The Weinstein Predicament

In recent months, a few high powered celebrities have been exposed as sexual predators. Hollywood heavyweight Harvey Weinstein is the most recent assailant to be accused. Before him, it was a few of the boys at Fox News. As you might expect, rather than condemning the evil for what it is, we’ve politicized it. It’s what Americans do.

If our reactions to these disturbing stories were a script, here’s what it would look like.

Republican: “Our sexual predator is less deranged than your sexual predator.” Leans away from the keyboard and smugly folds arms, admiring his stance for truth.

Democrat: “No, our sexual predator is less deranged than your sexual predator.” Lowers megaphone and folds arms, admiring his stance for truth.

Evangelical: “We have determined that the Republican sexual predator is the lesser of two evils so we have decided to throw our full, unquestioning support behind him.” Takes his seat at the table, folds arms, and silently wonders why no one listens to his stance for truth.

Regardless of popular opinion, Christians do not have to speak out on every issue. In fact, it’s probably best if we stay silent on some things, especially those things that we do not fully understand. Complex issues are usually made worse when we try to solve them in 140 characters.

Of course, there are times when Christians do need to speak up, namely in response to evil. But it is of utmost importance that our responses are consistent. If we have condoned evil from a group that we identify with only to condemn the exact same evil when it is committed by the folks on the other side, we forfeit our right to be heard. Sure, our blind partisan support may earn us a seat at the table but it will leave us with nothing to say and no one foolish enough to listen. What does it profit a man to gain a seat at the table and lose his soul?

It’s time to call off our affair with political parties. Actually, that time came long ago but now will do. Otherwise, rather than being salt and light in a decaying and dark world, we will be clanging cymbals in a band that is already way off key. Rather than being peacemakers, we will be side takers. Rather than serving the Lord we will be slaves to earthly overlords.

Evil, regardless of who does it, is still evil. It is not bound by political party or confined to that group on the other side. It doesn’t only take up residence with them. It can be found in us. It can be found in me. All of us need the gospel.

It has been said that those who knew about the actions of these sexual predators but did nothing to stop them are complicit in their evil. I’ll leave it to people smarter than me to figure that one out. But I can tell you that when the Church sends out inconsistent messages regarding evil for fear of losing political clout, it ceases to be the Church and instead settles for being an arm of a political party. This happens on the right and on the left and it must stop.

Jesus told us to take up our cross and follow him. I’m afraid that some who call themselves Christians have put down the cross and picked up their favorite political personality’s dirty laundry and followed him instead.

Jesus will have none of this.

And neither should we.

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Isaiah 5:20 (ESV)

 

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Bad News

Just because the Olympics are over doesn’t mean that you can’t watch gymnastics on TV. All you have to do is turn on the news.

On Thursday morning I watched the folks on CNN contort themselves to make Hillary Clinton look better than she really is. It didn’t take too long until I finally had enough so I switched it over to Fox News. Over there they were doing backflips to try and explain away Donald Trump’s latest act of foolishness.

Christians are people of the truth. Being people of the truth in today’s climate requires quite a bit of work. If you care about finding out what’s going on in the world, you have to be your own editor.

That means that you can’t just listen to the people who only say nice things about your favorite candidate or political persuasion. If all they ever tell you is what you want to hear, you aren’t getting the full story. That’s the best case scenario. More than likely, you’re just being lied to.

A few years ago, I wrote for a small sports website. The website was owned by and named after a prominent athlete. Guess what the managing editor told us about the stories we wrote. Don’t say anything that could hurt the guy who signs the checks.

The major news networks are a lot like that. The only difference is that the checks are bigger and the people signing them are much more powerful and influential. That means that the major news network that pays it’s bills by attracting an audience of a certain political persuasion will not spend a lot of time covering a story that would make that certain political persuasion look bad.

That’s where your job as the editor comes in. You have to back up the stories you hear with your own research and facts you already know to be true. It’s not enough to believe something just because you wish it were true.

There is no doubt that CNN leans a bit to the left. But you don’t correct that by getting all of your news from www.billybobsconservitivehideout.tv. While we enjoy all of the benefits that come with having more access to information we have to remember the other side of that coin. More people have access to giving you their information. And they don’t care if it’s true or not. They just want your click. Or money. Or vote.

But you care more about the truth than any of those things.

As Christians, we should not only be concerned about the truthfulness of the information we receive but also the information we pass along. If our non-beliving friends on social media frequently find us posting articles about how Hillary and Donald spent the weekend playing cards with Tupac and Elvis, good luck trying to get them to believe you when you tell them about a man who was born of a virgin, rose from the dead and is coming back to earth.

If the truth matters, and it does, than we should make the effort to look for it rather than having some lesser version of it fed to us. And we should be careful not to put our name on something less than the truth.

“Accuracy, Accuracy, Accuracy.”

Joseph Pulitzer wrote those words on the wall of his newsroom.

Joseph Pulitzer died. Sadly, it appears as though his three word code of ethics for reporting the news died with him.

There are still shreds of accuracy left in journalism.

But you have to go looking for them because if reporters are too generous with their accuracy, it might not make the people who sign the checks too happy.

Be your own editor.

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Break-Up Letter

Hey. How’s it going? Have you been okay? Look, I’m sorry you haven’t heard from me in a while. I’ve just needed some time away.

Things haven’t been okay between us for a while. It’s like you’re trying to take over my life. Nothing is fun anymore. It’s all lies, empty threats, slanted stories and hype. I’d love to say that it’s not me, it’s you but I can’t. It really is you. So I’m calling it quits between us before you start to effect me anymore than you already have.

News Media, I’m breaking up with you.

Don’t worry. We can still be friends. I’ll check in to read you quite often. But I just can’t watch you anymore. Or listen to you. The yelling is just too much. It’s making me nervous.

It’s been a few days since I’ve seen you or heard your voice. A lot has changed with me in that time. I feel less tense. I’m not constantly wondering if I’m being lied to. Life is a little easier.

But I’m sure that nothing has changed with you. The Republicans and Democrats still aren’t getting along. Or maybe they’re getting along too well. I forget. Everything from movie awards to the Grammy’s to the First Lady’s trip to Target is about race. You’re always talking about that. And, of course, there’s still the usual murders and robberies.

I hate to say it like this. I really don’t mean to be rude. But I don’t miss you. I’ve enjoyed the extra time listening to music. It’s been nice processing events on my own instead of having you trying to tell me what to think or what a bad person I am for thinking like I do.

Look, I just don’t think that we were meant to be together. At least not as much as we have been in the past. But you’ll be okay. There are plenty of other fish in the sea. Believe me. And besides, you’ll manage to stay busy getting your helicopter shot down and rescuing puppies from burning buildings.

A while back I heard a pastor say that if you really want to reduce the amount of tension in your life, cut back on how much news you watch and listen to. I’m only a few days in but so far, that pastor is looking like a genius. There is so much more to life when there is less of you.

So I guess that this is goodbye. There’s a book waiting for me. And you’ve got a lot of yelling, accusing, name-calling and finger-pointing to do.

So let’s just be friends.

Distant friends. The kind that only communicate through the written word.

Don’t take this the wrong way, but it would be fine with me if I never saw or heard you again.

So long, News Media. Thanks for the memories. I guess.

Sincerely,

Jay

Watch What You Say At Chick-fil-A, Cuz

A Chick-fil-a manager has made a splash on social media because of a list of words and phrases he is forbidding his employees to use. Eric, the manager, doesn’t want his employees accusing each other, or customers for that matter, of having Ebola. He doesn’t want them referring to others as cuz or Felicia or claiming to be legally blind.

As you can imagine, the Internet has gotten its collective undergarments in a bunch over this. Eric is the bad guy. He’s taking away his employee’s right to free speech. He’s on the wrong side of history. He’s racist. He’s homophobic. Boo, Eric!

But I say that Eric deserves a big hooray! We’ve all been in stores before where employees  fall all over themselves not to help you. And the one who loses and has to help you has the communication skills and business sense of a bucket of hammers. Eric is trying to stop that. Again, hooray for Eric! And we wonder why the Chick-fil-a parking lot is always full while the crowd over at Hardee’s is just a tad larger than what one would find during the 2nd quarter of a Georgia Tech football game.

Along with saying hooray for Eric, I think that we should carry this plan out in other areas of life. More leaders need to demand proper verbalization and respect from their employees. So with that in mind, and in honor of Eric, I’ve developed my own list of words and phrases that should be phased out in certain areas of life.

The Media

You shall no longer use the phrases boots on the ground, from Wall Street to Main Street, Breaking News, News Alert, Breaking Now or similar variations. I’m looking at you, Fox News. If even 15% of your News Alerts were actually worthy of your hype, we’d all be living in The Walking Dead right now. No one needs to hear a Fox News Alert about how Eminem said something meant to Anderson Cooper.

Church

The word, fine shall no longer be used in church buildings. When you go to church you will be asked how you are doing. This cannot be avoided. But the same old answer can. If you don’t like the question, just give it an honest answer and you probably won’t be asked it again.

Greeter: “Hi, Chuck. How are you?”

Chuck: “Terrible. I stayed up all night in a fit of rage after watching my favorite team, the Auburn War Criminals, fumble away a certain victory. To settle down, I spent a few hours listening to Ray LaMontagne on vinyl. That sent me into a bit of a funk and the next thing I knew it was 10:00 in the morning. I figured that this was as good a place as any to sleep so here I am. How are you?”

Problem solved.

Sports

Athletes, fans and coaches shall no longer be allowed to use the following words and phrases.

“One game at a time.”

“It is what it is.”

“I was misquoted.”

“I apologize to those who may have been offended.”

“Not guilty, your honor.”

“At the end of the day.”

“War Eagle.”

“Roll Tide.”

In other words, there will no longer be any sports interviews and ESPN will have to cut back to two channels and only show the games without their standard six hours of commentary and debate.

You can see my plan working already!

Eric, thank you for your example. Don’t listen to all of the naysayers. Continue to hold your employees accountable. Know that we are all behind you on this one. And together we will never forget one of the most important phrases known to mankind.

“Eat more chicken.”

Melissa Harris-Perry’s Trap Floor

I love to run through the woods.  It’s how I start most of my mornings.  But running through the woods can be dangerous.  A while back I stepped on a rock and messed up my ankle pretty bad.  I was about five miles from my truck so I spent the next hour trying to do those crazy breathing exercises my wife learned when she was pregnant.

A while before that I almost stepped on a snake.  A big brown snake.  When I saw it I automatically started doing the Deion Sanders high step and screaming and moaning like I was trying out for a Doors cover band.

And of course there’s the occasional weirdo that you find out in the woods.  No, not the one doing breathing exercises while high stepping and impersonating Jim Morrison.  Other weirdos.  Like the grown men with plastic swords that spend the afternoon pretending to kill each other.

Sometimes I have to run on a track.  The track is perfectly safe.  I’ve never turned my ankle at the track.  There are no snakes and no fighting swordsmen.  Just me and the elders of the community.  Going about our business.  In circles.  Which is another way of saying that we never go anywhere.

Melissa Harris-Perry set off a firestorm earlier this week with her comments encouraging communities, not parents, to take ownership of children.  MSNBC released another promo this week featuring Harris-Perry.  This time her sights were set on money.

In the promo, Harris-Perry says that, “we have to have a floor under which nobody falls.”  This is yet another progressive idea that sounds loving and forward thinking but, upon closer examination, is exactly the opposite.  When we depend on the government to establish such a floor we can count on there being a ceiling about two, maybe three inches above that floor.

In a free society, there are most certainly dangers.  People can get hurt.  They can lose everything.  But they can get back up.  The sky is still the limit, so to speak.

But in a society with a government mandated floor things look a lot safer because everyone is more alike.  There’s no fat cat soaring through the sky while some poor cat plunges into free fall.  No, in this society, there are no free falls, or so we are told.  But what we are not told is that there is also no soaring.  Everyone is pretty much in the same class, lying on the government mandated floor while praying for the government mandated ceiling not to come any closer.

Harris-Perry goes on to say that all people have the right to, “health care, and to education and to decent housing and to quality food at all times.”  This is the same short-sighted line of reasoning that is slowly chipping away at the concept of free speech in this country where tolerance is god and those who refuse to bow are not tolerated.

It works the same economically.  It sounds good to say that everyone has a right to the best doctor, a high dollar education, a sweet house and grilled salmon with a side of rice and a glass of bourbon.  But upon closer examination we learn that someone has to pay for all of that.  It suddenly doesn’t seem so loving when a family can’t afford to fund their so-called right to quality medical care, good food and nice schools because they are forced to fund someone else’s quality medical care, good food and nice schools.

Melissa Harris-Perry is not the problem here.  The real problem is her employer.  Remember the days when news organizations just told us that the president was coming to town?  Neither do I.  But I am told that at one time that was the case.  Now, instead of just letting us know to expect a little traffic during the presidential traffic, MSNBC and Fox News feels the need to share their opinion on why the president is coming to town while at the same time telling us how we should feel about his visit.

When major media outlets stop reporting about the president and start reporting for the president we shouldn’t waste our time worrying about the loss of individual liberty.  Most likely, it’s already been lost.

We were just too busy fighting for our presumed right to a leaner cut of steak to notice.