Transracialism, art noise & identity

By Ryan Poe

In today’s media deluge, finding worthwhile articles — the ones that really make you think — can be tough. But never fear: Starting today, Theology+Now will compile a few of those articles for you.

This week, three articles — on transracialism, art and consumerism — stood out.


First up is this New York Times op-ed outlining the debate — and debate about the debate — over transracialism. The basic argument sparked by the original essay: If people can choose to identify as a certain gender, shouldn’t the same apply to race?

Quick take: This excellent question shows the depths of the Pandora’s box of identity politics. If gender identity is a choose-your-own-adventure, why not racial identity? Of course, once the lines are removed, there’s no value to diversity, hence the pushback. Christians, on the other hand, can value differences because we view them as from God.

Drowned-out art

This article, Art in Conversation, is a fascinating read on a number of levels. Author Philippe de Montebello points out that art museums are putting their emphasis on “amentities” instead of the actual art in an attempt to attract more visitors.

Quick take: I see a correlation here between the “noise” of museums and that of churches. Where should our emphasis be? On the “art” or on the noise? Food for thought.

Existential consumerism

In The New York Times Magazine, this profile of celebrity “lifestyle guru” Amanda Chantal Bacon stands out for its writing but also for insights like this gem:

“Bacon is a lifestyle guru, and this is what lifestyle gurus do. They insist on a connection between what you buy and who you are. And then they sell you stuff.”

Quick take: What interests me here is the truth of this connection between our identity and what we buy. As the good book tells us, our heart is where our treasure is. If we give away our heart, our money is soon to follow — and vice-versa. Describing Bacon and other celebrities as “gurus” is apt because they’ve taken on a quasi-religious role in our culture. They’ll define us  — unless we have a more important connection.

Ryan Poe is editor of Theology+Now.

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