Leaving Behind The ‘Liberal’ Label

Once is an incident. Twice is a trend. Three times is a pattern.

This the now the 3rd time this thing idea about shying away from the label ‘liberal’ has come up.

  1. I heard it for the first time almost 10 years ago: “Emergents are just cool liberals”. This came from conservative, evangelical and reformed folks who were squawking at the Blue Parakeets that were new to the yard.
  2. More recently Fitch & Holsclaw leveled the accusation in their new book Prodigal Christianity and Tony Jones took exception.
  3. Then last week the idea was suggested on a different blog that Tripp & I were really just closet liberals who where afraid of the label because of its intrinsic baggage.

I tend to bury my big point in the final quarter of every blog post. For the purpose of clarity I am going to begin putting them at the top of the post. Here is my main point:

There is nothing wrong with being liberal. It is one of many valid ways to participate in the christian tradition. If I were liberal I would be so proudly. I am not liberal. Liberal approaches do not go far enough to combat capitalism, address colonial consequences or repent of the Constantinian compromise that led to Christendom it’s subsequent horrors.

 Tripp and I are not liberal. We are left-leaning. We are progressive. We are postmodern in our approach. We are emergent in our expression. We are playfully heretical (in a good way) and we are innovative where appropriate given our christo-centric hyperTheism.

But we are not liberal. Liberalism doesn’t go far enough in addressing five of our biggest concerns:

  • Critique of Capitalism and Consumerism
  • Post-Colonial consequences
  • Continental Philosophy’s reflection on late modern thought
  • Criticism of Christendom (Western and Constantinian)
  • Our cultures’ dangerous cocktail of Nationalism and Militarism

I have written extensively about how Progressive is not Liberal and even got taken to task over at Scot McKnight’s blog for trying to make that distinction. I will say this again:

There is nothing wrong with being liberal. It is one of many valid ways to participate in the christian tradition.

If I were liberal I would be so proudly. But alas I am not.

 

One last thing in closing:  I understand the historic drift of the term ‘Liberal’. I know what it meant in the 1700’s (specifically as it relates to individualistic epistemology) and I understand what it has become in the late 20th century (a constellation of loyalties and identity markers). I also know about it’s demise as an impotent political approach and I get why some evangelicals are allergic to the term and thus why some would desire to shy away from it. I get all that. I even recognize the unique draw of its individualistic epistemology. 000_0008

What I am saying is that calling me a closet liberal who is afraid to be identified by the label is like saying that I don’t wear ‘medium’ sized T-shirts because I don’t like the letter M. It is to miss the point. I don’t wear medium sized T-shirts because they are not big enough and don’t cover some essential areas that I deeply care about.

i.e.  It just doesn’t fit.

 

I would go on at length but fear it would be interpreted that I doth protest too much. 

 

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47 comments
remliw
remliw

Diversity. We are all different, something to be celebrated indeed. However, I doubt that I could use the word “we” in the previous sentence without having something in common with my fellow human beings. Christian diversity. One source of it is in the New Testament itself. Another source is in the very different, specific situations that all persons and communities find themselves and the choices they make. However, we have indeed reached a sad place when any Christian can say that “we do not believe in the same Jesus”. It is because of this sadness that I am interested in what Christians share in common. Not for the purpose of preserving any particular old orthodoxy or for convincing anyone of a new orthodoxy, but for the sake of love and community.


While I do not think that a fundamentalist perspective lacks the ability to communicate the gospel to some people, I find that its lack of openness to the world and its resistance to new understandings causes this perspective to fail many people, including myself. I find myself willing to explore any possibility. I think that puts me firmly on the progressive side. However, I do not view myself as a progressive Christian. I view myself as a Christian. But, my openness causes some to put me on the “outside” of the faith. That is sad. This sadness motivates me to search for some common ground. While I do not come from a Catholic tradition, I think that Hans Kung has some interesting things to say about our common Christian faith. Because of his influence, when I use an adjective to modify my Christianity, I use “ecumenical”.

1 Thessalonians is probably the first surviving text of the Christian faith. Paul starts his letter by describing the church of the Thessalonians as “in God and the Lord Jesus Christ”. I must admit that I have not made much progress, that is satisfying, toward a common ground. However, for me, the very fact of the New Testament writings themselves is one common ground on which we can stand. No matter how much more a Christian may want to say about the New Testament, I would hope that we could all agree that it is the permanent starting point for our common identity. Dare I say more?

seancapener1
seancapener1

You have to realize: the contention here isn't that liberalism doesn't have limitation. And it's not like your protests that you aren't a liberal have been ignored. The contention is that while you claim to be disinterested in liberal approaches, everything about the way *you actually write* suggests otherwise. I really don't get why this is so hard to understand.

David Fitch
David Fitch

Bo,

Just FYI, when I was at Garrett 20 years ago, virtually every "liberal" I knew referred to themselves as within the liberal tradition, but embraced the agressive critique of all five things you bullet point, including the embrace of continental philosophy. They called themselves "revised liberals" and I worked among them wonderfully. They all categorically rejected Hauerwas/Yoder (as well as Milbank etc.) to whom I had become attached to as the means of working through these many issues. It seems that the issues of 1.) divinity of Christ and any exclusive claims attached to that, 2.) the central role of the church in God's work in the world, were problems for them. So, just a thought, aren't you really a "revised liberal"- not that there's anything wrong with that ;) -. And could you clarify where you're at in terms of at least these 2 categories. Love you man!! (please forgive unabashed expression of affection).

thinking_reed
thinking_reed

To some extent, this post seems to be conflating political liberalism and theological liberalism. I mean, they're not totally unrelated obviously, but you can be a political liberal without being a theological liberal (and vice versa). So when you say that "liberalism" doesn't adequately address certain concerns, it's not completely clear to me whether you're referring to politics or theology (and thus what "adequately address" would look like).

philstyle
philstyle

Liberal has it's own use in the USA, quite separate from the UK and Europe also. 

The "emergent"/ Liberal/ Progressive debate is almost entirely an American phenomena, at least it is heavily fuelled by and dependent on the American political and theological discourse. 

The above makes me think that the whole labeling issues is a massive, parochial sideline jobby.

michb
michb

It's simple if you are a Democrat you're a Liberal.

If Democrats are too neoliberal, too conservative, then you're a Progressive or a member of the Left.

Bo and Tripp--come out of the Liberal closet into the Progressive sunshine of God's radiant love!

Love the Podcast and Bo's ruminations online!!

Carol Howard Merritt
Carol Howard Merritt

I wrestle with this a lot, and I think I've settled on liberal rather than progressive  (if those are my two options...). For me, "progressive" seems to delude us into believing that there is a sweeping upward motion of progress. That is my hope, for sure. I work toward the goals of justice, that all people will be free--economically, spiritually, physically... but for me, "progressive" doesn't quite get at the nature of how cyclical and messy progress can be.

For instance, we got rid of a lot of the child labor that Rauscenbusch railed against. But then we deported it overseas, so that we don't see it. Certain technologies have allowed for more people to speak out against oppression, but they have also allowed for racism and misogyny to fester, and heightened government control and tracking. 

I guess I get caught up in that frustration that many acts of liberation comes at a price to another group, our environment, our civil rights, etc. "Progressive" doesn't quite capture that for me.  

Alan Jay Richard
Alan Jay Richard

Loved the article. I would be even more critical of the way that conservative evangelicals use the term "liberal." Yes, there is historic drift, but something more is going on when conservative evangelicals call the very people who led the attack on theological liberalism in Germany following WWI (Barth, Tillich, Bultmann, Bonhoeffer, etc.) "liberal" just because they weren't conservative evangelicals. That something more is bad faith. I think it's also bad faith when they use that term in relationship to Bo and Tripp who, to be sure, aren't German existentialists either.

!pop! Goes Theology
!pop! Goes Theology

I love this article. You really aught to write at least one article a week. I'll be sharing this on my page today. Thanks for it! ;-)

remliw
remliw

Just like T-shirts, labels, with extended use and wear, get stretched and out of shape to the point of not being recognizable or useful for their intended purpose.  I label myself "Christian" and will allow a descriptor of "ecumenical" and that is all.  It is hard enough for me to define "Christian" without adding a further difficulty of trying to figure out what "evangelical", "orthodox", "some denominational brand", "liberal", "conservative", or "fundamentalist" means.

ngilmour
ngilmour

Incidentally, if you'd prefer not to link to the most recent blog that triggered this (in item 3 above), I understand, but I'm curious to read it if you don't mind.

ngilmour
ngilmour

I'll ask the same question I did last time: do we get to choose our own labels?  I realize there's a fair bit of stock put in denying this or that label in seminary circles (when I was in seminary I insisted that I was not an "evangelical," so I'm not casting the first stone here, I assure you), but if I can be a sloppy Wittgensteinian for a moment, don't definitions tend to be working rules that take their shape in the course of the game itself?

In other words, if we were corresponding via some kind of Steampunk blog in 1839, then you'd be absolutely right that, because you were thinking thoughts that wouldn't really take their shape for another hundred years, you wouldn't be a "liberal" in the sense that democratically-minded Europeans were "liberal."  (You'd also be anachronistic for writing a blog a hundred and fifty years before web browsers.)  But "liberal" and "evangelical," once one steps out of the nineteenth century and out of the seminary, tend to be fairly widely used markers in 2013 to name broad trends in American Christianity.  

Now I'll grant that the labels are more sociological than ideological in content.  But that's precisely why I stopped objecting to people's labeling me "evangelical" (well, it had to do with fatigue as well).  Ultimately the words "evangelical" and "liberal," as folks use them to name broad trends in North American Christianity  in 2013, so they tell me something about where my place is as the folks around me imagine it, not as I'd prefer to think of myself.

That's probably entirely too long a response, but I've been re-reading some Wittgenstein lately, and the thought seemed a good one to attempt.

JoshuaBrockway
JoshuaBrockway

Liberal for some is a dirty word...and yet it is often used incorrectly. I agree with @DouglasHagler that it needs a clearer definition. I think you are getting there with the "individualistic epistemology." 

I tend to use Liberal as the category of the Enlightenment (Descartes, Kant...) that gives rise to the nation state, the American Democratic experiment (liberal democracy), capitalism and the like. So I'd say with you that yeah, you aren't a liberal in regards to those aspects of liberalism (at least as far as I have heard and read :) ) 

I think that Liberal is the operative system for most of us, and it comes in many forms. But most easily it broken down into two camps- Conservative and Progressive. In that regards, I would say that you fall into the Progressives (as least as much as I have heard). So in that regard, you are a liberal in taking the basic categories of societal progress.

Though I am more at home in the Post-Liberal camps (Hauerwas, Lindbeck, and Nancey Murphy), I don't see these as dirty words of the theological lexicon. But I do think that Jones miss understood Fitch and Holsclaw (or they miscommunicated). From what I know of Jones' (blog reading mostly) he is squarely within LIberalism, and speaks with the Progressive accent. (I imagine that "Mainline" tag was more of an offense than Liberal, but that is a conversation for another day.) I read Fitch and Holsclaw's comment as a Post-Liberals describing two camps within the wider Liberal category. 

I think given what you outlined about where liberals don't go far enough names some fruitful ground for Progressives and Post-Libs to talk- beyond the categories. 

DouglasHagler
DouglasHagler

What's missing here, for me, is a definition of Liberal that you are using, apart from 'a constellation of loyalties and identity markers'. Pointing me in the direction of the definition you're working from is fine - better is briefly characterizing what you are talking about. (This is a question of interest to me in part because some members of my church are struggling with the idea that they are essentially theologically liberal while identifying as politically conservative - progressive is added into that mix as well, and it's a bit of a stew. I also just like clarity.)

BoSanders
BoSanders moderator

@seancapener1 so I can see that this is only your second time commenting here and ... a trend is forming :)   I'm guessing by your polemic style that you have some affiliated group of interest

Just one clarification: You misquote me that I am "disinterested in liberal approaches". I never said disinterested.  I said it was a valid part of the tradition that just doesn't go far enough. That is not disinterested. 

Maybe that is a small clue as to why you 'really don't get why this is so hard to understand' -perhaps your not reading carefully or for understanding.  That would be my guess.   -Bo 

BoSanders
BoSanders moderator

@thinking_reed I am not conflating them. I am primarily addressing the theological concern while acknowledging that it has a level of inherent political expression/concern.  -Bo

The short answer is 'theological' ... with political implications 

BoSanders
BoSanders moderator

@philstyle so I have been floating, for the last couple of days, a theory that ties together both the issue of this blog and the excitement about Rachel Held Evans' post on Millennials leaving the church. 

Here is the intro: Since america never had a state-church we have no centralized point of departure and institutional focus .... but what we do have is a haunting vestige of those forms of christendom that we have inherited and do not know quite what do with or how to process. 

It manifests in these two disparate conversations: marginalizing the competition and fretting over our attrition rates. 

just something I am working on  -Bo 

BoSanders
BoSanders moderator

@michb Well played friend.  Well played.   -Bo 

BoSanders
BoSanders moderator

@Carol Howard Merritt YES! Thank you!  Exactly. 

If everyone could stop for a second and take notice of what it looks when some self-indentifies (even hesitantly). That was succinct and insightful Carol ... thank you. 

NOw, onto your point!  Yes. 100% agree. This is why I am past progressive. Progressive helped me hear that critique of feminists, of colonized communities and marginalized groups.  What I learned is that it is the illusion of progress via the outsourcing of suffering. That is no progress at all. 

THIS is why Tripp and I are obsessed with capitalism, nationalism and democracy not being their 'final forms' in their given state. The unquestioned acceptance of these as given in the historic equation and not variables that will (and need to) change  is the exact reason that I'm telling people that the label 'Liberal' just doesn't fit.  

I really appreciate your response. -Bo  


BoSanders
BoSanders moderator

@remliw While I understand how overwhelming that task can be ... I have to say that labels can actually be very helpful to clafify - for instance - the difference between a Pilsner and a Pale Ale. 

At least that is the argument that I made a couple of months ago here http://homebrewedchristianity.com/2013/05/02/the-thing-with-labels/ 

I know it can be daunting, but I think that the upside of the effort outweighs the initial complexity of wading into the whole thing.   -Bo 

 let me know what you think. 

BoSanders
BoSanders moderator

@ngilmour I didn't link to any of the 3 controversies at the top because I don't want to get bogged down in the minutia of the arguments ... I'm suggesting that we move on ... so I didn't want to circle back.   -Bo

(I can send ya the think) 

kristenfilipic
kristenfilipic

I love this simply for the Steampunk blog 150 years before web browsers.  :)

BoSanders
BoSanders moderator

@ngilmour While those were some interesting points I am not too sure that they were all that applicable here :) 

So let me reply differently than I normally do with you (wink). 

- So other people get to choose our clothing?  The liberal label is like a medium sized t-shirt. I am not medium sized.  I'm telling you that it doesn't fit me. It doesn't go far enough and it doesn't cover things I find important. WHY would someone else get to tell that is what I have to wear? 

- I get that these 2 labels (evangelical and liberal) "tend to be fairly widely used markers in 2013 to name broad trends in American Christianity" - which is cool and I use them widely as well.  

I grew up and am ordained in an Evangelical tradition. I now work at a Mainline church and go to a Mainline seminary. I KNOW LIBERALS - real live breathing people with names and faces .... 

So when I tell you that I am not one ... and then list 5 reasons why .... trust me. Please. 

- You say "Now I'll grant that the labels are more sociological than ideological in content" Great point!  100% agreement.  ... STILL not relevant to this particular case. Even as a sociological marker I a primarily concerned about things that liberal does not cover.  

Hope that helps ;)  -Bo   

BoSanders
BoSanders moderator

@JoshuaBrockway @DouglasHagler OK I liked your first 3 paragraphs until the final sentence of the 3rd one. (then you went a different direction - which is fine) SO let's focus in on that final sentence of the 3rd paragraph: 

" So in that regard, you are a liberal in taking the basic categories of societal progress."

Now, what if you hear me say that I don't believe in that kind of progress?  As I wrote to a different commenter: This is why I am past progressive. Progressive helped me hear that critique of feminists, of colonized communities and marginalized groups.  What I learned is that it is the illusion of progress via the outsourcing of suffering. That is no progress at all. 

THIS is why Tripp and I are obsessed with capitalism, nationalism and democracy not being their 'final forms' in their given state. The unquestioned acceptance of these as given in the historic equation and not variables that will (and need to) change  is the exact reason that I'm telling people that the label 'Liberal' just doesn't fit. 

See how Liberal's concerns just don't cover what I am up to?  -Bo 


BoSanders
BoSanders moderator

@DouglasHagler I thought about that .... I really did .... but .... 

I decided to instead just point back to the Progressive is not Liberal post for economy of words ... 

We did a whole hour on 'Liberal MasterClass' I linked to in the final paragraph (historic drift) I would hate to get bogged down in that massive 4 century long adaption/evolution.  

I'll keep an eye on it ... see if its absence becomes an issue.  -Bo 

kristenfilipic
kristenfilipic

Well okay it seems to me that despite his best efforts, Bo can't get the rest of the blogosphere to talk with the philosophical precision that is pretty common among Ph.D. students.  So maybe it's more like:

Blogosphere: You sound like a liberal!

Bo: No, no.  Liberal means X.  I am Y.  Different!

Blogosphere: Whatever.  The way I understand liberal, you sound gosh darn liberal.

Bo: No, liberal means something more precise than that.  I'm in a different philosophical strain.

Blogosphere: Whatever.  Liberal.

Both are probably right given that they're working with different definitions.  I think Bo's quest for increased philosophical precision in language is probably tilting at windmills, but I have been wrong before.

thinking_reed
thinking_reed

@BoSanders 
@thinking_reed See, I guess that's why I find this post a bit confusing. Because when I think of the "big names" working in the liberal theological tradition over the last several decades, I think of people who are deeply engaged with issues of capitalism, feminism, liberation theology, ecology, the "postmodern" turn, etc., etc. Maybe it would be helpful to name names and say exactly why you think their approach is inadequate to dealing with these issues?

JoshuaBrockway
JoshuaBrockway

@BoSanders @philstyle Yep! I think you nailed it here. I've been working on a similar summation. Basically that American Christendom has clearly been a 'Cultural Christendom'. By that I mean we could assume the general power and privilege as Christians simply by our percentage of the population. Now that the "Religiously Unaffiliated" population has broken the 20% and that Protestant Christianity is below 50% for the first time in memory- the anxiety is sky-rocketing. For American Christendom- the obsession with numbers is an "electoral" one. By that I mean dropping below the 50% mark means "the church" is less likely to swing the vote.

Of course, for me, this is a decidedly "liberal" concern- that is Political Liberalism :)

michb
michb

@BoSanders @michb I think you and Nathan are both right. To a great extent we cannot choose our labels--others stick them on us whether we like them or not. But, you are surely right to protest this. Better still, you are right to try to persuade others that your are not a liberal. And, as Nathan mentions with respect to his own jousting with labels, at some point you may decide this is futile.  I think what we all want is a good audience for our position. That our thoughts, actions, etc won't be incorrectly labeled and reduce us to straw men.

remliw
remliw

@BoSanders @remliw To a certain extent, I agree.  As I noted originally, I will use the label "Christian" and even "ecumenical Christian". (And I have taken the time to write out my own definition of what I mean by those terms). Given the difficulty of defining some of these labels and to speak with mutual understanding (the overwhelming task as you describe it), I find certain labels worth the effort, like "Christian".  I am just not invested enough in liberal, conservative, evangelical, orthodox, fundamentalist, etc. to put any effort into it, particularly when I give testimony to my own perspectives, I get some people tell me I am conservative and others tell me that I am liberal.  Such divergence leads me to believe that such labels are not that useful with most people, except for those who have an education in the finer points of Christian thought and philosophical perspectives.

kristenfilipic
kristenfilipic

"Progressive helped me hear that critique of feminists, of colonized communities and marginalized groups.  What I learned is that it is the illusion of progress via the outsourcing of suffering. That is no progress at all. 

THIS is why Tripp and I are obsessed with capitalism, nationalism and democracy not being their 'final forms' in their given state. The unquestioned acceptance of these as given in the historic equation and not variables that will (and need to) change  is the exact reason that I'm telling people that the label 'Liberal' just doesn't fit. "

Queen of Tangents here -- what do you think of the distributists?  G.K. Chesterton, EF Schumacher's Small is Beautiful, that sort of thing?

Given your, ummm, strong reaction to Radical Orthodoxy (more labels I barely understand!) I'm guessing you're less than thrilled with that school of thought, but what you've raised here seems to be exactly the questions they center around.

(Myself I tend to think they're too romantic by half, perhaps to the point where naivete becomes culpable.  But maybe I'm too cynical.)

JoshuaBrockway
JoshuaBrockway

@BoSanders @JoshuaBrockway @DouglasHagler Fair enough- that's why I qualified the statement (as far as I have heard.) 

The liberal tradition (politically) doesn't necessarily exclude change, it is just that Progressives and Liberals see different anchor points for change- conservatives to the past (reclaiming, recovering, maintaining something of the past) and progressives the future (changing towards, progressing towards something). I am totally on board that Modern LIberal progressives (how is that for a set of labels!!!) have done exactly what you said- outsourced the suffering of progress. Again, I think we are talking on the same page here- this is where a fruitful dialog about the critiques of Liberalism connects the Process Homebrew crowd and some of us Post-Libs. 

Jeremy R
Jeremy R

@BoSanders @DouglasHagler  

2 quick thoughts:

1) So do you guys criticize capitalism or reject capitalism? You write that you are left-leaning. Just unclear whether or not you guys believe in some other economic system (e.g. socialism) or just want to reform capitalism.

 2) I assume you're not referring to my post when you list #3 about being labeled closet liberals. My criticism had to do with theology not politics. I hope that much was clear. I made no presumptions about your political positions. 

seancapener1
seancapener1

@kristenfilipic I don't really think the problem here is that Bo's language is just too precise for our little minds.

BoSanders
BoSanders moderator

@thinking_reed  nope :)  this post is not about big names that people in the pew would have never heard of... this is about the usage of term that is too limited.   -Bo 

I like your idea ... just for another post another time.  

BoSanders
BoSanders moderator

 @Jeremy R 

Yep - I totally agree. That's a good clarification that takes the conversation in an interesting direction.    -Bo 

Jeremy R
Jeremy R

@thinking_reed @BoSanders 

I often feel that liberal theologians are critiqued as if they're still stuck in the 1950 before liberation theology. I think most liberal theologians accepted the critiques of liberation theologians and recognized their blindspots.

JoshuaBrockway
JoshuaBrockway

@philstyle @JoshuaBrockway @BoSanders I think you are right. It is also that in the local setting, the need is noticeable- nearly felt in a way that abstraction in rhetoric can't elicit.

I really like James Davidson Hunter's book "To Change the World." I think he does a great job of outlining how Conservative and Progressive Christians operate on the same logical spectrum related to "swaying hearts and minds" for political gains. He even offers a similar critique of Neo-Anabaptists/Post-LIberals.

philstyle
philstyle

@JoshuaBrockway @BoSanders @philstyle

"For American Christendom- the obsession with numbers is an "electoral" one. By that I mean dropping below the 50% mark means "the church" is less likely to swing the vote."


Ohhh, nice observation. This is probably why in democracies with a christian minority (of practicing Christians) there is less conflation of political and theological spectrums. The small number of people hearing theology/ preaching means that t has little impact on the electorate. So why bother with electorally based messages. In that context social justice becomes more important, not because of "liberal" theology and politics begin conflated, but because local issues tend to be less politicized and action at the local requires less rhetoric given the smaller number of people that need to be mobilised...

Did any of that make sense?

remliw
remliw

@BoSanders In the religious tradition that I grew up in, a religious "liberal" was anyone who did not believe that the Bible was the literal, infallible or inerrant Word of God.  When it got really down and dirty, a religious "liberal" was anyone who did not agree with one's own beliefs about any particular issues under discussion. It was a way of trying to put someone on the "outside"  For myself, the greatest value that orients my life is found in my understanding of Christ.  While some may want to describe my understanding as "liberal" or "conservative", that is not of primary importance to me.  I have my own personal perspective that may be different than other Christians, but I am interested in the realm of inter-subjectivity to emphasize what I have in common with other Christians, i.e. Christ.  The other labels are so secondary as to be a distraction for me and not worth the effort.  So to those who want to stick a label on me and separate me from others, go right ahead.  I will feel free to continually draw a bigger circle that includes your label and mine and everyone else's.  No matter what box anyone tries to hide me in, God finds me!

kristenfilipic
kristenfilipic

This is probably a HBC interview/TNT episode question rather than a blog-comment question.  I could probably network among some distributists if there's interest.  I can be Queen of Networking as well as Queen of Tangents.

BoSanders
BoSanders moderator

@Jeremy R @BoSanders @DouglasHagler The thing that we say about capitalism is that we are not looking for a little nicer slightly kinder form of it.  The way that it is presently constructed is undeniably corrupt/polluted/warped/harmful etc.  The first step might simply be some humane regulation ... but in there end it can't be reformed. 

on the second count, I tend not to link to controversies framed in ways that I am suggesting we move on from. I know that #3 was theological and responded accordingly. I barely touched on politics in the this post.  

-Bo 

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