Let me tell you a secret. I want to explain to you what it takes to be a bad boy in a relativistic age. A bad boy is one I define as a man who appears to disregard certain basic societal rules. Back when society had standards, the bad boy was the motorcycle gang leader who rode off with the small town minister’s daughter. But when a society has gone all decadent-soft, and it no longer has any standards or rules to speak of—in order to continue to function as a society at all—it has to treat the current flow of trendy-fogthot as though it were a rule. It isn’t actually, and really couldn’t be, but the indignation generated when you violate it is every bit as indignant as the reaction you would get from your maiden aunt, say, back in 1912, and you set your iced tea on the coffee table without a coaster.
In short, in these relativistic times, what it takes to be a bad boy is a willingness to say true things into some kind of a microphone, and to enunciate as you do so. You will almost immediately be shushed and shamed. If you refuse to be shushed, and laugh at the attempts to cool-shame you, your contumacious perfidy begins to grow into something like perfidious contumacy. Your tarnished reputation grows with it. Then you do it again. You are doing what is simply not done. But at the same time, the deep mystery of bad boy attraction sets in. Continuing with the metaphor, which is now rumbling like a well-tuned motorcycle, the minister’s daughter starts to make eyes at you.
And so this is how one can achieve maximum influence while simultaneously being industriously ignored. Don’t offer opinions. Don’t smudge up the place with your foggy nuance. Tell the truth. Give your testimony. Declare the oracles of God. The initial quiet will be misleading. Find a small rise somewhere near you, plant your standard there, set your feet about shoulder width, and pick up your claymore with both hands. Say something true because it is true. Better yet have your bagpiper pipe something true—Scots Wha Hae works—and you won’t be lonely very long.
“Seriously? Claymores? Bag pipes? Robert Burns? If you got any more ethnocentric, you’d be doing hard time in a Californian sensitivity camp.”
Like I said above . . . shushed and shamed. The vivid reality of the Incarnation means that particular words, particular tribes, and particular places are now able to carry universal meaning. The Incarnation also means that the diffuse and universal bromides of the philosophers are floating off downwind like an abstract kite with a snapped string. You can’t fight dualism unless both feet are on the ground, and if they are on the ground you will be able to locate that place on a map. That is why I am able to be writing the truth in Idaho. I am not typing away in a philosopher’s mist.
As Gandhi once put it—and no, I am not violating my own rule here because I really wish that Churchill had said it instead, but it is true anyhow: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
These social dynamics operate independently of the merit or worth of the insiders and outsiders. What Gandhi said above applies to Donald Trump as much as to anybody. The rebel is not good because he is a rebel, but the rebel is always a rebel because he is a rebel. By definition.
And the Establishment will always act like the Establishment, in those ways that Establishments have. Sometimes the Establishment is noble and the rebels are bad, and other times the Establishment is iniquitous and the challengers are righteous. So sometimes the team you are rooting for has the ball, and at other times they are playing defense. You don’t decide which team to support by asking who has the ball. But if you are in the game at all, you have to have a strategy for defense and a strategy for offense. Put another way, we need to get word to our evangelical leaders that it is not poor sportsmanship to gain possession of the ball. Neither is it poor form to run some plays.
So back to the top, and let me finish with a little Zen Presbyterianism. We live in an evil day, with a relativistic and deceitful ruling class. It is therefore the case that the only way to be a good boy is to be a bad boy. And the only way to have a good testimony is to have a poor one. Let’s get to work.