Super Pacs and the End of the World

When I woke up today I didn’t feel very good. A cold is fighting to overtake me but I’ve been fighting hard against it.

Consequently, I decided to stay home today and rest. So I turned to the Pioneer Memorial Church at Andrews University for my live stream sermon of the day. Clicking on the bulletin for the order of the service, I came across these remarks from the Pastor, Dwight Nelson.

“Look, I’m not suggesting that the just concluded Iowa caucuses and the upcoming New Hampshire primary are strategic pieces in some sort of apocalyptic end game. but I would invite you to ponder the power of the press and/or paid political ads.

Even the talking heads within the beltway of the nation’s capital this past week have been chattering in amazement over the swift collapse of one candidate’s heretofore anticipated victory in Iowa’s caucuses. Riding high in the pre-caucus polls, the candidate’s sudden tumble from prominence has been attributed by most news media commentators to the power of negative political advertising, financed by political action committees (so called “super Pacs”). The $2.8+ million that these technically “independent” super Pacs invested in Iowa alone are evidence enough of the power of negative advertising. i.e., it works!

What’s that have to do with the rest of us who will never touch $2.8 million in our life time? Stepping away from political allegiances or nuances, it does make you wonder, doesn’t it, how fickle we the public are, if three-weeks of non-stop television and radio ads can actually change our minds? Never mind those who justify this gushing of advertising dollars into a relatively, politically inconsequential rural state.

It still makes me wonder how easily swayable we Americans are to the power of the media, the press, the advertising agencies. Which being interpreted means, I wonder if, in a time of crisis or critical decision-making, a relatively small cabal of individuals—with the financial horsepower to back themselves—could sway an entire nation to pursue a particular course or come to a particular decision. I wonder if the American public (perhaps even the global public) could be as easily persuaded as the Iowans were.  Include some momentous catastrophe (financial, natural, political) and it wouldn’t take much to “guide” the public to a desired outcome, would it?

For all our crowing about the independent American spirit, the truth is that a stadium full of screaming fans can pretty much set the agenda for an entire city, can’t they? Apparently the apocalypse thinks so. In no uncertain terms Revelation 13 describes “all the world” (v 3) being led down the primrose path of disaster.

Which is why I love the corollary narrative in Daniel—the compelling story about three young politicos who refused to yield to the full-court press of the press and the government.  The entire nation (as it were) bowed down to the king’s golden image—but not Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego:
“Our god whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up” (Daniel 3:17,18)  i.e., we will not be bought or persuaded away from our allegiance to the Creator.

God give us that threesome generation when we will need it!  But in the meantime, the next time the press or the super Pacs attempt to persuade you in 60 seconds what to think or do, do the Shadrach thing and simply refuse.  Your allegiance to God in the New year isn’t for sale, no matter when the world ends.”

Amen to that Pastor Nelson!

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