Frivolous Questions

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Dear visionaries,

Nick has presented me with a whole host of “articles for repudiation.” But before answering Nick’s questions, allow me to invite you all (again) to the town hall meeting we are having at the Kenworthy. We would love to see you there. We will genuinely attempt to answer all the serious questions seriously. For more on frivolous questions, see below.

And as a preface to answering these questions, allow me to commend Nick for this great new development in Socratic dialog. One party contributes the monosyllables while the other front loads all the questions. “Simple yes or no, Mr. Wilson. Do you repudiate your knavish behavior?” Yes means that I acknowledge my knavish behavior in the past and no means that I intend to continue it. Easy peasy, and philosophy looks around for new ways to obscure the truth.

But in keeping with the spirit of the thing, I will try to keep my answers as brief as possible. After all, yikes is a monosyllable. My answers are in bold for ease of identification. I am not shouting. Some might think I have a right to be shouting by this point, but they would wrong. I am viewing the current events in a philosophical spirit, much as Boethius might have amused himself by counting his toes.

So here are Nick’s questions, and my answers.


Article 1. Christ Church member Roy Atwood now states that Southern Slavery, As it Was is not a scholarly work. This concession implies that it is not as credible as a scholarly work. When any press publishes a Monograph Series, it usually means that this is the best specialized work that it can find. What is the status of this essay? What is the status of other works published by Canon Press?

a. Scholarly or unscholarly, are you responsible for the work? Yes or No? Yes, yes! I confess it!

b. Do you repudiate this work and your support for Southern Slavery? Yes or No? Not the fiery tongs again! Yes, I repudiate it all!

c. Are other works published by Canon Press credible? Yes or No? Canon Press? Vile stuff, all of it.

Article 2. R. L. Dabney is cited favorably in the slavery booklet and its co-author Steve Wilkins is an instructor at the Dabney Center for Theological Studies in Monroe, Louisana. Dabney was a racist and condemned interracial marriage, something the Bible celebrates. Dabney also condemned the education of African Americans, something the New Testament advocated. But your neo-Confederate friends have proudly republished Dabney’s works, which have blatantly unscriptural positions?

Do you repudiate Dabney and all that he stands for? Yes or No? No . . . wait! I meant yes!

Article 3. Your position on slavery is equivocal. As a moral absolutist you must say that it is always wrong, but your support for biblical slavery and Southern slavery implies that it depends on culture and therefore is relative. Dabney’s position is very interesting: the righteous Anglo-Saxon Christian has a duty to enslave people that cannot govern themselves. The “evil is not slavery, but the ignorance and vice in the laboring classes, of which slavery is the useful and righteous remedy. . . . (A Defense of Virginia, page 207).

a. Do you repudiate this Dabney on this point? Yes or No? What is the right answer here?

b. Do you believe that owning another person is always wrong? Yes or No? It can’t be always wrong because you won’t let me out of here . . . no, wait! not the rack!

Article 4. Steve Wilkins is the director of the League of the South. It stands for the repeal of the 14th Amendment (guaranteeing equal rights for all Americans) and the secession of 15 Southern States to form a New Confederate States of America. Some would call this treason.

Do you repudiate the League of the South? Yes or No? Treason is bad, right?

Article 5. George Grant and Steve Wilkins support the novel Heiland, which has been compared to the Turner Diaries, the book that inspired the bombing of the Oklahoma Federal Building. The book’s hero leads a violent overthrow of a “godless” federal government.

a. Do you believe in the violent overthrow of the U. S. government? Yes or No? No!

b. Do you repudiate the ideas contained in the novel Heiland? Yes or No? Yes! Especially the weird parts about chelation therapy.

Article 6. George Grant and Steve Wilkins are regular guest speakers at annual meetings of your Association of Classical and Christian Schools and Colleges.

a. Do your unscholarly views of the Civil War appear in the curriculum? Yes or No? Not one of my unscholarly views appears in the curriculum.

b. Do your schools support neo-Confederate and Christian nationalist views? Yes or No? My schools? I don’t have any schoo . . . okay, okay. We repudiate all icky views. Never heard of ’em.

Article 7. Grant, Wilkins, and you are the principal speakers at the February conference. The conference is called a “history” conference but no professional historians are speaking. The slavery booklet was one of the publications of the first conference in 1994, but the fact that this booklet is now declared “not scholarly” indicates that this conference and its predecessors may not be scholarly conferences. Furthermore, if you reject the neo-Confederates, why are you inviting them to Moscow?

a. Is your meeting scholarly and credible? Yes or No? Yes. We want it to be scholarly very much. Anything for respectability.

b. If No, would you consider moving it off campus so as to save embarrassment to academic community and North Idaho? No. We want to keep it on campus so that the credibility will rub off the other way. Perhaps we can learn to ask yes or no questions too.

c. Doesn’t this conference give credibility to a movement you reject? Yes or No? No!

Article 8. In your slavery booklet you condemn slave owners who had sex with their slaves as “ungodly.” But Abraham had sex with his servant Hagar and was convinced by his wife Sarah to abandon Hagar and his son in the desert.

Do you repudiate Abraham and Sarah as ungodly? Yes or No? Is it all right to say no? Okay, no.

Article 9. You have said that your main goal is to defend the Bible in all that it says. Yahweh declared genocide against all the inhabitants of Canaan and he made sure that it was carried out by the Israelite armies. Most people believe that slaughter of any group of people, regardless of their reputed sins, is always wrong.

a. Do you repudiate Yahweh for commanding genocide? Yes or No? No, but I advised him against it.

b. Do you support the international conventions against genocide? Yes or No? This isn’t a pro-life trick question, is it? It is? Then no.

Article 10. In your slavery booklet you claim that since the Bible condones slavery but condemns kidnapping, it was not sinful for people to own Africans that they themselves did not ship from Africa. I believe that is as absurd as Buddhists who rationalize meat eating because they claim they were not involved in the slaughter of the animal itself.

a. Do you agree with me? Yes or No? Always!

b. Do you repudiate the owning of another person, any time, any place? Yes or No? Can I go now? No? Then no.

Article 11. In 1995 the Southern Baptist Convention passed a Racial Reconciliation Resolution requesting that members repent for the evils of racism and Southern Slavery. My understanding is that these are conservative evangelical Christians, are they not?

Would you have voted for this resolution. Yes or No? Can I read it first? No? Wait, not the boot! Yes, I would have voted for it. Twice!

Article 12. When the League of the South was founded in 1994, it recognized, as a way of honoring both Confederate soldiers and Scottish rebels, the Confederate flag as a Christian symbol, specifically as the Cross of St. Andrews. In 1994 you founded your college and called it New St. Andrews.

Is New St. Andrews a neo-Confederate and Christian nationalist college? Yes or No? No! That would be bad and evil. Do you want to sign anything?

Apologetics in the Void” are repostings from an on-going electronic discussion and debate I had some time ago with members of our local community, whose names I have changed. The list serve is called Vision 20/20, and hence the name “visionaries.” Reading just these posts probably feels like listening to one half of a phone conversation, but I don’t feel at liberty to publish what others have written. But I have been editing these posts (lightly) with intelligibility in mind.

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