PoserorProphet, liberation theologian, Christian anarchist and frequent blogger, regularly chokes the internet with his false teaching. When I accuse him of misreading the Bible or other sources, he comes back and says that I blatantly misread him. So yesterday, for example, I suggested that his view that Jesus’ advocated violence against property was going to get him killed, and that already during a protest he had had his hand on the firearm of a law enforcement officer, he wrote:
“Near” not “on” (and only because I was pushed off balance from behind). No need to charge me with crimes I have not committed. Although, let’s be honest, that’s one of the difficulties of speaking with you — you continually engage in such blatantly false misreadings of the texts (whether my own writing or Jewett’s comments on insulae in Rome or whatever else) that it’s hard to not conclude that you are engaging in false misreadings deliberately (after all, you do have a fair amount of exegetical training… [sic] you should know better). Still, despite all the rhetoric, I want to love you, buddy.
My fault in the case of his hand on or near a gun was one of memory, not reading, since I was referring by memory to blog that he’d posted a few months ago. Now I have asked Poser for clarification regarding my blatantly false misreading of Jewett, because I am genuinely mystified by what he could mean. I will write more on that later. But here he accuses me of doing something that he himself does quite regularly: blatantly false misreadings of texts. We could take for example his blatantly false misreadings of the biblical text as a beginning. But this discussion reminded me of something I wrote earlier at City of God. In a blog by the Brooks, discussing a book by Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine, Brooks (in the comments) demonstrates that Poser had misread Klein’s book. I wrote to congratulate Brooks with these words:
You have defended the accuracy of your original post very well and have managed also to show Poser as the one who can’t seem to read his sources accurately (surprise, surprise).
You have to be careful not to accept Poser’s take on a source as right, because while he reads widely, he doesn’t appear to be a careful reader–at least this example confirms my own experience of going back to his secondary source and finding that he seriously misconstrued and misrepresented what that author was trying to say. If you ever watched Home Improvements, it is like when Tim Taylor repeats to his wife Jill what Wilson, his philosopher neighbor, recently told him; only in the case of Taylor the essence of what Wilson says usually survives–in the case of Poser, the essence of his source may be turned on its head.
I wonder if it is symptomatic also of the manner in which Poser treats the Scripture. He is deeply influenced by liberation theology and their interpretative methods. If you get used to interpreting the Scriptures to say the opposite of what they are saying, how much more likely are you to read modern, secondary sources with the same imprecision and lack of attention to detail? Take the article that Brandon cited in Andrew’s recent post. Ched Myers and Eric Debode turn Matthew’s Parable of the Talents into a parable of the world instead of a parable of the Kindgom in direct violation of the context. The good guy is the whistle-blower who calls the master hard. The bad guy is the master who lends the talents and expects exorbitant returns on his investment, profiting from the labor of others. This turns the parable on its head. Once you get used to these kinds of interpretations, your sources can say just about anything that you want them to say; and then you can turn around and tell others how much smarter you are than they are because you read so widely–but while they may read slower, at least they are trying to come to an authentic understanding of what their sources are really saying. … [snip]
Poser gives reasons to doubt the accuracy of the reviewers of Klein. Keith, you’ve shown that he is dead wrong on that count. So now we have sufficient reason to doubt Poser’s accuracy, whenever and where ever he cites or interprets a resource. Breadth in a scholar is indeed a virtue. But if breadth is not combined with insight and precision, the scholar remains mediocre at best.
This is one of the reasons for reading narrowly. If you decide, hey life is short, and that you don’t have that much time, why not choose to read only the best scholars who have breadth, insight and precision? Otherwise, you are likely to pick up bad habits from the books that you read.
Poser has blocked me from commenting on his blog. His refutations of my criticisms are very insubstantial and reactionary. For example, I wrote a long post concluding that he commits several of interpretive errors which James Sire explains in his books Scripture Twisting: 20 ways that cults misread the Bible. His only response was to ask me if I’d read the French philosopher’s Foucault, whom he insists is necessary for understanding Paul’s view of sexuality. Thus, he usually lashes out rather than dealing with the substance of my criticisms. Telling his opponents that they can’t understand the Bible unless they’ve had his experiences or read the books that he’s read is both arrogant and fallacious. So I don’t blame him for blocking me. Yet it would suggest that he does view me as a nemesis, since otherwise he would have no fear of what I might write in the comments.