Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

The End of Levellers

I will soon delete this blog. I am working to save the parts I like and transfer them to a new blog that will focus more exclusively on theological matters—with nothing on U.S. politics.  I have lost faith in the ability of the U.S. political system to be reformed and work for the common good. We are no longer a democratic republic (with all the fallen limitations of such, but with promise for accomplishing penultimate goods), but a plutocratic oligarchy wholly owned and operated by big business.  My new blog will delete any comment about the politics of the U.S.–I do not want to discuss this or anything related to it. If I can find a way to become a citizen of a real democracy, like Canada (though it will also be fallen and have sinful dimensions), I will take it.  My American dream has completely died.

When I have saved the parts of Levellers that I want to keep, the new blog (which will also be on WordPress) will be called “Pilgrim Pathways: Theological Notes for a Diaspora People.”  Since “justice,” “peace,” “oppression,” “exploitation,” “care or destruction of the earth,” etc. are all theological themes, I will discuss the intersection of faith and social justice–but will avoid electoral politics in the narrow sense.  My sanity demands it.

UPDATE:  I should be able to have the new blog up and running by the end of February.


January 27, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. Sorry for you pain Michael. Though, I confess I never shared your faith in the U.S. political system, I always appreciated your perspective. I look forward to reading your continuing thoughts on theological matters. Make sure you announce your new home.

    Comment by Aric Clark | January 27, 2010

  2. Michael,

    I understand your pain.

    I wish you would reconsider this.

    Now, more than ever, we need dissident political voices.

    Comment by BrucePrescott | January 27, 2010

  3. I agree. Have already hired a lawyer outside the country. My ancestors came here in the 19th century when the old country fell apart; now it’s time to move again. Americans love to say that freedom implies the freedom to fail. Well, that applies to countries, too.

    Comment by Anthony | January 27, 2010

  4. I have to say I’m disappointed. As a silent online student of yours with burgeoning ideas about democratic socialism, Anabaptism, theistic evolution & acceptance of homosexuality in the church, its upsetting that I’m losing such an important voice to me right now to cynicism.
    Maybe I should have said more and sooner, but please reconsider. You are doing good work with this blog. I refer to it often. I’ve even compiled whole series into Kindle books so I have them for quick reference when I talk to people.

    Comment by Jason | January 28, 2010

  5. I also agree. But this seems like quite a shift for you. May I ask what brought it about?

    Comment by Halden | January 28, 2010

  6. My perspective will always be Anabaptistic and I have no change of heart concerning theistic evolution, gays in church and society or economic democracy–I just am very pessimistic about the ability to change things in the American system. Wall Street owns both parties and the Supreme Court lock, stock, and barrel. Change in this nation now needs to be revolutionary–nonviolently revolutionary, but revolutionary. It needs to be on the order of the end of apartheid in South Africa or the nonviolent revolutions in Eastern Europe in ’89. The complete failure of year one of the Obama administration (and how far and quickly he sold out) shows that ordinary political processes are–for different reasons–as unlikely to produce real change here as in ZIMBABWE!.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | January 28, 2010

  7. Since the media are completely controlled by the plutocratic oligarchy, Bruce, who will hear those voices? We need bodies in the streets.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | January 28, 2010

  8. Man, I feel like I’ve been trying to draw this revolutionary side out of you for a dozen years, Michael (though in very different ways from our early debates on and off the Christian Philosophers list-serve). Of course, I lost track of you for seven or eight years, but you were often a voice in my mind, reminding me of things like, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a national holiday in the US … If your voice hadn’t stuck with me through the years, I probably could have never abandoned my stance against voting (temporarily) to vote for Obama. That said, I felt like Obama’s election was a singular act that could redeem some of the US’s sins temporarily, but that would likely sweep him up into the great stream of American klepto-imperialism. It has. By an large. And I’m glad you can recognize it.

    Come visit our community here in Toronto! We’re right around the corner, in fact, now spatially intertwined, with the first (and I think still only) radically pro-gay Catholic Worker (our community is more mixed in its thinking). I should warn you, however, that Stephen Harper’s solid grip on Canadian politics is not going away soon and, in many ways, shows that Canada is ultimately even less of a democracy than the U.S. We are now in the midst of a second time in 12 months where the Prime Minister has used the power of the Queen to suspend parliament!!!

    Comment by Doug Johnson | January 28, 2010

  9. Yeah, Harper has done that to avoid losing votes of no confidence and then early elections!
    I’ve always believed in nonviolent social revolution, but I was hopeful (until Bush II) that nonviolent POLITICAL revolution wouldn’t be necessary. Then I despaired of everything for several years (late ’01 to early ’05) when most American CHRISTIANS supported war, torture, unlimited detention without trial, etc. But the American people—or many of them–came to their senses and so have many of the churches–at least in part.

    Now I just despair of the government and both major political parties (and the system pushes out any third parties–many states don’t even allow ballot access to Greens, Libertarians, or Socialists!).

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | January 28, 2010

  10. What a whiner and a quitter. When the tough get going you abandon ship (come to think of it, that’s what you did with the Army, isn’t it). Looks like a bad habit with you. But of course you quit with such high-minded self-righteous moralism. So OFF TO THE THEOLOGICAL GHETTO for you. You won’t be missed!

    Comment by Jerry L | January 28, 2010

  11. I’m glad you’ll still be blogging, Michael, since I want to read what you have to say on pacifism, the death penalty, and other issues. I also hope you preserve your posts on how to confront evil without war. There’s a technical term you used, but I don’t remember it right now. I haven’t read all of them, but they’re good to have on-hand.

    Comment by James Pate | January 28, 2010

  12. I’ll definitely keep the posts on the practices of just peacemaking, including nonviolent direct action, James.

    Desiring to preserve the best of this blog is why it will take me awhile to shut it down.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | January 28, 2010

  13. Let’s see…you aren’t going to do politics anymore but you are going to talk about what the government and politicians should do about war (they should be pacifists), the death penalty (they should abolish it) gay marriage (they should embrace it), the economy (they should nationalize it).

    Whew–sounds pretty political to me!

    Comment by Susan R | January 28, 2010

  14. I look forward to the future, theo-focused writing. I appreciate your statement in one of the other comments: “We need bodies in the streets.”

    There will always be a connection from the theology to (fill in country name) politics, but that is action based on a theological foundation. If you embrace the nonviolent way of Jesus, than you’re going to live that out daily…which will ultimately touch the arena of politics. But I do understand you’re sentiments. Peace brother.

    Comment by Eddie Gonzalez | January 28, 2010

  15. Sad not to see you talking about politics, but anyway I’ll still rading your new blog. After all, political pessimism is at least a very rational and well founded school of thought 🙂

    May God bless you in this new stage.

    saludos desde Colombia

    Comment by mountainguy | January 28, 2010

  16. Yes, Susan, I’ll still deal with broad political themes, but I won’t follow the U.S. political scene–discuss specific campaigns, figures, parties, bills, etc.

    I don’t believe in a nationalized economy, though–that’s a command economy like in the old Soviet Union. At most certain “natural monopolies” (e.g., utilities) should be public. I do believe in more government regulation of business and that “corporate personhood” is a fiction that harms the body politic as well as individuals. I’d like to see more worker-owned companies, too. But no national, command economies. I don’t even believe in socialized medicine as in the U.K.–just social health insurance like in Canada.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | January 28, 2010

  17. Totally understand. Just recently deleted my blogs. I feel like a heavy burden has been lifted. But I will keep a watch out for your new blog.

    Comment by Marty | January 28, 2010

  18. BTW, what do you think about satire? It works for me when I’m bored or sad, but maybe this is very subjective…

    Comment by mountainguy | January 28, 2010

  19. Change is good. Sorry to see the old subjects go, looking forward to the new emphasis on theology.

    Comment by jleeper | January 28, 2010

  20. That’s fine Michael, but I fear you might be more adept at political than theological thought.

    Comment by Chuck | January 29, 2010

  21. Really? I have multiple degrees in theology, Chuck–even though I have focused on political theology and theological ethics. But theology and politics are interwoven in Scripture and the Christian tradition. Have you never read Augustine, Origen, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, the Anabaptists, Jan Hus, John Wycliffe? Etc., etc.

    And I was chairing the war and peace section of the Society of Christian Ethics while still a Ph.D. student.

    I have covered numerous theological topics on Levellers and I think I can create a more centrally theological blog with Pilgrim Pathways.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | January 29, 2010

  22. I’m sorry to here this Michael, but I totally understand. I deleted Thoughts of a Minister for several reasons, but stopped writing there because I was tired of writing about politics and Christianity. Writing about Blu-Ray movies is less stressful. 🙂

    I look forward to the new blog, I’ve thought about starting a similar blog but I know you will do it better!

    Comment by mctiller | January 30, 2010

  23. Not being from North America, I’ve enjoyed your non-US-political posts more than the others, so I am rather looking forward to the new blog. 🙂

    Comment by Judy Redman | January 31, 2010

  24. Glad to oblige, Judy. I try as much as possible to cultivate a global outlook–through travel, extensive correspondence with friends around the world, study, listening to and reading non-U.S. news, etc. But that has lapsed some since the election of ‘o8 heated up. Hopefully, this will reorient me, again.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | January 31, 2010

  25. DON’T delete this blog. Leave it as an historical artifact. Some of us want to be able to go back and read parts we’ve missed and reread parts we appreciate or want to understand better. DO start the new blog and transfer those parts YOU value. But PLEASE allow this blog to remain on-line for reviewing.

    Comment by Tauratinzwe | February 1, 2010

  26. That may actually be easier–since I could take my time with transfer.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | February 1, 2010

  27. But, Michael, you should make sure to shut down all your comments if you leave the blog up. Otherwise the spam will eventually pile up. Happened to me before.

    Comment by Halden | February 3, 2010

  28. Hey, Michael,

    I was surprised to read this, but you know I share much with the sentiment you expressed here. Let me say to some of your critics, you are talking about moving away from the electoral sort of politics which serves as a democratic veneer on a plutocratic polity. But that is not the same as abandoning politics or retreating to a ghetto. It is an intentional step into a distinct and viable politics grounded on other assumptions and practices. I was glad to see that closing this down was not an announcement that you would quit writing. You do all of us much good.


    Comment by Mike Broadway | February 3, 2010

  29. I’m shutting it down, now.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | February 3, 2010

  30. In your last post, the link you provide to your new site actually redirects to a website about pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela, España.

    Comment by mountainguy | February 3, 2010

  31. Sorry to hear you go. I too have lost alot of faith in the government but will keep fighting. I’ll be watching the new site/section for your updates. Peace…

    ~Andrew Jones
    what is the bible?

    Comment by Andrew | February 4, 2010

  32. Thanks Andrew, but I thought I had stopped the ability to comment on this site. Must fix this.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | February 4, 2010

  33. Michael, if you DO end this blog, be careful how you do it. I’ve seen other people just delete their blogs and quit only to find out that a week later, some hack has grabbed the name that they USED to use because it is now available and was already established.

    I’m not sure if you can delete your blog without that happening, so maybe it would be best to let it stand with a note at the top explaining where you’ve gone…

    Comment by Dan Trabue | February 5, 2010

  34. Dan, thanks for the advice. But how are people continuing to leave comments? I can’t even seem to close things out that way. I am moving things, step by step.

    But Levellers, as a historical name, already Googles as more than just my blog.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | February 5, 2010

  35. What I’m saying is, for instance, I knew someone who had a blogger blog (example.blogspot.com, let’s say) who quit and deleted her blog. The next day, example.blogspot.com was a blog again, only this time with advertisements for diet pills.

    I guess the idea is that they can capitalize on whatever traffic an existing blog might still generate, even after it’s gone.

    I don’t know if wordpress could have that same situation.

    On the comments, I don’t know how wordpress works at all, I know in blogspot, you can simply turn off all comments – isn’t that an option? Or have you done that and it hasn’t “taken?”

    Comment by Dan Trabue | February 5, 2010

  36. I understand. The way the media (even NPR!) spend so much attention on a fringe group like the tea baggers, a group so small they only find common ground with less than 20% of the public, it’s clear the media is controlled by corporate greed.

    Yes, the tea party convention last week had criticism from some people because it was too expensive for “most supporters,” but what are they really supporting? Populism doesn’t usually favor the rich.

    Why can’t a movement like Move Your Money, which has such broad support a bill in New Mexico’s house didn’t receive one nay vote, receive any national media attention?

    Because, as you say, the media, and government, are controlled by the banks.

    Comment by Steven Kippel | February 10, 2010

  37. I’ll go over to your new blog right away.

    Comment by David | February 17, 2010

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