Little Boy

by

Haven’t said much the past few weeks. Just didn’t think I had much to contribute to the subjects.

Evil, hypocritical, xenophobic, anti-semitic Christians:
I’m sure they’re out there. I just don’t know very many.
After all, you have to take some sort of test to be called a doctor or lawyer or college professor, or even an airline pilot, but anybody can call themselves a Christian.

Alma Mater sarcasm:
Yeah, I thought it was a pretty dorky song too, when I was there 40 years ago. The music was written by one of my teachers. He was a fine man and a decent band director, but certainly no Mozart. As for the school, if you think it’s a little provincial and straight laced today, you should have been there in the early ‘60s. Some folks then probably thought it was a real concession to allow the married students to live together. All that said, it also had some of the finest, most intelligent and spiritual people I’ve ever met. When I re-entered the real world after four years there, I was amazed to find that I had received a first rate education, in spite of all my efforts to the contrary.

Principalities and Powers:
Wow! I’ll leave that to the intellectual big guns for now.

All pretty heavy duty stuff, but as luck would have it, today’s History provides us with a lighter, happier subject for those of you who might want a change of pace:

Nuclear Weapons

Sixty-one years ago today – at 08:16 local time – the world’s second nuclear device detonated approximately 1,900 feet above the Aioi Bridge in downtown Hiroshima, Japan with a nominal yield of 15 kilotons +/- 20% (roughly equal to 30 million pounds of TNT). The first device had been successfully tested in New Mexico twenty-one days earlier.

Code named “Little Boy,” the device was a “uranium gun”design containing 64.1 kg of highly enriched U-235. By today’s standards, “Little Boy” was an extremely crude and inefficient weapon, and was the only one of it’s type ever produced. In it’s final assembled form, it was 10.5 feet long and weighted 8,900 pounds. Three days later, a second device – a plutonium implosion design called “Fat Man”- was dropped over Nagasaki. It weighted 10,300 pounds, contained 6.2kg of plutonium, and gave a nominal yield of 21 kilotons.

In spite of “Little Boy’s”extreme inefficiency – less than 2% of it’s uranium actually underwent nuclear fission – it still managed to incinerate one square mile of the city and about 70,000 human beings, including 2,000 Japanese Americans who were trapped in Japan at the beginning of the war, and 11 American POWs. Additionally, it set on fire or damaged every other structure within a 4 square mile radius. By the end of the year, another 70,000 people would die of burns, radiation sickness or other injuries.

Within four years, thanks to information furnished by spies within the Manhattan Project, the Russians had their own bomb, thus giving rise to the Cold War military strategy known as MAD – mutually assured destruction. I remember quite well, as a junior in high school, standing in my grandfather’s back yard during the Cuban Missile Crisis and wondering if his storm cellar would make a decent bomb shelter. I figured we could live for a while on the canned goods my grandmother had stored down there.

The nature of the nuclear threat has changed over the years, but it hasn’t gone away. For your homework assignment, imagine this scenario:

It’s January 20, 2009.
Having finally become disillusioned by the candidates from both parties, the public at last comes to appreciate your dazzling intelligence and profound wisdom and, thanks to a massive write in campaign begun by your friends on Desperate Houseflies, you have been elected the 44th president of the United States, sweeping the electoral college and receiving 99% of the popular vote. Today you are inaugurated, giving what is unanimously hailed by all the TV pundits as the finest address since Abraham Lincoln. With overwhelming support in both houses of congress, all your cabinet and judicial nominees will be confirmed and your legislative programs are assured of passage.
[In a related story, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News corespondents on the scene report that Hell has just frozen over].

One week later, during the noon hour, a young Middle Eastern man stands on a street corner in downtown St. Louis Missouri. A few passers by notice that he is chanting some sort of prayer and holding what looks like a garage door opener, but most ignore him. A few seconds later, he shouts something about Allah, raises the remote control device in his hand, and detonates a small Russian or Pakistani made nuclear weapon hidden in the back of a Ford Minivan parked across the street. It’s yield is about equal to the Hiroshima device, but, thanks to the shielding of the buildings, it only vaporizes 10 square blocks and something over 40,000 people, with extensive blast damage and flash fires extending out another mile in every direction and causing another 50,000 casualties. Within minutes, the mushroom cloud climbs seven miles high and the prevailing winds begin to blow the radioactive fallout from the ground burst eastward, causing elevated radiation levels, mass evacuations, and further casualties as far away as Indianapolis.

Five days after the terrorist explosion, you have on your desk solid intelligence from the CIA, corroborated by several other nations’ intelligence services – including both the Israelis and the Saudis – giving irrefutable evidence of the group responsible as well as their state sponsors.

What do you do Mr. President?

Still want the job?

Does anybody think that this scenario is far fetched – except for you being elected president, of course?

Have a nice day.

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24 Responses to “Little Boy”

  1. Al Sturgeon Says:

    I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’d invade Iraq.

    🙂
    (Just kidding, guys! Hey, it’s a joke!)

    Great question. One I’ll need more time than I have now to respond to – but I will. The only quick response I can offer as a Christian is that vaporizing 90,000 innocent people “right back at ya” isn’t an option for me.

    Great. Give me a deep thought-provoking question while I’m supposed to be preparing my sermon. Thanks a lot, Cap’n!
    🙂

  2. Capt MidKnight Says:

    Great. Give me a deep thought-provoking question while I’m supposed to be preparing my sermon. Thanks a lot, Cap’n!

    Always glad to help.

  3. juvenal_urbino Says:

    I’d invade Denmark. That’s who keeps the Muslims stirred up all the time. Kofi needs to call Denmark and tell ’em to get Hezbollah to stop doin’ this sh*t.

    More seriously, I guess I’d have to have a two-pronged strategy: one to get St. Louis back on its feet, and the other to address the security issues. And I’d have to be equally serious and committed to both.

    If I hadn’t already done it, I’d get serious about port security, and other major points where people and goods enter the country.

    While that was going on, I’d try to get some decent information on what happened and why. I’m not even going to consider taking the Israeli or Saudi intelligence services seriously; I’m certainly not going to send our army somewhere and then hide behind what other peoples’ intelligence services thought. As for the CIA, I’m going to pound them with questions and doubts and second guesses until they risk enough to get close enough to the people and groups who really make things happen in that part of the world, and bring me some evidence I can have confidence in.

    While that was going on, and since the Congress is so friendly to me, I’d start a longer term, but extremely aggressive security strategy of getting us off of oil as an energy source. (Compared to this, everything else will be easy.) We’re in this mess now because of the international politics we’ve had to engage in over the past 50 yrs. because of our dependence on Middle Eastern oil. Once we have no national interest in the Middle East, we can take a more intelligent approach to that part of the world.

    Along about then, the CIA, etc., should have some decent information for me, probably at the cost of some lives. That information could lead to any of at least 3 consequences: we can do nothing offensive, we need to go after a limited number of individuals, or we need a massive military action. If it’s the first, then we’ll do all we can, defensively, within the limits of our laws, principles, and traditions. However, we will not use this event as a pretext for action against persons or nations we don’t like but who had nothing to do with it.

    If it’s the second, we’ll quietly go after those people, hard; by which I mean, we’ll go after them without shirking the risks and responsibilities of our actions. If it comes to some of our agents (of whatever kind) getting killed vs. acting in a way that violates our principles, then we’ll accept that some of our agents are going to get killed.

    If military action is required by what the CIA tells me, I’m going to share their information with Congress, the American people, and the world, much the way Kennedy did in the Cuban missile crisis. That, too, will probably get some intelligence people killed, but it is unavoidable, unfortunately, both because of the kind of nation we are and because of the behavior of the administration that preceded mine.

    And through all of this, I’d do everything I could to remind the American people of what it is we stand for, and that there’s no point fighting against people who would destroy us, if in fighting them we destroy ourselves by betraying our principles.

    Or something like that.

    Evil, hypocritical, xenophobic, anti-semitic Christians…

    I have no doubt that you don’t know many of them, Cap’n. The fact is, though, they are plentiful. Plentiful enough to get themselves elected to school boards and take — or plentiful enough to pressure school boards into taking — these evil, hypocritical, xenophobic, anti-whomever actions.

    you should have been there in the early ‘60s

    How early? Were they allowing “Nigras” in yet? IIRC, that didn’t happen until ’63. (I googled to see if I could turn up the year. I didn’t find it, but I did find this brief article by Don Haymes, a remarkable and quixotic character whose role in CsofC is going to make for an interesting debate, someday.)

  4. Al Sturgeon Says:

    I knew that if I’d punt Juvenal would come to the rescue and say a lot of intelligent things that I would agree with, but never have thought of myself.

    I’m right again!!! Yea me!!!

    I’ll mention that I’m still under this grand illusion that international situations should be dealt with by international rules governed by an international body. So in addition to the unbelievable domestic situation I faced (plus having to find a new favorite baseball team!), I would not be taking a unilateral approach to an international situation.

    Okay, I know you didn’t wait all day to hear that, but its the only two-cents I got right now!

  5. Capt MidKnight Says:

    Juvenal said:
    How early? Were they allowing “Nigras” in yet? IIRC, that didn’t happen until ’63. (I googled to see if I could turn up the year. I didn’t find it, but I did find 1. this brief article by Don Haymes, a remarkable and quixotic character whose role in CsofC is going to make for an interesting debate, someday.)

    Juvenal,
    It’s probably not a wise thing to invite an old guy with a lot of time on his hands to reminisce about the salad days of his youth. Sometimes you get more than you bargain for, but I’ll try to restrain myself. In any case, you’ve been warned.

    First day of the 1963 Fall term at Harding College. My first chapel service as an incoming Freshman.
    I sat in my assigned seat and watched while three young black men were introduced to the student body. One of the few times in my life that I felt, at the time, that I was witnessing something important that was going to fundamentally change things for me.

    1963. The first year that blacks were admitted to Harding – and the last year that George Benson was the president. Coincidence? Probably not. By this time, the feeling that Dr. Benson (BTW, I think the “doctor” title might have been honorary) was out of touch and seriously living in the past was pretty much universal among the student body, and probably with many of the staff and faculty too. Although I didn’t see it as clearly at the time, there was still a feeling, even at the time, that the admission of blacks was long overdue, and that Benson’s and the college’s performance was somewhat self serving, as the author of the article correctly points out.
    I’m sorry to say that I don’t remember it being that big a deal with us students. I don’t know if you remember what it was like to be 18 years old and away from home for the first time – I’m sure you were all much more mature and sophisticated at that age than yours truly – but deep philosophical discussions weren’t a big part of our life. It mostly consisted of homework, food, girls, and hoping your last check didn’t bounce – but certainly not in that order. I’m sure some of the older generation held their breath waiting for the earth to open up and swallow us all, and the college probably did lose some contribution, but, once the hoopla died down after a few days, us new students were too busy to worry about it. Maybe it came across a patronizing – we all probably went out of our way to act like it wasn’t a big deal – but I just remember everybody going on about their business.

    For your edification, here’s a few figures I dug out of some old annuals:
    1963 – 3 black students, all male. To my knowledge none received a degree from Harding. Minimal information from the Alumni database.
    1968 (my wife’s senior year and the most recent annual I have.) – 28 black students. 21 male and 7 female including one married couple. Four appear to be graduating seniors, but are listed as transfer students. I have no idea when the first four year black student graduated from Harding, but it was probably soon after, given that in 1968 there were 4 Juniors, 6 Sophomores, and 11 Freshmen.

    The way Harding and some of the other colleges and many of our congregations handled this issue is certainly disappointing. It doesn’t take a lot of study of the New Testament to realize that people who claim to belong to Jesus should have been the first to offer the hand of fellowship and equality to their own brothers and sisters rather than having to be dragged in, kicking and screaming, at the end. I think it is a sad example of the history, culture, and upbringing of a group (and that “group” certainly goes a lot wider than C of C) overwhelming and distorting their Christianity. I say that as one who dearly loved my parents and grandparents and the little church where I grew up, but who saw a lot of discrimination happen first hand, not only in my church but in my whole community. I certainly didn’t feel that I had ever been mean to any black person, but I had never spoken to a black person my own age until I got to college nor had most of my friends. I wasn’t a racist or a bad person. I was just ignorant.

    My grandfather was a simple farmer. He had a better work ethic and a better grasp of bedrock Christianity and basic decency than anybody else I’ve ever known. I know for a fact that he was respected as a good and fair man by the black people in the community who worked for him at times, and that he respected them in return, but there were two communities in town – black and white – and everybody knew it. By today’s standards, he would be called a racist, as would almost everybody in my town and state and region. Step back 141 years, to the end of the Civil War, and the number of people in the United States who would NOT be considered racist by today’s standards – North and South – would probably fit in your living room.

    I’m not saying any of this to excuse past behavior, but if there is a life after this one and a judgement, I think all of us will answer for our actions in our own context because I believe God is just as well as merciful. How you judge my actions – or how I judge yours – will be irrelevant. It’s way too easy, from our lofty perch here in the 6th year of the 21st century, to look back at the mistakes and struggles of others who have gone before us and think “If I had been there, I wouldn’t have been as backward and narrowminded and ignorant and frightened of change and bigoted as those sad excuses for Christians. I would never have done such a thing!” We may not like to think so, but we often condemn them simply for not being able to leap the generational gap in a single bound and embrace our viewpoint, social context, and, in some cases, our perceived superior moral courage. That’s not meant to be a personal knock on you young folks. It’s a temptation we all have. If I had been Harding’s president in the early ’60s instead of a lowly Freshman, would I have done any better? I’d like to think so, but I’m probably fooling myself.

    Believe it or not, some of those people from 40 plus years ago actually learned from their experiences and lifted themselves a little above everything they had experienced growing up, one day at a time. I like to think I’m one small example, slow learner that I am.

    Those of you who were born at a time when the concepts of racial and gender equality were, if not completely realized to the personal satisfaction of every interest group, at least settled issues of public opinion and policy and law, can just thank the luck of the draw. That’s fine. Good for you. All I ask is that you remember that it wasn’t always that way. The folks that came before you, because of their history and environment, dealt with personal, moral, and spiritual conflicts that you may never know or be able to understand. Some of them overcame them and moved on, and some didn’t. That’s life. Guess what? You’re next. If you’re still around in 2049, it might be interesting to hear what the 20 and 30 somethings think of your performance. Sobering thought isn’t it?
    What goes around comes around.

    PS All that stuff in 1963 happened when the Cold War and the nuclear issue was a big deal – remember the famous Democratic ad against Goldwater during the 1964 campaign? The little girl picking a flower with the mushroom cloud in the background?
    The message, of course, was that Goldwater was a maniac who might even decide to bomb North Viet Nam and start World War III (we were only there as “advisors” at the time).
    LBJ won in a landslide, and, within a year, he was sending combat troops into Southeast Asia and bombing Hanoi every day, which, as it turned out, didn’t start WWIII after all.
    There’s nothing new under the sun.

    Somehow or other, we’ve dodged the nuclear bullet for 57 years. Please God it lasts for at least another 57.

  6. Sandi Says:

    Cap’n, it will indeed be interesting to look back in 20 or 30 years and evaluate how we have acted and what we’ve believed in light of the direction history takes. For myself, I have always hoped that my grandchildren will say that I was ahead of my time and admire the way I lived. Being progressive allows one to nurture that hope in a unique way. But that hope also makes a large assumption — that the arc of history necessarily bends toward progress, as the old saying goes. I still believe that the long arc of history does, but there are backslides in the short run, and the short run sometimes ends up being 100 years or so (look at the years between Reconstruction and the Civil Rights Movement!).

    I don’t really know where I’m going with this, except that as a lover of history I always wish that time travel was possible so I could really get a sense of how it was to live in a different time. I have no doubt that generation is determinative of views on certain issues for most people (look at gay marriage for example, which appears thus far to be a very generationally bound issue). But what of those for whom it isn’t? How do we explain those people who were “ahead of their time”? That’s a question that I find really interesting, although I have not yet come up with any satisfactory answers.

  7. Sandi Says:

    Oh, and with respect to the hateful Christians I referenced … it’s possible that you honestly don’t know many. One other possibility I would suggest is that those folks don’t act that way toward you — why should they, since you are one of them? Then too, there is a continuum of this stuff. The most extreme, as I pointed out, take physical action such as breaking windows and killing pets, or give death threats. But there are a lot of people whose only weapons are coldness and contempt, so those have to be counted too. You wouldn’t necessarily see that side of someone unless you were considered Other. Sort of like how some white people seem really nice, unless you’re black. But a white person wouldn’t necessarily have any reason to know how they treat African Americans if the subject had never come up.

  8. Capt MidKnight Says:

    Sandi said,
    Cap’n, it will indeed be interesting to look back in 20 or 30 years and evaluate how we have acted and what we’ve believed in light of the direction history takes. For myself, I have always hoped that my grandchildren will say that I was ahead of my time and admire the way I lived. Being progressive allows one to nurture that hope in a unique way. But that hope also makes a large assumption — that the arc of history necessarily bends toward progress, as the old saying goes. I still believe that the long arc of history does, but there are backslides in the short run, and the short run sometimes ends up being 100 years or so (look at the years between Reconstruction and the Civil Rights Movement!).

    Well said.

    It does seem as though there are always a few individuals who are able to make the conceptional leaps that are necessary to generate new ideas, whether it be in science or religion or government, while most of us seem to prefer the comfort of the status quo. Whether those ideas are good or bad is another question. After all, Representative Democracy was a new and untried idea, but so was Communism and Nazism. Like you said, there are backslides, and whether a new idea is good or bad usually depends on who gets to define the term. Like somebody said: “History is written by the winners.”

    It’s interesting that you believe that “the arc of history bends necessarily towards progress.” That was a widely held opinion during the Victorian Era when folks were still exploring new wilderness and making new discoveries all the time, so it seemed, and most of us still like to believe that. I’ve read some Darwinists, however, who argue to the contrary, at least on an evolutionary level. They maintain that evolution, by definition, must be random and directionless, that reproductive success is the only measure of fitness, and that “progress” is an arbitrary concept. Of course, as a Christian, I have a slightly different view.

    Like you, I too am anxiously awaiting the invention of a working time machine. I already have a list of times and places I want to visit – ancient Greece and Rome and Israel in the first century, late 18th century Vienna to hear Mozart in person, same time, but in Philadelphia to sit in on some of the back room haggling during the Constitutional Convention, any number of battlefields during the Civil War, Little Big Horn on June 25, 1876, Tombstone Arizona, October 26, 1881, Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941. The list keeps getting longer all the time. If you love history, no matter how much of it you read and how well you think you’ve got a feel for a time and place, you can’t shake the feeling that, unless you were actually there, there’s so much you’ll never understand.

    Maybe that would be a good subject for a future post:
    Where would you go if you got the first ride on a time machine?

  9. juvenal_urbino Says:

    My intent in asking the question wasn’t to demonize every person who ever held a racist view. I was just wondering, since you mentioned the right time frame, if you were at Harding when it began admitting black students.

    Your response raises a number of interesting points and questions, but rather than addressing them individually, I’ll make a couple of more general points.

    The first one is that Christians should know better. Regardless of what’s generally thought true or what’s legal or what’s culturally accepted, the life and moral principles of Jesus are to be the guidelines for Christians. Racism has never been consistent with those principles. Christians nonetheless just accepted racism from their culture and, moreover, have been among its leading promoters and perpetuators. They have done so for thousands of years. If we want to talk about just the Stone-Campbell Movement, we’ve done so for our entire history.

    Far from being the leading edge of God’s rightwising activity, churches have been the footdraggers and dogged opposition. We’ve had to be dragged toward greater justice by legal mandate.

    Which brings me to my second point. You speak of the church’s problem with racism as if it’s something in the past that people my age (and thanks for including me in “young people”) or younger don’t have to deal with. Our churches — most churches of any kind — are still shot through with racism. Huge numbers of churchgoers are still just as racist as the generations that perpetuated Jim Crow, and still feel no pang of conscience over it. It’s given a wink and a grin, or sometimes open assent. In terms of churchgoers’ actual attitudes, I don’t know that we’re 3 inches further along than we were during Jim Crow.

    Which brings me to my third point, which is that the church has never learned its lesson on this issue. It’s allowed and promoted racial discrimination for nearly its entire history, and it still does. It’s been noisily passed by nearly every secular society in which it exists, and still it drags its retrograde attitudes with it. It’s been morally embarrassed to the point that it now tries to keep its racists under wraps, but it still isn’t embarrassed enough to really root out the problem; it realizes racism is impolite, but still doesn’t quite get that it’s immoral.

    Moreover, it continues to make the same mistakes it’s always made. It was wrong about discrimination against Jews, against Native Americans, against blacks, against almost every non-white racial group it’s ever encountered, and against women, yet here it is, spouting exactly the same arguments it used against those groups to promote discrimination against gays and lesbians, among others. The church simply refuses to learn its lesson.

    Lest I paint too bleak a picture, it’s also the case that Christians have always been in the forefront of ending all these forms of immorality. But they’ve always been a tiny fraction of churches, and they’ve always been shunned and demonized by the great majority. (Again, today is no different.) Even in the Stone-Campbell Movement — which by and large has been a coat-holder rather than an active rockthrower — we’ve had our scattering of prophetic voices, but they’ve been voices crying in the wilderness, aggressively dishonored in their own country. And nothing about that has changed.

    I understand your point of view about not being too harsh with generations that came before us, and I’m not at all without sympathy for the moral difficulties created by the society in which one is embedded; I know them firsthand. Nonetheless, if the church is to be excused for immorally following society’s lead, what good is it? What’s more striking, society now has changed, and churchgoers largely have not; far from calling society to greater justice, church has become the anti-justice resistance.

    We’ve had centuries to learn our lesson. How much longer will it take? I’m no longer willing to be patient and sympathetic and understanding about it.

  10. Al Sturgeon Says:

    Juvenal: “…if the church is to be excused for immorally following society’s lead, what good is it?”

    Okay, another quote for me to save somewhere…

  11. Sandi Says:

    On progress: Sometimes the arc of history is very long, i.e. the Middle Ages. And, sometimes the progress is not necessarily in a good direction, or at least is not wholly good. I love modern conveniences and medicine as much as the next person, but sometimes I long for horse and buggy days (no car accidents), the barter system (no evil capitalism), and so forth. From reading Jared Diamond’s books, I’ve learned that the rise of agriculture is largely responsible for great inequalities in wealth and status among humans, which I consider to be not a good thing. so I guess I mean in a more limited sense that it still seems true, given modern medicine and American history. I’m not sure how or whether evolution ties in.

    But I am very alert to the possibility that it could all be taken away tomorrow. I recently watched a documentary about the status of women in Afghanistan that about turned my hair white. Apparently in the 1970s things were pretty good for women and now we’re back to burqas and honor killings. So, as a woman knowing that the best women have probably been treated ever is here in the U.S., Canada and some parts of Europe (maybe, I hear mixed reviews on that), I feel very concerned for the future. People here in the U.S. tend to forget this or not see it, but women are treated like s**t in much of the world still today. So my faith in progress is really faith — a hope that it is true.

  12. Sandi Says:

    Juvenal,

    I applaud the fact that you’re willing to call a racist spade a spade. Do you think that the people of the church back in the day (50s and before) really sincerely believed that the Bible mandated segregation (and prior to that, slavery)? The whole Ham bit, you know. Was that just a convenient excuse for them or did they really believe it was God’s will?

    I’m with you on the gay and lesbian thing, but I know that most Christians wouldn’t be and, in fact, African Americans are often the most vigorously opposed to any comparison between the civil rights movement and the question of gay acceptance. (As an aside, isn’t it interesting how the word “civil rights” has come to be code for African American civil rights even though the phrase itself is very general?)

    Race is proving to be, in my view, a tough and intractable division to solve. This is nowhere more obvious than in the staggering levels of residential segregation we have in the U.S., which leads to, among other things, highly segregated schools and also segregated churches. No one talks about this, but it’s right there beneath the surface. Class is tightly bound up in this problem … the legacy of slavery not yet having eroded. I see it every day, living in a slowly gentrifying neighborhood in D.C. I might be one of four or five white households on my street. But you know what you don’t see in the District? School-age white children. If you do, they assuredly go to private schools. Everyone else moves to the “right” suburbs to send their children to public schools. The whole thing is sickening, but no one is going to sacrifice their own children’s education on the altar of integration, even if they believe in it personally.

    I don’t know where I’m going with this, but anyway, for whatever it’s worth …

  13. juvenal_urbino Says:

    I wrote:

    I understand your point of view about not being too harsh with generations that came before us…

    Something I started out intending to say but ended up sort of talking around is that, when I speak of bigotry, I’m not talking about past generations. Or, I’m not talking about past generations, only. My generation is plagued with it, too. It hasn’t gone away.

    Was that just a convenient excuse for them or did they really believe it was God’s will?

    It’s hard to say, Sandi. I doubt if many of them truly knew. My guess is that it was a vicious cycle. For some, no doubt, it was just a convenient excuse; the same people for whom all of Christianity (or all of it they practice) is just a convenient excuse for one thing or another. But generally I suspect it was some of both.

  14. juvenal_urbino Says:

    African Americans are often the most vigorously opposed to any comparison between the civil rights movement and the question of gay acceptance

    I do think there’s something to that, btw, in the sense that no other group has ever been singled out by our laws and institutions the way blacks were for the first, well, 300 yrs. that whites were on this continent.

    OTOH, civil rights are civil rights. We all have the same ones. Or should, anyway.

  15. Terry Austin Says:

    FWIW (and it admittedly ain’t much), the last half-dozen times I’ve heard the “N-word” used, the setting was either a church building or the offices of an unnamed Christian NPO.

    Four of the six times it was uttered by a guy in his mid 30s.

    (And for the record, I am not including uses of the “N-word” when the intent was to mock racists, not belittle people of color. I believe juvenal’s “Nigra” reference is an example of this.)

    And from what I’ve seen ’round here, the Next Big Thing for churchfolk is to get all up in arms about all them Mexicans. They’re the new blacks, donchaknow.

  16. Terry Austin Says:

    (By “’round here,” I mean where I live, not this blog.)

  17. Capt MidKnight Says:

    Good discussion, although it seem a little bit of a leap to get to the racial issue from nuclear weapons. Is it just more familiar – or maybe less threating – than the idea of real terrorists with real WMDs?

    Just wondering. Everybody’s entitled to swerve when they feel like it.

  18. juvenal_urbino Says:

    I didn’t know nuclear weapons was the topic.

  19. Capt MidKnight Says:

    juvenal_urbino said…
    I didn’t know nuclear weapons was the topic.

    I just mentioned the Alma Mater thing at the beginning of the post, referring to the past discussions that I had let pass by. The basic post was about the 61st anniversary of the Hiroshima bomb.
    I was just commenting on the swerve over to racial policies of churches and Christian Colleges in the early ’60s. No problem. It goes where it goes.

  20. juvenal_urbino Says:

    I thought the part we were supposed to respond to was the “if you were president and…” part.

    Nuclear weapons are bad, mmmmmkay?

  21. Terry Austin Says:

    More swerv-itude:

    That link juvenal posted to the Haymes article (and more) is eye-opening, in a really sick sort of way.

    Black birds, blue birds, red birds… and WHITEY BIRDS!

  22. Capt MidKnight Says:

    Terry Austin said…
    More swerv-itude:

    That link juvenal posted to the Haymes article (and more) is eye-opening, in a really sick sort of way.

    Black birds, blue birds, red birds… and WHITEY BIRDS!

    Yeah. It’s hard to imagine, from our vantage point here in 2006, that, once upon a time, there were very intelligent folks in many denominations that actually talked that way – and really believed it!
    It’s sad but true.

  23. Capt MidKnight Says:

    juvenal_urbino said…
    I thought the part we were supposed to respond to was the “if you were president and…” part.

    Nuclear weapons are bad, mmmmmkay?

    Or … A competing point of view I’ve heard:

    Nuclear weapons are bad, but only if somebody besides us has them.

    Unfortunately, they are a fact of life now. I don’t think man has ever built a weapons system, from the bow and arrow on up, that he has then abandoned because he thought it was too dangerous. I’m afraid we’re stuck with them.

    Someone once explained them to me like this:

    Nuclear weapons are like lawyers. You have yours so I have to have mine. Once you use them, however, they screw up everything.

    A thought for the day.

    BTW Is it just me, or are the word verifications codes getting stranger and longer?

  24. juvenal_urbino Says:

    It’s hard to imagine, from our vantage point here in 2006, that, once upon a time, there were very intelligent folks in many denominations that actually talked that way – and really believed it!

    I don’t think it’s surprising that people believed it. People still believe it. What’s surprising about comments like Benson’s is the naivete in them; the sense that this belief is unchallenged, and unchallengeable.

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