Chomsky, Criticism, & Costly Honesty

I watched the Noam Chomsky dvd last night, Noam Chomsky: Rebel Without A Pause. It is a documentary on the man. I found it quite awesome and inspiring. He is an American intellectual who is a dissident of profound proportions. Watch it if you can. Here are some quotes I wrote into my journal: If I m a persona that attracts people, the world s in real trouble. You know if I had the capacity to be a good speaker, which I don t, I wouldn t use it. I mean, I m a boring speaker and I like it that way. If people want to come and hear me, that s fine. You know I don t do a song and dance, and I don t have fancy rhetoric. I doubt very much whether anybody is attracted by whatever the persona is. People are interested in the issues, and they re interested in the issues because they re important! This reminds me of the Puritan approach to preaching. They determined, in the face of the growing popularity of fanciful rhetoric in the pulpit, that they would preach with an unadorned style and allow the content of their preaching to carry it s own weight. Like the theologian J. I. Packer notes: A crucified style best suits the preachers of the crucified Christ (A Quest For Godliness, p. 73). Chomsky agrees with straightforward method. Another Chomsky quote: That s why fear is so prevalent in the United States: it s not real; it s manufactured. The main task of intellectuals is to make sure people never look into the mirror. Be cautious when you hear about intellectuals being fighters for justice. (He is referring to some liberal intellectuals rewriting history to say that Kennedy wanted out of Vietnam, when all the original documents indicate that he had no intention of doing so.) Anyway, fascinating stuff that not only applies to social criticism and politics, but to religion and the church. The level of Chomsky s honesty, which has cost him a great deal, is something I aspire to as a pastor for the benefit of the church.

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