It has become our custom—and why shouldn’t it have become our custom?—to review the month of November once we turn the page of the calendar, and all the pieces have fallen out of the sky. And the drone. The drone too.
In short, how did it go? Did the month of November live up to expectations? Were we happy with how things went? And the answer comes back as a solid, resounding yes. Best November ever.
The trick is to learn how to take the truth seriously without taking yourself seriously at all. This is the reverse of the strategy urged upon us by Anthony Bradley. He is big on dignity, and all this horsing around comporteth not with the kind of dignity he has in mind. Ah, well. If we can’t horse around and have the approval of Anthony Bradley, then it appears we shall have to continue to horse around.
Of course, you do want to be careful with the high jinks. If there is too much of that, you can draw the reproach of those who would quote the great James Denny.
“No man can give at once the impressions that he himself is clever and that Jesus Christ is mighty to save.”
But there is more to this principle. We really need to think it all through. Denny’s observation is quite true, but because we live in the kind of world we do, quite a number of words can be substituted in for clever, and the spiritual lesson remains every bit as valuable. For example, try pious. Or scholarly. Or censorious. Or dignified.
The great danger is in the phrase give the impression, and not actually in the characteristic you are seeking to project. It is not bad to be clever, or pious, or dignified. But if you are striving to be known for whatever it is, then that is where the trouble is. In short, it is awfully difficult to proclaim that Christ is mighty to save if you have one eye on your own reflection. It doesn’t much matter what part of your fetching good looks has captured your attention while you were presenting the gospel, it is still a distraction.
Some really are distracted by their own cleverness. But others are distracted by their own fastidious rejection of anything clever at all. Some are distracted by how wide their phylactery is, while others can’t stop glancing at their bare forehead—no phylactery at all. Some are distracted by the title the Rt. Rev. Murphy, while others want to cop a humble posture and insist on being called Brother Murphy.
In short, the ego is like a little cracker. It can serve as the delivery platform for all kinds of dips. There is the clever dip, and the pious dip, and the sanctimonious dip, and so on. What many in the pietist camp don’t realize is that the common usages and customs of their subculture have conspired to make their sanctimony invisible to them. But it is not invisible elsewhere. It is not invisible to others.
The key is to point to Christ, magnify Him, and sometimes this is best done if you can just let yourself unbutton a little.
Giveways & Stats
We are most grateful to everyone who took advantage of our giveaways. Here in our quaint little Mablog Shoppe, we were pleased to give away almost 3,000 books. They were all made out of ones and zeros, so the boxes weren’t that heavy, but that is still a lot of content for a little operation like this one.
Over on the Canon side of things, that publishing powerhouse, we gave away over $400K worth of Kindles to hungry and inquiring minds. We have received reports that some people are reading them.
Over the years, you have heard us mention the embargo that has been deployed against our Moscow content, and I think we can mark this year as the time when we can now run the blockade with impunity. There will be more on this in the next section, but here are some stats related to the embargo. The NQN 2023 Flamethrower video had 590K views across all platforms, which is four times more than last year. Our little talk show, Doug and Friends, garnered over 159K views over the course of the month. We are not claiming that every last one of these folks are friends exactly, but we know that at least 144,000 of them are. On top of that, a full dozen fine American homes will be receiving their very own their NQN flamethrowers in time for the twelve days of Christmas (11 purchases + 1 giveaway). These worthy citizens will be able to melt all the snow in their driveway in about two and a half minutes, and at the same time become the talk of the neighborhood for the next two and a half years.
And of course . . . because we called to show honor to whom honor is due, it should be noted that Nancy’s spanking advice received 3.1 million views during the month of NQN, and was taken up as a newsworthy event by Newsweek. The rest of us here can only aspire.
The Strategic Level
In previous years, we would do our thing, and you guys watched, ordered books, and enjoyed it right along with us. We kept taking shots at the regnant follies, but the regnant follies rarely shot back. Oh, there was some behind the scenes stuff, and I did get a visit from the FBI that one time, and it wasn’t like we were yelling into a can or anything. We did get some feedback.
But this year there was, as the diplomats would put it, an open and frank exchange of views. An altercation on X occurred between Karen Swallow Prior and Joe Rigney about empathy, and this helped us to make the point we never tire of seeking to make. This also helped to highlight what our point was in flaming Disney princesses in the November trailer. The zeitgeist catechism of our day is a “follow your heart” catechism. This is all tied up with the empathy nonsense, and the whole thing is a deadly poison. You can tell how much you have been affected when “follow your heart” seems kind of innocuous. But it is toxic folly. “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: But whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.” (Proverbs 28:26).
And then, some of the assiduous worker bees who have been combing through our archives released a video clip of Nancy, Mistress of the Paddywonking, describing how more people in future YouTube comment threads needed to have been treated in their nonage. But they weren’t, and now here they are, driving around in public with a Bernie sticker on their car. As mentioned above, that video clip shot up into the Ionosphere. This helped to start a national discussion about where the seat of wisdom is actually located.
There is one good thing about about all this research that the Intoleristas are conducting as they come after us. As they pour through our material . . . they are getting a lot of good teaching. And the Lord can do wonderful things. I just got an email the other day from a gent who was among our adversaries back in the day. “I searched your blog to find more evidence of racism, and I accidentally found the Gospel. I had never heard the Gospel before. It took me by surprise, and I came to Christ in 2008.” So thank the Lord for Andrew, and pray for others like him.
And then . . . Kevin DeYoung’s article came out right at the end of November, and helped us to create something of a grand finale. That was the whipped cream on the frappacino.
A Brief Word to Christian Institutions
We live in a time when Christian institutions—colleges, churches, schools, parachurch ministries, publishers—must learn how to be antifragile. Antifragility in this troublous time is a survival necessity. If you are looking at the controversy swirling around Moscow—and other potential controversies like it—as something of a PR and marketing nightmare, then by definition you are not antifragile. If you are having executive council meetings on how to manage all of this, you are not antifragile. If you are constantly activating all your response teams, you are not antifragile.
So if a major sleaze magazine like Vice were to drop a hit piece on some close friends of yours today, what should you call it? You should call it Wednesday.
We are coming up on a transition point, and I think it is coming soon, and so I need to mention this next principle.
This is a phenomenon I first observed during various evangelistic imbroglios in the Navy. As many of you know, I did a hitch in the submarine service which, let us be frank, is not a bastion of righteousness. Given the fact that I was an open Christian and interested in sharing my faith, there would be occasions where a conversation in the crew’s mess would grow to a substantial size, and it was almost always a case of “me against everybody.” This was fine, because while most of the sailors were rank unbelievers, only a few were openly hostile and/or blasphemous. In fact, I only remember one guy who was like that. I think he was a machinist’s mate, but we shouldn’t generalize from that too broadly.
But that is not where the lesson was. I would regard these apologetic embroilments as a positive thing, and was grateful for them. The thing that was instructive was that, when it was all over, various sailors would come to me privately in order to encourage me. “Don’t let them get you down. I’m with you. Thanks for standing up. I agree with you.” But it was privately, and after the big conversation was over.
There was another lesson, a corollary to the first. This tendency of some Christians to hide out, refusing to dive into the fray while it was going on was not a permanent state of affairs. On the second submarine I was on, a number of men either became Christians, or became much more open about their faith, and this happened over the course of a year and a half or so. When I was discharged, on my way out I had an exit interview with the captain (who become a Christian later), and by that time about ten percent of the crew were open Christians. The captain told me that the tenor of the entire crew had been transformed, and in a positive direction. The morale of the whole boat was better. One of the reasons it had not been safe to come out is that people had been acting like it was not safe to come out.
There are two lessons in this. Don’t be surprised or offended at private support. It is easy to think something like “you know, it would have been really nice if you had spoken up earlier.” And of course, some people who sympathize with you stay in hiding permanently. That happens too. But others don’t remain there. Nicodemus, a ruler among the Jews, came to Jesus by night (John 3:2). It really was risky for someone in his position to be seen in deep conversation with Jesus. But this same Nicodemus stood up for Christ later, and at a time when the feelings around him were running hot. However it is noteworthy that the apostle John made a point of identifying Nicodemus by his earlier nocturnal visit. “Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them) . . . ” (John 7:50).
There are people who will try to encourage you privately, and that is all they will ever do. Keeping their head down is a way of life for them. There are others who are trying to be strategic, and they know there is a moment coming when they are going to fly the flag. And perhaps they misjudge the moment, and perhaps they delay longer than they needed to. But this is still the kind of person that makes up a preference cascade, and we should thank God for them. Gideon won a great victory, but Ephraim still joined in the pursuit.
Then there are those who are called upon to take a lonely stand. They are the ones who set things in motion. The lesson for these people is the lesson that the Lord graciously gave to Elijah. That position felt a lot more lonely than it actually was.
“But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.”
Romans 11:4 (KJV)