Winning Awards for calling out THE BIG SIN

I picked this up on Twitter this morning

I clicked through to the editorial which I had not read the first time. I knew nothing about the editorial nor the organization where the editorial won the prize but I thought in my mind “I bet I can almost guess what it is about”. Bingo.

We’ve heard for years what an award winning publication the Banner is. I never before gave too much thought about who was giving out the awards and why. What were they praising? If you want to change the world (read the One Minute Manager) decide what you want to praise and add the incentive of a prize and you’ll start shaping the world towards your goal.

It is interesting how racism has become THE BIG SIN. Jim Wallis calls it “the original sin of America”. What do we do to all of the moral-economy-systems when we do that?

Augustine of course famously choose pride. Another competitor for THE BIG SIN might be greed especially if you are trying to blunt the competition for sex being THE BIG SIN.

Part of the dynamic of THE BIG SIN is being on the right side calling out THE BIG SIN. Trust me, you want to be on the right side of that especially when there are powerful communal forces that have come to agreement on it. It seems pretty clear we’ve arrived there.

What’s really cool about racism as THE BIG SIN is that it is has through legislation and education so much more manageable than pride or greed or sex. We’ve got a well approved cultural liturgy now to manage it. You need to “own your privilege” mostly only if you’re white (which is an increasingly small slice of the world) AND that’s far more easily done than going to CRC church that still has confession as part of the weekly liturgy or going to the RC confessional.

Now that racism as THE BIG SIN is embraced far beyond the shrinking confines of practitioners of organized religion the applause from the clapping gods gets even louder. You’re now “in church” with celebrities, the half of the culture war on “the right side of history” and a good bit of the other side too that at least agrees that it is A big sin if not THE BIG SIN.

It’s really cool when you can make other sins fit under THE BIG SIN by abstracting it sufficiently to morph into “oppressed” and “oppressors” so then you can include

  • gay marriage
  • transphobia
  • sexual abuse
  • patriarchy
  • greed and capitalism
  • immigration
  • health care
  • __________________________

and through intersectionality make it nearly as fungible as money.

Racism then becomes the cardinal BIG SIN but can morph so that its power via analogy can organize all the rest of the sins. Everything on the list is now part of THE BIG SIN because everything can be shown to be sin just like RACISM which we all agree is THE BIG SIN.

To give Augustine his due, however, along with some of what you could read into or beneath Bernice King’s tweet might be that the old BIG SIN of pride might be having a field day with these new developments. Our hearts long to be on the right side of exposing THE BIG SIN of our adversaries and rivals and enjoy manipulating the sin economy so that we ourselves can be seen as blameless on the basis of our moral performance. Now as habitual Calvinists we might, as we’ve long done in the CRC figured out a liturgical way to get ourselves on the correct side of the line (writing “right side of the line” isn’t where any cultural elite really wants to be too often) we know that having the correct liturgy and the correct theology giving us the way to confess by “owning our privilege” absolves us and puts us back in the good graces of God and the correct (not right) side of history, the culture and the country too, at least until we get the grabby guy out of the White House. Long ago we figured out that if we lump it all under all SIN as THE BIG SIN it is fungible indeed.

How wonderful our Banner is affirmed by award winning organizations who know exactly what the CRC needs right now. He might have won first prize for an editorial moving us towards gay marriage, but he’s smarter than that. (That’s not really true. It was an award given by Evangelicals. They’re not stupid either. )

The CRC won’t rise up against racism being THE BIG SIN, only a persona non grata like Doug VG would dare kvetch at such an editorial. We all know about him. He’s regularly banned from voicing his opinions in comments sections on sanctioned CRC platforms.

If pride is THE BIG SIN we’ll let Doug work out the juiciness of that distinction in relative solitude. Sin is of course dangerous alone and in groups but group sin is usually the kind that leads to atrocities that make history and set the stage for something becoming THE next BIG SIN.

About PaulVK

Husband, Father of 5, Pastor
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