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Nuking fish in a barrel

Dave Horstkoetter has a send-up of blowhard and all around terrible human being, Glenn Beck, and his comments about James Cone and black liberation theology at The Other Journal. Check it out.


  1. Gene McCarraher wrote:

    Fine essay, Halden, but I wonder if Horstkoetter and others who “respond to Beck” aren’t wasting their time. Beck is either crazy or cynical or (probably) both, and all three options put him beyond the reach of rational discourse. His audience is nothing but an echo chamber, so they, too, aren’t reachable, at least most of them, and I doubt that they read The Other Journal. The citizens of GlennBeckistan — along with the residents of Breitbartland and other realms of lunacy and bigotry — aren’t interested in empirical reality or debate.

    Last week, I heard a disheartening report on NPR about the social-psychological phenomenon of “cognitive dissonance.” Often, it seems, when you present people with irrefutable evidence that their beliefs are wrong, many dig in their heels. Example: the recent brouhaha in Arizona about “decapitated bodies” on roadsides, allegedly beheaded by illegal immigrants. Some journalist did the astonishingly rational thing and called every single coroner in the state, asking if any headless bodies had turned up in their morgues. You guessed it: not a one. Tell people this, and they don’t believe it — it’s the Liberal Media, or an Obama Conspiracy, or the bodies have been buried somewhere, probably next to the concentration camps that Obama has prepared for those who opposed health care reform.

    What I’m suggesting is that our political and religious discourses are so completely fractured that rational discussion has become pretty much impossible. To put it in Daniel Moynihan’s terms, not only do many people feel entitled to their own opinions, they feel entitled to their own facts. I honestly don’t know what to do or think when the level of popular irrationality has gone this high. Chris Hedges is right: we’re in the Empire of Illusion, and it looks as though it’s only going to worsen, especially as the capitalist economy looks as if it’s headed toward a second collision with an iceberg.

    Friday, July 23, 2010 at 1:58 pm | Permalink
  2. Halden wrote:

    Yeah, that’s pretty much how I feel.

    Friday, July 23, 2010 at 2:03 pm | Permalink
  3. MFB wrote:

    I also heard this depressing NPR story, brought to life at church last week when someone told me that as many scientists thought global warming was a myth as those who believe it is exacerbated by human interference. A little off topic, but Gene’s comment (and NPR) make me wonder about the possibility of educating those outside our particular camp. Is there a way to overcome cognitive dissonance or do we focus on training up more like minded people, and then attempt to take over the world? Is it simply the medium of mass media that prevents learning? Is the classroom/pulpit a different kind of space?

    Friday, July 23, 2010 at 2:18 pm | Permalink
  4. Gene McCarraher wrote:

    MFB: I do think that training more “people like us” is one part of the answer; though I’m not sure “taking over the world” is the object. I don’t think it’s so much the mass media as it is the ownership and ideological structure of the media. The classroom and the pulpit are different kinds of spaces — as a university teacher, I occupy one of the perches — but since so many students (even at the Ivy League levels, according to Hedges and others) now see university life as little more than vo-tech school for the corporation, I’m increasingly pessimistic about the university as a site of resistance to corporatism, imperialism, etc.

    Unfortunately, as a historian, I think that often what finally changes minds about large issues is, quite simply, catastrophe. We didn’t wake up to the falsity of laissez-faire economics until the Great Depression (and even then, it flourished among key sectors of the popuiation, staging a comeback in the 1980s). The most recent economic crisis still hasn’t demonstrated to millions of people that neo-liberalism, de-regulation, and the rest of the imperial consensus are bogus. So many are so enchanted by the beatific vision of capital that they’re incapable of seeing reality even when it erases their savings, pollutes their streams, threatens their children’s future, or throws them on the unemployment line. They’d rather listen to Beck or Palin, or get their bread and circuses from reality TV.

    And, just to add, it’s not like President Obamarama has given anyone a reason to hope. Palin’s right to mock about one thing: How IS that hopey-changey thing workin’ out for ya? From the bailout to health care reform to financial regulation, he’s been a corporate shill. And on Afghanistan and Guantanomo, he’s worse than Bush.

    Friday, July 23, 2010 at 3:07 pm | Permalink
  5. Gene, I agree with you that the polarization makes talking difficult at best and the one’s with blinders do not see all that well. However, I don’t simply see this as a response to Beck proper.

    I determined that my first priority in writing the essay was truth-telling. I ought not sugar coat the issues at hand, and I should keep a sharp edge. So I decided to follow the master, Terry Eagleton in his review of Dawkins. Now, I am not under the delusion that I have Eagleton’s mastery of the English language, or wit. Still, the method seemed apt. The poverty and ugliness of Beck’s work, and the popular narrative he is working within, has to first be exposed for the falsehood it is — you of all people know this (I still love your line about in glutinous mammon and capitalism in “The Enchantments of Mammon”).

    I think the paper actually has less to do with Beck, and more to do with Cone’s project and evangelicalism’s need to reckon with race. Beck, while somewhat central, was also a foil. Perhaps we think I have a different audience for the paper.

    Friday, July 23, 2010 at 4:43 pm | Permalink
  6. Gene McCarraher wrote:

    Dave — points taken. I certainly don’t think you’re wasting your time telling the truth — that’s the first and indispensable element of the intellectual’s vocation.

    I guess I was responding more out of my own growing sense of hopelessness — and helplessness — at what I see as the ever-accelerating crack-up of American culture and politics. Perhaps it’s better to see your devotion to truth-telling as the only, salutary, albeit fragile antidote to that situation, as well as the remedy for my sense of foreboding. So for that,everyone who reads your piece owes you a very big thanks. (And thanks for the compliment about “Mammon.”)

    Back to truth-telling for all of us.

    Friday, July 23, 2010 at 5:55 pm | Permalink
  7. AndyAB wrote:

    I agree with Gene completely, in both of his posts. At what point do we draw that line though. David and I attend a conservative Catholic university, where illustrious alumni include Senator McCarthy (of Red Scare McCarthyism fame), and where the mention that God might not be male is greeted by even the women with disdain, and where white male theology graduate students openly declare their hostility to such tame initiatives as affirmative action. The few redeeming qualities of the place, Steve Long in particular, have no effect on the theological culture there as a whole. Most of them probably don’t listen to Beck, but all those shithead toadies at First Things are openly revered. This fault line runs right through theology departments, parishes, congregations. Even Mennonites have our racist, reactionary Glen Beck listeners who support such things as the recent Arizona laws.

    I think Gene is right about things having to get worse before any change can occur, but in which direction will it occur? Before white bourgeois theology students will wake up, we’ll have to experience more severe poverty than we do, and even then I doubt it will be enough because we can always be made to believe our condition is the fault of anyone and anything other than capitalist society: its those brown people. They’ve always been the problem: and most of them will believe it sadly.

    Friday, July 23, 2010 at 5:59 pm | Permalink
  8. Gene McCarraher wrote:

    AndyAB — I read the other day that many Mennonites are no longer pacifists, supporting U.S. intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    I agree 500% with your remarks about the toadies at First Things. i’m also sad to say that many people I know at Villanova are, if not FT types, then they’re Communio types, hung up on this weird Balthasaarian shit about gender and sexuality. (They also go on about the “homosexual agenda.”)

    You’re right, too, to suggest that racism, nativism, and I’d add homophobia, may well be the right-wing trifecta for return to power. But that’s why it’s all the more imperative to emulate Dave’s truth-telling. Be the change you want to see in the world, as they used to say — and as we should say again.

    Friday, July 23, 2010 at 6:22 pm | Permalink
  9. Andy Alexis-Baker wrote:

    What is a pacifist Gene? What is a peace church? If somebody threatens the property at Harvard University, the cops will promptly come with their guns and haul them away. If somebody threatens a Mennonite’s property, the same thing will happen. Those same Mennonites would never kill in war though. I am not sure there is a peace church anymore, we are all to rich to be that.

    That said, in Northern Indiana I have yet to be in a traditional Mennonite church in this area (and I’ve been to a lot of them) where pacifism is not the strong, strong, norm. Where pacifism is less strong is on the East Coast where Mennonites, in the name of missions to soldiers and such, have watered it down, in Canada where they tend to see their government as their savior and let armed police openly join and encourage (e.g. James Reimer) their members to join “peacekeeping missions” armed to the teeth, and in Kansas where Russian Mennonite culture sold out well before they got to America (there is a reason Mennonties got their ass kicked when the Soviets revolution began and when the anarchists like Machno came into their villages and forcibly redistributed to the wealth and sometimes meted revenge: The Mennonites had treated the surrounding peasants in awful ways, but that story is rarely acknowledged in our martyrology).

    Friday, July 23, 2010 at 7:26 pm | Permalink
  10. Andy Alexis-Baker wrote:

    “pacifism” in the second paragraph meaning opposition to war.

    Friday, July 23, 2010 at 7:27 pm | Permalink
  11. Keljeck wrote:

    A fun thing to do is watch his interviews, because they’re always so awkward. They’re a lot like Olbermann’s interviews where the interviewee awkwardly tries to figure out a way to agree with him, no matter what he says. So you have these academics who are not so far gone, who try to figure out how to qualify his questions.

    I don’t think he was purposefully misconstruing Cone’s work, he’s just that stupid. He can’t even get Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism right. He has a conspiratorial mind that can’t help but make bad connections. So he zeroes in on them at the expense of an honest reading. And those who listen to him are not certain of what he has to say because he’s Glenn Beck, they’re certain of what he has to say because they’ve suspected it all along. Which makes dealing with the problem that much more difficult. Sometimes I wonder if some people I met think they’re in an Ayn Rand novel.

    Sadly, the “conservative movement” is desperate for any voice it gets for some reason, so they give Beck a megaphone. Which depresses me because I still consider myself to be in some weak sense conservative.

    Friday, July 23, 2010 at 11:49 pm | Permalink
  12. Gene McCarraher wrote:

    Andy — I don’t know how to respond to your first point about “peace churches” except to say that, yeah, you’re right, and it sucks.

    There’s a Mennonite church a few miles away from where I live outside of Philadelphia whose congregation at least appears to uphold the old traditions about pacifism. (Believe me, given the current disaster that is the Roman Catholic Church, I’ve more than once thought of sitting in.) I guess I was shocked to learn about the degree of Mennonite declension on this point because the only Mennonites I know are a) the church I mentioned, b) Mennonite intellectuals such as yourself who I meet at conferences and such, and c) the writing of John Howard Yoder.

    Keljeck — Your remarks remind me that Beck has also hawked the writings of a guy named Skassen, I think, a flaming anti-Semite, fascist, and Holocaust denier. Beck has taken some of Skassen’s more patriotic passages and forgotten to mention the muck out of which they’re extracted. So maybe he is that stupid — or cynical.

    And don’t be a “weak sense” conservative. Come over to the left — the real left, that is, not the tepid liberalism that’s tagged as “left” by — Glenn Beck.

    Saturday, July 24, 2010 at 5:27 am | Permalink
  13. Andy Alexis-Baker wrote:

    “May the heart beat where it in fact, does, that is, on the left.” – Subcomandante Marcos.

    Gene, honestly, Mennonites are far and away more peaceable than the Catholic Church has been or probably ever will be, saving a few good radicals in the CW movement and such. The Mennonites have some diversity on war and other violences, but you will find far more radicals like myself in the Anabaptist tradition still, then you will in any other church. And even those who are not radicals (the ‘dancing bears for social democracy’ for instance), are often at least willing to listen. That is why I stick around. I have no idea where I would go if I left…things only get far worse it seems to me.

    I do think, David, that your post is important to write and do. People like Beck are encouraging a culture of open bigotry. Personally, I am more concerned about the subtle, everyday institutional racism than I am morons like Beck. Beck is easy to tear down. It is changing the culture of churches, universities and local congregations that is the hard part, especially when the people in charge are good liberals who have black friends, voted for Obama, and by god would never consider themselves racist. I can sit and talk with fellow Catholic students and they will tell me in the same breath and with a straight face that they oppose affirmative action as “reverse racism” but that they are not racist or think that whites are superior to other colors or anything. And they don’t. But they have bought into a fragmented view of life where all this race stuff is depoliticized and made individual.

    Community policing and such initiatives encourage that kind of localized, depoliticized view of racism. The problem is not systemic or institutional. It is not with wealth, and the structure of society, it is with a few bad apples at a local level. Most white university students completely buy into that sort of thinking. Even communitarians have the disease.

    Saturday, July 24, 2010 at 5:54 am | Permalink
  14. John Tyson wrote:


    I’ve been attending Mennonite church on the East coast (first in PA, now in VA) for about 7 years. I was raised in a bourgeois Nazarene church, which considered ‘shock and awe’ a peacekeeping mission. After moving to a Mennonite HS (only say about 70% Mennonite), I managed to encounter the secret that this Mennonite community had a rich pacifist tradition. It took 2.5 years until I found this out. Things like war and poverty were discussed by a couple history teachers in maybe 1 class per day, but it was all easily forgotten during the onslaught of math, computer, and science classes. Yet I left the Nazarene church in a instant and started attending a Mennonite church after I discovered that a few of these Mennonites were the only ones making sense. The school went on the following year to spend close to 16 or more million dollars on new facilities.

    Nevertheless, the Mennonite church is one of the only things left that I have hope in. You say it perfectly when you say that you just wouldn’t know where else to go if you left. Every single time I’m fed up, I come back to that, and realize that this might be the least wacked Christian community. I appreciate Gene’s honest comments on Roman Catholicism, but nothings worse than bourgeois evangelicalism. Are the Mennonites a peace church today? No. For a peace church to exist today, you need to read Foucault from the pulpit. But are the best thing left? I think so.

    Saturday, July 24, 2010 at 7:13 am | Permalink
  15. Andy Alexis-Baker wrote:


    I just posted on Jesus Radicals a roast of Mennonites who use pacifism to help the state be more effective at social control. I fucking hate that kind of shit. I find it much more insidious than Glen Beck.

    Saturday, July 24, 2010 at 7:22 am | Permalink
  16. aew wrote:

    Andy, while your main point that Mennonite faithfulness in the United States and Canada is deeply compromised regarding pacifism and many other issues is well taken, the narrative in the second paragraph of the relatively faithful MCs in Goshen/Elkhart versus the sell-outs in Kansas/Nebraska/Canada is little more than a tired, tendentious caricature which does not do justice to the diversity and nuances of history and of Mennonite congregational life and thought in those locations.

    Saturday, July 24, 2010 at 8:55 am | Permalink
  17. John Tyson wrote:


    I once had a Mennonite professor (who is a fervent pacifist) who claimed that Yoder, right before his death, had been at work on a project that would lead him to claim that central to ending war would be the emergence global police force or something similar. Is this true? You would know. But, of course, the reality is that we already have a global police force. The professor himself claimed this would be a great idea. I don’t think he knew any better, and he probably had never read Hardt and Negri, let alone Foucault, if he had he’d probably think otherwise.

    Your piece at JR hits the nail on the head and more. Disciplinary society is war by other means. Until Anabaptists fully realize this we will have to deal with these peace & justice types who want to proffer their ideas for different forms of “security” to the Pentagon and those who think if we would just leave Iraq and Afghanistan what we know as war would be over.

    Saturday, July 24, 2010 at 10:13 am | Permalink
  18. Keljeck wrote:


    Skassen is another great example of his stupidity. When it comes to Skassen he’s trying to hawk the 5,000 Year Leap, a “history book” that claims the God inspired Constitution of the United States of America (presumably only the 1781 version, all others being an abomination) created a 5,000 year leap in civilization thanks to giving us capitalism and democracy. It’s hard to make this up. And he claims this is a book that changed his life.

    He has a degree of cynicism, look at the Mother Jones article about his gold ads. But I think he really believes everything he says.

    As for the dark side of the Force, I’m conservative in temperament. You’ll never see me turn into a Maoist, but I do have some affinity to the “real left.” Even if most of the “real lefties” I’ve met annoyed the hell out of me.

    Saturday, July 24, 2010 at 12:22 pm | Permalink
  19. Andy Alexis-Baker wrote:

    John: No it is not true about Yoder. That is a myth started by Jim Wallis in God’s Politics. See Alexis-Baker, Andy. “Unbinding Yoder from Just Policing.” In Power and Practices: Engaging the Work of John Howard Yoder, edited by Jeremy Bergen and Anthony Siegrist, 147–65. Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 2009.

    Saturday, July 24, 2010 at 12:36 pm | Permalink
  20. Gene McCarraher wrote:

    Andy — Thanks for the reference. I’d heard the same rumor about Yoder. Gerald Schlabach, the Mennonite convert to Catholicism, has made “just policing” something of a cause of his. Thoughts?

    Keljeck — Beck is probably a good example of what happens when an intelligent person goes stupid. Rage and resentment just rot the mind.

    Saturday, July 24, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Permalink
  21. Andy Alexis-Baker wrote:


    Gerald and I will be arguing this out at a National Council of Churches conference next week in Indiana. I do not at all like the proposal. It has everything to do with race and class too.

    Here are some of my published articles on it:

    “Community, Policing and Violence.” Conrad Grebel Review 26, no. 2 (Spring 2008): 102–16.

    “The Gospel or a Glock? Mennonites and the Police.” Conrad Grebel Review 25, no. 2 (Spring 2007): 23–49.

    “Policing and Christian Forgiveness.” In Resisting the Sword: Historic Writings on Christian Peace and Nonviolence, edited by Michael Long. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, forthcoming.

    “Just Policing: A New Face to an Old Challenge.” In Peace Be With You: The Church’s Benediction Amid Empire, edited by Michael Hardin, 80–99. Telford, PA: Cascadia, 2010.

    I can send you any of them if you like. My dissertation will be in this area.

    Saturday, July 24, 2010 at 2:12 pm | Permalink
  22. Andy, of course you are correct about the subtle (and sometimes unconscious) racism that pervades all American thought — and I would not exclude my own here, even though I may also work against it. I’m just not sure how to really get after it ’cause all too often, people who do respond recognizing the problem tend to make the solution a pietist move, which de-materializes all responses and “absolves” the people of racism while leaving the racist structures intact.

    Saturday, July 24, 2010 at 4:47 pm | Permalink
  23. Andy Alexis-Baker wrote:

    Hey David,

    Well what does Cone say we should do? or Kameron Carter? Maybe we should start there.

    It is obvious to me that most of our theological mentors have not made race (or class) integral to their theological analysis or general outlook. That is why a white guy from Minnesota can recommend the police as a panacea for ecumenical fights and international troubles regarding war. Police. The most racist system I can think of in western culture. They were created to maintain class and race imbalances from the start. But here a white guy is talking about police and never once mentions race in his theory. How in the world can that possibly happen accept that we have so pushed the everyday reality we live in out of our minds that these things matter very little? Racism become about the overt stupidity of people like Beck, on the margins, easily overlooked and ignored because of its utter ridiculousness.

    So we start by making it integral to our theology and ethics. We don’t talk about things like war, police, peace without talking about race, without talking about class, gender etc. That is why in every single essay I’ve written on police, race and class conflict is front and center. I would have far less critique without that.

    Another start is to acknowledge our privilege at least. I am an excon, spent years in prison, yet I feel I have the world laid at my doorstep. I have not worked a real job in 6 years, since I began seminary studies. I have more publications than any graduate student I know, I’ve traveled freely, and do basically as i please. If I were a black excon, I would never have gotten into Wheaton College the way I did or had a parole officer sign my loan forms because “she believes in me.” I know this. Yet I still have a world of opportunity at my fingertips. I can challenge the intellecutal leadership at a college I worked on and not worry too much about whether it will harm me later: what the hell do I care? There is always another spot somewhere for an ambitous, persistent person like me.

    We have to look at our churches and universities and ask how we can cultivate relationships so that the power balance begins to shift away from us white men. Asking that question is threatening in a competetive capitalist university system. That is why white Marquette students don’t like talk of affirmative action. They feel threatened by it (even though it is really no threat at all).

    AEW: I suppose you are right, but I am just calling it as I have experienced it. When it comes to race people around here are far less conscious. A prominent pastor of a well-known Mennonite church in Elkhart for instance (a man I love dearly), is in the process of expanding the pastoral work to a team, and is trying to hire a couple white women. One young African American on the search committee of that church has been critical that one of the white women is not very good at race relations and moreover, being in a largely hispanic neighborhood, shouldn’t they look high and low for a person of color? The response from this pastor to this black person just blew me away: “you are too focused on race. Maybe you have unresolved issues and shoudl seek therapy.”

    I will not step foot in that church again. I am sad about that.

    Saturday, July 24, 2010 at 6:02 pm | Permalink
  24. Derek wrote:

    How awesome was Beck’s reference to “the collective.” Working Star Trek into a “theology” lecture, impressive.

    Saturday, July 24, 2010 at 7:44 pm | Permalink
  25. Daniel wrote:

    Andy, got a question for ya. Do you know of any good Mennonite takes on economics. Specifically discussing economic structures such as socialism, libertarianism, etc.?

    Saturday, July 24, 2010 at 8:52 pm | Permalink
  26. Andy Alexis-Baker wrote:

    I took a course in seminary called Economic Justice and Christian Conscience, but the texts by Mennonites were disappointing. Too much faith in capitalism, and on an international level they like “development” which I think is too much faith in technology as well. On a personal finance level, Ron Sider’s book Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger I think is helpful for upwardly mobile people like myself to keep a budget and increase giving regularly. I know some Mennonites who are doing some very interesting things in terms of economics, but nothing written. One Mennonite doctor in the area has a clinic, which serves mostly immigrants, in which he allows poor people to pay with vouchers they hand in for volunteering at local nonprofit organizations. His name is James Nelson Gingrich and he is probably the coolest Mennonite I know of. But nothing written on this type of thing.

    In contrast to Mennonite books on economics, I am reading Das Kapital by Marx this summer. Read it, that is my only suggestion.

    Saturday, July 24, 2010 at 9:24 pm | Permalink
  27. Andy Alexis-Baker wrote:

    “James Nelson Gingerich” (to correct the spelling). he was the theological guest lecturer at AMBS a few years ago. I don’t know if he wrote the lectures down or not. If so he might be able to pass them along.

    Saturday, July 24, 2010 at 9:26 pm | Permalink
  28. Andy Alexis-Baker wrote:

    My wife just told me the lectures are on iTunes for free

    James is one of those folks for whom race is a part of his theological vision.

    Saturday, July 24, 2010 at 9:33 pm | Permalink
  29. Those are good moves Andy, and ones I try as well. And of course certain answers are prescribed as well: to quote Cone, “you’ve gotta talk about it!”. None are wrong, per se, but often, it is still difficult to still get through to a thin mind: one who thinks they’ve got it all. I believe that Cone’s tack to get through is more creative than simply re-talking about race, but instead to focus on finding one’s theological voice. Nothing shows the poverty of one’s thought like trying to actually construct a ‘system’. And then there was also Cone’s emphasis on needing to be angry — to have a real fire in one’s belly — when working it all out. I believe these begin to break through the fogged glass, but I wish there were more, and quicker solutions. The most frustrating part about this all, and Gene was hitting on this earlier, the lack of clarity. Moments of clarity are rare, quick and fleeting.

    Saturday, July 24, 2010 at 10:40 pm | Permalink
  30. dcl driedger wrote:

    Daniel you may also want to check out P. Travis Kroeker from McMaster in Hamilton, ON. His background is Mennonite and engages Yoder and Wendall Berry (as well as a host of others) and does write on economics. His first book is Christian Ethics and Political Economy in North America: A Critical Analysis. I haven’t read that one but I vouch for the guy otherwise.
    And again he might not be a ‘Mennonite take’ depending on what you are looking for.

    Sunday, July 25, 2010 at 4:54 am | Permalink
  31. Brad A. wrote:

    Andy, it was hard to tell from your comment that we are part of the same department. There are certainly far more redeeming qualities about this place than what you suggest here, not the least of which is that people actually believe the content of their studies. That’s why Steve, among others (like myself), likes the place. I won’t go much beyond that here in public, but please be careful of your characterizations – they simply aren’t accurate on the whole.

    Sunday, July 25, 2010 at 5:35 am | Permalink
  32. Andy Alexis-Baker wrote:

    Steve, Therese Lysaught, Mike Duffey and the Center for Peacemaking. All reasons I would recommend the school to friends. And I have some good friends there as fellow students, Dave is one of them (you and I have barely met). But I stand by my comments.

    Sunday, July 25, 2010 at 6:51 am | Permalink
  33. In order to complete American expansion to the Pacific the powerful Comanches had to be conquered or destroyed. Had the Spanish/Mexican’s been able to defeat them, Mexico would have expanded at least to south Dakota and all of Texas, Calif., New Mexico, Arizona, Oregon etc. would have been part of a much more powerful Mexican empire that would have contended against the USA for regional and then wold dominance. The Franciscan missionaries, while successful with some with other tribes, failed completely with the Comanches, Kiowas, and Apaches, and were killed or driven back into central Mexico. Next to try were the Quakers. The corrupt officials and indian agents at the ‘Office of Indian Affairs‘ were so corrupt that every treaty with the Comanche failed to pacify them long enough for American military power to consolidate control. As part of President Grant’s “peace policy” the O.I A. was abolished in 1869 and in it’s place the new ‘Indian Bureau’ would administer Indian payments and commodities. Grant decided that he needed honest agents to distribute payments and food to any ‘pacified’ (starved, wounded, infected,orphaned, alcohol dependent) Indians and enlisted the morally un-impeachable (Pres. Nixon aside) Quakers as agents. This policy failed, but not because of the perfidy of the Quakers, who would even share all that they had with the Indians when the commodities supplied by the govt. either never arrived or were so spoiled or inferior that it would enrage the Comanches who return to raiding to survive. After 2 years this policy failed as well and the office at Adobe Walls was attacked and destroyed, as but by then General Mackenzie would successfully bring the sword to bear in forcing the Indians to embrace the ploughshare. Recently, Videll Yackeschi, a Baptist minister in Duncan Oklahoma
    and one of the last 100 Comanches fluent in their language spoke with pride of the Comanche ‘code talkers’ involvement during WWII (the Navajo’s, though, get most of the credit and a movie). He has been involved in a fight with the federal govt. to stop construction of a training center by the U.S. Army on Medicine Bluffs, which is considered sacred land. He has found some support among local United Methodist and Catholic congregations. obliged

    Sunday, July 25, 2010 at 11:02 am | Permalink
  34. Daniel wrote:

    Awesome. Thanks Andy and dcl driedger

    Sunday, July 25, 2010 at 3:16 pm | Permalink
  35. Charlie Collier wrote:


    I haven’t had the opportunity to read your essays on the topic, but can’t a case be made for something like the thesis that good policing undermines the causes for war? I think Yoder would have affirmed the thesis, without having budged on the argument that there is yet an even better way, the way of the cross, the way of Christian discipleship.

    But Yoder didn’t think we had to stop talking when non-Christians refused The Way, and so he thought there were still things to say to those who refused to believe that God redeemed the world through the one who knew no violence. He thought we could try to persuade folks to become more rigorous in their restraint of violent impulses.

    There’s plenty of violence in the average nation-state; there’s plenty of lust for power and hunger for revenge. Foucault’s analysis of modern disciplinary societies is necessary and important. Yet, all of that said, isn’t it important that, for the most part, the state’s policing in a functioning democracy effectively curtails the warring impulse among its citizens? Someone steals my neighbor’s car, and my neighbor doesn’t find the criminal and burn his house down. He calls the police. Surely it’s a good that—gangs and mafia families notwithstanding—the way that the Hatfields and the McCoys tried to settle their disputes is history. And even when you include gang and mafia violence, good policing trumps bad policing (more than 22,000 people have died in drug-related gang violence in Mexico since the beginning of 2007).

    In my reading of Yoder on the just-war tradition, he tries to make the case that, properly understood, the just-war tradition extends the restraining effects of good policing into the world of international armed conflict.

    Do you read Yoder differently on this question? Or is it more that you think Schlabach and/or Wallis want to go further and make good policing somehow compatible with/internal to Christian discipleship?

    Monday, July 26, 2010 at 9:35 am | Permalink
  36. dbarber wrote:

    I think the question of strategies for undermining the potentiality for war is a good one. That is, it’s a question that emerges as an unavoidable supplement for any explicitly Christian account of pacifism — if an anti-war stance evolves simply from Christian demands, what of those who do not accept those demands? If one does not address this question, then I think one ends up, by default, resorting to the action of the state. If one does not want to resort to the state, then I think it’s necessary to have some positive account of social movements that are self-consciously Marxist and (what Deleuze and Guattari would call) minoritarian. Andy, and Charlie, and whomever, would you agree with this way of thinking?

    Monday, July 26, 2010 at 12:49 pm | Permalink
  37. isaac wrote:

    Yes, it’s sad that some Mennos have dropped the gospel of peace. Andy is right about that. But I should defend some of the Mennos on the East Coast. The delegates of our Mennonite conference (which is one of the more conservative conference in the U.S. denomination) recently approved an anti-war ad to run in the local newspapers. That gives me some hope…

    Thursday, July 29, 2010 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

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