A Review as promised in "Vulgar title on prepub"

Page 1 of 2 (24 items) 1 2 Next >
This post has 23 Replies | 0 Followers

Posts 33257
Forum MVP
MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Posted: Sat, Nov 16 2019 1:16 AM

The point that most captures my attention in this book is:

pg 36:
We stand at the cusp a new age of ignorance reminiscent of the Dark Ages associated with medieval times.

The book is actually written in a low key, common sense manner that assists one in seeing the current state of American religion and politics as a predictable, although not necessary, outcome of our history. Being the descendant of a witch executed in Salem, a Bible teacher thrown out of the Boston Bay colony, a Pennsylvania slave owner, a Wisconsin abolitionist, and a Native American rights activist in the form of a rancher, I had no problem slotting real people into roles that grew into the best and worst of America. A strength of the author is his ability to make both the good and the bad familiar rather than an us vs. them that pushes you away from the thrust of his argument.

He proceeds to what Nationalist Christianity must do to achieve its goals, a section that helps make sense out of American politics not just currently but from say Reagan or so on. He then proceeds to deal with the disconnect between stated reasons and actual reasons - how we deceive ourselves - explaining why self-professed liberals can be the most dangerous to deal with. Throughout, but especially in the final section, he deals with how to reinvigorate Christianity by removing the European-American nationalist face that has defiled it.

Having many friends and classmates spread across the world in various forms of international studies or charities, I found little new or surprising. I simply found a solid, not compelling, argument presented in a clear and understandable manner. It did, however, help me to understand the quirks of certain converts in my church as well as some strange political opinions of some younger family members.

However, I also believe that it is so gentle that many readers will fail to recognize the worst of themselves in the descriptions despite the worst being more clearly defined than the best.

Theologically, the author is conservative and Gospel oriented.

Burying White PrivilegeResurrecting a Badass Christianity by Miguel A. De La Torre

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 19273
Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Nov 16 2019 1:38 AM

Might want to include the title/author of the book and/or link to it on Logos.com and/or link to the thread in question where you promised the review so people could go look up the book title. People seeing this post without knowing the context will have no idea what you're reviewing.

Posts 12076
Forum MVP
NB.Mick | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Nov 16 2019 1:57 AM

Rosie Perera:
Might want to include the title/author of the book and/or link to it on Logos.com
This is the book, currently in Logos PrePub. I think the look-into available for the kindle edition probably gives a good impression what to expect from it.

Running Logos 9 latest (beta) version on Win 10

Posts 33257
Forum MVP
MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Nov 16 2019 2:09 AM

Rosie Perera:
Might want to include the title/author of the book

oops Huh? I started a new thread to avoid the illogic of the original thread ... I did mean to give the title at the end ... Honest, I meant to ...

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 62
Norman Cubbage | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Nov 16 2019 3:52 AM

Thanks MJ, needed that.

Posts 9623
Forum MVP
Bruce Dunning | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Nov 16 2019 5:23 AM

Thanks for the objective review M.J.

In light of this, it seems to me that the title given to the book is more of a marketing thing to cause people to react just like we all did in responding to this and the previous thread.

Using adventure and community to challenge young people to continually say "yes" to God

Posts 11433
DMB | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Nov 16 2019 6:24 AM

MJ. Smith:
Honest, I meant to ...

Thank you, MJ. Know you were also busy with all those bug threads (a thanks for those too).

"God will save his fallen angels and their broken wings He'll mend."

Posts 2283
Joseph Turner | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Nov 16 2019 12:30 PM

Awesome, thanks!  The preview seemed pretty moderate, so this is what I would expect.  

Disclaimer:  I hate using messaging, texting, and email for real communication.  If anything that I type to you seems like anything other than humble and respectful, then I have not done a good job typing my thoughts.

Posts 1255
David Wanat | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Nov 16 2019 1:49 PM

Interesting. I read one of his previous books, and it wasn’t moderate at all. Perhaps one of the two is an outlier? 🤷‍♂️🤔

WIN 10 i7 9750H, RTX 2060, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD | iPad Air 3
Verbum 9 Ultimate

Posts 2283
Joseph Turner | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Nov 16 2019 3:05 PM

David Wanat:

Interesting. I read one of his previous books, and it wasn’t moderate at all. Perhaps one of the two is an outlier? 🤷‍♂️🤔

In all fairness, I didn't read the whole preview, but nothing I read seemed shocking as some of the other comments had suggested it would be.

Disclaimer:  I hate using messaging, texting, and email for real communication.  If anything that I type to you seems like anything other than humble and respectful, then I have not done a good job typing my thoughts.

Posts 3992
Forum MVP
PetahChristian | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Nov 16 2019 3:44 PM

Thanks very much, MJ.

Thanks to FL for including Carta and a Hebrew audio bible in Logos 9!

Posts 33257
Forum MVP
MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Nov 16 2019 4:03 PM

David Wanat:
Perhaps one of the two is an outlier?

From some of the things he says, I suspect that Miguel A. De La Torre is adept at adjusting his language for the audience he wishes to reach.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 595
J. Remington Bowling | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Nov 17 2019 1:21 PM

I appreciate your effort to review the book. But I find it a bit odd that people in the responses are taking some assertions ("common sense") and undefined terms ("Nationalist Christianity" or "liberals") for granted as an objective and sufficient explanation of where the book is coming from in an "Oh, guess that explains it" sort of way. Not that this is a fault in what you say, but in how people are taking it as a confirmation of what they assumed about the book or else as an adequate explanation of the author's presuppositions.

What, for instance, does the author think constitutes "Nationalist Christianity"? 

Further, what does the author think was "Nationalist Christianity" in the Reagan era? And does the author show any awareness of Christianity's relationship to governments prior to Reagan... Plymouth colony, Massachusetts? Anglican Church? Jimmy Carter? etc.

In other words, does the author  focus on Reagan because Republicans are the nail for his hammer or does he actually explain a focus on that specifically? (While there is something at this point in terms of organization for the subset of evangelicals, Thomas Kidd's Who is an Evangelical? demonstrates that evangelicals have always been politically engaged (p. 34, 43, etc.) and, further, that other Christian groups are just as entangled in politics (e.g., Latino and Black Protestants - pp. 128 and 145 respectively).   

On the Amazon summary, it says "Many people wonder how white Christians could not only support Donald Trump for president but also rush to defend an accused child molester running for the US Senate. In a 2017 essay that went viral, Miguel A. De La Torre boldly proclaimed the death of Christianity at the hands of white evangelical nationalists. He continues sounding the death knell in this book."

This suggests there is some connection between voting for Trump (which is then glossed as if the set of Christians who voted for Trump = the set of people who rushed to defend Roy Moore) "Nationalist Christianity". That alone demonstrates a lack of nuance and a lack of understanding of Christian political conservatives in American and various voting strategies. (Or, alternatively, a lack of nuance related to a prejudice which prevents them from accurately representing Christians conservatives.)

Further, does the author give us statistical data to show the correspondence between white evangelicals who voted for Trump and those that rushed to defend Roy Moore, such that his claim that this constitutes the death of Christianity is well-reasoned? 

Of course, it's possible that whoever is responsible for the summary quoted above is deficient in ways in which the author is not. But your review doesn't shed any clarity on that.

Several months ago I read Ben Howe's Immoral Majority and was disappointed at his inaccuracies and uncharitable broad brush painting, in which he often conflates evangelical Trump supporters with evangelicalism as a whole. Does this author also elide these groups? And does he elide all Christians who voted for Trump with a single mindset or motive ("Nationalist Christianity") or does he express awareness that Christians can have the same complex of political motives and voting strategies that non-Christians clearly have (e.g., Ben Shapiro--not a Nationalist Christian--who is Trump critical, was #NeverTrump, but has said that, as of now, he is voting for Trump)?

Potato resting atop 2020 Mac Pro stand.

Posts 33257
Forum MVP
MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Nov 17 2019 1:55 PM

I'm not going to respond to your critique beyond two examples:

J. Remington Bowling:
What, for instance, does the author think constitutes "Nationalist Christianity"? 

As in any review, you need to read the book to fill in the details. I was not trying to produce an argument map nor even a concept map. Nor was I trying to push a particular sectarian or partisan view as that is inappropriate in this context.

J. Remington Bowling:
And does the author show any awareness of Christianity's relationship to governments prior to Reagan.

As I said in my review:

MJ. Smith:
assists one in seeing the current state of American religion and politics as a predictable, although not necessary, outcome of our history.

Please don't encourage those who have not read the book to turn this thread into another thread of speculation and illogic.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 595
J. Remington Bowling | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Nov 17 2019 3:47 PM

MJ. Smith:
I'm not going to respond to your critique beyond two examples:

Sorry for any misunderstanding. I wasn’t critiquing your review, my first paragraph was critiquing responses to your review, that seemed to think it was doing something or answering questions  it wasn’t. I didn’t see that as a point of criticism of your review since I don’t think reviews have to take up any particular concerns that any particular reader might have.

The rest of my post is seeking clarification (e.g how does the author define “Nationalist Christianity”) and defends my rationale for wanting the clarification. No argument map required. 

Definitions are helpful for seeing where an author is coming from, what things he or she is taking for granted, or whether they’ve given serious thought to certain issues.

For instance, Thomas Kidd gives two definitions of evangelical, one simple and one more detailed. The simple definition is “the religion of the born again. … born again is the conversion experience that defines what it means to be an evangelical. The great English Methodist John Wesley wrote that conversion is ‘a thorough change of heart and life from sin to holiness; a turning.’ This turning, to evangelicals, is enabled by God’s power.” (Who is an Evangelical, p. 4). On the other hand, Ben Howe, in Immoral Majority, never gives a straight forward definition of “evangelical” (the closest he comes is by pointing to some evangelicals). (Other things Howe says, like “driven by its biblical principles” (p. 3) or making reference to “the biblical lessons of redemption, repentance, and the fallen nature of man” (p. 18) don’t really do the job).  

MJ. Smith:
Please don't encourage those who have not read the book to turn this thread into another thread of speculation and illogic.

I think understanding how the author defines controversial terms that are sometimes used for rhetorical effect rather than cognitive content—like ”nationalism”— will undercut speculation, right? 

How does the author thinking “Nationalist Christianity” aligns with ethnic nationalism, civic nationalism, or (per the most recent defenses of Rich Lowry and Yarom Hazony) cultural nationalism?

And does the author ascribe this to any Christian who voted for Trump or only to some subset? 

 

Knowing this would help to avoid speculation and know if the author might himself be illogical (or at least not very nuanced).

Potato resting atop 2020 Mac Pro stand.

Posts 33257
Forum MVP
MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Nov 17 2019 5:10 PM

Miguel A. De La Torre is very careful with his terminology. His primary focus is on "Nationalist Christianity" which includes a major chunk of Evangelicals but also includes a number of other Protestant, Mormon, and Catholic individuals. His definition is a description of characteristics that takes a handful of pages with an occasional reference to theologians that pushed beliefs in that direction. I am unable to come up with a neutral statement defining it - I either display my ignorance of the theological terminology of a major chunk of my fellow Americans or I directly insult subsets of Logos Users. I chose to do neither. One can read his original opinion piece online in order to get a sense of his intent. Similarly, his focus on "white" does not focus on skin color but rather on a constellation of beliefs.

His history goes back to Calvin, but his American Nationalist Christianity begins with the Northern European settlers ... he does not explore the Spanish settlements. He does not treat the religious/political interface as something new. Reagan/Trump eras are used to compare particular Christian leaders to their fathers which points to the direction of movement in peoples' thinking.

At no point does he equate conservative politics or conservative Christians or Evangelicalism with Nationalist Christianity. He does argue that those accepting Nationalist Christianity are predisposed to vote for Trump or support Roy Moore. When appropriate he does refer to statistics from well-known sources e.g. Pew Research. Unfortunately for me, the one time I was so dismayed by the statistic that I hoped it was misused ... he was accurate and my experience in the Pacific Northwest was not typical of the country as a whole.

By "death of Christianity" is he referring to the well-known drop in self-identification with religious institutions especially in the younger generations - and the relationship between that drop and the actual behavior the young are seeing of those justifying their actions through those religious institutions. He then suggests that some of these institutions are such hollowed-out specters of original thrust of Christianity that they are no loss. They need replaced by institutions reflecting the original thrust.

J. Remington Bowling:
How does the author thinking “Nationalist Christianity” aligns with ethnic nationalism, civic nationalism, or (per the most recent defenses of Rich Lowry and Yarom Hazony) cultural nationalism?

While this is an extreme (and misleading) oversimplication to make a point -- in my terminology think of "Nationalist Christianity" as American exceptionalism - God is on our side, God's favor is expressed in wealth and health, Manifest Destiny ... so your question in a strange way doesn't apply as they are points along different axis.

J. Remington Bowling:
And does the author ascribe this to any Christian who voted for Trump or only to some subset? 

Of course not. He is speaking of those who have a specific constellation of fears and beliefs.

I think that answers most of your questions. My own reflection on your questions: in the term "Christian conservatives" or "Christian liberals", de la Torre's focus is on the "Christian" portion of the name - whether it is truly Christian or it is self-deception masquerading as Christian.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 2348
GaoLu | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Nov 17 2019 6:14 PM

In my view, a much better, more comprehensive, less pejorative way to address this matter than the aforementioned book can be found by thinking for oneself in the excellent Logos ME course: https://www.logos.com/product/129501/mobile-ed-ch241-the-history-of-christianity-in-the-united-states.    

Posts 33257
Forum MVP
MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Nov 17 2019 7:01 PM

GaoLu:
more comprehensive, less pejorative way to address this matter than the aforementioned book can be found by thinking for oneself in the excellent Logos ME course:

Have you read the book? The course looks interesting but I don't see much overlap.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 595
J. Remington Bowling | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Nov 18 2019 10:17 AM

Thanks, MJ. This gives me a better idea of the angle of approach of the author. 

It had occurred to me after submitting my last post that maybe the emphasis was on Christian rather than nationalist--and thus maybe things like Catholic Integralism might be the more relevant target. But it sounds like the author is concerned with the popular expressions.

Potato resting atop 2020 Mac Pro stand.

Posts 595
J. Remington Bowling | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Nov 18 2019 10:45 AM

GaoLu:

In my view, a much better, more comprehensive, less pejorative way to address this matter than the aforementioned book can be found by thinking for oneself in the excellent Logos ME course: https://www.logos.com/product/129501/mobile-ed-ch241-the-history-of-christianity-in-the-united-states.    

As MJ suggests, these may not overlap, but it looks as if the author of Burying White Privilege is approaching current events through (an attenuated?) Critical Race Theory--which has a particular lens through which it views history.

In that regard, more general surveys of history may help flesh out one's perspective or provide some grounds for assessing various lenses through which we view history. 

A lot has come out recently along these lines that would be of interest to Christians. Some I've mentioned on the forums recently: Tom Holland's Dominion (not a Christian, but sympathetic) and two works by Thomas Kidd: Who is an Evangelical? and America's Religious History (video lectures). I've only had the chance to read through the first two chapters of America's Religious History, but so far it reads like a broader and, in some areas, more detailed survey than in the former. The former is also written with a specific goal that probably overlaps more with Burying White Privilege, in that it seeks to shed light on the current state of politics and evangelicals. In line with this is Ben Howe's Immoral Majority--but I don't recommend it as it is uncharitable and inaccurate (I pointed out one of the more glaring inaccuracies to the author on social media and his response was that he felt his characterization fit with the overall evidence and impression of the person in question).

Potato resting atop 2020 Mac Pro stand.

Page 1 of 2 (24 items) 1 2 Next > | RSS