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#douglas-wilson

Douglas Wilson is the senior minister of Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho and blogs at Blog & Mablog.

The reason I fight for my right to qualify my words on ethnicity and sex the way I do is not because I want to make the race hustlers or misogyny-mongers happy. I know I will never be able to do that. I do it because I want to make it crystal clear that their accusations are false.

[…]

I want to fight for the truth in such a way as to make people accuse me of being a bigot. I also want to fight in such a way as to make it manifestly clear to all the sensible observers that I am not a bigot. The point is not to endear myself to the progressives. The point is to fight the progressives more effectively.

As the Fighting Moderates Mount the Lone Bulwark, Douglas Wilson

These words echo hard with me. Christian, you will be insulted. When you are, praise God harder (1 Peter 4:12-14, 1 Peter 3:14, Matthew 5:11, and many more.) Realize that you will not convince those that call you names— misogynist, racist, bigot, Nazi— that you are not. But you can make it crystal clear to the sensible observers that their accusations are false.

You really should give up preaching, and blogging, and publishing, and declaring, and challenging, and prophetically pronouncing. And why? Gashmu saith it. And who is Gashmu? We are not sure exactly, but it distresses us that he is displeased.

Gashmu Saith It, Douglas Wilson

This book is essentially a long article. Hour and a half on Canon+. Have I mentioned Canon+ yet here? Looks like I have not. Canon Press publishes lots of good books, Canon+ is their streaming service. Documentaries, lots of video content, and audiobooks. Lots of them. And not just Canon Press books. $7.99 a month and you can watch and listen to any of these. I pay for Audible too, but they give you a credit a month to buy one book with. Canon+ is unlimited books. If you are a Christian— especially with Calvinist leaning— and want to read more, you cannot go wrong subscribing to Canon+.

The graveyards are full of indispensable men.

Charles De Gaulle

Just finished Ploductivity from Douglas Wilson. Good, short book on work.

Thomas Cranmer was a great hero of the faith, and a martyr. He was also a man who buckled under pressure at the end of life, and signed a paper recanting his biblical position. But he was also a man who courageously recanted his recantation, and was immediately hustled off to be burned. He then put his offending hand, the one that had signed his earlier denial of the truth, into the fire so that it might be the first to burn. So do not despise the coward/heroes. God uses them.

The Trap of Donatism Lite

And:

Edmund was a poisonous little beast, and so one of the things Aslan did was die for him in order to make him a king.

Good read on dealing with cowards and specifically cowards that are making amends after recognizing their cowardice. Jesus died for cowards too. Forgive them and welcome them home.

Pop culture is a culture that does not enculturate, a culture does not discipline. It is therefore an oxymoronic culture.

In a biblical culture a man expects his great grandchildren to read what he has read, sing what he has sung, listen to what he has listened to. In an evanescent culture, like the one that surrounds us, a man expects to have all his cultural experiences buried with him.

Future Men, Douglas Wilson

Fourth child on the way, oldest hitting double digits this year, I’ve been thinking a lot of legacy recently. Other happenings in my life have forced me to as well. Heck, it’s one of the reasons I’ve gotten enamored with woodworking. I’ve been a software engineer my whole life. Nothing I’ve make lasts beyond a few years. And it’s not even like an old phone model where, sure it’s no longer in production, but there are millions of them sitting around collecting dust. No, my work is literally just deleted and forgotten. Evanescent. And that describes much of what is around us today. I have toys from my childhood that are still in great condition despite 30+ years since they were unboxed. Toys today barely last a couple years. I could write on this a lot, but most of us feel it. Take worship music. How many songs from a decade ago are still played today on our stages? Our music is evanescent.

What are you passing onto your children? What will they take from your house when you pass on? Me, I’ve got a growing collection of— improving which each build— hand-made instruments. My boys want me to make them instruments. My heart says, “not yet, I’m not good enough yet,” but I know in my heart that I want to make them things they can carry into adulthood and maybe pass down to my grandchildren. The digital things will not be our inheritance. Web sites, code, apps, games. They are fleeting.

A final thought. Last night we sung Christmas carols around the table. It started with Doc Watson’s Christmas Lullaby and then the requests started. Angels We Have Heard on High (1862), Frosty (1950), Rudolph (1949), Jingle Bells (1857). These are songs I grew up singing. As I sat at the table, strumming an acoustic guitar made in the mid-1900’s, singing old songs passed down through generations I knew that one day I’d be leading my grandchildren in these same words, that my kids would be leading theirs. And they’d be laughing as they lost the melody because their 6 year old boy decided to toss in lyrics about Joker getting away.

If the consequence of all this is that you do not know who to root for because I have not shared enough information to activate your tribal loyalties, then the only thing I have established here is that you should be disqualified from jury duty for life. You might have attached some tribal loyalties to the story on your own authority by filling in some of the things I left blank, but I guarantee that I could come back and tell the full story in a way as to flip it around for you.

And this is why a bunch of people I could mention should spend a lot less time in comment threads and a lot more time reading edifying material.

It is astonishing how many people think they can ascertain the truth about an enormously complicated snarl from three thousand miles away, and all they needed to do was watch three minutes of a video clip. But it is not that easy—that is just how they make it look easy. Why does it look so easy? You see, it is possible to identify your tribe from three thousand miles away, and you can do that in three seconds or so.

Anthony Bradley, Conflicted Apologist for Bad JuJu by Pastor Douglas Wilson

Whether we’re talking about child abuse— previously known as spanking— or complex family disagreements over the meaning and purpose of life, your ability to ascertain the truth from three thousand miles away based on a video clip or a few tweets is nil, non-existant. Sorry to tell you this. Yeah, the individual may belong to your tribe or a tribe that you are an ally of, but this is not grounds to rally the troops for a good, ol’ fashion lynching.

Just a word of advice.

I was talking about empathy with a coworker and she shared this video from a more secular perspective on the topic. Spoilers, he lands on much the same conclusions that I stated in Misrepresentations From Hecklers in the Peanut Gallery and Empathy vs. Sympathy, namely that compassion is often a better response and empathy has a lot of negative consequences. This of course is not because I am wise, but because I am the fool on “elephantine adventures in pursuit of the obvious.”

the difference between sympathy and empathy was the difference between objective truth and subjective felt “truth.”

Empathy as the Headwaters of Cruelty, Pastor Douglas Wilson

In an article this week addressing the pro-Hamas and pro-Gaza riots, Pastor Doug takes a moment for a sermon against untethered empathy. While I could high five his points on the riots and the conflict at hand, I find the human core more important.

Doug references a video that he did with Joe Rigney about empathy. I watched that video a couple months ago and it made a major impact on me and my understanding of current events. More coming on that some other time.

When you see someone drowning in the river, the virtue of sympathy requires that you help him. In the metaphor, you help by keeping one foot on the bank and you extend a hand, or throw a rope.

So what is the difference between empathy and sympathy. Sympathy is a Christian value. God shows us sympathy, standing on the rock and reaching a hand out to us to pull us from the muck and mire. In a class that I was in earlier this week, the instructor accidently said that God was empathetic. Obviously many believe these words to be synonyms. They are not. I kindly corrected the instructor and pointed out that for God to show empathy, God would have to negate His other divine attributes.

[T]he empathetic one needs to take a header into the river, identifying completely and entirely with the drowning person. The empathetic one offers no judgments, no assessments, no evaluations. The empathy is by definition untethered. Unless you sink to the bottom with him, it is obvious to everyone that you don’t really care.

Agree with me on everything, disagree on nothing. Do not tell me that I am wrong. Do not tell me that I have sinned. Do not tell me that I walked all the way out here and am now drowning despite Your pleas that I stop, Your clear warnings of what would happen if I didn’t, Your clear signs along the bank with graphic iconography. I am drowning because I was born this way. I am drowning because You made me this way.

Now join me in the water and agree with me. Anything less is abject hatred.

This sounds familiar to literally anyone paying attention to the world. It also should sound familiar to any parent, as this is how children act. And your job as a parent is to stand on the riverbank and pull them out, dry them off, and teach them a lesson. That is what God does for us.

Unfortunately, the modern world isn’t taking that lesson well and is throwing a tantrum to make their parents look bad.

It follows that if such a person is your client, then they are in the in group, and they are in that in group all the way. Anyone who is playing the role of their adversary—or perhaps we should say persecutor—has to be treated with relentless savagery. This is because that adversary is challenging the victim’s sacrosanct right to be affirmed in absolutely everything. To criticize the victim is to throw a dead cat at the high altar. To be the recipient of empathy in this system is to be utterly and completely beyond criticism. And because we live in a world where trade-offs necessarily happen, this means that anyone who gets in the way of what that recipient of empathy demands is dead meat.

One of many reasons why I don’t like therapy. Watch the video with Joe Rigney and you’ll understand a bit better, but the gist is that the relationship doesn’t encourage the therapist to criticize the client or in any way understand and take the side of their persecutor.

Suppose the empathy-claimant is a twelve-year-old girl who was raped by her stepfather. As long as she is affirmed absolutely by an empathetic counselor, she can do whatever she wants to anyone else, including the baby. […] And an empathetic judge can send the stepfather to the penitentiary for twenty-five years, which turns out to have been unfortunate, because he actually didn’t rape anybody. Empathy toward one is necessary cruelty toward another. But empathy, like Gallio, cares for none of these things (Acts 18:17).

Liars can use this system to get empathy for the supposed actions of others and therapists don’t ask enough clarifying questions to understand those that supposedly persecute their clients. Further, they show empathy by joining their lying clients in the muck and mire, they join the rage against their abusive persecutors.

They fuel it and reward it.

This is a system that has allowed narcissists to get fed energy from people by lying about others. This reward creates a cycle where the lies have to get worse and worse. They are a victim, they are being persecuted, they are being attacked, their family is abusive, etc. And you cannot get in the way of their lies, you cannot question their lies, because it is their “truth” and questioning it is victim blaming, or some other made up sin.

Further, all their actions against their persecutor is justified as they are a victim. Don’t ask them if what they are saying is true, don’t stay silent, you must affirm, cheer them on, and celebrate their actions.

This is the complete opposite of a Christian ethic. When my daughter claims that a boy hit her, my natural instinct is to destroy him. That is my natural instinct. But sanctification has brought me to the point that I have to ask her to explain. Turns out, it wasn’t a malicious hit, it was an accident and he felt super bad, apologized, and I don’t need to hang him by his boxers on the flag pole as an example of what not to do to my daughter. Vikings gotta viking, but righteous men of Christ have to live by mercy, grace, and love.

That stepfather in prison is there because empathy absolutely refused to let anyone raise the question of his possible innocence. There is no way to raise the question of his innocence without simultaneously raising the prospect that the stepdaughter was lying, and how would that make her feel? So even to raise the question of possible innocence was to be guilty of the crime yourself.

This is the conundrum that empathy has made for you. If you choose to show empathy for someone that claims abuse, you cannot raise the question that their abuser is potentially innocent. By raising that question, you are— by the nature of the question— raising the question of whether the accuser is lying. That will abuse the abused, thus making you an abuser too.

There is an alternative.

You can have sympathy for the person that is claiming abuse, you can reach a hand out and help them out of the water, talk with them and understand their perspective. Instead of fueling the rage, instead they need to get better. They are in fact getting bitter if they stay in the water, staying in the rage. Empathy will never make them better, only bitter. And for the narcissist, it encourages this behavior and they very well may be the abuser.

Empathy and sympathy are not the same thing. One could rightly argue that empathy is sinful as it can require you to lie or have untethered anger against someone in an ungodly way. Yet, in the modern age, we are told our only option is empathy and “this means that anyone who gets in the way of what that recipient of empathy demands is dead meat.”

So to finish with one last quote:

In short, we cannot say that we haven’t been warned.

Empathy as the Headwaters of Cruelty, Pastor Douglas Wilson

Let’s go!

I happen to believe that it is perverse that our federal government is more concerned about the integrity of Ukraine’s border than they are about the U.S. border. But how would that make the Russians the good guys? And an intelligent person could believe that more of our resources should be deployed to the Texas border than to the border between Gaza and Israel. But how would that make Hamas any less wicked? You can stop making excuses for Biden without starting to make excuses for Hamas.

And it doesn’t help if the “talking points” are evangelistic in nature. If we were all to be shocked by a macabre set of murders that happened in Connecticut, and somebody online started to say things like “well, the victims probably weren’t Christian,” and the judgments of God are inscrutable, the only conclusion I would draw is that we had found ourselves an evangelist with a tin ear, and a tongue like a brick.

A Moral Compass and the Ball Peen Hammer

It’s been hard to articulate my views on Israel over the last few days other than praying without ceasing. Lots of opinions going around in the Christian sphere. Those that want Gaza wiped out, those that want Israel wiped out, those that want America to pounce on Iran, those that want America to not be involved at all. Lots of opinions. And for me… I have had a hard time. Pastor Doug does a great job at articulating many of my concerns, many of my views.

Hamas is wicked, the attacks were pure savagery, and we need to be praying for the victims, the hostages, and all of Israel.

Another way of putting this is that Muslims are not justified in their behavior simply because they can point to a passage in the Quran. There are such passages, but pointing to them will avail nothing. The man who gave them the Quran will also be standing before the judge of the whole earth as well. Muslims will discover at that time that Allah is not the true God, and that their warrant for hatred that they thought they possessed from him was not a valid warrant at all. All of that was forbidden by the true God, the one who will do the actual judging.

Justice, true justice, is coming for all involved. Relativism be damned, no matter how justified Hamas thinks they are because their Quran gives them authority to capture, rape, and torture women and girls. A day is coming when every Muslim will take a knee before the Throne of God Almighty and be held accountable for their sins and they will realize that Allah was nothing but a false idol unworthy of their adoration. My prayer is they find Jesus before they meet Him involuntarily.

And that same prayer goes for the Jews. Jews must follow Christ as well. Without salvation from the Blood of Christ, no man or woman will enter the Kingdom of God. Period. Full stop. And that includes the Jews.

Christian, pray. It is what we do. Wars and rumors of wars abound in these days and what we do is pray. Pray for peace, pray for revival, pray for an end to all the horrors of our world. Pray.