Lessons Learned at CPAC: Reconstructing Rhetoric

The Conservative Political Action Conference isn’t as great as some people would claim. Among other foibles, suffering through the eloquent prose of ex-Governor Mike Huckabee proved a daunting task. On the plus side, it seemed the Lord was going to reward my suffering with conversation from a very pleasant looking young lady.

She instinctively knew of my weaknesses and exploited them with a cool professionalism. Standing around 5’9, this blonde haired beauty had on knee-high tan boots to compliment her “business-casual” skirt and tight fitting brown blazer. (Be still my beating heart!)

We found ourselves in mutual imprisonment among the throngs of exiting conservatives; most of whom were intent on drowning the morning’s emotionally charged rhetoric with a cold drink from the hotel bar.

Our eyes met for a brief moment before I lost sight of her amongst the crowd.

I almost decided that our meeting was denied by fate, when a hand gently swept across mine. Looking over, I saw her standing next to me.

“Oh! Excuse me” she said, feigning slight embarrassment at having “bumped” into me. My heart leapt into my throat…she had caught me off guard, and my defenses were temporarily down (a character flaw that needs to be remedied if the Lord insists on leading me into such situations.)

Thinking fast, I responded, “It’s ok, I’m just glad it wasn’t…” I gestured backwards and we both tried to nonchalantly observe the loud and obnoxious man behind us; an overly “robust” gentleman with a coughing problem who was loudly proclaiming his dislike of the Obama administration.

She looked back and grinned. “So, how do you like the Conference so far?”

Thinking myself smooth, I responded, “Well the best part started about thirty seconds ago.”

She laughed, and gently shoved my arm…”Whatever…”

Not wanting the discussion to focus on me or my conversational prowess, I quickly added, “How about you?”

In response she launched into a spiel about the company she was representing. It was a cold and calculated line that I’m sure she has used at least a dozen times over and had long ago perfected before my screening of it. By the time she handed me her card and asked for my email address I knew that the entire encounter had been planned.

The realization that I was just one more fish in a barrel for this girl felt like a punch to my gut. Suddenly the surrounding conversations all took on a more ominous tone. People all over the crowded hall were accidently bumping into others and exchanging awkward words of introduction.

The longer I observed the more I realized that this was networking gone mad!

Everyone was pushing an agenda. Everyone had a pet issue, and everyone was there looking to gain support for it (at least it seemed that way.)

I saw this “New Media Advertising” vixen about an hour later, sharing drinks with yet another male “prospect.”

Who was I then? What was MY message? What was I peddling? Why was I there?

In my Bible reading last night, I ran across a timely verse by the apostle Paul who was talking to the Christians at Corinth:

For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. – 1 Corinthians 1:17

It seems that Christians intent on evangelizing in our contemporary society had best remember this lest they be reduced to broken sea glass; drowning in a shifting chaotic ocean of ideas…all inherent beauty of the Gospel message eroding away until what’s left is the dull presentation of man centered ideas.

What exactly does a Christian do in such mass networking situations? How could I avoid having the uniqueness and power of the Gospel reduced (inadvertently) to just another melody note in the cacophony of pet ideas being peddled by pesky promoters?

Certainly we shouldn’t send our women out to sexually entice young males into disclosing to us their personal contact information. Nor should we have faith in the eloquence of our speech or soundness of our position. Emotionally charged rhetoric is even worse (polemically) in my opinion, serving to alienate the stranger and bore the comrade.

What is the Christian to do then? Which tactic should we take?

I suggest (after reflecting on the issue) that we keep the above verse in mind.

As Christians, we are not “pushing” a mere idea or pragmatically exciting prospect. We are handling the very words of God. We are acting as conductors of His holy message and we are speaking in His exalted name. The cross of Christ is therefore the power of our message!

This message applies to all areas of life, and therefore we are not pushing any specific pet agenda, nor are we touting a commonsense idea. Nor do we whip up the passions of our listeners by exaggerating real (or imagined) threats against their cherished beliefs.

The Gospel of Christ is applicable to all men at all times and includes all aspects of political discourse…and the kind of change that Christ has wrought in my heart is something no hot blonde can hope to achieve, no matter how delicate her presentation.

You have describe the modern conservative movement to a t. It claims to be
christian and yet what commerce did the CPAC actually engage in, networking, commerce.
The avowed Christians of CPAC has sold its soul to business, commerce.
God has no place in the conservative movement because the conservative movement
has no place for god, only money, business, power. The very things the bible warns
Christians against, the modern conservative movement praises and practices.
The church going person, the one who truly believes has no friends in the conservative movement.
The conservative movement has left you, left you a long time ago.


I agree!

Thanks for the kind words!