There seems to be an odd impulse that follows any kind of mass shooting, and that is the impulse that some people have to find and utter an immediate hot take that will score them some instant points against their political enemies. I would like, weather permitting, to make a few observations about a handful of these hot takes. If you scroll down through this post, you will see, along the right side there, a veritable Hall of Lame.
Sometimes a hot take can make some kind of sense, at least on the surface. In the aftermath of a shooting, I can at least understand why a debate about gun control would happen, for example. That is sort of an old-fashioned debate, where sparks fly between the correct position and a plausible position. But in today’s demented climate, different lunacies vie with one another for preeminence, while the correct position has already been hauled off to a psychiatric hospital to discover how it got to be so Asian-phobic.
So after the Atlanta shooting the other day, a particularly ripe example of this was a hot take submitted to the world by Jory Micah. It was brought to my attention for obvious reasons, and so I do have something to say.
Now there are two layers to this one. The first is the element shared with the other examples further down the Hall of Lame from Bradley, Denhollander, et al—which is the remarkable and instantaneous knowledge that Robert Aaron Long was radicalized, that it had a racial anti-Asian component, and who in his background was responsible for it (and who not), along with those responsible parties scattered around the country, and who had nothing whatever to do with any of it. Thus far Jory Micah fits right in. So much is standard.
But the second layer is where she excelled, which was in her exuberant embrace of the ethic of the snitch, one that celebrates turning people into the authorities simply because you differ with their politics. This is the attitude that filled the gulags, and the only way it can work is if the people doing it, like Micah, are not even a little bit self-aware. She knows exactly who she would sic the FBI on, and she is actively recruiting others to think the same way. Centuries ago, incidentally, this is the kind of mentality that would blame the Jews for the village well drying up.
That said, let us return to the cause of the shootings, which apparently can be ascertained without a whole lot of trouble.
So let me begin by saying that I don’t really know any more about the details of this shooting than Jory Micah does, which is apparently saying a lot, but I am a quick enough study to be able to play the same post hoc game she has decided to play. Robert Aaron Long, an obviously disturbed young man committed a series of senseless murders, and so certain hyper-partisans rummage through his antecedents to see if there if there is any gunk they might find to throw at their political enemies. Ah. He attended Crabapple First Baptist Church, which is a Southern Baptist Church, and one affiliated with the conservative Founders Conference. Not quite sticky enough for a really terrific smear, but it will certainly do in a pinch.
Can I play this game too? Long also attended Sequoyah High School, a government school, and over the course of an average high school career, I figure the ratio of godless lectures he heard there compared to the number of godly sermons at Crabapple would be something like 25 to 1. Maybe all that relativistic goo had more to do with this gross failure of character formation than did the “malformation” caused by hearing sermons from the Bible. And it even gets worse. If you go to the web site of Sequoyah High, you will soon discover a frenzy of cultural appropriation—I mean, their mascot is an Indian chief, for crying out loud, and the moniker they have adopted for all their students is that of “chief.” Not only so, they invite all to “find out what it means to be a chief.” Then on the front page, they also offer a resource called Hacking School Discipline. The subtitle is 9 Ways to Create a Culture of Empathy and Responsibility. I hope you noticed that word empathy there, the font of all our woes.
And I understand that Long was in rehab for about half a year. Was the counseling there secular perhaps? And that brings up yet another question—what meds was he on? Why are we never allowed to ask about meds when these shootings happen? Why do I know that he used a 9mm gun, but I won’t ever know if he was on medications or not?
To be clear, I really don’t think that anybody should be playing this kind of blame game in the immediate aftermath of a shooting. But if everybody insists that we play this game, I can think of other places to start asking our questions besides the theory that White Supremacy Central Command suddenly decided to veer off in an anti-Asian direction.
Something is eating Anthony Bradley on the inside, and I think it has gotten into his educational portfolio. Unlike Micah, who seems to be a featherweight ideologue simpliciter, Bradley is a man of some talent being slowly eaten up by something rancid. He didn’t begin in an absurd place, but he is steadily getting there.
First, notice how confident Bradley is that Long was “radicalized,” and exactly where he was standing when it happened. There is a real serenity of judgment displayed in this, like Bradley was the Buddha sitting by a lotus pond or something. Saying obvious things like “the oxen are slow, but the earth is patient.”
Even though Bradley is not a man of the left, he is starting to display the same toxic impulses. There is no conceivable way that Bradley could know something like this. But saying it serves a purpose anyhow—but the purpose is in pursuit of politics, not justice.
And as a side note, I am starting to see why many on the left want to defund the police. Investigations cost time and money, and who needs to mess around with that kind of thing when you have access to this kind of telepathic power? Just make sure your telepathic insights line up with the narrative that the media wants to push anyhow. Better traction that way.
And second, please notice the groups he tries to lump all together, as though they were all shoulder-to-shoulder in some massive establishment phalanx. Take a gander at the SBC, 9 Marks, Founders, and White Big Eva. As your sainted Aunt Millie might have put it, jumpin’ Jehoshaphat. So I’ve got ten dollars here that says that Anthony could get more phone calls returned from inside that well-heeled evangelical establishment than the guys at Founders could. But for some reason, Bradley wanted to sideswipe them all, and it had something to do with them being more susceptible to sunburn than he is.
But then third, look at the howler he commits when he refuses to distinguish someone who applies all that he is taught by his tribe and excels, and one who refuses to apply what he is taught and disgraces himself (and his tribe). Bradley is seriously arguing that a school, say, should make no distinctions between a distinguished alum and a dropout loser. He wants to know why—if that loser had applied himself instead, and gotten a 4.0, and then gone on to a distinguished career in public life, finally running for POTUS and getting it—why the search committee for a commencement speaker would go straight to him instead of one of his classmates who was just arrested for selling meth again. I can see a number of reasons for taking that committee’s approach, and cowardice would not be one of them.
But when senseless murders like this are denounced by Long’s tribe, he calls it cowardice. I see. I wonder what he would call it if they didn’t denounce it?
Anthony Bradley should be heartily ashamed of himself, and he owes a bunch of apologies to a whole bunch of people. I think this is the worst of the lot because I think he actually knows better. He doesn’t belong the Hall of Lame, and ought to see about getting out.
Rachael Denhollander is a tad more oblique. She simply points out that Long was a baptized member of an SBC church, and then goes on to chide all the brothers, the pastors, and the seminary heads in the SBC. She says, in an admonitory library lady tone, “How you teach sexuality matters.”
Yeah, it does, but the implication here is that Long was somehow applying what he had been taught, rather than rejecting it in a grotesque and violent way. So in her reckoning, somehow, some way, the SBC had apparently set Long on his dismal road, the one that ended with the murder of prostitutes.
Now I am fairly confident that the doctrine of Crabapple Baptist does not urge the fighting of temptation through the murder of your fellow sinners. When sin is rebuked by the godly, and those rebukes are rejected by an individual under that teaching, the rejection of the doctrine is not the same as application of the doctrine. If this were not so, then we would get to blame John the Baptist for Herod’s immorality. That could actually come in handy if John the Baptist’s doctrine was starting to pinch a little.
And incidentally we do have some indication of what kind of teaching Long thought he was applying through his language. He describes himself here as having a sexual addiction. That is language from the world of therapy, and not the language of Scripture. I can hear catechetical echoes in what he is saying, but I am afraid it is not the 1689.
The last one to deal with here is a sad preemptive attempt to take some of the shine off our upcoming celebration over my anticipated Pulitzer for literature. I’m sorry, but we are not going to let anyone ruin that happy occasion for us. It is just too important to us, and we have worked on this project for far too long.
Let’s leave aside the fact that Botkin’s close reading of my book failed to communicate to her that there is no wood chipper in Ride, Sally, Ride. She must be thinking of poor Carl’s end in Fargo, an Oscar-winning film, which she has apparently seen, and I haven’t, as opposed to Ride, Sally, Ride, which I have read and she apparently hasn’t. These wood chipper things are tricky, because you never know when they will win you the accolades of the world, like an Oscar or something, or when they will garner you fierce condemnations, a la Botkin. So I always steer clear of wood chippers in my fiction. Wood chippers are not a safe bet.
Although she got everything inverted, like it was National Upside Down Day, Botkin nevertheless did stumble onto one of the themes of the book. She says that we in the Reformed culture, if we put up with books like Ride, Sally, Ride, “shouldn’t be shocked when men actually treat sex workers like evil objects they can destroy with impunity.”
But actually the argument, and the logic of the whole thing, runs in the other direction. Here is how the point is made in my book, and it was a point that made the Pulitzer committee sit up straight in their chairs, I can tell you.
It made her think that he must have been reading Chesterton right before he wrote it. The line was this: “There is no way to treat things (like sex androids) as though they are bio-women without this resulting in the treatment of bio-women as though they are things.”
Wilson, Douglas. Ride, Sally, Ride (Or Sex Rules) : A Novel (p. 172). Canon Press. Kindle Edition.
Notice how Botkin attributes the context for the murder of these prostitutes to a Christian novel that exalts faithful monogamous marriage, and which excoriates perversion, faithlessness, and sexual folly, and she does not attribute the context of the murders to the ethos of the entire world in which the murders occurred—a world in which women are routinely treated like slabs of meat for sale.
But Botkin fulminates against the former framework, and notice her carefully parsed language concerning the latter—how she refers to “sex workers,” as though the spas they were in were actually spas, and not brothels. And no, I hasten to explain to some, this does not mean that I believe that murder is all right, provided the victim is a prostitute. What it means is that the entire sex industry is predicated on the treatment of women as though they were commodities to be bought and sold, and this grim reality is not ever fixed with pc-jargonshine like “sex-worker.” For the love of Pete. Some people.
Treating women with contempt is what teaches people to treat them with even more contempt. And calling women back to their appointed place as the glory of one man is not that kind of contempt, however much it might distress some people.
But the sexual revolution has unleashed a torrent of contempt for women. It has done so in the name of liberating women, but the devil has always been a lying serpent (John 8:44), lying from the beginning. Not only so, but women have always been particularly susceptible to his approach to lying (2 Cor. 11:3; 1 Tim. 2:14).
You shall be as God, he had said. You will know how to discriminate between good and evil. You will sit on the great thrones of judgment, and will be discerning and wise and thoughtful. That was the promise. How it has gone thus far has certainly fallen short of the commitments made. “You shall not die,” but we do die. “You shall be as God,” but we are all just blinkered inch worms. “You shall be able to astonish the world with how you are able to distinguish good and evil,” but where have we come? You cannot even distinguish between a faithful mother and a predatory drag queen reading story books at the library. Fools and blind.
You will perhaps have noticed that out of the four interlocutors that I selected today, three of them are women, and the fourth is speaking as the foolish women speak. The theology of the evangelical world today is a theology dominated by untethered women, and of the men who have decided to echo them, albeit with a faint masculine sheen—and getting fainter by the year.
What is said publicly in the course of our evangelical discourse today is either said by women, or said in a way calculated not to offend the women. The evangelical world today is consequently thoroughly effeminate, and this is why—apart from real repentance and true reformation—ordination of homos and trannies and lesbyterians in our ranks is barrelling down the tracks toward us. It is just a matter of time. Just within the last year or so, the pace of acceleration toward that end has picked up significantly, and it will be on us in no time.
But we still have our standards, particularly the unbiblical and fastidious ones! We still object to those blogging miscreants who use words like homo, and tranny, and lesbyterian. We wish they would show a bit more compliance with modern sensibilities, and use more wholesome phrases like “the transgender faith community.”
Let me think about it, no. And don’t get me started on what George Gilder calls the pronoun mutants.
And by the way, just so you know, when I refer to “the women” above, I am not speaking of those women who love the Word and obey it. I am not speaking of Christian women. I am not addressing those women who are on the right side of the antithesis, and who consequently know who and what they are. I am not talking about the wise women, in other words. Nor am I speaking about the wise and faithful men, who are still at their post, still laboring to be faithful in faithless times.
To speak of the foolish women is not to say that all women are foolish. To speak of the brown dogs is not to claim that all dogs are brown. A quick litmus test for discovering who the foolish women are exactly would be to look for those who claim I am talking about all women. You get extra bonus points if you find one who said that I am comparing women to dogs. Not only that, but to dogs of color. “The levels of insensitivity are high with this one.”
I am speaking only of the deceived women, the kind who are pursuing an MDiv at a (formerly) sound seminary, in order to earn the credentials for telling the pastor and elders that they are not listening to the voices of the women in the congregation. But actually, they do listen to the women. Just not the foolish ones.
I keep beating the drum for this book, because it is a book that is desperately needed for our times. If you want to understand the madhouse that you now live in, and that your kids are growing up in, you really need to get this book. The principles contained in this book would have prevented all that sorry business addressed above. We could have spent our time here in other ways, equally edifying.
A Justice Primer
A basic introduction to the principles of biblical justice, desperately needed in our time.