A place to stand

I spend a lot of time trying to figure out what’s wrong with my generation. Recently I discovered a most unlikely ally in Mark Ames, who wrote an online piece bitterly decrying Jon Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity.” The root of Ames’s bitterness is summarized in this paragraph:

“I’ve come to the conclusion that this has been the Great Dream of my generation: to position ourselves in such a way that we’re beyond mockery. To not look stupid. That’s the biggest crime of all – looking stupid. That’s why they’ve turned Stewart into a demigod, because he knows how to make the other guys look really stupid, and if you’re on the same team as Stewart, you’re on the safe side of the mockery, rather than dangerously vulnerable to mockery.”

Bells went off when I read this. The constant difficulty one faces when dealing with the “post-everythings” of my generation is that they mock (in ways ranging from skilled to imbecilic) all things concerning which they are “post,” but it’s well-nigh impossible to pin them down on what they stand for, because they stand for something only so long as it’s something concerning which the in-crowd of mockers is not yet laughingly “post.” We’re a generation defined by ridicule, but we’re impotent to present anything constructive, because as soon as something is constructed, someone starts laughing at it, and we’re petrified of identification with anything the scoffer-elites are laughing at. We’re neutered by our own fear; there is no other word for it. We’re cowards who can’t withstand the faintest breeze of mockery. Which is crippling, for the simple reason that nothing today – absolutely nothing – is beyond the reach of pillorying. Tell me one serious thing Jon Stewart can’t make look foolish. I defy you. I mean, the guy is freaking good at it.

It so happened that around the time I read Ames’s post, I also read this from Psalm 69:

“For zeal for Your house has consumed me, and the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me. When I wept and humbled my soul with fasting, it became my reproach. When I made sackcloth my clothing, I became a byword to them. I am the talk of those who sit in the gate, and the drunkards make songs about me.”

Let us be clear. Jon Stewart & Co. would laugh at Jesus, if He were walking around today. They would laugh at Abraham if he were alive, and Moses, and David, and the prophets and apostles. They laugh, and will continue to laugh, at every believer whose heart is poured out in this psalm. They laugh because they don’t believe in anything enough to stand for it. That kind of belief, after all, requires courage. It requires conviction bloody but unbowed. It requires iron in the soul. It requires sacrifice. It requires one to embrace looking like a fool; it requires one to accept misunderstanding, rolling eyes, mockery, and scorn. It requires everything one despairs to find among post-everythings.

My hat is off to Ames. He and I wouldn’t agree on much politically, I suspect; but we could raise a glass together to all those who have understood, even in this generation, that “to move the world you must have a place to stand.”

Category: Things Come Lately Comment »

Comments are closed.

Back to top