The Cashville Statement (A Wee Parody)

[Continuing the satirical strain this blog seems to have been developing lately, another bit of parody. If you’re not familiar with the document that is, in this case, the spoof-ee, find it here.]DollarChurch

The Cashville Statement

Preamble

Know that Our Power itself is God; It is Our Will to Power that has made us, and nothing else… (Our Authority)

Crony Capitalists at the dawn of the twenty-first century find themselves living in a period of historic transition. As Western culture has become increasingly late-Capitalist, it has embarked upon a massive revision of what it means to be potential for labor. By and large the spirit of our age no longer discerns or delights in the beauty of Our Power’s design for labor. Many deny that Our Power created labor potential for the increase of its own Capital and that its good purposes for us include our personal and physical design as male and female. It is common to think that labor potential as male and female is not part of Our Power’s beautiful plan, but is, rather, an expression of an individual’s autonomous preferences. The pathway to full and lasting joy through Our Power’s good design for for its laborers is thus replaced by the path of shortsighted alternatives that, sooner or later, ruin labor potential and decrease profit.

This egalitarian spirit of our age presents a great challenge to Capitalism. Will Capitalism lose her authoritarian conviction, clarity, and courage, and blend into the spirit of the age? Or will it hold fast to its word of ever-increasing production, draw courage from Capital, and unashamedly proclaim its way as the way of Capital? Will it maintain its, counter-cultural witness to a world that seems bent on equality?

We are persuaded that faithfulness in our generation means declaring once again the true story of the Market and of our place in it—particularly as male and female. Capitalist Authority teaches that there is but one Power which alone is Creator and Power Over all. To Our Power alone, every person owes glad-hearted thanksgiving, heart-felt praise, and total allegiance. This is the path not only of glorifying Our Power, but of knowing yourselves. To forget Our Power is to forget who you are, for We made you for Ourselves. And you cannot know yourselves truly without truly knowing They who made you. You did not make yourselves. You are not your own. Your true identity, as male and female persons, is given by Our Power. It is not only foolish, but hopeless, to try to make yourselves what Our Power did not create you to be.

We believe that Our Power’s conception of its creation and its way of salvation serve to bring it the greatest profit and bring us the greatest productivity. Our Power’s good plan provides us with the greatest freedom. Capital indicates that it came that we might have productivity and have it in overflowing measure. It is for us and not against us. Therefore, in the hope of serving Capital and witnessing publicly to the good purposes of Our Power for human identity revealed in Capitalist Authority, we offer the following affirmations and denials.

Article 1

We affirm that Our Power has designed marriage to be a contractual, productive, lifelong union guaranteeing the stability of the property of one man and one woman, as husband and wife, and is meant to signify the contractual relationship between Capital and its bride, labor.

We deny that Our Power has conceived marriage to be an unproductive or capital-dispersing relationship. We also deny that marriage is mere spiritual union rather than a contract made with Our Power.

Article 2

We affirm that Our Power’s revealed desire for all labor potential is chastity outside of relationships that stabilize property and increase labor potential, and fidelity within contracts.

We deny that any affections, desires, or commitments ever justify love before or outside of property-preserving relationships, nor to they justify any form of spiritual connection.

Article 3

We Affirm that Our Power created our interpretation of Adam and Eve, the first examples of labor potential, in Our Power’s own image, equal before Our Power in terms of labor potential, and distinct as male and female.

We Deny that Our Power’s ordained differences between male and female render them unequal in labor potential.

Article 4

We affirm that Our Power’s ordained differences between male and female reflect Our Power’s original desire and are meant to preserve property, and increase labor potential and Our flourishing.

We deny that differentials in power are a result of the fall or a tragedies to be overcome.

Article 5

We affirm that the differences between male and female reproductive structures are integral to Our Power’s design for the creation of additional labor potential.

We deny that physical anomalies or psychological conditions nullify Our Power’s appointed link between biological sex and the ability to create new labor potential through procreation.

Article 6

We affirm that those born with a physical disorder of sex development are created in the image of Our Power and have labor potential and value equal to all other bearers of Our Power’s image. They are acknowledged by Our Authority in its words about “eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb.” With all others they are welcome as faithful participants in the market and should embrace their potential for labor insofar as it may be present.

We deny that ambiguities related to a person’s biological sex render one incapable of increasing shareholder profits in joyful obedience to Capital.

Article 7

We affirm that self-conception as male or female should be defined by Our Power’s holy purposes in increasing capital as revealed in Our Authority.

We deny that adopting a self-conception that does not preserve property and increase labor potential is consistent with Our Power’s holy purposes in utilizing labor and maximizing profit.

Article 8

We affirm that people who experience attraction to relationships that do not stabilize property and create additional labor potential may live a rich and fruitful life pleasing to Our Power through faith in Capital, as they, like all Capitalists, walk in purity of life.

We deny that a propensity toward relationships that do not stabilize property and increase labor potential are part of the natural goodness of Our Power’s original creation, or that they put someone outside the jurisdiction of Our Patriarchy.

Article 9

We affirm that equality impedes productivity by directing persons away from property-stabilizing and labor-increasing relationships toward relationships that are based on spiritual connection–a distortion that includes non-contractual heterosexual relationships (insofar as they tend to disperse rather than preserve property) and even contractual same-sex relationships (insofar as they fail to produce additional labor potential).

We deny that an enduring pattern of desire for spiritual connection justifies behavior that fails to preserve property and create labor potential.

Article 10

We affirm that it is is detrimental to the increase of capital to approve of identities that are not productive of capital or productive of labor, and that such an approval constitutes an essential departure from Capitalist faithfulness and witness.

We deny that the approval of relationships unproductive of capital or additional labor potential are a matter of ideological indifference about which otherwise faithful Capitalists should agree to disagree.

Article 11

We affirm our duty to assert our authority in confidence at all times, including when we speak to or about one another as productive or unproductive of capital.

We deny any obligation to speak in such ways that dishonor Our Power’s design of his image-bearers as producers of labor potential.

Article 12

We affirm that the strength of Our Power in Capital gives both merciful pardon and transforming power, and that this pardon may allow a follower of Capital to put to death egalitarian desires and to work in a manner worthy of Our Power.

We deny that the strength of Our Power in Capital is insufficient to forgive all egalitarian tendencies and to give power to strive for profit to every participant in the market who feels drawn into relationships unproductive of additional capital or labor power.

Article 13

We affirm that the strength of Our Power in Capital enables those with desires for spiritual connection forsake such self-conceptions and by Our forbearance accept the link ordained by Our Power between one’s biological sex and one’s self-conception as a unit of potential labor.

We deny that the strength of Our Power in Capital sanctions self conceptions that are at odds with Our Power’s revealed will.

Article 14

We Affirm that Capital has come into the world to subordinate spiritual connection to labor potential, and that through Capital restoration to productivity and value within our labor market are available to every person who repents of the desire for equality and trusts in Capital alone as Savior, Lord, and supreme treasure.

We deny that Our Power’s arm is too short to seize or that anyone desirous of spiritual connection is beyond its reach.

A Letter Back To Beth Moore From Some Guy On The Internet With A Blog To Remind Beth Moore That She Does Not Have The Thing That Lets Her Be Not A Horrible Bible Teacher

Note from the Blogger: In case anyone reading this happens to be hopelessly obtuse, the below is, of course, a work of satire. If you do not know what satire is, you may Google the Wikipedia article thereupon for a brief introduction to the concept or, if you have not already done so, simply become a registered republican.anger

Another note from the Blogger: If you’re unsure of what, precisely, is being satirized here, start by reading this recent post from Christian writer Beth Moore and then this response thereunto, one of the most satire-ready texts I’ve encountered in a long while indeed. Someone has to.


Dear Beth,

Today you wrote a letter to your brothers in Christ. Allow me to respond to the letter you wrote to your brothers in Christ so that I can respond to the letter that you wrote.

Be silent. Be silent is a phrase that is in the Bible. It is in the Bible in a place where the Bible says things that women should do and you are one and so that is what you should do. It is in the Bible because I say it is in the Bible and because I say what is in the Bible that means that whatever I say is true because it is in the Bible because I say that it is. You are not a good Bible teacher because you are not good at teaching the Bible. You preach and write about yourself as is if is as you were a character in the Biblical story that is the story that is in the Bible of which you are not a good teacher. Which you are not. You are a character in the farcical and cruel and another adjective from my thesaurus that means something bad story of the phrases that I use that I think I know what they mean but really do not but think I do. I read Believing God recently; it was one of the worst Christian books that I have ever read because I am a Christian and I did not write it. It is irrelevant that I did not hold it right side up. It pains me to know that so many women erroneously think. That you are a good source for biblical teaching because I think that you are not a good source for biblical teaching because what I say is biblical and if someone says something that I do not say it is not Biblical because Biblical is what I say it to be. Let me be clear, you aren’t a terrible Bible teacher because you are a woman. You are a terrible Bible teacher because you are not good at teaching the Bible which makes you a terrible Bible teacher because you are a woman. That you are a woman is irrelevant because you are a woman. And you did not learn to write good prose as I have from the robot on Lost in Space.

I am a semenary graduate. A semenary is a place that men go to to learn to spread the seed. Of the gospel and to be good bible teachers of which you are not one because you did not go to semenary but I did. As a semenary graduate who graduated from semenary unlike you who did not, it has been one of my great joys to collect submissions from submissive women who have been told by men who are good Bible teachers to reject you and your Bible studies because you are not a good Bible teacher because you are not a man. Who went to semenary like the way that I went to semenary and graduated which makes me a good teacher of the Bible which you are not. The most popular article I ever published which four whole people read of which only two were my Nana was a testimony from a pastor’s wife who is married to a a male pastor who graduated from semenary which you did not about how her husband said how awful your teaching was because you are not married to a male pastor who is a semenary graduate like I am and you are not. Yes, you are popular. Popular is a thing you are because a lot of people like you and unlike you I am not liked as you are. I detest you because of the way that other people like you. You are successful in a market that has rejected several of my manuscripts in which I am a Good bible teacher which you are not. You scoff at the semenarians who have not graduated from semenary because they talked down to you because you have not graduated from semenary. Maybe if you didn’t drop out of semenary which is a place where men go to learn to be good teachers of the Bible which you are not you would understand why they think you are awful which you are and I am not. That my blog-editing has kept my Nana from your products makes me happy. I am not personally friends with a single pastor who thinks you are sound because I am not friends with a single pastor.

Let me me forthright. You are not a not good Bible teacher not because you are a woman but because you do not have a penis. Penises are things that men have that women do not which is why women cannot be good Bible teachers. Do not get me wrong. As a biblical complementarian who is a good teacher of the Bible which you are not I believe that women can can be just as smart as men as long as they do not try to teach men anything especially the Bible of which you are not a good teacher because you are a woman. It is not that women are not as good as men it is only that men and women are different and the way in which they are different is that men have penises and women do not which is why to be a good Bible teacher one must have a penis which you do not and I do which is why you are not a good Bible teacher and I am.

Speaking of penises, you are a good-looking woman. Did it ever cross your mind that the Christian ministers who have penises who didn’t want to talk to you at conferences didn’t want to jeopardize their career by being thought to flirt with you because you are good-looking and they have penises? Maybe they didn’t want to end up in your. Next personal anecdote. Just maybe they were trying to hide that they were not able as mature adult human beings to control themselves around a beautiful, effusive, voluptuous, perfect woman with flowing blond tresses and a super hot ass and legs up to that makes it hard. To concentrate on being a good Bible teacher. Beth, I could go on about this. But I need to change my baby’s diaper (which I made with my penis which makes me a good Bible teacher which you are not), so I am going to wrap it up.

God isn’t talking to you. He is talking to my penis. You sound crazy. If God was talking to your penis, you’d likely not be such a horrible Bible teacher but you do not because you are a good-looking, beautiful, effusive woman.

Be Gone,

Some Guy On the Internet With A Blog

P.S. I’m not saying what scores of other theologians and pastors have already thought about how good-looking you are. So my admonition to Be Gone only applies if you want to keep teaching the Bible of which you are a horrible teacher and not if you want to friend the secret Ashley Madison account that I do not have but if I did could be found under the username “hotforpreacher69.”

Be Careful Where you Look for Demons: Yoga, Christianity, and Macbeth

I found myself having an interesting exchange on Facebook a couple of dburn_themays ago, between myself (a Christian who regularly practices yoga–or at least a little-known variant thereof known as pranaholycrapI’mfallingover), a Christian yoga instructor, and another individual. This third person seemed intent on admonishing us for what she considered to be a practice that was not simply a questionable activity from a Christian perspective, but a quite-literally demonic one.

I was a little taken aback by the accusation that I was, entirely unbenownst to myself, taking regular dips in the venomous waters of Satanism and, apparently, opening myself to literal demonic possession. And given that the little yoga I do seems so effective in terms of reducing back pain, reducing stress, and increasing muscle strength and flexibility, I was also surprised that demons could be so considerate. So I did a few web searches to find out more about such attitudes, and found that it is almost a commonplace in some corners of uber-conservative Christianity to imagine that practicing yoga, even in the way it’s commonly practiced in health clubs in the U.S., is essentially engaging the worship rituals of another religion (usually identified as Hinduism)–rituals which somehow amount to demonic worship as well.

Of course, there are more moderate perspectives as well. Were I to really engage in such arguments, I’d likely start with the idea that what is most often termed “yoga” in the West is not really yoga at all, but rather a combination of two elements of yoga, asanas (the poses) and pranayama (the breathing exercises). While these are essential elements of yoga, they do not begin to encompass the religious dimensions practiced by, say, real yogis and those who intentionally engage in yoga as a religious practice. The relationship of asanas and pranayama to full-on yoga is a bit like the relationship of butter and sugar to chocolate chip cookies: they are essential ingredients of chocolate chip cookies, but it would surely be a mistake to suggest that everything that contains butter and sugar must therefore necessarily be a chocolate chip cookie. It would seem absurd to insist to a chef who intended, for example, to make a rice pudding, and produced something that looked and tasted exactly like rice pudding, that because its primary ingredients are butter and sugar it can be nothing other than a chocolate chip cookie regardless of the chef’s intentions (great, now I’m peckish for both rice pudding and chocolate chip cookies).

In any case, I’m not going to engage those sorts of arguments about actual yogic practice here. (My own view is pretty similar to the one expressed in this 2005 Christianity Today article. I do want to address what I think is the more important issue, which is not about the particulars of yoga or any other activity (internal martial arts such as Aikido, for example) that draw on “Eastern” philosophies1, but rather about the ethics of where one goes looking for evil. And because I’m a literature person, that makes me want to talk about Macbeth.

Everybody knows about the witches in Macbeth, if only through the “double, double, toil and trouble” line in all its various cultural manifestations. What’s always interested me about the MacbethAndBanquo-Witcheswitches in Macbeth, however, is that they seem, to me, to be almost entirely unnecessary to the plot. While the witches seem ominous and powerful, there is nothing in the play that could not happen without their supposed “influence.” It is sometimes argued that the witches “plant” the idea of murdering King Duncan in Macbeth’s mind, but the fact that he picks up on the idea so readily, and moves from suggestion to execution so quickly, seems to indicate that the idea was already very much present in his mind. Early in the play, Lady Macbeth is a much stronger influence in terms of egging Macbeth on to do the deed than the witches ever were. In fact, one can remove the witches’ scenes entirely (some of which most Shakespeare scholars recognize as later interpolations by Thomas Middleton, anyway), and rest of the plot and character motivations in the play still make sense. Even the most bizarre image in the play–when “Birnam wood comes to Dunsinane”–is explained and accomplished by the most mundanely naturalistic means (soldiers disguising themselves with branches).

At the end of the day, all the witches really accomplish is the creation of a pot of really, really bad soup.

If this is the case, then, what are the witches doing there?

Scholars sometimes point to the fact that the play was written during the reign of James I of England (also James VI of Scotland, claiming descent from Banquo himself), who had a sort of obsessive interest in witchcraft. Bear in mind that we’re talking about the early 1600’s here, which was an era of widespread cultural fear about witchcraft. James own book on witchcraft, the Daemonologie supports the practice of witch hunting, and concentrates on the ways that one may determine whether or not an individual is a witch. Shakespeare was certainly aware of this text, as he draws from it and related texts in the play.

It’s also important to remember that witchcraft was not the only hot-button issue of the time: for example, there are numerous reference in the play to the then-recent Gunpowder Plot, in which a faction of English Catholics had attempted (and failed) to literally blow up the House of Lords (the king himself present) while it was in session, using barrels of gunpowder planted in the basement. Political intrigue abounded.

I’m often tempted to see Shakespeare looking at both his culture and his monarch in light of the existence of their obsessive interest in hunting down witches and demons with the presence of much more mundane–and much more immediately dangerous–forms of evil. In Macbeth, all of the evil actions are easily explained by very mundane, human motivations: ambition, greed, revenge.

Even for a present-day audience, it’s easy to blame the events, and the “evil” on which the play certainly meditates, on those “weird sisters”(they’re never referred to as “witches” in the play). They’re the most obvious target: they’re grotesque, mysterious, seem to call on dark powers–and, not insignificantly, they’re apparently females who are not under any kind of male control (the demographic most frequently targeted in period witch hunts: unmarried teens and elderly widows). Yet they still accomplish very little, if anything at all. When I teach the play, generally my students are quick to mention the sisters as a source of evil in the play, and often surprise themselves I ask, “what do the sisters actually do?” and find they have few, if any answers.

I suspect this is one of Shakespeare’s points: as the audience of Macbeth, we tend to follow evil in its most stereotypical manifestation, only to find that the real evil in the play doesn’t originate from that stereotypical source. The real evil in Macbeth comes from its very human characters, from Macbeth’s combination of insecurity and ambition, from Lady Macbeth’s fierce love and will for her husband (and later her guilt), from the seemingly inevitable chain of events that seem to flow inexorably from Macbeth’s initial murder of Duncan, from the natural consequences of his usurpation of the crown. From the the guilt of multiple murders, overmatched by the need to continue to hide them.

I can easily imagine Shakespeare gently cajoling his audience–and his King–through the combination of these obvious, and obviously banal and human, motives with the ineffective, seeming “witches” in the play, reminding them to be careful where they look for evil. Most often, it doesn’t originate from witches and demons. In a way, that would be nice: witches and demons make the source of the evil obvious, easy to detect, easy to eradicate. But evil is never that easy (if it was, it would hardly be a problem), because most of the time, evil looks just like us, our fears, our ambition, our guilt. We tend to go after “witches” not because they’re the source of the evil we face, but because their grotesque obviousness is easier, for us, than noting where the evil really comes from in ourselves.

This in mind, it’s important to recognize that, historically, the ones most often accused and found to be “witches” were anything but: they were most often, as mentioned above, women who existed on the fringes of society, outside of the kind of male authority and protection necessary for safety in early modern England’s very patriarchal culture. In other words, the strong desire in the culture of Shakespeare’s audience to avoid looking within for the real sources of evil led them to look in the easy, external places: the weaker people who lived on the fringes of society who were less able to protect themselves physically and legally from accusations of witchcraft. That culture’s unwillingness to explore the real sources of evil led to countless deaths of the most vulnerable and disenfranchised among them. The very people the central figure of their own religion exhorted them to care for the most. In other words, the most “demonic” quality of Shakespeare’s culture was its ability to create its own demons, the demons it used to avoid dealing with its own, much more banal, evils.

I think this is what bothered me the most about such seemingly strong desire to hunt down “demonic” influence in practices that originate in cultures other than one’s own. It’s much more likely that evil lives much closer to home, much closer to one’s own heart. That it arises, most insidiously, from the impulse to avoid searching for the evil in one’s own ambition and fear by displacing it onto some external target, a target created by ourselves, made visible by the way we ourselves have projected difference on to it.

At the end of the day, it’s not the yoga–the other, the immigrant, the LGBT person, the foreigner–that is evil. It’s our own ability to project evil on to such innocent targets and destroy them rather than to face and to take responsibility for the demons of fear that already live within us.


  1. Many of the articles I read seemed to pit what they termed “Eastern” philosophies against Christianity, which struck me as odd–as though Christianity hails from Boise, Idaho or something. 

Welcome To MachoChurch: Medievalism and Evangelical Patriarchy

Heath Mooneyhan, pastor of the "Most Masculine Church in America"

Heath Mooneyhan, pastor of the “Most Masculine Church in America”

The response to my summer series on the medievalism of John Eldredge has me thinking more widely about the role of medievalism in present-day American evangelical culture. Even my original article on Eldredge only covers part of the h medievalism in his work, concentrating as it does on his use of William Wallace. I mean to do another post, soon, covering Eldredge’s other medievalisms, primarily on the way both Wild at Heart and its companion volume, Captivating rely (both consciously and unconsciously) on tropes from medieval romance. One thing I’m sure I’ll focus on, there, draws from other recent work on contemporary medievalisms, working in part from Helen Young’s fascinating observations on the ways in which medievalism is often deployed as a way of “naturalizing” numerous racist and sexist attitudes. The general idea, there, is that reference to the Middle Ages has become, for many, a strategy for legitimizing both racism and sexism by imagining a medieval Europe as a “purer” time, one in which white-skinned men were free to exercise their God-given right to domination. Placing that situation in something meant to read as a historical past, then, seems to set an additional layer of legitimacy under such arguments: it’s a way of saying “this is the natural state of human relationships from which feminism (among other cultural phenomena) has led us astray.” Of course, the Middle Ages themselves weren’t like that at all, and the very romances from which much of such rhetoric is ultimately drawn critique the cult of masculine violence (on very Christian grounds) at least as often as they promote it.

As I’ve been working on these ideas, though, I’ve been running across numerous other deployments of medievalism-inflected expressions of “Christian Masculinity,” as well as numerous commentaries and critiques of the same. So, while I’m working on the larger argument, I thought I’d share, along the way, some of the interesting and crazy things I’m coming across:

  • One of my favorite Christian bloggers, Rachel Held Evans, recently published a review by Nate Pyle of the documentary Fight Church about a congregation geared toward Christian males that centers–no joke–on Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) competition. Pyle wonders whether this isn’t an indication that the American church is too influence by American cultural ideas about masculinity. Looking through some of that church’s materials, however, I can’t help but notice that it’s infused with the language of a “warrior” mentality that has its roots in the Germanic, pagan warrior ethic (something the poet of Beowulf struggles with). That tradition has been preserved and filtered through later medieval romance and the Cult of Chivalry, through 19th century romantic novels such as Walter Scott’s, and then through James Fenimore Cooper’s portings of Scott’s knightly warrior ethic into an American setting that ultimately give rise to the American Western (of which, I would argue, Braveheart is an example, with swords and kilts standing in for six-shooters and chaps, smearing blue woad onto The Outlaw Josey Wales).
  • Speaking of Evans, she also has an interesting take on the fall of popular evangelical megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll, another evangelical leader who apparently posted a number of misogynistic rants with the pseudonym “William Wallace II,” proving that Eldredge is not the only masculinist evangelical leader to engage in the strange adoption of that fourteenth-century figure as a sort of poster-child for “authentic” masculinity.
  • In additional craziness, there’s been some attention in the Christian blogosphere lately to what was the putative most masculine church in America before its pastor got a DUI last week. The church was apparently known for its unapologetic misogynist banter and the gun collection in the basement (onward Christian soldiers, I guess).
  • Meanwhile, of all places, a relatively conservative Christian publication, First Things, turns out to be the source, via Matthew Block of the past month’s most cogent critique of the aforementioned church, and especially of the idea of baptising the “warrior identity” as an aspect of Christian masculinity.

I’ll keep posting relevant material as it comes across my desk–partially as a way of keeping track of it myself–but feel free to make me aware of what comes across yours!

Written with StackEdit