Friday, March 10, 2006

Boy in a Bubble
...Peggy Noonan's insightful look at this year's Oscars

"Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths." -2 Tim. 4:2-4

Peggy Noonan is easily one of the smartest and most insightful people in American politics/journalism today (and my personal favorite). She was special assistant to President Ronald Reagan from 1984 to 1986. In 1988 she was chief speechwriter for George Bush when he ran for the presidency; the best selling author of seven books on American politics, history and culture. She is a contributing editor of The Wall Street Journal and a weekly columnist for the Journal’s editorial page website; and Noonan is also the author of the best selling “The Case Against Hillary Clinton” (HarperCollins, March, 2000). Her first book, “What I Saw at the Revolution” was called “A love letter to the American political process,” by Time Magazine. All to say, this and more has made her one of conservatism's most respected thinkers. If you would like to sample her razor-sharp wisdom and cultural acumen you may do so here. (If she was only a Reformed Baptist too. Let me pause...)

Her latest OpinionJournal contribution published on March 9th is about this years Oscars Awards; and in specific, by way of illustration, George Clooney. The subtitle of her article "Boy In the Bubble" reads, "What George Clooney doesn't know about life." Ms. Noonan demonstrates unusual sagacity in her commentary. Before presenting a biblical worldview on this subject, here is a sampling of quotes from her trenchant and articulate pen offering sound reasoning compared with Mr. Clooney's artistic ululating:

"We all like Jack Nicholson not because he's classically beautiful--he's not--but because somehow he signals, in the way he lives his life, in the way he walks into the world, at least as seen through newspapers and magazines, that on some level or to some unusual degree he . . . gets the joke. It is odd to think, as a moviegoer, that you know Jack Nicholson, and yet in a way you do. We watch the young ones coming up. Will Charlize turn into someone who gets the joke, or someone who is the joke?"

"George Clooney is Hollywood now. He is charming and beautiful and cool, but he is not Orson Welles. I know that's like saying of an artist that he's no Rembrandt, but bear with me because I have a point that I think is worth making."

"Orson Welles was an artist. George Clooney is a fellow who read an article and now wants to tell us the truth, if we can handle it."

"More important, Orson Welles had a canny respect for the audience while maintaining a difficult relationship with studio executives, whom he approached as if they were his intellectual and artistic inferiors. George Clooney has a canny respect for the Hollywood establishment, for its executives and agents, and treats his audience as if it were composed of his intellectual and artistic inferiors. (He is not alone in this. He is only this year's example.)"

But Mr. Clooney's remarks were also part of the tinniness of the age, and of modern Hollywood. I don't think he was being disingenuous in suggesting he was himself somewhat heroic. He doesn't even know he's not heroic. He thinks making a movie in 2005 that said McCarthyism was bad is heroic."

"In an odd way they haven't experienced life; they've experienced media. Their films seem more an elaboration and meditation on media than an elaboration and meditation on life. This is how he could take such an unnuanced, unsophisticated, unknowing gloss on the 1950s and the McCarthy era. He just absorbed media about it."

What Ms. Noonan brilliantly describes is the futility of Hollywood's postmodern message, messenger, and methodology. The Apostle Paul's strong words to young Timothy are profound and stand in strong defiant contrast to the transient ideals of Clooney's superficial media-schooled world-view:
"Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe. Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching. Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed upon you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery. Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress may be evident to all. Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things; for as you do this you will insure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.

This is the eternal, politically incorrect, immutable foundation we need to employ in our daily lives, isn't it beloved? Look at Paul's continued exhortation to Timothy. First to holiness - be an example in in five areas: speech, conduct, love, faith and purity (v. 12); then to the truth of God's Word: reading, exhortation, and teaching (v. 13); accountability to authority: the laying on of hands by the presbytery, don't neglect, take pains, be absorbed, progress evident to all (v.14-15); and then to a circumspect conscientious of life and doctrine (v. 16a); and finally to the work of the gospel: insurance of salvation (v. 16b).

We don't have the luxury in Christianity to be content with "a momentary philosophical whim appealing to the audience for approval by sound bite." Or "cultural change by media engagement." Or Malcolm Muggeridge's timeless, yet inaccurate, assertion, "the medium is the message." No... The message of the gospel IS the message (Rom. 1:18-17; 2 Cor. 4:5-7; and we are "to know nothing among [them] save Jesus Christ and Him crucified." The solution to Mr. Clooney's temporary convictions is the life-changing truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ (Matt. 5-7).

Here is the real question for us today: I'm fearful that "as Hollywood goes, so goes the church" may have more merit than we care to recognize. IOW, a personality driven, pragmatic popularity that seeks to define itself and be measured by cultural acceptance than by eternal canon (i.e. Brian McLaren's "Generous Orthodoxy."). With a seeker friendly, politically driven, social gospel, Emergent church, postmodern accommodationalism on the rise, evangelicalism may not be far behind the Left Coast in its methodological moorings. I mean, it's not out of the scope of probability that Mr. Clooney's social/political/cultural agenda could find its way affording him a keynote address at one of many Willow Creek services or conferences to share, by way of interview, his "take on things." (Hybel has bestowed that honor, as well by way of interview, to Jim Collins and to former President Clinton).

May we not look back at the last twenty years of redemptive history and have to face the saddening conclusion that we failed to sound the alarm of the impending danger when methods gives way to worldliness and worldliness to error infiltrates the church and men of God have fallen asleep with their sword in sheath in the darkness of perilous times. To paraphrase Ms. Noonan: "The Church in the Bubble" - What Evangelicalism doesn't know about life, truth, the gospel, and biblical ministry."

Please take time to read to her astute words--it is well worth the investment.

Grace and peace,
2 Timothy 3

Quotes by Peggay Noonan: Used with permission from, a web site from Dow Jones & Company, Inc.


rene the rugrat said...

One small point, I believe you meant to say the "medium is the message" and give credit to Marshall McLuhan, not Malcolm Muggeridge, that is unless McLuhan's famous quote was a play on a Muggeridge quote it has now overshadowed.

Otherwise good commentary.

Also to those who would argue I am splitting hairs, being off my a single degree can result in being off by miles. One misquote leads to another.

SJ Camp said...

Thank you for catching the typo. I thought I had caught all errors before saving. You are most kind in your assistance...

Jer. 15:16

littlegal_66 said...

Campi-one other correction-I think you probably meant razor-sharp "wit" rather than "whit."

Great referral to Ms. Noonan's article-thanks. I have a little time, so I'm going to wax poetic for a few posts, if you will allow me the indulgence.

I love her quote:
"The Clooney generation in Hollywood is not writing and directing movies about life as if they've experienced it, with all its mysteries and complexity and variety. In an odd way they haven't experienced life; they've experienced media."

She could just as aptly and accurately have called her article, "The George Clooney Show." She is spot-on -- "Generation Clooney" writes and directs movies from the perspective of a life lived somewhat like Jim Carrey's character in "The Truman Show," and even, to an extent, like Jim Carrey's "The Cable Guy" character. I'm in total agreement with her--yes, Clooney is charming, and Hollywood can't help but get all weak-in-the-knees and bow to his charms.

littlegal_66 said...

When it comes to Hollywood's arrogance and condescention, George Clooney has become one of the poster boys. If you're going to be treated like an intellectual inferior, I guess it's not supposed to sting as much when it comes from such an endearing sort. He IS beautiful--a handsome face, perfect smile, with deep, dark eyes that jump off the screen toward you. And the abrupt, staccato delivery of his dialogue in "O Brother Where Art Thou," never fails to garner at least a chuckle from me. But always, in the back of my mind, I'm continually reminded of the left-wing rhetoric that seems to constantly spring forth from his vocal cords.

Here's a quote from Clooney's recent Larry King appearance. It goes to further prove Ms. Noonan's summation of Hollywood and the Academy's approach to filmmaking.

"We're not good first responder films. We have to write a script after things happen. We have to direct it. We have to shoot it. We have to edit it and release it. So, in general we tend to be, you know, is there a liberal bend, sure. I don't make any apologies about that. I'm a liberal, you know. I believe in it."

Larry King transcript , and, you can video stream a portion of the King interview.

Also, a link to the Text of Clooney's
Oscar acceptance speech.

And finally, for some "fun," view the video of his backstage Q&A after accepting the award. (In response to the 2nd question, he says they [as filmmakers] try to "reflect" society, not "lead" it).
(Whatever you say, George).

George Clooney is allowed to "speak" for Hollywood. Who will we allow to speak for evangelicalism, and from what perspective will they speak?

Ephesians 4:11-16
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

littlegal_66 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
littlegal_66 said...

And finally, while I'm proliferating, this makes me wonder: Is it beyond the realm of possiblity for me to suggest that someday evangelicalism could reach the point that mega churches actually hire a big-name actor (such as George Clooney), to come in and deliver their sermons on occasion? (As an attempt to capitalize on the church's growing fascination with Hollywood). Of course, the pastoral staff would actually write the sermon text, but to insure a record turnout, they could hire big names or box office draws such as Clooney, Tom Cruise, and my personal favorite, (rolling eyes), Alec Baldwin, to memorize and recite the sermon. (Hey, Pat had Clooney on the 700 Club, so.....)

To echo your thoughts, "May we not look back at the last twenty years in our day and come to the ill-fated conclusion (to paraphrase Ms. Noonan): 'What Evangelicalism doesn't know about life, truth, the gospel, and biblical ministry.'"
Amen, brother.

(And I've now written more on this topic than you and Peggy Noonan combined, so I'm stopping).

4given said...

LittleGal, the reward that Michele was holding for the longest comment on any one post I have ever seen now gets passed to you. LOL.
Excellent post (as usual) and inciteful comments.

donsands said...

I remember watching Opra once, and it was a discussion of homosexual marriage, I think.
The Christians who were there were overwhelmed with the whole atmosphere.
As they confronted the issue, and said, "homosexuality is wrong, and it says so in the Bible, SOMEWHERE".
Opra jumped in and said, "I don't know a whole lot about the Bible, but I DO KNOW that God loves these people!
The audience went nuts.
I turned the T. V. off, and have seldom ever tuned in again to see Opra.

Michael W. Smith was on Larry King, and I was very disappointed in his witness, though I love this brother, and appreciate his character.

Where is the boldness? Where is the humble testimony of the Cross above all?
I pray that there would be a great pouring out of God's grace and power upon us His church, so that we might repent of our pride and cowardice, and that we would become confident and preach the gosepl without apology. Amen.
Thanks for another good post brother.

Robert said...

In my opinion, Pegy Noonah is a lot smarter, AND funnier (in real humor, not cheap shots!)than Ann Coulter.

Gordan said...

Reminds me of the apocryphal tale of the ditzy starlet who expressed shock over Bush's re-election in this manner:

"I can't believe he won! Everybody I know voted for Kerry!"

4given said...

Gordon... that is sadly hilarious.

ANd for those of you correcting all the type-o's and errors. "Eeek". (and that aint Latin)
Even though I am a home educator, sometimes I make alot of typing errors.

Littlegal: I really do lke your poetic waxing. It makes me chuckle, you poster girl for truth.
Regarding poster boy Clooney... you are dead on.

4given said...

Did you see that typning error??? I was supposed to type "like" and typed lke... Oh, there's another one.

K T Cat said...

Wow. What a nice juxtaposition of Noonan and scripture. I took a different tack on my own blog. I just posted about Peggy's article here.