Danny Cardwell's picture

    Who's Really Woke?

    I wanted to share a piece I wrote about a troubling rift inside the black community.



    Thanks for this post Danny. I get the same type of questioning of the value in the church from white Progressives. I think an example like the Reverend William Barber shows the ongoing value of the church in social movements.


    The church will play a large role in GOTV in 2018.

    Thanks for your support!

    Danny, I have no comment except to thank you for sharing this with us.

    I can't speak on the rift in the black community over the Christian religion but I have to say that generally the Christian evangelical movement has earned the contempt of liberals and secular humanists. Before the Civil War the Christian community was divided between those who used the bible and the Christian religion to justify slavery and those who used the bible to condemn slavery. My knowledge of history isn't sufficient to know how those sides measured up proportionately but the side that justified slavery was at least a significant minority of Christians. Imo those Christians earned what ever contempt they received.

    For me as a non Christian the parable of the sheep and the goats sums up what is good about Christianity. Yet it seems to me that the majority of Christians today are Leviticus Christians who are more about hate than love or Prosperity Christians who see little value in Matthew 25. While I understand Christians who are anti-abortion, how ever much I disagree, the casual lies they tell in the fight and the use of "slut shaming" is offensive and to me seems not to follow what I think of as Christianity. I understand that there are Christians like rmrd who are liberal and compassionate, I want to acknowledge that and not over generalize. Yet now it sure seems to me that the Christians that lie or slut shame to further their anti-abortion agenda and hate homosexuals far out number those who practice Christ's message of love. So frankly, I feel quite justified in holding those Christians in contempt. it's not surprising when those who practice some form of a loving Christianity are viewed with some suspicion for affiliating with what many see as a hateful group.

    Nice writing, Danny. Three quotes pop out for me:

    "Many of the same people fighting against police racial profiling of black people don’t see the hypocrisy associated with their religious profiling of black people." - there are a number of places where movement politics and general proclamations on fair treatment, etc., run into valid charges of hypocrisy. The Trump campaign was able to use rampant misogyny in largely black rapper music to partially defuse Pussygate, even noting Michelle inviting and singing along to (?) Jay-Z's sometimes disturbing, anti-female words. The supposed message of "tolerance" is often diminished by a frequently rabid intolerance towards those who don't abide by the shifting PC rulebook. It's natural that these kind of breaks in logic will occur, but it's not easy or obvious how to repair them.

    "...but isn’t it easier to clean a house than build one?" - ah, an ages-old question with no easy answer. Michael's Unreasonable Men touches on this from 100 years ago - a supposedly Reasonable Man would work towards half-a-loaf rather than hold out for a whole loaf, though in many places I noted the "half a loaf" being closer to 5-15%, i.e. a token payoff rather than a significant compromise. In current times we're debating Hillary vs. Bernie, whether the DNC & DCCC can be reformed or whether we have to start the Democratic (or Democratic/Independent) Party over from "scratch", whatever that exactly means. Certainly religious history invokes some powerful church reform movements that shook the church(es) to its (their) core. Pope Francis II is currently having a tsunami effect on the Catholic Church, though he's still blocking himself with some "Don't Ask Don't Tell" types of unacceptable-for-some compromises or outright hypocrisy/blind spots in his own theology. Can Catholics be reformed? It seems so, though to an atheist it'd always be tempered by "but they still see Christ as God?" To other Christians with hard-and-fast litmus tests, there may be similar "always-be-failing" unachievable expectations that will never be met. Certainly the church was essential in the Great Migration and Civil Rights eras, though there have always been very public, embarrassing jokes, like Reverend Ike preaching his silly path to "Riches" - something outsiders would love to point out as flaws in the system, but eventually something more serious to counter in say Al Sharpton's more publicly stupid moments, or the evolution of Marion Barry from civil rights hero to hometown embarrassment to unlikely comeback king (with still a number of incidents to taint him**).

    Your Howard Thurman quote is also nice: “By some amazing but vastly creative spiritual insight the slave undertook the redemption of a religion that the master had profaned in his midst." Yes, blacks for a long period have done wonders with crumbs or factory seconds from the master's table. I read a story by Ilse Aichinger a long time ago, "The Bound Man", about a traveler beaten and tied up, and no Samaritan will untie him, but a wily circus owner puts him in a cage and has him perform. His agility and acrobatics improve over time, so they put a lion in the cage with him to test his amazing skills. A woman reaches in and cuts his ropes, at which point his new understanding and control of his limited but proficient movement falls to pieces - he doesn't remember how to move when untied, and is almost killed. The metaphor seems obvious, though it's also short-term and limited - a freed man almost certainly can use some of the trappings of bondage without being totally in need of servitude, and it's likely this Bound Man with practice could integrate the lessons from being tied up into a more powerful free movement - though there's some doubt left for the reader of "can he?" Transitions like these are difficult, and at some point folks will be asking, "how come you're still transitioning?" It's a fair question, and leads back to hypocrisy and "reform vs. destroy & rebuild" - there's only so much leeway, time & understanding you get before you're accused of being the same thing you say you're recovering from.

    **Mayor Barry's supposed flip-flop on gay marriage was an area where he seemed to see the black community not ready yet to deal with LGBT issues, rather than opposing it personally (as he'd proposed a similar bill at one point). It's one of those "go-it-slow-and-take-what-you-can-get" vs. "give-it-to-me-know" quandaries that we have trouble figuring out the right answer. By coincidence, I saw "Far From Heaven" the other night (nice job by Dennis Haysbert) where a woman in 1950's Hartford is dealing with both rampant racial discrimination and her husband's outed homosexuality, and the conflict of somewhat different personal and community reactions to each.

    I appreciate the time it took to read and comment on this post. This is an issue that's very important to me. I don't care what a person's religious beliefs are, but it bothers me to see people who have benefited from the sacrifices of others diminish their actions.

    We need to do a better job of educating both youth and the general populace. One would assume with movie productions like "Selma" that parts of history are well known, but obviously this is not true. We are living in an era when publications of books, television, and movie productions about black achievements are at an all time high, yet many remain unaware. My Kindle purchases increase on a weekly basis. C-SPAN provides a steady stream of information. How can we upgrade the dissemination of this knowledge? We do it one on one, but there has to be a better way.

    We had a child with autism in 1957. Rather than there being there no ¨support¨  for him there was something

    worse: an (accidentally) malign form of assistance. The prevailing theory was that autistic children were made that way by their cold unfeeling mothers.  So women puzzled and hurt by their clear rejection by their child

    were asked by their psychiatrist ¨Why did you want him to be autistic?¨

    Not necessarily evil people ,those Docs.- Not all of them anyway.Some were. But they were of course doing great harm.

    Living in England ,we took our son to Anna Freud.


    But reality as it sometimes does ultimately prevailed over mysticism. In San Diego a psychiatrist decided that he wasn't  going to stand for his wife, along with everything else, being saddled with the label of a ¨refrigerator mother¨and started to movement to deal rationally with the disease.

    And a British psychiatrist, named Winnicott I think , coined a useful expression which embodied a better than useful approach: ¨The good enough mother¨.

     No one , certainly no  mother is or can be expected to be perfect. When things go wrong in your life it´s not necessarily because you weren´t good enough. It´s because things go wrong.When a child is autistic it´s

    not because his mother wanted that or if she  didn´t ¨want¨  it , it was caused by her sub conscious. The monsters from the Id.   

    And what has this to do with to do Danny´s tough minded but charitable discussion? Do I actually have

    a point in this maundering ? Well ,maybe,.

    We can´t expect one another to be perfect.Just  ¨good enough¨. Are some religious leaders  ,well, sinful?  What did Jesse Jackson say , not good enough but perfectly , at the 1984 convention ¨the Lord

    isn´t finished with me yet¨.

     Are atheists like me moral failures because we don´t sufficiently pay attention to people like Danny? No, I say. Provided  we have tried to get it right. Where-ever you´re coming from,you must give that  a shot. Try to  make yourself respect people who are trying to do good even if they get it wrong.(You think.)

    Anna Freud was trying to do good  when she gave us disastrous advice about Chris.

    You win some, you lose some.

    And now let´s really put the turkey on the table. Many of those committed to Right to Life are also ¨good enough¨. Lord knows ( if an atheist can use that phrase) I deeply want them to fail. But I/we shouldn´t indulge ourselves in saying they are wicked people even though they are doing things that can do terrible harm.

    To end my sermon, my Benedicti...........no, a joke.

    Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary  out for a walk came upon the crowd, men of course, , getting ready to stone the woman taken in adultery.

    Jesus , being Jesus, walked between them and the woman and said

    ¨let the person without sin throw the first stone¨

    The first stone whizzed past him

    Jesus: ¨MOM !  ¨  

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