, like people, like priest: and I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their doings” (Hosea 4:9).

Thank you.