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What is a Christian leader thinking?

Here's a rather odd development in the SCP/Swinburne flap. Readers will recall from my previous posts the insanely nasty comment by non-Christian philosopher Rebecca Kukla and her defiant self-defense.

Kukla has since taken that self-defense non-public, but it was public for several days (I read it myself) and garnered many "likes" and expressions of solidarity with her. While it was public, Rod Dreher copied it, and I'll be quoting it below.

Suffice it to say that, though Kukla wasn't viciously cussing out everybody who disagreed with her right in that status update, she was proudly defending herself for having done so, and the only nice things she had to say were about all her "supporters" at Georgetown and about others who have tried to appease her side of the political spectrum. She also complained about the so-called "attack" on her by the Georgetown conservative blogger. The only thing in that post that could remotely be called an "attack" was putting a link to her e-mail along with links to about a gazillion other people's e-mails, tacitly suggesting that readers contact her, which could have (and in this day and age probably did) result in her getting abusive e-mails. I raised a demurral about that in my own post on the subject. But the actual content of the Georgetown Academy post was accurate and non-abusive and raised entirely legitimate concerns about her outrageous behavior and her future relationship to conservative students at Georgetown.

Okay, so why, one might wonder, would the President of the SCP, Mike Rea, who is by all accounts a very nice guy and is (one would think) hoping not to alienate (further) either the conservative or the leftist "wing" of his ideologically "diverse" but ostensibly Christian organization, signal approval of Kukla's self-defense for her virulently nasty comment? Please review again (language warning) what Kukla actually said (which was publicly viewable) concerning moral traditionalists and what she was therefore defending in her public follow-up.

Honestly, I can't imagine a single good reason.

I attach a screen cap that was gotten to me (by a source) of Mike Rea's "like" on Kukla's self-defense.

Let me stress right here, very clearly, that Kukla's post was set to public at the time. It has since been moved to non-public, but Rea's "like" was noted by my source while it was public. There has been somewhat of a kerfuffle about posting screenshots of information posted to Facebook with higher privacy settings. I consider all such debates to be distracting attention from more important issues, so I'm not getting into that, and I'm not doing that. This was publicly viewable at the time that it occurred. Moreover, anyone who uses Facebook can look right at the privacy settings on the post on which he is posting or "liking" and see if his response/reaction is going to be public or not.


Now, unlike Executive Director Christina van Dyke's disgraceful "haha" reaction to atheist Jason Stanley's nastiness, Mike Rea's "like" here was a) not a direct approval of nastiness and b) somewhat easier than a "haha" reaction to click by accident.

Frankly, I seriously doubt that it was accidental (and it was left up and for all I know is still there), but no doubt there will be those who will hold that open as a serious possibility.

I'm going to take it that it was not an accident, because that seems to me most probable.

As I said at the time that my attention was drawn to it (in a comment on Ed Feser's blog), Kukla's self-defense is long enough that Rea may say that he was just showing sadness that she has been "attacked" (though she really wasn't attacked by the Georgetown blogger) or possibly approving of her nicey talk about her "supporters" (though she shouldn't be receiving all of this "support," so that isn't really a thing to like).

Here is the text of Kukla's public self defense as copied by Rod Dreher:

On Friday, the Georgetown Academy, a far-right group loosely affiliated with Georgetown University [LM: It looks like Kukla subsequently edited this to "with no affiliation with Georgetown University"], launched an attack on me based on a comment I made on Jason Stanley’s Facebook page [LM: public comment on public page, gleefully posted], which got screenshot and posted on right-wing blogs. They have openly called for a campaign of harassment against me, challenged my right to remain tenured at Georgetown, and so forth. They are insistent about getting the university administration to respond to this call. They have claimed, among other things, that I directed a profanity at “Catholics.” This claim is not only false but Orwellian.

The backstory, briefly, is this: A philosopher gavwe a keynote speech at the Society for Christian Philosophers, in which he called homosexuality a disability that ought to be cured. The leaders of that organization, Michael Rea and Christina Van Dyke, put out lovely statements expressing their regret for the hurt caused by those remarks. Neither they, nor I, nor anyone else that I know about challenged this person’s right to make his bigoted, dangerous, and ignorant comments, nor has anyone called for any sort of retraction or apology from him. They merely expressed their regret. However, they received vicious attacks in the wake of their statement, from supposed defenders of ‘free speech.’ My first public comment on the whole issue was one I made in support of the leadership of the Society for Christian Philosophers.

Other philosophers (not me) then said some profanity-laced things on Facebook about the original talk and the attacks on those who had expressed regret. Some people got very worked up about the use of profanity and complained vocally. I and others found it profoundly ironic and awful that according to the complainers, telling people that their whole identity was pathological counted as civil discourse, whereas a few swear words in return did not. So on Jason’s thread I then responded with profanity, very much on purpose, to stand up for profanity being way less of a problem than deep, harful intolerance. I went out of my way to pick a profane image that was ‘unnatural,’ since the concept of naturalness was at issue in the original debate My comment [LM in public, deliberately] along with several others was screenshot and posted on right wing blogs, which then led to the Georgetown Academy attack.

It is exceptionally important to me that my Catholics colleagues understand that the claim that I directed profanity at them as a group is entirely, completely false. My profanity was very specifically directed at those claiming that profanity was more of a threat to civil discourse than homophobia. I assume such people came from a variety of religious backgrounds. I deeply value the many Christian (including Catholic) philosophers at Georgetown, in the Society for Christian Philosophers, and across the profession who are thoughtful and loving people making the world a better place. Indeed, I am consistently proud to be a faculty member at Georgeton, a Jesuit institution, and one that proves itself to be humane, intellectually vibrant, and committed to social justice at every turn. As usual, my wonderful institution has behaved perfectly in response to these attacks. I deeply regret the trouble and stress my remarks have created for some people in my fantastic Georgetown community.

I’ve been the recipient of maximally vulgar comments about my genitals, sex practices, and more on philosophy blogs and Facebook threads in the past. Because these comments have all been made anonymously, their authors have faced no consequences of any kind. I pride myself on saying whatever I have to say under my own name, and I will continue to do so, and to take responsibility for my words, now and always.

UPDATE: Many wonderful people are asking what they can do to help. The only thing I can think of right now is, please don’t signal boost the original article by reposting it. The last thing I or anyone at GU wants is for more right-wingers to get wind of the whole thing. Thanks and love to all of you. xoxo

Now what in the world is there to approve of there, unless you are on Kukla's side in this whole mess? Precisely nothing. Oh, wait, I know: It was her reference to Dr. Rea's "lovely statement" that he was clicking "like" for, right?

Please. Rebecca Kukla is a foul-mouthed, virulent Christianophobe. If you're on her team you get "xoxo" and "wonderful," "fantastic," and other such gooey praise. If you're opposed to her ideology you get...this.

What in the world could Dr. Michael Rea be thinking of to appear to give any approval of her brazen self-defense for her vicious behavior?

If I hadn't heard repeatedly what a nice guy he is and how he really doesn't have ill-will toward conservatives, I'd just conclude that he's a committed leftist (like Christina van Dyke appears to be from her "haha" and other comments) and leave it at that.

But in charity, I'll conclude that he's just ideologically stone tone deaf, at least in his right ear. And utterly bent in one and only one direction as far as the question of who are the "victims" in the ideological culture wars. His left ear appears to be extremely sensitive. Dr. Rea's idea of being moderate and helping the cause of unity in the SCP is apparently doing everything possible to ingratiate himself with the left, to the point of approving of the likes of Rebecca Kukla, and those the left has designated as enemies can go hang.

If you are an orthodox Christian, or if you are just starting to get creeped out by the bias here, I suggest that your money could be much better spent than on SCP dues.

Comments (10)

Yes, and I would suggest that the monies saved by withholding SCP dues should be spent on buying Vox Day's book, 'SJWs Always Lie.' If Rea is, as you suggest, simply naive WRT to the tactics and aims of the cultural left, he would do well to educate himself by reading this book.

Know thy enemy.

Well, that wouldn't be my suggestion, but to each his own. :-)

Well, that wouldn't be my suggestion, but to each his own. :-)

Vox is an interesting guy. For some odd reason, he's a heretic (of the Arian variety), and in 'SJWs Always Lie' he advocates certain tactics that are, to my mind, incompatible with Christian charity.

That said, if you look past the dross, there are many valuable insights in the book. Perhaps you should give it a read, keeping in mind that the Israelites were allowed to take the gold from the Egyptians and use it for their own purposes. :-)

I've been fighting leftists, including their enablers, for nigh on thirty years myself, and I doubt I need to read a book on the subject. If anything, I've mellowed a little with age. If the worst that one could say about that particular author were that he's an Arian, we'd be doing good, though I still doubt I'd buy his book on a subject where I have plenty of my own ideas. But honestly, this thread *shouldn't* be about him, and won't be.

I think it might be fun for people who leave the SCP to spend their money on starting a new organization. Or at least loosely organizing and running some conferences.

Lydia, I love the metaphor of right ear tone-deafness and left ear hypersensitivity. Great idea! We could call it RET-LEH. And then classify it as a mental disorder (since occurs in the brain processing, not in the ears).

I think it might be fun for people who leave the SCP to spend their money on starting a new organization.

Absolutely! Conservative philosophers (and others with a shred of integrity) need to fight back on the organizational level. One of the important ways of doing that is to have a professional organization to which a philosopher can turn which supports and defends his ideas as being within the pale of accepted philosophy. Rea is, if not actively engaged in putting traditional Christian philosophy outside the pale, at the least giving aid and comfort to those who are trying to do just that.

I have a suggestion for the name of the new organization: The Society of Actually Christian Philosophers. Or perhaps The Christian Society of Actually Christian Philosophers.

Sorry, Lydia, not trying to hijack the thread or anything. No need to talk about Vox anymore, but I would like to respond to one comment.

If anything, I've mellowed a little with age.

Many have taken note. This is probably not a good thing. It can indicate that you're growing tired of the fight. It can also mean eventually pulling an Eleanor Stump. Or, for that matter, a George H.W. Bush--who, if he ever was conservative, became a kindly, pathetic caricature of himself when he attended to 'celebrate' a gay wedding a few years ago.

Christians should HARDEN with age. Witness Cardinal Newman. You've read his correspondence with Charles Kingsley, right? The latter thought Newman had 'mellowed' in his 60s and consequently felt free to attack him without fear of real reprisal. Kingsley miscalculated. Badly. Newman had decidedly NOT mellowed; he retaliated by dropping the argumentative equivalent of an atomic bomb on Kingsley. (The latter's reputation never recovered.) Nor did Newman mellow after that: in his Biglietto Speech, delivered in his late 70s, Newman was again in attack-mode.

Witness St. Augustine: to say the latter hardened with age is an understatement. He went from De Magistro to De Praedestinatio Sanctorum.

For a Biblical example, witness King David: He went from Song of Songs--happy, lovey-dovey youth--to Ecclesiastes--bitter old man.

Even virtuous pagans hardened: witness Plato, and gulf between the Symposium and the Laws.

Please do not go soft on us, Lydia.

It can also mean eventually pulling an Eleanor Stump. Or, for that matter, a George H.W. Bush--who, if he ever was conservative, became a kindly, pathetic caricature of himself when he attended to 'celebrate' a gay wedding a few years ago.

That only shows that you do not know me *at all*. I won't go on and on about that, but seriously, you don't know me *at all*. By "mellowed with age" I was partly being humorous and partly talking about sheer quantity of material put out on various perfidies. But opinions should not be gauged by quantity of material on some topic. That would be a very weak argument from silence. (Example: I still think exactly what I always thought about Islam. I just usually can't think of anything _new_ to say with each new terrorist attack and all the predictable reactions, so I more or less throw up my hands and usually don't post about them. Blogging the same thing again and again gets boring after a while, at least for me.) Also, occasionally, I now have some pity for people put into extremely difficult political situations. Politics is intensely corrupting, and I now feel sorrier than I once would have for someone like, e.g., Paul Ryan (not starting a debate on that, just giving an example).

I don't regard Michael Rea as someone who has had very little choice. Dr. Rea has gone out of his way to insert himself into this situation and has made it extremely clear (in my opinion) that he does not remotely understand the real situation in academia and that he is prepared to pander to the left. Sad to say, if he were ever a department chairman in a case of bullying by the left, I would definitely advise the victim to treat him as a bruised reed or even an active enabler of the bullies.

A philosopher is temperate in speech; vulgarity is unbecoming of those with his fluency (not to mention unladylike). Moreover, sodomy, in addition to being unnatural, cries out to Heaven for vengeance. (It's no 'handicap,' it's a free choice to act on a certain resistible- nay disposable, impulse, embracing a depraved lifestyle.) Read Aristotle, read the Holy Bible. RFGA, Ph.D.

What are the implications of a world in which orthodox Christians are locked out of and/or made silent in academic pursuits? I am not at all questioning that this might not be a big deal, it seems very ominous to me actually. It seems like this is, perhaps further, indication that what is accepted as proper Christianity by academic theologians and philosophers will be lgbt identity pleasing. This may even be able to be described as a hijacking of orthodox Christianity such that, at least among "credible" academics, what we know as orthodox Christianity is deemed the fraud and the lgbt pleasing variety deemed the real deal. Seeing as how litigious our society is and how much power the courts have gobbled up, I am concerned that the boundaries of orthodox Christianity will be explored by judges in a future case (if this hasnt happened to some extent already). If that is the case, I could imagine academic philosophers and theologians being called in. It is only going to be that much worse if the only "credible" academics involved are affirming an lgbt identity pleasing view.


This comment of yours I think is important:

"Seeing as how litigious our society is and how much power the courts have gobbled up, I am concerned that the boundaries of orthodox Christianity will be explored by judges in a future case (if this hasn't happened to some extent already). If that is the case, I could imagine academic philosophers and theologians being called in. It is only going to be that much worse if the only "credible" academics involved are affirming an lgbt identity pleasing view."

Although I am Catholic, I have always admired the work of the theologian Robert Gagnon and his tireless efforts to defend the traditional Christian view of human sexuality against the assault from liberal academic philosophers and theologians who attempt to twist the Bible to their own ends: http://www.robgagnon.net/

His latest work has focused on the nonsense being published about transgender identities, but he has long fought against those who have tried to legitimize homosexual behavior and give it Christianity's 'blessing.' Your comment made me think of him and how we need all the smart orthodox Christians we can find to help us fight back against those who are indeed attempting to affirm an "lgbt identity pleasing view" as you put it. Pray for Professor Gagnon and for others to follow in his footsteps and fight back against these insidious ideas.

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