NQC and politics: I’ve already stated what my views basically are in assorted comments on other blogs, but I thought I would collect them in somewhat more organized form here.
So, last year it was Sarah Palin, this year it’s John Ashcroft. Some people think this is great, others don’t. I thought it might be helpful to look at the people who don’t think this is such a great idea and break them up into three rough groups, recognizing that there may be some overlap:
1. The liberals. Let’s face it, the liberals can’t stand Sarah Palin’s guts, and ditto for John Aschroft. So wherever Palin, Ashcroft, and their ilk goes, the liberals’ snark follows. It’s like the law of gravity. Completely inexorable. So this is just another opportunity for them to try to out-snark each other.
2. The quietists. These are the Puritan throwbacks who believe that politics, any kind of politics, is a corrupting influence on Christianity. Therefore, they oppose the invitation of any political candidate, seeing it as a form of compromise or kowtowing to the world.
And finally, we have…
3. The grumpy musical purists. These are the fans and artists who are irritated because doggone it, the NQC is supposed to be about music, not some politician’s speech (or singing, as case may be). “If I want to listen to a politician, I’ll turn on the TV,” they say. Meanwhile, let’s get back to southern gospel.
Group one is beneath notice, obviously. Group two, I believe, is misguided. I don’t really agree with opposing politicians just because they’re politicians. I would only be concerned about compromise and kowtowing to the world if the NQC were inviting a political candidate who by and large did not share conservative values—for example, a pro-choice candidate, or a candidate who’s soft on gay “marriage.” Then I would be concerned. But Palin? Ashcroft? Sure, I may not agree with everything they’ve said/done, but at least they’re Christians and they have a lot in common with what most NQC attendees stand for. They’re on our side in the culture war. We shouldn’t be isolating ourselves at a time when we need true comrades and allies.
The only group for whom I have any feelings of sympathy is group three. It was rather humorous seeing Palin display her unfamiliarity with the genre as she made a few awkward stabs at connecting with fans of the music. But of course, you’re in trouble with any kind of purist when you’re invited to one of their events and obviously can’t talk the talk. It’s true for southern gospel, horse-racing, chess, needle-point… what have you. Myself I just thought it was sort of charmingly funny and didn’t give much thought to it, but others were, perhaps understandably, irritated.
As for Ashcroft, even granting that he loves the music and is scheduled to perform with Greater Vision, let’s think about this for a moment: Okay, so Ashcroft sings and writes his own songs. Well so do I. So do many other southern gospel fans. Are we getting a spot on the NQC main-stage? Of course not. Why would we? We’re just fans! But because Ashcroft used to be an important conservative politician… he does, even though his singing/writing talents aren’t particularly remarkable. To me, that does seem to cheapen the value of the stage a little bit. Now I don’t intend to be snarky, but I’m just pointing out that the purists have a point. That being said, I would be even more sympathetic to their side if the politicians were truly hogging NQC time. Sarah Palin took a few hours to speak last year [actually now I'm wondering if it wasn't even that much], but it’s not like she was taking up the whole convention. Aschroft is appearing and singing this year, but how much is he planning to sing? Two songs? Maybe three max? If he were slated to appear over and over again, okay. Now I don’t have the schedule in front of me so I’ll have to see how much time he gets when I watch the webcast, but from what I’ve heard it doesn’t seem like it will be a significant percentage. [Update: I've gotten a look at the schedule now, and he appears to be giving a one-hour keynote address. Whoop-de-do.] But I suppose the argument of the purists is that for a politician, any time is too much time.
I guess in the end my message is… lighten up. It may not be the way I would have done it, or the way you would have done it, but we’ve got more important things to be complaining about. Let’s count our blessings and enjoy the show anyway.