Poets, priests, and politicians/ Have words to thank for their positions / Words that scream for your submission / And no-one’s jamming their transmission – from “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da” by The Police on Zenyatta Mondatta
What really, really scares me in the Mark Driscoll plagiarism controversy is this:
What if Driscoll assumes that anyone who investigates allegations against him is an enemy who is merely trying to tear him down?
Does he not realize that ministers who commit ethical violations scandalize and disillusion their flocks? Does he not realize there have been plenty of such ministers?
During the Janet Mefferd radio interview that started all this, Driscoll kept saying, essentially, let’s stop talking about whatever mistake I might have made and get back to talking about Jesus.
That sounds great and self-deprecating but the problem is that ministers who become abusive or controlling or cultic can use the same rhetorical move to take the focus off their misdeeds.
Driscoll, complaining of a head cold and the flu during the radio program, didn’t seem to understand that he was doing the exact same thing politicians do to journalists all the time — trying to change the subject when the questioning gets uncomfortable.
Whatever his intentions, he might as well had waved two fistfuls of red flags in front of Mefferd’s face.
And Mefferd is a veteran journalist with seasoned instincts.
Driscoll needs to understand the role of the journalist — not the big-time, D.C. and Manhattan journalists stuck in self-referential, reactionary liberal echo chambers, but rather the thousands who go to work each day in hopes that honest information will help improve the quality of life in their towns.
Like most teaching gigs, most reporting jobs don’t make the kind of money celebrity D.C. and Manhattan journalists make — or the kind of money that The Gospel Coalition and The Resurgence superstars generate (however charitably they might distribute it).
It’s a kind of calling, like teaching, like ministry.
Hey, if these journalists catch a politician or city official embezzling, if they catch an influential person in a lie, the community is better off.
And if Driscoll gave me an audience, I would try to persuade him this way:
If a journalist catches a pastor in a lie, JESUS IS BETTER OFF, because Jesus doesn’t need shepherds who mislead their flocks. (Why isn’t this obvious?)
And if the journalist who catches a pastor in a lie happens to be a (gasp) liberal feminist atheist, Jesus is still better off.
Whatever Driscoll thinks, he needs to understand that priests and preachers and politicians consistently prove themselves UNTRUSTWORTHY, and if he’s going to wear that pastoral mantle, he needs to bend over backwards to be trustworthy.
Instead of all the brash and hip and slick packaging, he could be SUPER-RELEVANT by being trustworthy, and the copyright infringements and the plagiarisms do not inspire trust.
Of course some journalists have bad motives. Of course plenty of journalists have been guilty of wrongdoing, including plagiarism.
But most of the time, journalists are questioning authorities, not exercising authority.
The Meta-Narrative of our time, I submit, is a loss of confidence in leadership, a reflexive cultural cynicism, a tendency of the influential to abuse of power, and a crisis of moral and epistemic authority.
A plagiarist cannot speak into such a cultural milieu.
Whirlwind life of faith and betrayal / Rise in anger, fall back and repeat – from “Far Cry” by Rush on Snakes and Arrows