Thursday, September 08, 2005

We Can Do Better Than This

In Washington Post article I cited in an earlier post, the Rev. Alex McFarland of the Focus on the Family, after correctly refusing to attribute the hurricane to God's judgment, said:
"it's sad that people would take the opportunity to spin this into some kind of political sound bite" and blame the government.

"Are we taking the opportunity to make this into a religious sound bite? I suppose so," he said. "But that is only at the prompting of people's questions. Human suffering, and the longing for answers, and the desire to process this spiritually and emotionally -- that's a defensible reality. Whereas George W. Bush creating global warming, and consequently Katrina, is speculative at best."

McFarland was asked to represent a Christian viewpoint and he came across sounding like just another Republican party hack, but I am sadly growing used to this conflation of view points. I remain troubled by the way McFarland made his points, and the manner in which this approach debases even the possibility of genuine debate and dialog.

Here are the unfortunate but all too common principles utilized by McFarland:

1. Uncritically support your side

2. Assume your own point of view is the only reality.

3. Misrepresent opposing points of view

McFarland begins (and you can see the whole quote by following the link) by bringing in the political point even when that question wasn't raised by the reporter. But since, apparently, defense of the Lord and defense of the Administration are two sides of the same coin for McFarland, he feels like he's got to get it in there. And by using the words "sad" "spin" and "political sound bite" he leaves no doubt that the Administration is not only in the clear on how it responded to the hurricane, but that it is illegitimate to even raise the question.

He then goes on to make the amazing observation that his own theological reflections and people's desire for that sort of thing is a "defensible reality" while the science of global warming is "speculative". Now I (mostly) share McFarland's theological perspective on the hurricane, and I think theological reflection is legitimate, but the contrast he makes here is just silly and reflects a deeply skewed sense of what is "real".

But perhaps it's only global warming as he describes it here that he is rejecting, that is, that "George W. Bush (note the "W") (is) creating global warming". But the point here is that no one believes that. Not even the greenest of Greens and would say something this silly. And McFarland has to know this.

Can't we do better than this? Can't we trust our own truth enough that we don't have to lie about opposing view points? Can't Christian spokespersons, of all people, be counted on to do this?


Susan Kitchens said...

Cool! you opened up your comments to peoples other than Bloggers. Now I can post something. Glad to see you in these virtual parts!

Bob Ramsey said...

Thanks Susan.

I didn't realize the system was limited to Blogger registered people until I changed things to get rid of comment spam, and there the button was!