Thursday, January 31, 2008

What's Shaping My Thoughts

I read this article almost two months ago, and it has had a profound impact on my thinking, particularly about my faith and how it relates to my politics. Entitled "I'm Not A Conservative Christian", and written by Michael Spencer, who by all accounts is both a devout Christian and a committed conservative, it really draws a line between between this world and the Next, and what we seek as important in our short lives here. I think reading it largely sparked my blogging fatigue, since so much of my own blogging relates to politics (even the title of this blog relates to my own political orientation!). Now I don't agree with everything the writer argues in the piece, but it has certainly reframed and reoriented me to some extent. How far that extent goes, I don't know for sure, but in particular I've been ruminating over this bit today after re-reading it:
What does all this have to do with conservatism? Let me make an observation here. It will be blunt, and some of you may find it pious and preachy. If you wish, you may blame this one on my recent weekend with John Piper.

How many conservative Christians are listening to multiple hours of Rush Limbaugh every week? I wonder how many include a couple of hours of Fox News Channel's conservatives, Hannity and O'Reilly, on that menu. I wonder how many regularly listen to Marlin Maddux's "Point of View" program, or Pat Robertson's "700 Club." How many surf, Conservative News Network or WorldNet, the tabloids of conservative web journalism? If we were to take the total hours devoted to these--and many, many other--conservative information and opinion outlets, how would it compare to the amount of time spent under the teaching of scripture? How would it compare to time spent in acquiring a Biblical vision of God? Does the total amount of time spent by that same random evangelical in "the renewing of the mind" with the Word of God come even close to the amount of time spent seeing the world through the eyes of conservative pundits and journalists?

I note this not out of paranoid fantasy, but out of watching my friends immerse themselves in this new world of conservative media. Whether it is the Christian variety or the secular flavor, it doesn't matter. Millions who seldom open a Bible are spending hours under the "preaching" of the conservative political movement in America.

Now, to my credit, I recognized O'Reilly for what he was (an egocentric, bombastic populist, thanks for asking) after only a short two or three years of devoted viewing and stopped watching him, I've never been able to stand Hannity, and I haven't caught more than a few minutes of Rush since the eighth grade. As for websites, I prefer more highbrow fare like NRO, The Weekly Standard, RCP, and a whole host of blogs over the sensationalism of the ones he mentions. But still, I spend countless hours every week reading those, while I profess that my faith is more important to me than any political election, and only spend a short amount of time each morning in God's Word.

At any rate, all I'm trying to do is share what's been informing my thought processes as of late. Perhaps God will do great work in me, and it will show here on this blog. Or perhaps I'll only post grumbling complaints about Romney and McCain on a semi-weekly basis. I'm rooting for the former.

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Anonymous Marty said...

Do both, Ben. I mean, you are a talented writer. Your audience may be small, but it's not just for them that you are writing. A "blog" is a web log, a diary. Diaries used to be an art form. And the best ones show the author thinking through a problem, mulling the events of the day, making keen observations, playing with ideas. You have to think in order to write. When you write, you are being self-critical. At least that's the theory. In the best hands. Of course, our diaries are now open, and many authors use them as their own stumps, on which to hold forth, to pretend to be a writer, or a pundit, or whatever. But it doesn't have to be that way. And in many of your posts, you've shown that it isn't that way for everyone. Keep up the good work. And read your Bible tonight. (And write about it tomorrow.)

9:58 PM  
Blogger Benjamin said...

I actually do my reading in the dark hours of the morning. And in fact, I was particularly inspired by a passage from 2 Corinthians today, so hopefully I'll have time to collect and post my thoughts about it later today.

7:50 AM  

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