hmm... thoughts

Why do conservatives like to be told what to do?

Excuse the snarkyness of this post. I’m really curious if this is my crazy observation or if I’m just a jerk.

Have you ever noticed that conservative folks (politically and religiously) like to be told what to do? I don’t mean they will say “just tell me what to say, do, or think” but I mean that the people they flock to admire tend to be people who will tell them what to do and not challenge them very much to come to their own conclusions. (Or to examine how they came to the conclusions they evangelize.)

Example #1: Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh. These guys are certifiably nuts. (But entertaining) They spew all sorts of nonsense and political conservatives love them. People even call and email them to proclaim them as right in every situation. 90% of Stephen Colberts schtick is mocking them and still some peopel think they are brilliant.

Example #2: Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman. Don’t get me wrong, people should be conservative with their money. But if you have to call in to their show to hear this… “pay cash, pay off your credit cards” than I suspect you won’t notice that their making millions by humiliating you on TV, radio, books, and curriculum. Again, their shows are fodder for comedians. I hope someone gets a show on Comedy Central to teach people how to manage their money soon.

Example #3: Alpha male pastors. Look, I’m too close to evangelicalism to start naming names. I don’t care to get myself in that kind of trouble. But over and over I see these guys become succesful. They aren’t saying or doing anything special… just alpha dudes who get their jollies telling their congregations what to do. (Politics, money, and sex tend to be their top topics.) And yet, conservative people flock to them. This isn’t just senior pastors either! I see worship dudes and youth ministry dudes taking the same stance. It’s a powerful addiction as the more authoritative and the more they manipulate an audience, the more fervor people follow them. (The flip side is that the most successful ministry leaders are extremely humble, it’s only on their rise that they seem to be like this.)

Why do these conservative voices go unchecked? This is the beauty of the conservative system. If you dare to mention someone’s name or second guess some of their proclamations… just watch what the fan boys do! It’s as hilariously and predictable as the Cubs failing to mkae the World Series.

See, once these fans admire/idolize someone, once they learn to love being told what to do by them, these fans become vipers. The scour the earth looking for people who dare to question their dude’s authority and then they lash out. “How dare you question Dave? He helped me get out of debt.” (As if Dave Ramsey actually paid your bills… no, you were the one who got yourself out of debt!) “How dare you question my pastor? Because of him I am a new man!” (No, you are a new man because of grace and your pastor doesn’t impart grace.”) “How dare you question Rush? He was right about Bill Clinton!” (OK, I’ll give you that. But it was a decade ago.)

What’s the other side of this coin? Ah, there is a deadly side to this game as well. Being loved by conservatives is a double-edged sword. The moment that someone slays these dragons… or more often… their own actions disqualify them from holding their authoritative voice over conservatives, they are stricken down.

The sick thing about being a conservative voice for politics, money, or religion is that you are only the voice-du-jour. One day these people will turn on you. Not only will conservative people turn on their leader-du-jour, they will austrecize them. Then they will pretend like they never really listened to you, cared about you, or bought your book.

It’s a sick system. And I’m part of it.

So, I wonder… what’s with the psychosis of wanting to be told what to do?

Is it that we don’t want to think for ourselves?

Is it that we long for the simple life?

Or is it something else?

hmm... thoughts

All Californians are Liberals

This is one of those urban legends I’ve heard a lot of since moving to California. And I have to admit, this is one of those things that people in the Midwest say about California that drives me a little batty.

California is a blue state. That is true. I am not a political historian but I would guess that the last time California voted for a republican for president was Ronald Reagan. What’s interesting about politics in California is that it’s identical to a lot of states with major metropolitans. The major metros trend heavily towards being democrats while the suburban and rural areas trend towards republicans. Outside of the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas most of California leans republican… including Orange County in the LA area and San Diego County with it’s massive military community.

The land of fruits and nuts. As if Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana (states where I’ve lived most of my life) didn’t have people who were a little abnormal. It is completely true that you will see and hear some crazy stuff in public. Hang out near the beaches and you’ll hear the craziest things on the planet. But also bear in mind that twice in the last decade voters have passed a proposal to ban gay marriage. Sounds pretty conservative to me. Michigan only passed one! Those Michigan people are such liberals!

California is full of strange characters. This one cracks me up. Take me to any breakfast joint in the Midwest and I’ll show you the same cooky characters. California doesn’t have the corner on the market of weird people. In fact, while we did have people in our church in Northern California who were convinced that the government was coming to get them and the postal carriers were secret government agents… those same characters are played by different actors at coffee shops in downtown Romeo. I remember a certain guy who carried around a photo album of road kill, deer he’d shot, and stories he told about people killing deer with a hammer. Who is weird now?

California is full of hippies, gays, druggies, and women with fake boobs. OK, that’s true. Those are actually the four categories you have to fit into before you’re allowed to register to vote. An additional qualification is that you have to watch all the Cheech and Chong movies before you can get a driver’s license. When we signed the kids up for school they implanted a chip behind their ear so that government agents couldĀ  decide which category they’d fall into as adults.

Remember, labels are just devices people use so they know how to best ignore you.

Church Leadership Politics

The stupidity of labels

A couple times a week someone asks me if I’m a liberal or a conservative. So I want to say this loud and clear. My name is Adam McLane, I want my label to be “Christ-follower.” You can call me crazy. You can call me radical. But liberal or conservative are stupid titles.

Here’s why the labels mean nothing. Labels like conservative and liberal are not black and white, it’s not that easy. They are completely subjective to the person asking the question as well as the question that person uses to determine if a person is “left or right” of them on that particular issue.

Two examples from my world.

Politics In this year’s election you have McCain vs. Obama. Mike Huckabee would call John McCain a liberal republican. But just about any democrat would label McCain a conservative. On the democratic side most democrats, who republicans call liberals, would consider Obama a liberal and themselves conservative. It is difficult in 2008 because one traditional test of a persons “liberal or conservative status” is determined by who is seen as the person with the best family values. Boy, that’s a tough call in 2008!

In Christian circles the political labels reverse based on where you live. Traditionally, Christians in the north vote republican while Christians in the south trend towards democrats. Now Christians from the north or the south would have the same view that abortion is murder, but a “conservative” would use a persons belief on abortion as the litmus test for his candidacy while a “liberal” would use a litmus test along broader social policy lines.

Church This is where it gets really scary. In conservative places, like my alma mater and the churches I’ve worked at, I was labeled a “liberal” in that I believe Paul, that men and women are equal in Christ. But with others, because I went to a “conservative” Bible college and have always worked at “conservative” churches and I personally believe in the inerrency of Scripture, I’m a borderline fundamentalist conservative Christian. the crazy thing is, in the church, these labels have so many litmus tests that no one truly is a conservative or liberal but most of us are both liberal and conservative at the same time.

To further draw out the point from a church perspective. A “hard core conservative” would call teachings from a place like Willow Creek Community Church, liberal. But a “hard core liberal” would call the same teachings “conservative.” It’s all about perspective, baby!

Here’s why labels like this are stupid. Most times I am asked the question, “Are you a liberal or conservative?” I have no freaking clue how to answer it. And most of the time, the people asking the question are mixing politics and religion together… which is something I think is equally difficult in a postmodern, pluralistic society. I think its possible to be a flamingly liberal on social issues while holding firmly to my conservative religious roots. But on other issues, I am flamingly liberal on matters of faith… longing to shake the church out of inaction into world change… while staunchly conservative on certain political matters. So the label is meaningless altogether.

Labeling a person one way or the other is a dismissive thing to do. It devalues the entirity of a human being, someone bought and paid for by Jesus, into a label. This labelism is a dark mark against us as believers. It is a hate crime to a persons intellect which prevents us from fulfilling the Great Commission. Labels are, in fact, a devisive tool of our enemy, Satan. Labelism is emblematic of the label-fighting our Lord fought against. Over and over in the Gospels we see religious people asking Jesus litmus test questions. And over and over again, we see Jesus giving double answers that defied labeling.

Remember when mom taught you, “Sticks and stones will break our bones, but words will never hurt me. She lied. Words (labels) are powerful. My challenge to is always the same, live wildly… crazily… passionately… stupidly… for Jesus Christ in all you do.

Never be distracted by fans or haters!


The Evangelical Swing

democrat republicanWith just a few months left until the general election the talking heads are busy hypothesizing about minutia. Of course the truth is that both the McCain and Obama campaigns are largely on hiatus. They are fund raising and building networks while Americans enjoy the summer.

I think the media is doing their best to keep this race interesting. In fact, most people believe it will be a blowout. I think we’re talking Bush vs. Dukakis numbers for Obama in November. Bush won 80% of the electorate in 1988 and I think Obama may win more than that.

Here’s why I’m predicting a landslide. (Please note, I’m not “endorsing a candidate.” Truth is, I’m voting for GW Bush. He bought my vote again!)

  • The pendulum is swinging. The more McCain tries to appeal to conservatives the more the swing voters realize he’s not their guy. Americans wants a more liberal president… McCain is pandering to the wrong people.
  • Abortion means nothing in this cycle. Pro-life people, like myself, recognize that if Bush couldn’t move legislation on abortion no one can. Plus, both candidates are pro-choice so we are left to pick the less of two evils.
  • Obama owns the green crowd. Green is the biggest marketing term of the year. McCain is big oil and Obama is big green.
  • It’s an age thing. You’ve got a young candidate talking about change and an old candidate saying “stay the course.” Which message appeals to voters under 30? Have you seen the numbers from the primaries? People under 30 will vote in 2008.
  • Obama has a recession proof message. The worse the economy looks the more he can say, “Do you want to keep doing what we’re doing? Then stay republican!
  • Obama owns the web. I’ve long said that the candidate who masters the web in 2008 will take the White House. Look at McCain’s website and then look at Obama’s.
  • Obama owns the unions. Let’s face it. In states like Michigan, New York, and Ohio that matters.
  • Young evangelicals are disavowing the politics of James Dobson. Check out this site, In fact, I said the same thing on March 17th, 2007. He’s not my guy, hasn’t been my guy for a long time. While Dobson isn’t endorsing McCain just yet, it’s not like Dobson is going to endorse Obama!

In 2000 and 2004, the media said that evangelicals like me elected George W. Bush as president. It’s my prediction that a massive shift will happen in 2008 as young evangelical voters decide they are ready to cease single issue voting. And the truth is, once you get to non-abortion issues that evangelicals care about… the pendulum will shift.