Open Mic Thread 31


The open mic thread is where you have the floor and can raise or discuss issues of your choice. There is no such thing as off-topic here. The comments of this thread are free for you to:

  • Discuss things that you have been reading/listening to/watching recently
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  • Etc.

Over to you!

Earlier open mic threads: 123456, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15,16,17,18,19,20,2122,23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30.

About Alastair Roberts

Alastair Roberts (PhD, Durham University) writes in the areas of biblical theology and ethics, but frequently trespasses beyond these bounds. He participates in the weekly Mere Fidelity podcast, blogs at Alastair’s Adversaria, and tweets at @zugzwanged.
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38 Responses to Open Mic Thread 31

  1. I’d be interested to hear other people’s impressions on this. I confess, there are a number of things that irritate me about the attitude suggested by this sort of piece:

    1. The assumption that since some people are acquainted with the feminist literature about masculinity, that any men wanting to write about masculinity needs to listen to them as the experts on masculinity. There seems to be little consideration that men might know a few things about masculinities themselves, especially aspects that don’t show up in the feminist literature, and that perhaps they could benefit from listening too.
    2. The same women who get outraged about ‘mansplaining’ are often surprisingly willing to ‘womansplain’ male experience, expecting men to listen to them as the experts. I am all for breaking the monopolies established by identity politics, but some consistency here would be great. The epic irony is that men are being accused of ‘mansplaining’ masculinities when they should be listening to female experts tell them about masculinity instead.
    3. The way that masculinity is overwhelmingly approached from the perspective of the extrinsic ends and ideals of feminism, being presented as toxic, pathological, oppressive, failing, etc. Once again, if you took such a perspective on femininities, most of the time you would be viciously attacked by such individuals. There seems to be little place for a non-pathological account of masculinity from within. I’ve engaged heavily with women on masculinity studies and with male feminists and it is fairly obvious why most men don’t resonate much with what they have to say.
    4. The approach to expertise as ‘be quiet and learn from us’, rather than one that allows much room for dissent, alternative perspectives, or allows for the contestability of perspectives. Besides, who makes these female writers experts on masculinity? Do we just have to take their word for it?
    5. Who appointed feminism as the master over the sub-field of men’s studies? Seriously.

    • Cal says:

      The post seems to be dressed-up outrage that people can applaud someone (a man) for wanting to write on masculinity, but a feminist perspective (self-proclaimed advantage) on masculinity is laughed off and the author is given personal insults. She slants this as intellectual injustice, but it’s hard to see how this post isn’t just hurt feelings.

      But to make such an accusation I’ll be accused of making another ‘ad hominem’ because the author happens to be a woman. And even if I protest, it will be taken as veiled woman-hatred. :/

      Anyway, I can appreciate the fact that women have been oppressed for a number of reasons, and requiring sensitivity to listening as necessary. But I don’t buy the Marxist-esque narrative of Gender-war that can be used as a historical cypher. And I certainly don’t buy that in order to pay ‘reparations’, men need to let feminism explain masculinity.

      For non-Christians, I don’t blame Feminists for their rage and anger. It’s “slaves” not seeking freedom, but becoming “masters” in their own right. The time is right for a pendulum shift.

      But for Christians who believe in such things, I think the otherness thinking of Hajdadj, and others who argue for the dualism in Humanity, need to be taken seriously. We can’t be tricked to think “different but equal” for sex is somehow equivalent to the American racial racism of the same phrase. It’s not.

      Some rough thoughts,

      • The thing is, I think that men could learn a lot from reading feminists and women writing about masculinities, just as women could learn some things from reading men who write about femininities. It is the double standard that irritates me in particular.

      • William Fehringer says:

        Which feminist writers do you think would be best to learn from? Any recommended reading?

      • Someone such as Judith Butler is particularly important for understanding contemporary feminism. I’ve also been enjoying Luce Irigaray recently.

  2. quinnjones2 says:

    Seriously? 🙂 I think I probably know too many self-appointed ‘experts’ and I could give countless examples of their ‘expertise’, but I will give just one: the person who apparently knew exactly how I should spend a particular Thursday evening and who urged me to arrange everything else in my life around it – this from someone who didn’t have a clue about the ‘everything else in my life’, and who also seemed to be convinced that I did not have a clue about what might be the best way for me to spend that Thursday evening. This attitude brings out the worst in me, I’m afraid…but I won’t offer my worst here!

  3. quinnjones2 says:

    I’m sorry – I did not make it clear that I included the article you linked in my comment ‘This attitude brings out the worst in me…’ I think that the root problem is notreally about gender but about self-appointed ‘expert’ status, which may or may not be endorsed by others.

  4. Alex says:

    What does it mean that God promises to give us everything we ask for in Jesus’ name when, in fact, sometimes he doesn’t grant what we ask for, even when those requests are valid?

    • I think that expression—asking ‘in My Name’—refers to the people of God asking in faith for Christ’s assistance in the Church’s work in advancing his kingdom. The asking in his name is related to our acting in his name.

      We should, of course, approach the throne of God with confidence to present our personal petitions, assured of God’s good will and purposes towards us. However, I regard this as somewhat different from the ‘asking in Jesus’ name’ being referred to in that statement.

  5. Paul Baxter says:

    Vaguely related to feminism, I have a question:

    Is this the worst piece ever written on abortion?

  6. Swithun says:


    In your writings and on Mere Fidelity to often refer to individualism. I was wondering what you mean by the term. I find many people use the term as well as consumerist without a cogent idea of what it means.

    • The following rough definition drawn from Robert Bellah describes the meaning behind my usage well:

      • a proclivity for seeing the individual as prior to society and thus for seeing society—and the Church—as a conglomeration of autonomous individuals rather than seeing them as products of a historical community;
      • a tendency to prefer one’s own judgment over the judgment of tradition or authority, a tendency which, paradoxically, also tends to make for uncritical conformism since one tends to look to others to confirm one’s own opinion and to seek out the company of like-minded people;
      • a preference for “gut feelings” and emotional spontaneity over the arduous task of rational argument, for following one’s feelings rather than thinking things through; thus public debate declines into sloganeering and elections into popular contests and public decision-making into a contest between pressure groups;
      • the intrinsic value of work and service is overlooked and replaced by a quest for self-realization or, where that fails, by the pursuit of greater income;
      • the freedom to make personal decisions is gained at the expense of turning over public decisions to managers and technocrats: in other words, the expanded opportunities for personal freedom occur at the expense of our involvement in the public life of our society.

  7. mnpetersen37 says:

    What do you think of Rosenstock-Huessy’s comments on Buddhism and Taoism in The Christian Future?

  8. DS says:

    I’m a lurker coming out of the woodwork. I wanted to wait for the next open thread, but I can always copy and paste this there if there are no responses here. I’m in my early twenties, not a new Christian, and consider myself biblically illiterate. I didn’t realize it was possible to engage with the faith as deeply as you all do until I read the posts and comments here. The mystery and beauty of God and the scriptures fill me with a sense of wonder I know I didn’t have before. So – thank you Alastair, and everyone else!

    I do have some questions. Does God judge nations with disasters today, or at least allow His protection to be removed? My church has been very into The Harbinger and its warning of possible disaster for September, and with the SCOTUS ruling, I’m sure the coming judgment on America is all I’ll hear about for a while.

    (One pastor I know has already decided to wait out September in another country with his family. He admitted this on the pulpit. I was not the only one who cringed.)

    • Simeon says:

      A fellow lurker here that also profits greatly from these discussions.

      I’m not here to answer your question but to also add my own in the same stream of thought. I’ve always found the judgement of God portrayed in the major prophets to be interesting in the sense that God’s instrument was the geopolitics of the day (the case of Assyria or even Cyrus). Some catholics that I have spoken to seem to be of the mind that the reformation or the revolution were instances of such a judgement.

      Whilst I think that this is a dangerous way of thinking, I’m not exactly sure as to how I would articulate why. Is it partially due to the lack of a singular prophetic voice to a very particular form of authority (eg. from prophet to king)? Do you think that thinking in such a manner is potentially useful, and what criteria would make it so? Or is it that the form of judgement seen in the past in not seen now (and if so, why?)

    • Thanks for commenting, DS!

      I believe that nations can suffer disasters on account of their sin. However, there is often no direct correlation between the outcomes experienced by a people and their current spiritual state. God can be gracious to the wicked and allow the righteous to suffer misfortune.

      There is also possibly a distinction to be drawn between the effects that are the natural result of a sinful course of action and an act of divine judgment that is distinct from these. I believe, for instance, that the legalization of the fiction of same-sex marriage will have long term damaging effects. However, I don’t suspect that these immediate effects will primarily be the result of a distinct act of divine judgment. Rather, the damaging effects will arise from the reinvention of marriage itself and will primarily hurt the weakest within our society. In the longer term, I believe that a society that pursues pleasure at the expense of its most vulnerable members will suffer divine judgment, but it will usually be a while before this happens (the judgment on the Amorites took centuries to come to fruition).

      I also believe that, much of the time, it is extremely unhelpful to think of divine judgment as having a scrutable one-to-one relationship with particular acts of our governments. If judgment comes to America, it will come for a great deal more than same-sex marriage. It will probably also come for the injustice of America’s economic system, its prison system, its racism, its vanity, pride, and selfishness, etc.

  9. Alex says:

    How do we know when desires for legitimate things have been functionally idolatrous? Are we wrong to want earthly blessings too badly?

    • When we would be unprepared to give up the fulfilment of those desires in order to follow Christ, they have become functionally idolatrous. In such cases, we have started to want earthly blessings too badly.

  10. quinnjones2 says:

    What God’s rainbow means to me and what it means to Twitter (free rainbow heart symbol) are two different things.
    The world has had its say and the world had its way yesterday.
    We are in the world but not of it.

  11. mnpetersen37 says:

    This looks to be an extremely interesting book.

    From the Amazon preview:

    My hope is to paint a more nuanced portrait than standard stereotypes of conservative evangelicals as reactionary fundamentalists, drawing out how features of their critiques of and uncertainties about aspects of late modernity–such as individualism, consumerism, and materialism–resonate (albeit in a different register) with concerns expressed by liberals who are most likely to feel themselves at odds with them.

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