Russell and Duenes

Black and Tan, Better Off, and the Lordship of Jesus Christ

with 5 comments

Having finished Black and Tan, I now give you my final thoughts on it. Wilson’s overall thesis, or reason for writing this book, is that American Christians must understand something of the history of southern slavery in this country, and more importantly, how this slavery was ended. We must understand this so that we can understand our current predicaments over abortion, gay “marriage”, and the over-reaching State. In his last chapter, Wilson tries to rebut a certain Dr. Tracy McKenzie, who takes great issue with Wilson’s historiography on the slavery issue. In one telling passage, Wilson, who stands accused of being racist and downplaying slavery, responds:

We lamented not the passing of slavery, but rather the way it was ended. This baffles McKenzie, who asks, “logically, doesn’t this imply that the United States, at least collectively, was better off with slavery than it now is without it?” Think for a moment. How many millions of children have been dismembered in the last thirty years? What legal principles did Roe v. Wade rest upon? And when were those principles established? It is my conviction that if we had ended slavery in a way that kept the Constitution intact, it would not have been possible for the Supreme Court to overturn the laws of virtually every state in the Union which outlawed abortion. When McKenzie assumes that “we” are better off today, is he counting the unborn or not? Perhaps we should just limit this question to children in the wombs of black women today. If you were a black fetus in Atlanta, Georgia, what were your odds of ever seeing the light of day in 1858? What are your odds in 2005? A lot of kids died back then, but not because the vile democracy they had the misfortune to be conceived in had somehow taken to the belief that to suck someone else’s brains out with a vacuum cleaner was a high and noble constitutional right. When and how did the Constitution come to mean that? McKenzie rejects our answer. Perhaps he would like to supply a different one. So here it is. No, we are not better off. We murder lots and lots of people, just like Stalin, Pol Pot, Hitler, and Mao did. On the bright side, we have lots of flat screen plasma televisions and cell phones readily available. (pgs. 107-8)

In my view, Wilson’s words are a truth powerfully written. Few have the gumption to call our nation a “vile democracy.” Particularly political conservatives. But “conservatism” or “right wing views” or whatever else we choose to call it these days, matters not. What matters are the facts on the ground, and those facts say that we are in the midst of a genocide of biblical proportions against the African-Americans among us. But if you asked a hundred average Americans anywhere if slavery was the worst evil America every perpetrated, maybe one in a hundred would say “no.” Maybe! Almost no one would say “abortion is.”

Whether one can say with great certainty that the Constitutional convulsions that occurred in the mid-1800s led inexorably to the Roe travesty, one must at least come to some conclusion about the historical roots of it, lest we be doomed always to live under it and other similar miscarriages of justice and truth. But there’s a larger point in all of this, and it has to do with the lordship of Christ. What abortion, gay marriage, government schools, and the secular State really represent is high rebellion against Jesus’ absolute and very public authority over all things. And Wilson is greatly interested in seeing Jesus’ universal rule and reign brought to bear upon every arena of life. So I end with what I think are the best and grandest snippets from this book:

When Jesus Christ died on the cross, all in union with Him died there as well, under the judgment of God. When Jesus died, we died. When Jesus was buried, we were buried. When Jesus rose, we rose from the dead. When Jesus ascended into heaven, and was seated at the right hand of God the Father, He was seated on a throne from which He cannot be removed. His crown rights, established in heaven, by definition cannot be a lost cause. He has inherited all the nations of men from the river to the ends of the earth. This means that every vain hope that sets itself up against the knowledge of God in the face of Christ is the lost cause. Sin is the lost cause. Vanity of mind is the lost cause. Autonomy is the lost cause. The sixties are the lost cause. Secularism is the lost cause. Secular unbelief is the lost cause. Ecclesiastical unbelief is the lost cause. The Enlightenment is the lost cause. God has exalted Jesus Christ and has given Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, whether in heaven, or on the earth, or under the earth. Every knee shall bow, whether inside the Student Union Building or outside of it. Every knee shall bow, whether American or Chinese. Every knee shall bow, whether holding political office or not. This is God’s agenda for the world: He sent His Son into the world, not in order to condemn the world, but rather to save it…The Christian faith is public, and not private. It is the salvation of the world, and the world can no more evade that salvation than a deserted lawn chair on the beach can resist a tsunami – even if the Styrofoam cooler comes over to help. Do you want to stop the salvation of the world that Jesus purchased? You might better spend your time throwing snowballs at the sun. (pgs. 92-3)

I can’t top that.



Written by Michael Duenes

May 18, 2011 at 11:45 pm

Posted in Duenes, Literature, Theology

5 Responses

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  1. D-
    “American Christians must understand something of the history of southern slavery in this country, and more importantly, how this slavery was ended. We must understand this so that we can understand our current predicaments over:” I add: Urban poverty, unequal housing, gang warfare, why there are more African-American men in prison than college, lack of African-American male leadership in the home and church, economic disparity between African-Americans and the rest of the nation. These are also linked to slavery and its unresolved end.

    russell and duenes

    May 19, 2011 at 7:46 am

    • R-
      Couldn’t agree more, and it is a blind spot of Wilson’s to focus only on abortion, gay marriage, and the secular state, and not on the matters you’ve mentioned (even though these issues are not Constitutional issues, per se).


      russell and duenes

      May 19, 2011 at 7:09 pm

  2. I disagree with your “legacy of slavery” assertion.

    Abortion, fatherless families, crime rates, unemployment, etc., were all improving for blacks until the 60’s, when they made a U-turn and started to get worse. If the legacy of slavery is the cause, this makes no sense.


    May 23, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    • Bates – I think what needs to be factored in, however, is the lack of generational equity which blacks suffered as a result of slavery, and, in my view, the rampant white leftist paternalism, which has so harmed blacks, has also been a result of racism, stemming as it does from our history of slavery. I’m well familiar with Sowell’s and Williams’ arguments on this score, and I agree with them to a large extent, but I think they don’t see the whole picture either.


      russell and duenes

      May 23, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    • Things were improving for African-Americans UNTIL the 1960s? So before the 1960s, when segregation was the law, was some how better for African-Americans and THEN things got worse? That is to assume things were “better” to begin with. I don’t think the breadth of historical evidence backs up the claim that things were good at all for African-Americans at any point in U.S. History. So, if there is truth in what Sowell says, it is that things may have gotten worse. But worse from what? It seems like the legacy of slavery is just that: things get worse.

      russell and duenes

      May 23, 2011 at 7:44 pm

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