The Christian Right’s Appalling Lack of Faith

Anne Nelson

Anne Nelson’s brilliant investigative account of the growth and influence of the Christian Right (Shadow Network) is a powerful indictment of the church in America. Nelson paints the picture of a handful of people — including my old boss Pat Robertson — who developed a group called the Council for National Policy (CNP) in 1981 with the sole purpose of turning the country to the right.

Guess what? It worked, and these people represent the shadow government that Pat told us at CBN was necessary to turn the country from sin. Let us never make the assumption that the CNP was strictly a conservative political organization; its roots run deep in the practice of a narrow form of Christianity. The constant references to “Biblical” mandates alone is sufficient evidence to reveal those roots. More secular conservatives were hesitant to alter this focus, because they were witnessing the birth and growth of a whole new slew of Republican voters.

The clever use of propaganda to create a narrative of a “lost” nation that God wanted restored to its original intent, as defined by them, of course, was the basis for political action. As I’ve written many times, it was actually pretty easy, because current events at the time were easily presented as secularism as pitched by the left. So, not only did this narrative portray themselves as righteous but their political “enemy” as Godless. What 700 Club viewer would ever argue with it?

It takes a work like Ms. Nelson’s to fully see the drift these Christians made from faith in God to faith in man. Of course, they believed that God was calling them to this, but in pronouncing God’s unhappiness with the culture, they missed any thought that would suggest a self-centered core. Besides, the Bible clearly states that God’s judgment begins with the house of God, not the culture separate from the church It’s much more accurate, therefore, to suggest that cultural sin is the result of the church abandoning its salt and light mission and not any separate rise of sin in the culture.

What’s astonishing to me — as a guy who was there — is how far this organization drifted from trusting God in any way and instead pressing for their form of government to take care of its flock. It is perhaps the greatest heresy in the history of Christianity, and the ramifications for future generations are profound.

“Some trust in horses, some in chariots, but we will remember the name of the Lord, our God.”

When Pat told us we needed to form a “shadow government” that would take over when everything collapsed, he claimed the message was from God. We believed him and the 700 Club grew increasingly political, as Pat himself prepared to run for President in 1988. Honestly, that Ms. Nelson came up with the same kind of phrase for her book is more than coincidental, and it has helped my own personal mission to turn this mess on its ear.

Consumed by earthly power, these once well-intended believers have drifted far away and placed their very salvation in jeopardy.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Assuming the pearly gates will open for those who abandon the faith to pursue political dominance is a very dangerous thought. Moreover, in politically abandoning the poor and the afflicted in the name of suburban white well-being is sticking thumbs in the eyes of God. How dare we?

“Well, I trust God, but…”

Don’t get me wrong. These people have a right to their beliefs and to behave accordingly, but what they cannot do is alter the gospel in so doing. The “teach a man to fish” premise promoted by the right is a logical fallacy, for it assumes all the bodies of water everywhere are packed with fish and that access to the best equipment for the job is equal for all. It’s not, and that carves a giant hole at the bottom of this nonsense. When Jesus fed the 5,000, he didn’t just hand out fishing poles and bait. C’mon, people!

He simply fed them.

Everything about the white Christian Right is based in selfishness and protecting oneself from being removed from the inner ring they fear leaving. “I’ve got mine” is the shadowy unspoken position of this group. Pretending to be FOR others is overshadowed by desperation born of a fear that what they have will be taken away from them, and this is a powerful and manipulative thought that’s exploited by leaders with their own agenda.

The right question for them is “where is God in all of this?” The answer is He’s far away and watching this desperation trample over those for whom Jesus died.

Here’s a giant, public thank you to Anne for her important work. Let us all be wise as serpents as we call this what it truly is — an act of the flesh disguised as one of faith in God.

I tremble at their ultimate fate.

TV News Is Its Own Worst Enemy

On the desk in Milwaukee late 1970s. Typewriters. Film. Wall maps. Rich content.

I’m aghast at the imagery of network reporters being abused, treated as criminals, and rebuked by the con man pretending to be our President. It reminds me most of 1968, when what appeared to be anarchy was quieted by the law and order campaign of Richard Nixon. That’s not possible today, for law and order are the twin demons responsible for everything. Oh, Terry, just shut up.

I can’t do that, because “the news” is in fact a part of today’s problem, although most in the press would dismiss that as ignorance.

I can’t write about this without first declaring my sincere hope that the following doesn’t turn out to be one of those old man rants about the way things used to be. There will be some of that, of course, but I’m hoping that the overall tone is one of intelligent argument. For the record, I cut my teeth in the television news world in the early 70s on the assignment desk in Milwaukee. The reason that’s important is that at that time, news was a very difficult business in Milwaukee. We had a mayor’s office with hard rules of no contact with the company that I worked for at the time. We also had a police chief with dictatorial control over law enforcement. The only police officer authorized to speak to the media was the chief of detectives. I guess the point is we had to be resourceful.

The other dynamic at work was that we hadn’t become a profit center yet, so we had no reason to behave by anybody’s financial rules. With profit margins often hovering around 50%, there was no requirement to cut costs. This is to say that news people today wouldn’t recognize what we had, even though it’s clearly glamorized in textbooks, fiction, and movies.

What I’d really like to present here is the differences in the way I thought versus my competition, because it makes a statement about one of the reasons the press today plays the role of instigator far more than it thinks.

To begin, I need to digress for a moment to tell you a story from my own experience in the business. As the decade turned from the 70s into the 80s, I was working as the host and producer of PM Magazine for WHAS-TV in Louisville, Kentucky. I was also musical and played the 5‑string banjo, so I was selected to be the host of our live coverage Friday night and Saturday night of the Bluegrass Music Festival of the United States. It was my first experience with being the host on live TV, and I was terrified. The first night went great. The videos of earlier performances came and went without a hitch thanks to my natural commentary and ideal conditions. Everything went well, and my producer and boss, George Hulcher, thought it was an outstanding performance by everybody. It was.

However, Saturday night turned to crap immediately, because we were a CBS affiliate, and CBS was carrying the U.S. Open tennis tournament and that most memorable, 5‑set match between John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors. We started about 90-minutes late, which wouldn’t have been a problem except that the final act of the night was EmmyLou Harris, and EmmyLou had some requirements for the festival, including having our entire set struck and put away by the time her performance began. The sun had already set, and it was too dark for me to be seen anywhere. So production gave me a single photographer and a night light and put us in the middle of thousands of drunk EmmyLou fans. We came out of the final videotape to me, as George said over my earphone, “I’m sorry, Terry, but you have FIVE minutes to fill.” The light came on, and suddenly everybody around me came to life with noise, shouts, vulgarities, and revelry. It was the most embarrassed I’ve ever been. The plan for me to talk to fans went out the window, because these folks obviously didn’t care when they said or did, so I basically told my life story about bluegrass surrounded by this loud and crazy mob.

That was the night I left the park immediately and took a Greyhound to see family in Chicago and just steamed about it. I swore I’d NEVER let anybody I was producing end up in a situation like that. It was also the night I decided that on-the-air work just wasn’t for me. I’d already had much knowledge about the disruptive nature of TV cameras in public, and especially with a bright light that pierces the darkness.

Going live from newsworthy locations is a production, promotional, and presentation technique and little more. Its domination of television newscast production strains credulity, but nobody complains, especially about what happens to the news itself in the process. This “innovation” in “storytelling” was led by technology, news consultants, and producers who wanted to generate artificial drama in the presentation of television news. So, what happens when the drama present is real and unpredictable?

Look at it this way. “Live” reports are an effect in the nomenclature of TV production. Effects are only effective when they’re not presented as the norm. Just what we wanted, eh? Live for live’s sake overtakes everything else, and we’re left with a useless effect that’s no longer effective in stacking a news program.

So, what we’re witnessing today — with police treating the press the same way they’re treating protestors — is what happens when you put reporters in the middle of things — like my EmmyLou Harris experience — you end up with potentially great drama but also reporters miffed that they can’t do their jobs in the process. People, in the final analysis, didn’t we do this to ourselves? Going live serves a useful, journalistic end, but it also tilts the story towards those who are telling it and away from what’s happening behind or in front of them. There’s no way we should allow our reporters to become the story, but this is what’s being taught in our schools and in our practice. “Involve yourselves in the story as if YOU are the audiences eyes and ears” sounds terrific until it’s put into actual practice, wherein they actually alter the story by drawing attention to themselves. Not always, mind you, but enough that we ought to take a step back for a moment and think about what we’re doing.

As a television news director — and more so as an assignment manager — much of my daily focus was on what could or would be our lead story. The smaller the market, the more difficult the task and not because the police blotter was any less dominant, but because newsworthy human behavior is more obscured and the ability to uncover it is restricted by a community that works hard to keep such things under wraps. I knew a young reporter on Kawaii, for example, who worked for the local cable company and was forbidden from reporting on automobile accidents involving anybody other than tourists. This was to “protect” the local citizenry from embarrassment or residual difficulties. Granted, this was extreme, but the story reveals how difficult it can be to cover the news when the audience is your neighbors.

The point is that finding that lead story was not easy, so it was my number one priority, and I was very good at getting inside the community’s mind through data research and getting to know those who were well-connected and in the know. Knowing how important family (Ohana) was to Hawaiian people, for example, I accepted an appointment to the Governor’s Commission on the Family, which opened the door to endless stories and trends.

News stories never exist in a vacuum; they must be nurtured through contacts, sources, and especially an understanding of how things work locally. Who really calls the shots? It’s rarely anybody elected, but you wouldn’t know that from watching the local news. It requires shoe leather and especially an abiding curiosity about community thinking. Only in that way can you reasonably expect to become an essential part of the area’s information leadership. This is something you want, because it will lead to trust and eventually viewership.

In Huntsville, for example, I needed to know who the movers and shakers were, so we sent letters to people in positions to know (like the “committee of 100”, etc.) and asked them to anonymously give us names. The result was a series of reports about what we’d learned. Our senior anchor did the interviews, but the real value of such a project was to find our way to the inside track of community development, which led to a great many other stories downstream. GREAT reporters help, of course, but they need the evidentiary push that such knowledge can provide.

This ability to focus clearly on what community leaders felt was important and understanding the “why” was one of the things that undergirded my reputation as a news director. I still strongly believe that coverage is the best path to status and to tangible news leadership in the market. My colleagues in the news consulting business would argue that marketing is the answer here, along with consistent branding within the language of the newscasts, and I don’t disagree. However, I think the marketing mission is made so much easier with coverage that “makes” news instead of waiting for it to come to us. Instead of homogenized “investigating” gleaned from what “worked” in another market, our value proposition should be based on local knowledge, values, and mission.

Presentation and language are super important, but what’s being presented and marketed is vastly more important than how it’s presented. That doesn’t mean (at all) that presentation and marketing aren’t important. They very much are, but in the place where newsrooms hold their editorial meetings — which the promo boys attend — they should address not the newscast but the news itself. Some days may require a totally different form of presentation, but creativity often goes out the window when placed in a box of one-potato, two-potato, three-potato, four. And, the bigger the market, the more likely presentation matters over content.

So, I was always a coverage guy, and I was eager to offer undergirding data and information that would allow reporters to blossom and grow their own curiosity and skills at identifying and telling stories.

At the time I was there, Richmond was the per capita murder capital of the country. Lots of stories had been done, but the year we topped 200 murders, I had one of our reporters put numbers 1–200 on poker chips and put them in a big basket. She then randomly selected five numbers for a series that we called “Remember Me.” The reporter did profiles of each of the five victims in an effort to share their humanity. It was stunningly powerful and attention-getting.

In Chattanooga, I drew up a challenging plan for us to examine religion in the Tennessee Valley. We surveyed the population and created a mailing list of clergy in order to give them the same survey. The differences between their answers and the answers from the public formed the basis for two weeks worth of stories that we shared with one of the local papers. The series — dubbed “I Believe” — lasted a month and doubled our ratings. Had I stayed there, it would’ve become a weekly franchise.

Believing that the people in the newsroom always knew more than outsiders, I always surveyed my staff to understand their grasp of the issues and our coverage. It was a great way to begin my own investigation and to implement a philosophy for us to follow. Each market was different, and if coverage is to be your foundation, it had to be founded in purpose and community leadership. Such knowledge is essential in dismissing pretenders with self-serving eyes on forcing themselves into acceptance of other community leaders.

For this, I chose to remain in small and mid-sized markets, which my critics used to tag me with the pejorative title of “journeyman.” I was nobody’s “manager,” so I really had no use for long-term babysitting of a newsroom. I was more of a fixer of newsrooms than the manager of any organization, and that required that I move around a lot.

Local television news is mostly about the weather these days. It’s the one thing local stations can do that others cannot, because it’s one of the few information sources where proximity still matters. Of course, proximity could matter more, if the people working in our newsrooms were trained more to think than to “present”.

I noticed a change in such people during my career, and so I put this question into my interviews with job candidates: “Why did this business choose you?” Early on, most of my colleagues were former newspaper people who were seriously into the idea of making a difference with their lives. As the 80s came and went, most of the candidates answering my question told an almost identical story: “When the local TV anchor came to my school, I just KNEW this was what I wanted to do.” Not only is that long distance from making a difference, but it’s remarkably self-centered. It’s like saying “I want to be on TV”, which is not far from those with a simple cell phone go these days.

And, who do they emulate? The news people who are bound to the identity they created for themselves in this crazy world that we call television journalism today.

The Power to Say “No”

Disclaimer: Entire books have been written on this topic, so my handling of it may seem shallow to some. Sorry, but I don’t feel I’m supposed to write such a project, but I do think it’s worth discussing here.

The most important aspect of human life is consciousness and, especially, the mind. The human mind is the command and control mechanism for all of the systems, processes, and behaviors that make us human. Science doesn’t go here, because it requires grappling with human nature and things that cannot be measured in the scientific way. All we have is anecdotal evidence, and no scientist worth her credentials would be so foolish as to give their stamp of approval to such. Even the science of the mind — also known as psychology or psychiatry — admits as much, and this is across the widest possible slice of the à la carte menu of mental health treatments.

I recall when Sandra Seich and I put together our company ANSIR (A New Style In Relating), we spoke to a great many psychologists, both clinical and counseling practitioners about our instrument. This spectrum is fascinating, for one relies entirely on science and scientific theories, whereas the other offers a more holistic approach. What we discovered was the counseling psychologists are patient-focused and, therefore, open to all kinds of ideas and options. Clinical psychologists, however, are driven almost entirely by scientific methodology. As several people told us in analyzing our personality test, the more scientific the test, the less useful it becomes in counseling actual people. This is because science demands broad, provable categories to study, while counseling psychologists tend to see each individual patient as unique within the symptoms presented. You can judge for yourselves which is for you.

The point is we don’t “know” much about the human mind, even though countless investigators have tried. For this, we must turn to other practices including religion, pseudoscience, countless non-religious yet spiritual institutions, such as New Age thinkers, and even the anecdotal experiences of professionals within the field. This of course fits nicely within the realm of quackery and deviance, which is another reason science wants nothing to do with it.

Even what can be considered breakthrough schools of thinking receive skeptical responses from those colleagues who stick to their scientific guns in defending against the relentless growth of mental health issues within our culture. While mental health is tricky to navigate — and for whatever the cause — those poor suffering souls I’ve known in my life (self included) all seem to have lost the ability to say “no”. The real mystery is why and, perhaps more importantly, what to do about it.

Knowing that it’s not good for us, why do we sneak that piece of cake just before bedtime? Why do we “just have to” gaze at the beauty of comeliness and covet possession of the same? After awhile on the river of alcohol consumption, why is it that the first thing we think of upon awakening from a spree with a hangover is doing it again? Why do we allow friends to convince us to do things we know we ought not to do? And, why do we get so defensive when observers of our behavior try to help us, and why do we agree with those who say that regardless of the cause (if there is one), modifying behavior is the only process that can help.

We do so, because the alternatives are considered beneath our dignity. Perhaps our problems are not the problem but rather our inability to reject a course of behavior that will eventually lead us to ruin. The Apostle Paul wrote that he was perplexed by his own behavior, in that he would do the things he knew he should not do, and that he would not do the things he knew he should do. “O wretched man that I am,” he wrote. “Who can deliver me from this bond of death?”

Trauma only makes matters worse, for our reactions to trauma seem to set us up for future mental health difficulties, such as anxiety and depression. Why does this effect some and not others, or does trauma have a way of forcing an escape from reality? Is it not all wound around an inability to say no, whether it’s forced or assumed? And, is the cause at all related to the cure? Do we simply just need to say no?

Bob Newhart’s wonderful skit about a psychologist who’s only treatment is the use of the words “stop it” is a marvelous illustration of the foolishness of such thinking. That’s because we think of these problems in terms of ownership, and it defies logic to give up what we have. “My” illness. “My” condition. “My aches and pains. “My” anxiety. “My” relatives. “My” ex. “My” helplessness. “My” upbringing. “My” uniqueness. “My” cancer. “My” fibromyalgia. My” suffering. “My” affliction. “My” thorn in the flesh. “My” depression. And so forth.

No, no, no, no, a thousand times no!

Look, afflictions are real. Diseases are real. We’re not talking about the things of the flesh. However, when we take ownership of such, we’ve entered dangerous territory, for such things do not actually define us. If that were the case, we should all hide our heads in hopelessness. The truth is that these things stand in the way of self-discovery, and that is a spectacular piece of self-deception, one that’s based in our senses under the sun. Healing, therefore, is found — is often found — in the here and in the now, for that is the time and place of life, and life rejects all forms of artificial death, e.g. “poor me”. Like many other things in life, it isn’t the affliction that causes our suffering, per se, but rather our reaction to it.

It’s time to talk about the Biblical devil, for evil is always the outcome of self-deception, whether big or small. If the devil is the “father of all lies,” then his realm must be the human ego, for that is the person within us that often makes the decisions for us — for our protection, of course — especially in times of stress. For purposes of this discussion, let’s define evil as that which draws us from the here and now with its incumbent rejection of any life that exists beyond the sun. This results in all forms of inhuman behavior, including those events that seem to lead our news reports hour-by-hour. Man’s inhumanity towards man ought not to dominate our minds as it relates to life, for this is a profound limitation to our lives under the sun. There’s absolutely nothing “new” about it, for the matter of evil is part and parcel of our nature.

Are babies born innocent and later “learn” selfishness? That’s illogical and provably so, because crying when hungry is most certainly a form of self expression. To argue that a baby learns this through trial and error is to deny the first screams and tears. Yes, she learns that it works, but where does that initial behavior originate? The senses demand to be heard, but at the same time, they send false signals of satisfaction that are never enough. Satisfaction may last for a season, but eventually, it requires more and more and more. As Olivia Newton John asked a musical question, “It’s never enough, never never enough. Why is all that we have simply never enough?”

Absent our ability to actually study the matter, for a very large group of people, the devil is an answer that’s sufficient. Creative attempts to offer a different perspective have come from enormously talented and curious people, especially those who’ve taken the time for individual study of what is commonly known as the human ego. If you are human, you have an ego. He exists to provide answers where none seem possible, and it’s to him that we often turn in times of distress. Thoughtful, intriguing, and soaring books have been written about such things as “ego states,” trauma bonding, and other manifestations of ego study. They deserve our attention, because they come from minds with a lifetime of deep diving when it comes to understanding the human mind. Adam and Eve had egos. It was Eve’s ego that led her to the Tree of Life (“You don’t really think that God would kill you for eating it, do you? I mean, it’s not poison.”). Jesus faced and defeated his own ego in the wilderness. His stomach was growling during the 40-day fast, so the voice of his ego rose to tempt him to turn rocks into bread. It wasn’t a guy in a red suit with horns and a pitchfork. That is the stuff of myths. Hell, we don’t need a devil when we have such an intimate enemy as our own ego.

One of the things that was so different about Jesus is that he recognized the voice of his ego and said a resounding “no”! So, it seems to me that we can do the same. Otherwise, we are most to be pitied, especially for Christians who say they “follow the ways of the Lord.” The first deception of the ego is that he doesn’t exist, and that gives a great multitude an excuse to give up without even trying. After all, their discomfort is greater than any earthly solution, and therefore, we should all just suffer while bearing our own personal thorns in the flesh. Nonsense. Either that, or Jesus was not “the firstborn among many,” and the gate he claimed to represent leads to nowhere.

I fully appreciate the potential for mischief that’s presented with this missive, for we still see through a glass darkly. However, in order to talk back to our egos, we must first learn to recognize its voice, even during times of panic. “You’re going to be abandoned” was a constant, almost unspoken message that I heard throughout my life. Think about that for a minute. It was a marvelous deception foisted on me as the result of an episode of what seemed to me an abandonment in my youth. A mind incapable of separating such a voice from the situation that brought it about is impossible for a 5‑year old, and so it became an essential part of my thinking about myself. I fought it, and I fought it, always to lose and try again.

I learned through AA that what I thought made me unique was all bullshit and that I needed a miracle to overcome it. I got my miracle, and the most obvious evidence is in my sleep. When we give up fighting the deceptions that dominate us, it is an enormous weight lifted from the shoulders of our souls, and the problem of sleeplessness disappears. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous contains the stories of many people who had found recovery from the addiction that drove their lives for sometimes a very long period of time. These stories are filled with addicts trying to explain their drinking to themselves and others. Example episodes of their perplexity often begin with “I had this thought” or “it came to me that I should.” These triggers were, in fact, the voices of their own egos attempting to rationalize or make an argument for drinking.

So, we know it’s important, but how exactly do we learn to recognize the voice of our ego? It’s actually very simple. Deliberately place a temptation in front of yourself. Don’t do anything but listen. Trust me; it’ll be there, perhaps even in thoughts that are profoundly familiar. Listen anyway. We KNOW what the outcome will likely be, so it’s very important that we hear those thoughts as they pass across the horizon of our minds like so many wild horses.

Redemption is what gives us the power to say no to that which is pretending to be us. You might be amazed at how effective a simple “shut up” can be in a conversation with what you think is yourself. As we say in AA, “My mind is a dangerous place, because I’m not alone in there.”

How true, my friends. How very, very true.

Can/will the Virus Open Eyes?

The deception that is Fox News grows more dangerous to our republic as time passes and more and more people are bathed in the lie that it is a news organization. It is warping our sense of unity and pitting American versus American at a scale that wasn’t even present during the Civil War. Add to this the omnipresence of so-called “conservative” commentators who mix news events with their propaganda, and we have a monster storm against “peace and good will” on this Easter weekend.

Well, Terry, but they’re no different than those on the other side of the aisle.

And this, my friends, is the essence of the lie. It’s perhaps too late to fix it, but let me explain.

The news doesn’t care about political affiliation. It is neutral in that sense, because it’s always based upon that which is “new.” If “new” drives the news agenda, “old” drives the conservative point-of-view. This was evident in Donald Trump’s Make America Great AGAIN slogan. We can’t go back as a culture, and everybody should know this, for to run with a perspective that pushes only the good from yesteryear without considering the alternate pressures that were also in play is foolishness gone-to-seed.

Political coverage is certainly a part of any “news” agenda, but only to the extent that news organizations can speak to new events or trends in informing their audiences. It’s very easy to accuse, but when the accusation is required to justify one’s own existence, it ceases to be relevant to the very concept of news. Simply stated, it’s just propaganda. Contemporary marketing is very often a form of propaganda, foisted upon us in the name of commerce. The same is true with conservative “olds”, and that’s the point.

If news organizations spent as much time trying to shape those thoughts as they are accused of doing, we would have left-wing propaganda groups sharing their views in the form of news. We don’t, and ANY attempt to shape a narrative that says otherwise is pure and self-serving folly. It’s simply absurd, so the argument that “both sides do it” is specious, at best. Survey any group of citizens, however, and this is exactly what they’ve been taught to believe, namely that the news industry’s players are either left or right. Nonsense, and I know, because I was there when we created the concept of “conservative news” in the early 1980s at the Christian Broadcasting Network. We wrote the playbook that Fox copied.

A key part of this effort was to position ourselves alongside existing news organizations and claim that a liberal bias was the same thing as liberal propaganda. Hence, we saw no problem with presenting our conservative propaganda as a participant on the same level as CBS, ABC, and NBC. We spent our money on technology and especially graphics to make ourselves look no different than the rest. We were selling this to an audience ripe for the taking by stating our abhorrence with what we felt was a satanic effort to destroy America.

Conservatism is not at all associated with the news except to provide a “side” to developing stories. News organizations have an ethical governor that demands presentation of all sides in any issue relating to political points of view. The organization itself has no political point-of-view, except perhaps from their editorial boards. As anybody who has worked in the news business knows, there is a vast separation between a news organization’s newsroom and its editorial side. But ownership is ownership, and there are plenty of stories of owner pet projects that find their way into the content presented.

The point is that the bias of news is towards that which is new, and if that is seen as political, the only response can be propaganda. It cannot be expressed as “news”, because that would require a bias towards something else. It also requires looking the other way when events — take, for example, the gender identification movement or political correctness — weaken or destroy its propaganda. Again, this is why we cannot use the term “news” in describing something that isn’t “news”.

I was ridiculed and mocked during a talk about this subject with a group of Colorado right-wingers. When it got too uncomfortable for them, they retreated to the gospel to end the discussion. Open minds, these were not. I knew that going in, but the overwhelming and defensive response revealed that the matter is far more important to their worldview than most observers really imagine. Why else use the Bible to talk back to me, the former Executive Producer of the TV program that created the thing in the first place?

This is why I often reference religion in my writing. White evangelical Christians are completely convinced of their righteousness in this or any other argument.

Methinks they doth protest too much.

A New World Order is at Hand

“Some men see things as they are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were, and ask why not.” Robert Kennedy

DISCLAIMER:
Normally, I have difficulty with those writers who feel it necessary to sell readers on their qualifications before presenting their argument. The strength of that argument ought to be able to stand on its own, but this pandemic is changing all the rules and will continue to do so. Therefore, I feel it’s necessary to provide a little personal background before proceeding. Hence, this disclaimer.

On Wednesday, February 20, 2020, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 29,348.03. Earlier that morning, I posted this on Twitter:

I’m no prophet, but I have a pretty good track record of listening and then reporting. I could literally feel the breaking and crumbling, along with all the pain associated with it. I’m like many other sensitive souls who value their connection to the cosmos above the rewards of this life. We are scattered throughout the arts community, where the concept of muses is taken pretty seriously.

Bill Monroe, the father of bluegrass music and a prolific song writer, once told me, “I never wrote anything. I just heard them first.” This statement of humility says much about the creative process and Mr. Monroe’s steadfast commitment to it. By his own admission, Bill Monroe was a better listener than a writer.

I was a good assignment editor in my TV news career, because I could manage to get myself ahead of my competitors simply by paying attention. In my career as a consultant, I helped — along with many others — in understanding and defining disruptions and innovations associated with the internet and the news community.

My work on defining the pieces of a cultural swing that I call “postmodernism” is used to teach others around the world. My essays can be found in university syllabi in many places, which is a pretty high honor for a guy who never went to college. I taught media ethics for the postmodern era for several semesters as an adjunct professor at the University of North Texas.

Despite all that, I still tremble when I put my ear to the wind, because most people judge this as foolishness, and I know that repeating it is an invitation to rejection, which is something I really don’t handle very well. Nevertheless, in uncertain times, I’m comforted, because I believe that there’s a bigger picture regarding life than most people can see. Caveat emptor, however, as you read on.

WHAT’S AHEAD
So, with that lengthy disclaimer, let’s put our long-term glasses on and try to reasonably discuss life after the quarantine, when the threat is over and leaders get back to work. Nobody really knows what’s ahead, but that should never stop us from thinking about it anyway. As with every crisis of human life, there will be opportunity and there will be loss. As a result, it’ll doubtless be a season of innovation as we search for a new normal. This is a good thing, because the West prior to the virus wasn’t exactly headed down a sustainable path.

The normal will be new, because this event can’t help but reveal inefficiencies, sloppy thinking, and errors within the old culture, and we will move to correct each one of them. For example, Macy’s announced that it was closing all of its stores for the duration of our crisis. Does anybody really think all of those stores will reopen after this? Not a chance. Macy’s wasn’t in the greatest shape before, so we shouldn’t expect them to suddenly find piles of extra cash to throw at an archaic business model. Reinvention will be the biggest challenge ahead for the business community.

We are all together in this vast lifeboat, and this is what may produce the biggest changes, a more utopian and less dystopian global culture. We know for a fact now that the 1% care only about themselves. We’ve also learned to recognize the voice of propaganda and that there’s no such thing as a stupid question anymore. We know for a fact that we are the only ones who truly care about ourselves, and we must not underestimate the power of this enormous shared survival experience and our frightful journey in our lonely lifeboats.

There will be an immediate rush to restore the status quo, but this will run into a wall of those who survived in spite of the rug being pulled out from under them earlier. Do we really think people will welcome back the same set of fundamentals that put us in this situation in the first place? They, the thinking will go, drove us into this, and we’ll not be so foolish again. Mark these words, for there’s no way we’ll ever again be satisfied with that particular status quo. We’re going to demand something different. Already, thinkers such as Henry Kissinger, who helped create our world order, is urging nations to protect that order above all (The Coronavirus Pandemic Will Forever Alter the World Order). It’s a fool’s errand.

Stores like Macy’s, for example, are going to lose their best people during or after this layoff. You think those folks will happily return? That $1,200 is going to seem like a very small “bonus” for having their lives completely turned upside down. We’ve never had so many people out of work, and at a time when American businesses have been artificially propped up by corporate welfare from this White House.

Moreover, the cultural shifts we’ll face have already been underway for a great many years, and we’re ripe for something different. Will it be opportunity for you or loss?

Which religions will fade and which will be exalted? Many think the 21st Century will be the epoch of Islam, because other governing concepts have all failed. Democracy doesn’t work absent internal governors, because otherwise corruption is inevitable. Our culture is based on oaths and promises, which mean very little anymore, and this needs to change. Religion offers such guidance, but which religion? Everything is on the chopping block.

Then there’s the great divide, an awful season of extreme fringes and their takeover of our political system. The truth is that most of us aren’t fringe, and we’re really sick of being forced into either extreme political box. I’ve bent over backwards to inform everybody that tolerance assumes the power to not tolerate. Otherwise, it’s not tolerance; it’s a bayonet at our backs. No American truly pissed about what’s happened to us — since Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell assumed control of the Republican Party — will ever wish to go back. The Democrats have been delivering their “progressive” agenda for many years. Neither speaks for the huge middle that represents the vast majority of us, and until this is articulated and shared, uncertainty will remain.

Our attitudes about ourselves and each other will be the most underreported aspect of what lies ahead, for this isn’t the stuff of mainstream thinking. We will have survived a shared disaster! Think about that for a minute. While no one can say for sure what this means today, it certainly suggests a culture more interested in unity than before.

It may sound foolish, but the great middle needs to unite as a lobbying organization with the power to swing elections. Our choices would force people back to our turf, where we have the muscle to force political unity. Elected officials will have no choice but to respond. Our platform would begin with our willingness to vote for whomever we think we need at the time, regardless of ideological affiliation. We’ve no use for the political system that has a bayonet at our backs forcing us into choosing extremes. Black and white are forced upon us without the opportunity to investigate shades of grey.

Despite the cynicism that I realize is present here, my glass is always half-full in looking downstream. We see through a glass darkly anyway — especially when that glass is pointed downstream — but fear is a rotting and corrupting influence that extremists find easy to manipulate for their extreme purposes. Those who use fear for political gain will be seen as transparently self-centered. I mean, what are “they” going to do to us? Take away our jobs? Put us in quarantine?

Christianity will win the battle with self-centeredness in its midst, and the heresy of prosperity will be formally dismissed as such. The money changers will, once again, be thrown out of the temple. Those who prosper have their reward, and the expectation that their narrative is the ultimate winner will be unceremoniously tossed into the dust pile of history.

It’s even possible that eyes closed shut for years will be opened. Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment, for example, was based on his favorable views of business and not because he’s pro-life. The right response to this is going to have to come from the church, even those caught up in the evil we’ve experienced these last four years. Good people — yes, good — have given themselves over to reprobates whose life goals involve profit, not the unborn. The church must fix this, for we/they are being deceived.

There will remain for many years a strong skepticism about what got us into this, which will lead to a strong call for reinventing a great many things. We may see the most significant shift in our trust, and the technology exists today to create a new political narrative that includes everyday people not driven by ideology. Gone is any idea that any individual group will act in the best interests of others. We now know for certain after four years of Trump that business cares first and foremost about profit, even greed. There can be no argument here, not anymore.

The emphasis continues to shift from the seller to the buyer, because the ability to fool people with illegitimate claims has been seriously weakened. Pay attention to the work of Doc Searls. He’s leading the thinking about buyer-generated commerce, which is quite the opposite of the relentless bombardment of marketing that the status quo has perfected in the modern era.

We will increasingly move in the direction of a more hip population, as the Evolving User Paradigm (the longer users use the Web, the greater the acceleration of the disruptions they create) continues its advance. The gap between intelligence and foolishness will be increasingly noticeable, and ventures targeting early bullshit detection will create a new community of those who want distance between themselves and status quo marketing. If I had any money, this is where I’d put it.

Emphasis on money will be impacted as other forms of currency begin to take shape. Barter is a currency. Love is a currency. Ego is a currency. Respect is a currency. Choices are a currency. Influence is a currency. We use these often, but they will eventually become creatively commodified. It will be very difficult to horde these forms of currency.

Leaders are wanted and needed. Managers, not so much.

Thumbs up for Reddit and other discussion formats.

Every home will be connected — and armed.

Pay attention to the arts and artists who flourish, because their efforts will resonate the new.

It’s going to be harder and harder to make war based primarily on business interests.

When J.D. Lasica coined the phrase “Personal Media Revolution” over 20 years ago, none of us could’ve even imagined how profound this “revolution” would be. We are now our own media companies. We make movies. We make TV. We make radio. Links are still the currency of the Web, and smart people like Dave Winer keep exposing us to new methods of linking that aren’t controlled by a single platform. We may have bumps and bruises along the way, but the internal drive to connect that’s within each of us — even introverts — has unlimited capability to drive us together despite — and maybe because of — the inevitable greed that arises from the likes of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms.

If information is power, the Evolving User Paradigm will keep empowering the masses, and that won’t work well with the modernist idea of top-down command and control. And the modernist managers will be way too busy expressing fear of chaos as the status quo crumbles to actually notice what’s taking place around them.

Media companies will continue to collapse due to debt and ever-shrinking audiences. One can hope that these people will discover how they gave up way too early on the web, because its entire marketing position (top-down) couldn’t stand up to the precision offered by the geeks online. The only logical reason that, for example, the New York Times couldn’t have become Google in the online advertising game is their insistence that they were in the content business. They aren’t and never were. Their business is making money by placing ads adjacent to content. Targeting individual browsers? That came from minds that didn’t give a crap about content. Whose fault is that? Consider the overwhelming popularity of ad blockers, and you can more easily understand where their bread is buttered. There’s nothing quite like following a link only to be told you must disable your ad blocker or whitelist the site before being shown what’s at the end of the link. This is a form of unintended suicide.

New growth centers for people will be built around residents caring for each other. The new currency of choices will be based on human development, not jobs, because people can work online and live wherever. Migration patterns will be interesting to study in the years ahead.

Sociologists will examine the issue of white flight through the lens of business profit, just as was the advancement of women a century ago. White flight is a problem that’s far bigger than anyone chooses to state. White Evangelical Christians have fled along with those who wanted to distance themselves from potential conflicts, mostly racial. This is selfishness gone-to-seed in the name of personal protection. It’s one thing to wish to protect my family, but when that’s turned into any form of group think, it ceases to be a personal choice, because it is such an easy way of life to manipulate from the outside.

Political correctness will be seen rightly as a luxury that we cannot afford. No longer will we tolerate special interests who use modernist tools to convince us of their rights at the expense of our own. Blanket acceptance or toleration of others isn’t an absolute moral perspective that is above all investigation. Again, toleration is based on the assumption that we can just as easily choose not to tolerate. Not all lifestyles, whether chosen or natural, can be considered equal. It just doesn’t work that way, because we need the freedom to draw lines for ourselves. And tolerance doesn’t have to include completely embracing every lifestyle.

Mental health is going to be a thriving medical concern, due in large part to the guilt and shame that we’ll all feel at some point during our isolation. It’s not good for man to be alone, and this Biblical reference doesn’t refer to gender.

Corporate greed has been internally voted down for most of us. It’s so transparent these days that it’s going to be increasingly difficult to pull it off without repercussions. Corporations will closely examine remote work to administer cost savings. We may even see an end to hourly pay, for it’s a holdover from the Industrial Age and doesn’t make sense anymore. It’s likely that everybody will be put on a predictable salary with perks assigned to make it life easier for employees, such as daycare, healthcare, food and supplies, tax deductions, and even shelter.

New special interests will develop and grow, based on our different views of what’s important. These will likely begin as social movements before becoming institutionalized.

Finally, I want to make it very clear that whatever happens, Life will be on our side. In order to function as such, however, we’re going to have to cut away any supposition that this is evil work foisted upon us by the devil. The coronavirus is God’s virus, because theology teaches us that the fallen angel has no power other than what God allows. Is this an act of God in trying to defend our planet? It’s a pressing matter that we must ALL examine with our own hearts, because outside sources are caught in a zero-sum game about planetary resources.

Repentance is the act we all must be willing to make. Sticking with it will be our universal challenge.

Mo Mo Gotta Go Go, Coronavirus Edition

Rep. Mo Brooks with his Master

Oh, Mo. Sigh.

On March 5th, you gave us bullet points on the congressional briefing regarding the virus. You emphasized positives for the USA. Then, on March 9th, you gained publicity for yourself by urging Congress against recessing. These are YOUR words:

Yes, COVID-19 is highly contagious. But, unless you are old or have immune deficiency, the threat is VERY low.

Congress must stand strong as America’s example, not cut & run like snowflakes!

Snowflakes, BTW, is a pejorative term used to describe Democrats. It’s one of those words you’ve been taught to insert wherever you can, but it’s so inappropriate here.

Then on March 10th, you did a radio interview saying that the media was “overreacting” and that the virus was not as serious as some are making it out to be. You were glib and sarcastic in mocking the panic (your word). You chuckled as you told your radio hosts they needed to “get with the panic” and not be gathered together in a radio studio. Laugh? I thought I’d never start.

Here are more quotes from you during that interview. I should add that Matt Murphy and Andrea Lindenberg did a great job in asking the right questions. You, however, were a major FAIL! Remember, this was March 10, 2020.

“It is not novel. It is not new. And yet the public is being beaten into a panic mode by the mainstream news media. You just talked about four thousand people dead. We’ve had hundreds of thousands of people during the same period die from the flu. Hundreds of thousands worldwide. Why are we panicking over four thousand versus hundreds of thousands that we see on a regular basis every year?…

Question: Why is government now creating commissions and getting involved?
“To try to address the panic that the mainstream news media and the Democrats are drumming up. That’s not to say it isn’t serious. It’s not to say you shouldn’t be taking precautions, but they’re the same kinds of precautions you should take every flu season…

“This thing is being blown all out of perspective by the mainstream news media, and it’s causing damage to our economy and damage to our lives as a result…

“If you’re under age 60 and your immune system is functioning as it normally does, you really are not at risk any more than if you’d caught a cold or the flu…

“There is risk, but at the same time, you have to keep the risk into perspective. And the best perspective I can put it into is compare it to the normal flu and what happens every year with that flu…

“The rest of us need to go on with our daily lives and try not to interact with those who are in one of those high risk categories…

The Democrats and their allies in the mainstream news media are trying to create a panic. They are trying to tank the American economy because their hatred of Donald Trump is so great. They’re willing to risk American lives and risk the American economy in order to defeat Donald Trump in November 2020, and that’s no different from what the Democrats do to border security. We know that Americans are going to be killed as a result of the lack of border security, but that doesn’t stop the Democrats from continuing with an open borders policy that’s going to result in 2,000 dead Americans each year, people who have died at the hands of illegal aliens, and that’s the average…

So they’re willing to, for political gain, to do what they do at the southern border. They’re also willing to, for political gain, do great damage to our economy, because that has been one of Donald Trump’s biggest strengths as President of the United States.”

Honestly, Mr. Brooks, you do not represent me or any of my friends with this kind of thinking and behaving. You have aligned yourself tightly with Donald Trump, and as he goes, you will go. We need somebody with the mettle of a Doug Jones to represent North Alabama in the House, and, as I said the last time, I’ll do whatever I can to make that happen.

Mo Mo Gotta Go Go.