Friday, October 31, 2008

The Radicality of Marriage

I have been hoping for several years to develop a course that I'd love to teach at Calvin--on marriage, family, and sex from a philosophical and theological perspective (drawing on Aristotle, Aquinas, Hauerwas, David Matzko McCarthy, and others), but also utilizing literary and poetic sources. I think it will be a hard sell for me because it will be perceived as a "conservative" course so I expect opposition from certain quarters. But, in fact, I think the course would be radically counter-cultural. As Slavoj Zizek provocatively asks:
What if, in our postmodern world of ordained transgression, in which the marital commitment is perceived as ridiculously out of time, those who cling to it are the true subversives? What if, today, straight marriage is 'the most dark and daring of all transgressions?'" -Zizek, "The Thrilling Romance of Orthodoxy," in Theology and the Political: The New Debate

This doesn't mean I would have any truck with the rabid Constantinianism (and hypocrisy) of evangelical anti-gay marriage campaigns . Indeed, a radical theology of marriage would also be subversive for a church which has also pretty much accommodated itself to serial monogamy.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Adam Smith on Taxation

A little tidbit from Steve Coll's New Yorker piece, "Overtaxed," reflecting on Joe the Plumber and the specter of socialism:
The principle that Obama evinced, which most economists would regard as unexceptionable, can be traced to Adam Smith. In “The Wealth of Nations” (1776), his seminal treatise on capitalism, Smith wrote:

The necessaries of life occasion the great expense of the poor. . . . The luxuries and vanities of life occasion the principal expense of the rich, and a magnificent house embellishes and sets off to the best advantage all the other luxuries and vanities which they possess. . . . It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Just Charity: A Follow-up to some Questions

I've received a few questions and some criticism regarding my previous post on "Just Charity." Admittedly, within the 500 words of a newspaper column, it's difficult to be nuanced. So let me follow up here by responding to two sorts of questions.

Objection 1: Your reading of Acts 5 seems to miss two crucial points: (a) Ananias and Sapphira's sin was lying, not refusal to share their possessions; and (b) the text seems to clearly say that the property "belonged" to them both before and after the sale, and hence it was sort of "voluntary" on their part.

I might say a few things in reply:

First, our artificial chapter divisions are unhelpful here. What we now have as "chapter 4" ends by emphasizing that there "wasn't a needy person among them" because the owners among them were selling what they had in order to share (re-distribute) the resources. So coming off chapter 4, Ananias and Sapphira stand in contrast to Barnabas, who laid everything at the apostles' feet (4:37).

Second, Acts 5:3 seems to indicate that there sin was two-fold: (1) lying AND (2) "keeping back" some for themselves. The deed they "conceived" (5:4) seems to have been their shared plan to hold some back. The act itself was the lie: what they laid at the apostles' feet was not what they were de facto claiming--it also wasn't what was expected (given the patterns established in chapter 4).

Regarding "ownership," it is an interesting claim. After it was sold, it was still "under their control." I don't think this works well with Lockean models of property and ownership. But it does bring to mind the compassionate father's response to the elder brother in Luke 15: "All that is mine is yours" (Luke 15:31). I think it's very easy to be anachronistic and read our post-Lockean conceptions of "private" property and ownership back into a world that pretty much couldn't imagine what "private" means. As part of a community, who share "all things in common," of course they also remains 'owners,' in a sense--stakeholders in the common purse.

Finally, we'd have to again nuance just what "voluntary" means. Did Peter put a gun to their head to get them to give all that they had? No (guns not yet being invented ;-). Were they "coerced" by threats of torture? No. But was it expected of them as an act of gratitude? Yes. Was giving all considered a particularly benevolent "charitable" act, above and beyond the call of duty? No.

Objection 2: Let's say you're right that the early church was committed to a practice of redistribution of wealth and resources as a spiritual discipline--an alternative economy that testifies to the economy of shalom in the coming kingdom, and thus is a foretaste of the eschatological reordering of the economic. Why should anyone think that this translates into a program for the state? Isn't there a huge difference between an ecclesial socialism and a state-based socialism? In fact, shouldn't we be libertarians with respect to the economics of the state even if we might be ecclesial socialists, so to speak?

Again, several things come to mind in reply, on the fly:

Part of me can appreciate how one might come to something like this libertarian conclusion. I'm no advocate of state-based socialism. But on that point, let's be clear about something given the context in which these discussions are happening: Barack Obama is no socialist! Believe me, I'm a Canadian, and nothing close to socialism will ever be policy in this country. (Our conservative party in Canada is still to the left of the Democrats here.) So I feel like the "socialism" talk in the current milieu is a complete red herring.

Anyway, I agree that authentic 'socialism' (to use an ill-fitting word) would have to be (and could only be) ecclesial--a "socialism by grace," since it requires not only rightly ordered systems but also rightly ordered agents who inhabit those systems (I refuse to choose between the two). However, that said, I think we should also be seeking to enact a kind of "spill-over" of redemption in our culture as much as or wherever that is possible. So, for instance, all things considered, even if we think racism can only be effectively undone within communion in Christ, I hope it's obvious that we ought to also work to end lynchings, Jim Crow laws, school segregation, unjust school funding policies that privilege the wealthy, etc. The criteria here is admittedly ad hoc but still critical: we can evaluate what policies and systems look more like the kingdom than others (I'm leaning here on Augustine's City of God and Oliver O'Donovan's Desire of the Nations). And on that ad hoc basis, some policies are much more "kingdom-looking" than others. That would be my way of considering income redistribution that happens through taxation (along with universal healthcare, etc.). We look at the Scriptural hints of what a flourishing society looks like, and that picture becomes a criterion for measuring the relative justice and injustice of policies here-and-now.

(Admittedly, if you're a dispensationalist, you won't have any reason to think that there's any continuity between the now and the not-yet. I'm not going to argue the insufficiency of dispensationalism here; I'll just say it has not been the Catholic faith.)

Finally, I'd be very curious to know whether those who offer such a "baptized" libertarianism would really be willing to sign up for an ecclesial socialism. In my experience, they are also libertarians about the church (which is why many of them are also Protestants). I'd be much more willing to hear this line of critique if I thought the "Christians" offering it were living out economic redistribution within their ecclesial communities. But I don't think that is happening. I think the supposed "theological" arguments for libertarianism are a bit of a ruse--a cover for what, at the end of the day, is a political ideology that is drastically modern, individualist, and selfish.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Just Charity: "Charity" and "Compulsory Income Redistribution"

If anyone would like a peek into the inanities we have to endure here in West Michigan, just consider a recent guest commentary in the Religion section of our local paper, The Grand Rapids Press. In it the author excoriates the "compulsory income redistribution" that he believes stands in contrast to "true Christian charity." (As further evidence of the ludicrosity (?) we have to live with in West Michigan: the same paper endorsed McCain for President.)

I just sent off the following to the Press for consideration to be published next Saturday, but I'm not sanguine it will be published, so I'll post it here:

Just Charity

By James K.A. Smith

Some very important things can be lost in translation. Paul Rhoda’s recent commentary on Christian “charity” is a clear reminder of this. Having filtered the notion of “charity” through the libertarianism of Lord Acton (with a little help, I suspect, from his ideological heirs at the Acton Institute), Rhoda ends up with a very strange version of the Bible. Let’s call it the PRV, the Paul Rhoda Version.

If his commentary is any indicator, the PRV is a peculiar book. It’s not even really a translation; it’s an anthology—a Reader’s Digest compression with some heavy edits and omissions. The result is a different book.

Let’s consider just one of his claims: according to Rhoda, “Christian compassion is voluntary.” But such language of “voluntariness” is a modern invention. Our notion of something being “voluntary” implies that it is optional and un-coerced. In fact, we might even deserve some praise for doing what’s only “voluntary,” as if this was going above and beyond the call of duty.

But did the early church see compassion and charity as “voluntary?” Or, to take up Rhoda’s specific case, did the early church see “income redistribution” as “voluntary?”

The short and easy answer is, “No.” We can note at least three reasons.

First, such a conception of “voluntary” charity assumes a notion of freedom and autonomy that would have been utterly foreign to the Hebrews and to first-century Christians. According to the biblical picture, to be “free” is not to be autonomous or un-coerced. We are free when we are empowered to do the good. The strangeness of the biblical picture is that true freedom comes in subjection to the risen Lord. It is slaves of Christ who are truly free.

Second, the biblical narrative makes no dichotomy between love and justice. The biblical word sometimes translated as “charity”—the Greek word agape—does not refer to something that is optional for Christians. If it were, how could it be commanded throughout the New Testament?

Finally, the PRV seems to just leave out those cases that contradict Rhoda’s claims. For instance, Ananias and Sapphira seemed to have worked with something like Rhoda’s conception of “charity.” According to Acts 5, they were generous and charitable. Having sold a piece of property, they came to the apostles and made a big show of their charitable “donation.” What was the result? Peter renounced the couple’s selfishness! They were holding back. In fact, they both immediately died under judgment (Acts 5:1-11). Is this any way to treat charitable donors? What was the problem?

Well, they must have been reading the PRV. They mistakenly assumed that the redistribution of their income was a “voluntary” matter. But the early church had a clear and established practice of compulsory property redistribution. They sold what they had, pooled their resources, and had all things in common (Acts 2:44-45; 4:34-37). The church was living out an alternative economy—one compelled by gratitude and constrained by love. This wasn’t optional or voluntary, but was the reflection of a people serving a gift-giving King.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Snyder on Many Modes of "Understanding": More on Poetry

As you might gather from the synergy between Fors Clavigera and What I'm Reading, poetry's been on my mind alot lately. Building on an emerging theme I noted elsewhere, Dana Goodyear's recent New Yorker piece on sometime "Beat" poet Gary Snyder offers another catalyst for thinking about "poetic" truth, or poetic understanding (see "Zen Master" in the October 20 New Yorker).

The circle that included Snyder, Ginsberg and others were oral poets. This doesn't mean that they subscribed to any "phonocentric" conception of poetry, as if spoken poetry was "truer" or "purer" than written poetry. It simply means that theirs were poems meant to be spoken and heard--they were created with the cadences of speech and orality in mind. When they were written, they were akin to musical scores. Nobody would confuse the score of Mahler's Symphony No. 2 with its performance; and the score is meant to serve the performance. So too with oral poetry. Other (what--literate? textual?) poetry is meant to be read; it lives off the visuality of the graphemes, the marks and spaces on the page which often can't be reproduced in recitation. In contrast, Snyder struggles to find a syntax for writing his oral poems; he has to stretch the forms in order to create a "score." As Goodyear observes,
"on the page their forms are fluid, loose, irregular. Blocks of indented lines indicate a shift in voice, and often a slight conceptual change. [...] White space in the middle of the lines is for a caesura more substantial than a comma or a semicolon; white space between stanzas allows time to elapse."

This slippage between the written and the performed--and the irreducibility of the one to the other--also hints at different modes of understanding. As Snyder himself puts it,
"When people tell me they don't understand a poem, I say, 'Fine, just listen to it. The exposure to its is part of its power. Don't vex yourself with an intellectual understanding of it.' We don't expect to understand graphic art that way."

Notice that "understanding" is qualified: "intellectual" understanding is a particular "way" to understand. But there are also others. Hearing and absorbing the performed poem constitutes its own sort of visceral understanding--a mode of understanding which has its own integrity. This is not "implicit" understanding to just then be "made explicit" by "intellectual" understanding. It is understanding of a different order, and any attempt to translate it into another order will also occasion some loss. There are many ways to "understand."

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Church as Poetry?

Denis Donoghue's recent review of Jay Parini's book, Why Poetry Matters, got me to (analogical) thinking: might the situation of poetry in late modern American culture be akin to the situation of the church? Here's how this connection got swirling around in my head:

As Donoghue opens,
If you were to write a book called Why Poetry Matters, you would be wise to concede, as Jay Parini does, that “to most people” it doesn’t. “That is, most people don’t write it, don’t read it, and don’t have any idea why anybody would spend valuable time doing such a thing.”
Despite screeds and jeremiads about the MTVization of mass culture, and even a proliferation of magazines and collections, "the practice of poetry is still a subculture; it does not matter in any public sense." And yet...

...both Donoghue and Parini mount a sort of defense of poetry in spite of its being a "subculture," even recognizing that it could perhaps only be a "subculture." The logic seems to be that something's being a subculture does not entail that it doesn't matter; in fact, a subculture could be a subculture for the common good. As Donoghue concludes,
Reading a poem entails, to a special degree, the act of paying attention; we are required to concentrate our minds, not only to the extent we do habitually on words as they pass in ordinary life but as we are impelled to do on words in the intricacies, frictions, and evasions of lyric form. That so much in contemporary life encourages us to do otherwise—to accept things as they are, whether for the sake of ignorance or convenience—suggests, finally, why it is that poetry matters.
The poets, and the world of poetry, constitute a sort of faithful remnant that bears witness to how we might inhabit the world otherwise. It devotes itself to cutting against the grain of the linguistic practices into which we are habituated by a "barbarian" culture. (On this last point, see James Wood's skewering of the "Republican war on words" in a recent New Yorker.) This subcultural labor might look like a withdrawal into private irrelevance and complacency, but in fact it is a concentration of energies for the sake of the world.

So let me make the analogical leap (this might only makes sense in my own head): What if we thought of the church as poetry--as this sort of subcultural project that is undertaken for the common good, as a witness to how "the common" could be otherwise? One will rightly hear in this suggestion a kind of oblique response to Jeffrey Stout's criticism of Hauerwas and MacIntyre. On Stout's critique, the conception of the church as a unique polis--the center of gravity for our "political" endeavors--is an irresponsible retreat from the "public" sphere and the common good.

Would Stout want to offer the same critique of poetry? Doesn't poetry represent a subculture that's content to hang out in neglected corners, fostering a conversation and way of life to which "mainstream" culture is not privy? Aren't poets "irresponsible" for devoting themselves to such a subcultural project? By drawing this analogy, I do not mean to suggest--a la Rorty--that the church is (or ought to be) a collection of "private ironists"--an assortment of dandy aesthetes for whom the church is akin to "the club," into which they retreat from 'worldly' affairs. I don't think that's how Donoghue or Parini view poets either.

Rather, the point is that subcultural labor can be for the world, a labor undertaken in hope and witness, and in a spirit of hospitality, hoping for the growth and expansion of the 'subculture' into culture as such--the church as the poetry of the world. It brings to mind my favorite line from Dutch theologian Klaas Schlider:
“Blessed is my wise ward-elder who does his home visiting in the right way. He is a cultural force, although he may not be aware of it.”

Friday, October 17, 2008

What's in a name? Adieu, Work Research Foundation

I'm a big fan of Comment magazine, which I regularly press into the hands of students. It's engaging, accessible, intentionally Christian, deals with things that really matter, and is theoretically rigorous without having to wear its theory on its sleeve--which is just to say that it is thoughtful without being plagued by 'academese.' If you haven't subscribed, do so today.

Comment is one of the many fruits of what was the "Work Research Foundation" of Canada. Today they announced a new name, Cardus, which they explain as follows:
The Cardus was an ancient north-south road that connected the people of Roman cities to their major public spaces. On the Cardus Maximus governments, markets, temples and more lived and worked to build a common life for the good of the city.

Today’s North American cities are connected by high speed highways, and asphalt roadways, bringing their occupants in encased metal bodies from point A to point B. Global culture generates a huge amount of data, but it is segmented, disconnected and isolated. Our think tanks have concentrated on politics, but forgotten the importance of culture. Professors and policy advocates are world leaders in minute areas—but who paints the bigger picture? Our institutions, like our people, function in a new kind of social and intellectual isolation. Policy is made without a place for religion, religion is practiced with little thought to the common good, and work is done without connecting the "why" to the "how".

Enter Cardus. We believe that economic, social and religious patterns have a deep influence on each other, and that we ignore these to the peril of each. These forces do not operate independent of each other, and neither do their institutions. Public life is sustained not just by social or political effort, but by a plurality of institutional cooperation.

Thus—this is the moment for a think tank to bridge politics and culture, to rethink, research and rebuild an integrative vision of North American social architecture. And Cardus isn't merely rethinking and researching an alternative vision for public life—we're actively working to renew and rebuild. Cardus is a North American public policy think tank, equipping change agents with a strategic public theology to renew North American social architecture.
Fair enough, and makes sense. But I'm going to miss "the Work Research Foundation." And I hope it's not churlish to say that I have my doubts or reservations--that this feels like a bit of an "upwardly mobile" move, a move from a focus on labor to a concern with more bourgeois structures. I don't think that's really the case, but I do think that what began as the sort of organization that found its roots or antecedents in Christian labor unions has found itself more comfortable with bankers and entrepreneurs. This is just the sort of trend which has made me skittish about the Kuyperian project in North America. But these are just the mild laments of a friend who will miss the solid blue-collar reminder I always heard embedded in the "Work Research Foundation."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Joe Six-Pack called...

...and he's mad as hell. He thought the McCain-Palin camp were in his corner (stacked as it is with crushed Budweiser cans), fighting for him. But it turns out all McCain cares about these days is poor Joe the Plumber--whose raking in over $250,000 a year and is still griping about paying taxes.

Average Joe is a little miffed at both and is pretty sure he'll vote for Obama.

Update: Turns out Joe the Plumber is not actually licensed as a plumber, and hasn't even been paying what taxes he already owes. Hmmmm...any chance Joe Six-Pack made a little anonymous call to the IRS?

Evangelicals and Empire

I just received my copy of Evangelicals and Empire: Christian Alternatives to the Political Status Quo, edited by Bruce Benson and Peter Heltzel (with a Foreword by Nicholas Wolterstorff and an Afterword by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri). It's an eclectic, big tent collection, since it includes an essay like Jim Wallis' "Dangerous Religion: George W. Bush's Theology of Empire" (ch. 1) and my own, "The Gospel of Freedom, or Another Gospel? Theology, Empire, and American Foreign Policy," which would be critical of Wallis' habit of continuing to connect "empire"-talk to a particular nation-state. Other contributors include John Milbank, Gail Hamner, Corey Walker, Amos Yong, Michael Horton, and many others.

Kudos to Bruce and Peter for managing to get Hardt & Negri to provide some (albeit brief) feedback on the collection.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Christ and Culture Revisited

Christianity Today has finally posted my brief review of D.A. Carson's latest book, Christ and Culture Revisited. They asked me to be charitable and constructive; this was the best I could do I'm afraid.

I also managed to exercise some self-discipline and not say a word about Carson's critique of me in the book. I'm saving that up for a more substantial piece that I hope to float as a draft over at The Church and Postmodern Culture. I actually think there's some potential for us to make some headway together on these matters and hope to be able to clarify some elements of Who's Afraid of Postmodernism? that Carson rightly questions. For now...

Read "Christ and Culture and Church and Creation"

Friday, October 10, 2008

Brooks on the Decline of the Republican Party

I never have been, and never could be, a fan of the Republican Party. However, I have become very sympathetic to elements of a classic conservatism that one finds, say, in Edmund Burke. I've been pressed there by a sense of the need to submit to Catholicity. Where I continue to demur concerns whether a catholic conservatism--which prizes the importance of tradition, character formation, and a sort communitarianism that trumps individualism--has any relevance or hope of viability in the federal politics of a pluralist nation-state (I think not). On top of that, the nationalist Republican version of conservatism has persistently (and paradoxically) tried to wed such a Burkean disposition to a trenchant liberalism when it comes to markets and consumption (what's more liberal than laissez-faire economics?). Hence my fundamental cynicism about partisan politics.

However, my ambivalence about the Republican party doesn't mean I don't lament its further demise in its most recent cynical incarnation. A Republican party that could nominate Sarah Palin has pretty much proved John Stuart Mill's aphorism correct when he described Conservatives as "necessarily the stupidest Party." David Brooks laments the same in today's column in which he chronicles the demise of a party which has sold its electoral soul to the wide swaths of anti-intellectualism that are alive and well in this country, fostered and fueled by the inanities of talk radio and cable news networks. As he notes:
Modern conservatism began as a movement of dissident intellectuals. Richard Weaver wrote a book called, “Ideas Have Consequences.” Russell Kirk placed Edmund Burke in an American context. William F. Buckley famously said he’d rather be governed by the first 2,000 names in the Boston phone book than by the faculty of Harvard. But he didn’t believe those were the only two options. His entire life was a celebration of urbane values, sophistication and the rigorous and constant application of intellect.

Driven by a need to engage elite opinion, conservatives tried to build an intellectual counterestablishment with think tanks and magazines. They disdained the ideas of the liberal professoriate, but they did not disdain the idea of a cultivated mind.

Ronald Reagan was no intellectual, but he had an earnest faith in ideas and he spent decades working through them. He was rooted in the Midwest, but he also loved Hollywood. And for a time, it seemed the Republican Party would be a broad coalition — small-town values with coastal reach.

In 1976, in a close election, Gerald Ford won the entire West Coast along with northeastern states like New Jersey, Connecticut, Vermont and Maine. In 1984, Reagan won every state but Minnesota.

But over the past few decades, the Republican Party has driven away people who live in cities, in highly educated regions and on the coasts. This expulsion has had many causes. But the big one is this: Republican political tacticians decided to mobilize their coalition with a form of social class warfare. Democrats kept nominating coastal pointy-heads like Michael Dukakis so Republicans attacked coastal pointy-heads.

Over the past 15 years, the same argument has been heard from a thousand politicians and a hundred television and talk-radio jocks. The nation is divided between the wholesome Joe Sixpacks in the heartland and the oversophisticated, overeducated, oversecularized denizens of the coasts.

What had been a disdain for liberal intellectuals slipped into a disdain for the educated class as a whole. The liberals had coastal condescension, so the conservatives developed their own anti-elitism, with mirror-image categories and mirror-image resentments, but with the same corrosive effect.

The federal electoral game has come down to a tribalism. The presidential debates have amounted to little more than another opportunity for the candidates to preach to their respective choirs. And thus campaigns come down to little more than a bet on who has the bigger choir, and who can motivate their choir to come out and vote. Since the elite choir that the Republican party really serves is so small, they had to look for a cagey way to find another choir. Their bet--embodied in Palin--is that there is a massive, perhaps largely quiet, choir composed of Joe Sixpacks in the middle of the country--a choir whose anthem is a long disdain for complexity and "learning."

But that's not "conservatism." It is a wanton disdain for the wisdom of the past that has spiraled into a reverie of ignorance cloaked as "common sense." That such people get a vote is exactly why conservatism has always had an uneasy relationship with democracy.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

"Thinking in Tongues" from First Things

[This article appeared in the April 2008 issue of First Things; since it takes a few months for articles to become available for free online, I thought I'd here point to it.]

Over the past decade, Pentecostalism has become something of an academic darling for historians, sociologists, anthropologists, and scholars of religious studies. Researchers ensconced in the secularized environs of the university have produced a flood of books and studies about the fantastic worlds of global Pentecostalism. And yet, while sometimes sympathetic and irenic, the academic interest in Pentecostalism has had the curious backhanded effect of disenchantment. The sociological fascination proves a cover for condescending incredulity, with Pentecostalism reduced to a sort of global snake-handling.

This reduction of Pentecostalism to a specimen shuts down the articulation of Pentecostalism as any kind of theological voice. Indeed, the sociological account of Pentecostalism implies that “Pentecostal theology” is an oxymoron. Which is a shame because, over the last century, an interesting theology has been developing in such classical Pentecostal traditions as the Assemblies of God and the Church of God in Christ, as well as in charismatic movements within the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. (The shared sensibility of Pentecostal and charismatic traditions is often described under the umbrella of small -p pentecostalism.)

At the heart of this Pentecostal theology is an ontological claim: that the same Spirit who animated the apostles at Pentecost continues to be actively, dynamically, and miraculously present both in the ecclesial community and in creation. Pentecostal theology is a theology of the Creed’s third article and is predicated on the belief that the Spirit is a spirit who surprises us by continuing to speak, heal, and manifest God’s presence in ways that counter the shut-down naturalism of modernity. As a result, following in the wake of the Spirit, it is a nimble theology that seeks to explicate and understand the controlled chaos of charismatic worship—a faith seeking understanding of the experience of the Spirit’s surprising ways.

Although Pentecostalism sometimes gets a space on the table as a subject of study, it rarely gets a seat at the theological table as a contributor to the conversation, even among serious theologians. On one level, this is not surprising. The Pentecostal movement emerged largely from an underclass with little access to formal education. In an often-told story, one of its saints embodied this marginalization: Willie J. Seymour—the preacher at the center of the Azusa Street revival in 1906, a son of former slaves—received his theological education in Texas while listening in a hall outside the classroom that white students alone could enter. Pentecostalism is a tradition of preachers and evangelists, not scholars and doctors.

Continue reading "Thinking in Tongues" at First Things