The Apostle Paul talks about “being all things to all people” so he might win some to Christ (1 Corinthians 9, verses 19-23.) It hadn’t taken him long to figure out that acting like a churchy snob or a “goody-two-shoes” religious guy wouldn’t win him an audience with many of the pagans back in his day. His idea was to get the gospel message out to as many as possible. It was not about establishing the exclusive, holier-than-thou, social set that so many churches have going on today. Paul, to a degree, is talking about simple ‘salesmanship.’ It’s just part of being a good steward over the job he’d been given.
This isn’t so much a heavy Bible concept as it is Paul’s attempt at first century marketing. He knew that if he wasn’t speaking the people’s ‘language,’ they wouldn’t understand him; and his evangelical effort would be lost. Bible expositor Donald Barnhouse compared it to Christians “bringing the hay down out of the loft and putting it on the floor of the barn so the cattle (those outside of Christ) would be able to access and eat it.” Marshall McLuhan said words to this effect: “No matter how well I might say something, if the person I’m addressing doesn’t understand it, I have said nothing.” (my paraphrase, taken from ‘The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects’ Penguin Books 1967.)
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The GOP – maybe all of conservatism – needs an emergency refresher course in this commonsense principle. And to understand why I am advocating this, one should simply take a thoughtful look at the conservative candidates beginning to emerge for the 2016 presidential election. So far, they all appear to be ‘fogies.’ The dictionary defines a fogey as: “Noun. A person, typically an old one, who is considered to be old-fashioned or conservative in attitude or tastes.” And, simply stated, if we run any more fogies, we can forever kiss goodbye any hope of saving what’s left of this nation.
I absolutely loved and voted for Romney and Ryan. They were the only viable choice, and they perfectly captured the ideal of everything I prayed for in leadership for America. But I also knew that they didn’t have a snowball’s chance of winning. Let’s be honest …. to much of today’s voting public, they came off like Adam West and Burt Ward from the late 1960s TV series “Batman and Robin”. I’m sorry, but they simply didn’t present well before the hip new voters that old-school responsibility and common sense are now desperately trying to win over. And today, whether we like it or not, EFFECTIVE presentation is EVERYTHING. As one adman once said, “If you want to sell the steak, you must first sell the sizzle.”
For the past 30 years at least, Hollywood has worked overtime in featuring squeaky-clean, square-jawed, white-men-in-suits as the quintessence of hypocritical, moneygrubbing, racist charlatans. Their caricatures have come to represent the bane of everything that is straight up, down home, and cool in our allegedly white-oppressed country. Doesn’t it therefore make sense that conservatism’s chosen candidates should be seen as something other than a Boss Hogg or people who regularly rubbed shoulders with Bernie Madoff and his nefarious crew? Because it’s Everyman we’re trying to lure to the polls, and Everyman has now been thoroughly redefined. He is no longer Jimmy Stewart, Gary Cooper, Arnold Schwarzenegger, or even Bruce Willis. He is not about “mom, apple pie and the American flag” – not at all. Now ‘he’ is Leonardo DiCaprio, Johnny Depp, Steve Carrell, Zoe Saldana, Idris Elba, Kerry Washington, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and a bunch of others you’ve maybe never even heard of (and we’ve got to throw in Oprah Winfrey as well). These new names now commonly represent the high priests who disburse much of today’s liberal propaganda. You may have heard of all of them – nevertheless, did you notice any of them doing promos for Romney/Ryan or the Conservative Right? Not a chance. In their involvement or even silence, they oppose everything we conservatives stand for; and they wield immense power. Making people feel good is their business, and the diabolical fantasy of today’s liberal platform is extremely attractive since it amounts to nothing more than a substance-less pain reliever. Its fairy-tale agenda is cleverly put forth as ‘hope’ for those lightheaded clones who refuse to accept the discipline involved with bringing about real and lasting change.
While we should absolutely not alter or compromise the things we stand for, we should certainly be open to the sacrifice involved (and it is a small one) with packaging our stuff in such a way that more people might be willing to listen to what we’re selling. There are sharp, amply experienced men and women who would do an excellent job carrying our ball into the end zone. They include black, Hispanic, Asian, and young, CONSERVATIVES of both sexes who speak and dress the part of someone genuinely in touch with our ruined society. But, bottom line, if we don’t – with savvy and in a manner that most everyone can fully get behind – appeal to more people than we have, our good cause will soon be buried alive. Finding the right candidate is no different or any more challenging than selecting the right actor for a role in a movie. Directors have tons of people who read for a part. Ultimately, only one will be chosen. The ones who don’t make it realize that it’s nothing personal – the director and movie company aren’t decrying anyone’s skills; they are just trying to make a statement and assure the success of the project. Given the day and age in which we live, we are down to that now. The aesthetics make all the difference and, given the audience we’re after, we should have been brainy enough to have figured this out already. In this marketplace, we can’t expect to win if we insist upon running ‘Simon and Garfunkel’ against ‘Waxahatchie’ or ‘Pusha T’.’ It just won’t work.
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While conservative America again toys with splitting its vote and promoting good-old-boy candidates who are seen only as antiques by the contemporary voting mob, we should demonstrate the tenacity to pull ourselves together and rally behind something that can actually succeed in the real world. We should be able and more than willing to bend to whatever extent we need, WITH NO COMPROMISE OF OUR STANDARDS, to remove the travesty of leadership that has brought us to our nation’s lowest and most perilous point. Rather than repeating old mistakes and hoping for different results, we need to use the talents and resources God has given us to win this day. Those resources are limitless and carry no boundaries pertaining to sex, age, or color; and it’s high time we started prayerfully using them.
Photo credit: Roger Smith (Creative Commons)
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