Eric Mason has recently released a book entitled Woke Church, and he has done this at a time when a season of uncommon racial silliness has descended upon us all. And as a sage once observed, if there are twelve clowns in a circus ring cavorting about, you can jump down there and start quoting Shakespeare, but to the audience you’re just the thirteenth clown. That may have been what happened to Lig Duncan, who wrote the foreword.
The Sin of Being “White”
Let me describe a bit of the circus first. Because we have abandoned the law of God as our standard for defining justice, we find ourselves subjected to the chaos of competing ethical systems. And these competing ethical systems can be found within the woke orbit, and all the people who are trying their best to be docile and cooperative don’t quite know what to do. It is getting to the point where they are scratching their watches and winding their rear ends.
On the one hand, whiteness is the social construct of a powerful illuminati, and not a biological fact. This is what they mean when they do things like what IVP Academic did last year. They released a page-turner entitled Can “White” People Be Saved?
But whiteness here refers to The Man, to the System, to the Power Relationships, to White Supremacy as Construct. So when someone says that whiteness is “wicked,” see below, and we respond that this is racism pure and simple—bigotry based on biology—the reply will be that the enemy is not the pigmentation of the skin, but rather the whiteness of the ideology. The problem is the whiteness system, not the color white. The evil of your whiteness, my friend, is not found in your skin, which you can’t repent of, but in your slothful lack of wokeness, which you can and must repent of. Wokeness, for those just joining us, means that you are morally required to get with the program. What program? Why, their program. Glad you asked.
For example, there was recently a set-to at a Sparrow Women’s conference, where a Nigerian/American woman named Ekemini Uwan took out after whiteness. Her insights as a “public theologian” should be taken seriously because her web site is found at sistamatictheology.com. Get it? And though the photo there is very nice, way cute, I still think Charles Hodge had more gravitas. At the same time—I know, I know—not wanting to violate any of our new mandatory norms, I do want to put it on the record that I actually do understand that Hodge is dead, was white, and also male. Strike three. On top of all that, he was a historic Presbyterian, which is why he was ejected from the game, and sent to the locker room of Heaven, where he might reflect upon his misdeeds.
Anyhow, back to Uwan. At this conference, she said this:
“Because we have to understand something—whiteness is wicked . . . It is wicked. It’s rooted in violence, it’s rooted in theft, it’s rooted in plunder, it’s rooted in power, in privilege.”
Now if you look carefully at what she is actually objecting to, it should become immediately obvious that she is not a black bigot, focusing on skin color, but rather that she is some kind of commie. This is cultural Marxism, not bio-bigotry. She doesn’t hate your skin color. She actually hates your civilization. This is nothing so simple as reverse racism. This is Gramscian rot.
We know this because she went on to encourage the audience to surrender their whiteness, assuming that to be possible, and to recover some of their ancient tribal identities—their cultural ancestries as descendants of immigrants. “Are you Italian, are you Irish, are you Polish, are you Turkish? . . . Celebrate that.” I gather that in the ideal set-up, we would all go back to the tribal identities we had when we were fighting one another with spears.
Okay. So I am not being white anymore. I am an American of Scots and Scots/Irish descent. Can’t you just feel the healing radiating outward?
Repenting of Whiteness: An Excursus
And what does repenting of whiteness mean exactly? As Michael Foster asked on Facebook, “Does this mean no more Coldplay?”
Repenting of whiteness means no more piña coladas, or walking in the rain. Repenting of whiteness means no more TED talks for you. Repenting of whiteness means no more Middle Class Liberal Well-Intentioned Blues, see above. Repenting of whiteness means not buying that $10,000 slate shower that was intended to help you stay in solidarity with Central American peasants. Repenting of whiteness means giving up your purchases of “rich man apples” at Whole Foods. Repenting of whiteness means that you must stop bicycling to work with that Bergdorf Goodman leather satchel over your shoulder. Repenting of whiteness means you have already attended your last TGC conference. Repenting of whiteness means that you should stop giving Thabiti a pass just because it would look racist if you didn’t.
No Consistent Standard
But within this woke world, they reserve to themselves the liberty of toggling back and forth between the skin color simpliciter and the whiteness as construct. And this is what brings us to the chaos mentioned earlier, and to Eric Mason’s first chapter.
He tells the story of how his family was discussing a news story out of Libya. The gut-wrenching story was about how men who were smugglers of refugees out of Libya responded when the Libyan coast guard started making it difficult for them to get them out. Confronted with a backlog of refugees, they began auctioning them off as slaves. Mason’s eight-year-old son asked who these people were. Mason replied, “Son, these are our people.”
“My son couldn’t believe that people of any kind would be enslaved, particularly people that looked like him . . . He had never met any of the people featured in the video that we watched, but they looked like him, and he immediately understood . . . (Loc. 275-278)”
No, he did not understand. And the reason he did not understand this at all is because the thugs in Boko Haram look like him also. How hard would it be to search around the world and find some instances of pure villainy with black skin? You can’t just go out and identify with “our people,” carefully selected, when it suits you to identify with the victims, and disclaim any association when it associates you with the oppressors. Eric, by this standard, it is true that your people are getting shot up in Chicago. But it is also unfortunately the case that your people are the shooters.
And then there was that time Eric Mason found himself convicted as he listened to Jay-Z answer a question from Oprah (?!).
“He said that hip-hop, through its music and its culture, has had more impact on race relations than any figure or any entity other than Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights movement. He talked about how whites and blacks can come together in the clubs—even though they might not get together outside the club” (Loc. 291).
But the reason that whites and blacks will come together at a club to hear Jay-Z is that both whites and blacks have dirty little ears that like to listen to the kind of crap he puts out. Before quoting from a sample song by Jay-Z—the man the church should apparently have been more like, according to Mason—I do need to publish a trigger warning in case your sainted great Aunt Millie reads this next section, for whom the raciest pop song ever was Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B. That’s a roundabout language warning for you, right there.
Yo Yo J-A-Y, I flow sick
Fuck all y’all haters blow dick
I spits the game for those that throw bricks
Money cash hoes money cash chicks what
Sex murder and mayhem romance for the street
Only wife of mines is a life of crime
And since, life’s a bitch in mini-skirts and big chests
How can I not flirt with death
That’s life’s a nigga, long as life prevent us
We gonna send a lot and pray to Christ forgive us
Ice the wrists and raise the price on these niggaz
Y’all cant floss on my level
I’ll invite you all to get wit us if ya ball is glitter
When I go all the harlem playaz wall my picture
If you get close enough you can read the scripture
It reads money cash hoes how real was that nigga what
And Jay-Z looks like Eric Mason’s son. And so what? Eric’s son also looks like Thomas Sowell. The man who invented the light bulb looks like me, that light bulb being what I am attempting to draw over many of your heads right now. And Ted Bundy looks like me too. Maybe, and this is just an idea, shared tints of skin color should be considered by Christians to be ethically irrelevant. But then, if we want to continue with the whiteness-as-evil jive, we are forced back to a Gramscian critique of the System, and a secret cabal of powerful Jooooos who invented the whole apparatus of whiteness as a means of oppressing people of color.
Incidentally, while we are here, indicting all those behind-the-scenes evil-doers who invented the oppressive tool of “whiteness,” we should also remember that they were no doubt clever enough to invent “blackness” at the same time. They thought of everything. This is not a dime store oppressive system. This is a Hotel California oppressive system. These masterminds also came up with “people of color,” “ethnic minorities,” “the niggaz of rap,” “fetching public theologians,” all that. If they invented left, they also invented right. So if whiteness is evil, so is blackness. Wake up, sheeple!
Which, when you come to think of it, is the last thing we need—woke sheeple. But, whether it is the last thing we need or not, it is what we apparently now have a large number of.
That Term Woke
When it comes to his use of the term woke, Eric Mason says this:
“We have borrowed the term and redeemed it to be used in the context of being awakened from deadened, sinful thinking.”
Okay, this could be good. But when you redeemed it, what did you take out of it? What idols did you throw down in the course of redeeming it? When you picked up this term, did you change anything at all about it?
And the answer to that question would be a no.
He provides a diagram to illustrate what he means by this, which I cannot reproduce here, but I can describe it. He has three circles, overlapping at the center, and the place where all three overlap is the place where we all ought to be. Woke, in Mason’s sense.
One circle is Woke to White Perception. The second is Woke to Black Self-perception. And the third is Gospel Wokeness. Now the standards for gospel wokeness are objective, and are laid out for us in Scripture—as I am sure Mason would agree. But his diagram with regard to the other two circles is an exquisite example of how syncretism can be so seductive.
The first two circles are just simply jammed with non-biblical standards, expectations, and value judgments. Woke to White Perception? We are talking about how millions of people assume that millions of other people are thinking about them, and so it is obvious that someone must curate all these perceptions, and reduce it all to a single usable ethical perception—that we are then to overlay with scriptural terms, and submit to as though it were Scripture. But who is that curator? And who died and left him king? And then the second circle is how millions of blacks see themselves—again, who is the curator of that business? Malcolm X? William DuBois? Eldridge Cleaver? Angela Davis? Jesse Jackson? The only sure thing here is that it won’t be Clarence Thomas or Walter Williams.
Friend, truckloads of unbelieving content is being imported into your ethical system.
“Being woke isn’t limited to color or ethnicity or culture. It is possible for anyone to be woke. If you have a level of understanding of the double consciousness of blacks and are regenerate, you are woke.”
Great! That means I am woke. I have “a level” of understanding this double consciousness. Ah, ah—not so fast, Wilson. There are no woke paleo-Confederates.
“However our dilemma is this: sin and strongholds in our thinking can impair the depths of our wokeness.”
Once you get into the woke zone, you still have lots of work to do. Just put yourselves into the hands of these people, and they will lead you into the deep woke. No, thanks. Not going to play this game. This is really bad stuff.
A Concluding Suggestion
Quite a number of our poobahs in the Reformed and evangelical world have been co-opted by this foolishness. The disease is spreading rapidly, and apart from those connected to the Statement on Social Justice, there does not appear to be a coherent response developing. There needs to be far more—like an association of churches, say.
In the meantime, if you are one such leader, and have drifted along with any of this, not realizing there was death in the pot (2 Kings 4:40), the chances are good that you have recognized (for the sake of argument) that there were “excesses” in this social justice business. But you have also trusted those who have put an evangelical veneer on the whole thing. It is time to recognize that there are plenty of examples of such excesses within the evangelical camp, within our circles, and so what is now necessary is for you to attack those excesses, and their purveyors, by name.
And you must particularly do this if you are white. Okay, sorry—if you are Irish, or Scottish, or a Swede. We must learn to attack those who are undermining the comity that Christ purchased between the Jutes and the Zulu.