Friday, January 02, 2009


By God, Wal-Mart's done gone to meddlin'!

Mr. Wal-Mart, suh! Stand down, suh!


LOCUST GROVE, Va. (AP) — Wal-Mart wants to build a Supercenter within a cannonshot of where Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant first fought, a proposal that has preservationists rallying to protect the key Civil War site.

A who's who of historians including filmmaker Ken Burns and Pulitzer Prize winner David McCullough sent a letter last month to H. Lee Scott, president and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., urging the company to build somewhere farther from the Wilderness Battlefield.

To arms! To arms!

^&*(%!!!! -- and that's the historian talkin' not the supposed partisan.

Read all about it.


Oh my gosh this can't happen. I hope if they have a local planning commission or zoning commission that it gets stopped toot suite! Someone should make an application for National Historic Register (or Landmark) status NOW.
"We recognize the significance of the Wilderness Battlefield, but we are not building on the battlefield," said Keith Morris, a spokesman for the world's largest retailer. - from the article.

The counter-argument - the site was a staging area for Union troops - is a "so what?" moment. Not every scrap of land where the troops walked, marched, cooked, ate, defecated, vomited, bled, and died is sacred. The Battlefield itself is preserved for all times. The company wants to build on land that is zoned for it, and has every right to do so. This isn't about preserving national sacred space; this is about screwing a company that has a bad reputation, pure and simple.

What's next? Lee's horse may have pooped there, and the preserved horse-apples make it untouchable?

Well, it's the "253 scholars" that got my attention. It's not the typical NIMBY deal.
Why does Wal-Mart get a pass when Rick Warren doesn't?

Sweat shops, racist hiring practices, diminishing and suppressing quality of life in poor communities.

I find it hard to locate Great Knapping Soul's spiraling moral compass.
See, I think this is gratuitous: "I find it hard to locate Great Knapping Soul's spiraling moral compass."

Why say that? I mean, you got some real ammo. Why stoop?
Consider yerself scolded! Nyah, nyah, nyah!
Besides that, most people's morality is ad hoc ...
I am assuming he was trained in some aspects of moral theology at that Theological Seminary.

Call me crazy.
Almost every friggin square foot of Northern Virginia is a Civil War battle field. Can you imagine trying to preserve all of the battlefields of WWII?

I've bought Minnie balls from yard sales in of Manassas Va. that were dug up in that very yard. Some purist would see that as a heresy, but hell doesn't a guy have a right to dig up his own flower beds?

Run an archaeological search on the site and then let them build on it.
Feodor, you mistake a mere difference of opinion or perspective for much more than that. Having been on the receiving end of it, I see it from you plainly.

Why don't you argue points, instead of immediatey trying to cut down someone who just sees things differently from you?

It's not differences of perspective and opinion that staet wars: It's just such throwing down of gauntlets and slapping of people with fine gloves!
I was looking to start something rigorous with this post. You started out well enough, then took it to 10th-grade P.E.
Re, "Run an archaeological search on the site and then let them build on it."

Maybe they will. This is just the earliest bubbles of discussion, it looks like. I mean, discussion beyond the county itself.
I can't start on my difference of opinions with GKS before he cleans up the differences within his own variously applied moral evaluations.

That is my point.

He takes the whoop ass to Rick Warren for his objectionable positions but licenses Wal-Mart regardless of objectionable practices.

How we would evaluate the moral distinction of the effects of Warren's theology and preaching and the practices of Wal-Mart would make a fascinating and difficult discussion.

But only if we look at each with the same lens. GKS keeps changing his glasses and so a dialogue between perspectives is impossible.
Oh, bullshit.
Specifically: "licenses Wal-Mart regardless of objectionable practices."

He did no such thing. He questioned the idea of these historians and others opposing this damn store in this place at this time.

And you jump to all sorts of conclusions. Just like you did with me over that effing SCV throw.

It's bullshit to take one sliver and paint with such a broad brush.

That has to be an actual fallacy. I'll look it up.
You yourself seem to think him ad hoc here.

"Starting something rigorous" doesn't proceed by side stepping each other.

Ad hoc followed by ad hoc is the Bush Administration.
"Then why screw with Rick Warren just because he has a 'bad reputation'" would be the logical next question.
I didn't jump to conclusions. We had a long, long chat where conclusions were open-ended. Still are, don't you think?
Looks like a combo of hasty generalization, appeal to motive, guilt by association -- with occasional poisoning of the well.

(Yeah, I had to look 'em up. Been 20 years since I sat and formally studied logic.)
Srsly, there's just no dang reason to make these threads personal! WTH?

Re, "You yourself seem to think him ad hoc here."

What I meant by "most people's morality is ad hoc" was most people's molorality is ad hoc. All the time.
Some people learn to drive in a demolotion derby. Some people learn to blog similarly, I think.
GKS ON RICK WARREN: I will indeed pray for Rick Warren. I will pray that he understand why liberals, both sacred and secular, are outraged at his place on the podium at the Capitol. Was Warren's hatred and ignorance directed at African-Americans, there is no question but he would be shunned.

GKS ON WAL-MART: This isn't about preserving national sacred space; this is about screwing a company that has a bad reputation, pure and simple.

From a theologically trained person. I just don't get that.
Molorality, I think most of mine have been pulled or are decayed.
Re, "From a theologically trained person. I just don't get that."

Well, I don't see the connection. So, why don't you draw it? And, rather than spit on his shoes, why don't you ask him to fricking explain it? You think because you connections are so obvious to you that they're clear to everyone. They're not. Not at all.
Carry on. I'm going to eat a cinammon roll and go to bed. :-)
Rick Warren gets a rough going over because GKS finds what he says in various interviews and from the lectern to have negative consequences on how his listeners think, morally speaking.

Aside from Mr. Warren's own moral positions, the point for GKS here, it seems to me, is his influence in the public square on conversations and conceptions of homosexuality, civil rights of the LGBT community, among other more diffuse issues belonging to theology per se.

But Wal-Mart is not considered in the same way. Here, He notes both that he is aware of the moral questions about Wal-Mart but that he also wants to downplay the significance of it because some times the law is twisted by people attacking Wal-Mart's "bad reputation."

The moral questions regarding Wal-Mart are muted. The moral questions regarding Warren are high-lighted with commitment.

This moral ad hoc life is what is what is always examined in seminary and students are trained to be stringent about this than "most people." It is supposed to be avocation, if not profession.
If you're saying that it's inconsistent for someone to be "against" Rick Warren and not be "against" Wal-Mart, I don't see it. I don't see it at all -- and to suggest that the mere study of theology should make it so is wack. I would think the conclusions one draws and the personal world view one develops from theological study are the thing, not the discipline itself. Rick Warren presumably (maybe not, though), has training in theology. So do a lot of yahoos.
Feodor, the reason you don't understand the difference between my stances on Rick Warren and Wal-Mart is that you do not know a couple things about me. First, you need to know that I happen to work for Wal-Mart, and I happen to believe they are no worse, just a lot bigger, than most companies. Second, I do not happen to believe they are doing anything wrong here. This isn't about opening a sweat shop; this isn't about employing undocumented workers at less than the minimum wage. This story is about a bunch of liberal academics who figure they can make the news by scolding the world's largest retailer for doing what it is supposed to do - open businesses that employ people, sell stuff, and generally make money for the company. If they were planning on opening a Supercenter inside the part itself, I would be as outrages as anyone else. Since I happen to know this area of northern VA pretty well, I happen to know it's pretty built up; in fact, most of the areas around VA battlefields are pretty built up. Since most of the state, by 1864, was the principle battlefield, you can walk through a plowed field in the middle of Sussex or Appomattox Counties in the spring and find spent bullets, or some other scrap from the War of Northern Aggression. Shoot, the little town in which Lisa and I lived for five years was ransacked and burned by the GAR as the troops tore up the railroad tracks from Petersburg to the rail hubs in North Carolina.

I'm just not sure what your constant quip about my theological education has to do with anything. If you must know, and it seems you must because you keep bugging me about it, I was educated enough to be able to think for myself, and figure out what I believe is important to get hot under the collar about. Wal-Mart building a store on property it either rents or owns, and has every legal right to do, is not something to get upset about. Sure, some of its corporate practices are awful; name a for-profit corporation in the United States that isn't compromised in some way. We all exist in a compromised atmosphere, unless we live in a cabin in Wyoming, or a beach hut in Fiji somewhere. That's just the way it is.

I have enough moral outrage at all sorts of things to last me several lifetimes. This, however, just doesn't cut it for me. To repeat myself - the entire Commonwealth of Virginia is potentially a Battleground Monument. You can't start getting your knickers in a twist every time someone wants to build somewhere, because the reality is there are artifacts quite literally everywhere; the Cracker Barrel in Petersburg, VA used to keep a little dish with corroded musket balls and bullets local farmers would plow up when they turned their fields. And uniform buttons, the occasional piece of shoe leather would crop up, too. You can't escape it.

Please save your lectures on a stunted moral sense for someone who needs it, because I really have no use of your lectures, thank you very much.
I'm saying the thoughtfulness in the arguments re Warren would leave one to expect more of the same re Wal-Mart.

What we get is "people screwing with it because of a bad reputation." This bothers me because the lazyness - made so by the capacity for thoughtfulness displayed elsewhere - seems so cavalier.

I for one am very wary of faceless powers that are destructive. There is no moral agent to confront if one finds Wal-Mart lacking. This is a slippery moral defense hard to push back on. Warren is all out there with recorded presentations. We can oppose his stances, his opinions directly, or, at least, virtually directly in person. It is easier to oppose a face, easier to dismiss the faceless. That is lazy ad hoc moral consideration.

Not that Wal-Mart is all bad. Not that building where they want to build is an affront to God. Not that it is illegal. Not that we are talking fully about the circumstances of the case.

But I cannot swallow one camel with ease and strain at another, or pick the juiciest gnats as if there is reason to distinguish.

One can be for or against anything. What I find missing in GKS is consistent thoughtfulness in going about it. Righteousness goes down a few narrow, idiosyncratically selected lanes. His right hand is devastating. His left is atrophied.

Theological studies should fortify one with a more coherent, consistent quiver than most people. Even in a blog - unless one refuses to get serious at anytime.
The following just makes me pause:

"Theological studies should fortify one with a more coherent, consistent quiver than most people. Even in a blog - unless one refuses to get serious at anytime."

I don't believe the word "should" applies to anyone, least of all me. Apparently you didn't read the part of my comment where I said that I was educated enough to think for myself and reach my own conclusions about things.

Since you grant every point I happen to make about this particular situation - Wal-Mart is doing nothing wrong, nothing illegal, nothing immoral, nothing as an affront to God - I just wonder why you are questioning my nonchalance towards this fake controversy. I called it as I see it - a bunch of academics and Ken Burns and David McCullough figuring they can make headlines by bringing up Wal-Mart's name and make them look bad when they, in fact, are not. That's what I see. I read the article, the petition, and I just don't see anything to set one's pulse racing.

I also am not sure how I am inconsistent. I'm not sure what "consistency" would mean. I am consistent to the extent that I think about things, take in as much info as I can, and reach my own conclusions about them. Just because I don't reach the same conclusion you do, or you think I should, doesn't mean I'm neither serious nor thoughtful. It just means we happen to arrive at different conclusions, that's all. Stop trying to figure me out, because you overthink it every time. You have your thoughts and ideas and principles, I have mine, and neither one of us is either the font of moral wisdom nor a moral monster. We're just different, dude. That's all.

If you keep lecturing me of the way a person with a theological education "should" behave, I will simply ignore you, because I stopped needing to be lectured when I was seventeen or so.
One further comment, then I'm through unless Feodor has something substantive to add. When I was a first-year seminarian, I had a class with Laurence Hull Stookey, one of the great teachers and preachers and scholars of the United Methodist Church. I dearly loved his class, and would have loved to have had more. One thing he said quite often, however, really bugged me. He kept saying that the things we were learning in seminary were not the kinds of things ministers and Christian educators should talk about in detail with folks in local congregations. He was not saying that we shouldn't use scholarly jargon; he was saying that, as theologically educated individuals, we held a body of knowledge that should be protected from the influence of those who have not been exposed to it. Furthermore, his point was that if we introduced various historical and theological concepts to members of local churches, it would cause undo controversy.

I found the entire position silly.

There was not a single thing I learned in seminary, or have learned since in my various readings, that any even semi-literate Christian should be wary of. Indeed, some of the most profound theological insights have come from lay persons who wouldn't recognize the name Karl Barth or Reinhold Niebuhr. At the same time, when discussing issues - without quote from Church Dogmatics directly - in terms learned from various theologians, one discovers a hearty gratefulness on the part of those who suddenly realize their questions, doubts, thoughts, and faith journeys are part of a whole varied history of faith and living; that there have been those who have thought about things they way they do, have reflected on a life of faith in similar ways. I do not hide my light under a bushel, nor do I flaunt my education for all to see.

One final note on the whole Wal-Mart thing, versus Rick Warren. These are completely different situations, involving completely different actors, involved in completely different controversies. Of what would "consistency" consist, considering the differences? Should I mention that Wal-Mart is anti-union, even though the story is not about their anti-union activities? Should I mention that Wal-Mart buys from Chinese manufacturers, using near-slave labor from Chinese prisons, even though the story is about Wal-Mart building a store? Should I run down the list of things Wal-Mart has done wrong, simply because its name is mentioned?

Rick Warren, who believes there is no moral difference between a gay man and pedophilia, is being given the stamp of approval by the next President of the United States by being invited to pray at his inauguration. Furthermore, President-elect Obama is OK with Warren's bigotry being just a matter of a difference of opinion. This reflects a certain moral myopia on the part of Obama, as well as out-and-out bigotry on the part of Warren.

Wal-Mart is a company in the business of making money by selling stuff. It is planning on building a store to sell stuff. In the process, it will employ people, generate tax revenue (including VA's egregious gross receipts tax), provide a center around which other businesses can build, and do all sorts of other things. The entire point of the story is not that Wal-Mart is doing anything illegal, which you acknowledge. Wal-Mart is not being underhanded, which you also acknowledge. Wal-Mart is not doing anything at all but what businesses do, which you also acknowledge.

Please explain to me why I should get upset about this. Please explain to me how I am inconsistent here. You should note that, even though I work for Wal-Mart, that doesn't mean I am either blind to its many faults, or mute about them; you should listen in on some of the conversations we have at work about the company! Seriously, I am not defending Wal-Mart because they employ me. I am not defending Wal-Mart at all. I am simply refusing to allow myself to get upset over something that isn't worth getting upset over.

You can reach whatever conclusions about me and my moral sense that you like, because I really don't care. I think I have been quite clear. I think I have been consistent to the extent that the conclusions I have reached are my own, and based on actual thought, rather than simple reaction. ER has his conclusion on this matter, you have yours, I have mine. I think we are all comfortable enough to sleep at night with these conclusions, without insisting that some among us are either clueless or morally obtuse because our reactions to this particular tempest in a teapot differ.
I think in some ways, Feodor, you display impatience not only with people who disagree with you, which is one thing, but with people who think differently than you do -- even if they come to the same conclusions.

The first is typical of anyone with an opinion. The latter is just ... weird.

Are you isolated or insulated from others of intellectual ability and communication skill who actually use those skills in different ways that you *must* think more highly of your own skill set to deal with it?

I don't know. It just reminds me of every professor, and every editor, I ever had who insisted that his or her students, or reporters, think exactly as he did, write the same way, etc.
Ask someone with a theological education at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University, both in Fort Worth, Texas, and get two very different perspectives.
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Now that GKS offers something more than "people screwing with a bad reputation," more can be said to people who are in their forties, at least, and not students of mine and not people under my charge:

GKS says, "Should I mention that Wal-Mart is anti-union, even though the story is not about their anti-union activities? Should I mention that Wal-Mart buys from Chinese manufacturers, using near-slave labor from Chinese prisons, even though the story is about Wal-Mart building a store? Should I run down the list of things Wal-Mart has done wrong, simply because its name is mentioned?"

To which the counter would be: The President-elect has chosen a pastor to pray. It is part of the business Warren is in; he is "not doing anything at all but what businesses [read 'pastors'] do."

And your own moral contours could be framed thus:

"So what if he is anti-gay? He is not there to pray against gays, he is there to pray for the president. So what if he associates homosexuality with pedophilia? He is not there to give us his theology, he is there to pray for the nation. Do I have to run down list of my oppositions just because his name is on the Inaugural Swearing In participants?"

So, on the basis of what (consistent, please) moral lineaments with which you trace the outline of allowance for Wal-Mart do you sweat Warren so much?

Or, alternatively, on the basis of what (consistent, please) moral license do you free Wal-Mart from the judgment of the moral whole? Warren is judged as a whole, with all his past and current public comments held as evidence. Yet, Wal-Mart gets the benefit of bracketing out behavior not yet present in Locust Grove, VA, but presumably sure to come along when it opens for business.

It looks to me like logic for one excuses the other but the logic for the other condemns the first as well.

What is the explanation that applies consistent moral reasoning but lets one agent off by ignoring other behavior histories and condemns the other agent precisely because of other behavior histories?

What does consistent moral reasoning which reaches different judgments in these cases look like?

Surely a seminary grad can do this in the open, without reference to dialectical theology.

And you aren't there yet, GKS.
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Feodor, you're being a chickenshit.

You took the trouble to post a commentm, then delete it, then repost it with this dig at the end:

"And you aren't there yet, GKS."

Sure a seminary grad can have a discussion without being a chickenshit.

And you aren't there yet, Feodor.

Yellow flag: You occasionally remind me of the only blogger, in four years of this, I've ever bounced. You should know that he's a fundamentalist asshole and one of those who blog at American Descent.

Stop it. Stop being a smug asshole. Stop with the personal digs. Yellow flag warning.

GKS: I encourage you to ignore this sh-t. We'll see if he can learn some manners.
I'm not so much ignoring him as laughing at him.

He's small taters, man.

It's like Marshall Art with a better vocabulary and typing skills. He no longer gets under my skin. He just makes me chuckle.

I changed quote marks and forms of words and added a paragraph to make the sense clearer.

The chickenshit part was an unthought add on, but I hardly expected anyone to need protection from chickenshit in this barnyard.

I'll keep Miss Manners closer by.

Yellow flag? And after all your name calling? Sounds like Tom Ridge at Homeland Security.
GKS loves his own lines three and four times.
True chickenshit is avoiding the argument.
Feodor, I have to wonder if you exhibit the same tortured spirit when you try to decide what to eat each day. "Oh my GOD! Should it be the shredded wheat or TOAST today? Let's analyze the nutritive content of each and then research the holdings of the companies that produce both! And then let's check into the religious standings of the CEOs of the companies!" Good gawd, man, you'd starve to death!

My first comment about the matter was made as a product of my own pro-preservation leanings. I think it's more appropriate to go slow on development in touchy areas until the true historic significance of a property can be determined. On the other hand, I am pro-development when it's done appropriately and responsible.

But damn, man, I don't drag the issue through your distorted prism on either side!

I'm pretty much fine letting Wal-Mart build there.
Then take your blood pressure and then take a chill pill, for cryin' out loud. Not every single issue rises to the importance of arguing til you have a frickin' stroke! Just ask me, I know these things.
ERs the one who crapped out in his first three responses.
Feodor! I am talking to YOU. ER's heading for his own stroke with his steaks and smoke. You -- you're going to go toes up just because you give every. single. thing. the weight of Armageddon. Dude, you need to be able to judge what's worth it and what's not. Not everything has the same merit. Practice discretion!
Weak liberal sauce is worth resisting.

Weak Christian liberal sauce is worth fighting when one is a Christian.
You are just full of prunes and begging to fight someone in the name of "Christianity." Jesus wouldn't have done that. Go sit in your corner and ponder on that. Jesus wouldn't do any of the things you have done here, Feodor. He was too busy helping people. Look into it.
Jesus turned their tables over for selling cheap stuff in the temple.

Jesus encouraged debate and not laziness.

Jesus would not have us deny our best thinking and pitting them against each other.

Jesus would have no problem with adults battling it out on blogs.

Just who, exactly, is taking this too seriously? Those who argue their points or those who, instead of arguing back, make silly statements that the other must be assuming they think they are cosmically right and absolutely on God's side and therefore arrogant as all shit?

Just where do you put the overreaction, Trixie? Those who keep talking or those who quit the game with name calling?
All this outrage and no one wants to play. Must be tough.

Trixie, he doesn't listen, so don't try.

"Weak sauce"? Oh, c'mon. You think after having some fundie call me a fake Christian and a false teacher, "weak liberal Christian sauce" is gonna mean something to me?

Since this is ER's blog, not mine, I am leaving it here for now. Since you've done me the courtesy of posting a comment over at my blog, I've done the courtesy of responding by further laughing at you. Not because I'm not serious, but because I am.
Glad my cable went out when it did last night, taking my Internet access with it.

All my name-calling? Please to forgive. Stroke anything approximating "you're a chickenshit," Feodor. Replace with: You're being chickenshittish in your smugness."
Some day ER you need to have psychologist explain how blog threads get so tangled up.

However Jesus in the Temple and the money changers has come to be much better understood now that the translated Dead Sea Scrolls included much of the Temple protocols from that specific period and weren't too tampered with.

The Temple Tax had to be paid in Jewish coin. Thus money changers.
The Temple Tax had been expanded by the Herod family to be basically a dispensations payment to the Temple for the remission of sins especially by those Jews of the Diaspora who could not nor ever would come to the Temple. Herod sent Temple Tax collectors out to the Diaspora to collect the taxes from the "congregations" of Jews who wanted their sins cleansed. It was a very lucrative business, and of course kickbacks and taxes on taxes went to the Roman govenors all along the way.

So Jesus was doing a very direct thing by overturning the tables of the Temple money changers. He was doing a Revolutionary thing. He was committing Treason. He was attacking the very King of the Jews who was offering salvation by dispensation.

Sound like Luther, heh?

Now that's one hell of a better story isn't it.
Dr Jo has it exactly right.

ER is the Roman governor.

GKS is the money changer.

I am Jesus.

Walmart & Warren?

They're related, why? Because they both begin with W?

Feh. Glad I missed the party.
The issue was why Warren got a thorough moral evaluation in light of his giving the invocation at the Inaugural but Wal-Mart got a moral pass in the context of ERs presentation of the Locust Grove, VA controversy.

The second issue was whether a consistent practice of moral judgment is a good thing, a better thing than popular ad hoc habits, and whether any seminary grad should be able to demonstrate the same in regard to the first issue above.

None of these issues was taken up.

You weren't the only one who missed it.
My question - among many I could ask at this juncture - is what my being a seminary graduate has to do with anything? I explained the basics here. I am able to think for myself. I see two very different situations, with two totally different sets of facts, symbolic meanings, actors, etc., and came to the conclusions I did based upon what I considered (a) the relative importance of the issue at hand; (b) the relative importance to me of the issue at hand.

Considering the issue of Rick Warren, it is important to remember that, in and of itself, asking him to give the benediction means little more than offering a certain honorific to an individual. As a political gesture, I believe Obama is playing divide and conquer with the Religious Right, and doing it well. As you said, it is highly unlikely that Warren will say anything inappropriate about sexual minorities at the inauguration, although I wouldn't put money on it. Even with all that, this deep game that Obama is playing, or might be playing, also angers members of his political base, including myself, who believe that, at this point in time, this individual has no place on a national rostrum, invoking God's presence, considering the bigoted views he holds. Another gesture on Obama's part might have worked as effectively without raising the ire of those of us who had hoped for better.

The issue with the Wal-Mart expansion near the Battle of the Wilderness is far more straightforward. A group of academics and others concerned with preserving parts of our national heritage are angered that the retailer is planning to build on a parcel of land near the memorial park. It isn't in the park; it isn't on any land that anyone could argue should be protected (the whole "staging ground" bit is humorous, for reasons I outlined). While it might reasonably be argued that any expansion of a retailer with a record like Wal-Mart has deleterious effects on all sorts of things, from the standard of living to general wage structures to the relative power and influence of the company vis-a-vis all other retailers, this isn't the question at hand. Indeed, those who are protesting are only asking Wal-Mart to consider building elsewhere, not to cease and desist building. After reading the story, and after reading the petition, I came to the not unwarranted conclusion that the entire thing was a bit of political theater, with some academics and others using Wal-Mart as a foil to attract attention to themselves, at no cost to themselves, and hoping to put another black mark against the chain. Of course, this isn't true, because Wal-Mart is doing nothing untoward, and you yourself have noted you have no problem with them building where they are.

Have I given Wal-Mart a pass by agreeing with your position here? Have I offered a moral calculus that is somehow different than yours, considering the fact that we both agree this is much ado about nothing? I fail to see, at this repetitious point, what your beef with me is, in all seriousness.
Some kind of "my seminary degree is bigger than your seminary degree" thing or something?

Tht's what it looks like to yet another seminarian friend of mine, who has been lurking. Looks that way to me, too. Is it just garden-variety Yale snobbery? Just asking! Not name-calling!
"my seminary degree is bigger than your seminary degree"

Heh. I thought so too, in fact I actually chuckled out loud at the comment (COL?), but then I figured I must be mistaken because, well ... it's only a seminary degree, for pity's sake. I mean, can't you just order those online?

(But then, if one were to take the comment seriously, crowing about moral superiority because one is the owner/operator of a seminary degree seems like a questionable proposition anyway, eh? A significant portion of the available evidence seems to demonstrate a negative correlation.)

I assume you guys wouldn't give a second thought to putting your body in the hands of a Medical School of Grenada grad?

Being trained in moral reasoning, philosophically and theologically, does not make one morally superior.

That would be a common assumption by those not so trained. Like journalists and chemists.

But surely, if ones goes to a reputable seminary and not a biblicist college like those in Ft. Worth, one so trained ought to be able to deal in moral reasoning in a more consistent and persuasive manner than the general public.

I think even those who didn't go to Yale can recognize the common sense.

I hear penis envy in the anxiety.
"Moral reasoning"? This is a blog, for crying out loud! Lighten up, man. This forum is far more prone to silliness, the occasional rant, and the optional "TPHTPHTPHTPHTP" than serious "reasoning".

I still don't know what you mean by consistent. Please explain.
BTW, "consistent", at least in my experience reading various blogs, is usually the province of fundamentalists, particularly one with whom most of the long term inhabitants of the comment-section here are familiar. I'll leave consistency to those for whom it is important, at least as they define it.
"Being trained in moral reasoning, philosophically and theologically, does not make one morally superior."

Heh. Ironical much? ;)

So, yes, actually, he was serious about his previous degree waving. Yeah, there's lots of anxiety all right. But you smelt it, you dealt it, kiddo. LOL
To respect GKS with a response...

He writes, "While it might reasonably be argued that any expansion of a retailer with a record like Wal-Mart has deleterious effects on all sorts of things, from the standard of living to general wage structures to the relative power and influence of the company vis-a-vis all other retailers, this isn't the question at hand.

It is the question at hand if one asks the question.

You have been persuasively asking the question of whether what Rick Warren's ministry heretofore represents pollutes his giving the invocation.

One could choose to say that your question is not an appropriate one for the inauguration's social function of bringing the nation together. Perhaps like you, I find such a position rather weak.

Even as I find your position on Wal-Mart rather weak in the beginning when you referenced only "a bad reputation."

To me - and I find it sort of underground in what you have said since - is that in evaluating the case of Warren, we are dealing with choices from faith. Warren has made ideological decisions, undoubtedly backed by arguments from his understanding of biology, psychology, sociology, and theology.

His views are consciously taken positions and he does not come innocent of them when appearing to carry out pastoral functions. How can one pray and bracket out theology? This is not to deny that we all call upon God while being far from perfect. But how can we corporately call upon the deity (this is social custom by majority) via one who so publicly calls for the denial of rights?

We are dealing with the influence of ideas in the public square and those who represent sharp ideological divides cannot serve national religion functions.

Wal-Mart, on the other hand, is partly engaging in morally questionable business practices some of the time. The effects of those undesirable practices may be tabulated - with great effort - at the VA site when it gets going. But the tabulation at that site will be a very small part, a remainder, of the scope of bad practice.

The target of moral conversation would be executive leadership and the board in AR. Media messaging and demonstrations and lobbying the leadership are all part of the effort to impact their decision-making and profit. This strategy is based on history that businesses, if the bottom line is affected, will change business practices.

Wal-Mart is not engaged in ideology. Changing their behavior is a larger scope effort regarding practice and the VA site is only marginally involved. Also, as you point out, Locus Grove has parochial and material benefits to balance.

To change Warren would take a conversion of heart, and the benefits he brings is more in the way of political calculation on Obama's part than a material good.

This would be my suggestion as to how we can consistently apply a moral framework to the two cases and come up with different judgments.

The moral agency of each is of a differently committed (conscious commitment vs. pragmatic practice), differently open to change (ideological debate vs. profit line), and are differently representative (fully representative vs. locally and marginally representative).

An aide, re: the schools in Fort Worth. They are very different institutions. I like the non-Baptist one. Here is each, for perusal:

Brite Divinity School:

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary:

When I thought I was going to move to Denver-Boulder, I was thinking about Iliff School of Theology:

And, I still wonder if I could find a way to go to Phillips Theological Seminary, in Tulsa:
The moral calculus that Feodor describes is certainly reasonable. I just wouldn't subscribe to it.

Difference, my friend, is not deficiency.
I'll accept a litrle dgree wavin' by the way. I mean, I did go to Oklahoma State, and not, say, Northeastern Oklahoma State University, for similar reasons. (Although I wanted to go to the University of Arkansas because it was closer; dang out-of-state tuition.)
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My cousin's husband went to Southwestern Bap. That's about all I can say kindly. About either.

I chauffeured two Biblical studies professors from Brite around New Haven during a conference. It used to be a conservative atmosphere, biblical studies dominated.

I worked with a priest who is now an adjunct at Iliff and I know it is very ecumenical, serves different kinds of needs and takes theology seriously.

I don't know anything about Philips, but the faculty look very interesting, more diverse and a little more fresh than Brite.

6:03 PM

Posted to By God, Wal-Mart's done gone to meddlin'!
I really like Perkins at SMU. Great faculty.
You don't want the SB one in Fort Worth.
You got that right.
Are you seriously looking?
Not looking for a place to go. Pondering whether I could go to Phillips. Pondering whether to go on for the Ph.D. in history, either at OSU or OU. Been pondering both for a few years. I'm itching to get back in the academic saddle. Debt and the need for income ties me down.
I've been meaning to write and tell you that a seminary degree may not be necessarily the path to theological satisfaction for you.

You already know how to think theologically and are far beyond the shock that biblical and theological truth is not scientific, historic, or even spiritually true in all aspects. This shock is often the early and difficult work for seminary students.

What you may miss from professors and writing papers you are already making up for in being thoughtfully engaged at church, with your wife, family and friends, in your blog, and as you read the papers.

So, what is left? Reading and working with your reading in a reflective way - again, a thing you already do. It would be like weight loss: sacrifices of time preferred to use on other, more self-indulgent things. It would be a discipline.

But between myself, GKS, and your pastor and others, you could come up with a lean list of 25 books or so that could cover biblical, historical, and theological ground to which seminary would introduce you.

Your mind at work on a systematized lineup of material is all you really need to get up to speed. I would be happy to initiate a list and you can send it around for criticism and editing, updating with alternate selections, and proposing opposing perspectives.

I really think that what you may lose in the early years from participating in a graduate program, you could crisply make up with participation in the different venues you have available. Adult ed. in seminars, conferences, and a class or two of upper level seminars at Phillips or elsewhere would round off excellently, and far cheaper.
Very kind words.

But I like to have them there letters behind my name! LOL.

It already goes: Erudite Redneck, B.S., B.S., M.A. I'd love it to say etc., M.Div. Or Ph.D. ... See I married a dang Ph.D. and I will be jealous until I catch up some more!

Plus, they're necessary for any kind of minister-type occupation. ...

Now, I would love to work up a list of 25 such books. I truly appreciate the offer. Please start one! I'll blog it up. :-)
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