Usually, when the word crickets is mentioned one thinks of either live food for a pet lizard, a cartoon character, Buddy Holly’s backing band…
… the chirping heard on a warm summer eve or the absence of acknowledgement when someone declines responding to a challenge. The divine, not so much outside of the usual “all God’s creatures” etc etc. However, as Elizabeth Scalia has kindly brought to light, there is a bit more of God in crickets than previously suspected.
An enterprising scientist had the idea of recording crickets as they chirp, then slowing down the recording in proportion to what a cricket’s natural life span, assuming they don’t become some other animal’s lunch, would be if they had the same life expectancy as humans. The result… well, listen for yourself (the recording combines real time with the slowed down version):
Quite the choir, what say?
Now, this isn’t the first time crickets have been recorded singing…
Which leads in a roundabout, chasing down rabbit holes way to the actual topic of this magnetic ink scribble.
Before he became best known as the ofttimes host of The Wonderful World of Disney, Jiminy Cricket paid his dues by trying to keep Pinocchio on the straight and narrow. Not an easy task, given how much wood he had in-between the ears and how he’d fall for pretty much any line anyone would toss his way. Rather like the average MSNBC viewer in that regard. But I digress.
Being a hopped-up marionette’s conscience was, as Jiminy quickly learned, anything but an easy gig. In fact, one could say it was a whale of a job (*rimshot*). But Jiminy persevered, in the end seeing his efforts rewarded with Pinocchio becoming Gepetto’s answered prayer, that being a son coming into his life.
Having a conscience, particularly one guided by the Spirit, is a good thing. It tells us that yes, the ends never justify the means. It instructs us that honesty, even it is its only reward, is a reward always worth the effort to obtain. It lets us know that popularity, success and acclaim, even among our peers, are false gods whenever they either become our main objective or are obtained through deception and duplicity. In short, a conscience is a terrible liability in politics. And political punditry, sad to say. If there is truth in that we are known by the company we keep, proclaiming oneself as conservatism’s flag bearer while simultaneously signing professional allegiance to a libertarian Mormon evangelist is incongruous times ten.
Being conscious of Christ is not necessarily mandated to have a conscience, but it helps. In the muddy mist of current events, with frenzied accusations abounding where each side has its battle plans and detailed counterplots, a very good thing indeed would be for all involved to search not their hearts, for hearts often lie. Instead, it would be to search their conscience after first recharging it by listening to God as He speaks to us through His Word, His love in action as brought to us by others and hopefully as we also bring to others, and even the celestial cue card of a cricket choir.
In real life, we do not enjoy the good fortune of having a singing Jiminy Cricket serving as our conscience. However, we do have actual crickets serving to prod our consciousness into hearing the music and perhaps, just perhaps, hearing in it a sound reminding us that this world is not all there is to life. Especially when it gives dishonesty favor.
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.
“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.
It is impossible to take a look at current events without believing that the world is rapidly spinning off its axis. The hideous insanity of today’s obscenity in London, where two subhumans hacked an innocent soldier to death in the name of their false prophet, should serve as a warning sign to all that madness has descended on the earth to a level seldom seen before in man’s sordid history. Here in our own land, the madness of a completely out of control, arrogant and contemptuous government spying on its own citizens, hassling innocents in the name of political correctness and generally acting like a pathetic schoolyard bully should also serve as a red flag to anyone who has taken the red pill. We live in insane times.
It is lamentable that in times like these, so many who should know better are consumed with trivial pursuits that mean nothing and bring nothing to the table save yet another round of self-aggrandizing, self-promoting vainglory. One side provokes the other, the other responds in like kind, the trolls on both sides of the bridge hurl their bile and all the while nothing is accomplished. It is a game played by both sides, one in which there are no winners except those who through it garner yet another round of shoe leather fellatio from their adoring followers. The goal ought to be never becoming what we profess to oppose. Indeed, this is being accomplished. Unfortunately, the accomplishment is being even worse than what we profess to oppose.
We have seen nature’s fury these past few days; something which ought to humble us all and bring into full perspective that which truly matters. Instead, after momentary tongue-clucking and self-promoting charity exercises it’s back to business as usual, with left and right berating each other while playing to an adoring crowd within their respective echo chambers. There is much talk about changing the culture, breaking out of the aforementioned echo chamber and not applying litmus tests to one another in order to determine who is and is not on our side. Why, then, is there such an overwhelming amount of playing to the crowd, reciting the same tired lines and doing nothing that genuinely reaches out to others with a message of anything except endless reruns of what everyone else is currently saying?
We wear Scripture tattoos on our arms, but do we bear the wounds of Christ on our bodies? Do we see the world in terms of right and wrong based on political preference and not as a collection of individuals who, like ourselves, are in desperate need of a loving Savior? Do we truly know that Jesus died for everyone? Do we even care?
Are we coming to grips with the reality of how Christ calls us not to a life of luxury and adoration, but rather sacrifice and service to all? Do we understand and put into action simple gestures such as actually helping one another in the menial tasks of life as well as what we perceive to be great and glorious? Many aspire to stand beneath a spire, preaching from the pulpit where they dispense pearls of wisdom, grace and truth to a mesmerized congregation. Very few are equally eager to clean the church restroom.
It is time to reevaluate thinking; to re-examine priorities and put into action the principles and goals we assign to conservatism. For those of us who believe, it is time to begin boldly proclaiming the Word of God along with analysis of political events, philosophies and personalities. It is time to put into action the principles of Christ’s love, reaching out to all with genuine compassion, care and concern regardless of whether doing so earns us brownie points in the eyes of others or advances our career. It is time to lift up and support those who are dedicating their lives to sharing the Good News without regard to whether this pads our resume or garners a greater following. It is not the separation of church and state we should vigorously oppose. Rather, it is the separation of church and statements we make through our lives, words and deeds when we preach politics but fail to preach the Prince of Peace and practice what He has instructed us to do. We eagerly recoil in public horror at the abomination that is Gosnell. Are we equally eager to publicly share the Gospel?
Confront evil with full force, yet with the unshakable belief that Christ’s power can overcome even the hardest hearts. We need to strive toward being a consistent witness, not fearfully hiding our faith and bringing it out for public consideration only when it seems to be the least offensive to others. By doing so, we not only make ourselves look hypocritical by being afraid of stating what we believe, but we also make God look like an utter weakling. A very dangerous path to pursue.
Jesus was a man of action when He walked this earth, zealously and directly opposing those who said one thing and hypocritically did another while reaching out with compassion to society’s misfits – the prostitutes, the tax collectors. He made a whip, turned over tables and drove the moneychangers out of the Temple. He physically put Himself between the woman caught in adultery and the crowd with rocks in their hands itching for the opportunity to stone her. We must do likewise.
Like Him, we must zealously oppose those who say they are with us but whose actions and words reveal them to be anything but. Yet at the same time, we should reach out with compassion and genuine love to those on the other side of the aisle no matter who on our side it may aggravate. We serve a mighty, or to be more accurate the Almighty, God. We should not get in the way of His flexing His muscle.
The world needs love, not another lecture. The world needs Jesus Christ, not jostling to curry favor with fanbois and gurrls. The world needs us refusing to make every battle a pitched personal as well as political conflict. The world needs our complete witness, both telling it about Jesus and living a life worthy of His sacrifice for us on the cross.
One of the overriding mantras of BlogCon, based on its itinerary, is how CNM must reach outside the echo chamber and pursue/promote changing the culture. This is an especially crucial message to deliver at this time, and what better place to proclaim this than at a gathering of echo chamber kings and queens? This guarantees much discussion and emphasis within the echo chamber of the idea that CNM must indeed reach out beyond the echo chamber, said discussion being spurred by leaders of the echo chamber who to date have done such a magnificent job of spreading their message outside the echo chamber no one outside the echo chamber knows they exist. Imagine how much worse off we would all be if they were not scoring such monumental successes unfettered by any limitations of speaking solely to the echo chamber! Why, instead of no one outside the echo chamber knowing they exist it would be absolutely no one outside the echo chamber knowing they exist! Certainly can’t have that, now can we.
Sarcasm aside, there is a deep flaw in the “change the culture” philosophy presently being espoused in CNM circles. What we are hearing from people who have made no genuine inroads themselves into the popular mentality is that we need to identify and support conservative artists, pundits and teachers to counterbalance the liberal stranglehold on entertainment, news and education. Certainly this is a noble ideal, one with much merit. However, it overlooks a key element. Part of this is how the preachers of this culture change gospel have with their own actions not moved the needle one iota even as they tell others how it ought to be done. This duly noted, the main error is their forgetting fundamental truths: without love there is nothing, and without Christ there is no genuine change in the human heart.
Breaking this down, as long as CNM individually view themselves, and collectively views itself, as the superior to mainstream media and liberals (pardon the redundancy) it will never make so much as a dent in either MSM or pop culture’s armor. The genuinely humble artist, pundit or teacher lets their work do the talking. They do not boast; they self-promote with polite confidence in the quality of what they have to present. Their mission is not “look at me,” but rather “consider this.” The problem with being someone whose primary message consists of “look at me” is that at some point in time someone will look and see the one demanding attention not as they wish to be seen, nor as they see him or herself, but rather as they actually are. Which is not always a pretty picture.
The second part of this comes straight from Jesus: “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” Far too often the comment is made that discussing faith and discussing politics must be separated out for fear of alienating those one is attempting to engage with the latter by talking about the former. Really? If faith calls into play the same logic and reason used to formulate political opinions; that is to say, if faith is something other than an emotional rush but engages the mind as well as heart and soul, why shy away from it? Is not the Prince of Peace more important than politics? Is a single soul not so valuable to God that Jesus came to this earth to suffer and die so that one individual soul might have eternal life with Him? Remember, that single soul is you. And me. And everyone else. If faith is interwoven throughout your life as it ought to be for a believer. even as political philosophy is interwoven throughout your thought process, it should be as much a part of your daily discourse as talking about the latest developments in Washington.
This also applies to what we promote. A personal example. On a very good and quite popular Internet radio station for which the format is 1980s pop music, I have a show on which twice every Sunday I play terrific music; the best of Christian rock and pop from the 1980s with an occasional nod to the 1970s and 1990s as well. This isn’t saccharine schmaltz. It’s real, honest music that was great then and is great now. The show’s purpose is among other things an outreach to those who once knew the joy of life in Christ back in the day when this music was on their turntables and in their cassette decks, but have since seen that joy stripped away by life’s burdens. It is a reminder that Jesus is still there, He still loves them and He is more than willing and able to rekindle their dormant joy. It is changing the culture through the most effective method available: changing people by reviving heart, mind and soul. It also opens a channel through which political discussion can be initiated by talking about the cornerstone of conservative thought, namely the active application of Scripture and Christ’s teachings in everyday life. If this is not the foundation of our politics, then our beliefs have no foundation.
Certainly it is bothersome when I mention the show to CNM people as a possibility for promotion only to be either ignored altogether or told, be it directly or indirectly, there is no interest as it is not a political broadcast; yet these same people are presently gathered at BlogCon shouting to the skies how we must change the culture. Here is a golden opportunity to do so, and it is being dismissed out of hand. However, railing against this either collectively or individually will effect no change in the situation. Waste time, energy and unnecessarily incur hard feelings, yes. Accomplish anything worth accomplishing, not in the least. Therefore, not going there.
What I will say is this. People in CNM say within the echo chamber of their own creation they want to change the culture by reaching outside of the echo chamber. Fine, well and good. However, as long as CNM remains a self-satiated movement unwilling to move past all politics all the time, and as long as it actively excludes those whose cultural outreach is not strictly political in nature, all of its fine words about culture change are so much shouting into the wind heard by no one save those doing the shouting.
So I wake up on this sunny Sunday, nursing a slight sunburn from the birthday party for my one year old great-grandniece her grandmother held in her backyard yesterday, to see the Twitter world is all atwitter over something Justin Bieber said. Seems the young Canadian lad and pop music teen idol visited the Anne Frank House yesterday, spending an hour or so there, then wrote in the guestbookhow inspirational she was and that he hoped she would have been a “belieber.” For the uninitiated, “belieber” is the nickname Bieber’s great in number and even greater in fervor fan base of tween and teenage girls proudly wear.
From the right, the reaction has been a torrent of how abhorrent Bieber’s note was, or at least should be, to one and all. How dare he trivialize Anne Frank in this manner; what a maroon if not in fact dumber and more ego drenched than the lead singer of Maroon 5, etc etc etc and all the usual things you see on Twitchy when people grow outraged over the latest outrageous outrage.
Actually, the only people behaving outrageously are those professing outrage and/or leveling their snark attacks at Bieber over his comment. Shall we review?
Has it occurred to anyone that Bieber might have been expressing a wish that in a better world the toughest situation Anne Frank would have felt compelled to write about in her diary was choosing between the Justin Bieber and One Dimension of her day? That perhaps he meant no disrespect, nor was tripping over his own ego, by expressing a wish that Frank could have had a normal teenage life, not to mention life period, and that instead of his writing a note in the guestbook she’d be writing a check at the local record store to buy one of her granddaughters a Justin Bieber CD? That the face of the Holocaust could have instead been presently making a face at the silly antics of teenage girls going nuts over whoever’s picture is on this month’s Tiger Beat?
Some more facts, if you please. Bieber has 32.5 million Twitter followers. Thirty-two and a half million. Given the well-chronicled disaster that is public education, what are the odds that more than a handful of these kids have so much as heard of Anne Frank? If this non-incident gets copies of The Diary of Anne Frank in their hands, if this sparks interest in who she is and why their dreamboat visited her house, how can this be a bad thing?
Are we so accustomed to slamming celebrities every which way for everything and every slight that we are no longer capable of discerning when the issue is reasl or imagined? C’mon, people. Pick your battles.
No wonder we keep losing the cultural as well as the political war.
Back in the dawn of antiquity, when I was an active journalist covering Christian music, I regularly attended the industry’s yearly convention in Nashville. This was at a time when the debate over whether rock and roll was a acceptable medium for Christian music was still a hot button issue. One of the major Christian labels had just put out its first hard rock record, and was fiercely promoting the band. I ran into one of the band members, at a non-industry supervised moment, and he asked me what I honestly thought of their debut. I told him. In my opinion, the music was far too produced and processed to be a legitimate counterpoint to its secular namesake. At that particular time, Guns ‘n Roses was riding high before its appetite for self-destruction took full hold. I mentioned them not as someone to necessarily emulate musically, but rather pointing out the raw energy in their music. In the Christian band’s case, any energy the music might have had had been squeezed out in production, making it too smooth to be what it was trying to be. He politely said thank you. I was told later by other journalists that he commented how much he appreciated I had been the only person to directly speak to him about the band’s music, rather than hiding behind a review or talking about the band behind their back. As a side note, the band’s second record, which if I remember correctly was more commercially successful than the first, was far more raw and energetic.
I mention this in light of the brewing brouhaha between Ben Howe and John Nolte over Howe’s review of a film and music video produced by a tea party group. Howe lambasted the film and video (which as it turns out was a two-minute clip with no plans for being extended into a feature), to which Nolte responded by lambasting Howe over destructive rather than constructive criticism plus writing his review for a left-leaning website. This has had the usual repercussions on social media, namely everybody choose your partner and let’s go square dancing at today’s Battle of Butthurt Hoedown with complimentary refreshments provided by the fine folk at Candyass Cafe.
Being familiar with the entertainment critic realm, given that I used to be in it as both participant and one who rubbed shoulders with others in the same club, a few thoughts born from experience come to mind. The first is that with very few exceptions, critics are frustrated artists. Some accept this fact gracefully, treating fellow albeit more successful artists with affectionate familiarity and encouraging words. Others are steeped in bitterness over their lot in life, brooding over the fundamental unfairness of it all. I should be the one on that record, or stage, or in front of or behind that camera. For these folk, being a critic is not about providing objective analysis of artistic work. It’s a chance for revenge against the guilty by association.
Tied into the latter is the odd phenomenon of critics seeking to co-opt artist’s fame by becoming famous themselves for their invariably caustic criticism. Being noticed by being notorious is a path many have taken over the years, although given how social media has diluted the power traditional media critics once held this is no longer as effective as in days past when a critic could make or break an artist, movie or play.
Taking this from general to specific, while a critic’s obligation is to review with fairness and honesty, letting the chips fall where they may, when dealing within a realm not viewed favorably by the world in general it becomes ever more important for a critic to not only measure their words carefully but also be a direct advocate for raising the performance standard by approaching artists privately to offer thoughts and suggestions on how improvement can be achieved. Two prime examples are Christian music and conservative politics. No one involved in either of these fields need be told they are not in the running for any worldwide popularity prizes. They know the world hates them and is looking for any excuse to tear their work, and them, apart. In this light, it should be even clearer how imperative it is for the knowledgeable critic to respond when something less than stellar comes their way not with snark or smug condescension but rather by going to the artist with a simple message: look, this is not good enough, here is how you can improve. Both the artist, and the cause, will benefit. Provided the artist isn’t so in love with his or herself that all advice is immediately dismissed out of hand, of course. But that is hardly the critic’s fault.
To summarize, there was an opportunity here to work together in the pursuit of excellence. Instead, what we have is what we all too often have: ego, butthurt and nothing positive gained from any of the going-ons. Once again we have someone playing Wile E. Coyote to the hilt as they run around proclaiming themselves, by looking down on others, as a super genius, never noticing they are equally as effective as their idol.
Here are the quick ramblings and tatlings of a Newt endorser and the leading NotMittRomney voice: me.
And of course, Ali, your notmittromney.com site which started with such sound and fury in November 2011 — complete with a page on which to make donations — mysteriously transformed itself into a redirect to Romney’s campaign site sometime in-between May 12th and May 27th of last year. Right, Ali!
It’s worth noting that I’m not about evangelization. It’s not my calling. I’m about edification and exhorting people to return to the faith.
I’ve done loss leader activities before when it was something needing to be done. I will never, as in never, come even halfway close to recouping the money I spent putting together my book. I didn’t mind in the least. How could I? I was repaying a debt to these artists I could never repay. Namely, bringing me back to God. The very least I could do was what I could do to encourage others to also return home.
That said, I didn’t spend what I didn’t have, and I’m not about to start now. I’m neither prepared nor willing to solicit donations for such an endeavor as staging a concert during CPAC 2014. Maybe I’ll change my mind between now and then; I don’t know.
Also, let’s face it. If someone has the choice between writing a check to bring the Lost Dogs or Phil Keaggy to town, or writing the same check to facilitate shmoozing between a bunch of bloggers (never mind their effective reach beyond the echo chamber is negligible at best) and politicos, it’s not cynicism to suggest that going for the immediate effect of perceived political action will trump effecting the cultural change so many bleat they want yet never seem to actually do anything to put into place. Every time.
Back in the day, I attended several Gospel Music Association conventions in Nashville. To a one they were filled with fresh-faced artists, radio people, concert promoters, bookstore owners and so on. These people were to a one in love with the Lord and on fire to serve Him through the music in whatever area they worked. They were ready and willing to do whatever it took to change the world.
They never did.
It wasn’t their fault. Sure, there were errors of enthusiasm: overestimating abilities, failure to learn business dynamics. However, these people were not even close to being the primary reason for not achieving their goals. They were thwarted by industry leadership unwilling to support the ministries they claimed to have at heart as instead it lavished attention and resources on what was safe, and what paid the most within the Christian cultural castle echo chamber. They were equally held back from reaching their goals by an industry with significant corruption at the highest levels, be it financial, moral or both.
Sound familiar? It should. Substitute CPAC for GMA and you have the exact same scenario. The only difference is that now people claim to follow Ronald Reagan rather than Jesus Christ.
I noticed Smitty didn’t address my comments about NBC. Any possible gain it might offer by facilitating contact between bloggers and politicians is ancillary to its main objective: making Ali Akbar a Beltway player. Never mind that NBC has abandoned its original objective; never mind its lack of financial transparency or its primary fundraising technique consisting of poking the hornets nest and then crying because its residents emerged in an ill humor. Never mind how Akbar has left behind a trail of underhanded dealings, broken promises and questions that regardless of who asks what are immediately labeled a nefarious plot, or unwitting participation in one, by his enablers *coughstacymccaincough*. Does enabling Joe or Jane Blogger to get a photo op with Ted Cruz make all of this all right?
We saw this year with the thin-skinned act by the ACU of excluding GOProud, then Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, from the CPAC program because of criticism, its corruption. We know Akbar’s corruption. This isn’t about them. It is about any organization. A corrupt head weakens, renders ineffective and ultimately lays to waste the entire body no matter how many of its other parts are doing the right thing for the right reason.
You can’t dance with the devil in order to sing for the savior. Stay away from snakes.
I noted Smitty’s rebuke on The Other McCain today to my none too gentle post here yesterday labeling CPAC in general and BlogBash in particular as lamentable money wasting, serving no purpose save that of egostroking. Smitty is a good man and a good blogger, but I fear in this case he is somewhat off target. To wit:
Noting Jerry Wilson’s disdain for BlogBash, “An event such as BlogBash could prove valuable if it led to greater networking, encouragement and support for all bloggers, not solely those in attendance,” I don’t think Jerry is fully briefed on the goals of The National Blogger’s Club, which really aren’t bad at all.
Actually, I am fully briefed on the NBC’s goals. To quote: “The National Bloggers Club will work to give educate, provide access, and further equip citizen-journalists without robbing them of their independence for those who advocate for economic and individual freedom.” The club’s original goal was to provide independent bloggers with accreditation that could be used to be accepted as legitimate media when covering news events. A very good idea.
The problem is the NBC has not only never delivered on this promise, it has abandoned its founding principle in favor of fundraising for whoever is crying victim and, well, throwing parties. Hey, parties are great fun when you’re invited — I’m not — and offering financial assistance to bloggers who have incurred the wrath of evildoers is a noble cause, never mind how doing so while naming names of the aforementioned evildoers does nothing but urge them forward. But to date there has been nothing done about making the NBC’s original purpose come to fruition. There was a promised website to register NBC membership cards. It has never happened. There is no form with which to apply for membership, no posted rules, no list of members or requirement for membership, and as others have discovered no one responsible for providing media credentials knows the NBC exists, let alone recognizes it as something worth considering when deciding who gets what access where. So yes, I do know the NBC’s goals. Apparently far better than the NBC.
I had gone to the President’s Dinner with Allen West, and then popped in to Blog Bash for about an hour with Da Tech Guy. Then it was time to get home, as (a) really loud music and (b) heavy partying (I drank an O’Doul’s) are done for me in that time. I did catch the awards portion. It was jolly good and quick.
An even more strident criticism, of CPAC in general, is from Richard Mgrdechian:
I have one simple question for the organizers (and the profiteers) of this political farce: how does anything being done at this event help promote American values of hard work, integrity and gratitude in any way? The answer is, it doesn’t. There is no take away whatsoever.
Two points, gents:
Failure doesn’t age well. Forty years of steady growth in CPAC attendance belie the notion that it is a ‘farce.’ BlogBash/The National Bloggers Club is an order of magnitude younger, but it’s still a growing concern, as noted by the increasing harassment received.
The Democratic party has been around a couple of centuries, but that doesn’t make it any less of a farce, Smitty. Snark aside, longevity does not automatically impart legitimacy. No enterprise is judged on last year’s batting average. And harassment because people can’t stop playing the victim long enough to stop donating their own blood to recognition vampires isn’t true harassment. It’s stupidity.
People don’t scale. With growth and success come the critics. And I’ll point you to the Man in the Arena speech and suggest that, in a capitalist society, competition is the ultimate rebuttal. That is, I’m not sure any of the proffered criticisms don’t apply to many large gatherings of people, but I’d sure like to see a rounder wheel if you can spin one.
Ah, the old “if you don’t like it do it better yourself” approach. More on this later.
Ronald Reagan’s mug dominates the wall behind the main CPAC stage, not that hero-worship excites me. What does excite me is having a concentrated place for the ideas that Reagan embraced and promoted, in that one eight year pause amidst our Progressive decline, to get transmitted from the establishment fogies decried by Wilson and Mgrdechian, to the college generation.
We need CPAC for that? Really?
Is CPAC enough? Let’s call it necessary, but not sufficient. The ditch on the other side of the road is say “They should just let CPAC die because they haven’t done enough to fix. . .” which forms a non-falsifiable, moving goal line. The more criticism heads that way, the less constructive it is.
The notion that criticism is counterproductive is ludicrous. It does nothing to address the issues raised, instead attempting to sweep it all under the rug. CPAC is pay to play, to borrow a music industry term. BlogBash is a circle jerk. And this is advancing conservatism?
I like going to CPAC and trying to make the speeches a little more accessible than just a 20 minute shot of YouTube. I guess that’s my criticism of it. The bandwidth at National Harbor is also wretched, though, I guess if I was sponsoring the event I may have better joy. That many people at once is always just a drain for me.
Here’s the deal. We say we’re a family. We say we’re all together. We say everyone great and small matters and is important for the cause. So where does the inclusiveness come into play? When does it start? Did anyone do a conference call or video conference with those not in attendance? No. Unless you count an Ustream of BlogBash as inclusiveness, which would be an interesting interpretation of the word to say the least.
Did anyone at CPAC call or write anyone not there saying wish you were here? I’m sure someone did; I never heard from anyone. Did anyone at CPAC stop to actually make so much as a jab, let alone stab, at getting people not in the room involved? You say you rubbed shoulders with Allen West and Rand Paul. Great. Very good. Nice. I’m happy for you. Did you put anyone on the phone with them? Did you pass along the contact information for anyone not there at the time who has skills that they could use? Do you genuinely give a flying freak about anyone other than your immediate crew and anything other than your next photo op? Evidence, please.
As a suggestion, guys, why not organize a Christian music concert nearby, for one of the CPAC evenings? National Harbor is crawling with dogs & cats, goldfish & clownfish from all over. CPAC has gathered a great audience for you. You could leverage that for a jolly good, edifying outing of your own. Just sayin’.
Okay, time to address the “if you don’t like how it’s done you do it” bit.
Let’s say I decided to put on a concert nearby. Let’s further say I collaborated with Mgrdechian to make it a double bill with Madison Rising and someone from my corner of the music world. Now, since this isn’t a Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland movie, the option of staging it at any given individual’s uncle’s barn is off the table. This means renting a venue for the evening, which means things like insurance, employee salaries for venue workers and security, and the like.
Next, you have to supply certain pieces of equipment to have a concert: PA, lights, possibly instruments such as drum sets and amplification if the artist can’t bring his or her own. You’ll need to rent this equipment plus pay a crew to set them up before the concert and take them down afterwards.
Now, let’s provide the artists who will play the concert. We already have Madison Rising booked for this hypothetical show, so it’s up to me to find someone of my preferred genre who is available to perform that evening. I’m now on the hook for their concert fee, plus in almost all cases transportation cost, meals, lodging and all that. And also Madison Rising’s.
Now, if you want anyone to come you can’t charge admission. The house keeps all revenues from food and beverage sales, which will be minimal since as a rule Christians don’t drink much. (And are terrible tippers to boot. But I digress.) The bands keep their merchandise sale revenue. And, since by the time you’re done counting the cost you are looking at five figures easy — like I have that kind of money, answer being nowhere near it — you’re looking at a not inconsiderable sum that cannot be recouped. All to say, “There. I did something.” Know anyone willing and able to cut a check and cover all that? Me neither.
Well, I do in fact do something. Hardly with the flash of a CPAC, but it is there every Sunday at 11 AM and 11 PM Eastern. And you don’t have to go anywhere or be part of the in crowd to participate. Plus, it’s free for everyone who wants to join in. Best I can do right now.
Which is far more than can be said for CPAC and BlogBash.
I spent yesterday evening putting together next Sunday’s Cephas Hour. It’s a good one; wide variety of music without illogical genre shifts, superb songs from start to finish. The host could use some work, but he knows that. All too well.
Although I was primarily focusing on song selection, making the segues from one to the next smooth and then choosing my words for the banter in-between sets, my mind did occasionally wander across the country to a piano bar where BlogBash was being held. For the uninitiated (count your blessings), BlogBash is a now annual subgathering during the annual CPAC gathering of conservatives, said subgathering consisting of a self-selected few conservative bloggers who gather together to party, give each other awards and send innumerable tweets and photos of each other, far more often than not in various stages of inebriation. Not my idea of a good time, but to each their own. As to CPAC itself, Madison Rising’s manager sums it up quite nicely.
There are invariably people attending such events I’d like to meet in real life. That said, such a gathering is hardly my definition of a quality meeting place. I prefer small groups, no more than three or four including myself, where everyone spends actual time talking with and getting to know each other. And everyone in attendance is sober. Most preferable is one on one, and not the schmoozing kind where you’re greeting whoever you are currently speaking with while simultaneously bobbing up and down to look over their shoulder so you can see if there is someone else in the room with whom you’d rather converse. Genuine one on one, with both people sharing, caring and making a meaningful connection having nothing to do with mutual career advancement.
It warrants mention that I am far, far more likely to be the next cover story for GQ than be granted admittance to a BlogBash or variation thereof. Doubtless this is all my fault, and if I were the organizers of such events I wouldn’t let me near the place either. Too outspoken; too willing to cross swords and otherwise be an irreverent loose cannon. Also, a champion go along to get along type with charter membership in the mutual admiration society I am not. I truly suck at sucking up. Much more the type who has burned, if not outright dynamited, several bridges behind me over the decades.
Age hopefully brings wisdom. I do my best to be far more circumspect these days, trading a tradition of truculence for a more taciturn approach. Getting far too old for the angry young man shtick, which is nothing more than self-righteousness pretending to be a holy crusade. However, when it presses on me that something need be said, it is said. I may be more particular these days when choosing which hill to die on, but when it is called for my action plan and attitude toward same mirrors that of Esther: if I perish, I perish. The truth, in all its forms, is what matters. Me, not so much.
So many things are of infinitely greater importance than handheld mirror-rooted love feasts or Twitterati internecine warfare. A brutal reminder of this came a few days ago, when a woman I know on Twitter suffered the unspeakable horror of her daughter being killed in a car accident, the daughter leaving behind a young son. I, as do all in the unfortunate fellowship, know from personal experience the heartache of burying your parents and a sibling. Yet even as deeply as these moments hurt, they are expected events. Every child knows and reluctantly accepts that one day they will say goodbye on this earth to their parents. No parent, save in their worst nightmare, contemplates having to say goodbye to their child. For this blinding pain there can be no preparation. For those hit by such a tragedy there must be nothing but love and prayerful support.
Praying properly for others requires proper preparation. I am reminded of Pope Francis I and his introduction to the world; a quiet, humble man of faith and service whose first words to the people were a request for prayer. This is someone to emulate; this is someone setting an example via deeds and not words. This is also someone who incurred harsh criticism for remaining seemingly mute when Argentina was suffering under a repressive regime, it being revealed only years later that he had personally saved more than a few lives from his country’s then government at no small risk to his own. Again, deeds not words. Performance, not PR. Not a man who toots his own horn.
Far too often, an individual or group’s deeds are rendered impotent by the selfsame individual or group’s words. A prime example of this is when combating someone, or an alliance, that is both desirous to do harm in some fashion and feeds on attention. Certainly one must do what need be done to protect him or herself plus family and friends. That said, if the temptation of seeking sympathy by broadcasting your situation to the world is too great to resist you are immediately removing yourself from doing what is right, instead depositing yourself into a game of liar’s dice for a prize of fool’s gold. Recognition vampires will do anything necessary to get their name out there. Do not offer them your neck to bite by sticking it out while looking for your own recognition. Do these things privately. Do not so much as publicly breathe the name or names of the opposition. Do not acknowledge its existence. Quietly pursue justice. Any other course of action will make it that much more difficult to achieve.
Sadly, even as there are those who live to be noticed others live to be part of the Perpetual Sissyhood of Daily Martyrdom. Why? Some enjoy the sympathy, others how this makes for a marvelous fundraiser. For some, both. Bank account running low? Poke the hornets nest, call forth the cash cow… er, bogeyman and cue up “Poor, Poor Pitiful Me.” Works every time. Regrettably, to this group BlogBash was dedicated along with running the show.
An event such as BlogBash could prove valuable if it led to greater networking, encouragement and support for all bloggers, not solely those in attendance. This is not the case. Instead, BlogBash is Purina Ego Chow for petty little people on either side of the battlefield. The pathetic left uses it as a whipping boy for all they say is wrong with the right, while the self-absorbed right uses it as a way to say who’s in and who’s out among a little co-ed frat house blissfully ignorant of how no one outside its own circle knows it exists. Everyone is a misunderstood champion; everyone is a heroic victim of the other side. And everyone is shocked to learn none of it matters.
They ought not to be.
So much of life is lived only when we take the blows that come our way without alibi or fanfare. We will all experience genuine sorrow, the kind that can be effectively handled by no means other than becoming acquainted with the Man of Sorrows, the One acquainted with grief. We do not need sponsors, donations or high school cliques created by equally high school-ish drama queens. These are meaningless and will depart as quickly as they came, leaving behind no legacy other than a monument to folly. Even as only starving the attention seekers while working without notice to thwart their plans effectively counters their evil, only surrender to Jesus’ love and emulation of His service to others builds an enduring testimony to something worthwhile. BlogBash doesn’t qualify.