Olbermann: Your words are lies, Sir.

This is simply incredible. Olbermann has been the best thing for television journalism since Edward R. Murrow himself. This is his latest “Special Comment”—and he takes direct aim on the Military Commissions Act of 2006 and those who signed it into law this past week. You can read the transcript here. Olbermann has no fear. I wish I could say the same about most Christians in the United States.


byron smith said…
Wow. He know how to communicate his message with urgency and passion. Addressing Bush directly is a very powerful rhetorical move too.
Anonymous said…
Prophetic speech at that level should get a rise out of some people. You'd think there would be some kind of response. Uproar. Outrage. Riots in the streets. We're such an apathetic nation we just sit back and go, huh, wonder what's on next... desperate housewives?
I have to say, though, Desperate Housewives is a great show. It's the only one that my wife and I watch regularly. But your point is very well taken. We do live in an apathetic nation. But we shouldn't worship in an apathetic church. The Christian community should be a witness against such apathy.
David Wilkerson said…
"the best thing for television journalism since Edward R. Murrow "

Which only shows what a joke television journalism has become. Of course Ted Koppel (before your time? His bad hair was all that stopped him) was infinitely better than this little watched sports-show crossover who serves out such stilted language pablum nightly for his left-wing niche audience. He is just the mirror image of O'Reilly. Both pathetic.

As for your recent political postings, I hope you are not thinking that the church needs to become more left-leaning as opposed to its current right-leaning tendency. Political calls to "get involved" for Christians can't mean pick a side in these battles. Will you next tell us its our "Christian duty" to vote? Our duty is always only to our Lord.

The only politics the church needs is a common shared local politics. An embodied presence in the community in which it finds itself. It can't become part of a partisan battle in worldly politics -right or left- or it trades its essence for something other than the gospel. You are going to factionalize the church. Politics should be organic in the church grown out of LOCAL discussion and action that is inspired LOCALLY. All with global potential, but with a transcendent significance no matter the outcome. Here consensus is possible, discussion can be civil, dissent can be listened to, action can be taken, and responses will be appropriate to the situations. And most importantly responsibility will be ours, apathy less likely when we corporately sense God's calling in it.

Look at care for Katrina victims. When social gospel politics becomes local, left and right respond similarly. Now look at Washington-funding for Katrina relief -- still a nightmare. That's called witness. We needn't advocate which bill for funding is best in the Congress. Neither is "Christian". We must act in our communities that is our duty. The laws have already been "passed". We need not wait.

You seem to advocate a politics that responds to blogs and television pundits who tell us politics is what occurs in far-removed Washington. You then wonder why people are fearful or apathetic. All they can do is say "No" or "Amen" and flip the remote or click the mouse to the next spectator sport. Most people have little power to change things and it engages/affects them very little.

The gospel, on the other hand, and any politics it inspires does not leave us powerless waiting on the pundit-class and Washington to act. We needn't be puppets on the media's strings. We can live God's politics without waiting on the Supreme Court or the Democratic party.

The goal of ecclesial political discussions can't be to get people to see the truth of having left or right positions and then claim victory, but to have these groups embodying the gospel together in discussion and action transforming lives spiritually (in the best sense) so the world can see.

Perhaps Washington secular political issues will become relevant calling for a unified Christian stand by the church a la Confessing Church vs. Nazis. But the Romans were a terribly repressive group and the church felt comfortable to mostly live at peace with it unless directly challenged.

These reflections come from my experiences leading a group on Jim Wallis' God's Politics. Members of my church need to rediscover our common politics, theological discourse and practices. We must stop absolutizing social and political policies as God's own. This will prevent a Washington-generated political discussion from dividing us on matters which are not the gospel. We must stop living our political lives through the TV set. This leads to apathy, individually formed opinions and self-righteousness for holding right opinions (and then yelling them at our dumb opponents). And ironically after all the heat, it always leads to..... "Desperate Housewives".

Ironically as Miner pointed out entertainment like Desperate Housewives et al is what keeps the church from practicing a real form of politics while we wait for solutions from on high. Entertainment culture is an acid that dissolves political communities like the church.

David you gripe at those on the right, say "amen" to Olbermann, turn on the next show and yet can't really say what The Well is doing about the largest issues confronting the church. This is the problem that infects both the left and right sides of the pews. We are not living life together and I don't find your partisan political advocacy (right or wrong) to be a cure for that unless you just want to morph us into a political party (with "spiritual" extras).

Turn off the TV altogether...now that's the beginning of a critique of church politics.

This no doubt comes as a harsh critique being at an east coast grad school and all, but public policy is not the kingdom of God nor do elections affect it.
David Wilkerson,
I admire much of what you've said. Ironically, most of it has been repeated on this blog in earlier posts. I suggest you read further back to allay your concerns.

In lieu of what just happened to Habeas Corpus, it's a shame that you've pigeon-holed Olbermann as leftist, and thus have refused to listen to the truth of what he has said in that video. No matter where you stand politically, torture is wrong - not because it's leftist or American to say so, but because the Gospel of Jesus Christ has given hope and true security to all people in all times. An "ecclesial politics" necessitates the sort of response that Olbermann has given to not JUST this administration, but to John Adams/Woodrow Wilson/FDR/etc. I fail to see any party-line in the video that David chose. David's endorsement of the video does not constitute a canonizing of all-things-Olbermann.

But let's assume there is a party-line in Olbermann's show, or the majority of its viewers. If Christ is the fountain of truth, we should listen to those that speak it, regardless of whether they are "ecclesial" or not. In this case, Olbermann has spoken the truth because it embodies a Christ-like and biblical rebuke to power. If you want to argue that it doesn't, that would be productive.

I suggest you invoke a more charitable hermeneutic towards this show so that you don't miss out. Being ecclesial does not prohibit us from keeping our TV's on, from staying informed, and from hearing commentary from former-sportscasters-turned-pundits.

We should be willing to hear God in the K.K.K., to be put it most bluntly and transcendentally. If I can do that, I can almost certainly here God speaking through O'Reilly, Trinity Broadcasting Network, and things that are most often caricatured (however wrongly) as "right-wing." When God speaks, there is no "right" or "left" anymore. Such a distinction is relativized by the Word of God.
By the way, I should add that your emphasis only the "local" is much needed today. Our technology has allowed us a window into the universal picture without any interest in our particular communities. To engage locally, in the interest of time, I grant that it is probably very wise indeed to turn off the TV.
David W.,

Your rhetoric aside, we need to figure out who your actually opponent is. Who is the target of your criticism? If it's me, then you have me all wrong. If it's someone or something else, then you are wrong to include me in that criticism.

First, the former. If it's me you are targeting, then you simply have not read what I have written in the past or you have read them inappropriately and uncharitably. I have NEVER endorsed party politics. On numerous occasions I called for Christians to avoid identifying themselves along party lines. And I have specifically criticized Jim Wallis for baptizing the left in the name of Jesus. If this is your criticism, then we are in agreement and your heated prose is simply unnecessary.

I strongly support local, organic, and ecclesial political action. The church must be rooted in a particular place, and political action begins with our homes and families. I have never once spoken of Washington politics, at least not in any sort of favorable light. I am not apathetic, nor do I think we should wait for people 'on top' to pass legislation to solve our problems. If this is what you think I endorse -- and God knows where you could come up with such a notion -- then you have me entirely and utterly wrong.

I am rather Anabaptist when it comes to the church-state relation. I do not believe any Christian should be involved in the military, and I am very hesitant to support a Christian serving in the government. I rather believe the church should act as a witness to the reign and coming of God; the communion of the saints ought to reflect and embody the ethic of the Kingdom as a witness to the world. The church testifies to the sole authority of God, as the One who relativizes and, for Christians, nullifies the claims of all other earthly kingdoms. The church stands opposed to idolatry in all its forms.

But insofar as the church pursues this end, the church cannot extricate itself from responsibility to the national and global political scene. The church works on a local level primarily, but not at the expense of a broader national involvement. The church is global and so our witness should be a unified, global witness. That still does not mean following party politics; it means testifying to the truth. And all truth is God's truth wherever it may be found -- even in the mouth of Keith Olbermann or in the episodes of "Desperate Housewives."
byron smith said…
This exchange has been more entertaining and informative than any episode of DH...

Seriously, thanks to David W for a powerful critique of the wrong person, and well done to goodbyenelly for a gracious defence of DWC even before he was able to do the same.
Dan Trabue said…
One final comment on David Wilkerson's comments, if I may. He said:

"The only politics the church needs is a common shared local politics."

I'm sure I need not remind our audience here that many prophetic denouncements in the OT were directed at the nationwide level - to kings and kingdoms (usually for oppressing the poor and needy).

I, too, agree entirely with having an emphasis on local solutions, but we need not shy away from calling out national disgraces when they arise.

Great post, DW (I got here by way of Michael, from the Levellers blog).

[and, this isn't THE David Wilkerson, is it...?]