A Public Letter from President Harrison Regarding the "alt-right"

Started by Michael Speckhard, February 21, 2023, 08:59:56 PM

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peter_speckhard

Quote from: ghp on February 24, 2023, 04:19:55 PM
This is only getting uglier & more contentious.


In a tweet that has since become unavailable (because the user took his account private - I should've taken a screenshot instead of just copying the URL when I sent it to my pastor, as this whole LC-ACA debacle has been a subject of discussion) a letter written by Pr. Charles Mueller to Pres. Harrison was leaked. It was leaked as being a "threat" and reason why Pres. Harrison ended up writing the letter he wrote. (again, I wish I had the screenshot, as the letter was characterized as a "threat" because it outed several synodical officers and, basically, Gottesdienst as a whole...). This, combined with Mahler getting excommunicated from his LCMS congregation, has seemingly inflamed & entrenched those criticized in Pres. Harrison's letter.


As a side note, in another tweet by that same user (and thus now not available) this forum was specifically named as (paraphrasing from memory) an agent of the left, in what the alt-right (btw & fwiw, I hate the imprecision of that term, but I guess it'll have to do in the absence of something better..) views as this battle.


Much as in secular politics in recent years, I fear that the extremes are overtaking the middle in synodical politics. I think Hess did a commendable job of explaining why some of this is happening (which informs both reasonable and unreasonable reactions in the recent LC-ACA debate).


I decry and bemoan the rise of bitter extremism of any and all stripes. But it seems as though we are incapable of anything but lurching from confrontational extreme crisis to confrontational extreme crisis. This pendulum has swung back and forth in the LCMS for at least the last 80-100 years (did the conversion from German to English break something in us?). Lord have mercy.
It seems like I was doing most of the conversing with Hess and a few others. If I have become an agent of the left in the LCMS, then all I can say is that we're in desperate need of someone to shout like Vince Lombardi from the sidelines after Bart Starr took a brutal sack, "What the bleep is going on out there?"

What battle? The Large Catechism thing? It is over. The people objecting to the book lost. And it wasn't close. Their arguments were ridiculous. While I sympathize with the broader conservative movement that sees the need for a countercultural LCMS as opposed to the insanity of the current culture, one of the key selling points of the counterculture will be its comparative sanity. An equally insane counterculture will just be a cult, and if an unrepentant Corey Mahler in any way typifies what they're shooting for, it will be a cult most of us want no part of.   

 

ghp

Quote from: peter_speckhard on February 24, 2023, 04:53:20 PM
Quote from: ghp on February 24, 2023, 04:19:55 PM
This is only getting uglier & more contentious.


In a tweet that has since become unavailable (because the user took his account private - I should've taken a screenshot instead of just copying the URL when I sent it to my pastor, as this whole LC-ACA debacle has been a subject of discussion) a letter written by Pr. Charles Mueller to Pres. Harrison was leaked. It was leaked as being a "threat" and reason why Pres. Harrison ended up writing the letter he wrote. (again, I wish I had the screenshot, as the letter was characterized as a "threat" because it outed several synodical officers and, basically, Gottesdienst as a whole...). This, combined with Mahler getting excommunicated from his LCMS congregation, has seemingly inflamed & entrenched those criticized in Pres. Harrison's letter.


As a side note, in another tweet by that same user (and thus now not available) this forum was specifically named as (paraphrasing from memory) an agent of the left, in what the alt-right (btw & fwiw, I hate the imprecision of that term, but I guess it'll have to do in the absence of something better..) views as this battle.


Much as in secular politics in recent years, I fear that the extremes are overtaking the middle in synodical politics. I think Hess did a commendable job of explaining why some of this is happening (which informs both reasonable and unreasonable reactions in the recent LC-ACA debate).


I decry and bemoan the rise of bitter extremism of any and all stripes. But it seems as though we are incapable of anything but lurching from confrontational extreme crisis to confrontational extreme crisis. This pendulum has swung back and forth in the LCMS for at least the last 80-100 years (did the conversion from German to English break something in us?). Lord have mercy.
It seems like I was doing most of the conversing with Hess and a few others. If I have become an agent of the left in the LCMS, then all I can say is that we're in desperate need of someone to shout like Vince Lombardi from the sidelines after Bart Starr took a brutal sack, "What the bleep is going on out there?"

What battle? The Large Catechism thing? It is over. The people objecting to the book lost. And it wasn't close. Their arguments were ridiculous. While I sympathize with the broader conservative movement that sees the need for a countercultural LCMS as opposed to the insanity of the current culture, one of the key selling points of the counterculture will be its comparative sanity. An equally insane counterculture will just be a cult, and if an unrepentant Corey Mahler in any way typifies what they're shooting for, it will be a cult most of us want no part of.   




I disagree with you somewhat over the bolded portion of your comments. The rabid/radical extreme arguments were, indeed, ridiculous. Their most deleterious impact, however, was on the reasonable arguments against the volume. Even on Issues, Etc. it was noted that the optics of including Paulson, much less the theology in that essay, were flat-out bad. Separating the essays into a separate volume was also acknowledged as likely a better option/course. And even the CTCR response has admitted that some of the wording could've been better edited. Frankly, if ever a 2nd Edition was warranted to address (IMO, inexplicable) issues in the 1st Edition, it's warranted in this case.


The baby of the proper theological criticisms of the book got thrown out with the bathwater of the extremist responses.


Rob Morris

Except it didn't... Reread Harrison's letter:

I am not speaking about the individuals who may have expressed theological concerns about the essays published alongside the Catechism. I'm talking about a small number of men who based their opposition upon racist and supremacist ideologies. The former we welcome. The latter we condemn. 

peter_speckhard

I disagree. Of course a second edition will make modest improvements at the suggestion of sane critics. That is perfectly normal. The optics of the list of contributors can be debated, but again, it is a normal, sane debate after any publication involving a lot of contributors, and optics can easily be dealt with among sane people with published criticism. The problem was people going off nothing but optics and losing their minds.

Nobody has throw out legit criticism. I offered some myself here concerning a bit of word choice and phrasing and in terms of the general format. Nobody has ever produced the perfect volume in the first edition. None of those problems were particularly newsworthy. None of this was about that. It was all about a concerted effort to raise a huge ruckus and disparage faithful people. And it failed. The legit criticism was all minor. The whole story was the deluge of garbage criticism.

Michael Slusser

#34
I read the material provided by Mr. Corey Mahler. The two things that struck me were the extent to which TAALC was involved in this dispute and the fact that he names four members of antifa. They usually aren't identified by name.

Peace,
Michael
Fr. Michael Slusser
Retired Roman Catholic priest and theologian

David Becker

Pastor Michael Slusser, it should be noted that Dr. Jordan Cooper has disputed what is said about him by Mahler.  (I saw that on Twitter.  Like others, I have mixed emotions about Twitter and other such media, but it's kind of key in seeing what's going on about all of this and so I consult it.)  To the extent that people from the TAALC were involved, it involves someone else.  (The information can easily be found if you try hard enough.  I've looked into this myself but will avoid comment on that separate situation, which is somewhat complicated.)

Early on, I saw it said that Corey Mahler had no connection with anyone in institutional LCMS.  I don't think that's really the case.  He worked on the Book of Concord web site with the late Paul T. McCain, who held a number of high positions with corporate LCMS in St. Louis.  Mahler says that McCain was aware that Mahler self-identified as a fascist and didn't agree with that, but overlooked that because his work on the Book of Concord website itself was excellent.  Later when Mahler became more radioactive for lack of a better term, he started a new Book of Concord web site.  Mahler tells of his side of the story of al this here:

https://coreyjmahler.com/thebookofconcord-org-will-endure/

The Book of Concord web site run by self-identified fascist anti-Communist Mahler is here:

thebookofconcord.org

The Book of Concord web site run by "organized conservative" LCMS company men is here:

https://bookofconcord.org/

In the link shared earlier by Pastor Don Engebretson, Mahler stated that several weeks ago he was investigated by his church and was allowed to continue there at that time.  Mahler and some of his sympathizers are very active on Twitter and other social media.  It's hard to keep up with it all and by reporting these points I am by no means endorsing all of it.  But I think it is very naive to think that denominational bureaucrats are going to be able to control this regardless of Matt Harrison's released statement.  A lot of the communication energy comes from Mahler's side.

Also, while I again wish to make it clear that I am by no means endorsing every statement by the so-called "alt-right" Lutherans, should not even self-described fascist Lutherans be afforded church disciplinary due process?  It will presumably be known how that goes in the days ahead.

Below is a new "report" from a right-wing site.  It somewhat exaggerates the situation though it does seem to be the case that Antifa researchers have been focusing on Mahler and Harrison and others reacted to their activity.  Whether one likes it or not, this is the type of article that the LCMS will be faced with going forward.

https://beforeitsnews.com/politics/2023/02/woke-lcms-president-works-with-antifa-to-dox-and-excommunicate-his-own-members-for-racism-3284417.html

D. Engebretson

In the interest of keeping terms straight and understanding them, what does it mean when someone 'self-identifies as a fascist'?  I usually associate this term with politics of another era.  Is 'fascist' simply the term to describe the complete opposite of Marxist or socialist? 

And I keep seeing the word "antifa," both in lower case and capitalized.  Again, I associate the term with much of what happened in riots, especially in places like Oregon in 2020 and elsewhere.  Is "antifa" here a borrowed term to describe something else, or is it the actual organization we have heard of much in the news over the last few years?
Pastor Don Engebretson
St. Peter Lutheran Church of Polar (Antigo) WI

peter_speckhard

Social media blurs the line between public and private sin and also sometimes necessitates treating sins as ongoing. With everyone walking around with a video camera and the ability to telecast via social media everything they do, someone whose social media posts are full of falsehood and venom is essentially always in the act of breaking the 8th in an unrepentant manner with incredibly destructive consequences, like a known arsonist carrying a torch into the building. While it is true, apparently, that according to their constitution nobody can be removed from membership or excommunicated without a vote of the congregation, interim measures (ironically, akin to self-defense in the absence of the police) become necessary. The ability of people to destroy reputations moves faster than the ability of institutional due process to keep up. So I would think that if the pastor personally told Mahler to repent, that until he did so he may not commune, and that for the good of the church he must not attend regular worship until the matter can be resolved, then Mahler's attempt to show up ready for a live, on-camera argument to be posted to social media defies both the letter and the spirit of what he agreed to when he joined that congregation, and the potential damage of letting him attend (again, on live camera, feeding racist websites) necessitated the action they took. If, after further review, it turns out the pastor was exceeding his authority, it would be incumbent on him to repent and ask forgiveness, but that is a separate issue from Mahler's manifest and unrepentant sin.     

Michael Slusser

Quote from: D. Engebretson on February 25, 2023, 08:46:12 AM
In the interest of keeping terms straight and understanding them, what does it mean when someone 'self-identifies as a fascist'?  I usually associate this term with politics of another era.  Is 'fascist' simply the term to describe the complete opposite of Marxist or socialist? 

And I keep seeing the word "antifa," both in lower case and capitalized.  Again, I associate the term with much of what happened in riots, especially in places like Oregon in 2020 and elsewhere.  Is "antifa" here a borrowed term to describe something else, or is it the actual organization we have heard of much in the news over the last few years?

The term antifa is one used by Mr. Mahler for people he names in the church. I do not quote those names, so as not to give his characterizations of individuals a wider dissemination. In his usage, it means what he means by it. I have heard that it was coined from "antifascist". Whether there is/was what you call an "actual organization," I don't know.

Peace,
Michael
Fr. Michael Slusser
Retired Roman Catholic priest and theologian

Jamison E. Painter, MA

The problem today is that people use the word Fascist in two ways. A, they describe Hitler and the Nazis as Fascists. They were nothing of the sort. They were National Socialists, which IS Socialism. It is simply a non-Marxian form thereof. True Fascists are people like Mussolini, Peron in Argentina, Strasser in Paraguay, Pinochet of Chile, and Franco of Spain, and Salazar in Portugal. Notice how ALL of the Fascist states were Latin American and Iberian. Fascism is a certain form of Government with distinct ideas. It is NOT a racist government like the National Socialists. In fact, Franco saved about 50,000 Jews from the Holocaust. The odd thing about that is that he made no secret of disliking Jews immensely. But killing them was simply to much for him to bear.

It should be noted that Trump is NOT a Fascist. He is simply an arrogant pig who wanted to hang on to power. Fascism is a government such that the State is put first, and people live in a corporatist manner. To be honest, Franco's Spain was NOT a bad place to live at all. Although I am not a Fascist per se, I can recognise good things in it.

Antifa is a bad joke. They are theoretically Marxist, but know nothing about Marxism. All they really are is a black version of the KKK. Pretty simple, that.
Lay Reader in the Church of England Episcopal Faith. MA in History, BA in History and Philosophy. My intent is to become an Oblate of the Order of St. Benedict. English/Spanish teacher and medical interpreter of same.

David Becker

Mahler's pastor said that the unnamed man (Corey Mahler) was "under discipline for bringing harm and division to the body of Christ."  He didn't say that Mahler was excommunicated but that more would be shared in the coming days.  Was Mahler carrying a gun or some other weapon on the church property?  Posting provocative zingers (some of which I would indeed disagree with) on Twitter and other social media?  Presumably we will find out.

Andy Ngo's book Unmasked: Inside Antifa's Radical Plan to Destroy America, was a best seller, and I encourage those interested in the subject to read it.  I did; Ngo basically treats Antifa as synonymous with Communism.

In Mahler's statement, he made reference to "Super Lutheran," and several days ago Charles Austin asked about Blake Kilbourne (who is reportedly the blogger and podcaster "Super Lutheran.")   I have never met or contacted Kilbourne, but I offer the following as factual background along with some commentary.

Kilbourne was at an American Association of Lutheran Churches church in Bremerton, Washington and went through a process to become ordained as an AALC pastor but was denied.  Mahler defended Kilbourne in a video now posted online.  AALC leader Jordan Cooper was involved in the process but has stated on Twitter, "For those who know, a current article going around regarding myself and the AALC in a particular situation of a ministry candidate in 2021 is almost entirely false in its claims. In a situation of discipline of the AALC, it is not our procedure to share any charges publicly...no public information came from the AALC."  (Joshua Torrey responded to Cooper on Twitter: "really?  I thought the evidence linking you to Antifa was very compelling").

Kilbourne then had a brief affiliation with the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations and was briefly pastor at the AFLC church in Dickinson, North Dakota.

The official AFLC magazine, Lutheran Ambassador, which is accessible for free online, notes the following:

"Pastor Blake Kilbourne has accepted a call to serve Our Saviour's Lutheran, Dickinson, N.D. Kilbourne has also been placed onto the AFLC fellowship roster. – Lutheran Ambassador December 2021

"Pastor Blake Kilbourne was installed Jan. 2 at Our Savior's Lutheran, Dickinson, N.D., with Pastor Korhonen [note: Lyndon Kohornen is the presiding pastor of the AFLC] officiating. – Lutheran Ambassador February 2022

"Pastor Blake Kilbourne has been removed from the AFLC fellowship roster by members of the Co-ordinating Committee, who believe the ministry he is involved in would be better operated from a context other than congregational ministry. – Lutheran Ambassador May 2022"

In January 2022, Antifa researchers quoted statements and activities from "Super Lutheran" and his wife and identified him as Blake Kilbourne.  This was picked up by the local newspaper, The Dickinson Press.  This may be easily found online by searching "Blake Kilbourne Lutheran."  Subsequently a vote was held and he was removed as pastor (I called the church and the lady who answered the phone told me that).  Any documentation that he was ever associated with the Dickinson, North Dakota church was removed, as noted in the more recent Antifa research piece on Mahler.  It sounded like that church and the AFLC in general were unaware of Kilbourne's activities as "Super Lutheran."  (If that's truly the case, he should have told them.)

Nevertheless, the AFLC Co-ordinating Committee, while removing Kilbourne from the AFLC roster, was considerably more restrained and nuanced than Harrison's hair on fire statement about similar situations.  Presumably the AFLC group personally met with Kilbourne.

(Kilbourne is mentioned near the end of this report on "This Week in Fascism" from Antifa.  It observes that Kilbourne "has produced 191 episodes full of racism, anti-Semitism, and queerphobia."  https://itsgoingdown.org/this-week-in-fascism-126/)

Kilbourne ("Super Lutheran") puts out a podcast called "The Godcast") along somebody named Myles Poland (which also seems to be a pseudonym).  Because I believe in doing first hand research, I listened to several episodes some time ago.  Mahler was a guest on one of the episodes.  Among other things, I heard Kilbourne state emphatically that he absolutely is accountable to others.  My general reaction was that although they said some things that were questionable and wrong, other things were very right.  "Super Lutheran" viewed the podcast as a ministry to the "far right," something echoed by Mahler and even the AFLC committee.

The link to Kilbourne's podcast is below (it also includes links to his account on the fringe Twitter-like social network poa.st)

https://thegodcast.libsyn.com/

Kilbourne also does a solo podcast on Sound Cloud called "The Very Lutheran Project."  Here is the link to that:

https://soundcloud.com/verylutheran

He also has a web site called "The Very Lutheran Project" which he describes as "Lutheranism That Means It," which includes the announcement: "23 February 2023: Welcome all LCMS refugees.  We at the Very Lutheran Project shall not judge, condemn, nor expel you for holding fast to God's Word."  Links to the Soundcloud podcast are there.

https://verylutheran.biz/

peter_speckhard

The Mahler Tweet that caused me to dismiss him as a moron with a twitter account said that a man whose children are a different color is unfit to be a pastor. There simply is no excuse for saying that. It is false doctrine and destructive of the unity of the Body of Christ, quite apart from anything to do with hatefulness. Many of the other posts on his blog and accounts were obviously in the same vein but hard to demonstrate conclusively in a lawyerly fashion that they were endorsing anything clearly false and inflammatory. But the tweet about men with children of different colors was clearly indefensible. So in a way it is like getting Capone on tax evasion, but the obvious other stuff was too easy to wriggle out of.   

Jamison E. Painter, MA

Quote from: peter_speckhard on February 25, 2023, 02:40:15 PM
The Mahler Tweet that caused me to dismiss him as a moron with a twitter account said that a man whose children are a different color is unfit to be a pastor. There simply is no excuse for saying that. It is false doctrine and destructive of the unity of the Body of Christ, quite apart from anything to do with hatefulness. Many of the other posts on his blog and accounts were obviously in the same vein but hard to demonstrate conclusively in a lawyerly fashion that they were endorsing anything clearly false and inflammatory. But the tweet about men with children of different colors was clearly indefensible. So in a way it is like getting Capone on tax evasion, but the obvious other stuff was too easy to wriggle out of.   

To say something about having children of different colour means you can't be a minister is COMPLETELY RETARDED. I am completely disgusted. My ex is Chinese. We did not have babies, but still. And I at different times of my life almost married a filipina and a Black woman (obviously at different times of my life). My children, had I had any, certainly would not have had the pale skin I've got!
Lay Reader in the Church of England Episcopal Faith. MA in History, BA in History and Philosophy. My intent is to become an Oblate of the Order of St. Benedict. English/Spanish teacher and medical interpreter of same.

Dan Fienen

Quote from: Jamison E. Painter, MA on February 25, 2023, 02:48:53 PM
Quote from: peter_speckhard on February 25, 2023, 02:40:15 PM
The Mahler Tweet that caused me to dismiss him as a moron with a twitter account said that a man whose children are a different color is unfit to be a pastor. There simply is no excuse for saying that. It is false doctrine and destructive of the unity of the Body of Christ, quite apart from anything to do with hatefulness. Many of the other posts on his blog and accounts were obviously in the same vein but hard to demonstrate conclusively in a lawyerly fashion that they were endorsing anything clearly false and inflammatory. But the tweet about men with children of different colors was clearly indefensible. So in a way it is like getting Capone on tax evasion, but the obvious other stuff was too easy to wriggle out of.   

To say something about having children of different colour means you can't be a minister is COMPLETELY RETARDED. I am completely disgusted. My ex is Chinese. We did not have babies, but still. And I at different times of my life almost married a filipina and a Black woman (obviously at different times of my life). My children, had I had any, certainly would not have had the pale skin I've got!
I hesitated, but not too long, to pull the sensitivity card at you calling the statement about someone with different colored children being unfit for ministry "COMPLETELY RETARDED." It is intellectually indefensible, nonsensical, even immoral, but to associate such a statement with those who are intellectually challenged is itself offensive. When I was growing up, retarded and associated shortened versions what both insults bandied about when someone said or did something less than intelligent, AND a common term for those intellectually challenged. Such as my sister who was born with Down Syndrome. It generally was dismissive of the value of people so designated.


Since then, other terms have come into more approved use, such as intellectually challenged. But have we come far enough from the bad old days when people dismissively referred to "retards" that the term can be applied to individuals of normal intelligence who none the less are not thinking straight? People with Down Syndrome are typically intellectually challenged, but are none the less typically sweet, friendly people. Not likely to go around being racist.


I agree that those who go around making statements like those you referred to are not acting intelligently, but they also typically do so not out of a medical disorder. Perhaps we could simply leave "retarded" such as you used in the past.
Pr. Daniel Fienen
LCMS

ghp

To add to the very informational post by David Becker, and to buttress my earlier post stating that the radical fringes on both sides are involved in this whole thing, here's a link that basically doxxes Mahler:  Machairaaction


This blog, Machaira Action, has a statement that it's goal is to provide "research analysis, and opposition to fascist systems."

The first (and only thus far) post is titled, "Dismantling the Fortress"


While it's a pretty standard doxxing of Mahler, the fascinating part to me is the treatment of Dr. Jordan Cooper. Cooper is excoriated by the alt-right (Mahler & the explanation of what happened to "Super Lutheran") as an "antifa" agent. But Machaira Action excoriates Cooper as someone guilty of "complicity and silence" as stated in this paragraph:


Quote"Sadly, these examples of complicity and silence are all too predictable in a denomination where even public opponents of Mahler think that progressives are worse than the far-right, as in the first screenshot below. And as the second screenshot makes clear, this downplaying of fascism's severity stems from the fact that, at the end of the day, many of these pastors agree with racist ideology—they're just more polite about it."

(the screenshots referenced are tweets by Cooper and Ben Hedlund and can be seen at the blog by clicking on the link above)


If he's getting so hammered by both fringe extremes as an agent/apologist of the other extreme, I've got to think that Cooper is doing something right, knamean?  ???


Peter - I really think that Hess was more correct than you gave him credit for, in laying out why the LC-ACA kerfuffle was indicative of a greater conflict than might first have been thought. In the narrow sense, you are correct - the book is like many other books that need fine-tuning in a second edition but aren't all that terrible in the first edition. It's in the wider/deeper sense that the conflagration is more meaningful & indicative of a more serious (perhaps even existential) problem in our synod.


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