This week's cover story on 90&9 has to do with the edgy nature of the e-zine and a response to the critics of the publication. While I'm not arrogant enough to think that it is all about me, I can't help but think that the article was at least in part prompted by a discussion I had with a friend who is an editor with the publication on this very topic.
I've long been a reader of 90&9, contributing from time to time over the years (my testimony, short devotionals, and a myriad of letters to the editor). About three years ago, I was approached about writing a regular column for the e-zine, discussing the life and times of an underachieving college student/Apostolic. After some thought, considerations of my time constraints, and advice from people whose advice I value, I decided not to write, and withdrew from further participation in the publication.
The advice opened my eyes to another dimension of 90&9. I started seeing the concerns that the others had pointed out. 90&9 is basically an open forum, which part of me loves, but because of their popularity and position within the Apostolic community, when they give voice to fringe or liberal views, they do, in turn, validate those views. While this sounds incredibly authoritarian and legalistic, it's not. There are issues or positions that are, in our culture, labeled as "liberal" and "conservative," and our allegiance first, foremost, and exclusively must be to Jesus, and not to a party or ideology. For those of you that are familiar with my personal views on human government (whether it be a political institution, like the US Government, or a religious institution, like the UPCI), you know that I hold strongly to a view that the government which governs least, governs best. I don't like top-down dictates of what I should believe or think about an issue. I want to take the issue, though perhaps under counsel, and consider in the lens of the Word of God and a Christian Worldview.
In my conversation with my friend regarding 90&9, I told her that many of my sharp, smart, articulate conservative friends (as well as myself) considered 90&9 to be irrelevant, because it has become a breeding ground for self-congratulatory liberalism and deconstructionist theological views. While anyone can say whatever they like (and I truly believe in an individual's right to freedom of speech, expression, and thought), I hold that 90&9 has an obligation not to disseminate views that are either contrary to scripture or lend themselves to an emergent view of Apostolicism. She pointed out that most of the contributions were benign, conservative to moderate, and fell well within the accepted bounds of proper Apostolic discourse. Of course, I pointed out that those "safe" articles were insepid, dull, and irrelevant.
This, it seems, is the crux. The articles that are good, safe, conservative peices are boring as heck. The ones that address a hotbed issue, I attack as liberal rhetoric or post-modern deconstructionism. Consider, for instance, this blog. I posted it in response to an article on 90&9, found here. As I said,
I’ve long been a reader of 90&9, and have participated from time to time. I often read articles and dismiss them, because they tend to miss the point or be on a topic so obscure and irrelevant that no one outside of the author could be terribly interested, anyway.
And this is the problem. The safe articles are boring and irrelevant. But it seems like the only people discussing hard-hitting issues are people whose positions are further to the left than are appropriate.
So my lament, then, is two-fold: 90&9 gives voice and validation to fringe views and liberal rhetoric on some of the most important issues facing our culture (American culture, Western culture, and Apostolic culture), and good, conservative thinkers and believers aren't taking the initiative to speak up on these issues.