I Want Manna, Not Mammon

jerrylogo.jpgI’ve been listening to the Jerry Bowyer Program on WORD-FM fairly often these days. Jerry replaced Marty Minto, who was fired under contentious circumstances. On the whole, I like the show. I like tone and style and I think Jerry handles callers well. There’s a good balance between charity and patience on the one hand and avoiding time-wasting arguments with nuts on the other. When he talks about Christian topics, I enjoy listening to him and calling the show. Something worries me, though.

Politics and economics are crowding out other topics. Jerry seems to have drunk too much Republican kool-aid. Some of his recent interviews, for instance, have had absolutely nothing to do with faith or Christian living. What do Steve Forbes’ tax obsessions or Pat Toomy’s healthcare reform crusade have to do with Christ?!

If you’re going to bring up a political or economic topic on your show, Jerry, try to make it relate it to Christianity.

Comments 13

  1. AHerald wrote:

    Forbes’ “obsessions,” Toomy’s “crusade”? … And you think Bowyer drinks partisan Kool-Aid? Physician, heal thyself.

    Posted 21 Oct 2005 at 11:40 pm
  2. Funky Dung wrote:

    What’s partisan about disagreeing with their positions? I think you’ve jumped to the conclusion that I agree with polar opposites. I haven’t. If Bowyer were spouting rhetoric about socialized healthcare, ousting Tom Delay, or some other obsession of the Left with nary a reference to the Gospel, I’d decry that as well. I’m a fan of neither the Right nor the Left and would prefer more political variety on a Christian radio program. Even if the Right had a monopoly on the Gospel (HA!), I’d expect the Right’s platform positions to be related to, and preferrably supported by, the Gospel. Chit-chatting about supply-side economics might have been appropriate for Jerry’s old gig, but expectations are different at WORD.

    Posted 22 Oct 2005 at 4:01 am
  3. Ernesto wrote:

    It is interesting to note how many religion blogs (not implying this one at all fits into this category) tend to merge religious positions and political partisanship — fairly orthodox believer, politically right leaning blog, more liberal in theology, politically left leaning blog. But it doesn’t seem like one necessarily follows from the other … does it?

    Posted 22 Oct 2005 at 2:26 pm
  4. Funky Dung wrote:

    I’d certainly hope not, Ernesto. Independent and moderate Godbloggers such as me are doomed to obscurity otherwise. 😉

    Posted 22 Oct 2005 at 2:49 pm
  5. Funky Dung wrote:

    As distasteful as I find certain political ideals going hand-in-hand (and unquestioned) with certain schools of theology, I don’t hold bloggers to the same standards as a paid radio personality. Bowyer’s job is to converse with Pittsburgh’s Christians about interesting topics relating to the Gospel. If politics come up on the show, fine. I just wish an effort was being made to relate them to Christian faith and practice in some way.

    Posted 22 Oct 2005 at 2:53 pm
  6. AHerald wrote:

    There’s a tin can clang sound to your defense, friend. If you’d merely objected to “nary a reference to the Gospel,” regarding Bowyers’ interviews with political guests, then perhaps your self-professed claim of ‘neither Right nor Left’ political independence and desire for overt Christian themes in political interviews might ring truer to my ears.

    Your partisanship (which, by the way is not something I say in a pejorative manner, for I’m a proud Catholic partisan of the Right) is revealed not in the disagreement per se, but in the manner in which you disagreed. The descriptive labels you applied–“Republican [not merely political] kool-aid,” “obsessive,” “crusade”–are clear partisan value judgements, reductive and dismissive caricatures which commonly originate on the Left and reveal your own political biases.

    If your concern and complaint was solely about the lack of a “Christian connection,” then one wonders why you felt compelled to go beyond that specific complaint to also disparage Republicans and their ideas. After all, what did your opinions about Republicans and their politics have to do with the substance of your complaint regarding an absence of Christian themes in political interviews?

    Finally, does an obviously intelligent Christian like yourself really need a talk show host to connect the dots on how public tax and healthcare policies intersect and relate to faith or Christian living?

    Posted 22 Oct 2005 at 11:47 pm
  7. howard wrote:

    He might not need that, but I think I do. Because there are many positions embraced on religious talk shows that have no obvious correlation to Christian principles.

    So for my benefit, could you explain the intersection between Forbes’ tax ideas or Toomey’s healthcare policies and the a compassionate Christian lifestyle?

    Posted 23 Oct 2005 at 3:13 am
  8. Funky Dung wrote:

    “Finally, does an obviously intelligent Christian like yourself really need a talk show host to connect the dots on how public tax and healthcare policies intersect and relate to faith or Christian living?”

    Yeah, apparently I do. I fail to see how the political ideals he presented jive with Jesus’ teachings regarding wealth and salvation (poor in spirit, eye of a needle, etc). I believe intelligent arguments can be made from all parts of the spectrum regarding how best to incorporate the Gospel into secular life. I may disagree with a lot of them, but I can respect a well-constructed argument. Bowyer presents no such arguments. He unapologetically presents a narrow band of the political spectrum without any Christian justification whatsoever. If I seem to take a jaundiced view of the Right, it’s because I’m tired of orthodox/traditional/conservative Christian being synonymous with Republican. Countless conservative Christian leaders talk about conservative Republican policies as though they obviously and automatically agree with the Gospel. Christians should support or oppose policies, not parties. Otherwise, we’ll be used, abused, and taken for granted just like blacks and unions are by the Democratic Party.

    Posted 23 Oct 2005 at 4:21 am
  9. AHerald wrote:

    Questions of taxation have an inherently moral component, most particularly with regards to justice. Likewise, virtually all government expenditures invoke explicit or implicit questions of morality. And any questions of morality and justice quite naturally and plainly intersect with God, the ultimate author and arbiter of justice and morality. Hence, the relation to Christianity appears evident.

    I fail to see how the political ideals he presented jive with Jesus’ teachings regarding wealth and salvation (poor in spirit, eye of a needle, etc).

    A revealing connection you’ve reflexively made here. The subject of tax policy seems to automatically connote for you images of rich men and wealth, as if lower and middle-class working Joes somehow aren’t affected or concerned about such matters.

    More to your point, though, the specific teachings of Jesus you mention are about the power of wealth and worldly treasures to turn weak and fallen man away from his true good which is God. Why you would think that truism should somehow “jive” with any formulation of tax or government policies is puzzling. (I hope you’re not implying you would be supportive of a policy which would make rich people poor through taxation ‘for their own good’, so to speak, in order to bring them into complience with Christ’s teachings?)

    Jesus was teaching the truth about the greedy nature of man and the dangerous temptation of misplaced priorities (cf Matt 6:19-21). He wasn’t advocating the good of poverty for its own sake; or poverty enforced upon the wealthy by government confiscation of earnings through taxation.

    I believe intelligent arguments can be made from all parts of the spectrum regarding how best to incorporate the Gospel into secular life. I may disagree with a lot of them, but I can respect a well-constructed argument.

    Given that a “random thought of the moment” appears on your site which reads, “Vote Republican — it’s easier than thinking,” I’m gonna take that boast of intellectual fairness (along with your earlier claim to be a “fan of neither the Right nor the Left”) with a large grain of salt.

    If I seem to take a jaundiced view of the Right, it’s because I’m tired of orthodox/traditional/conservative Christian being synonymous with Republican.

    See above: Tendentious would seem to be a more apt description than jaundiced, but that’s purely deductive speculation on my part.

    You may be tired of the synonymous relationship Republicans and “orthodox” Christians, but it’s a seemingly inarguable fact of life in America today: Poll upon poll consistently reveals that those whom actively practice their faith (regular Churchgoers, scripture readers, etc.) are overwhelmingly inclined to identify themselves as Republicans. Conversely, nominal or non-practicing Christians and other peoples of faith, as well as agnostics and atheists overwhelmingly identify themselves with Democrats.

    Facts is facts and demographics is demographics. Appealling to the prevailing Christian Right demographic is just plain smart business. If traditional Christians were Lefties, Christian-themed talk radio would likewise be slanted toward the Dems.

    Christians should support or oppose policies, not parties.

    Hard to disagree with that sentiment. But as a practical matter, of course, it’s a bit of a false dichotomy. Policies are put before the voters by parties, most notably in their respective platforms.

    It’s also not terribly realistic for Christian voters to parse out the policies from the party or from a candidate. After all, how does a good Catholic, for example, vote for virtually any modern Democrat without violating the Church’s clear teaching against voting for a pro-abortion politician in lieu of “proportianate reasons” (keeping in mind that national security, the war in Iraq, Social Security, or taxes, taken singly or in any combination don’t add up to proportinate reason).

    Forgive the long response. I went to write something brief and it turned out not so brief.

    Yours in Christ,

    Aaron

    Posted 23 Oct 2005 at 1:07 pm
  10. Funky Dung wrote:

    Given that a “random thought of the moment” appears on your site
    which reads, “Vote Republican — it’s easier than thinking,” I’m
    gonna take that boast of intellectual fairness (along with your
    earlier claim to be a “fan of neither the Right nor the Left”) with a
    large grain of salt.

    For the record, another random thought reads “Vote Democrat — it’s eaier than thinking”. Perhaps I should combine the two into “Vote Republicrat — it’s easier than thinking” and end any confusion.

    BTW, I regularly practice my faith – attend mass almost daily, participate in bible studies and faith discussion groups – and I voted for neither Tweedle Dumb nor Tweedle Dumber in the last two (farsical) presidential elections.

    Posted 23 Oct 2005 at 3:15 pm
  11. Funky Dung wrote:

    “Questions of taxation have an inherently moral component, most particularly with regards to justice. Likewise, virtually all government expenditures invoke explicit or implicit questions of morality. And any questions of morality and justice quite naturally and plainly intersect with God, the ultimate author and arbiter of justice and morality. Hence, the relation to Christianity appears evident.”

    Well, humor the unlearned masses and explain the relation between taxation and morality. We’re discussing a talk show, so lets *gasp* talk about the questions of morality and justice that are brought up in connection with issues. Presenting them as unchallengable fact is ridiculous. If an issue brings up questions, ask them on the air. Start a discussion. If someone’s views (Left or Right) are so unassailably correct, the failure of opponents to argue convincingly will make that apparent (or at least plausible). I really doubt I’m the only orthodox Christian not in love with one party or the other, so apparently the correctness of Bowyer’s positions, for instance, isn’t so obvious.

    Posted 23 Oct 2005 at 3:20 pm
  12. AHerald wrote:

    Well, humor the unlearned masses and explain the relation between taxation and morality. We’re discussing a talk show, so lets *gasp* talk about the questions of morality and justice that are brought up in connection with issues.

    I’m a card-carrying member of the unlearned masses (a Wal-Mart shopping, college-dropout blue collar rube) if ever there was one. And if someone like myself doesn’t need babysitting remedial education from a talk show host to explain to me why and how issues of tax policy–or virtually any government policy, federal, state or local, for that matter–relate to Christian life, it’s hard to see why an intelligent, Catholic-who-attends mass-almost-daily-participates-in-bible -studies-and-faith-discussion-groups-spouting-opinions-on-everything-blogger needs to have the pictures and lines colored in for him in order to make the the same connection.

    Back to where we started: You could have simply criticized the political content of the show, which for you lacked a Christian context. But you didn’t, instead you took snarky little partisan shots at Republicans and their ideas, while at the same time implicitly criticizing the display of partisanship of the show and his host. Bully to you for not voting for either prez candidate (I’m inferring that means you don’t vote for pro-aborts). But whether or not you voted for any member of any party is irrelevant–what you did evidenced your own brand of partisanship, which is not a word which exclusively applies to mere adherence the ideas of political parties.

    Your words betray you as a partisan. But you don’t have the courage to admit as much and confess that what really frosts you is not that they’re talking politics sans Christianity on Bowyer’s show, but that they’re talking Republican politics.

    Posted 25 Oct 2005 at 9:17 am
  13. Funky Dung wrote:

    If I could make this show up in big neon letters I would:

    I hate when Republican policies are presented as synonymous with the Gospel without any attempt to defend that connection with either scripture or Church tradition.

    HOWEVER: That’s a side issue and a red herring. You are absolutely correct that I muddied things up by expressing my own policial leanings in this particular post. What I meant to convey was that a loyal listener to the show very much disagreed with the aforementioned connection and perhaps there might be more like me.

    “I’m a card-carrying member of the unlearned masses (a Wal-Mart shopping, college-dropout blue collar rube) if ever there was one. And if someone like myself doesn’t need babysitting remedial education from a talk show host to explain to me why and how issues of tax policy–or virtually any government policy, federal, state or local, for that matter–relate to Christian life, it’s hard to see why an intelligent, Catholic-who-attends mass-almost-daily-participates-in-bible -studies-and-faith-discussion-groups-spouting- opinions-on-everything-blogger needs to have the pictures and lines colored in for him in order to make the the same connection.”

    Well cookie for you, pal. Ever think that I might have been concerned for more than myself? There are thousands of people listening to Jerry’s show daily. How many of them could draw the lines and color the pictures in? Again, because of my political and theological beliefs, the connection between Republicanism and Christianity is not only not obvious, it is counterintuitive. Thus, I – and I’d guess a large section of overwhelmingly Democrat Pittsburgh – would like to be humored with at least a defense of such a connection. Even better would be a chance to discuss the issue on air.

    “Your words betray you as a partisan. But you don’t have the courage to admit as much and confess that what really frosts you is not that they’re talking politics sans Christianity on Bowyer’s show, but that they’re talking Republican politics.”

    Am I “frosted” by Republican politics unapologetically spouted on a Christian station? Yes. Is that the biggest reason I’m “frosted”? NO. I’d be just as tweaked if Penn Gillette, Bill Mahr, or Al Franken attempted to treat Democractic policies as natural extensions Christian doctrine. I think I’ve said that every way I can without resorting to foreign languages. To drive the point home:

    Show me a Christian radio host spewing Democratic propaganda as though Christ Himself taught it and I’ll be happy to get duly frosted for you. K?

    Posted 25 Oct 2005 at 4:03 pm

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