Tuesday, September 04, 2007

How the Experts Do It

From Touchstone Magazine's Mere Comments, S. M. Hutchens writes:

Looking today at the glossy alumni magazine of a school I used to attend, I was reminded of a time-honored technique of the sectarian Christianity it represents, used when one wishes to overrule scripture and several thousand years of church authority with some obnoxious innovation. The formula is nearly infallible, and is as follows:

(1) Use an attractive person, “telling [his or her] story.” Women work best. On the whole they elicit more sympathy than men.

(2) Connect their decision to do the untoward thing with tragic events in their life, through which they have been graciously led by the Lord, a journeyman innovator himself, who is all the while urging them to go ahead and do what they wanted to do anyway, but haven’t because people (typically family and “good Christian” (we knowingly read “reactionary”) friends) they love and respect might not like it. If you can make it something they think on some level they don’t want to do, all the better. (“I didn’t really want to divorce my husband . . . become a lady pastor . . . etc., but in my time of crisis the Lord kept urging me forward . . . .”) In any event, it is important to remember that for people schooled in the Oprahite faith, itself a secularized form of religious enthusiasm, tragedy validates nonsense.

(3) Add to the pathos plenty of Bible, referred to in the tribal patois: “During this difficult time, Hezekiah 9:12 and Colossonians 4: 9 became especially precious to me, as did the story of [some biblical character who broke the rules].

That should do the trick; the lemmings will rise up and follow, for they sense here the very freedom they need to move forward in their own lives.

Those who take on themselves the burden of truth would do well to remember that one is not bound to become popular by dealing with this sort of thing appropriately. Indeed, that is an important part of the scheme: make anyone who opposes you look mean, backwards, or stupid.

This all sounds familiar, doesn't it?

1 comment:

Judith L said...

My profound gratitude goes to S.M. Hutchens for explicating this phenomenon, and to you, Anne, for posting it.