Friday, April 03, 2015

DR. BRITTNEY COOPER’S ARTICLE SURPRISED ME:exclusionary instead of inclusionary?

Until I read Professor Cooper’s article the other day, I did not know I was a white supremacist, racist, sexist, homophobic pig.  It is true that I am a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) born right after World War II and raised in the 50’s.  It is also true that I grew up on a mission station in what was then called Southern Rhodesia which was run by an apartheid government.  Zimbabwe did not get its full independence until much later although I was there when Ian Smith declared a Unilateral Declaration of Independence from Great Britain on behalf of his white government in 1965 (the only other country to do so besides the the USA). Maybe it was in Rhodesia I became a racist pig?

I was surprised to know how bad I was.  It might also have surprised a very close female friend I had in south Florida a few years ago.  She was African American, a recovering addict, a former prostitute, a mental health and addictions advocate and a wonderful friend to both my wife and I who we lost to complications from HIV.  Val would have been surprised to learn I was a white supremacist, racist, sexist, homophobic pig.

The article would surprise Tony Campolo the author of the books Love Not Power, Red Letter Christians and It’s Friday but Sunday’s Coming.  Bono wrote this about Campolo and Red Letter Christians, “As regards Tony Campolo, it’s always been an embarrassment to me that the Preacher is more radical than any rock star.”  President Jimmy Carter wrote about the same book, “This book, by a young (Shane Claiborne) and an elderly Christian (Tony Campolo), will help you decide how we Christians could change the world if we took the “red letter” words of Jesus literally and seriously.”   It would surprise Tony Campolo to know that as an evangelical he was being called racist, sexist, and homophobic person because he has spent his life teaching and preaching the social gospel.

My point is simple.  I am asking is it fair to paint with such a broad brush or is Dr. Brittany Cooper doing the same thing as she is accusing others of doing?  Is she being exclusionary instead of inclusionary?  I will let my own writings and life stand as my witness as to whether I should be included or excluded, but I think all of us should remember that if you buy into the Gospel story none us us are the judge.  If I remember the “red letter” words of Jesus correctly He warns us against judging others.

Dr. Cooper points out in the article that she is an academic.  I don’t know whether that is a good word or a cuss word, I never did well in college so I am certainly not an academic.  However, Jesus was not lynched as she states in her article.
“His message of radical inclusivity was so threatening that the state lynched him for fear that he was fomenting a cultural and political rebellion.”
I have no idea why she used this language because not too long before that in the article she used the correct terminology.   Maybe she was trying to make Jerusalem sound like the old south, but she knows better.  However, this is not what I consider to be her biggest departure from the Gospel story.
“The Jesus I know, love, talk about and choose to retain was a radical, freedom-loving, justice-seeking, potentially queer (because he was either asexual or a priest married to a prostitute), feminist healer, unimpressed by scripture-quoters and religious law-keepers,  seduced neither by power nor evil.”
I have studied the four Gospels well and the only conclusion that I can draw from her summary depiction of Jesus is that she made Him in the image she wanted Him to be and did not care at all how accurate it was to what was recorded in the Gospels.  She is correct that Jesus was a Jew and not a blue eyed blond, but what she follows this with is as far a reach as anyone that thought he was a blue eyed blond.

Dr. Cooper also seems to think if you are pro-life that also makes you a devil.  Her intolerance for any other viewpoint other than her own seems very violent in its own way.  Her language is not kind or tolerant towards anyone other than those who agree with her or are like her.  I am pro-life and have been all of my adult life.  When faced with service in the military during the late 60’s, I was a medic in the Army and filed for noncombatant status.  I do not try to push my views or will onto others about pro-life or nonviolence.  I believe and Project Dream Again has stood for since its inception in 1988, that each individual has the right to be free and to decide their own path to reach their own dreams in this world.

A person like myself who has spent years being treated worse than a second class citizen and who belongs to a group who by virtue of their psychiatric label have less rights in this country than any other group, does not feel like being lectured on how bad they are towards other people by anyone.  So, Dr. Cooper stop lumping all WASP’s together.  We do not all sting alike.     

© Ed Cooper, April 3, 2015, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
   All rights reserved

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