Aintsobad May Be So Bad or, Caricature, Category Failure, and Selective Dissent

If ever there was a Texan who characterized the maxim, “You can tell a Texan, but you can’t tell them much,” it just might be Rick Davis, a.k.a. Aintsobad. I read where he was thinking in the shower. Is it possible that soap in one’s eyes affects mental acuity? An otherwise stellar thinker succumbed to caricature, category failure, and self-selective dissent. After reading that first paragraph I wanted to invoke a Davisism, “Sometimes I hate myself. This would not be one of those times.”

Now, before I go on, please know Dr. Davis and I are having quite a fun time with a comment I left on his blog. You should know there may not be a greater mutual admiration society than between the two of us.

Dave Miller, the Sheriff at SBC Voices, sent me an email yesterday noting,

“Aintsobad” said of you,

Apparently, Radical Anarchist and All Around Evil Person, Dr. Todd Littleton, has been eaten by a Libertarian Bear somewhere in the Rocky Mountains while watching a Hot Air Balloon Festival.

How does he know you so well?

Readers will either wonder what is going on with this fellow who titles his blog Aintsobad or think to himself or herself, finally someone is putting Todd Littleton in his place. Both sides of that binary will be mistaken. You can read Rick’s clarification here. He notes,

For those who do not know and humor alert-wise, Todd Littleton is my good, good friend. We served on church staff together. We have very much “been there” for each other along the way. We have known each other for nearly thirty years. I love him and all of his family, even Paul.

By the way, Paul is my middle brother. Yes, you should learn to detect sarcasm if you follow my insistence that you should read Rick’s blog.

So, while we are having a bit of fun with differing perspectives on the 2012 Presidential Election, I am going to answer his initial post now back from staying inside the cabin while the bears rifled through the trash just outside our window. The wind was up so the Hot Air Balloon Festival Glow Party was more than grounded. The Labor Day festivities were fun. We did enjoy fireworks at nearly 9000 feet and 60 degrees. So, in the spirit of radical choasitists, here are some thoughts that may make Aintsobad really so bad.

First, who really thinks the President of the United States is a vote for a pastor? Just because the approval rating for clergy continues to plummet like Presidential, or even Congressional, approval ratings does not make President and pastor synonymous, unless of course, you live in Texas.

What does seem a bit odd is how four years ago Evangelicals made much of President Obama’s affiliation with the United Church of Christ and what his pastor, Jeremiah Wright, said in a sermon, but those same Evangelicals make little of Romney’s membership in the Latter Day Saints and what is written in their second testament. Of course, many still believe President Obama is a Muslim, especially in the South. I am not sure about those wishing Texas would secede from the Union.

It seems a bit of a caricature to think a question about a Romney Presidency evidences an inability to distinguish between religion and politics. Where was this same interpretation when President Obama’s simple acknowledgment he was a Christian did not satisfy Evangelicals? Even more so, when he was willing to use Evangelical language to describe his personal religious experience conservatives were unyielding, skeptical, and cynical.

Second, my comment may have been radical, but anarchist? Rick Davis rarely makes such a category mistake. Maybe it is the delusional hold Mac Brown has on all Longhorn fans disrupting otherwise consistently careful judgments. Now who will be quarterback?

My aim would be a radicalized democracy. Or, put another way, I would hope for the democracy “to come.” There is no nostalgic bygone era where we could safely say, “Now that was democracy at its best.” What we witness are the steps both forward and backward in hopes of realizing the sort of democratic republic that fills out our hopes and dreams for all people. Rather than the destruction of democracy we would be affirming a hopefulness of the sort of democracy that would finally shatter the glass ceiling, put an end to the perpetually poor-nearly poor-the not yet poor, open up the sorts of opportunities inherent in the hope conveyed in the name Ellis Island now blockaded by those of us who in no-wise were indigenous to this land. These are, to name a few, hardly the stuff of anarchy.

Third, the question is how to get there. I really don’t know. I simply admit to what I felt four years ago. Neither candidate has separated himself from the other with enough distinction to believe I am voting for more than a preference. I realize some will quickly point to abortion and same-sex unions. If this were all to consider, my choice may be simpler. But, when I vote against those who would end the life of a person, I am also stuck with little indication the continued plight of the poor – also an issue of life – will be met with the same determination. Why we Evangelicals think we can choose to support one form of life over others is beyond me.

My choice may be principled dissent. Or put another way, conscientious objection. The position to “not vote” for President is not the same as staying home in apathetic dejection. It is not to be dismissed as voting for the candidate who gets the most votes. Since we do not have an option for “None of the Above,” the only way some may choose to sit with one’s conscience is not to fall into the trap of choosing the lesser of two evils, unless of course you choose to do so. Some of us may go to the polls and fill out a ballot excepting President and Vice-President.

Baptists have a long history of schism. Currently the SBC is working through a politico-theo-social division around the categories Calvinism and Non-Calvinism. Oh that someday someone in high places would see the fault of couching the issues through the lens of 16th Century European theology. But, that is for another time.

Texas Baptists, some that is, separated from Southern Baptists in the 1990’s. The aftermath of the Conservative Resurgence left many reeling at the thought of the hard right turn in power, religious politics, and to some degree theology.  My friend Rick was no stranger to those events. Buoyed by principle and privy to information that may not have been widely disseminated he could no longer choose to self-identify as Southern Baptist.

That move was surely radical, but it was not anarchist. It was radical, but not chaositist. Is Rick a Christian who is a Baptist? Of that you may be sure. He is free-church, low church, high-view of Scripture, deeply committed to the local church, and the Priesthood of All Believers. Is he Southern Baptist? No, at least not in the way he once was.

Dissent is part of the Baptist DNA. But, we do not dissent without some perceived principle on which we choose to deviate. No, we believe Baptist holds out a peculiar hope of Christian expression. It is a “to come” hope. Just look at our history and you will know that at no time could we point to and say, “Now that was the best era for Baptists, ever.”

What we do in our Christian denominations is not work toward destruction, but we call into question those things that keep us from the hope bound in the name Christian. We want to affirm the things for which the name stands. When we believe any or all miss the mark, we rightly call into question the habits and practices that fly under that name in a way that opens up the possibility of what is to come – namely living into the chosen expression of our Christian identity and heritage consistent with Jesus revealed.

If we may dissent on principle in our Christian denominations, then is it not acceptable to dissent on principle in the civil/political structures that keep the rich richer and the poor poorer? What makes the United States and its structures sacrosanct? Careful here.

You would be in error to think I do not love my Country. In fact, to love democracy would insist on holding out hope, working toward it, standing on principles, that respond to the call for the good of all people. Sometimes that may come in the form of deciding not to participate in the very structure that perpetuates the very ills that rob democracy of its dream.

You would be in error to think I will not go to the polls. Rick Davis continues to scold me. My wife gigs me in the ribs. My fellow church members agree in principle but believe in the system. The question will not be whether I go to the polls, as Davis retorted “early and often,” but what I do when there. And, unless I choose to divulge what I chose to do come November you will be ever wondering, “What did that radical anarchist, chaositist do?” In the United States, that is my privilege.

Aintsobad is not really so bad. If you have followed his subsequent posts you will find his recognition there is a malaise these two candidates create.

Let the games continue . . .

About the Author
Husband to Patty. Daddy to Kimberly and Tommie. Grandpa Doc to Cohen, Max, Fox, and Marlee. Pastor to Snow Hill Baptist Church. Graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Reading. Photography. Golf. Colorado. Jeeping. Friend. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and should not be construed as representing the corporate views of the church I pastor.

7 comments on “Aintsobad May Be So Bad or, Caricature, Category Failure, and Selective Dissent

  1. Rick Davis says:

    No, it was anarchy. I left out of principled conviction but just shy of the HayMarket Square Riot level.
    So, I know a Radical Chaositist when I see one.

    For those who still don’t get it, Todd Littleton, who gives as good as he gets in this debate, is my best friend in this world, a dubious distinction he holds in a tie with Dr. John Wheatley, whose dissertation I also translated into English.

    1. Ah, but an anarchist would have left with no vision and burned down the entire edifice. You gravitated toward a structure that, at the time, more fit your vision. We both know that has changed some.

      I confess, it is a bit of work to give it as good as I get it. Though fun, there is always the danger of nuking the playground.

      Dubious distinctions indeed.

  2. Paul says:

    Electing politicians falls just shy of marginally relevant. More and more I think DeToqueville was right.

    1. Yes, we should protest as much those who inhabit Congress that restrain hopeful democracy as any would-be or sitting President.

  3. Natalie says:

    Todd, I share your penchant for “principled dissent.”

    Where I struggle, though, is how privileged it must be to even consider abstaining from voting. Historically, no hurdles to voting have been set up in front of white, Christian, straight, literate, middle-class men. But for my gender, I am equally as privileged.

    I can’t help but think of the fact that the Fifteenth Amendment took a century to truly apply to American people of color, and how it took the Voting Rights Act, and continued vigilance up through today, to make sure all citizens have access to the polls. So, I feel like I’m throwing away something precious and hard-fought – women have had suffrage for less than 100 years! I have made a decision yet, but thinking of voting as a privilege often denied to others makes the equation that much more complicated…

    (And it’s good to know you have some more names to add alongside your “leftist” label 🙂 )

    1. Natalie,
      There is an argument made that suggests soldiers died so I would have the right to vote. In light of your comment we would have to separate which wars were fought prior to women’s suffrage and the Civil Rights Movement. Doing so, it seems, would rob such an argument of any force, much less validity.

      What you have done that Aintsobad works so hard to do but fails, is raise an argument that challenges my sensibilities. If we follow your lead and think about the matter from the perspective of those who have experienced the injustices associated with the denial of rights based on gender or race, we face the necessity to explore justice as something either beyond or separate from judgement as an act against a perpetrator. N.T. Wright argues that justice pertains to the victim. Good News appears when the victim finds one(s) who stand with and for the reconciliation, restoration, and wholeness of said victim.

      In order to participate in the justice to come, hoped for, or for the democracy to come, or hoped for, the event may insist on a vote as an expression of standing with the marginalized other rather than asserting that I am exercising my individual rights.

      I told Patty that you commented and effectively “slapped” me for the good. She Thanks you.

      And, I am sure there will be more labels to follow.

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