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Saturday, October 31, 2015

Warning: Trained Professional Theologian at Work.

Rod Dreher has discovered the unique (Deo volente...) theological writings of one of the anti-Douthat signatories, Professor Katie Grimes of Villanova University.

Remember that the touchstones of the would-be-blacklisting were his lack of qualifications to speak about theology and the political partisanship he allegedly interjected into his analysis.

Does the argument that the Catholic Church (ostensibly in America, but it is logically fuzzy on that) is irredeemably corrupted by white supremacy suggest political partisanship? We're talking from the sacraments of baptism and the Eucharist on up. Might it at least suggest something of a political agenda? Especially when submitted as an example of "political theology"?

In any case, Professor Grimes is absolutely certain of this. No doubts, no arguments. Thus, she has plans for you, Mr. and Mrs. KKKatholic KKKracker. 

Big, big plans: 
We should not expect white Christians either to choose new racial habits or to change the racial character of the white supremacist places they inhabit. Rather than leaving Christians to their habits as [Stanley] Hauerwas proposes, white Christians need to be made to submit to spatial re-habituation. 
Rather than distinguishing themselves from the world in order to serve and save it, white Christians need to be compelled to inhabit a world not of their making. 

In particular, white Christians will be re-habituated only when they no longer possess the power to perpetuate white supremacist racial segregation in their neighborhoods and parishes.

Rather than espousing a type of Pelagianism, I expose the narrow limits of white agency. White people cannot save themselves. The vice of white supremacy must be unmade by the transformative grace of Black Power, which places black life and freedom first.

Theologians need to learn to care less about how to persuade whites to do the right thing and more on what they need to be made to do. Rather than intensifying projects of moral suasion, the church ought to begin devising strategies of white corporate coercion. At stake is not just the justice of the church but its very identity as the body of Christ.
Welp. Spatial re-habituation. Collective punishment--which I thought was bad, but remember: the Vatican is probably the VatiKKKan. Indeed, amongst the myriad weaknesses in her article is the parochial focus on America, and the apparent belief that American slavery arose sua sponte from our cancerous birth. I guess all the other slave-owning white Christians dodged a bullet by staying away from our patch of the planet? It seems unlikely to me, but what do I know?

Her proposal sounds...ambitious, in a vaguely Milosevic-meets-regionalism kinda way. Though I'm not sure how the fatally-compromised church is supposed to self-remove this tumor to which it is so attached--the political equivalent of faith-healing or juicing, perhaps?

Perhaps it will come from example? Dr. Grimes appears to be a bit melanin-impaired herself, so maybe she'll lead the way. Start with casting off that antiquated and convenient construct of white privilege known as "tenure"? Surely, the corporate coercion she prescribes would rightfully award her position to a more deserving scholar of color. And maybe she could bid adieu to the cozy, insular, gated-community bastion of racism and unearned plunder known as suburban Philadelphia and decamp to less-privileged zones? 

We'll see. The prophet's life is a hard one. 

Lead the way, doc.

Nevertheless, the powerful certainties expressed above definitely cast an interesting light on her rationale for criticizing Douthat:

Katie Grimes, an assistant professor of theological ethics at Villanova University and another signer of the letter, explained in a blog post her annoyance with Douthat’s repeated claims to theological certainty.
“More than many other figures who misrepresent or oversimplify Catholic theology in the mainstream media, Mr. Douthat has tended to portray himself as one who recites Catholic teaching rather than one who interprets it, especially over the course of the past few weeks,” she wrote. “This alone I take issue with.”
“So perhaps rather than calling Mr. Douthat ‘un-credentialed,’ the letter should have asked the New York Times the following question: with what criteria did they determine Mr. Douthat competent to act as an arbiter of theological truth?” she added.
From what I can tell, the Professor herself does not lack for certainties in her own expansive theological vision for humanity. Maybe there's something else? She concludes with this:

Let’s also not forget that Mr. Douthat’s position owes in no small part to the credentials of race and gender that he has accumulated but not earned. We take white men much more seriously than we take others, even when they say very silly things.
Ah. Reason enough for a good ol' fashioned Defenestration right there. Repent, pale penis person--because it's only bad when you express certainty, you as-yet-uncoerced bigot! Of course, her position in the academy owes nothing to, I dunno, gender considerations, right? Or should I say, left?

However, I am quite willing to concede her expertise with regard to saying very silly things. No one could possibly gainsay that.


  1. That's funny. When this first made news, ABS chose one name at random and googled her name + heretic and this popped up on google

    and then there was a successful search for her picture - she looks like Monty Python's Terry Jones in drag - and then ABS wondered just how many blacks were amongst the signatories.

    Too lazy to check that but who would be surprised to learn those who signed represent white catholic heresy privilege?

  2. "We take white men much more seriously than we take others, even when they say very silly things." Who is "We". If males or females say silly things I generally laugh. However when arrogant feminists say anything I don't take them seriously and I don't laugh. But then I've been rightfully accused of being a fan of John Wayne and professional wrestling.