Thursday, June 25, 2020

The New "Unmentionables"

I am reading through portions of Calvin's Institutes, primarily because I may seek ordination in a new denomination and I want to more closely examine where I fall on the theological spectrum, should I choose to affiliate with any of them.  One question I am examining is that of predestination.  I have found so few people, outside of academia, who are actually conversant on the issue.  I include myself in that group and so am "boning up" on what Calvin actually said.  I find his writing to be challenging but extremely insightful.  I also find that reviewing that level of writing helps me to better convey my own beliefs.

A surprising aspect of Calvin's writing is his freedom in using terms such as "ignorant" to describe those without a certain level of knowledge on a particular subject, and"stupid" to describe, well, "stupidity."  Amidst all that is going on in the American social scene today, in disallowing the use of certain words, I am amazed that other words are tolerated.  It is nothing to hear people of significant social standing use profanity with impunity ((including the "Queen Mother" of all swear words) while having no tolerance for descriptive words such as "lynching."  Lynching was done to cattle rustlers, horse thieves, and murderers as well as in clearly racist settings.

So too, Statues of those who "owned slaves" are toppled irrespective of the value other aspects of their lives brought to the world, providing mixed messages of morality.  Other statues, such as the baphomet idol (satanic) are erected in Detroit with celebration, while some suggest that "white Jesus" in all forms ought to be destroyed. Statues of Martin Luther King Jr (a well attested adulterer), and others, remain in spite of the mixed moral messages given.  We are in challenging days with knowing how to address these situations. And language is failing us.  Even the conversations we are trying to have around these issues are being cut off by accusations like "hurtful", "hateful", "racist" etc.

So, enough ranting.  I'll let Calvin use "stupid" and "ignorant" because, irrespective of the manner in which they may be used by some, they are good words, descriptive words.  And reading classics such as those like the Institutes will serve us well in re-learning the power of the spoken word.

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