“Why Don’t We Complain?” by William F. Buckley, Jr.: A Brief Analysis

"Why Don't We Complain" William F. Buckley, Jr.

(Photo Credit: National Review)

In “Why Don’t We Complain?,” William F. Buckley, Jr. (1961), arguably the most influential modern conservative intellectual, proffers a clarion call to seize the power of purposive complaining. Too often, unfortunately, Buckley contends, people permit their milquetoast proclivities to render them silent, consigning them to toxic, vexing helplessness. For Buckley, this helplessness results in an increasing eroding of individual rights, abdicating these rights to government. No Luddite, disconsolate about technological change and innovation, the conservative intellectual links this helplessness to unhealthy technological dependency and burgeoning centralized economic and political power.

Writing in 1961, the latter part of the Civil Rights Movement, one may find the author’s frustration with many Americans’ reticence, their unwillingness to muster the courage to raise objections about matters ranging from the inconsequential to the consequential puzzling, especially given the tremendous social unrest and protest of the aforementioned period. Ostensibly, Buckley still sees, at the time of the essay, a general reluctance to expressing sentiments openly, especially vociferously, risking offending someone, permeating the nation.

The piece communicates that many would rather remain uncomfortable than frankly address the root(s) of the discomfort. He uses an example of everyone on a train experiencing agonizing heat, but no one on the train possessing the courage necessary to ask the train conductor to turn off the heater or modify its temperature.

Buckley explains that those willing to complain, to voice their opinions freely often discover their candor distresses many or most. Purposive complaining, therefore, can generate opposition, even acrimonious opposition.

While the intellectual understands not protesting uncontrollable phenomena, he exposes people who fail to address the controllable.

When only a limited number of individuals express themselves, those voices can become the dominant voices, which Buckley identifies as a grave threat to our democracy.

Although many, especially the heedlessly pious, eschew dissent, America thrives when she values it. Buckley leaves us with a dystopian vision of what can occur in a nation full of people apprehensive about dissent: “When our voices are finally mute, when we have finally suppressed the natural instinct to complain, whether the vexation is trivial or grave, we shall have become automatons, incapable of feeling.”

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Church Attendance Matters—Don’t Get It Twisted

Black Women in Church

(Photo Credit: Religion and Politics)

In “20 Lessons I’ve Learned Since Leaving The Church,” Makiah Green offers 20 “lessons” she has learned about church attendance since leaving her church. Green writes, “I never imagined that I could exist outside the Church I once held so dear. But due to the routine state-sanctioned violence that is being inflicted on my people, and the inadequate response from the church (among other things), I have decided to remove myself entirely from a system that claims to value my soul, but fails to show up for my Black body.” While I have (and continue to) passionately critiqued (see 5 Reasons Why Many Black Churches Are Failing) many churches, especially many black churches, for their various failings, bible-based Christians are required to be spiritually and theologically sound in their praxis—not just with their social and political practices and ideologies.

While I agree with some of Green’s “lessons,” much of what she asserts lacks substantive grounding in biblical truths and doctrines. For the sake of time and space, I will address two statements unsubstantiated by proper biblical context and exegesis.

A Hasty, Sweeping Generalization: “These pastors ain’t loyal.” Really?

Before I address the dearth of accurate biblical context and exegesis in the selected statements, it’s vital to highlight one of the glaring fallacies, a hasty, sweeping generalization, in her article: “These pastors ain’t loyal.” Although proffering such a position allows for one to add some hip flavor to the piece, evoking Chris Brown’s “Loyal,” which is problematic for several reasons in itself, painting all pastors with a careless broad brush is toxic, faulty argumentation and unbecoming of a serious “writer” and “revolutionary,” as Makiah Green identifies herself.

Another Hasty, Sweeping Generalization: “White evangelicals (and the Black evangelicals spouting the same white, patriarchal values) are modern manifestations of neocolonialism.” Really?

When she posits that “white evangelicals (and the Black evangelicals spouting the same white, patriarchal values) are modern manifestations of neocolonialism,” the author, again, makes a hasty, sweeping generalization, abandoning the intellectual necessity of pinpointing nuances and variances in this population of believers.

Another Hasty Generalization: “I don’t need a church home in order to facilitate a relationship with God.” Really?

Green, as well as too many professing believers, unfortunately, claim the following: “I don’t need a church home in order to facilitate a relationship with God.” Hebrews 10:25 reads, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” The context of this verse is meeting in a church or synagogue—not in one’s home, not streaming live, not gathering with a group of saved friends in one’s home. In the aforementioned verse, God issues a command to attend church regularly. He wants us dependent on one another, and in his infinite wisdom, He demonstrates how essential church or synagogue is in facilitating such dependency and “exhortations.” God intends, through our interactions with fellow believers at church, to supply the encouragement and persuasion on various issues each believer needs.

Church-based Teaching and Christ-centered Fellowship

Also, Acts 2:42, penned with attending church regularly as a context, says, “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” From this verse, one finds that God desires for an immense amount of one’s learning about the Word of God to come from teaching done inside of a church or synagogue, and that He mandates us to partake in the “fellowship” with one another and Him in which we were called when we first received salvation. Christ has created us as one body, for which there is no life and fellowship with Him outside of this one body: “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ” (I Corinthians 12:12).

The Church in the Believer-Messiah Relationship & the Significance of the Preacher

The Apostle Paul delivers this line of rhetorical inquiry: “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14). Here, Paul responds to the importance of receiving from God in church and through His messenger, “a preacher.” Moreover, Romans 10:17 informs us that “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Again, in the context of church activity, “faith,” necessary for the Christian life, “cometh” by “hearing” the preached Word of God. The foundation one needs in the Word of God, therefore, emerges in the church setting—not in one’s home, not simply in one’s private bible study.

“As a Black woman, I have the power and autonomy to make my own decisions.” More biblical precision is needed, though.

Although Ms. Green is accurate in part about “As a Black woman, I have the power and autonomy to make my own decisions,” she overlooks the more vital death of self that takes place as part of the new birth in Christ. Yes, God has given us free will; however, our will is to be dominated by His will as we yield our mind, mouth, and ways to Him (Philippians 2:5; Philippians 2:13). When she contends that “I have decided to remove myself entirely from a system that claims to value my soul, but fails to show up for my Black body,” this constitutes a “falling away from grace,” a grace for which she claims to be enthused about receiving (Galatians 5:4). For Galatians 2:14 proclaims, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” A believer must remain “established in God’s righteousness” and not a righteousness based on his or her own self-effort, self-performance (Isaiah 54:14).

Conclusion

In short, in as much as I strongly agree with Makiah Green’s frustrations with how many churches aren’t mobilizing to fight “the routine state-sanctioned violence that is being inflicted on my people [black people],” she has capitulated to a flawed spirituality and troubling theology. Wouldn’t it be better for a “revolutionary” to seek the change in her local church from within—instead of simply avoiding and disengaging with it? How about joining a church where black liberation theology is employed?

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Denver Broncos Need a Quarterback and an Offensive Line

Denver Broncos Trevor Siemian

(Photo Credit: The Denver Post)

Without substantial changes on the offensive line and at quarterback, the Denver Broncos will swiftly become a mediocre team. Compared to the team’s Super Bowl-winning performance last season, this season has been mediocre at best. Yes, since 2015 Denver’s defense has led the NFL in every significant statistical category; it’s the best defense in football. Unfortunately, the dearth of offensive production and efficiency resulted in a rather frustrating season, especially for Broncos’ fans. At this rate, John Elway might as well hire Tim Tebow to become the new starting quarterback and the Alabama Crimson Tide’s entire offensive line. Although the previous sentence proffered to elicit humor is absurd in many ways, it underscores the fact that John Elway must make moves that will produce better seasons in the future than this one.

After last night’s complete spanking delivered by the Kansas City Chiefs and last week’s 16 -3 loss to the New England Patriots, the Broncos demonstrated that they weren’t true Super Bowl contenders, even with an elite, record-setting defense.

How can a team possess an elite, record-setting defense and not be authentic Super Bowl contenders? Enter Trevor Siemian and the Denver offensive line. While many point to Siemian’s numbers not being too shabby, his current performance will never position the Broncos as real AFC and Super Bowl contenders.

Siemian could have performed much better had he been able to benefit from a quality offensive line, however. Let’s face it: Denver’s offensive line is horrible, and this atrocious offensive line is the single most important reason why the team had an average season, one where it will watch teams like the Houston Texans, Miami Dolphins and Oakland Raiders play in the playoffs. Sitting at home on the couch watching these teams play should unsettle Denver and the team’s executive leadership.

Having said all of this, it’s not time for a massive panic in Denver. The team has an outstanding defense and some excellent skill players. What’s needed to win a Super Bowl is present, except on the offensive line and at quarterback. Make some quick and effective hires and trades and return to winning, Mr. Elway.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison

The TouchPoint: Connecting with God through the Bible: A Short Review

The TouchPoint Bob Santos

(Photo Credit: Amazon)

In The TouchPoint: Connecting with God through the Bible, Bob Santos offers an understanding of how a close engagement with the bible allows the Believer to experience authentic encounters with God. The author explains that a serious commitment to the Word of God will cure hardened hearts. Also, Santos gives the reader a fundamental overview of the bible. This work strives to make the bible clearer for all readers. In fact, the author devotes an entire chapter, “Understanding the Bible,” to aiding Believers in gaining deeper revelations about God’s Word.

Too many pastors and preachers lack a real knowledge of the Word of God. Instead of making strong investments in receiving proper knowledge about it, they harmfully substitute biblical truths with their own, subjective advice. Living in this evil and dangerous world, one cannot afford to miss constant encounters with God available through reading, studying, and mediating on the Word of God.

Without question, I highly recommend this book. The TouchPoint: Connecting with God through the Bible promises to buttress one’s relationship with God. Contrary to many apostolic and pentecostal churches’ teachings, a God-encounter emerges from reading, studying, and mediating on the Word of God and not from simply shouting, dancing, and speaking in tongues.

In exchange for a fair assessment, Book Crash supplied me with a copy of this book to pen this review.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Juice Soul’s “Made Her A Woman”: A Relationship Counternarrative for the Fellas

While male artists, especially those in R&B and Hip-Hop, often receive charges of employing sexist, patriarchal, misogynistic and divisive imagery and language, Juice Soul, Jason Williams of Augusta, Georgia, offers a mature, balanced and compelling counternarrative to those charges. Too many songs across musical genres present an oversimplified ultimate reason why numerous intimate heterosexual relationships fail: it’s the man’s fault. Yes, admittedly, men, more often than not, create the core challenges and problems that plague relationships and inevitably lead to their undoing. In many cases, however, women contribute significantly to these relationship challenges and problems. “Made Her A Woman,” one of the hit tracks from Juice Soul’s 2005 100% Concentration album, boldly, yet respectfully, ventures into this frequently slanted, deficient in nuance discourse.

Juice Soul’s dexterous melding of urban contemporary R&B and neo-soul lends itself useful to illuminating his characteristic deftness in relating an enchanting story through song. The powerful art of storytelling represented in “Made Her A Woman”—and most of his works—facilitates heartfelt emotions expressed. Although the title, “Made Her A Woman,” might give the impression of a standard patriarchal song, the artist deploys an ironic title, to surprise, challenge, unsettle. Early in the song, Mr. Williams disabuses the listener of any thoughts about this work being laced with misogynist or patriarchal words or themes.

Juice Soul Jason Williams

(Photo Courtesy of Juice Soul)

The artist longs for his former love to appreciate the substantial contributions he made in her life that helped her to evolve into a mature and productive woman. Her unwillingness to give him the gratitude he deserves results in a vexing loneliness; a loneliness that engenders a primarily dejected mood. Pain, however, seems to motivate the artist to rise above the limitations of his extant inauspicious circumstances, communicating a slight sense of optimism about his future love life.

Williams’ oeuvre appears intimately grounded in realism. The type of raw emotion and zeal he delivers suggests mostly biographical content rather than purely fictional content, which could explain why his songs connect so strongly with fans.

“Made Her A Woman” taps into the universal human condition by engaging common feelings experienced: loss, loneliness, heartbreak and disenchantment. As an adroit and shrewd lyricist, Juice Soul always releases a sincere, candid piece. This track conveys an important message: heterosexual men’s relationship narratives possess great value, and when artists proffer those narratives without fear, we behold poignant, beautiful art—the type of art represented by his Summer 2016 song featuring rapper L.T. Terror, one of the best songs produced this decade, “Tasteless.”

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

President-Elect Donald Trump Saves 1,000 American Jobs

Donald Trump Carrier

(Photo Credit: Huffington Post)

Even before President-elect Donald Trump’s first day in office, he saves 1,000 American jobs. Delivering on a campaign promise to Carrier employees in Indiana that their jobs wouldn’t be shipped overseas, Trump shows early signs of leading a strong and productive economy. While some are understating and overstating his successful deal for these Carrier employees, we all should be happy that these 1,000 individuals (and their families) will not face the hardships of unemployment. Cease from your partisanship for at least a moment to acknowledge that these jobs remaining in America is important. With this deal, America wins.

Trump, of course, understands that he will not be able to call each top executive of American companies desiring to ship jobs overseas and reach the same type of resolution, but it’s comforting to know that he’s open to negotiating with them. Past presidents, unfortunately, didn’t do anything significant to curb outsourcing. The saving of 1,000 Carrier jobs in Indiana signals that our incoming president is serious about making robust efforts to end outsourcing. As president, one must engage in not only microeconomics but also macroeconomics. A Wharton Business School graduate, Donald Trump, certainly knows this.

One black man who works for Carrier in Indiana and who passionately opposed Trump expressed gratitude to him for saving his job and ensuring the financial security of his family.

America needs a jobs-president. If Trump’s handling of Carrier is any indication of what he will do as president, then America can expect economic prosperity under his leadership. Time will tell, though.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Anti-Trump Protest Fatigue: Longing for National Equanimity

Donald Trump and Mike Pence

(Photo Credit: NBC)

Donald J. Trump is President-elect of the United States of America, and he will be the 45th President of the United States of America. Face it. Calm down. Composing Facebook posts and tweets expressing anger and disappointments about Trump’s victory will not change this reality and will not accomplish anything meaningful. An inauthentic hyper-religious commitment to prayer, fasting, and depending on God will not mollify Trump-related apprehensions and disenchantments. Destroying public and private property and businesses in your cities will not end the racism, hatred, homophobia, xenophobia and other forms of discrimination you resist. If you want a different election result, then heed the advice President Obama gave to Republicans after he won in 2012: “Go out and win an election.”

Are numerous people going to have public meltdowns every time an election does not go their way? Are we always going to be so partisan to the point we never enact significantly beneficial policy again? Are we always going to be in election-season?

How did Trump win this election? Those interested in him becoming president voted for him. Those who did not desire for Hillary Clinton to become president vote against her and for him. They organized and did not just craft Facebook posts and tweets. They did not riot; they voted.

This election was the most nasty, mean-spirited one in American history. It’s over, thankfully.

At some point, we must come together for the common good. Why not now? Do we have to wait until heartbroken folks exhaust themselves with reckless protesting and rioting?

If you want a new president in 2020, then stop complaining on Facebook and Twitter and organize with other like-minded voters. Develop a plan about how to get voters to the polls who will elect a person you desire to win the presidency. I can guarantee you that busting out windows at Walgreens and CVS will not elect the president you want.

Do you desire for your candidate to win the next election? Go to the polls and take everyone you know with you in 2020.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison