This is likely the first and last time you will see the word “turd” in one of my blog posts. But this is the metaphor that the inimitable Doug Wilson chooses to describe the current polarities of the American political landscape. In his commentary “The Fox News Jesus or the CNN Jesus?,” Wilson responds to Joseph Laconte’s critique of N. T. Wright that appeared last week in the web version of The Weekly Standard (see my “More Wrong from Wright“). Wilson’s basic point is that choosing between the “Fox News Jesus” and the “CNN Jesus” is like choosing between cat turds and dog turds. They’re certainly different, but neither one is very desirable. Wilson writes:
“Christians who defend one outrage for the sake of guarding against the other “bad” outrage have abandoned what the Church’s prophetic stance should be, and are simply being suckered into choosing up sides. And so we have the spectacle of Christians debating whether they prefer dog turds or cat turds. Jim Wallis hates the dog turds and James Dobson hates the cat turds. So the compromises that Christians have made with the secular right-wing are deeply disturbing as well, but nothing is better calculated to entrench them further in those compromises than the spectacle of other Christians compromising in the other direction. If there is an idolatrous affinity for dog turds on the right, do we really think that we are going to lure them away from it with these lovely cat turds?”
To some extent Wilson is correct. Christians from both sides of the theological spectrum have been known to cozy up a little too closely to their political counterparts on the left and the right. I would caution, however, against speaking about these matters in such a way that suggests a moral equivalence between the policies favored by the left and those favored by the right. I would also caution against referring to one of the chief advocates of the pro-life cause, Dr. James Dobson, as if his political advocacy amounted to nothing more than a “compromise” of Christian principles. No one is perfect, and I have some differences with Dobson myself. But in America, abortion-on-demand is the single greatest human rights crisis of our time, and Dr. Dobson has been standing foursquare against it for decades. Maybe I’m missing something, but I have a hard time equating Dr. Dobson’s fight against abortion with Jim Wallis’ fight against global warming. At least Dobson has his priorities straight when it comes to speaking out in the public square.
That being said, I love reading Douglas Wilson’s stuff. He’s one of the best writers around, and you should put his website in your “Favorites” folder. So go check out “The Fox News Jesus or the CNN Jesus?.” It is definitely worth your time.
He sounds like an effective communicator. I love the analogy!
Denny, I love how you pump up Dobson, even though his take on politics outside of the pro-life arena is completely heartless and without merit in the biblical sense.
And then, you turn around and essentially call Jim Wallis a one-trick pony, even though he’s done more to make Christians aware of poverty and Christian ethics than anyone on the right could ever possibly hope to.
When are you gonna buy my CD?
Thank you Denny. I’m a first time visitor on your site on a tip from my pastor, and am glad I came. I found your commentary on this matter articulate, and am very much in agreement. While it is certainly unfair to belittle the efforts of those who are legitimately attempting to offer relief to those who are suffering, it is a far more heinous crime to be associated with the murder of the unborn. Although I appreciated Paul’s comment, what more important “Christian ethic” is there than that? The choice seems crystal clear. That being said, of course there are problems on both sides of that fence. One worldly solution or another, Christian values are rarely in view. Rather than attributing more blame to one side or another in a political sense apart from Christian values, at least on the side of conservatism I am more fiscally free to make my own decision about where money is most wisely spent. I value the freedom and responsibility.