Sound-bite purveyors and Elton John

I recommend Carl Trueman’s Republocrat (P&R, 2010), a short but provocative book on Christians and politics. I agree with most of his general theses, though he can be guilty of overstatement, inconsistencies, and building up straw men. Unfortunately, I don’t think his book will change minds, but it’s still worth a read. He takes shots at unquestioned devotion to capitalism, the “fair and balanced” nature of Fox News (ha!), empty political rhetoric so characteristic of our politics, American political and economic arrogance, and much more. He criticizes the Left and Right alike, and calls on Christians to be thoughtful and discerning in politics and not merely sheep. Here are some nuggets that I starred and underlined:

“My great fear is that Christian frustration with the liberal media has led to an overreaction that has generated a culture where alternative opinions are never, or rarely, considered, and where the most inarticulate and insubstantial arguments are swallowed whole. Central to this unfortunate phenomenon is Fox News, the conservative news outlet that is, in many ways, merely the counterpart to the sound-bite purveyors of the Left.” -p. 42

“When it comes to listening to the news, Christians should be eclectic in their approach and not depend merely on those pundits who simply confirm their view of the world while self-evidently using terminology, logic, and standard rules of evidence and argumentation in sloppy, tendentious, and sometimes frankly dishonest ways, such as Mr. Beck and his ‘welfare means totalitarianism’ claims. There is a sense in which we are dependent for our views of the wider world on those media that give us access to that world, so surely it is incumbent on us to make sure that we expose ourselves to a variety of viewpoints on the great issues of the day.” -p. 57

“As far as capitalism goes, there is currently no alternative. But let us not engage in the idolatry of assuming that the capitalist way is God’s way in any absolute sense. It brings much good in its wake, not least the creation of wealth and the facilitation of social mobility, but it is not an unmixed blessing. It promotes a view of life rooted in material accumulation; it can tend to drive all social relations and values to being determined by cash transactions; and when given spiritual significance, it can become something that looks a little too much like the prosperity gospel. Prosperity is a good thing, as are democracy, good food, and shops that sell clothes that don’t appear to have been designed for Elton John, but it is not the gospel. Let’s not make that confusion.” -p. 78

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