“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
–Hebrews 12:1-2, ESV
The above verse was not only wisely quoted by Touchstone and Salvo Magazines’ James Kushiner (I’ll get to that a bit later), it also describes my experience at GodBlogCon 2006. All of a sudden, I know a cloud more people who are doing the work of the Lord in many different areas of the blogosphere – and in their everyday lives. I had the opportunity to sit under the wiser and more seasoned (never say “old”!), taking in their advice and learning how to be a better servant of the Lord Jesus. Their example pointed me precisely in that direction.
This year’s GodBlogCon was more sparsely attended than last year’s and Fox News didn’t show up this time, but none of that mattered.
Numbers are not the most important thing in the economy of God or in culture-change. In my research for our presentation on the possibilities of Group Blogging, with our very own K.B. Enthusiasmos, I discovered the story of Diderot and Grimm in mid-18th century France. They wrote about the art, culture, politics, and news of Paris – transmitting the thoughts of the salons directly to their readers, which number 30 at best. Thirty readers seems paltry, but not when they include Catherine the Great of Russia, the king of Poland, and a handful of German princes. Even though our society doesn’t flow from the top down as those of the pas, my point is that culture is not changed purely by numbers. Bloggers can reach that important handful and it doesn’t have to be Hilary Clinton or George Allen reading! Culture is changed more by quality than by quantity.
So let me take Hugh Hewitt‘s wise words to heart and “praise the good.”
I’ll start with the honorable Mr. Hewitt himself. A man full of wisdom, joy, and humility is a rare commodity. Mr. Hewitt is one of those men. His spirit of reasonable optimism was infectious amongst us bloggers. His smile brightened whatever room he was in. The first words out of his mouth when meeting a new person were inevitably a question about that person. He genuinely wanted to know how his interlocutor was doing, what he or she was doing, and looked for ways to be an encouragement. His disposition to truly care about who he talks to must be what makes him such a fantastic journalist and interviewer.
Not only did Mr. Hewitt display an overflowing heart, he has an enviable mind! His political and cultural analysis was thought-provoking. He especially proved this with his controversial prediction that the next generation will not elect a President who has not served as a soldier, putting his life at risk, in the War on Terror. He backed up his prediction with examples from the Roman Republic of yore, as well as most modern Presidents. The quality of character achieved in the line of battle, when one’s life is on the line as well as the lives’ of his troops, is impossible to gain otherwise. The courage/patriotism/perspective gained by such a man is exactly what is needed by the Commander-in-Chief.
Somehow politics don’t depress Mr. Hewitt. He walks in a murky world, but to watch him you’d think he lives perpetually on a sunny hill. His advice to young would-be culture changers (like me!) was two-fold: 1) Take Montaigne’s advice, “Constant cheerfulness is a mark of a truly wise person” and 2) “Find the good, and praise it.” Well, I put myself in a position to meet Mr. Hewitt, a good man, and I hope my praise of him does him justice!
A common characteristic of the godly folk I met this week was humility. You’d think 10,000 regular readers would go to one’s head, but Joe Carter of Evangelical Outpost and Family Reserach Council is as down-to-earth as a man could be. He eagerly engaged Torrey students in dialogue about culture, the military, the arts, philosophy (see Matt’s thoughts on Joe’s view about universals on his post from yesterday!), and whatever else the students and alum could think of. He attributes Francis Shaeffer with influencing his thought most profoundly. He thinks that to present the gospel effectively, one must “pre-evangelize” by understanding and speaking to the culture. You can see Mr. Carter do this everyday both at the Outpost and at FRC.
Charmaine Yoest also ranks among those Christians changing the world for Jesus through the goodness and creativity of her soul. Her winsome ways and street smarts show why she’s the VP of Communications for one of the more respected conservative political organizations, the aforementioned Family Research Council. She took time out of her day to tell me stories about interning for President Reagan. A striking point was her report of the aura of honor and respect for the office of the President in Reagan’s days, that he strove to uphold. The stories of wayward interns acting badly (read: Monica Lewinsky) was still unimaginable to her.
Mrs. Yoest well-behaved and intelligent children were a credit to her. If the other three are anything like the two I met, the Yoest’s must have an incredibly happy family!
Mrs. Yoest’s advice to me to use “story” more in blogging has changed my perspective on blogging. “Never, never, never write didactically,” she told me with all honesty and concern for my well-being, “You are young so you have no credibility to do that. Besides, it’s poor writing! Learn how to use metaphor and images to convey your point, and you will become an effective blogger and writer.” Mere-O readers will be happy to know that no didacticism will ever come from my keyboard again, though you may find a poor story or two in here as I grow. Many thanks to Mrs. Yoest!
I’ll write more about Mr. Kushiner, Donald McConnell, Andy Lau, and Kevin Wang another day. How sweet is the fellowship of fellow Christians. GodBlogCon was a time of utter refreshment, heart-stirring vision-casting, and blessed advice! Kudos to those who made it happen.