Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Does Our Tone In Public Debate Matter?

This is a great short column by the astute Marvin Olasky concerning the phenomena recently dubbed, “South Park Conservatism.” (I think it requires a free registration.) The essay contends that though there may be plenty of conservatives who fit the bill and who use sarcastic, sardonic, and even crass and offensive humor to get their point across, there is a different standard for the Christian-conservative or liberal. In response to a point Ann Coulter made at a college speech about not caring what people thought about her he writes:

And yet, while it doesn't matter what people think about us, it does matter what people think about Christ. Sophisticates showed contempt toward Paul's words in Athens (Acts 17), but some listened. What if, instead of arguing logically, he had ranted?

And a little later:

How would Paul act in today's culture? How, for that matter, would 18th-century members of the religious right like Samuel Adams and Patrick Henry? I suspect they would still be firm but courteous, displaying bravery without bombast.

I know it is obvious we live in a short-minded and sound-byte culture in which most pundits and advocates cannot be heard above the din without becoming more radical or outrageous, but Christians have a different standard to uphold.

As Kierkegaard once said, we have an “audience of one.” Maybe we should keep that at the forefront of our conversations when we address cultural and political issues from a Christian point of view. How would that change the way “evangelical representatives” sounded on cable news shows or on paid advertising during an election season? How would that change our tone when we write books, blogs, or letters to the editor?

Our job, if we are to be specific, is to witness to the truth. The work of the Holy Spirit is to open the hearts and minds of people-we do not carry that burden.

3 comments:

Callmeteem said...

Good point well made.
If I speak the truth about. It will accomplish its purpose. There is no need to be anxious and no need to be outrageous in the pursuit of developing an audience.
That applies, of course, to blogging.

Phil Steiger said...

Point well made about the blogging-it is easy for bloggers to get caught up in the pursuit of hits and recognition.

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