The level of propaganda being hurled around today via blogs is staggering. And, let’s be clear, we all push propaganda. The question, as I like to say, is whose propaganda is true?
One of the leading propagandists out there is Jonathan Merritt, a Southern Baptist from Georgia who now lives and works in the Big Apple. His writing platforms (Religion News Service and The Atlantic and The Week) are formidable. He has taken issue with me calling him a leftist, but we’re quibbling over semantics. “Progressive” is another term he might be more comfortable with.
In any event, as an opinion writer he is in a unique position to shape opinion, particularly among Millennials. In general, Merritt likes to present himself as a reasonable seeker of the truth. In reality, he is a propagandist for the left, for the social justice folks he is comfortable with. His animus toward conservative writers is pretty nasty, however, and further exposes him as a change agent who gets pretty angry with “critics” of his friends.
A recent example is his defense of Jen Hatmaker. And when I say he’s hysterical, that has a double meaning. On the one hand, his lashing out at critics is somewhat humorous, since he telegraphs that he isn’t really a reasonable fellow but rather a PR specialist for those who wish to rebrand America. I’d be more likely to enjoy lunch with David Axelrod or, shoot, Jen Hatmaker than I would with Merritt. The guy just gives off the hateful vibes of a hypocritical ideologue.
On the other hand, he does seem rather hysterical at times when defending his friends. As in, his descriptions of his ideological opponents reveal a person who is the opposite of the tolerant personal attitude he cultivates.
At least, that’s my take.
Hatmaker made news in the last several months after an interview (with guess who) in which she presented her views on homosexuality. Please read the column – and Merritt’s – and then decide for yourself if his defense of her is legitimate.
In a piece frontloaded with venom masquerading as truth-seeking, Merritt seethes over traditional, conservative Christians and bloggers who take exception to the kind of social engineering he and Hatmaker (and others) are launching.
After reading Merritt’s defense of Hatmaker, I have so many questions. Chief among them is, how and why is she courageous for her views on this subject?
So LifeWay banned her books from their stores. By the way, I think this is more due to pressure from some customers than from any convictions LifeWay stores might have.
The reality is, the spirit of the age is with Hatmaker and Merritt. The publicity alone from tiny (by comparison with other sales channels) LifeWay’s overdue decision will surely garner many more sales for her, as she builds her brand and networks more heavily in the “spirituality” community. In other words, Hatmaker’s fortune and fame are made precisely because she is swimming downstream. She isn’t bucking any system, unless Merritt is referring to dying traditional evangelicalism.
Jen Hatmaker is riding the wave. She is on her way to being a real force as a writer and speaker nationally. I predict her biggest sales and fame are ahead of her. Winsome, humorous, and with a marketable skill-set as a writer, Hatmaker is/will be a star.
So much for the bloodied martyr Merritt makes her out to be. It’s also a mantle she’s assumed for herself; in a piece no doubt coincidentally timed for Easter Sunday, Hatmaker presents herself as the suffering servant, for simply speaking out for “LGBT” folks:
Good Friday is about death even a necessary death – and that makes more sense to me now than maybe ever. It speaks of a dark day and broken hearts, unmet expectations, mob mentality turned brutal. When I consider that day now, in 2017, it all feels insane, blood-thirsty, the punitive result of being on the wrong side of religion. Of course, it was all planned, all intentional; Jesus was out to rescue us. We have the luxury of knowledge; we know about Sunday. We are living in the post-Sunday story, God’s grace to us.
But I get the death part this year, the Good Friday part. All the memes and quips and quotes floating around the internet are falling on a numb heart. This year, I deeply experienced being on the wrong side of religion, and it was soul-crushing. I suffered the rejection, the fury, the distancing, the punishment, and sometimes worst of all, the silence. I experienced betrayal from people I thought loved us. I felt the cold winds of disapproval and the devastating sting of gossip.
Holy moly, where to start? I think it is just part of the DNA of progressives to display the chutzpah/narcissism to identify with the unique experience of Jesus Christ, who died a brutal death for the sins of the world.
Merritt even has the chutzpah (“shameless audacity”) to compare Hatmaker’s horrific dark night of the soul to the apostles, who Jesus predicted would be persecuted:
This kind of behavior reminds me of Jesus’ words in John 16:2: “For you will be expelled from the synagogue, and the time is coming where those who kill you will think they are doing God a service.”
Dude, Jen Hatmaker will never experience persecution, at least not the kind real martyrs for the faith did. You won’t, either.
Merritt, whose smiling visage evokes thoughts of a friendly, reasonable champion of truth-seeking, has trouble with contradictions. Often showcasing his alleged tolerance, he is very intolerant of people he doesn’t agree with … sometimes with nasty invective. In the Hatmaker-martyr piece, he variously describes their critics:
- Evangelical mafia
- Dumpster fire
- “The average evangelical online today has the originality of a plaid oxford, the eloquence of a sledgehammer, and the courage of a spaghetti noodle.”
Wow! Merritt no doubt knows all about plaid oxfords, and his sledgehammer writing against his critics I think has all the courage of … ah, well, you know.
He then goes on to castigate the “dozens and dozens” of evangelical leaders he says he’s spoken to, who tell him privately they’ve changed their views to conform to those of Merritt and Hatmaker & Friends. Yet they are too reticent, according to Merritt, to say so publicly.
Dude, out them! As a guy who’s been on the receiving end, have the courage of your convictions and tell us exactly who is also now riding the progressive wave.
Now that would be hysterical.