“Itching Ears”…are we all just preaching to the choir?

fire and gas canYesterday, JTR posted an excellent short piece about the apparent ongoing efforts of our  administration to exploit and exacerbate the tensions and divisions that alienate one American from another.

To me, Bill Whittle’s video seems to be a masterful ten-minute proof text for George Zimmerman’s innocence, and for the late Trayvon Martin being something other than simply “a sweet unarmed black kid”–regardless of what the President of the United States would like us to believe.

But then–does my opinion really count?  I am after all a white conservative Christian. So of course I want to believe the best of the white defendant, and already think the worst about the black victim. Right?  If Bill’s viewing audience is primarily made up of people like me (and like himself)…then he’s just preaching to the choir, right?

By the same token, aren’t all those liberal commentators who are screaming for blood and vengeance and mistrials just saying the words that their constituency believe already?

If you’re only saying what your readers/listeners think to begin with, why bother?

Don’t we all go looking for the opinions which will corroborate our own viewpoints? Are we ever swayed by the persuasive argument of a passionate advocate for one side or the other? Should we be?


berea mapIn the first century, a man named Paul traveled through Asia Minor preaching that someone called Jesus from Nazareth, who allegedly had died and risen from death, was the Messiah that the Jewish people were awaiting. In the city of Thessalonica some Jews, as well as Greeks, believed him. But other Jews accused Paul of treason against Rome (because he was encouraging allegiance to a different ‘king’).

Paul left in a hurry.

His next stop was Berea, where the Jews

“…were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. As a result, many Jews believed, as did many of the prominent Greek women and men.” 

 (Acts 17:11-12 NLT–emphasis mine)

So let’s recap that simple paragraph, and see if there is anything to be learned:

  • The Bereans were open-minded and listened eagerly;
  • They checked Paul’s teaching against their accepted authoritative source material, to see if he was accurate;
  • After listening AND fact-checking, they were persuaded to believe his teaching.

I think that all of us would do well to approach any piece of communication in this way:

1) Consciously set aside your knee-jerk reaction (“I totally agree!”  or “He/She is absolutely wrong!”).

2) Check every fact you possibly can with a variety of–preferably impartial–sources.  (In other words, don’t check a conservative blogger’s facts just from other conservative blogs.)

3) Assume that you do not know everything about the issue–unless you’re the State’s expert witness!  Be willing to consider that you might be wrong, if only in a small way.

4) If you’re a God-follower, pray! Pray for wisdom and discernment, for humility, and for Truth to prevail, even if the Truth will prove unpalatable to you personally.


One minor case in point:  I’ve hunted the web for information about the ingredients that make up “lean”–Bill Whittle made quite a point of saying that the beverage and candy Trayvon had purchased were two ingredients of this hip hop drug cocktail, which induces euphoria and extreme lethargy.

purple drankIn fact, the cocktail (more often called “purple drank”) is usually made with Sprite and Jolly Ranchers (they dissolve easily and add flavor), and served over ice.  This is beside the point, however, since the main–and only narcotic–ingredient is a strong cold medicine containing promethazine and codeine. In the absence of that key component, it was probably libelous for anyone to insinuate that Trayvon Martin was planning on making the drug cocktail, merely because he had bought soft drink and candy.

Screen shots of Trayvon’s text messages on his phone DO reference the drug “Lean.” Still, correlation doesn’t prove causation, does it?

Mr. Whittle was asking us to look at the facts from another angle, and that is beneficial. But after all the “facts” are on the table, it is the responsibility of each individual to check those facts and come to his or her own conclusions.

It doesn’t matter how trustworthy the source is, check it yourself. It could be your spouse, your best friend, your pastor or your university professor telling you something. And each one may be wholeheartedly sincere and without agenda, other than to convince you of what they believe to be true. (On the other hand, they may be forwarding junk e-mails about free iPads.)

Truman news headline

Don’t fall into the trap of prejudging any issue before you have given it careful personal consideration. (Remember: prejudice is not a ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’ problem.)

If we only listen to those with whom we already agree, then we are really no better than those about whom the apostle Paul said:

“For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.”

(II Timothy 4:3  NLT)

what I want to hear


19 responses to ““Itching Ears”…are we all just preaching to the choir?

  1. Amanda Gordley

    Beautifully put! I have had that verse from 2 Timothy on my heart for a while now!

    • godsbooklover

      Amanda! Great to see you here! Thanks for reading, and commenting. Yes, that seems to be very much a verse for today’s culture, doesn’t it?

  2. This is an excellent message; it is so easy to stay in the echo chamber. This is true especially for me. I have this tendency of hitting my head in response to the left. Your brother keeps warning me.
    About Trayvon the thing to remember is his autopsy revealed liver and brain damage consistent with the abuse of lean. The watermelon drink and skittles are for a concoction called Purple Drank:

    • godsbooklover

      Yes, excellent point. Thanks for the reminder, Bret. However, that information is not necessarily pertinent to the case except as a counter to the “innocent young victim” image being portrayed. None of those facts about Trayvon’s activities or health is meant to imply that he “deserved” death…they just belie the character being depicted by the Media. And that in itself is significant–one needs to ask, “Why was it so important to the media to paint a largely false picture of this young man?”

      • While I agree with Rick (below) as to the essential facts of the case itself,
        I think a parallel point here is also important.

        –It’s not that Trayvon was/wasn’t an abuser of drugs.
        –It’s not whether he went out for a drink and a snack, or the makings of a quick fix.

        –However, it IS that our media, which always purports to “just follow where the story leads”, was startlingly unwilling/unable to connect ANY of these dots.
        The same press who chased Sarah Palin breathlessly with baseless questions about if she was Trig’s mother; the same press who chased Mitt Romney with “what about your Gaaaaaaaaaffes?” questions for WEEKS during the election; …
        …is the same press who ignores Joe Biden’s innumerable gaffes, who barely even ASKS about a current Democratic San Diego Mayor’s accusations of Sexual harassment, …and who never made ANY connection between Trayvon’s purchases and their other potential uses.

        The reason they didn’t was that the press was seeking to “guide” the narrative.

        As usual.

  3. It doesn’t matter if Trayvon was involved with drugs such as Lean or if he was addicted to cherry ice cream. The nuts and bolts of this entire case is pretty straightforward in my mind.

    Trayvon appeared suspicious to George. George, as a watchman, decided to be prudent and follow Trayvon to ensure that his actions were not formed on evil intent. Trayvon, became frustrated with being followed and George getting out of his truck gave Trayvon the means to strike out and let his frustration fly.

    By choosing choosing to become the attacker, Trayvon went from victim to perpetrator by committing battery. As the person being attacked, George had every right to defend himself and did in a manner that the jury found as not criminal.

    Trayvon had a cell phone and could have called 911 at any time. Trayvon passed house after house and could have rang a doorbell and asked for assistance at anytime. Trayvon could have calmly approached George and asked him why he chose to follow Trayvon.

    The best thing to do is to ignore the clutter foisted on us through the media by turning off the television or turning the channel and letting media companies know of your displeasure and disapproval of their race baiting. You could contact advertisers and let them know that you will not make purchases from companies that support race baiting, hate speech and a seeming support for violence that generates even more prurient stories.

    This was a case of pure communication, poor thinking and a horrific result that neither party wanted to occur. It’s time for people to grow up, face the facts and do what they can to improve relationships between races and ethnicities before their is nothing left to concern oneself with.

    • godsbooklover

      Yes, I quite agree, Rick. That’s been the consensus from several bloggers: it was unfortunate, both used poor judgement, and neither one had malicious intent to begin with. And I agree that the only facts we ever really needed to know surrounded the actual events–which were presumably the reason the police initially refused to charge Zimmerman with a crime. To wit: the back of his clothing was soiled, his face was injured and the back of his head was bloody. Trayvon had dirt only on the knees of his pants,and had bruised hands. To me, that should have been the end of the story.

  4. poor communication…sorry

  5. Happy Sunday GBL! 😀 I love to read your brother JTR’s entries… I find them powerful and spot on. But YOUR entries speak a bit deeper, and for that, I am much appreciative! AMEN!

    • Suuuure, Teach…..just calling me “shallow”, ehhh?
      Man, that’s just cold.

      Seriously, however, I remind my sister at least once/month: the deeper, philosophical stuff is definitely more her thing than mine….

      Thanks for (unintentionally) backing me up here!

    • godsbooklover

      Awww…my blushes, Teach…ummm…boy, do I feel… (Shielding my face to avoid eye contact with my long-distance brother.) Hmmm….quietly sidling out of the room….

  6. Really excellent point. I do actually accept the statements of some like Bill Whittle. Back to the drawing board! I knew I should check out that Lean thing.

  7. Reblogged this on Aewl's Abode and commented:
    From the featured blog of the month comes one of the most insightful posts I’ve seen in a while. It just blew me away.

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