|The Wartburg Watch|
Revised Nov 2013
Have you ever encountered a seemingly beneficial group only to discover they are becoming or have become the very thing they oppose? This reality is not phenomenal in the least, it happens often. People who are being abused are regularly rescued by crusaders who end up abusing them as well, only in a different manner. You have seen this and I have seen this.
Ex: A girl grows up in an abusive home. Enter hero boyfriend (there is a reason hero boyfriend and abused girl are attracted to each other in the first place, not necessarily for bad reasons always but sometimes for unhealthy reasons with unhealthy results). No doubt he will either be informed or observe the abuse (or both) and wish to intervene in some manner and rescue his darling from her oppressive ogresses.
Occasionally, the parental overlords are overpowered and the swashbuckler is victorious. On the way out of the door in the arms of her lion and entering her new estate of freedom, the once burdened damsel hears her buccaneer tell her that he would like her to work on her choice of words when speaking to him, after all he is the savior figure and sacrificed quite a bit for her emancipation. She obliges but somewhere inside of her rising up, though immediately forced down, is the all too familiar sound of her former masters.
Well, welcome to The Wartburg Watch as I experienced it recently, and continue to find it. Now for some of you who find part or most of what they do or say beneficial in some manner, there is the temptation to instantly clamor because, after all, they aren’t the ogres, remember? And to your surprise I agree, they are both a group who has given enlightenment where darkness or at least lesser light has shown and they aren’t the ogres. But the problem is they can, at times, be the other guy.
Where or what is the source of my claim? It comes from two contexts. The first is my ongoing reading of The Wartburg Watch over the last year or year and a half and my brief but rather enlightening experience directly interacting at The Wartburg Watch. I will cite that event in a moment but before doing so I want to present what positive thing they might be recognized for and what I believe to be a weakness and fundamental flaw in their construct which I term Fabian Disaffectionism which is rather common among Baby Boomers and beyond these days, Christians ones included.
Exposing and Opposing Shameful Hypocrisy
The Wartburg Watch blog, as I have observed, inaugurated itself with an emphasis on Neo-Calvinism, ecclesiastical malfeasance of many sorts but particularly with sexual misconduct or abuse and patriarchalism/complementarism excesses or even its existence. Something needed in general, though I certainly do not subscribe to all of their criticisms or theological persuasions and certainly not their growing cachophany of ungodly behavior in the way the approach and then discuss matters in their comment section, at least as I see it.
Since then it seems they have kept with this template for the most part. Their capital effort, in my view, was bringing to light the reality of the SGM disaster along with the committed and shameful support of Theologians and Bible Teachers such as Al Mohler ($$ The Mahaney Money Machine $$ is a must read in my view), John Piper and related parties or the contemptible omission by others who, while not speaking out in support of an unqualified and now disqualified ministry and its leaders, added to the injury of all parties with their silence.
And you will not be disappointed if you read The Wartburg Watch and wish to discover things many people simply will not, but should, tell you. Things that you ought to know. They are detailed and earnest. Hence, before I lean into them understand that I am not telling you to not read them. I rarely would say that about any Christian publication because no matter what is being said, even if to stay informed regarding error, one still needs to stay informed.
But what I will and do warn you about is something underlying that can easily infect you, if you are not careful. Such philistine troubles are part and parcel of the work of crusaders. Hence my experience and what I believe you need to know.
I have recommended The Wartburg Watch in the past but at the present time, cannot do so. Nevertheless, if you read their blog you will find that at times they do not miss on their points. Unfortunately, in my view, again like most crusading organizations, they are not adept at holding themselves to their own standards. What do I mean? Enter my exchanges in the What Doug Wilson Should Have Learned From Anyabwile About Racism comments thread.
The article emphasized what Doug Wilson should or could have learned. Of course it assumes much in its arguments which is a flaw in and of itself, but that notwithstanding the overall take away by The Wartburg Watch was with an emphasis on Wilson stopping to listen and learn from someone unlike himself, someone with a different experience and so on who might have something to teach him.
Okay, I am all for that. And so with that you would expect at the blog that both its moderators and participants would share this vital sentiment of understanding and learning from others unlike themselves, right? Well………………………..not so fast my friend. Here is what I posted in the comments section and some portions of some rather shallow responses directed toward me in return:
Alex Guggenheim said:*(I fixed my typo of prerogatives for the record)
Do not care for Doug Wilson but Anyabwile erred greatly in affirming Race Based Special Interest Theology and Practice. While he does not offend with deliberate Afro-centric theology as Bradley does he attempts to legitimize the purposed racial *prerogatives in part in what is a spiritual body, namely the church.
Additionally, I found Anyabwile’s arguments dubious in many places and always qualified with the acknowledgment he cannot be dogmatic yet he went ahead and was dogmatic anyway. His exegesis was sophomoric in many places.
So what do I get in return? Do I get anyone trying to identify with a foreigner? Do I get anyone trying to understand or learn from others, unlike themselves? You can deduce for yourself what I received:
@ Alex Guggenheim:Okay so dee wants me to take into consideration Anyabwile’s experiences and his experience as a man who allegedly underwent the indignities of “walking while black”. You see? She expects me to identify and relate to or validate the point from which he approaches. But will she or others do that for me? Again, let’s see. By the way, here is my response to that:
So, when you said “His (Anyabwile) exegesis was sophomoric in many places.” I wondered if you were attempting to take into consideration his particular experience as a man who experienced the indignities of “walking while black.” If you are an African American, then I would assume that you have and argue my point from another direction.
Alex Guggenheim said:
While one experiences unique indignities none of these kinds of individual or group proprietary experiences gives weight to theological arguments which is my focus. Anyabwile’s race is not a matter of extra or lacking sensitivities. I believe it is encumbent on us and for Teachers especially to rise above egocentrism when dealing w theology, hence I assume the best of Anyabwile and that he is, with respect to being able to receive the force of my words, not going to be guilty of projecting racial antagonisms, and to the readers here as well.Now for the outpouring of understanding by others and dee, herself, toward me, the foreigner:
I understand sensitivity but even the lack of it cannot be treated with any force as an argument on the issue.
I do agree that Wilson’s diplomacy is debatable but that aside and to the greater concern, the principles and theology of the matter, I do believe Anyabwile would do even worse face to face in a debate and believe much of what he argued to be weak.
I get the impression that you, like Doug Wilson, are in the habit of treating your subject matter like a mathematician treats numbers — as logical formulas — or an astrophysicist deals with data — reality in the form of calculations. Deeply engaged in it all, to the point of unawareness of what human beings actually experience on ground level. It doesn’t seem to have much relevance.Then
I tend to think that you & Doug either expect or would prefer that your fellow humans be programmed automatons, responding to perfectly calculated equations, rather than the ruckus of stimuli that is reality (visible, invisible, biological, psychological, spiritual, creative, memory, inherited memory, sensory, etc. — a coin with so many sides)
Alex, you need to give this up. Anyabwile isn’t the one with “sophomoric exegesis.” And, ironically enough, Wilson isn’t the only one using confusing, “smarty” language.Okay, I am a mathematician or astrophysicist and treat people like numbers or a formula? No, wait, I see, my language is offensive because it is “smarty language”? I get it, because I don’t use language the others I am the offender. Ah yes, I am the offensive one, right? We call that bigoted where I come from. Hmmm…sensitive consideration during discussions or debate at the Wartburg Watch? I don’t think so.
@ Alex Guggenheim:I think you did not have to say his arguments are sophomoric and you should stick to the knitting. In debating matters such as race, we can argue our theological leanings while being sensitive. For example, you call Anyabwile’s thoughts “sophomoric” and merely say that Wilson’s diplomacy is debatable. Guess which one comes across more strongly?
My post argues beyond the theology (which is important) to love which shows an understanding of the pain of those who suffered under a supposedly “Christian” nation racism.No, dee, I said his exegesis was sophomoric, you are using deceptive language and misrepresenting my statement. You should have more integrity than to reform people’s statements which end up altering what they said and implying something less favorable, but if it serves you best I suppose this is what you call “sensitivity toward others”?. I don't subscribe the the myth that the United States is under ecclesiastical mandates, hence Anyabwile's argument is irrelevant unless he and you are affirming belief in a theocracy, if not then again, your point here and his as well, is moot.
Holy crud, I snorted so hard that stuff almost came out of my nose! Alex sounds like he works in a very technical field, & is stuck in that linguistic loop. A friend of mine doing a PHD in Theology puts up the most linguistically dense status updates on fb that I have ever read,which crack me up. Thankfully he follows them up with pics of him & his 5 year old on a train or geeking on Star Wars. I can get bogged down myself when having to write funding applications or summarise work with a client for social services or something, but Alex does have a special talent for it.More personality and linguistic bigotry.
Daisy said:And if I were black what would I be? Oh wait, sensitivity only for those you chose but not for all, right? I speak in a manner unfamiliar to this commenter and what do I get? I receive bigotry and abuse. And finally from dee:
Did you ever see the first Terminator movie? There’s a scene where the hero from the future who is rescuing the lady tells her a Terminator (cyborg) has been sent to kill her.
He explains that Terminators are programmed to kill: they never sleep, don’t feel pity, remorse, sympathy, or compassion.
Sometimes, some Christians come across this way, so programmed to follow logic, proper debate rules, and their view of correct doctrine, they seem like Terminators.
dee said:This speaks for itself but lest you are asleep, it is called linguistic and personality bigotry. Yes, bigotry, that nasty thing against which The Wartburg Watch crusades. They appear, however, to tolerate some forms of it when it concerns their crusading.
@ Alex Guggenheim:I do not get you. I am trying. I have even tried humor. State your case or move on. This is a blog, not a term paper or an oratorial exercise. That means it is important to state your case clearly and simply. When few people get what you are saying, including me and I have been around this milieu for a long time, it means you need to up your game in this arena.
Overall Observation of the Event
Asking my blog readers to tolerate the tedious task of reading through the posts is one for which I seek pardon of this necessity, but still an essential it is because of what it reveals. It demonstrates just what my title suggests, that crusaders can often become the thing they claim to oppose.
The Wartburg Watch objects to the insensitiveness which lead to abuse and indignity. They rightly identified this common cause of abuse. Yet, when a foreigner with whom they are not familiar (and apparently does not fit the profile have chosen for their sensitivities and anti-indignities crusade), comes in their midst and speaking in way in which they are not familiar and with which they allegedly do not immediately identify, what do you find? Why you find the very kind of treatment they espouse leads to abuse and claim to oppose. At lest you will find it in my case and if there is one case there are usually more.
Am I Being Petty?
Glad I asked that question. I entertained it for quite a while until I was certain that this was not merely a matter of some subordinate misbehaving but as well, by way of Thee Wartburg Watch leadership (specifically dee and both my interaction with her and her failure to moderate the indignities and insensitivity heaped upon this foreigner within her borders). Thus, this comes from one who forms policy but unfortunately willingly engaged in the kind of awfulness and inconsistency she regularly rebukes in her subjects. This is quite revealing. It manifests something contrary to stated claims and beliefs, in my view, and something which is critical to anyone engaging with such a group.
One always should expect underlings to be capricious, particularly toward a pledge. Children are not their parents but parents ought to reign in the children when they are out of order and when parents do not, they are negligent as guides. But worse, when parents involve themselves at the same level and in the same manner as their offspring, one then needs to take a long look at the parents’ personal constitution and understand there is something amiss.
This is the way it is with those in any position of authority. To understand their quality one must inquire and observe whether they uphold or dismiss their own values when their pet views are at stake or the community under them acts contrary to such values. Because to some, to scold temperamental members would be to lose face. Such moments are watersheds which reveal the core of a person or organization in spite their propaganda claiming otherwise.
Think Of the Opposite: A Linguistically Challenged Black Man
One kind of abuse we all recognize is when those who are linguistically challenged decide to speak. Their oddity and abnormality regarding the group makes them prey for emotionally adolescent “group-think” types who seek to pounce on incidental and insignificant departures from the norm. Now, it is true that The Wartburg Watch cannot be held accountable for its commenters with respect to their opinions but it is responsible and accountable for permitting and/or remaining silent when commenters become abusive or even participating in such a manner.
So imagine if I were a black man commenting who was linguistically challenged and my atypical way of speaking was a source of contention and criticism by some people commenting? What do you think would ensue, then? Right! The Wartburg Watch would be on high alert and in concert with its community, all would be there to rescue the abused foreigner from the disgusting and insensitive bigot(s) who faulted the person simply for speaking differently. The Wartburg Watch failed to uphold their own principles with a different kind of stranger in their midst and became, in my view, the very thing against which they crusade and ironically in the comments section of a post about being sensitive to people who are different.
Understand, however, I am not hurt, that isn’t the point. This is not about me. I only serve here, as a test case and example so that you may utilize The Wartburg Watch in a more informed manner. I expect this, always, everywhere. I am not a child, I understand the level of inconsistency, rudeness and self-deception that can go on with Christians. It is the naïve person who gets injured, upset and personally destabilized in such cases because they are trained to be gullible and open to such wounding.
This will happen, even with people you might like. You will not change this reality, ever, though you can make yourself and others aware of it so you and others curb such human deficiencies from unabridged expression. Humans fail. What you must do is be informed with regard the whole of something and not merely it’s good. Much like eating cake and then and watching your weight balloon up and then asking, “Why didn’t someone tell me that was part of eating cake”? Thus, I am telling you what I believe about The Wartburg Watch which I hope will help you better use it as a tool for information because you do not want to throw it away. However, if you are going to use it as a tool you certainly do want to know what it cannot do and what it might do if you use it naively.
When You Have No Argument You Always Are Reduce To Form (Sidebar)
People who have no argument or at least are on the losing end of an argument are normally reduced to debating someone’s form or style. This is ultimately a sign of surrender. This is what happened here for dee and the others. A few participants did get past my form which was labeled “smarty language”. To them I give credit. Nevertheless, to this claim I was amazed seeing I used vocabulary we all learned in the 8th and 9th grade and I had typos to boot. This is what they call “smarty language”, are you serious?, One might ask this out loud were we all still in the 8th or 9th grade.
I have written more than once about detecting signals in debate and identifying when one is invested egotistically and when one is objective. This was certainly not a case for the latter. Remember, even as a sidebar but worthwhile principle, when your debate opponent starts to become preoccupied with form he has entered the petty and insignificant. This does not mean form can never be addressed but when one's form is well within reason, though still retaining its uniqueness, people who seize upon such idiosyncrasies do so because they have surrendered their case.
While it might seem redundant, I have coined a term to describe what I believe The Wartburg Watch is in its fundamental form, a community of Fabian Disaffectionists. First, they are Fabians in my mind because they reflect the anti-hierarchical traits of the British Socialist Fabian Society.
The Fabian Society arose in Britain in the late 19th century by idealists, artists and young adult aristocrats. Such types are accomplished at identifying real or theoretical flaws in organizations but rarely, if ever, offer alternatives which result in robust societies that lead the state to be either producers or super-produces. And without such prosperity, which is an axiological element necessary for a nation to sustain itself and perpetuate its internal wealth and freedoms as well as external securities, all the Fabians in the world would be left with their words, criticisms and some hopeful porridge, if they are lucky. They are idealists to a fault and you will see this magnified on certain occasions and undoubtedly in their theology, at times be they Christians.
Secondly, they are Disaffectionists because as I have observed, they are frequently fueled by their disaffection toward something which they or their community has observed or experienced. The inherent defect of such a movement is that it lends itself to extremes such as self-righteousness and the inability to see one’s own inconsistencies and problems not to mention the failure to give credit where credit is due, particularly when opposing someone or something.
The Tiger Woods Phenomenon. I think PGA Pro Tiger Woods is an excellent lighting rod which displays the problems with disaffected people in general. Tiger is, at this point, one of the four greatest known professional golfers in the sport’s history. His character in the past, however, was not so great and in fact quite a failure and the public, for the most part, knows all too well of his adulterous and sexual exploits.
As a result of this many people were disaffected toward Tiger. Hence, when they watched him they could not even give him credit for skills displayed on the golf course. Any success was resented and generally categorized as lucky. They have become delusional, to some degree, and unable to acknowledge Tiger’s accomplishments due as a result of investing themselves in their disaffection thereby losing objectivity. They distort and undervalue the against which their affection is set.
When you combine fabianism with disaffectionism you get a bit of a toxic combination if you are not careful. As I said, some might view fabianism as resulting from disaffection but not always. Not all Fabian Society members were necessarily disaffected people. However, they did attract such people, hence becoming influenced by them and at times permitting injurious extremes to their discredit.
And this is how I would characterize The Wartburg Watch. Their superintendents, to me, are primarily Fabians while many of their followers are primarily disaffected types and the influence of the latter, unfortunately, leads them to license and offense of which either they are ignorant or aware and refuse to acknowledge which would mean they have traversed into a crusader-mentality arrogance and that is a place from which few return to reside again with a healthy and objective perspective in life.
I have decided to end any participation at their blog in the comments section, apparently they simply cannot help themselves from acting like adolescents and mobbing those who do not get on their bandwagon. However, I do plan on reading their material because staying informed of all those claiming to be a voice of biblical discernment is essential.
What I want for my readers is to understand the nature of the animal with which they are dealing. Do not get sucked into their tendency toward self-righteous crusading to the point that you engage in a manner identical to the very kind of thinking and behavior you seek to expose as harmful.
The Wartburg Watch for what I label as Fabian Disaffectionists, could out-pace many so-called orthodox groups and provide a service for which could be appreciative. But they have seriously degraded into cat-calls, pettiness, the tolerance of celebrating the failures of others and an over all "meeting ungodliness with more ungodliness". To combat a pie in the face the simply throw pies in faces or allow them to be thrown with little interference.
They do take in with sympathy and affection the injured. They regularly hold court and present some evidence for their cases, though not all the evidence available at times in every case. And too often I find the evidence to regularly be presented in a rather biased manner, minimizing and sometimes outright dismissing fair counters on the other side. And that is the point. Do not permit your idealism or disaffection to lead you blindly or else a tool that can help will end up harming you.
The Christian life is both one of discernment of error and affirmation of truth. And it is not about you or your experiences, your demanding people be sensitive to you or your unique context. That is called spiritual narcissism which can easily be accepted as a substitute for genuine spirituality which revolves around Christ and his Word. Fabian Disaffectionism can lead you to such a selfish end if you do not understand the limits of these kind of contributions. On the other hand, if you ignore any truth they have to say, you have harmed yourself as well.
So, engage wisely and to The Wartburg Watch I say, until they make a fundamental change in their dialog and particularly in their comments section where they regularly fail to uphold their claims of desiring forthright, dignified and frank but mature treatment of people in the exchanges of comments as well as participating in these themselves, thumbs down. My belief is that those who do believe in leading in discernment by exposing hypocrisy and duplicity, certain do not approve of their dancing on graves, group cheering and speaking of the failures of others as "juicy".
Do they make points? Yes, but the demand for wise counsel does not stop at having a point. I believe they are unwise and an unhealthy form of group-think or dialectic which does not free people but only removes them to another form of cyclic injury. That is of course, merely my opinion.