Safely controversial (II of II)

It’s safe to strike the pose of unequivocal man or woman of Christian principle when you can safely assume most of the folks listening and buying are already in your camp (as I noted earlier, while the motivation behind political statements from the stage no doubt springs from strongly held convictions, it’s at best specious for sg performers to claim their political endorsements make any real difference in elections or are more than symbolic or of much value beyond the personal). This is why I’m unimpressed by the kind of opportunistic grandstanding that Jonathan Wilburn and Martin Cook did at the Fan Awards this year, and why patriotic flag corps and anthemic ballads about God and country so often feel underwhelming and insincere, even from the most sincere people. Such displays and outbursts almost always rely on calculated assumptions about an audience’s political homogeneity. But how much courage of conviction does it take to say or sing something contentious to some people (”God made Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve,” or “We need the kind of good moral leadership that George Bush brings to the office”) if only one or two of those people are in the audience and the remaining 99% of the people are whoopin’ it up in agreement? And given that your audience is already mostly on your side and the ones who aren’t are not likely to be swayed anyway, aren’t there more meaningful ways to rouse a crowd? This is not, I should say, a call for gratuitous troublemaking or the sowing of dissent for the sake of watching the thorns grow (in fact, it’d be fine with me if the God ‘N’ Country balladeers were exiled to some perfectly comfortable place where they could play endless rounds of “top that patriotic trope” and “101 ways to incorporate snare drums into an arrangement”). Rather, my point is this: don’t mistake ovations for political red meat as the evidence of moral strength and greatness. If a statement made from the sg stage (in word, song, or symbol) is only controversial when made beyond the insular and politically homogenous world of sg, then the statement is not necessarily or automatically the sign of spiritual, political, or moral courage. After all, though sg’s online chattering classes have seized on the Wilburn remark and made it into a minor cause celebre, Freedom Hall at the NQC erupted in overwhelming approval when Wilburn spoke, and I suspect Wilburn knew he could rely on that kind of repsonse. No, the real test for People of Public Principle is whether or not they’ll get on stage and stand for controversial principles that are controversial to that audience. Consider, for a moment, if Wilburn had got up and said: “I’m glad my daddy tore up my tail when I needed it and taught me that communion should only be distributed to the members of the local church” or “I’m glad he told me that true believers are predestinarians who believe in unconditional election and the absence of free will.” Now that would’ve taken some courage.

Email this Post

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked * Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.