Nationally syndicated talk radio host and editor of Townhall.com Hugh Hewitt joins Paul in The Center for the Study of God and Culture on Monday to discuss the presidential candidacy of Mitt Romney. Hugh is the author of the just released A Mormon in the White House?: 10 Things Every American Should Know about Mitt Romney. Listen live in Detroit from 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm on AM 1500 WLQV. Stream it live via the Internet at www.godandculture.com.
Newt Gingrinch has admitted to having had an affair in 1998, the same time period when he was leading the charge as Speaker of the House for Impeachment against President Clinton. James Dobson offered Gingrinch a national platform to showcase his “repentance” for two days last week on Focus on the Family. Now word from Jerry Falwell that Gingrinch actually had previously confessed to him. Dr. Falwell has invited Speaker Newt to speak to the students of Liberty University.
Newt is not a declared candidate for President in 2008. One cannot help but wonder if fear is building on the religious right of a Mitt Romney candidacy. It seems that the power brokers in the evangelical community have become very anxious to help Newt unload the excess baggage that makes him a less than palatable candidate for the evangelical community. Seems they’d rather offer grace and forgiveness to Newt than try to explain to their constituency their support for a candidate who is a member of what many evangelicals consider to be a cult. Will this same dispensation of grace be offered to Rudy, or is grace conditioned on one’s position on social issues?
There are two types of reading I do: reading I must do in preparation for preaching or my daily radio program and reading I do for leisure because I have either heard about the book from someone else or I just want to relax with a good book. I do most of my reading early morning or late evening; therefore most of the books I am currently reading are next to my bed on the nightstand. I am normally reading at a minium three books concurrently. Currently there are 23 titles either on or around my nightstand, including a King James Bible and an English Standard Version, divided this way:
Books I’m currently reading for preparation (Homework!)…
Failing America’s Faithful by Kathleen Kennedy Townsend
The Roots of Jihad by Tawfik Hamid
A Mormon in the White House? by Hugh Hewitt
The Rise of Lakewood Church and Joel Osteen by Richard Young
Crisis in the Village by Dr. Robert Franklin
The Truth About Same-Sex Marriage by Erwin Lutzer
Liturgical Theology by Simon Chan
God in Public by Mark G. Toulouse
The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
Chosen for Life by Sam Storms
Books I’m currently reading for leisure
Blog by Hugh Hewitt
The Triumph of the Therapeutic by Phillip Rieff
The Conservative Soul by Andrew Sullivan
Death in Holy Orders by P.D. James
The Alexandria Link by Steve Berry
Real Christianity by William Wilberforce (Bob Beltz)
The Book of Buechner by Dale Brown
Through a Screen Darkly by Jeffrey Overstreet
The Crook in the Lot by Thomas Boston
The New Friars by Scott Bessenecker
The Great Giveaway by David Fitch
Amazing Grace by Eric Metexas
In addition to books, there is also always on my nightstand a copy of the current issue of Christian History magazine and the current issue of The Wittenburg Door magazine. I supplement my reading while driving by listening to NPR or the current issue of the Mars Hill Audio Journal (Ken Meyers) on CD.
Our associate pastor called me as I was leaving the radio station Friday evening to tell me he had just seen a 30 foot version of my face at one of the busiest intersections in Metro Detroit. I thought he was having an Oral Roberts moment until it dawned on me that what he was referring to is the new billboard campaign that Salem Communcations is doing for my program. The one he saw was at 9 mile and Groesbeck. Have you seen the new WLQV billboards? If so, where?
If Solomon were living today Ecclesiastes 12:12 would no doubt read “…of making many movies there is no end.” To make the observation that images have replaced words in our culture is to state the obvious. The essence of contemporary culture manifests itself in the images Hollywood produces. So it is essential that followers of Christ also be connoisseurs of those images, distasteful and as unpalatable as they many times are. We are foreigners in a strange land, fluent only in the language of our homeland, unable to communicate with this strange land, if we stick our head in the evangelical sand and pretend that Hollywood and its images don’t matter. Hollywood matters immensely because not only is it speaking the language of the culture; Hollywood is creating the culture.
Hollywood understands something many Christians don’t: images communicate messages vividly. No words needed to be spoken on September 11, 2001 as images of horror filled our television screens. But many Christians understand something Hollywood doesn’t: we most certainly needed words in the aftermath of 9/11. Words of comfort, words of prayer, words of explanation, an endless stream of words as we attempted to make sense of what we saw that day. What image would you suggest might counter the horrific images of 9/11? We didn’t go to the movies on September 12; we went to church.
There is a danger in our noble attempts to redeem the culture of our becoming so immersed in our image culture we forget God has called us primarily to be a people of words. The sin that plunged the human race into ruin was an exchange of words – God’s words – for an image: Genesis 3:3 – “But God did SAY, “You must not eat from the fruit of the tree;” Genesis 3:6 – “When the woman SAW that the fruit of the tree was good for food…” Paul expounds more deeply on this exchange of words for images in Romans 1.
Images can move us emotionally, spiritually, physically. But so can words. In many cases words are more powerful than images. What image can replace, in terms of effectiveness, the 1,599 words of Dr. Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech?
When God called Moses up to the mount, Moses returned, not with an image – that’s what was created in his absence by Aaron and the people in their rebellion – but with words.
When God commissioned Joshua to take up Moses’ mantle, it was words – the Book of the Law – that he charged him to meditate on day and night.
When the prophets spoke to the people, it was “Thus SAYS the Sovereign Lord…”
And when God wanted to put an exclamation point on history, “In sundry times and in divers manners God SPOKE unto the fathers by the prophets and in these last days has SPOKEN unto us by His SON…” “The WORD was made flesh…”
In a culture whose primary mode of communication is images, followers of Christ must be vigilant about words. We must be mindful that it is through the medium of words and a Book that God chose to communicate to us. “The WORDS that I speak unto you,” says our Savior, “they are spirit and they are life.”
Images are important to our postmodern culture, as important as Hieroglyphics in ancient Egypt. Images are the language spoken fluently by the culture. And followers of Christ must understand those images. But I am arguing that it is only words that can sort out images, prioritize them, and make sense of them. Ravi Zacharias is fond of saying, “In the beginning was the Word, not the video.” The calling of the Church in the midst of our image saturated culture is to resist the temptation to ourselves be mesmerized; but rather to sort out the culture’s images and interpret them through the prism of God’s word. In our efforts to speak the language of the culture we must be very aware of the danger of merely mimicking back to the culture what they have already seen, rather than doing the dangerous thing of speaking to them words that more often than not will contradict their images.
In the Foreword to his Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman captures the spirit of our times when he summarizes Orwell and Huxley:
What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one.
We are living the fulfillment of Huxley’s prophecy. Can the Church of Jesus Christ muster the will to counter the culture, to be a peculiar people devoted to words in the midst of a culture of idol images? Like Paul at the Areopagus can we stand in the midst of our culture’s images and use our words to point them to The Unknown God?