Why Liberals Should Pay Attention to the "Duck Dynasty" Kerfuffle



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Not quite

Hi Tom, I always enjoy your perspective, but find a kink in the rationale this time: the "bottom line" you propose "taint so". Duck Dynasty is the top program on one of the top channels, so while there might be more "middle/upper class" targeted shows, they aren't getting the viewership that the D-Dynasty is-- despite the new Neilsen surveying process (in fact, given the run-up in these kinds of shows, it would appear that urban liberals are having a nominal impact on TV programming.) But more importantly, you infer that the UMC is liberal and therefore needs to listen to the downscale market if it is to be inclusive and true to its purpose. I certainly endorse the latter in general, but given the voting at General Conference, the majority of the UMC is NOT liberal but rather falls more along the lines of the Duck Dynasty's cultural values and mindset. So the question of who needs to be listening to who is less clear-- except for the need to listen to God first over any literal or constructed demographic. Peace, gmk

Rev. Gary M. Keene more than 8 years ago

Who needs to talk to whom

Gary, Duck Dynasty is a show that found an audience, just like (I shudder to mention these shows) "Here Comes Honey BooBoo" and the brand of "Rich Bitches of (Name of City) and most of the shows on Bravo Network and TLC Network. However, it's lasting audience (as opposed to those who watched once and never watched it again) is predominantly rural and or working class folks. No, we don't listen to those folks. The conservative area of our country in the UMC used to be in Ohio River Valley watershed. However the growing and very conservative people in the UMC are now in the Central Conferences. We have never really grown a pattern of speaking to the folks in the Central Conferences except in a patronizing way, as we send out missionaries. FWIW, Richard Bentley is the first one who has even suggested that MFSA make regular efforts to send people to the Central Conferences to listen to them, get their ideas, and to share alternatives that would fit their cultures but be at least less conservative.
The rest of us who are liberal rarely speak with conservatives, or get to know them well. I've done that with our Annual Conference, and so far, I'm the only liberal who has done so. I also make it a point to show up at the Good News Coalition Breakfasts a few times, to listen to them, and to make sure they see that I'm there. I haven't seen many other liberals doing things like that.
We all need to speak to each other, and develop at least a respect for each others' needs. The sad truth is that very few people, on either side of the theologico-political divide bother to talk with anyone outside their own groups. That's our biggest problem.

Tom Griffith more than 8 years ago

Interesting, but....

When you say to 'reach out' to those who like "Duck Dynasty" and so forth, it seems the implication is we need to be like the Robertsons. There are plenty of liberal folks in the exurban environs also. In these places right-wing ideology forms a sort of political correctness - it is conformity and conventionality mobilized to demand all be assimilated. No thanks to that.

It's been established the Robertsons were once clean-shaven yuppies who saw a marketing opportunity and milked it for what it's worth. More power to them, but with the revelation of Phil's earlier more outrageous comments such as advocating girls ages 15-16 marry older men, indicates they may have just jumped the shark here.

Did God tell Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Amos, Hosea, and Christ to accomodate themselves to the culture? I think not.

So we lose some because we prefer intellectual stimulation to hunting and fishing, or Argula to black eyed peas? So what? It seems what you're saying is like when people ridiculed Michael Dukakis in 1988 for riding in a tank helmeted, you're going, "All right, Mike, that was good! Now it's time to take another tank ride!"

George Nixon Shuler more than 8 years ago

Duck Dynasty

An article dripping with condescension. By all means take time out from your latest wine tasting event and talk to us simple country folk who do not have the benefit of attending your liberal institutions of higher education. Perhaps with enough conversation you can make us grasp subtle meanings and nuance and when we understand and accept your enlightened views all will be well and we can be one big happy family.
The fact that we may have attended college, have access to the internet and satellite TV and are well aware of your views never entered your head. The idea that we fully understand your liberal views and have rejected them is an alien concept you just can’t seem to get your arms around. Take a closer look at the Duck Dynasty family. College educations. Long stable marriages. The good business sense to build a large thriving business. Who would not want that?
Perhaps more conversation is needed. But who needs to learn from whom?

Kevin more than 8 years ago


Your first paragraph there complaining about condescension is full of condensencion.

What is to be learned? How to sell pajamas and pillows with a logo on them?

George Nixon Shuler more than 8 years ago

You're Partially Right

Kevin, I was not trying to be condescending. Rather, I am frustrated, as a liberal, at how few liberals ever even bother talking to, or even meeting, face to face, people who are on a different portion of the theological or political spectrum than they are.
I suspect that in more liberal areas of the church (NEJ, WJ, Minnesota, Northern Illinois) conservatives do hear liberals more than they might wish. I know that this is true in my own Annual Conference (California-Pacific), where conservatives and Evangelicals are ignored at best or marginalized at worst. For 25 years now, I have stayed in touch with the Evangelicals of our conference. I've attended their gatherings, and listened, and embraced them. Sadly, I'm the only liberal in our Annual Conference who has ever done that. They know that I am on a different theological plane then they are---but they also know that I support them, and have defended them---a few who were under complaints were defended by me. In so doing, we've been able to work out some ways to keep our conference together, minimize the marginalization, and stop the loud and angry arguments.
I say that, not to toot my own horn, but to lament the fact that just as political conservatives have been accused of listening to their own leaders and nothing else, many liberals in the church have never bothered to become acquainted with, much less speak with, or even listen to, conservatives or Evangelicals in the church. The liberals also listen only to themselves. In the process, we're losing people in the church---in my perspective, mostly the folks in the middle who are tired of hearing the wrangling from both extremes.
I don't think it is condescending to suggest that a group I KNOW isn't staying in touch with conservatives to start doing so. Rather, it's a call to move beyond our own comfort zones and get to know some people who might disagree with us.
The Recall effort I mentioned was one in which I participated, seeking signatures. All the liberals I know or even met in the effort had only gotten signatures at gatherings of folks like themselves. I walked my own neighborhood. When I asked, not one of the liberals had even thought to do something like that. Sad, isn't it.

Tom Griffith more than 8 years ago

Talking with Liberals

I love talking with you liberals. I think you guys are hugely entertaining. I campaigned for public office once and I am familiar with going door to door. You hear all kinds of things. When I listen to talk radio I always tune in one of the left leaning stations for about a third of my listening time or until my wife tells me to change it. How many of your liberal friends listen to any right wing radio? You bemoan the fact that your liberal crowd does not like to reach out to those with other viewpoints. Why should they? If you ask I am sure you will hear that they hold the intellectually superior view and there is no further need to talk with those who might disagree. Why do you want to talk to us conservatives? You gave us a clue right here;
“Is it any surprise that the rural counties in the U.S. tend to vote for conservative politicians? We liberals are guilty of failing to speak to the rural population, in their language, in their cultural terms, outside of one cable channel most of us have never even heard of”
You do not like the fact that we vote for conservative politicians. The tone of your article is “if only we would get out there and dialogue we could convince them of the errors in their thinking.” I like the way I think and I am not changing. The thought that you and your liberal friends might be off base never enters your head.
The UMC mirrors our nation’s political map. No surprise there. Our conferences are divided among factions and we have stopped playing nice with each other. We are in a winner take all fight and our connectional church is tearing apart at the seams. And you want more talk. Why?
As to George here please please please teach me how to make 40 million a year selling pajamas. That… I will listen to.

Kevin more than 8 years ago