Method as Identity: Manufacturing Distance in the Academic Study of Religion, by Christopher M. Driscoll and Monica R. Miller is here, at last. Dr. Monica R. Miller and I have worked on this monograph for the last four years, so we’re thrilled to see it in our hands. And your hands, too. Admittedly, the price is a bit high for students, and well, most scholars, too. But that can quickly be addressed if everyone asks their institutional library to purchase a hard copy of the book now. Then, in about a year’s time, a paperback will be released.
“What does it cost to be a Negro? In Aiken, South Carolina, it cost a man his sight.”
“What does it cost to be white? In Aiken, South Carolina, it cost a man his soul.”
The NAACP turns 107 today. February 12 also marks the anniversary of the brutal police beating of African American Isaac Woodard. In 1946, Woodard had been recently honorably discharged from the Army, and, while still in uniform, beat with such ferocity by “Officer X” of Aiken, South Carolina that it left Woodard permanently blind. Police brutality is nothing new. Neither are voices of resistance — black, brown, & white. Woodard’s case was publicized thanks largely to Orson Welles.
It does not take courage or a national platform to speak out against racial injustice. It takes willingness and anger at living in a world of white lies.
“I know what happened, it is very simple. They woke up the wrong man.”
#BlackLivesMatter #WhiteLiesMatter #WhiteLiestheBook
Over the last week (and really for much longer), President of the United States Barack Obama and President of Liberty University Jerry Falwell, Jr. have offered two seemingly different approaches for curbing the rising tides of domestic and foreign threats of violence. On December 4, two days after the San Bernardino massacre, Falwell spoke to the students of Liberty and expressed frustration that President Obama’s “answer to circumstances like [the San Bernardino massacre] is more gun control.” He then encouraged the students to obtain a concealed carry gun permit, so that they could “end those Muslims before they walked in.” On December 6, President Obama spoke to the nation from the Oval Office and discussed the San Bernardino massacre, “the broader threat of terrorism, and how we can keep our country safe.” The President spoke proactively of his administration’s “strategy to destroy ISIL,” marking seven years of “confronting the evolving threat” through his “authorizing U.S. forces to take out terrorists abroad” because he knows “how real the danger is.” The speech ended with Obama jumping up onto a tightrope we’ve seen him walk before, that of distinguishing “ISIL” from “Islam,” and “Terrorists” from “Muslims.”
On this year’s 4th of July holiday, many white Americans are feeling their identity encroached upon and their opinions ignored. Especially in the south, many whites feel that the recent focus on removing the confederate flag from public spaces is an attack on our heritage, our past, and our very identities. Here is the totality of what white southern identity looks like, as some would have us think:
IN 2005, one of today’s most revered American writers, David Foster Wallace (now deceased), delivered a commencement address to graduates of Kenyon College, titled “This Is Water.” The twenty-minute speech is worth a listen or read, freely available on YouTube and in Wallace’s eponymous 2009 collection, This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life. Some of what he says in the address about liberal arts education is applicable to humanism. In particular, his words help to color a brand of humanism I refer to as “uncertain humanism,” a way of privileging human possibilities for flourishing that relies on an embrace of and appreciation for uncertainty—for not knowing, feeling anxious, insecure, and unsettled. Uncertain humanism is not just about how we approach “facts.” It involves how we approach our very identities and who we think we are.
Continue reading at The Humanist Magazine July/August 2015...