Saturday, February 05, 2011
 THE NARRATIVE- These last few days we have all been given a lesson in Narrative- that is we have been shaped by ‘the story’ that people tell. If you view a certain event thru a conservative lens- then you will see things in the story that confirm what you already believe- the same with a liberal bias. These past few weeks I have been reading the book of Proverbs- just a few hours ago I read the verse ‘labor not to be rich, cease from your own wisdom’ then it referenced the verse I quoted the other day in 1st Timothy chapter 6 ‘those that desire to be rich have fallen into a trap and have swerved from the true faith’. Now- I haven’t spoken on this topic for years- but whenever I bring it up- it usually seems to disturb the narrative [story line] of the contemporary evangelical church. Many well meaning believers have been given a story line that says ‘the old traditional churches have told us money was not good- that God loves the poor- but the bible teaches otherwise’ now- are there verses that do speak about God blessing people financially? Sure. But the other side of the coin [like the verses I just quoted] these are not ‘old church traditions’ these are also part of the biblical narrative- the whole story we find in the bible. So we are often given- or drawn to- the story line we like the most- and then we look for proof that our story is the only right one. Last night [actually the repeat of the 1 a.m. show] I saw Beck interview a moderate American Muslim- he is the president of some Muslim group who have vocally rejected militant extremism. Now- Beck introduced him in a well meaning way- as a friend he met around 5 years ago. But in his introduction he said something like ‘I have been looking for a Muslim who is willing to tell the truth- to reject radicalism- and I finally found one’. In Becks mind- moderate Muslims don’t seem to exist- except this lucky one he found. Yet the man shared how his organization is made up of the majority of Muslims who in fact reject radicalism- he was Becks friend- but his reality did not fit Becks story line. As time was running short- Beck just really wanted the man to admit ‘yes- we Muslims are all basically dangerous- and I’m the only brand that managed to get plucked out of the fire’ their story lines contradicted each other. I have a confession to make- a few years ago when working at the fire dept., yes, I used to pick up the N.Y. Times and read it along with our Texas papers. Now- these past few weeks I have been picking it up every so often. I actually read the whole paper- just about every article- you have to be a junkie to read the entire times [very long articles]. Why do I do this? Because even though the Times is at times biased [let's see- McCain runs for president- a few days before the primary vote- the Times runs a front page, top of the fold article about a rumor that he was ‘too friendly’ with a female staff person. John Edwards- known by the insiders to have actually fathered a child out of wed lock, how did the Times originally treat it? Nothing- you know- it’s the man’s personal life- got ya] yet I do find the articles real thorough, and you get to hear both sides of the narrative- something that you very rarely get from television media [especially cable]. So it’s important for all of us to try as hard as possible to be exposed to the different sides of the story. Now- Egypt. Some have said ‘do you really think that the Egyptians just woke up one day and wanted Democracy’ this narrative says it’s the radical Muslims behind the uprising. At the same time- many Egyptians themselves will say ‘you are disrespecting us- when other countries citizens rise up [Iran] you cheer for their independence- yet you treat us with disdain’. These protesters are saying we are getting the story wrong. And in the Arab world- yes- you have all sides realizing these things. So the pro Mubarak group- while being against militant Islam- at the same time realizes that if the world thinks the protests are being fanned by the militant Muslims- then Mubarak knows the world will turn against the protests and support him. So they attempt to tell ‘that story’. After reading all ‘the stories’ it seems to me that the initial protests were indeed the younger generation feeling like they had no real future- they seem to have really ‘woken up one day’ [being emboldened by the Tunisian protests] and yes- wanted Democracy. This is not to say that the radical Muslim groups are not trying to use it to their advantage- but in a way these protests actually work against ‘the narrative’ of the militant groups. How? The ‘story’ that the radicals try to tell is ‘the only way we can be free from these autocratic, western loving- Israel peacemaking leaders is thru violent revolution’ if the Arab street believes peaceful protests can do it- then they not only challenged Mubarak’s rule- but also the narrative of the violent radicals- see? So as we view these events from afar- be sure you’re not only being shaped by one sides view- even if the side you listen to seems sincere- heck- I think most of what Beck says he believes! But at the same time there is good journalism out there [I do think the Times still has tremendously valuable info. Despite the bias] try and listen to the more respectable news sources- for many years I did not subscribe to cable- I watched the networks and P.B.S.- yes- the news hour is an excellent source for news. And at the end of the day realize that there might be some truth to both sides of the argument- it is rare to find the whole truth resting with only one side.