A lawsuit? No way!

At the last Regent breakfast at the New Orleans SBL, I had the opportunity to share with some friends that I had become an investor.  After finishing my PhD in 1996, I was an adjunct for a year and a half, and after that I began to teach pro bono in Africa for period of eight years between 1998-2006.  During that period, my wife and I started the Barnabas Venture, so that we could raise funding for scholarships to make up for the lack of qualified African professors in French-speaking Africa.  Then, with some spare time on my hands between trips to Africa, I began to dream about how we could make more money so that we would be able to give even more than ever before.  That is when I began to take some serious risks in our personal and registered DIY trading accounts.

When I shared this with Prof. Rikk Watts who presided the Regent breakfast he was extraordinarily positive.  I particularly appreciated his encouragement to “thrive”.  I spent some time one evening with a number of Regent alumni, both men and women (Prof. Watts was there too), and I appreciated their joie de vivre, as we had a time of sharing in the apartment of an alumnus, and then we went to listen to live jazz music in New Orleans.  I took my leave after listening to some spirited trombone solos.  It was a great time.

Recently someone asked me in the comments section if I was going to sue Prof. Stackhouse.  I pretty much hold that as Christians we can be wronged because Christ forgives us.  This person then said that he/she was planning to sue Regent because of being forced to accept Intelligent Design. I find that unacceptable.  I am not interested in winning a battle in the courts.  The courts are predominantly leftist institutions and I am a conservative.  I hate it when those who can’t get their way through legislation force their agenda through court-made law.  This is an usurpation of democracy.  I would hope to be able instead to make cogent arguments for my views and hopefully win in the court of public opinion.

I am now told by a member of the Regent staff that my blog is being read with “great interest and passion”.  This surprises and daunts me.  And I feared that my blogs would be misinterpreted as the rantings of malcontent. But I admit that my recent postings are based upon a narrow experience with just a few from the Regent community: debates with the student PoserorProphet, interactions with full-time Prof. Stackhouse on his blog, and my recent reading of some writings of a summer-school professor, Dr. Diewert.  But this is an admittedly small sample of what Regent College has to offer and I am by no means writing off the school.   So I asked a few people what they thought, including a full-time professor at a theological school with years of experience in administration.  For the most part, they have encouraged me not to back down.  Indeed, I had the impression that as someone outside of academics, I am able to say certain things insiders might wish to say, but for various reasons are not permitted.  E.g., I can openly argue that the diversity created by affirmative action has seriously lowered quality–a position usually only maintained by retired professors who no longer fear repercussions for expressing unpopular opinions.  I can also see why students would be reluctant to criticize the administration or a faculty member, or why fellow professors would hesitate to criticize their colleagues.

I am an alumnus and an historical supporter of Regent College and no lawsuit has entered my head.  I am appalled by the person who suggests taking a lawsuit against Regent.   But I’ve questioned the wisdom of allowing certain anti-capitalist and anarchist tendencies to find a home at Regent because I am wondering aloud in the blogosphere how those who are making the money which supports theological education, through risk taking and hard work, should react when that education evidently promotes views which if implemented would undermine their ability to “thrive”–and this doesn’t apply to Regent College only.  Obviously Regent is a wonderfully diverse place and there must be some differences of opinions, at least I hope that there is.  And one could question why I would chose the public space called “the internet” to try to initiate a discussion.  Well the answer to that is quite simple:  It seems entirely appropriate to me to express the disagreements that I have with the views of Prof. Stackhouse, PoserorProphet or Dr. Dave Diewert, here in the blogosphere, because that is where I became acquainted with their views.

Hath not a half Korean eyes? Part V: Principled meritocracy (updated)

Prof. John Stackhouse sitting atop his endowed perch as Regent College’s Sangwoo Youtong Chee Professor of Theology, wrote:

You certainly make it clear when dialogue is a waste of time. Your rage and bitterness simply render conversation impossible. I’m frankly glad you’re not in the academy where you can influence people. I hope you’re good at making people money as the “righteous investor” you advertise yourself to be, but I think we’re done listening to you on this subject.

Well, now that I know that I am not welcome in North America to teach, once again, I asked Dr. Daniel Kambou if he would have me at the francophone graduate school that he is planning to found in Burkina Faso.  He accepted my services without first asking me to get professional counseling for my rage and bitterness.  Since Kambou lives next door, I think he knows me better than Stackhouse.

In any case, Stackhouse’s pronouncement will not result in a global ban of my teaching services.  I often think about how academics and economics can be harmed by reverting to rewards systems other than meritocracy.  I’ve expounded seriously upon the failure of affirmative action but here are some other reward systems that are available both here and in other countries:

(1) Nepotism:  Students told me in Africa that they could take an aptitude test for a foreign scholarship and do well, but the president will send his nephew in the place of the high performing student.  It should be noted that nepotism in a privately held business is usually not unethical–but it can still frustrate other employees.  But in public companies, churches, universities, and public service, nepotism is extremely dubious and usually unethical.

(2) Sleeping one’s way to the top:  When, e.g., a woman sleeps her way to better grades.  One manifestation of this is the exploitation by male professors of women, but it can sometimes be ruthless women who use their sexuality for advancement.

(3) Old boys’ club:  To get into Harvard, e.g., it is helpful to be a child of a graduate of Harvard university.  Or in business, if you have the right connections, you can get the jobs.

(4) Affirmative action: This seeks to redress perceived historical injustices by preferring certain aggrieved groups in the decision making.  The problem is that it most often leads to a quota system and to a watering down of quality.

(5) Tribalism:  All the best jobs go to a single tribe or coalition of tribes; this usually leads to jealousy and resentment and sometimes to war and genocide.

(6) Plagiarism:  If not punished when caught, plagiarism allows unqualified students and professionals (e.g., journalists) to move up the ranks.

(7) Quotas:  This leads to the limiting of the number of qualified people of an identifiable group from attaining admission in schools or from being hired for jobs.  It was widely used in the 20th century to limit the number of Jewish people accepted into certain universities and is likely being used today to limit the enrollment of Asians.  The idea is that if a group is only 5% or so of the population, it is necessary to limit their numbers to something proportionate to their percentage in the general population.   Affirmative action often becomes a quota system in practice.

(8) Blacklists:  An individual may be temporarily or permanently banned because of bad behavior, but not always:  it could be because of a personal vendetta or an attempt at censorship.  Blacklisting may be accomplished by attacking the character of the person, such as by saying without justification that they are angry and therefore not suitable for a job.  Blacklists are usually not published, and the blacklisting of a person could in some circumstances be illegal in Canada under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA).  The fear of being blacklisted discourages whistle-blowers.

(9) Corruption and bribery:  The wealthy and powerful have the means of buying themselves and their friends jobs and offices and this will not depend on their actual ability to perform the function.  This may take the form of a quid pro quo.  For example, if you help the Chinese government by divulging state secrets while you are president, they will pay you a million dollars to give a speech or two once you are out of office.

All such systems clash with a principled meritocracy that rewards talent, ability, hard work and results.

To ameliorate past injustices, such as apartheid or segregation, or a lack of qualified leaders in a diverse group, it may be necessary to promote education among certain groups more than others.  So, for example, we started a scholarship program for evangelical francophone Africans to help promote theological seminaries in that region.   But then this isn’t necessarily inconsistent with meritocracy.  I have no problem saying that Dr Daniel Kambou is more qualified to teach in Burkina Faso than say, Prof. John Stackhouse–he was actually more qualified from day one with only a Master’s degree–this is by virtue of his ability in French and his intimate knowledge of African culture, he is much more qualified to teach in that region than the most prestigious of North American born and trained scholars.

But one of the major failures of affirmative action is that it has largely passed privilege from white men to white women.  That does very little to correct past injustices.  So imagine that you decided that you would correct the injustice of apartheid.  You would just simply give white women the jobs that are held by white men?  How does that help?  Didn’t the white women also benefit from apartheid, or was it only white men?  As an Asian man, I am unimpressed with affirmative action’s correction of past wrongs because it is still mostly white folks that have jobs, it’s just that more of them are women today.  And this gets to the heart of the unfairness.  If you are going to try to correct past wrongs using the above systems, you will likely create new wrongs.  Meritocracy is therefore superior to all the other reward systems listed above.

A Maid to Order Bible, by S. M. Hutchens

I found the following interesting review of Stackhouse’s book Finally Feminist:

Finally Feminist: A Pragmatic
Christian Understanding of Gender
by John G. Stackhouse, Jr.
Baker Academic, 2005
(138 pages, $14.99, paperback)

reviewed by S. M. Hutchens

To remain “biblical,” the Evangelical progressive, these days infallibly marked by his profession of being both orthodox and egalitarian, has never been able to deny outright the parts of the Bible he finds damning to his cause. In the early days of Evangelical feminism, attempts at persuasion tended to concentrate on reinterpretation of the patriarchalist seats of doctrine, especially in the writings of the unfortunate St. Paul, who was viewed as having a particularly difficult time saying what he meant.

With time and critical scrutiny, however, it appeared this project would collapse of its own weight for several reasons, first because the scholarly reinterpretations of sub-egalitarian passages, once the shell shuffling in the journals was done and the pea finally reappeared, still looked strained and unnatural, not to mention at odds with the way these passages had been understood from the Church’s beginnings.

Read the rest

Me again (PWD):

I want to call attention to one of Hutchen’s points that I find revealing.  He says that Stackhouse believes that Paul is right when he is right, and well, wrong when he is wrong.  That is an interesting stance for an evangelical to take.  How does that differ from a liberal view of Scripture?

Might one cautiously suggest that no one who treats St. Paul in this way can consider himself “orthodox” in any historically meaningful sense of the term, or that Paul’s authority is such that if someone cannot submit to sharing his “lenses,” he is not a Christian teacher? Obviously, however, it is not required of the incumbent of J. I. Packer’s old chair, or for the asseveration that one is an orthodox Evangelical.

The history of the Church as an institution of divine authority is of no real concern to scholars like Stackhouse, at least where gender matters are concerned—except as something to be brushed aside. The apparent insouciance with which the confessedly “orthodox” egalitarians cut themselves off at the theological root of church practice, confession, and authority—even that of the Reformation—is nothing short of breathtaking, the admonition here that we not succumb to the temptation of private interpretation of Scripture, surreal.

Does anyone want to lend me this book?  Professor Stackhouse, if you are reading this, do you want to send me a copy?  In light of your attack on me, I’d like to review it.  Perhaps it would explain your malicious reaction towards my views on affirmative action.

Hath not a half Korean eyes? Part IV: Conservatism is a mental illness

Prof. John Stackhouse sitting atop his endowed perch as Regent College’s Sangwoo Youtong Chee Professor of Theology, wrote:

You certainly make it clear when dialogue is a waste of time. Your rage and bitterness simply render conversation impossible. I’m frankly glad you’re not in the academy where you can influence people. I hope you’re good at making people money as the “righteous investor” you advertise yourself to be, but I think we’re done listening to you on this subject.

I have been reflecting on why Prof. Stackhouse became so defensive and irate with me for having spoken “blunt” opinions on his blog about affirmative action.  I said that affirmative action waters down the academy by giving less qualified candidates jobs, discriminates against white men and Asians, and shifts jobs from white males to white females.  When I mentioned my own experience of seeing myself and other adjuncts passed systematically in favor of female candidates, he said that in order to create social change some people have to suffer and even he himself has suffered.  Then I became cheeky and said, oh do tell about your suffering–it must be really hard for a full-time professor with a real job with benefits–that really sounds like suffering compared to Adjunct Hell.  That’s when he said that I was full of bitterness and rage.  But why would he do this, I ask myself, to a minority half Asian that I am.  Is it because he is a racist?

I found this blog post by church planter and pastor Wayne Park in which he reviews Soong-Chan Rah’s recent book The Next Evangelicalism.  According to Park, Rah’s book says that by numbers, brown Evangelicals are starting to dominate the scene:  Evangelical Asians, Hispanic and blacks, such as Haitians, are beginning to out number whites, while the whites continue to dominate the structures.  There Park refers to Rah’s contention that bi-cultural Christians are key to multi-ethinic ministry, citing Rah:

The cautious, sensitive biculturalism… is the perfect postmodern prescription for the heroic triumphalism of modernity. Furthermore the call to listen and to gauge others before speaking and acting provides a model for multiethnic ministry… cannot occur without the unique skills offered by bicultural Americans.

The author Rah himself visited the Park’s blog and mentions that when he has broken out of that quiet mold, he is interpreted as angry:

I do think our bi-cultural identity, our willingness to more reflective and to be third culture (as Dave Gibbons puts it) is a definitive plus. I think it will serve us well to accept the ways we live out our identity. What’s interesting to me, however, is that when Asian-Americans break out of that mode/mold, we are labeled as angry and confrontational. As one of my Korean-American colleagues put it, my passion is often mistaken for anger by the majority culture.

Because Park had participated in the dialogue with Stackhouse that led to my banishment, I commented on Park’s blog, hoping that Rah was still tuning in:

Wayne Park, Soong-Chan Rah:
I wonder how you interpret Prof. Stackhouse’s reaction to my admittedly cheeky comments on his blog, saying that it was a clear sign of my rage and bitterness? But you know I gave up being involved in theological education in North America 12 years ago, and am now a DIY investor. If there is no place for me in the evangelical theological education today except in Africa, where I have multiple contacts and many invitations that I could take up, it is because I am perceived as uppity and angry, because I am not willing to keep my mouth shut about the injustices that I see.

Isn’t this what you both are talking about: “What’s interesting to me, however, is that when Asian-Americans break out of that mode/mold, we are labeled as angry and confrontational.” When I complained against affirmative action that it has merely passed privilege in the academy from white males to white females (and I referred to ATS statistics to back up what I was saying) and that Asians have become the new Jews–i.e., subject to quotas, Stackhouse freaked out and blocked me from his blog, telling me in an e-mail that I needed counseling. Thanks for this post, Wayne. Because I’m only half Korean, I’ve always lived and worked among the dominant White culture (BTW, I’m 47, my grandparents came to Hawaii as children among the emigration of Koreans from 1902-1905). I am NEVER aware when I am being treated as just a normal everyday guy or when I am being perceived and treated as an Asian. I’ve always assumed that I’m just like everyone else; so when I’m mistreated (as Stackhouse clearly became ad hominem instead of sticking with the issues), I should just see myself as part of the mistreated white guy category. But maybe my perspective is completely wrong. Of course, I’m also conservative, so it could just be the liberal hegemony in education reacting to my conservatism: my conservatism leads me to promote meritocracy as opposed to affirmative action–as the best way to assure fairness. Asians are harmed by affirmative action and would be greatly benefited by a system of meritocracy, especially in admissions to universities.

I haven’t heard back from Park or Rah.  But I think that Stackhouse’s reaction to me is not racism but my final suggestion.  He saw me espousing pretty solid, mainline conservative views about affirmative action.  So he reacted as any good liberal and concluded that I was a lunatic.  He wrote to me in an e-mail:  “Honestly, I believe you need to get professional counseling to deal with this rage.”  Liberals in academia consider conservatism to be a mental illness.  So for example after googling “Conservatism is a mental illness” I found some surreal articles in which apparently serious academics had done studies which determined that conservatives are deranged.  In one such article, the writer concludes:

Whether it be an unfortunate evolutionary holdover or a mental disease transmitted by our parents—the science is apparently still up in the air—academic researchers have surely amassed enough evidence of psychopathology that conservatism can listed in the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Reasonable people, such as the distinguished academic researchers cited here, will no doubt agree that until effective treatments can be developed, we should reconsider whether sufferers of conservatism, like other mental defectives, should be allowed freely to exercise the franchise.

Ok.  So I think that article was satirical but it actually cites a number of academic studies which conclude that conservatism is a pathology.  I don’t think these two articles are satire:

Conservatism As A Mental Disorder – And A Threat, by WaltKelly

Is Conservatism a Mental Illness? states:

Resentment has always appeared to be at the core of modern conservatism. Now it has grown into a visceral aggressive motivation. Greed and [sic] has always been a part of it too, but the current conservatism is rife with selfishness and total disregard for others.

That pretty much describes to a tee Prof. Stackhouse’s view me.  Thus, his insular, provincial world view will not allow him to see me as anything more than a resentful, angry, greedy conservative bent on destroying everything wonderful that he has ever devoted his life to, the liberal diversity project in a Christian setting.  It is sad really.  Because of it, he is blinded to being able to see that the issues that I raise are serious: (1) dropping academic standards; (2) the exploitation of white adjuncts in higher education; (3) discrimination of overachieving minorities (viz. Asians and Jews) and the favoring of targeted minorities and women; (4) young men and boys dropping out, resulting from the favoring of girls and women and feminized schools; (5) The quest for diversity in the West is leading to a robbery of resources from the global church (reproduce below)[update: I see that Prof. Stackhouse has now graciously acknowledge this point].  He’s sees me as motivated by rage, while I am merely holding to the principled and mainstream conservative values of meritocracy and free market.

Continue reading

Hath not a half Korean eyes? Part III: A dead lamb doesn’t fear a knife

Prof. John Stackhouse sitting atop his endowed perch as Regent College’s Sangwoo Youtong Chee Professor of Theology, has declared me unfit to teach in the academy:

You certainly make it clear when dialogue is a waste of time. Your rage and bitterness simply render conversation impossible. I’m frankly glad you’re not in the academy where you can influence people. I hope you’re good at making people money as the “righteous investor” you advertise yourself to be, but I think we’re done listening to you on this subject.

I don’t really think that I’m filled with rage and bitterness.  That is just Prof. Stackhouse’s opinion.  While I’ve not taught here in North America since 1998, I’ve taught as visiting professor in francophone Africa, and my courses have been largely appreciated, both here and there, especially by the best students.  I was trained at Regent College and had the immense privilege of working as a TA for the formidable New Testament scholar, Prof. Gordon D. Fee.  So I guess I am a little irked that once again that I am on another blacklist because I’ve spoken against the exploitation of adjunct labor.  But at this point I have no ambition, so if I am fighting a battle for young PhD’s who are treated unjustly, it is because I  believe that it is indeed an injustice and because I am not afraid of retribution.  Stackhouse’s backlash therefore doesn’t really damage me because “Cabri mort n’a pas peur de couteau” (“a dead kid doesn’t fear a knife”).    But the young adjunct who is mistreated by a school, particularly an evangelical school, dare not speak up because he will be blacklisted just as I was.  Stackhouse’s judgment upon me is an attempt also to marginalize an Asian, albeit only half Korean.  But it belies completely the idea that he is seeking diversity.  He’s not seeking diversity but monolithic, multi-colored/gendered sameness, as Elderj commented:

The point was that ethnic and “gender” diversity often occurs without any meaningful ideological diversity in which case it doesn’t really broaden the conversation at all. If the goal or aim is to have more voices in the conversation, what good is it if those voices are saying the same thing as what is already present? One could say that certain denominations are doing very well at bringing those voices into the conversation, and yet theologically speaking, they are fairly consistently liberal. Their liberality is not the issue, but rather the stunning lack of diversity of though[t] that is masked by the external seeming diversity of skin color.

Thus, Prof. Stackhouse couldn’t control the conversation.  Elderj who is a campus missionary with a black pentecostal background, and me a half Korean, were undermining his attempt at monolithic diversity.  So Stackhouse accused Elderj of being unintelligible:  what remarkable condescension to tell a black man he is unintelligible just because you don’t like what he is saying!  He accused me, an Asian of being full of rage and bitterness. So ok:  here is how liberal diversity works:  We want to put diversity at the table, but you better damn well say what we tell you to say, or you will become a victim of the politics of personal destruction.  Here is what Elderj said when I praised his contribution to the discussion at Stackhouse’s blog:

Yes, I was more than a little disappointed by [Stackhouse’s] acerbic responses. I’ve come to expect a bit of hubris and condescension from academic types, but was quite surprised to see it in such full on display from someone teaching at a Christian seminary. It seems he is much more interested in agreement than actual discussion, which is troubling. It is extraordinarily illiberal of him. I thought his comments towards you uncharitable in the extreme, given that he knows you not at all and I believe you were simply trying to highlight a different facet of the conversation / issue. Also his unwillingness to engage the substance of either your or my concern was unfortunate.

Seeing that this treatment of two people of diversity could potentially embarrass the esteemed Sangwoo Youtong Chee Professor of Theology, I asked him if he would kindly remove what he said about me: ad hominem comments about my psychological state, my aptness to teach, and my blog, the Righteous Investor.  I offered twice to let him remove all or a part of my awful and offensive comments from his blog.  I told him he could be as insulting as he like about my ideas, as long as he removed the ad hominem remarks, or at least permit me to respond (it seems cowardly to make such an attack and then cut me off from defending myself).,  He said no, they were his opinions, while blunt they were not libelous, and so he just changed it to make it clear it was his opinion (2nd edition, emphasis mine):

You certainly make it clear when dialogue is a waste of time. In my opinion, your rage and bitterness is rendering conversation impossible. I’m frankly glad you’re not in the academy where you can influence people. I hope you’re good at making people money as the “righteous investor” you advertise yourself to be, but I think we’re done listening to you on this subject.

After he refused to removes these remarks, I wrote back to Prof. Stackhouse:

I recognize that they are your opinions.  In fact, I welcome your bluntness, but I don’t understand why you would wish to create a public spectacle.  I am a speck of dust, a dung beetle in the scholarly and academic world compared to you.  You are an international speaker, an esteemed professor at Regent College, and writer of seven books.  I’m nobody.  What could you possibly have to gain from this?’

Well, there you have it.  Prof. Stackhouse has publicly offended a black man and a half Korean, two minorities, two diverse voices, that weren’t saying what he wanted them to say.  Is that the kind of diversity that Regent College is looking for?  Perhaps in the future Prof. Stackhouse’s reasons for insisting upon his public ad hominem attack upon me will be made known, but for now, I am just a little mystified.  In a way, it is quite amusing because the esteemed professor accused Elderj and me of not living up to the standards of the Oxford Union–yet a personal attack is a well-known debate fallacyNo one should wonder that a student uses ad hominem when his teacher resorts to the same fallacious forms of argumentation.  But Stackhouse shows himself to lack care as a scholar :  “I hope you’re good at making people money as the ‘righteous investor’ you advertise yourself to be.”  Actually, I am not an investment adviser nor financial planner.  I am a DIY investor; I invest my own money.  I am not a professional investor and I have a day job.  I do not claim to be the Righteous Investor but strive thereto.  It is important, for the record, to clarify this.  But Stackhouse refused even to correct this error.

Hath not a half Korean eyes? Part One

Hath not a half Korean eyes? II Social justice for me but not for thee

Hath not a half Korean eyes? III A dead lamb doesn’t fear a knife

Hath not a half Korean eyes? IV Conservatism is a mental illness

Hath not a half Korean eyes? V Principled meritocracy

Hath not a half Korean eyes? VI Alumnus squashed