When Morons Preach Repentance

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Eating too much stupid cake

I am a big fan of what I would call the “prophetic spirit,” and  I’m not talking about predicting the future.

I am referring, more generally, to beneficial rebuke.   For many decades now, our culture has been in need of what I would call a tough-love life coach.  We need someone who can slap us across the face and say..

  • “chest feeding is not a thing, okay?”
  • “Don’t put that crap in you arm until the FDA makes its case..”
  • “‘Hello?  Give money to Zelensky when we can’t even  secure our border?”
  • DEI and airplane safety don’t mix. Can we agree on that?

In the real world–the world we can measure around us–we need straight-talkers. We need the prophetic spirit.

But our world is full of what I would call the half-wit prophetic spirit — morons who think they are teaching us all  a lesson.  Our need for meaning, and moral righteousness, is so great that most people have to suffer a lot of fools who think they have found it.  (Ever listen to Rob Reiner lately?)

The other day I put out an Instagram ad about our living history programs.  It occurred to me that we really do spend a lot of money buying real wool, real buckled shoes, high-end reproduction muskets, hand-tailored wardrobe, milk-churns, 18th century hand-cast brick, and on, and on, and on..  Teachers, and guests, marvel at how much passion we bring to our subject.  While we do make some mistakes, our living history programs look pretty authentic, and I thought I would do a little crowing — and selling.

Well, of course, most of our customers understand the need for that.  They want us to be around when the apple harvest arrives.  They want to take their  grandkids to our living history programs.  They are common sense, intelligent, normal, God-fearing people–flawed but reasonably self-aware, like us.

But then along comes what the Bible calls a “worthless fellow.”  Someone wants to remind  all of us — are you listening? — that America once abided slavery.   Did you hear that?  Let the great man speak.  Had you forgotten?   Because he’s here to remind you:  Americans once owned slaves. “Have you even put THAT in your ad, Mr. living historian?   Have you populated the foreground of your boosted post with bleeding, whipped, miserable, disenfranchised SLAVES?”

I’ve seen enough religious fundamentalism to know what this is.  It is the ranting of someone desperate to decry a moral evil no one embraces any longer.  Slavery, outside of a few places in Africa, is so rare these days that this kind of lament is something like scolding Italians for Coliseum blood sport or Ikea store clerks for Viking raids.   It is the sort of thing that could only have an audience at a community college full of wise fools.

Sniffing out sin where it doesn’t exist isn’t just bad form; it is the territory of sanctimonious idiots.  It would be something like starting out a meeting with Japanese business executives by making sure everyone was scolded, up front, for the rape of Nanking.   Not even Michael Scott is that dumb.  The world is chock full of unvarnished evil, the real thing, scales, fangs and all, but these folks never kill, or even chide, real dragons.  They never manage to scold MS13 gang members or Chinese Communist technocrats unleashing a plague on the world.  They never scold the sexually confused misfit who injures three real girls at a high school basketball game.    No, they would rather rebuke a living history farm for not leading the marketing effort with the picture of a particular misery long since erased.

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This post was written by Jim Riley


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