Featured Podcast: "Make It Plain" on Malcolm X

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This is a podcast episode titled, Featured Podcast: "Make It Plain" on Malcolm X. The summary for this episode is: <p>We're shaking things up! In this week's episode, we're featuring another podcast: Make It Plain! In this podcast, hosts Phillip M. Holmes and Taelor Gray offer Christian reflections on the words and life of the controversial civil rights leader, Malcolm X. Today, Patrick is sharing his personal favorite Make It Plain episode. You'll hear Holmes and Gray discuss how the perception of Malcolm X was unfairly and inaccurately shaped by the media. They'll also explore the ways that Malcolm X lived through (and predicted) the power of the press to slander and spin stories. Listen now!</p><p><br></p><p><strong>Resources:</strong></p><p><a href="https://makeitplain.co/#:~:text=Make%20It%20Plain%20is%20a%20podcast%20for%20mature%20Christians%20who,to%20understand%20its%20teachings%20better" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">The Make It Plain Podcast</a></p><p><a href="http://info.choosetruthovertribe.com/blog_subscription" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Subscribe To Our Blog</a></p><p><a href="http://info.choosetruthovertribe.com/how-tribal-are-you" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">How Tribal Are You?</a></p>
Malcolm X quote: Guilt and reflection
00:46 MIN
A culture that's ripe for slander
01:56 MIN
He who controls the narrative, has the power
03:00 MIN
Malcom x and MLK: Fighting two different battles
03:46 MIN
Looking at CRT as a Christian
08:20 MIN
Defining slander, and a personal experience with it
04:34 MIN

Patrick Miller: Are you tired of tribalism?

Speaker 2: I think a lot of what the left supports is satanic.

Speaker 3: The only time religious freedom is invoked is in the name of bigotry and discrimination.

Patrick Miller: Are you exhausted by the culture war?

Speaker 2: If they don't like it here, they can leave.

Speaker 3: You could put half of Trump supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables.

Patrick Miller: Are you suspicious of those who say Jesus endorses their political party?

Speaker 2: Is it possible to be a good Christian and also be a member of the Republican party? And the answer is absolutely not.

Speaker 7: From certainly a biblical standpoint, Christians could not vote Democratic.

Patrick Miller: We trust the lamb, not the donkey or the elephant. This is the podcast that's too liberal for conservatives and too conservative for liberals. I'm Patrick Miller.

Keith Simon: And I'm Keith Simon. And we choose truth over tribe. Do you?

Patrick Miller: About a century in half after Jesus lived, there was a pastor named Tertullian and he was really concerned because he saw thinking from the outside Greek world making its way into the church. And so he famously asked this question, what's Athens have to do with Jerusalem? And his point was, keep that stuff out. Now you can contrast this with other people from church history, for example, John Calvin who, let's see about 1400 years later, goes the opposite approach. And he says that all truth is God's truth. And that Christian should reclaim what truth they see in the world. And so John Calvin famously took non- Christian authors as conversation partners in his own theology. This has always been a debate in the church. And I think this is a really interesting debate within the church. What's the role of non- Christian thinkers in helping us shape our Christian thoughts? One of my favorite podcasts of the last year was Make It Plain. It's a podcast by Philip Holmes and Taylor Gray. And they're talking about the life and work of Malcolm X from a Christian perspective. Now, if you know anything about Malcolm X, you'll know that he was not a Christian, that he act actually practiced Islam. Nonetheless, their podcast really introduced me personally to Malcolm X. Since then I've read his autobiography. I've listened to most of his recorded speeches and just like them, I've discovered that he's a profound conversation partner who can not only help me develop my theology of how faith interacts with race and public life, but far more than that. And so today, I'm really excited. We're going to be cross- promoting each other's podcast. We're going to be sharing some stuff from our podcast on theirs and the other way around, but I picked out one of my favorite. In fact, it is my favorite episode from season one of Make It Plain. Season two is actually launching right now. So if you haven't heard Make It Plain, go back starting season one, you can listen through, or if you want, you can just start straight into season two. But I think that you're really going to enjoy this podcast, which explores the fascinating ways that Malcolm X predicted and experienced how the media spins narratives that slander people and transform outside perceptions of them. So, listen in on this, I think you're really going to enjoy it.

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Jasmine : The name and logo are inspired by Amanda Berry Smith, who is called God's image Carved in Ebony by the newspapers of her time. I discovered her while researching for my new book, which shares the same name as the store. Since the Juneteenth launch, several customers have left reviews, praising our shirts. One of my favorites says, the product is first class. We've finally found a product that highlights that I have made in his image and Carved in Ebony. My family and I will support and order again.

Speaker 12: So for a limited time, we have a buy one, get one free deal exclusively for make it plain listeners. Receive a free, make it plain coffee mug when you purchase any make it plain t- shirt. Just use the code, make it plain, just one word at checkout.

Speaker 10: I don't see any American dream. I see an American nightmare. We never initiate any violence upon anyone, but if anyone attacks us, we reserve the right to defend ourselves. When you're in your own nation and your own land, you're in a position to get justice, but when you're in another man's country and another man's land, you have to look for that other man for justice and you'll never get it. We're nonviolent with people who are nonviolent with us, but we are not nonviolent with anyone who is violent with us. Anytime you beg another man to set you free, you'll never be free. We are ready and willing to pay the price that is necessary for freedom.

Speaker 11: What price are you talking about?

Speaker 10: The price of freedom is death.

Philip Holmes: Welcome to Make It Plain, where we offer Christian reflections on the words and life of Malcolm X. I'm Philip Holmes.

Taylor Gray: I'm Taylor Gray, and we are your hosts.

Philip Holmes: So last week we talked about perceptions of Malcolm, but this week, we want to talk about the way that Malcolm was slandered. So I have a quote right here, Taylor, that I'm going to read and then we're going to dive into today's topic. Malcolm said this in his autobiography. When I am dead, I say it that way because from the things I know I did not expect to live long enough to read this book in this finished form. I want you to just watch and see if I'm not right in what I say that the white man in his press is going to identify me with hate, he'll make use of me dead as he has made use of me alive as a convenience symbol of hatred, and that will help him escape facing the truth that all I have been doing is holding up a mirror to reflect, to show the history of unspeakable crimes that his race has committed against my race.

Taylor Gray: Man, listen, that brother was prophetic. I think like, when I hear quotes like that from Malcolm, it's one of those direct confrontation kinds of quotes where he's not speaking kind of in the ethereal or the theoretical or hypothetical, like he's coming straight for hearts and the deepest parts of what make us human and it makes us come to grips with what we do. And ultimately, the behaviors that shape our society. So when we say we want to talk about slander, Malcolm is, in this quote, interacting with a kind of reputation that he would gain because people that were able to shape narratives and we're talking about the media, we're talking about a broader commentary of who he was and what his life represented. He was interacting with people who would just blatantly tell non-truth about him or say non- truths about his message and that word symbol, that's just such an interesting word for him to use because when someone becomes symbolic, it's almost as if we can step away from who they are and humanize them in the complexity of their humanity, and then just interact with a symbol, whatever we've created or whatever kind of ideology that we want to attack. We turn that person into just a symbol that ultimately we interact with. And man, that is to me, a culture that's ripe for slander.

Philip Holmes: That's good. Man, I completely agree. I think that's super helpful, especially when you talk about Malcolm was extremely complex, but what was presented and what has been presented to most people is sort of this one sided or one dimensional version that's not at all accurate. I couldn't help, but wonder, when Malcolm is doing this, he doesn't really talk about government or the FBI, he specifically talks about the white man's media. I can't help, but wonder if this framing of Malcolm was strategically intentional or if it was simply conveniently used to oversimplify things. I guess both would be strategic. But like, was it about Malcolm or was it about selling newspapers?

Taylor Gray: And I mean, that's just the question we could always ask whether or not the media's actually interested in reporting the facts or helping to shape the perspective that we can take away with a balanced approach. We always have to question that about media and now we see all these years later after Malcolm's time, we have all of these news outlets, but if the news is the news, then why does one political party listen to one station versus the other political party listen to the other? So I think he, at that time, was interacting with a version of news media that he was critiquing in general as it relates to white people in narratives that would be presented to the white community or just the white perspective.

Philip Holmes: It's just interesting, because people often talk about the media as if what we have today is sort of new, right. You just talked about all the different news stations and all the various narratives, right? But it's very interesting that when you look at how Malcolm described the media of his time, this distrust for the media was already there. I think that people are going to find themselves as Christians identifying more and more with minorities and how they respond is going to be interesting because before, when America was perceived to be generally a Christian nation, right. And it seemed as if the news reflected that, sort of even the political beliefs of the two parties reflected that. Now all of a sudden Christians are feeling more and more marginalized by society. And it's also interesting that many who accused, the very same people who accused black people of having sort of this victim mentality now have embodied their own version of this victim like mentality.

Taylor Gray: Cancel culture, the like. Man, I mean, it's, again, like what he was interacting with back at that time had to do with the presentation of news to the white community or from the perspective of white people. Because the news media wasn't necessarily reporting on what black people feel or what black people think or centering black voices at that time. It was basically media that it may in its best assumption of what they were trying to do, they were trying to understand the perspective of black folks, but it wasn't necessarily centering black people to tell the stories. So his caution, I think, has to do with, what he had the experienced. And what we downplay so often in this country, especially now because of the variety of news outlets we have, is how this country has been propagandized around so many different things.

Philip Holmes: More than we realize.

Taylor Gray: Yeah, man. So he was in tune with that early.

Philip Holmes: That's why I couldn't help, but wonder. I'm like he didn't mention the government. He didn't mention just white people, how white people will see me. He specifically called out the press. Because I'm also fascinated by how Malcolm's perception of the media as being untrustworthy suddenly also became the message of evangelical Christians, right. And some, depending on who you talk to, would say with the exception of Fox News, but there are many who post Trump are distrusting Fox News. So there's this strong distrust of the media within the conservative base. And they recognize, I think what Malcolm recognized is that he who controls the narrative has the power, right. So now you're seeing all of these like conservative news stations and newspapers popping up here and there because the response is our side of the story isn't being told, right. But this was the plight of African Americans in America for centuries.

Taylor Gray: And I mean, just again, when it comes back to propaganda or propagandazing, I think what we have to do is be honest about our country's history in terms of how the media has even propagandized the church or created narratives and perceptions about what the church is and where the church's good is in society or why it exists for the good of society. The news media can play a part in crafting that narrative. And we have publications like Christianity today that have had such a long run or have had longevity in that way. But I do think Malcolm homes-

Philip Holmes: Well, Christians aren't even giving their information, like that's kind of a side piece of content, right. It is a small supplement to get some explicitly Christian things, right. This is what I think everybody needs to realize about the media and about news that you digest. You can report the facts and still tell a lie, right. Because is not just, is the facts that you choose to report, right. The nuances that the naked eye may assume are unimportant, but you, as a journalist knows that if I include this, it might balance out the story or it might make the narrative more complex. And I think that with King being the symbol of love, Malcolm being the symbol of hate, it made it seem as if the race issues within America were like just done, right?

Taylor Gray: I mean, here's three sets of facts. Black people. And I'm not saying this was an actual headline, I'm just using this as an example. You say these things and report them, say black people are poor. Black people are uneducated, black people are going to prison. And if you just report those things and you create a perception about black people, and you're not helping people engage with the full conversation. So for Malcolm, a lot of what was reported was Malcolm X is angry. Or this perception of his passion around a particular topic gave people the impression that whatever he was yelling about or whatever he was speaking strongly about was wrong because you're not supposed to do that. Why are you angry? You live in America. Why are you upset? You can achieve anything you want here. And this is what I mean by the media propagandizing America, the greatest country on earth, the patriotism, the nationalism that's associated with it. It's only something that can be reported from one perspective throughout history. And so he represents a different perspective. History still, still factual history, except he's giving information that the national news media will not give so they can control how people perceive him because he's flying in the face of what they report. Therefore, they can say, slanderously so, I think is what we're saying, that he is a purveyor of hate.

Philip Holmes: Well, and then also here's the reality, right? Martin and Malcolm were fighting two different battles. I think we can't allow that to escape us because Malcolm could already drink from the same water fountains as white people, he could already use the same restrooms as white people. So Malcolm's concerns in some ways, not in all, because it doesn't matter in the 60s if you were black, like you were still experiencing racism, but Malcolm's concerns were not nearly as overt as what King was dealing with in the south, with the people he was advocating for. And the reason why I point that out is because if we understand that, that means that Malcolm and in his calls pre- Civil Rights Act, his concerns, I think are probably more in line out with what most of us are dealing with then with King, because here's, King knew and Malcolm knew. This is why Malcolm smiled and this is why King was brilliant for recognizing that the nonviolence ethic of love was going to be the best way forward. It's the same. It hit me the other day. It's the same reason why Malcolm smiled in interviews. It's because he recognized that, listen, if we're out in the streets defending ourselves against white violence, they're going to say black people are riving. Think about Black Wall Street. What was it known as, like what was the name that was given to it long before we knew it as Black Wall Street massacre, it was called something else before that, it was called the Tulsa race riots.

Taylor Gray: So then it put the onus on the black people who were being brutalized.

Philip Holmes: 100%. That would've happened. King was brilliant. King knew that it didn't matter who threw the first punch. You got to think about TVs were limited. Segregation was in full effect. This is more so theory. I always try to put myself in the mindset of those who were living during that time. So when you think, blacks in the south are uneducated, right. Is the perception probably nationally. And you're in this situation where the media ultimately is going to control the narrative and in the segregated society, most people in the south had not actually had interactions with African Americans apart from the people who worked for them, right. So if they didn't own the business, they probably didn't cross paths as much, right. And if they, and it was just purely by seeing them, right. Not really, right. So the north perception was that the reason why the segregated laws are in place is because the Negros in the south are this way or that way and they're uneducated. So now you have to have a strategy in place that does not require the person who is watching from afar to have to judge who is in the right and who is in the wrong. You have to make it explicit because black people didn't have a voice. Our word against white people's word didn't mean anything. So King's strategy was essentially, you can't say we started a riot when you're spraying us with hoses and you're siccing dogs on us and we're not doing anything wrong.

Taylor Gray: And Malcolm said, if you hit me, I'm going to hit you back or we would at least explore the concept of self defense, which again, points to him being slanderously reported as a purveyor of hate.

Philip Holmes: Because think about the Black Panthers, right, and how they were perceived. Now these are simply individuals who are exercising their constitutional rights, right. But you see a bunch of black dudes with guns is going to be perceived completely different than a white guy with a gun.

Taylor Gray: And again, that's a perception challenge to overcome.

Philip Holmes: 100%, which is why slander is so easy.

Taylor Gray: Yes.

Philip Holmes: And I guess what I'm trying to emphasize is I've realized this as well, black people only have a voice when we are within white, and I'm talking about like pure white culture, right. Because they're white people, then there's white culture, right. And I got to distinguish between those two, but I think we're all kind of affected by that piece of white culture as well, because a black voice, even sometimes amongst his own people, right, is question, right. When comparative, because it's just something that like, we just kind of naturally do, because it's what we've been taught.

Taylor Gray: Is the effect of our society.

Philip Holmes: It's what we've been taught.

Taylor Gray: Because I wanted to get back to more of how what Malcolm was addressing really points to some of what we're struggling through now in our national constitution.

Philip Holmes: Yes. That's it, 100%.

Taylor Gray: Because I think the end of the day as Martin and Malcolm grew together, they saw their ideologies start to converge and Martin would travel further north and find a different kind of racism that was more covert, more identifiable through nuance and language and kind of layered legislation. And Malcolm was just flat out speaking to it, calling out the white liberal media and all that different stuff. But he remains steadfast in his critique of the systems and structures that cause the condition of black people and other suffering minorities. So when you are passionately speaking towards the systemic inequalities of the society that you're in, and yet you're being reported as doing something else, I think what we're agreeing, or at least trying to communicate is that that is slander. So I'm communicating, this is what I'm doing, but someone else is reporting that I'm actually doing something harmful. I'm trying to help here. These are what my words tell you. I'm giving you reasoning behind what I'm doing. And I'm exploring this notion that I believe is good for our society and yet what's reported is that I am a purveyor of hate and that I am person who encourages violence, that's what Malcolm was dealing with. Are there some ways, I mean, I'm asking you this because I know there are. Are there some ways that that still is playing out in society? Let's just go right there. I think the conversation around critical race theory now is very similar to the dynamic that Malcolm X was interacting with just as a critique on society and structures. And then Christian brothers and sisters interacting with critical race theory, communicating something that they are extracting from the concept, and yet being slanderously reported as purveying anti gospel methodology. How do you see that play out? How have you personally interacted with that application of slander?

Philip Holmes: So I had some earlier concerns about Critical Race Theory when I first kind of started hearing it here and there. And my thing was like young fellow, be careful, although there's some guys who are a lot more well versed who would be okay with utilizing CRT as a tool or something like that, whatever. Anything that's outside of the cannon of scripture to deal with something as complex as racism and injustice, I did not feel like early on and I still feel this way that we needed it. But I also didn't think that it was sinful or the greatest threat to Christianity or was something that was necessarily going to cause harm, significant harm in the body of Christ. If those who were interacting with it kept in view that all the truth is God's truth. This is one of the things that I've been trying to emphasize for those who are pro using CRT and those who are all the way from suspicious to skeptical, or they hate CRT, anti CRT type guys. Because there's some people who might be like suspicious of it, even though they don't think it's the greatest threat to Christianity. And then there's others who, and I don't even know if they really believe this, but they're saying it, like this is the greatest threat to Christianity. Here's the thing. You have to make sure before you are going to use a tool outside of the scripture or critique a tool outside of the scripture, that you are well versed in what scripture has to say about the topic that that tool is attempting to address.

Taylor Gray: And you have to be well versed in the tool.

Philip Holmes: Yes. You have to be well versed in the tool, right? But you got to first be well versed in scripture. Because here's what'll happen. If you don't have a robust biblical theology of justice and you approach a tool, let's start with favorably, right. And let's just say you are a Christian, right. But because you've inherited a theology that is weak when it comes to issues of justice and you have not studied the narratives and the dynamics of power and all these things in scripture, right. Or maybe your cultural lenses, maybe you've studied these passages, but your cultural lenses blinded you from the ability to see what was actually going on, right. And you're stopping this in your heart or heart, right. Maybe it's just not your cultural lens, maybe your heart's just heart towards it, right. Or maybe the spirit allows you to remain like, I can see all the Christian, the spirit is more powerful than cultural lenses. I can hear all that. But my point is this is that if you don't have a robust theology, and then you hear something that CRT purports, that may be true because just because CRT is not Christian and it has some things that are worrisome, that does not mean that everything that it says is wrong, right. There still could be some truth in that and that truth belongs of God, right. Now, so let's say you go in and you just start critiquing something and you've made up your mind that like this particular aspect is evil, right. Because people start talking about inter sexuality. I don't know as much about the philosophy as I know what it means to intersect, like an intersection, right.

Taylor Gray: Right, this basic.

Philip Holmes: So how these things cross over, right. There are things that I might say, because there're going to be two different people that you're going to be interacting with. You're going to be interacting with those who are promoting CRT based on what they see on CRT. And you're going to say that's evil, because it comes from CRT, right. And then you got me over here and read more than a paragraph about CRT on purpose, right. Because it's kind of a, everybody keeps saying, well, I know. Because then they'll actually have a reason to say that it's influenced me. There is nobody that I listen to regularly that is influenced by Critical Race Theory. What I'm getting is from the Bible. Let me finish this and then I want to hear what you're about to say. So my thing is that I'm coming from the scriptures. It's kind of like the, I can't remember, I got to find this quote, but he basically says, I've never read a word of Calvin when I accept it, but it's so called Calvinism. I think that's true in a lot of cases, because I'm just like, if what I'm saying is CRT, that's interesting because I never read a word of CRT, right. I can take you to the text and I can show you these dynamics in the text. So that means that you haven't been reading the text. And you're trying to critique something based on cultural lenses that you have been told are biblical, but are actually secular and worldly. And just as unhelpful and evil as perhaps CRT.

Taylor Gray: And your Christianity potentially may have been propagandized to you versus you exploring the true nature of what it means to follow Christ. And I mean, man, you said exactly what I was getting ready to walk into saying, which is to communicate truth from God's word and for the spirit to illuminate to you what God is shaping in his community of faith as it relates to the life of the believer and the community we share with one another. And then also our mission in this world, if that's ultimately what your formation is from scripture, you're spending your time in the word of God. And then you communicated truth from scripture, and then someone redirects and says," No, you got that truth from a man's philosophy or a man's theory or teachable concept in academia." Then, in this way, we are exploring slander. You're telling me that I represent something that I don't, and at the end of the day, that's how you're going to report my image to your circle or to the rest of the world. And I think this gets back to what Malcolm is saying is in the end of the day, we have a culture of slander.

Philip Holmes: One hundred percent.

Taylor Gray: We don't have those people who will go and research either the scriptures for themselves, which we would say, that's the first thing you need to do is go study the scriptures, have a robust understanding of justice or how God would address social issues in actual communities, find out what that looks like in the scriptures first before you enter into this conversation, but there's a dishonesty there in that folks will not take that first step, they'll actually create an image of who you are based on a propagandized view of where you're coming from. So we have this culture of slander and I mean, I wanted you to speak to maybe just some specific ways that that has played out because we start with Malcolm and, and ultimately wrong views that are shaped by the media that are assigned to him. What kinds of wrong things do you think are assigned to Christians who appear to be interacting with Critical Race Theory may or may not be, but may agree with some of the concepts?

Philip Holmes: I don't know if it has much to do with whether or not they're interacting with it or whether or not they are agreeing with some of the concepts. I think that it's a lot simpler than that. I think it's, if they are dealing with race. What I've come to realize is that it is a smoke screen. It's not really about CRT being the greatest threat, it's about silencing those who are talking about issues related to race and justice and not just racial justice, but I think eventually you will begin to see this evolve. If it is exactly what I think it is, I think that you will begin to see it evolve and it will be, no, actually it already has been, it's been leveraged at anybody who's speaking to power on behalf of the vulnerable, because there are those who are in power attempting to keep power because they want a certain group of people to essentially stay in their place. And so this whole conversation is about power.

Taylor Gray: First can, how would you, could you define slander with your own words, how would you define slander?

Philip Holmes: To make a false of damaging statements about somebody, right. That's essentially what slander is. And there are those who will use this intentionally, or I will say consciously or unconsciously, what ends up happening is that you first create a lens for those who consume it by which their view of the person that's being slandered is altered or distorted, right. That's the first thing that you do when you slander. The second thing, which is simply a natural next step is that if what you are saying in the work that you are trying to pursue has become altered or distorted, you no longer have a voice, because what I interpret you as saying, versus what you're actually doing is completely different.

Taylor Gray: Here's the funny part, the same thing actually happens to those in power who present themselves as the champions for truth, because they can actually speak heresy and say something that's completely contrary to scripture and you'll allow it because they have established themselves as the one who should not be questioned because he or she champions truth, and you won't be able to see the good that's being done by the person that's being slandered, because they have given you a lens and you have to consume it, right. It's not like slander is one of those things that the people who hear it are victims, it harms them but not as victims, it harms them because it makes them complicit. Or it tempts them to become complicit, right. That's where the damage is done. But the real damage, the real victims are those whose image or whose words have been distorted. So I'll give you an example of how I saw slander play out in my own story. I got an email from one of my superiors and he said, hey, you got this email from one of our graduates. And I know this is wrong. He knew what was going on, right. But essentially the person had said that I'm quoting Malcolm X favorably, and I am promoting certain aspects of CRT. Now this person was a pastor who said these things about me. This person was someone that I actually knew and had, I wouldn't say a closest strong relationships with, but we were in college and we were in seminary together.

Philip Holmes: And they could get a hold of you.

Taylor Gray: Easily.

Philip Holmes: Easily.

Taylor Gray: Easily. So I was first just kind of taken off guard because I was like, wow, like that really happened. Then it hit me, wait, he slandered me. I have quoted Malcolm favorably, right. But I don't see an issue with that, right. But I'm also engaging Malcolm critically, right. But I do think that we can learn from him. So if that's how you're framing quoting Malcolm favorably, I wouldn't really have a problem with that, my question would be what's your point?

Philip Holmes: We don't have a problem, we're doing this podcast.

Taylor Gray: I'm like, okay. So, and? Like keep talking, right. Because you just saying that hadn't said anything yet, right? So that's one. But the other one that was like disturbing was the notion that I was promoting certain elements of CRT favorably. Well, all right. So if I take a charitable approach to what he was saying, I could say which elements, because there's some elements that might be true, but I didn't even know enough about the elements of CRT to promote. So that means maybe he was super well versed, but I knew essentially what was going on. He was saying that I was promoting elements of CRT, and that was concern of his. So my conclusions was, oh, he slandered me because either he has not listened to anything that I've said or he's misrepresenting what was said. So it took me a while, but I had to calm down. Because I was extremely frustrated for multiple different reasons. But eventually, I decided to reach out to him. I set up a call with him. Wasn't blindsiding him, said CRT Malcolm X, that's the topic but no Zoom too. Because I wanted us to be able to see each other, right. I said, hey, help me understand how you thought that I was quoting certain elements of CRT? And he says," Ha, well actually I didn't actually hear you say that, someone else told me."

Philip Holmes: Oh gosh, man.

Taylor Gray: And I went back and listened to what you said after he talked to my superior and I realized that's not at all what you were saying.

Philip Holmes: And then he repented.

Taylor Gray: He apologized. He apologized. We ended up actually talking for like two hours and I'm not sure that he quite got it, but I definitely think that he was trying to understand the gravity of what just took place, right. Because he's a pastor, right. So there's a responsibility that a pastor has, in my opinion, when it comes to things like this.

Philip Holmes: Yes.

Taylor Gray: And I'm grateful for his apology and for him just admitting, like, I mean, just saying, yo, I got to be honest. I didn't even read what you said, right. I didn't even listen to what you said. I went back and listened and I realized. But what I told him, I was like, listen, I was like, I don't know the motives of the person who told you, right. Because honestly, this isn't really over, but you're the one who said something. So I'm going to leave it here. That person manipulated you. They lied to you about me. And if they told anybody else that, this is what slander does, it takes away the voice of its victims. Because now with me trying to... One of the things that we're talking about trying to establish is a nuanced careful approach, not a balance, because I think our aim is truth, right. I don't even necessarily know, but I do know that sometimes things are so complicated where we don't, we might not necessarily have the answer, but we're trying to present both perspectives, not as if they're equal, because sometimes they're not, right. I don't like the idea of like picking a little bit from over here and a little bit from over there, but I do tend to think that there are, sometimes there are some people who are really right and kind of wrong. There are others who are a little right and a lot of wrong. And then sometimes both sides are just a lot wrong and a little bit of right. Because the problem again has been misdiagnosed, right. When that doctor going back to an earlier episode, when I talk, gave the analogy of the misdiagnosis when it comes to, do you have the flu, right? Or do you have a really bad cold or do you have HIV? The reality is that the fact that you have a cold, that could be very true, right? Because HIV lowers your immune system. Me telling you that truth does nothing for your overall health, that particular truth is just a symptom of a bigger problem. But what the problem is is that we're so content to stop and accept the, you have a cold, a really bad cold answer because what's behind the you may have HIV curtain is too scary. And this is what happens when it comes to these issues and race in America because there are times where an issue takes place and it's not racism. That doesn't mean that there's not a problem there that needs to be explored.

Philip Holmes: I think what's more concerning and troubling about the example you gave is the effect of slander, like it's not just this innocuous. We just had a misunderstanding, oh my bad, that's a mistake, but we're talking about an email to your superior. When you send an email to someone superior, there's typically an expectation that there'll be a reprimand of some sort.

Taylor Gray: Absolutely. Even if one isn't asked for, because he didn't ask for a reprimand, he simply wanted to know if my views were representative of the institutions.

Philip Holmes: Whatever could have transpired from there, thank God, the person who's your superior knows you and has some respect for you and your character. So again, like the effect of slander is not just, hey, we had a disagreement. It is now, like you said earlier, I think I need to remove your voice or I need to stifle your voice or I need to cripple the reputation you have in some ways.

Taylor Gray: Because here's the thing, the reason why this illustration I think is so helpful and this story is so relevant because it's clear the effects of slander are played out in his actions, right. Because he was, somebody slander me to him. And even though he knew me, went to school with me two times and is a pastor, right. So anybody's acceptable to slander. He reached out to my superior with a conclusion about me.

Philip Holmes: Conclusion without crosstalk.

Taylor Gray: Based on words that he had not even heard.

Philip Holmes: And I'm just going to go on record and say, as a pastor, that's a pastoral failure. That's a failure.

Taylor Gray: That should not be taken lightly.

Philip Holmes: Yep. And that's, you want to talk about a perceived offense against God versus an actual offense against God. What the scriptures or how the scriptures treat slander, how the kind of witness that we are supposed to proclaim to be in this world is affected by slander. And ultimately, we're talking about a man named Malcolm X, who we will eventually get to his view on the Christian Church. There is an effect that he predicted about the witness people would have of him in light of what he did or what he said and their perception of it. So are we, and as the church, are we complicit in our false representations of people that we perceive historically in certain ways, or even in our current interactions with our brothers and sisters so much so that we won't have a conversation with them, we won't seek explanation, we won't even open up the text to find out whether or not we are actually in the right heart posture, and we have a sound understanding of what God is teaching through the scriptures. We will take the presumptive step of trying to condemn or influence some sort of penalty against our brother or sister based on conclusions that are not even true. That's the culture of slander. And as it relates to CRT, that's the hot button issue in the evangelical church right now. But to your point, man, it is a smoke screen. It is a smoke screen that ultimately is hiding our need for repentance, like deep repentance to reconcile with one another and to have some authentic representation of the spirit's work in us and through us to maintain community and brotherhood with each other. So, I mean, it's disappointing to hear that you had that experience. And unfortunately like that is something that has become the norm as it relates to this conversation, right. There's nobody who can sit here and tell me that they haven't begun to receive some sort of information or concept from a secular source and try to apply it to their Christianity. There's no way somebody can sit here and tell me that they-

Taylor Gray: Well, the very people who are going in hard against Christianity are literally using atheists in order to warn of the dangers regarding CRT.

Philip Holmes: It's a really, I'm trying to be diplomatic, but it sucks. This is bad. Like this is... And I mean like-

Taylor Gray: Because one guy who agreed with them responded when they posted the podcast was like," This seems to be a really bad move guys. I mean, I'm with you on like the dangers of CRT, but this..." He could see how like contradictory. And I think this person, I think there are a lot of well- meaning people, right? Who are listening to particular voices who don't have the theological and exegetical tools to be able to do the work from scripture to see between what their influencers and leaders and so- called pastors. And I would say about many of them are the narrative that they're being delivered and spoon fed. They is a reality where there is a whole another group of people that are being led astray by their earthly shepherds.

Philip Holmes: Well, that's the problems. If the pastors are conducting themselves in that way, and we've got a major problem because this isn't just an everyday run in the mill, I'm a follower of a Christ who needs discipleship in my growth, no, this person, I think took an appropriate step in going to a pastor and the pastor should have responded with the right biblical ethic either to this person directly or to you directly. And that didn't happen. And if the pastors are the ones creating confusion amongst the body, then we're in huge trouble, man. The best way I saw this play out in just like the public eye, this is just an example that comes to mind. And this has nothing to do with the church. As I remember years ago, there was a clip of Senator John McCain, who was campaigning to be president and he was running against Barack Obama. Remember this?

Taylor Gray: Yes, classic.

Philip Holmes: And there is a person at the Town Hall forum who came to him publicly and this is red meat for the crowd. And she goes through all the conspiracy theories that she heard about Barack Obama and John McCain just gently corrects her and says," We're not going to say false things about this man. He's a part of our country. He's a good man and we're just not going to do this." Beautiful. If we could employ an ethic like that as the church, my God, as witnesses of Jesus Christ who had all kind of slander leveled against him and the church throughout histories that all kind of slander leveled against it, then I think we would have a better witness in our society. But if this kind of infighting is going to be our public witness, then I think we got to own some of these critiques from Malcolm. And we going to get to those critiques.

Taylor Gray: It's going to be good, man.

Philip Holmes: So man, this is a good conversation. This has given us some real time things to explore. So I appreciate you sharing that, man. I hope you and this brother can get to a better place in God's relationship.

Patrick Miller: Man. I mean, conversation ended well. I think we're going to try to link up in person. He was very intentional about trying to connect with me when he came to Jackson. I just happened to be out of town when he was coming. So I mean, I think it's going to be good. And I tell the story, obviously not to disparage him because I mean, he have no idea who he is, but I tell the story because I think it's a really good example of what slander is and how it affects brothers and sisters in Christ.

Philip Holmes: Amen. Bless the people of repentance, confession and repentance, this is not something that God's grace cannot cover. So prayerfully God continues to lead us on. Man, it's been a good conversation, man. Look forward to the next one, bro.

Patrick Miller: Likewise. Thanks for joining us this week on Make It Plain. Make sure to visit our website at makeitplain. co, that's makeitplain. co, where you can subscribe to the show in Apple podcast, Stitcher, Spotify, Audible, or wherever you get your podcast so you never miss an episode. If you found value in this show, we'd appreciate a rating on Apple Podcast. Or if you simply tell a friend about the show, that will help us out too. If you liked this show, you might want to check out the autobiography of Malcolm X and consider joining our Patreon group, home to roofed, where we're discussing his autobiography from a Christian perspective twice a month. Speaking of our Patreon community, a big out to each and every one of our Patreon supporters, you help make this show possible. Be sure to tune in next week for our next episode. Until then, let's continue the conversation via social media, a link to all of our social media accounts can be found at makeitplain. co.

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Speaker 13: Let's stand together tour is coming your way. Featuring Newsboys with Danny Gokey, Mac Powell and Adam AG, February 19th, In Flowood at Word of Life Church. You can stand together for a night of music and fun with Newsboys, Danny Gokey and Mac Powell. Tickets are available at awakeningfoundation.com, an awakening foundation event.

Patrick Miller: I hope you enjoyed that episode of Make It Plain. If you have time, go over and subscribe to their podcast, start listening. I think you're really going to enjoy it. And we will actually have an interview with Philip Holmes coming up in the next month, so you can look forward to that as well.

Keith Simon: Thanks for listening. If you found this podcast helpful, make sure to subscribe and leave a review.

Patrick Miller: And make sure it's at least five stars. Stop. No, just be honest, reviews help other people find us.

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Patrick Miller: And if you didn't like this episode, awesome. Tell us why you disagree on Twitter @ truthovertribe_. We might even share your thoughts in an upcoming newsletter.


We're shaking things up! In this week's episode, we're featuring another podcast: Make It Plain! In this podcast, hosts Phillip M. Holmes and Taelor Gray offer Christian reflections on the words and life of the controversial civil rights leader, Malcolm X. Today, Patrick is sharing his personal favorite Make It Plain episode. You'll hear Holmes and Gray discuss how the perception of Malcolm X was unfairly and inaccurately shaped by the media. They'll also explore the ways that Malcolm X lived through (and predicted) the power of the press to slander and spin stories. Listen now!