Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus
March 9th, 2015 by Joel Watts

“wrong side of history” is colonialism

Native Americans flee from the allegorical rep...

Native Americans flee from the allegorical representation of Manifest Destiny, Columbia, painted in 1872 by John Gast (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Scot McKnight has a post up that helps to solidifywhat I’ve been trying to say.

He begins,

Some people think they know where history is taking us and are quite happy to declare boom-booms on those who take exception, the boom-booms declared with a long finger pointing at them with the accusation they will be on the “wrong side of history” or, perhaps more damaging, they will be “left behind” or “irrelevant.”

He wrestles first with statements against religion and how as a species we are losing our connection to the need for a divine. Taking this a step further, he attacks inclusion advocates who often use the “wrong side of history” mantra as a reason to progress. McKnight and I differ on inclusion, which seems to be needed to said because if you question progressive idols, then suddenly you are a bigoted fundamentalist.

Frankly, “wrong side of history” is a tired and worn-out phrase that has been co-opted from other narratives, providing a slippery slope and dismissing the moral imperative of inclusion.

Let me explain. The “wrong side of history” mantra is nothing short of a modern-day manifest destiny, the 19th century version of American Exceptionalism that led to the extermination of indigenous peoples as well as the preservation of slavery, both African and capitalistic. This mantra is about Americans, for Americans, and sets a particular interpretation of American values above the rest of the world not to mention Christian Tradition. It has no regard for soundness of logic, reason, or doctrine, only for a political movement that can change as quickly as the weather. Indeed, in one FB conversation recently, Roger Worsley (a prolific UMC progressive blogger), stated simply he writes only for American progressives, feeding them only what they want. In doing so, Worsley (albeit, passively) admitted that the only Christianity that mattered was his white progressive version.

If you are fighting for inclusion only because you don’t want to be on “the wrong side of history” you have to ask yourself, in what way are you respecting the people you are supposedly fighting for? Aren’t you just using them as mere bodies, footstones/cannon fodder/pawns in all actuality, to advance your cause? Why not fight for inclusion simply because it is right rather than as a means to re-establish white American dominance, colonizing the world and Christian Tradition?

History is fickle and has no sides. It can be undone, destroyed, and forgotten. What cannot be so easily destroyed is the mind and heart changed for the good, for the right.

Joel Watts
Watts holds a MA in Theological Studies from United Theological Seminary. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians, as well as seeking an MA in Clinical Mental Health at Adams State University. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Comments

4 Responses to ““wrong side of history” is colonialism”
  1. Know More Than I Should says

    The “wrong side of history” is a euphemism for the continuing illusion of white male superiority. It’s not just about ethnicity and sexual orientation, but also concepts insidious as IQ testing and divine blessing.

    Both conservatives and progressives constitute the blind leading the blind. The principal difference between them is conservatives promise utopia upon return to some bygone era while progressives promise utopia in an unseen future. Eventually, both become victims of their own propaganda. Nothing in this life — and most probably the next — turns out to be as good as promised.

  2. This is a much better piece than the Scot McKnight article.

    If you are fighting for inclusion only because you don’t want to be on “the wrong side of history” you have to ask yourself, in what way are you respecting the people you are supposedly fighting for?

    Yes.

    OTOH (and I’m sure I’m as guilty as any other here), most of political argument is not directed to convince or sway — it’s more to rally the tribe (conservative) or shame those compliant with injustice (progressive). At this stage of my life, I admittedly fall into progressive camp, and I don’t think the faults are equal, but it still falls radically short of Jesus dojo.

    • indeed, our tribalism is a problem. when it comes to progressives, we have tribalism and it is often worse because progressives are supposed to a bit more tolerant!

Leave a Reply, Please!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: