Philip Yancey, in his book Where is God When It Hurts?, details his interaction with the late Dr. Paul Brand. Dr. Brand revolutionized both the understanding and treatment of leprosy with his discovery that the identifiers most commonly thought of whenever leprosy is mentioned – missing digits and limbs, skin wounds, etc – were in fact not symptoms of leprosy itself. Rather, they were side products of the disease’s actual symptom: preventing the human body from sensing pain. Without the warning pain often provides, lepers would severely injure themselves in any number of ways, all the while completely unaware of the self-inflicted damage being wreaked.
We see a similar sad phenomenon taking place in the conservative new media realm, one in which there is continuous trotting out of the same tired faces and voices while proclaiming this time we will see different results. Those proclamations are most often heard at any one of a number of gatherings dotting the calendar and map – CPAC, BlogCon, RightOnline and so on – which serve as a great excuse to get the gang together for the fifteenth time in the past twelve months, soak up some suds, perform drunken karaoke, tell each other how great they are and then tell every one in the echo chamber not cool enough to hang out with them during the most recent event how they are changing the culture, baby!!! In fact, the only culture being changed is brewers yeast due to depletion of stock. We also see people turning themselves into cyberlepers by inflicting damage upon themselves that when shown to them is either denied or ignored. A recent example is Kristina Ribali, director of new media at FreedomWorks, and her Twitter comment about Mark Levin that set off quite the little tempest in a teapot earlier this week.
A bit of a preface is in order. I am not a Will Ferrell fan. I don’t find him to be all that funny. Therefore, I have seen a grand total of one of his films, namely Talladega Nights, and that strictly because as a NASCAR fan I felt almost obligated to do so. It had a few laughs, but mostly was a waste of my time. I say all that to note that chances are good to excellent any quote from, or reference to, a Will Ferrell film will most likely escape my attention as far as its origin is concerned.
Now, for reasons unbeknownst to all Leon Wolf, a quite minor league conservative pundit, decided the other day to go on a Twitter tear about how much he disliked Mark Levin’s style because it was too abrasive and confrontational for his taste. Why can’t he be more entertaining like Rush Limbaugh, came the cry.
Queen of Liberty and Jen Kuznicki have thoroughly covered the subsequent kerfuffle, so there’s no need to rehash all the details. A thumbnail sketch is that Ribali RTd Wolf, adding her two cents that Levin is an “angry elf.” This apparently is a quote from the Will Farrell movie Elf, which as noted earlier is one I’ve never seen and have no plans to watch. Levin caught wind of the comment, remarked about it on his show as well as on social media, and it was on. Much ranting and occasional raving (minus the Ecstasy) on both sides, with Ribali playing the “you can’t say that to me – I’m just a girl” card to the max. How refreshing to know that in an era of demanded equality between the sexes, when the heat is on some women reserve the right to revert back to pearl clutching days. But I digress.
It is well worth noting that Levin’s resume is quite lengthy. He graduated from college with honors at age nineteen. He worked several different jobs in the Reagan White House. He is president of Landmark Legal Foundation, which has routinely and successfully battled against government overreach and illegal union activism. He has authored wildly successful books, including Liberty and Tyranny, that have clearly and thoroughly defined the sharp difference between conservative and liberal political philosophy. His weekday radio show is easily in the top ten most popular nationwide, with listenership of seven and a half million people each day. He’s also one of the biggest bags of mush when it comes to pets you could ever hope to find. Of course none of this puts him above criticism. However, it does make clear that in the conservative deeds not words department Levin is a Big Deal. And in conservative media a Very Big Deal.
On the air, Levin can be deliberately abrasive. He does not suffer fools lightly, nor does he have the classic radio voice. This is off-putting to some, as Wolf and Ribali have made plain. However, there are times when strident truth cannot be delivered in a format of lollipop dreams in a cotton candy sky. Levin is an unvarnished truth-teller. Don’t like it? Go cry to each other about it at your next get-together. You should have time before karaoke.
There is a regrettably common malaise within members of CNM. The affected ones have made a cottage industry out of not caring about matters that should be of great concern. This is particularly true for those who, as the prophet Isaiah noted God as saying, “come near to Me with their mouth and honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me.” Harsh and judgmental, you say? Consider the evidence.
If it’s not talking politics with each other as guests on each other’s show, or retweeting each other, or linking to each other’s blog posts, all of this part of an incestuous mutual admiration society where everyone promotes each other, it doesn’t happen. They use Jesus as their organ grinder monkey, an attention-drawing gimmick trotted out when they sense it will play well to the current crowd and immediately stuffed into the closet when they fear appearing too religious might hurt their social standing. They don’t care about Him. Oh, they will plaster Jesus all over their Twitter bio. But point people toward Him in word and deed when they’re doing their social media dance? Only when convenient to whatever career goal they’re shooting for this week. Culture change via changing hearts and lives by introducing people to Christ? Being a witness for Him by actively caring for and about others without regard to whether it will get you in better with the beautiful (at least so they tell us) people? Sorry, no time online for that. Instead, it’s regurgitate what those with genuine insight such as a Mark Levin who put in the work researching and reading, not merely reciting the works of others or worse yet reacting without truly reading anything, have already said as if this somehow makes one a pundit. No, it makes one an unfunny pun.
Avowed atheist Penn Jillette said it best:
“I’ve always said that I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a heaven and a hell, and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life, and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward—and atheists who think people shouldn’t proselytize and who say just leave me along and keep your religion to yourself—how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?
“I mean, if I believed, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that a truck was coming at you, and you didn’t believe that truck was bearing down on you, there is a certain point where I tackle you. And this is more important than that.”
He gets it. CNM doesn’t.
When will the realization come that doing nothing but promoting and tongue-bathing each other has accomplished nothing, is accomplishing nothing and will forever accomplish nothing? The talk is omnipresent about needing to change the culture. True. But when that which effects genuine change is made available, it is shunned. Why? For those who say they believe in Jesus, if He is Who He says He is, when does He become Lord as well as Savior? Is the world so hated that telling it the truth is dismissed due to unworthiness? Is there such a preoccupation with telling one another “yes, it is so” that no time can be found to proclaim what matters outside an ivory tower incorrectly labeled as sanctuary?
There is a childish preoccupation with behaving as children weakening conservatism today. It manifests itself in vainglorious self-promotion and nursing of hurt feelings when someone is not revered as they believe ought to be the case. It is shadowboxing and shadowplay; empty gestures without substance heralded by the crowd as individually each seeks to climb another rung by praising one another. Meanwhile, not only is the conservative message not being heard by those in desperate need of hearing it, the message of Christ’s love and saving grace isn’t so much as being whispered to those in desperate need of hearing it. It is a sad affair.
One for which there is no time.
(Cross-posted at the Necropolitan Sentinel)
PS: A little Guess Who never hurt anyone: