Christian author Josh McDowell steps away from ministry after comments about minority families

"Best-selling Christian author and speaker Josh McDowell has stepped back from ministry after comments he made at a meeting of the American Association of Christian Counselors Sept. 18." - B.Press

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Joeb's picture

From what I read McDowell said that African Americans don't value hard work and education. Interesting I could say the same for Whites in the Appalachian Coal Spine.  Biggest group on the dole forever in the Country.  Throw in that West Va for the last two years in a row being the highest deaths by OPIOD overdoses per Capita in the Country and the largest problem of Foster Children to boot.  Also having the biggest black dot ⚫️ for the most OxyContin sales in the Country on the DEA map I'd say that statement is true about some Whites.  
 

Also include that in almost all intercites 70 % of heron Addicts are WHITES from the suburbs and rural areas. The old an African American moved onto block the value of our real estate is going to hades is now in reverse.  When Whites come into minority neighborhoods that were previously safe in Philly they bring all the drug gangs with them.

18 years ago I had arrest warrants for a White Couple who were both terrible substance abusers and the stuff the mother did in front of her 5 year old to get heroin from a drug dealer was very very sad.  In fact when I was looking for them two neighbors in a mixed neighborhood came out with one being a young black guy and other being middle age Hispanic Man and both said I hope your here to arrest both of them they are destroying the neighborhood and endangering our children.  They added that this is a nice neighborhood of all homeowners who work hard   That was 18 years ago now it's even worse.  
 

Also, if you remember in West VA Donald promised he was going to bring the Coal Jobs back and have everybody working.  Union Jobs big bucks.  Guess what DONALD LIED JUST LIKE HE ALWAYS DOES.  The people running the retraining programs had funds available for everyone.  They could not get any people to enter.  I saw the Lady interviewed she said they didn't want to be trained  because Donald was bringing the coal jobs back.  Plus none of these fine White Citizens want to relocate for a job.  When welfare went out for some the next best thing was SSA Disability under false pretenses.  I have a bad back and my kids all have ADHD. Want to bet Donald leaned on the SSA IG and the US Attorney in West VA not to pursue and prosecute SSA Disabilty cases just like he did to crush the investigations on Pompeo that fine Godly man and the US Attorney in Atlanta to investigate Mass Voter fraud which the US Attorney already did and found none  Then he refused to lie and resigned since he was told Donald was going to fire him  

Now after Donald promises flopped big time what did Donald do he turned to socialism.  Donald did an executive order forcing the Electric Grids to buy power from coal plants no matter what the price.  Then when UMW'S Pension Fund West VA was going to go belly up and go to the Pension Guaranty Corporation which would result in them only getting half their pensions.  What did Donald do a little more socialism.  Donald made the West Va UMW's pension fund 100 % whole with everyone else's money.  Bethlehem Steel Workers were none to happy.  They didn't get that deal.  They got the only got the usual 50 percent when Obama was in power. I guess Obama was less of a Socialist then Trump.  Additionally War Mongering Killary told them the truth and got barbecued for it.     

Point I'm making Dave is what was said about  the African American Community could be applied to all  groups of people. All groups have their good and bad.   Hence what Josh McDowell said was racist and Whites have the same problem.
 

Dave your  just repeating the Right Talking Points. I'd abandon those if I were you.  Trump is going bye bye and you will have a tough time saying Trump was not racist From what his  White Supremacist Thugs said. What part of the chant of the Jews will not replace us while they were marching with their torches at night did you not understand.  
 

The Michigan Militia Trump and Barr praised so much for being great Americans are the ones who barged into the Capital with their AR 15s The Militia is lead by men in their 60s who were literally associates of Timothy McVeigh and Company. I recognized them when they were interviewed on TV and did research and confirmed it.  

Im sensitive to this because I went through that time period as a Federal Agent and Timothy.   Mc Veigh  killed 186 of my Federal Brothers and Sisters.  In that number were 10 Babies and 10 Toodlers. I pulled up News casts from You Tube and watched as the Rescuers as they brought the Dead Babies out for the mothers to ID and hug their child one last time. Timothy McVeigh was a diehard follower of the Turner Daries and spent time with that Racist Bum in you know where.  West VA.  
 

Your statement was to Brusk and leads me to believe you may buy into the Right Baloney.  Please tell me you don't.  Some of the Houses raided by the FBI of the 1/6  Attackers had pictures of Timothy McVeigh framed and hung in a place of HONOR. It may of been just one but I saw other attackers on TV saying McVeigh was their hero. 

 Considering Bannon is an anti Semitic and best buddies with Paige Patterson your position I believe is wrong and Josh McDowell deserves the criticism he received.  Josh made the mistake of saying what was in his heart and sadly other White Evangelicals share the same attitude

. Every race has their good people and bad people ie DONALD TRUMP. being the shining example of an evil White person that Dr Dobson tried to pass off as a new babe in Christ.  So Dave you should re-examine your position if you truly believe that.  Josh McDowell back pedaled big time.  It's a shame because that Book he wrote Evidence Demands a Verdict was probably the greatest work in our Country that brought thousands to Christ.  What has happened is just like Jimmy De Young.  To many believers have fallen under the spell of their Demigod Donald Trump. If he had left peacefully Nothing woukd have mattered. As long as it is legal and the Republicans outplay the Democrats in the political field so be it.  However as Believers we can not buy into either sides Racism.  
 

Just a note I want to make.  The guy who got Timothy McVeigh the NEEDLE was Merrick Garland.  There is a new Sheriff in town and no more corrupt ones all though I do appreciate what Paul Rosen and his Assistant and Pence did standing up to that corrupt racist Trump. Christopher Wray Director of the FBI today said there was superseding indictments coming down the pike.  That usual means more conspirators and/or more serious charges.  I'm praying Donald and his crew go to jail for 20 years but I think Biden will pardon Trump going out the door if Trump gets convicted or not let Merrick Garland even charge Trump. Just my opinion. The only place Trump stands to go to jail and no one will be able to get him out is in NY State.  

pvawter's picture

This is the "controversial" comment:

 “I do not believe Blacks, African Americans, and many other minorities have equal opportunity. Why? Most of them grew up in families where there is not a big emphasis on education, security — you can do anything you want. You can change the world. If you work hard, you will make it. So many African Americans don’t have those privileges like I was brought up with.”

Bert Perry's picture

I've followed the work of Anthony Bradley for a while, and the key sticking point is the word "most".  The trick is that in reality, most African-Americans are middle class or above, and hence they get really, really irritated when the "pigmentally impaired" say things that imply that almost all blacks are living "in the hood" in a stereotypical way.  Imagine our response if our African-American friends assumed we all ate a lot of baloney sandwiches while drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon in the back of our jacked up pickup trucks with a gun rack and the Confederate battle flag.

You want to end your ministry to African-Americans, just work from a "hood" stereotype.  Now there certainly are significant cultural issues in certain locations among African-Americans, just as there are among caucasians or any other ethnic or racial group.  The trick is the difference between "some" and "all", along with the reality that very little is going to be achieved "when the white man comes in and tells us all our problems and how to solve them."

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

josh p's picture

Bert that's interesting. I hadn't heard that. Happen to have a link? 

Bert Perry's picture

Part of it is going off memory, but here's the Census Bureau on the matter.  Less than 20% of African-Americans qualify as outright poor.  Probably weighted a bit towards the young and all, but there you go.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

JD Miller's picture

According to US census date for 2020, the poverty rate for African Americans was 18.8% while the national average was 11.4%.  

 

Joel Shaffer's picture

This is the "controversial" comment:

 “I do not believe Blacks, African Americans, and many other minorities have equal opportunity. Why? Most of them grew up in families where there is not a big emphasis on education, security — you can do anything you want. You can change the world. If you work hard, you will make it. So many African Americans don’t have those privileges like I was brought up with.”

JM's comment here goes against every study that I've seen https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-  tank/2016/02/24/hispanic-black-parents-see-college-degree-as-key-for-childrens-success/  including this one, and my 32 years of doing full-time mission work among the urban poor.   The fatherless urban youth (mostly African-American) that we disciple may come from broken families, but their single moms are working 50+ hours a week to keep a roof over their head and food on the table. The overwhelming majority of these moms are pushing their kids hard to get an education.  Valuing hard work and education are part of the DNA that almost all of our students have. 

My frustration is that how he twists privilege into blaming blacks as if they have this common cultural deficiency and it's really a racial stereotype. So much for not "judging a person by their skin but by the content of their character!"   I've even seen drug dealers and gang members on several occasions beat up their younger siblings because they had a younger brother who started skipping school, dropping out of school, or quitting a job because they were trying to keep them away from the street life.    

Joeb's picture

Joel is spot in and he is an eye witness as I was and everything he is saying is right on.  The one that has changed in a big way is 70 % of the Heroin Addicts are Whites from rural and suburban PA.   So people selling the drugs hasn't change but the customers sure have.  When the Addicts come into a neighborhood they run the whole neighborhood down and the African American Homeowners and renters don't want them around.  What's scary is I believe a lot of these Diehard Trump White Evangelicals are RACIST just like Josh McDowell.  Let's be honest.  

pvawter's picture

Joel Shaffer wrote:

This is the "controversial" comment:

 “I do not believe Blacks, African Americans, and many other minorities have equal opportunity. Why? Most of them grew up in families where there is not a big emphasis on education, security — you can do anything you want. You can change the world. If you work hard, you will make it. So many African Americans don’t have those privileges like I was brought up with.”

JM's comment here goes against every study that I've seen https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-  tank/2016/02/24/hispanic-black-parents-see-college-degree-as-key-for-childrens-success/  including this one, and my 32 years of doing full-time mission work among the urban poor.   The fatherless urban youth (mostly African-American) that we disciple may come from broken families, but their single moms are working 50+ hours a week to keep a roof over their head and food on the table. The overwhelming majority of these moms are pushing their kids hard to get an education.  Valuing hard work and education are part of the DNA that almost all of our students have. 

My frustration is that how he twists privilege into blaming blacks as if they have this common cultural deficiency and it's really a racial stereotype. So much for not "judging a person by their skin but by the content of their character!"   I've even seen drug dealers and gang members on several occasions beat up their younger siblings because they had a younger brother who started skipping school, dropping out of school, or quitting a job because they were trying to keep them away from the street life.    

So he's wrong. Blacks in America do have equal opportunity. I'm glad to hear it. Why does what he said necessitate JM stepping away from ministry?

Bert Perry's picture

JD Miller wrote:

According to US census date for 2020, the poverty rate for African Americans was 18.8% while the national average was 11.4%.  

I'm hoping that we remember that 18.8% is still a minority of the entire black population.  This is why African-Americans get rather touchy about saying "most" or "all", as it simply isn't true.  Let's remember what we learned in middle school math, brothers.

And let's listen to what Joel said as well....I've not done ministry in poor African-Americans nearly as much as he has, but I've seen a lot of the same things, but I do remember the interactions I had while trying to serve at a mixed black/Hispanic church in Compton.....what he says rings true.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

JD Miller's picture

18.8 is definitely not most.  At the same time it is more than 11.4.   The challenge is trying to figure out how to help the 18.8% without making the situation worse.  As a country boy who has seldom been to an inner city, I have really appreciated Joel's insights through the years.  My black neighbors in our small town are really no different than the rest of the community, so it is enlightening for me to read of the observations of other areas.

Joel Shaffer's picture

So he's wrong. Blacks in America do have equal opportunity. I'm glad to hear it. Why does what he said necessitate JM stepping away from ministry

So you automatically assume that valuing hard work and education = equal opportunity in America?  I wish I could say that is true for all Americans, no matter what color skin they have. On a side note, I believe that America is a place of many more equal opportunities than most countries but that's not an ideal standard to judge equal opportunity by. 

 Although 2021 is better than 1961, and especially 1861, a black man still has more obstacles to overcome than his white counterpart because of the racialized society that he lives in.  Over the past decade or so, on many occasions here on Sharper Iron, I've shared the results of several empirical studies that demonstrate these facts, and I've shared many many stories from our ministry, but is often met with pushback and skepticism here on Sharper Iron.   

As for Josh McDowell stepping away from ministry, he definitely needed to because he was spouting major racial ignorance on a public platform.  What I've seen over the past 2-3 years is that the CRT backlash (which was the main context of his talk) has exposed so many people's sin of racism.  Those who are trained in Apologetics or self-proclaimed Christian apologists are the worst. They have no expertise about social, cultural,& legal issues as they relate to race & racism, but rather quite unknowledgeable and sadly, unteachable. Thankfully JM stepped away to actually get some perspective and become a learner.   JM falls into the same trap as the Founders Ministry group, Voddie, and etc... They realize that there's something seriously wrong with CRT, but end up with a serious misdiagnosis. 

By the way, after reading about 50 or so primary sources on CRT, I am more convinced of the Scripture's sufficiency and the gospel's answer to the problem of racism.   

M. Osborne's picture

I moved from Omaha to Philadelphia in 2013, from a virtually monochromatic homeschooling church to an ethnically diverse church. There's lots of every kind of person, everywhere.

So my first respond to the statement in question is that it simply doesn't work as a generalization even with the word "most" thrown in.

My second response is that it doesn't work as much of a diagnosis either. There is no lack of "work-hard-get-an-education" messaging in the community, regardless of ethnicity. There's plenty of rah-rah pep talk to go around, plenty of organizations with glitteringly optimistic names.

The bigger question of the gospel and a transformed heart aside, and looking at the level of "common grace" alone, if I had to make some generalizations when diagnosing troubled situations, the #1 issue I find is the lack of a man with character (i.e., no committed husband and father). The women left in a situation like that are bearing an incredible load, sometimes in very godly ways, sometimes in the best-they-can ways. Without the gospel, it's easy for women in situations like become pretty fierce trying to maintain order. But without a man in the picture who is himself accountable and bearing the moral authority to (1) model accountability; and (2) hold others accountable and teach them how to be accountable....all that "hard-work-and-education" messaging seems to "float" and not connect to day-to-day life.

For example, the "hard work and education" message, in and of itself, doesn't model a proper response when your employer does something that seems outrageous and you need to work through the issue somehow without losing your job. It's a wisdom issue to know that employers occasionally do outrageous things, and the first instinct should not be to walk away or to burn bridges, and that stable employment requires a person to develop a sense of proportion and a determination to resolve problems when possible.

Michael Osborne
Philadelphia, PA

Joel Shaffer's picture

As a country boy who has seldom been to an inner city, I have really appreciated Joel's insights through the years.  My black neighbors in our small town are really no different than the rest of the community, so it is enlightening for me to read of the observations of other areas.

I appreciate your humble heart, JD. My previous comment about the pushback and skepticism on race from Sharper Iron was not directed towards you or anyone specifically.  And I didn't see this until several hours after I had made this comment. 

 In recent months, I've pulled back considerably from my usual comments on issues of race, poverty, culture, and the gospel because I didn't think anyone was listening and I assumed we were all in our own echo chambers.  Thank you for proving my assumptions wrong.   God uses these conversations on Sharper Iron to love the body of Christ even more. 

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Joel Shaffer wrote:

In recent months, I've pulled back considerably from my usual comments on issues of race, poverty, culture, and the gospel because I didn't think anyone was listening and I assumed we were all in our own echo chambers.  Thank you for proving my assumptions wrong.   God uses these conversations on Sharper Iron to love the body of Christ even more. 

I haven't always agreed with what you have written, but I would like to echo JD's appreciation of your perspective.  In my view, it's precisely the people we *don't* completely agree with that sharpen us the most (within reason, of course).

Although not really a country boy, my life has pretty much gone between rural and suburban, with also very little personal exposure to the issues in inner cities.  Basically, I see mostly only what is reported from those areas, or hear from those who have direct experience.  The people of other races I have dealt with either at work or in my neighborhoods and churches have had quite different lives and perspectives than most of those who live in inner cities, so their experiences, and my perception of them are not at all the same as what you see and experience.  Hence, I'm certain that my views are not only shaped by my own experiences and the people I have interacted with, they are also limited in some ways.

I suspect we will always have some amount of disagreement on racial issues and what to do about them (maybe partially due to the fact we inhabit different cultures), but I respect your experience and actually appreciate my views being challenged, even when I push back.  I probably do (as I suspect most of us do) live in a bit of an echo chamber, and while having to deal with information and views that do not exactly fit my worldview is sometimes painful, I know it's good for me, even if it does not cause me to fully change what I think.

Dave Barnhart

pvawter's picture

Joel Shaffer wrote:

So he's wrong. Blacks in America do have equal opportunity. I'm glad to hear it. Why does what he said necessitate JM stepping away from ministry

So you automatically assume that valuing hard work and education = equal opportunity in America?  I wish I could say that is true for all Americans, no matter what color skin they have. On a side note, I believe that America is a place of many more equal opportunities than most countries but that's not an ideal standard to judge equal opportunity by. 

 Although 2021 is better than 1961, and especially 1861, a black man still has more obstacles to overcome than his white counterpart because of the racialized society that he lives in.  Over the past decade or so, on many occasions here on Sharper Iron, I've shared the results of several empirical studies that demonstrate these facts, and I've shared many many stories from our ministry, but is often met with pushback and skepticism here on Sharper Iron.   

As for Josh McDowell stepping away from ministry, he definitely needed to because he was spouting major racial ignorance on a public platform.  What I've seen over the past 2-3 years is that the CRT backlash (which was the main context of his talk) has exposed so many people's sin of racism.  Those who are trained in Apologetics or self-proclaimed Christian apologists are the worst. They have no expertise about social, cultural,& legal issues as they relate to race & racism, but rather quite unknowledgeable and sadly, unteachable. Thankfully JM stepped away to actually get some perspective and become a learner.   JM falls into the same trap as the Founders Ministry group, Voddie, and etc... They realize that there's something seriously wrong with CRT, but end up with a serious misdiagnosis. 

By the way, after reading about 50 or so primary sources on CRT, I am more convinced of the Scripture's sufficiency and the gospel's answer to the problem of racism.   

It's really interesting to me how much mileage you're getting out of a comment by JM which was about 5 sentences long. You apparently agree with his first one, and you object to 1 word in his second sentence from what I can tell. Not exactly sure how you feel about his last one, but I infer from what you've said that you feel it is accurate, too. 

This is why I question the response to this "controversial" statement. He can be wrong. Fine. But I fail to see why what he said was controversial, let alone cancel-worthy.

Bert Perry's picture

It strikes me that what Joel & Michael are describing is that the worst cases are a lack of parenting....and then the obvious question is "if I were to minister in this context, how do I fulfill the role of the parent without totally ticking off the people I'm trying to help because I really don't quite have the authority of a dad?"  And that applies to both the 18.8% of blacks who are poor, and the 11.4% of whites (or whatever) that are poor as well.

Joel, Michael, am I even halfway close?  Seeing that I'm still trying to persuade my own kids, over whom I do have Biblical authority, about things like "don't leave food in your room unless you like mice and rats", I'll confess to having no easy solutions here.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

JD Miller's picture

 In my view, it's precisely the people we *don't* completely agree with that sharpen us the most (within reason, of course).

YES!  Just last week I had to eat crow after someone pointed out how I had misinterpreted some data that I shared on SI (it was an unintentional mistake, but a mistake nonetheless).  What I love is that these forums give us a sounding board that also holds us accountable and helps us to refine and correct our ideas.  It was great that the info I shared was able to be quickly corrected.  It broke my heart to then read on another thread that the moderator had shut down commentary so that no one could comment on his commentary.  Thankfully he reversed that decision and participants were able to continue to refine their ideas.  Isn't that what SI is all about?

Larry's picture

Moderator

What if we ask the question a different way perhaps? 

Are there minorities who do not have equal access because they were raised in a home and culture that did not value hard work and education?

How would you answer that question?

JD Miller's picture

Are there minorities who do not have equal access because they were raised in a home and culture that did not value hard work and education?

I think that is a fair question to ask about both minorities and non minorities.  I have been reading a book written by a homosexual non Christian (yes we can learn from those we disagree with) called the Madness of Crowds.  He is suggesting that we are missing out on finding solutions to inequity because we are unwilling to ask blunt questions and are inclined to tiptoe around issues too much.  I think there needs to be a balance between trying to be as gracious as possible with our questions and being willing to ask those questions.  We also should show grace when someone is not as gracious with their statements as they should have been and then recognizes that and repents.  For that reason I am willing to extend a lot of grace to McDowell.

M. Osborne's picture

I'm a parent to 5. We homeschool. Just some observations comparing the homeschooling thing to Christian/private/public education; and instruction in a church context.

  1. Instruction directed at groups seems to work fine when the audience has the capacity to receive it and make something of it themselves.
  2. The moment you hit issues, whether simple misunderstandings or learning blocks, or background difficulties, or whatever, the supposed efficiency of working in groups goes nowhere. At some point, individual work become necessary. Teaching my daughter who gets math easily was much easier than teaching the one who doesn't.
  3. Any instruction or discipleship hits a point where there's no way around some inefficiency / raw time investment, mostly when it comes time to make applications of general principles, or preparing the person to be the kind of person who can see the significance of what the general instruction is trying to convey. Even something as intense as daily family Bible time isn't enough when there are sin patterns; a fortiori, yes, the weekly preaching of the Word can transform lives, but practically, it seems like more personal involvement is required for those already struggling.
  4. Being as discreet as I can...and not saying that I'm doing great with these discipleship issues...it seems like my approach has constantly to be tailored to the actual needs in a given family.

Michael Osborne
Philadelphia, PA

Larry's picture

Moderator

the supposed efficiency of working in groups goes nowhere. At some point, individual work become necessary. 

I wonder if we have lost the day of being able to make general statements that are true because there are specific instances or even groups to whom a statement does not apply. I think that is to our loss. 

Joel Shaffer's picture

What if we ask the question a different way perhaps? 

Are there minorities who do not have equal access because they were raised in a home and culture that did not value hard work and education?

How would you answer that question?

Yes there are. Some will even say they value hard work and education, but do very little to demonstrate it.  Just like there are white folks who were raised in a home and a subculture that did not value hard work and education. It crosses cultures, it even crosses a class line.  Sometimes I'm a substitute teacher at the Christian school that we send our kids to and about 50% of the students come from wealthy families. I've even seen a few extremely wealthy students who are just going through the motions at school because their parents are filthy rich. The teachers get frustrated at their parents because they don't push their kids to work hard and value education at school. They have their multi-millions to fall back on.

It's really interesting to me how much mileage you're getting out of a comment by JM which was about 5 sentences long. You apparently agree with his first one, and you object to 1 word in his second sentence from what I can tell. Not exactly sure how you feel about his last one, but I infer from what you've said that you feel it is accurate, too. 

I'm not just responding to those 5 sentences. I'm also responding to what he said both before and after which gives context to what he said.  Just before this quote, JM spends time talking about racism as only being individual and not systemic/institutional (which is only half true). Right after the quote, he fleshes out how he was brought up differently even though he came from a poor farming family. That he was raised to value hard work and education and told he could grow up to be whatever he wanted to be. In context, JM acknowledges that racial inequalities exist, but they exist because black families/minorities don't emphasize those things either because there is an inability or unwillingness within their cultural context.  Therefore, racial inequalities are black people's fault because the families didn't equip them the same way he was equipped to approach life.  This is racial ignorance, which is a form of racism.   

Christian leaders who are racially ignorant about racial and cultural issues shouldn't have a platform to talk about racial and cultural issues. Truth actually matters. If CRU permanently banned JM from speaking and if it was done to shame him then I would agree with you that it is cancel culture. But instead, he is being given a season to listen and address the growth areas in the areas of race and justice. A season is temporary, whereas cancel culture attempts to shame people permanently. 

M. Osborne's picture

I wonder if we have lost the day of being able to make general statements that are true because there are specific instances or even groups to whom a statement does not apply. I think that is to our loss. 

I'm not entirely sure what you mean, Larry. On the level of math: some people get math easily, and some don't, and when they don't get it easily, more individual work is required. I somehow doubt that's a new phenomenon.

As to preaching to a large crowd, it sure helps when everyone believes (1) the Bible is God's Word, and whatever it says, I'll do (or at least, should do); (2) the Bible is about God reconciling the world to Himself, and my biggest problem is my relationship with God, and the gospel is for that first; the sermon that I'm hearing is not merely one tool in my self-therapy toolbox.

Obviously when many in the audience listen to the sermon with asterisks in their head, "If I don't like it, well, the Bible includes the words of man, and this must be one of those spots where it's just the word of man." Or, "I need to get my life together; this church thing seems to help."

In my context, preaching to the choir isn't particularly helpful; the above sorts of foundational ideas need to be made explicit; and the above asterisks need to be confronted directly. Even when you do confront them directly, it's amazing how many still listen to the sermon not even realizing that you're confronting their asterisks.

Michael Osborne
Philadelphia, PA

M. Osborne's picture

Yes there are. Some will even say they value hard work and education, but do very little to demonstrate it.  Just like there are white folks who were raised in a home and a subculture that did not value hard work and education.

Three summers ago my children started a lawn mowing business in the neighborhood. It's been a great learning experience. It's one thing to dream about having your own business, to think about the money coming in, the sense of being grown up. But when a Saturday morning rolls around and their are 6 lawns to mow, I found myself having to remind some of them, "There is no way around getting up, getting out the equipment, and getting through it." But there has been real growth. After 3 years, were they to say that hard work is worth it, they actually know what they're talking about, experientially. There are fewer squabbles about scheduling; they have several customers that have been with them all 3 years; their bank accounts are starting to look pretty nice; they generally know that just hopping to it is the best way to go. But along the way, my wife and I did have to coach and admonish occasionally. It's only a thought experiment of where they'd be if we weren't there to coach. But I do expect there'd be a larger gap between saying they value hard work and actually valuing it.

Michael Osborne
Philadelphia, PA

Larry's picture

Moderator

Yes there are.

Yes, which means that the objection was not to the fundamental principle of the statement per se, but to the number of people ("most" instead of "many" or "some) implicated in it. But my guess is that he had said "many" or "some" it would have received the same response because people don't care about that. Racism has become a quick and easy charge that rarely has to be actually demonstrated. It is enough to say it. 

Therefore, racial inequalities are black people's fault because the families didn't equip them the same way he was equipped to approach life.  This is racial ignorance, which is a form of racism.

It may be racial ignorance, but I wonder if that is a form of racism in any meaningful sense. I think calling this "racism" detracts from the real issues and minimizes actual problems. Here again, I think you make the same type generalization he did without using a numerical or size-of-group type designator. The question here would be this: Are there any black people whose families did not equip them for life in the same way that JM's family did? If the answer is yes, then isn't that, at least to some degree, the family's fault? Of course it is. It isn't racial ignorance to say so.

My experience of almost 20 years in a minority community is that lot of minority kids are not being raised equipped for life. It is seen in truancy rates, in education systems where families don't work with kids. I coached these kids and played ball with them in the street. I talked to them and played with them. I knew their families. My church was across the street from a bottom 5% school in Michigan. Do you know how low you have to be to be a bottom 5% school? You probably do, Joel. We can say that there are a lot of systemic issues, and there are. But at the end of the day, for a variety of reasons, many of those children will not have the same opportunities my children do because of the home and the family. My children all learned to read before they went to kindergarten because we, mostly my wife, read to them and read with them and taught them. By contrast, many of the kids in that neighborhood and that school never had a mom or a dad or grandma or grandpa that would sit down and read with them. They didn't make sure they did their homework. Many would eat three meals a day at school. And they make it all the way through school that way without reading and math and basic educational skills. So it is not ignorant to say that many black young people are not equipped by their families to face life. It's not the same as saying "most." But I think we are kidding ourselves if we say that none of the gap is due to family and culture. It's not racist to point that out because it isn't about their skin tones. White kids were the same way. Interestingly, in my experience, hispanic families were typically different. Again, typically; not absolutely.

I think part of the problem is trying to make broad statements and then interpreting those broad statements as if they apply to every single person. 

Larry's picture

Moderator

I'm not entirely sure what you mean, Larry.

I just mean that I fear we are getting to a place where we can't make broad statements about groupings of ideas or people because of the fear of getting hammered because it isn't absolutely true. I think we lose a valuable tool of communication and evaluation if we have to individualize everything and if we become afraid of speaking in categories.

Bert Perry's picture

Larry wrote:

I'm not entirely sure what you mean, Larry.

I just mean that I fear we are getting to a place where we can't make broad statements about groupings of ideas or people because of the fear of getting hammered because it isn't absolutely true. I think we lose a valuable tool of communication and evaluation if we have to individualize everything and if we become afraid of speaking in categories.

Instead, I'd suggest that we learn what our ancestors who learned formal and informal logic knew instinctively; that there is a difference between "some" and "all", and if we say "most" when we really don't know the proportion, we're engaging in what's known as a "hasty generalization."  

Put into the statistical terms that are so popular today, a lot of people make a big mistake this way by measuring the mean of an entire population, when what's really at stake is something affecting a sub-population.  A look at the histogram or Pareto will tell you that you've really got something of a multimodal distribution.

Stated differently, I just don't know that we gain that much by using generalizations.  Rather, what we end up doing is ticking people off by misrepresenting them.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

M. Osborne's picture

I had at first read you to mean something more like, "There are so many individual exceptions now, it's virtually impossible to make an accurate generalization" (or convey messages / make ministry decisions based on generalizations).

But your concern is that even a sufficiently qualified, yet objectively accurate generalization, is going to get ignored or rejected. 

I do find generalizations helpful when sufficiently qualified and accurate. In this particular thread, I doubt McDowell's statement is sufficiently qualified and more importantly I just don't think it's accurate, when comparing it to my own experience pool with people in hard times. The generalization that I would make pertains more to the husband/father who is or isn't in the picture. The more squalid the situation, the more despicable a man I find somewhere in the background. Like the lady we assisted several years ago who was living in an abandoned house purportedly owned by her ex-boyfriend, no utilities turned on in the cold, dog feces on the floor. The boyfriend had moved on to some other woman. But the lady we helped said to me, "He still loves me and that's why he lets me stay in this house." Shocked, I told her, "If he really loved you, he'd have married you." There was no lack of positive talk; there was a complete disconnect between the talk and the reality.

Michael Osborne
Philadelphia, PA

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