Crazed Euro-Centric Whitey Bullshit I Deal With at Graduate School
As those of you who have read my About page will know I am pursuing my Masters in Divinity (same as Masters in Theology but one extra year of “pastoral formation” and such) at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. Here is an example of some of the great fantastic knowledge I have to put up with.
For an online class (in where we meet for discussion once a week) one of the questions was this:
What are some ways the new context of independence and establishment of the United States shaped American religion?
The ways the American context shaped American religion are many but it is the context of America as a nation that I think helped shaped American theology (by that I mean mostly white bourgeois theology with a certain undercurrent of white populism), some of these major factors were:
- The contribution of Calvinism (in its English Puritan context), Methodism (again, from England), and (of course) state church Anglicanism (from England again! Huzah!).
- The centrality of a (newly formed) white race in the nation (that is, the ruling class constructing whiteness to keep the white indentured servants, Black slaves, and other lower class whites from banding together and overthrowing the land-holding males and thus creating the kernel of white privilege in this nation).
- The shaping of colonial governments around white land owners (government by whitey and for whitey!).
- The reforging of the American landscape contributing to the genocide of the Native population and the interjection (against their will) of an African slave population (self-explanatory).
- The expansion of the American white population westward (genocidal policies against Native Americans and colonial war against Mexico for further expansion of slavery and land).The contribution of Calvinism was obviously important, as were other currents of established European Protestant theology. But the context of America as a colonial-settler nation probably was one of the largest contributing factors for the American religious scene.
For “proper” theology there was the establishment of white only (and bourgeois) universities that were from diverse religious backgrounds, such as Brown, Harvard, Princeton, etc. These schools contributed to a larger meta-narrative of religious theological thought which tended to veer toward the protection of the white bourgeois colonial-settler establishment in America.
For the “lesser” theology of the popular revivals and populist religious movements there was still a larger meta-narrative of the privileging of the white American at the expense of African Americans (or as some have said, “New Africans”) and the Native American. So while there was a certain current of anti-intellectualism within the popular religious front it was still in the context of the white-Black narrative that the white land owners had set up to keep themselves in a privileged position in their (relatively) newly found states and Nation (that is, the lower class whites hated the intellectualism of the whites in the universities but yet still always allied with them when it came to defended their interests against free Blacks, Native Americans, other immigrants and the “white race” in general).
Jack, was not the white establishment in control in Europe also? Was this not the norm for the period of time? This is not to condone it but to put it in context of the times in which they lived. There was some movement of progress in places like South Dakota in the treatment of Native Americans. I had raised a question regarding the treatment of Native Americans as they didnot seem as discriminated against as African Americans by the Anglican Church. Of course Native Americans had less financial value (not sure where the fuck she is getting her info on this and am slightly confused by the argument) unless the governement [sic.] wanted their land. But the ends do not justify the means.
“Jack, was not the white establishment in control in Europe also?”
Actually no, since the white race is actually a social construct it didn’t become a factor in Europe the same way it became a factor in (especially) North America and South America, at least early on in colonial America. However, overtime whiteness as a social construct did become a factor in Europe but within the context of their colonial adventures and migration to the European countries from those within the African and Asian colonial countries (Algeria, India, etc.).
“This is not to condone it but to put it in context of the times in which they lived.” (I’m not sure why she even said this since I was putting the birthplace of American Christianity within its context, unless of course she means to say I’m not “being objective” because I’m pointing out the fact that America as a nation was based off of white supremacy and expansionism. Cause, you know, pointing that out is sooooooo not objective!)
I too was putting it in the context in which they lived, nothing more, nothing less. However, if you do say that “was not the white establishment in control in Europe” (which it wasn’t as there was no white race in Europe) then one would essentially be making the concession that Christianity in-itself which was introduced into America by colonial white settlers was in fact a white-establishment religion infused with white values which in turn lead to the justification of racism and slavery and colonial expansion. However, I was pointing out the fact that Christianity, being grown within a feudal and then semi-feudal/semi-capitalistic context within Europe was morphed and changed into a type of American Christianity which was further developed under the white colonial settler context within America.
“There was some movement of progress in places like South Dakota in the treatment of Native Americans.” (Uh, that’s a big fat no homey)
While there might have been a different type of treatment by certain religious groups to Native Americans in South Dakota (like, either I kill you and your people, or I kill your people but not you, or I kill your culture but not your people, etc.) it wasn’t that much different within the context of white settler-colonialism in America. All we have to do is look at the Sioux Wars and the Ft. Laramie Treaty (after previous settler violence mixed in with wars between local militias and federal troops), in fact, Mt. Rushmore is built upon sacred Native land in where the Black Hills was forcefully taken away from the Lakota by the government.
Plus, within certain Christianizing contexts it was mostly in the guise of “Kill the Indian, save the man” which isn’t necessarily the genocidal policies some in the government took (then preceded by concentration camp reservation policies) but was still down right horrible.
Ugh, two more years.
Allen, Theodore W. The Invention of the White Race Volume II: The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo-America. New York: Verso, 1997.
Foley, Neil. The White Scourge: Mexicans, Blacks, and Poor Whites in Texas Cotton Culture. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1999.
Noll, Mark A. America’s God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.
Saki, J. Settlers:The Myth of the White Proletariat: The True Story of the White Nation, Third Edition. Chicago: Morningstar Press, 1989. (Have no idea where to get this anymore, here is the pdf format)
Smith, Chip. The Cost of Privilege: Taking on the System of White Supremacy and Racism. Fayetteville, NC: Camino Press, 2007.
Zinn, Howard. A People’s History of the United States: 1492-Present. New York: Harper Collins, 2003.
The Boys’ Book of Indian Battles and Adventures (Hella fucked up man)