Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Whose Ox is Gored

Written by: on October 31, 2019

Some are ecstatic about the news and some… not so much: Whose Ox is Gored?

Professor Stuart Sim and Van Loon write a critical, historical, and philosophical construct of social science and the tensions between to help the reader try to better understand how and why we live the way we do. They use brief synopses of social science terms along with several hand-drawn images to express that there is a very real human side to the terms being defined.

“Critical theory is an innately pluralist exercise. It presents us with a range of possible methods and perspectives by which to analyse not only cultural artefacts but also their contexts.”[1] The tension of these perspectives seems to be who will dominate whom? Will the government, a social uprising, or shall we let sleeping dogs lay, meaning don’t bother the system, so to speak?

Looking at the text this week and considering my research emphasis I found a word I have never used. “As a guiding framework, I will be employing post-Marxist theorist Antonio Gramsci’s concept of hegemony, which states that culture changes as a result of the push and pull between the elite ruling classes and the oppressed classes.”[2] The struggle for dominance really should not be in the church, but I am afraid it is so. It is so by those who resist the establishment and by those who resist change. Plus, control can be found everywhere in between that delineation. I realized a faint, but similar tension to what I have discovered in congregants who mostly think they think they pay their pastor for doing work in the church. Hegemony is a “sophisticated tool for cultural analysis.”[3] It is partly a guess, yet, it is my guess that therefore many congregations are facing a resurgence of the multi-funded pastor. The stagnation in the North American church, given painted with a broad brush is because too many parties desire control instead there is One Lord. That Lord said to make disciples!

The differences between the two dominant forces usually leave only one winner. Who actually wins in a dominant struggle might be dependent upon like is written in Exodus 21:29 whose ox is gored. “But if the ox has been accustomed to gore in the past, and its owner has been warned but has not kept it in, and it kills a man or a woman, the ox shall be stoned, and its owner also shall be put to death.”[4]

What are we to do with the word then: hegemony as Christians? Well, we can surely head down the revolutionary road of resisting the establishment by just not going to church so we don’t let those so and so’s have control (by the way I know that feeling). Or we just might begin to analyze why we have to have control and begin to hand that control over. I have to ask myself the question, “Didn’t Jesus learn by suffering?” And, “Didn’t Jesus hand over the control of his life on earth to Another?” Just thinking.

[1] Stuart Sim and Borin Van Loon, “Introducing Critical Theory: A Graphic Guide, Icon Books Ltd.” (Kindle Locations 1409-1410).

[2]Taylor Applegate, “The crossroads at midnight: Hegemony in the music and culture of Delta blues,” 2013,  https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/bf93/293da6b8cd885df147e5bed5f31c7165fa3a.pdf.

[3] Ibid., (Kindle location 317).

[4] Exodus 21:29.

About the Author

Steve Wingate

8 responses to “Whose Ox is Gored”

  1. Shawn Cramer says:

    Steve, I think your post has a consistent thread of others’ – how we handle difference. After the fall we insist on placing value to stratified groups. This summer I compiled a list of attributes that I have used to not only delineate people, but ascribe value. I was uncomfortably surprised at how long the list was. It was humbling, shame-inducing, and instigated a significant time of repentance. One major flaw of Critical Thinking for me is the perpetuation of differences and inherent differences in worth.

    • Jer Swigart says:

      Hey Shawn. Can you flesh out a bit more what you mean by your critique of Critical thinking (theory?) that it perpetuates differences and differences in worth? My read of Sim and Van Loon this week left me grateful for an approach that both exposes oppressive ideologies behind culture/literature and seeks to transform them.

      • Shawn Cramer says:

        Yes, Critical Theory. Sorry. I mean… what appears to be promoting equality of power (“All animals are equal”), is in actuality a reversal of power (“Some are just more equal than others.”). The Marxist underpinnings assume that leadership would be different when the powerless have power, but Orwell’s extended allegory reveals the weakness in that approach.

  2. Darcy Hansen says:

    I was wondering if you could unpack this phrase a bit more for me?

    “The stagnation in the North American church, given painted with a broad brush is because too many parties desire control instead there is One Lord. That Lord said to make disciples!”

    How do you see hegemony being eliminated from the current faith community structures? Is it possible? I get Jesus is Lord, but how His Presence is emulated by His people has been a point of controversy for thousands of years. Sometimes we do that well; other times, not so much.

  3. Greg Reich says:

    I don’t want to be insensitive or soft peddle the reality of the struggle for dominance and the damage it can cause. BUT! Why is it that we will consider and contemplate Critical Theory and how it affects humanity without considering the effects of the fall of man after creation into this process? The struggle for dominance has been going on since the creation. The apostle Paul tells us about the struggle between the flesh and the Holy Spirit within every believer’s heart. We see this struggle within the 12 disciples when some asked to sit at the right of Christ when he came into His kingdom. Yes, we see it in the church. Should this be a surprise? Even the best the church has to offer is fallen. When I pastored nothing surprised me during a counseling session. Why? Because we are told the heart is deceitfully wicked. Humanity is capable of great evil and great good. As Christians we aren’t perfect we are forgiven. This is where we find hope for humanity. It may just be me but I have to choose everyday who is in charge Greg or God! The struggle exists we cant be blind to it should we be surprised when it raises its ugly head?

  4. John McLarty says:

    I have a member of my staff who is Japanese, so I was instantly struck by the graphic at the beginning of your post. He wasn’t alive during WW2, but certainly grew up in Japan in the aftermath of it. We have interesting conversations about US patriotism and such. It’s been a blessing to be reminded that our great victories are someone else’s massive losses. And while systems of oppression or aggression need to be dealt with, there are thousands upon thousands human beings whose lives are impacted by the decisions of their leaders. I was grateful for this book this week as it reminded me of ways that we grab for power and divide ourselves from each other and how the Church might be a place for deeper engagement in matters of faith and healthy criticism of the ways of our world.

  5. Nancy Blackman says:

    “I realized a faint, but similar tension to what I have discovered in congregants who mostly think they think they pay their pastor for doing work in the church.” Oh no. That made me so sad to read that.

    In your connection of hegemony and your faith community, are you saying that because congregants “think they pay their pastor for doing work” that this becomes a hegemonious relationship?

  6. Simon Igesa Bulimo says:

    Steve, thanks for the quotation from the Bible that became part of your title. The Ox being gored:
    The post is critically stated and it needs more research on the same. However, Am impressed by the way you integrated it with the Bible

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