Brian McLaren weighs in on the Dobson vs. Obama debacle

Chances are you’ve heard about James Dobson‘s recent comments about a speech that Barack Obama made a little while back.

If you haven’t, then great, don’t bother looking into it.  It’s the same old, same old, stuff that people like Dobson have been saying for a long time.  Stop reading this post now and go do something else.

But, if you did already hear about, then you should read this blog post from Brian McLaren where he weighs in on some of the issues with what Dobson said, and (equally as important) how he said it.  Here are a few choice quotes:

This week’s “Beloved Christian Broadcaster Attacks Beloved Christian Presidential Candidate” headline reflects at least seven patterns of unhelpful discourse I frequently see among the religiously vocal, whatever their political persuasion.

First, this Christian leader didn’t restrict himself to making judgments on Barack Obama’s statements; he inferred the candidate’s motives and judged them as well. Consider his use of the word “deliberately” in this sentence:
“I think he’s deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own worldview, his own confused theology.”

The Evangelical leader in question – whose attempts at persuasion I would judge as average or slightly above average in the world of religious broadcasting – displays the common religious tendency to lapse into name-calling, which has predictable and unhelpful results. For example, he referred to Obama’s approach as “a fruitcake interpretation of the Constitution.” This tendency to mock the opposition might be deemed excusable if it were a rhetorical icing on the cake of solid analysis, but lacking that analysis, it can hardly be called an improvement over the thoughtful speech by Senator Obama, given at an event at which I was present in 2006, which was being criticized by the respected Evangelical speaker.

Unless this leader and his political and religious allies can lift their level of discourse, their shared good ideas will be discredited along with their bad ones. The same goes for all of us. And unless more of us become more scrupulous regarding how arguments are made – even if we agree with the point they’re trying to prove – we will become less able to tell the bad ideas from the good ones.

Read the whole thing here.

Thoughts?  Is Brian off base in his critique?  Was Dobson off-base?  Do you agree that HOW something is said is equally as important as WHAT is said?

UPDATE 7/2/08:

Scot McKnight weighed in on this as well. It’s a lot more concise than McLaren’s, however, he does come to some of the same conclusions.  For those people who have a tough time hearing from McLaren, maybe this other take on it would be beneficial to check out?  Just a thought…  (HT: David Swanson)

UPDATE 7/3/08:

In the comments, John pointed us to a site with more info on what went down.  It’s clearly Pro-Obama, but I still think it’s worth checking out because it doesn’t inject much opinion, it merely compares their statements side by side.  The fact that, when presented in this way, Obama comes out “on top” should say something to us…

Oh very cool. Take a look at this website:

It does a good side-by-side comparison of Dobson’s skewed characterizations and Obama’s actual words.

new look

I’m not sure what I think of this new one yet…  but all I know is that I was starting to think that my old theme was a little hard to read.  I really dug the dark look, but white/gray text on a black background was just starting to wear on me.

This is basically the POLAR opposite of what I had, so we’ll see.  I may get sick of this one too.

Since the WAY you say something is equally, if not more so, important than WHAT you’re saying , I thought that in this virtual “conversation”, what I’m “saying” might be better “heard” if it was easier on the eyes.

Let me know what you think!

Virginia Tech: Barna says parents are to blame…

Found this over at the Catalyst Blog: Virginia Tech Tragedy is a Wake-Up Call to Parents

George Barna says:

“The animated conversations about gun control, campus security, counseling standards, campus communications, drug abuse and mental health funding do not address the core issue raised by this event. This situation is not primarily a challenge to politicians, educators or police. It’s a dramatic wake-up call to parents.”

What do you think?

and now for something completely different…

On a much lighter note, this is a really cool idea.  and if I was still in high school, I would have one of these right now…

Click on the “Watch the Ride” video once you get into the site…  It may not seem like it’s that big of a deal (a skateboard that rides like a snowboard… so what?) but that must have taken some serious technical skills to design.  It looks like it works REALLY well.

time flies

I didn’t realize how long it’s been since I posted last…

Similar to my man Theopraxis, I need to take a break for a bit…  I feel like my brain is full, and if I keep reading/thinking about all this deep stuff, my head might explode.  So, I’ve decided that I’m going to pick up some fiction.  I’m thinking of reading The Bourne Supremacy since The Bourne Identity was soooo good.  And I probably should work on my cars a bit, do something with my hands for a change of pace…

Anyways, we’ll see how long it lasts.  Because I honestly just love reading and thinking about all this big stuff.