Socrates in the City or Beckelfest?
Originally slated to feature Cal Thomas and his new book, What Works: Common Sense Solutions for a Stronger America, last night’s Socrates in the City (SITC)event turned into a Bob Beckel therapy session. Now that may be a little strong, but the event was definitely different than normal.
SITC is an event masterminded by Eric Metaxas (author of Bonhoeffer, daily commentator on Breakpoint). The event is a sophisticated evening of wine, cheese, intellectual discussion, book promotions, and, of course, Metaxas’s wit and humor. A truly enjoyable experience.
Something different happened this time. Oh, the refreshments were there, the books, and the humor. I am not sure how intellectual it was. But the evening was different. Metaxas called it historical because it is customary at SITC to feature only one guest. A feature whose value was reinforced at last night’s event.
So, here’s the deal. Thomas wanted Beckel there because they are friends, so he invited him to come along. They are working together under the guise of having somehow demonstrated that they have found common ground on issues such as welfare, term limits, even school vouchers. But for the most part, Beckel just did what Beckel always does: he slammed the Republican Party, the tea Party, the war in Iraq (that old chestnut), all the while treating us with his course language and his homespun rambling. He even declared that Hillary Clinton was not a liberal! (It’s amazing how conservative people can look after six years of Obama!)
Did Beckel Fall Asleep?
The fact is, Beckel kind of hi-jacked the event. He spoke the most, rambled quite a bit, and I could have sworn (if I were a swearing man) that he had fallen asleep! I’m not kidding! About three quarters of the way through the event I began to hear regular breathing. I looked at Beckel and his eyes were closed and he was very still.
A few times, Metaxas looked as though he was not sure what he had gotten himself into. He had given a humorous but sort of Don Rickles-style introduction of the two men. Once they came to the platform a bit of an insult war erupted. It was tongue in cheek but still a little uncomfortable. No matter how hard he tried, Metaxas could not get Thomas and Beckel to share some of their common ground solutions to America’s problems. No less than five times he had to prompt them for solutions instead of definitions of the problem.
As for solutions, both men were able to gather applause for some of their sentiments. Thomas waxed bold on behalf of traditional American values and Beckel for his passionate concern for those less fortunate. But for the most part they raged against the machine.
After what can only be described as a “testimony” given by Beckel, in which he owned up to his dark days and his turn to faith due to the influence of Thomas, Thomas said that we would all leave with a different opinion about Beckel. He commended Beckel’s great heart and their very close friendship. At one point Beckel did, in passing, say he was a Christian. I was glad for that.
All in all, the two men were both a little salty, low on solutions, and seemed to have been a handful for Metaxas. It wasn’t what I expected it to be. I don’t it was what Metaxas thought it would be either!
Let’s Talk About Metaxas
Regardless of the uniqueness of last night’s Beckel-fest invasion of SITC, it remains a must attend event. It is worth all the time and effort you have to expend in order to be there. I took it as an opportunity to enjoy some time in Manhattan before I made my way to the Union League Club where it was held.
As for Metaxas, he was as sharp as ever, though he found himself dealing with a less than delicate personality. It was good practice for the future talk show he wants to host!
When SITC hosted Dr. Stephen C. Meyer, Metaxas said, “I want to ask you about your book, do you mind? Because we have a lot of copies here, we’ve gotta move some product.” It was classic Metaxas humor. (You can watch the video and catch that funny moment 31:40 into the interview). While he was at least semi-joking, make no mistake: the product being moved at SITC is Eric Metaxas himself! As he promotes others he is also indirectly promoting himself. I don’t think that is a negative thing! In fact, I think it is a rather good way to do it! It must be working because he seems to be everywhere these days. So, if you’d like to hobnob with him for only $35, you should do it while you can and be in attendance at the next Socrates in the City event. But you’d better hurry! I don’t know how much longer he will be able to fit it into his schedule!
By Scott Fowler
It seems to me that President Obama played a key role in moving gay rights to its Juggernaut status when, on January 21, 2013, in his second inaugural address, he said the following,
We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths—that all of us are created equal—is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall….Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law— for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.1
With those sentiments, he officially elevated gay rights (Stonewall)2 to the level of a civil right, on par with women’s suffrage (Seneca Falls) and the fight for racial equality (Selma). From that time, homosexuality has been “a massive inexorable force, crushing everything in its path,”3 namely the institution of marriage and the authority of the Bible.
In February of that same year, 278 companies filed an amicus brief in support of the woman whose challenge of DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, was to be considered by the Supreme Court later that year.4 In March, Bill Clinton expressed his regret over having signed the bill into law.5 Obama had already expressed his “evolution” on the subject in a 2012 ABC interview with Robin Roberts, indicating he no longer supported DOMA and that he was influenced by his conversations with friends and staff who were in “incredibly committed, monogamous relationships—same-sex relationships—who are raising kids together.” 6 A steady stream of public figures also stepped forward to declare their “love for love” and homosexuality.7 But perhaps Nicole Wallace (presumably a conservative operative who worked for Bush and advised the McCain/Palin campaign, but who also came out in favor of same-sex marriage in February 2013), captured the essence of the moment best when she said:
“If you are running for office and trying to court the vote of anyone under forty, you oppose marriage equality at your political peril.”8
On June 26, the Supreme Court struck down DOMA, declaring it unconstitutional, paving the way for the Federal Government to acknowledge same-sex marriages.
The April 8, 2013 issue of Time Magazine recorded that as of that date nine states and the District of Columbia had legalized same-sex marriage.9 At present that number has risen to seventeen states with seven more in the hopper, ready to fall upon appeals.10 Chronicling the surprising and rapid rise of support for same-sex marriage, David Von Drehle opined,
With stunning speed, a concept dismissed even by most gay-rights leaders just 20 years ago is now embraced by half or more of all Americans. . . . Exit polls in November showed that 83% of voters believe that same-sex marriage will be legal nationwide in the next five to 10 years. . . . Like a dam that springs a little leak that turns into a trickle and then bursts into a flood, the wall of public opinion is crumbling.11
The Inaugural itself was marked by a rejection of a well-known minister when the invitation to Lou Giglio was rescinded because of a twenty year old sermon he preached against homosexuality.12 The Inaugural Committee wanted someone inclusive, accepting of all Americans, and celebrating diversity. 13 In a letter to his church (which no longer seems to be available except through various articles that reported the incident), Giglio said,
“Due to a message of mine that has surfaced from 15-20 years ago, it is likely that my participation, and the prayer I would offer, will be dwarfed by those seeking to make their agenda a focal point of the inauguration. Clearly, speaking on this issue has not been in the range of my priorities in the past fifteen years. Instead, my aim has been to call people to ultimate significance as we make much of Jesus Christ.”14
And just like, Giglio was out, Luis Leon, an inclusive Episcopalian was in, and those who trumpet inclusion had excluded a potentially diverse and dissenting voice.
In the ten months since SCOTUS struck down DOMA, what began as the fight for same-sex marriage has evolved into a full-scale discussion in the evangelical church about gay Christianity, an oxymoron to be sure. But not everybody thinks so.
Those who have found it meaningful to be identified as evangelicals are being divided by the issue of homosexuality. The discussion began to round the corner between the subject of same-sex marriage and that of gay Christianity when World Vision decided and then un-decided to hire people involved in same-sex marriages. Since then, there has been daily evidence that the Juggernaut is dividing evangelicals (see Failing the Smell Test).
While many on both sides still couch the debate in terms of same-sex marriage, it is actually a question about the Bible’s authority and its ability to speak to contemporary cultural challenges. It is about gay Christianity. Dr. Albert Mohler captured the urgency of this historical crossroads when he wrote,
Evangelical Christians in the United States now face an inevitable moment of decision. While Christians in other movements and in other nations face similar questions, the question of homosexuality now presents evangelicals in the United States with a decision that cannot be avoided. Within a very short time, we will know where everyone stands on this question. There will be no place to hide, and there will be no way to remain silent. To be silent will answer the question. 15
Mohler is right. He wrote those words in response to a book by Matthew Vines entitled, God and the Gay Christian. In it, Vines concludes that
“It isn’t gay Christians who are sinning against God by entering into monogamous, loving relationships. It is the church that is sinning against them by rejecting their intimate relationships.”16
Ah! The familiar sound of the Juggernaut as it tramples over nature, history, Scripture, and the Church!
Dr. Scott Fowler is the founder of the Christ and Culture Initiative.
2 Stonewall is a Greenwich Village gay bar in Manhattan where it is said “gay pride” began.
3 The definition of Juggernaut.
7 http://gokicker.com/2013/03/26/same-sex-marriage-where-things-stand/#!GJ80e. See also David Von Drehle, “How Gay Marriage Won: The Gay and Lesbian Community Has Gone from Stonewall to the Altar in Two Generations,” Time Magazine, April 8, 2013, 18, 22.
8 Ibid., Tweeted by Andrea Mitchell.
9 Von Drehle, “How Gay Marriage Won: The Gay And Lesbian Community Has Gone From Stonewall To The Altar In Two Generations,” Time Magazine, April 8, 2013, 16.
10 http://gaymarriage.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=004857 see also http://www.christianheadlines.com/blog/church-of-christ-sues-in-pursuit-of-same-sex-marriage.html. North Carolina becomes the first state where a pro same-sex church sues the government because it is denying them their religious rights to marry same-sex couples!
11 Von Drehle, How Gay Marriage Won,” 18.
15 R. Albert Mohler, God and the Gay Christian, (Louisville, SBTS Press, 2014).
16 Matthew Vines, God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same Sex Relationships, (New York: Convergent Books, 2014), 162.