8 thoughts on “Is Critical Theory a Threat to Evangelicalism? – A Dialogue with Neil Shenvi, Part 8

  1. Nathan A. Rinne September 14, 2019 / 4:27 am


    Hey, it’s me again. Thanks for the open forum that you keep here. I’ve a bit surprised that more persons are not commenting in these spaces, but I guess all the “substantial” discussion happens in Twitter spaces these days… : )

    And thanks again to you and Neil for conducting this most interesting and informative debate.

    “The argument is that given a society structured to distribute advantages/disadvantages according to socially constructed group membership, dominant groups are in a structurally oppressive relation to subordinate groups, by virtue of said distribution…”

    The sticking point for me continues to be things like this:

    If a certain family, nuclear or a bit extended, wants to continue to pass on its particular practices, meaning the language it speaks, the customs it practices, and the morality that it upholds, most persons in the world, save a man like Karl Marx, would not begrudge them this.

    Most would not begrudge them this even if they mean to focus on “distributing advantages” to their own without the intended result of “distributing disadvantages” as well!

    In other words, they do not necessarily let certain people who are not “of them” live in their homes for indefinite amount of times, they do not necessarily worry about only moving out of the high-crime area when they can take all of the other neighbors they can trust with them, and they also do not do things like read to all the other children in the neighborhood at bed time (even if perhaps they do try to make a “little free library” or something like this). All of these things might arguably be good things that, in an ideal world would be attempted, but very few of us are going to jump down their throats for making the hard decisions they make.

    Now, let’s try this:

    If a certain ethnic group, very similar by blood or perhaps a bit “racially mixed”, wants to continue to pass on its particular practices, meaning the language it speaks, the customs it practices, and the morality that it upholds, most persons in the world would not begrudge them this.

    Correct? I mean, we all like Wakanda.

    OK then.

    Let’s take matters to the next level:

    If a certain ethnic group is excited to have their most prominent leaders and figureheads marry prominent persons from other ethnic groups in order to facilitate the combining of their groups into one – not to have two separate cultures (which doesn’t work if you don’t have some fences), but to begin the process of forming a very real hybrid culture of sorts – how are we going to feel about them wanting to not necessarily involve a lot of other ethnic groups in the process as they try and make this happen? (one could also try to become more diverse in the way that Reihan Salam advises in his book “Melting Pot or Civil War” where very few immigrants seemingly capable of becoming middle class are allowed in to a country and then more or less isolated at they are forced to assimilate, a la “when in Rome do as the Romans do”). Is that oppression?

    And what if one of these groups is not as powerful in terms of population size, for instance, and the larger group feels strongly that their language and their culture, etc. is not even necessarily superior in an objective sense, but is simply the one they really prefer and do not want to part with (even as they also really are eager to be respectful of other culture practices, and to see what is good, true, and beautiful in them and incorporate them wherever they can?) What if they insist on basically using their language, and the smaller ethnic group, the minority, is alright with this? Is that oppression?

    (also, what if religious groups have a very rich tradition, like the Eastern Othodox communities, and they do this kind of thing… oppression?)

    We don’t even need to talk about this in terms of the “dominant culture of the United States” for example. Preferences like these may differ from region to region. There is a good reason why the Czechs and the Slovaks had their “velvet divorce” in 1993, shortly after being freed from the shackles of communism. It’s not that they hated each other – its just that they wanted to remain two different “nations” because they value their ethnic heritage, language, etc.

    In this case are they both oppressors?

    What is wrong with all of this? The only real alternative, it seems to me, is to have new ethnic groups form through wars of conquest, where the victor takes the spoils, including the women and children they please from the conquered persons. My impression is that this is how new ethnic groups have typically formed in world history (or at least here we have the transformation of existing ethnic groups who continue to be recognized as that group by others).

    It seems to me that in order for anyone who practices CT or CRT to be convincing about how their theories are beneficial and not just aimed at overthrowing the “oppressor” that is any group that wants to maintain its way and form of life (i.e. “dominant group”), questions like these need to be addressed and dealt with intelligently and carefully.



    • idnoolf (@msanparr) September 27, 2019 / 8:52 am

      Hey, I’ve been reading this series and your comments – has Brad responded to them at all in private messaging or what not?

      I’m not sure I understand exactly what this comment is getting at, though – could you provide some real-world examples of what you’re alluding to?


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