Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Hal Lindsey Report Report

I've taken to watching The Hal Lindsey Report on Sunday nights. Mr. Lindsey, if you're unfamiliar with him, is a leading proponent of the pre-millennial dispensationalist wing of American Evangelicalism, and firmly believes that we are living in the "End Times" immediately prior to the second coming of Christ as "foretold" (by ripping various verses out of context and reassembling them to conform to a made-up timeline) by the Bible. He now hosts a weekly cable show in which he points to current political events that purportedly indicate "the Rapture" is close at hand.

While mainstream Christianity defies the binary American political affiliations, Lindsey happily promotes the common misconception that Christianity somehow has something to do with conservative -- and uniquely American -- politics. "Liberals" are regularly blamed for all of society's ills.

He frequently attacks the "liberal bias" of the "mainstream media." In the July 1, 2007, edition of his show, he claimed that records of reporters' political donations are sufficient evidence of bias. After extolling the virtues of "the free market" to explain why conservatives dominate talk radio, he then argued that reporters (at least, liberal reporters) should not be allowed to donate to candidates and movements of their choice, as if giving $250 once to Howard Dean, as The New Yorker's Mark Singer did, renders him incapable of objectivity. He didn't offer an opinion as to whether we can trust the objectivity of a reporter who may have donated to conservative causes.

What's fascinating about Lindsey is the frequency with which he displays the most appallingly unconscious hypocrisy and astonishing hyperbole; he is self-unaware in the extreme. After criticizing Singer for obliquely comparing Bush to Hitler, he excoriates The New York Times' "The Ethicist" columnist Randy Cohen: "His journalistic ethics didn’t prevent him from donating to MoveOn.org. Cohen said that ethically speaking he didn’t think donating to MoveOn.org was any less ethical than donating to the Boy Scouts. Now, that’s about like arguing that donating to Al Qaeda is the ethical equivalent of donating to the Jewish Anti-Defamation League.”

Stay tuned. I plan to keep posting on the terrifying hilarity that is Hal Lindsey.

10 comments:

The Law Fairy said...

Andy, I'm impressed you're able to watch that stuff. I get too worked up if I pay much attention to those people. All someone has to do is *tell* me what Dr. Laura or Rush or Tony Snow said about such-and-such, and off I go on a rant.

Some days I can't even read the news because I'll start arguing with the paper/computer. Aloud. For the listening pleasure of anyone who happens to be nearby.

Andy said...

It's so amateur it's entertaining. I TiVo it so I can watch it when I'm in the mood -- and rewind so I get the quotes accurate. He has an interesting perspective on middle east history and politics, I'll give him that. Every once in a while, though, I find myself agreeing with him, which can be upsetting. He made a really great point about the idiocy -- if history can be used as any precedent -- of picking sides in the current Palestinian turmoil and arming one group. Every time we arm some group over there it comes back to bite us in the tuchus.

little-cicero said...

Isn't it better to donate to a cause and admit your feelings about that cause than to donate to a cause and pretend to be objective?

There's something scary about "totally objective newsman" ideal we set up for ourselves. The only totally objective anything is God, because the very purpose of opinions is to fill in our gaps of human ignorance. When we play a role of objectivity, we are playing the role of the omniscient.

Ideally we would have networks where audiences could not stick to their favorite "conservative anchor" or "liberal anchor" but rather sit there, constantly bombarded by overtly biased reporters minute by minute. It would not only be more interesting than 24 hour footage of Paris Hilton's jail- it would thoroughly educate audiences who want to know what they know AND what they opine on the issues of the day.

Gino said...

"Every time we arm some group over there it comes back to bite us in the tuchus. "

just wait til the jews get mad at us....

Andy said...

Well, here's the thing, LC. Everyone has opinions. Can't help that. But certain professions call on people to have a clear understanding of the difference between facts and opinions, and require that you be able to separate the two, to a reasonable extent. I don't think that someone who happened to think Howard Dean was the best candidate is someone who is necessarily going to be so blinded by that they're unable to write objectively or critically about him.

It's kind of like the debate over judges, too. I mean, are we suppose to aim for hiring people who have no opinion on any subject at all? Of course not. But we expect them to be able to put sentiments aside. Well, I don't know, maybe you don't. Republicans seem to want opinionated Republican judges and reporters who will write nonsense.

kr :) said...

Um, I don't know about the rest of the country, but Oregon Democrats have pretty strong opinions about the opinions judges are and aren't allowed to hold, judging from the last few election cycles. Here, Republicans want pro-business and pro-life judges; Democrats want pro-gay-rights and pro-social-liberties judges. And both sides think they are just being loyal to the "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness" ideal (with a little of that more subsidiary property and taxation stuff thrown in, just, you know, for clarification, by the Rs). Objective, you know. Just arguing for protection of our national heritage and that.


I agree with LC that "objectivity" is a dangerous myth ... it's a laudible goal, but a goddamn dangerous myth if people actually believe it. Most (all?) governments seem to find it useful to train their populace to turn to Trusted Sources of Information. The Cult of the Expert is a late 19th c social experiment that has gone on far too long. (But I'm not bitter. Hem hem.)

Good for those reporters (and doctors, scientists, CIA analysts, psychologists. etc.) who try to be honest and objective.

(I wonder if a straight-up easy measure of their success is their humility--anyone being even a little objective, if honest, will have to admit they are themselves extremely imperfect ;). So, anyone who seeks celebrity status via their "objectivity"? Um, no.)

little-cicero said...

I guess my point is that the only way to honestly separate fact and opinion is this: Instead of deconstructing that bound-up mass of perception containing fact and opinion Off-screen, do so On-screen so that the audience knows what's being deconstructed. I know what Brit Hume's opinions are, so I know how to percieve the news as may be altered by those opinions. When Lou Dobbs says "this just in on the President's amnesty bill," I know not to take "amnesty" literally, because he has been transparent with his opinions on the matter. On the other hand, if Dan Rather, the Moses-like icon of objectivity as he sees himself, tells me about amnesty- I have to chose, in black and white, whether to believe him entirely or to ignore him completely. After all, Moses was either a great prophet, or an absolute madman!

The same is true with judges. I love to hear about dissents in which the justice says "Although my opinion says that, my interpretation of the Constitution says this, so I went with the latter" This shows an appreciation for the power of opinion as well as an overcoming of opinion for the sake of carrying out their duty.

Trickish Knave said...

This guy reminds me of The Farting Preacher. Google video him; it is freakin hilarious.

Elijah said...

What is a " Prophet "? Do you know? Is it so preposterous to assume there is an integrated message system outside of time all together from many prophets?
What IF Zecharaiah Chapter 12 is true?
What of the 12th Imam?

Do you know your history? IF you are Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hopi, Hindu or Lakota? Do you take it out of hand that one day in long past history there was an angel that killed 180,000 Assyrian troops surrounding Jerusalem while they slept?.... " That could NEVER happan today." We are educated men and woman right?
Is there a central point on this Earth that is OUR Capital and we just don't know it yet and refuse it outright? Is "mankind" in a general sense in denial with couch potatoe and intelligentsia hate? Answer: yes.

If so, why does WWIII and IV seem to hinge upon two groups with no oil? Just an excuse between pawns right? Impaasant'.

What did YOUR grandfathers say? Was it written down or passed down verbally or did you find it in a cave painted or a scroll in the dessert? What makes you so smart?
Entertained? There is spiritual warefare going on here between the powers and principalities of this Earth; divided and appointed amongst the nations. Hardly entertaining.
Only this time everything up to this point has been left for us clearly defined and not unresoloved.
Remember when she said:
" Come in she said I'll give you shelter from the storm ".

Larry said...

Everybody has their right to speak their minds. Monkeys would if they could. I'm not comparing Mr. Lindsey to an animal. I read some of his 1st book that was his best seller in the seventies saying it was non fiction. I read what seemed to me like it were wives tales being brought back into an era where change was happening. I don't think that he was comfortable with the changes that were taking place. I don't believe that God has supernatural powers. That is superstitous. If it weren't for liberals, he wouldn't have 1st Amendment Rights but what do I know?