Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Where is the Sweet Spot for a Christian Right blog?


Having spent several years proving - to my own satisfaction, at least - the innate corruption of the modern mass media; the question arises of what kind of influence or impact is sought by a blog of this type. Is it a part of the mass media?

Well, no. The actual audience is small enough to fit into a single lecture theatre, and the number of comments amounts to just a few per post - this is not operating on any kind of 'mass scale' (except in unrealized potentiality).

But what would happen if, by some ill-chance, this blog attracted an order of magnitude greater notice:  if I had an audience of thousands, tens of thousands per day - if a had to sift through and perhaps respond to hundreds of comments? If my postings were regularly featured in the mainstream mass media?

What would happen if, in other words, this blog joined the mass media?

Clearly any good in it would be destroyed; by one means or another. A blog can only join the mass media either by tailoring itself to the mass media, or else by being misrepresented by the mass media.

The mass media simply cannot include the kind of material which is mostly featured in this blog - it is an impossibility, it simply cannot be represented there - only if grossly distorted or inverted in its meaning; and this is structural, not a matter of anybody's particular will.

So, there is a sweet spot of influence and impact for a blog such as this one.

The current audience for this blog could valuably be scaled-up, to a point - but going beyond that point would necessarily be destructive.

So, I think this blog could usefully grow somewhat more, maybe to double its present level of clout?

But somewhere between that doubled-point and a ten-fold amplification, the blog would either explode or implode; but would anyway not be the same thing at all; but would become assimmilated to the mass media.



david stanley said...

I come to your blog everyday because I know it will challenge me intellectually ( I am a cabinet maker,not an intellectual)and because you are not unrealistically upbeat about the faith. We share the same exasperation with Anglican self-hatred but you can articulate these things much better and in the context of your expertise.
And I am going to read "Spent" too.

Bruce Charlton said...

@DS - Good to hear from you.

Spent is worthwhile reading for the brilliant, skeptical scientific insights scattered throughout.

However it is not remtely Christian, and is hovering on the cusp between Left and Right (Left moving Rightward), between political correctness and a clear sight of reality, between recogniizing the vacuity of modernity and becoming tenuously aware of the possibility of a transcendental perspective - so you will need to make allowances.

radiobeloved said...

I'd go to that lecture theatre. :)

The example of John the Baptist is apropos: acceptable to the few among the people who discerned, repugnant to the leaders and the powerful whom he threatened. While I am not making you into a prophet, John is not a bad model to keep in mind. If too many people become interested, you have to wonder if your message (on a blog such as this) is straying too far towards public acceptability. (Alternatively, people could be awakening en masse, but that seems less likely as we barrel forward.)

asdf said...

Yes, as an example I think the whole vocative thing is going to be a disaster for the alt-right. One can tell from five minutes on the website they are sensationalists, and the fact that the request first appeared off what I would consider the more normal blogs is another bad sign.

I predict the results won't be good.

stephens said...

"What would happen if, in other words, this blog joined the mass media?"

If you ever gained a mass audience I rather suspect that the mainstream PC adherent "mass media" would develop unflattering caricatures of yourself and that your profile may be raised somewhat.
Anything unsavoury in your past may start coming to light and in your current employment if you have not "dotted all the i's and crossed the t's" in past, present or future, then I think some sort of disciplinary action could be "in the offing."
Anything that is high profile but not "on message" must be discredited and or terminated!

Bruce Charlton said...

@asdf - The secular writers for alt-right outlets are a mixture of hardline libertarians and 'fascists' (meant as shorthand for native racial/ nationalists) - libertarians always sell-out and become liberal/ Leftists when given a sniff of power


while there is near-zero/ very weak effective support for native racialism/ nationalism in the West.

I fully acknowledge Christianity is also very weak in the West (especially if Mormonism is excluded from the definition) - but we know Christianity does have a track-record of long-term capacity to unify society (I am talking using secular evaluations here); and the choice becomes simple if Christianity is evaluated against the probable alternative/s.

It's a no-brainer!

Bruce Charlton said...

@stephens - if you google bruce charlton IQ class, you will see I have already had some experience of this - back in May 2008.

The mass media is the well-spring of anti-Christian secular PC Leftism, and it is NOT under any circumstances going to propagate (whether directly or indirectly) traditional Christianity - and that is that.

ajb said...

"The current audience for this blog could valuably be scaled-up, to a point - but going beyond that point would necessarily be destructive."

Consider a mass medium - books. A book is written, and then it can be read by a few people or many. How many people reading the book doesn't change the contents of the book, or whether the book is good or bad.

That Tolkien has influenced millions of readers does not make what he wrote necessarily different from if he had influenced a small fraction of that.

Bruce Charlton said...

@ajb - I think you are only correct in a narrowly theoretical sense - in practice things just don't work like that. Look at the big mass media successes - it is extraordinarily rare to find anything which is explicitly, unambiguously pro-Christian or anti-PC: indeed I don't think there is a single example in recent years.

And when there is a covert message of this sort, lurking behind a superficially PC surface - as with the Harry Potter series - then the mass media takes the anti-Christian and anti-Good elements and uses them to frame (and subvert) the work (as with the egregious Harry Potter Alliance).

So my excitement that HP might be a means of smuggling traditional and Christian values into young people

e.g. http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/harry-potter-is-saint-literally.html

will very likely prove to be completely wrong - as Pottermania is assimilated to the mainstream PC Leftist position on all the litmus test issues of today.

Bruce Charlton said...

@ajb - This is a typical page from the HP Alliance - Leftist inversion in


and, of course, this radically subversive pro-Left community organizer stuff is strongly supported by the apostate JK Rowling herself and a wide range of HP movie actors, vloggers and big impact fan groups (such as the-leaky-cauldron.org).

As usual in modern times, not just the careerists but most of the talent and charm lines-up on the side of evil...

Samson J. said...

t is extraordinarily rare to find anything which is explicitly, unambiguously pro-Christian or anti-PC: indeed I don't think there is a single example in recent years.

You've been missing out on Duck Dynasty!

(Which is unfortunately the exception proving the terrible rule...)

Bruce Charlton said...

@SJ - Actually I have come across DD, a few weeks ago, following up on linked video of a sermon by the father.

Ugh said...

I echo @david stanley, I stop by everyday for the same reason. I always wanted be an intellectual, but clearly I am not. This blog challenges me in ways I would not have imagined. I thank you for that.

I run across so many people who dismiss Christianity/Christians as non thinking followers when as evidenced by this blog and even the pastor at my Church (a PHD theologian)my mind has never been so active and curious.

Luqman said...

This is true of any endeavour that seeks to maintain the truth rather than falling prey to the crowd (of which the mass media is the major manifestation), not simply the Christian Right, even more mundane matters. Even a cooking blog can espouse the truth, because the difference here is really very fundamental. This is actually why even things like restaurants are not immune to the ire of the left.

JP said...

Look at the big mass media successes - it is extraordinarily rare to find anything which is explicitly, unambiguously pro-Christian or anti-PC: indeed I don't think there is a single example in recent years.

Tim Layhaye's novels:

In 1998, the first four books of the series held the top four slots in the New York Times best-seller list simultaneously, despite the fact that the New York Times ' best-seller list does not take Protestant bookstore sales into account. Book 10 debuted at number one on this list. Total sales for the series have surpassed 65 million copies. Seven titles in the adult series have reached #1 on the bestseller lists for the New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly.

Bruce Charlton said...

@JP - That is a good counter example which invites analysis.

1. There has been no equivalent in the UK, and probably not in Europe either.

2. It was fifteen years ago - also pre-2000 and these books were about the millennium - would it be possible now?

3. Was it truly a mass media phenomenon - how soon did the MM react, was the coverage equivalent to other similar selling books?

4. Was the coverage such as to disseminate the core ideas of the book - or the opposite?

david stanley said...

I ploughed through a couple of the "Left Behind" books about 2003, they seemed to be pushing the idea of Babylon and Rome as an axis of evil in the world. Convenient way of softening up the "christian soldiers" for attacking Iraq,demonising civilians who were shortly to be B-52 fodder. Not saying they were explicitly designed to ease the path to war but they had that effect.
Most former bomber crew I have met are fairly cautious about advocating war, Tim LaHaye is one of the exceptions

JP said...


Haven't read them myself. On the face of it, nine of them were written in the late 1990s, so the idea that their overall purpose was to promote war with Iraq seems unlikely.


Can't answer exactly, but I think the books got very little attention in the 1990s. Basically the attitude was, "eh, stupid, deluded proles are buying awful books full of kooky nonsense at WalMart, who cares."

The books got more attention after Bush was elected, because the MM wanted to represent the books as the ideological underpinning of and driving force behind the evil, theocratic, warmongering Bush administration. As David Stanley's post shows, this effort to link the books to the administration was successful.

david Stanley said...

JP, are you suggesting La Haye's political influence was of no consequence in selection of GWBush? I may have been influenced by reading "American theocracy" by Kevin Phillips in which he makes a case for the La Haye as one of the key
players in his election.

Arakawa said...

In some ways, 'Left Behind' might be a good example of what mainstreaming does to this kind of initiative (and what the promulgators of this kind of literature do to themselves once they begin to pander to the conditions of the market). If it's bad literature, it will be truthfully ridiculed, and most people will remember the ridicule. If it's good literature, it will be re-framed and re-contextualized to neutralize the message.

It doesn't prove anything to put in your story a really powerful character named Jesus who destroys the bad guys at the end and is nice to the protagonists; in the worst case, that can lead to worshipping Him for all the wrong reasons, much like the people who expected Jesus to take over the world as a temporal Messiah, and were sorely disappointed when instead they got the Crucifixion.

So, in order to actually deliver the Christian message, you have to expend effort to speak to the reader's conscience and present an accurate portrayal about sin, and forgiveness, and the damaged human condition, and all those things that the audience isn't familiar with and may or may not understand, and may or may not want to understand.

And that message is extremely vulnerable to being ignored and re-framed away. At which point, if you deliberately leave Jesus off-stage to allow people to make their own conclusions, your work will be remembered as a book with vague 'insights into the human condition' that, taken on their own, don't ultimately lead to anything (much like how Dostoyevski is studied when he's covered in a modern literature class), and if you put Jesus (or the Church, or the Saints, or anything that explicitly points to Christianity) as a character on-stage your work will be remembered as a caricature with Jesus (or the Church, or the Saints, or whatever else) defeating everyone with unbeatable Jesus Powers, or whatever role you have them play in the story.

This is similar to the reason why Christ refused to work miracles in the towns where people were hostile to His message.

Bruce Charlton said...

My thanks to the commenters above for what I have found to be a very enlightening critique and expansion on the ideas in the original post.

JP said...


Yes, his thesis is ridiculous. Philips is a fine example of someone who sold his soul for media prominence, and of the media trying to stigmatize the administration as run by religious nuts. Lots of evangelicals supported Bush but that did not mean they dictated policy.

Finally, the Left's preoccupations with "theocracy" is simply a projection of their own desire for dictatorship onto their political opponents.