Monday, November 12, 2007

Both Sides of the Coin: My Two Cents' Worth on Internet Cafe and an NPR Rant

The "nice" me is posting today at Internet Cafe with a true story that I stole that I gleaned from my pastor about his wife which I hope will encourage and inspire. If it doesn't, it's my fault because it's a really good story. The "mean" me posted the comments below late yesterday. Why? Instead of making a generalized claim of unfairness, I decided to show a specific example of liberal bias in media. And yes, I have written "Whad'Ya Know" about this.

Recently I mentioned my love/hate relationship with National Public Radio. I would now officially like to launch a rant. Before you poo-poo my assertions, be willing to read this entire post and listen to the archive of the show I'm going to talk about.

First of all, I love shows like Prairie Home Companion, Car Talk, Wait Wait ... Don't Tell me, All Things Considered, Morning Edition, On the Media, This American Life, This I Believe, and Whad'Ya Know.

However, I dislike, strongly, the often subtle and sometimes blunt anti-Christian, anti-Conservative bias in so many NPR news stories, programs, jokes, etc. I'm not talking about early Christianity or obscure sects. I'm talking about contemporary Christianity, particularly that of the Evangelical ilk.

Would you like me to back up my claim?

On November 10, Esquire's Editor-at-Large AJ Jacobs was featured on Whad'Ya Know with Michael Feldman. Jacobs, Jewish by birth but a practicing agnostic, devoted a year of his life to exploring the Bible by living as authentically as he could concerning Biblical laws. Jacobs spent 8 months as an Old Testament male and 4 months as a New Testament male. You can go to this USA Today article and read a short article about his experience. Jacobs' book is called, "The Year of Living Biblically."

Much of the Feldman interview was entertaining, and Jacobs admits his life was enriched by the experience. Still, he resists literal interpretations of the Bible and doesn't really believe prayer is beneficial, particularly in regards to healing. He believes in a "cafeteria" type religion, asserting that you need to pick and choose what works for you, especially in a poetic, allegorical sense. And he doesn't really care whether his sons become atheists or believers; he just wants them to be informed. So that gives you a thumbnail look at his philosophy. He has a right to his convictions.

Much of what Jacobs reports has a playful, endearing, self-deprecating side to it. What isn't so entertaining is the smug undercurrent running throughout the dialogue between Jacobs and Feldman, particularly when talking about subjects such as the Creation Museum in Ohio. Jacobs considers the museum to be a product of nice, misguided people who distort data to support literal interpretations of Genesis. His tone was condescending, as if he were patting Creationists on their heads and saying, "Isn't that cute? Ever so silly, but cute."

Legitimate questioning of faith or criticism of Christian theology I can handle--I'm all for free speech, free will, etc. But what do you think of the following exchange, which occurs about 19 minutes into that segment of the show:

(Paraphrasing): Jacobs talks about how he was pleasantly surprised by the Creationists and Evangelicals he met. He admits to having preconceived notions about them, to which Michael Feldman replies jokingly:

"You mean they're not stupid?"

Thanks, Mr. Feldman. That kind of dialogue is really helpful. I wonder if Michael Feldman would have slammed ANY other religion in the same way. For instance, suppose Jacobs had said,

"I was really surprised by the Muslims I met."
Would Feldman have replied, "What? You mean they're not ______?" [Fill in the stereotype.]

Or "I was really surprised by the Hindus I met."
Would Feldman have replied, "What? You mean they're not ______?" [Fill in the stereotype.]

I don't think so. That kind of intolerance would NEVER be allowed on NPR. Unless, of course, you're discussing backward, hateful, intolerant, idiotic Evangelical Christians. And then, of course, you'd only be declaring the obvious truth, right? Evangelicals deserve it, so they should just shut up and laugh along like the ineffectual, insincere, stupid people that they are.


To hear the interview, go here and listen to part 1, featuring "The Year of Living Biblically."


Cyndy said...

I didn't listen to the radio segment but I can imagine the undertone you are talking about and have heard it often from the more liberal media. It's disturbing and frankly, dare I say it? Prejudice.

Melanie said...

You go, girl.

Or should I say, "Duhhhh?"

Barbara H. said...

Good for you for speaking up. That kind of undertone is all too common.

Barbara H. @ Stray Thoughts

Johanna said...

I'm glad you have written to Whadya Know, give them another shocking example of an intelligent, articulate churchy lady. It's really a shame that they had to have that snotty undercurrent going on in there, because it seemed so unnecessary. Without those crappy comments, it was really a fairly interesting interview, and Jacobs sounded as though he was starting to wonder about a need for spirituality in his life, trying to justify himself to the "cool kid" Feldman. This interview did reflect the attitude toward spirituality that I grew up with in MA(which has changed), people went to church, but you were seen as unbalanced if you talked about it- I had one childhood friend get very angry with me when I came back to visit all "Jesus Freaky", and my ex-husband expressed concern that I had "gone crazy"(and I am Lutheran! We barely SING above a whisper!!)So although this attitude is changing, it clearly hasn't reached the hometowns of these guys.Good for you for calling attention to it and speaking out!!!Sorry about the long comment!

Suzio said...

Amen, say it sister! I am often surprised when the media says things about christians that if it were said about any other group would make the news as offensive.

Lois E. Lane said...

Bravo, Linda! So much of this stuff goes unchecked, and thus will continue rampantly. Discerning these double-standards is half the battle. Go get 'em :)

Susan said...

Great job, Linda!! I can't stand to listen to NPR...DH does, though. I get so emotional over this stuff.


thouartloosed said...

The tables are turning in the temple. Amen!

Ann said...

I've been to the Creation Museum twice, and it is incredible!