A hard-hitting Interview of DJW by DJW: Only one interviewer could possibly get to the really awkward questions . . .
Me: Where were you born?
Me: In San Diego, at the Balboa Naval Hospital.
Me: And when was this?
Me: In June of 1953. I am 64 years old. In brief, I should know better by now.
Me: Do you promise to provide us with sober answers, and to tell the truth as best as you can?
Me: I can promise to tell the truth. But I don’t know if the truth can come off as sober any more.
Me: What is your calling? What is your vocation?
Me: I am a minister by day and a writer by night.
Me: What do you see as the principal difference between your preaching and your writing?
Me: My task as a preacher is to declare the Word, as the Word was delivered to us. The current events in the world will sometime come into a message when we get to the application, as it necessarily must, but my central task is to preach the gospel, preach the Word to the world through the church. That means that exposition of the Word is central. But as a writer, my task is to interpret the world in the light of the Word. All of this should be consistent and should meet in the middle, but it is no inconsistency to start from different ends.
Me: What’s your favorite color?
Me: Blue. That’s the color I use to highlight my books.
Me: Speaking of books, what interests do you pursue as you read?
Me: I generally just chase what interests me. But as far as disciplined reading goes, I start with Scripture; I have various Bible reading regimens going. After that, I want always to be reading a volume of poetry, a work of fiction, a bucket book (a book I should have read by this time in my life, but inexplicably haven’t), and whatever book I am currently reading.
Me: And from what you said earlier, you mark up your books?
Me: Yes. Books are tools, not objects of veneration. I need to find stuff again, and so I mark my books up. I have often turned down an offer to let me borrow a book because I have real trouble reading without marking.
Me: Who’s your favorite male musical artist?
Me: I would have to say Eric Clapton.
Me: Female performer?
Me: Rosanne Cash.
Me: At the risk of having this turn into an interview for People magazine, what is your favorite poem?
Me: Probably Ozymandius by Shelley. Are you going to ask me what my favorite food is?
Me: What’s your favorite food?
Me: Nancy does this lemon/chicken/pasta thing that mysteriously has not been picked up by any national restaurant chains.
Me: Who is your favorite contemporary Christian writer, not related to you?
Me: I would say John Piper.
Me: Okay, now zoom out. List the ten writers, living or dead, who have had the greatest impact on your writings, in both content and style.
Me: C.S. Lewis, H.L. Mencken, P.G. Wodehouse, J.R.R. Tolkien, John Calvin, G.K. Chesterton, Rousas Rushdoony, William F. Buckley, Rene Girard, and John Piper. An exquisite blend of all these gentlemen, painstakingly balanced, is what gives my writing that winsome tartness.
Me: Some of your critics think that you have a hard time accepting criticism. What is your take on that?
Me: No, I don’t think that is true at all. The illusion is created because I don’t take criticism well if it is offered up by the inept or lazy, or if it based on sensibilities that have been molded and shaped by the cultural Marxists. Paul rebuked the Corinthians for the great sin of suffering fools gladly (2 Cor. 11:19). In the contemporary church, this is one of our great failings, one that requires the deepest repentance. We are so far gone we think it is a virtue. We blame and attack others for not joining us in the vice.
Me: But what about soliciting responsible criticism? In order to keep yourself “centered,” do you follow the common practice of regularly inviting critical input from those around you on how you are doing?
Me: No. This is a custom borrowed from corporate America, and is not grounded in Scripture at all. Of course if someone comes to you with a criticism, it is the duty of every Christian to listen to it thoughtfully and humbly (Prov. 9:8; 13:1; 27:5; Eccles. 7:5), and to not be defensive. But to create a process that flips this around, thus shielding and enthroning the timid, while simultaneously allowing them to get their point registered, is simply subsidizing process over persons. But why do we need to ensure that we get wisdom from the timid?
Me: You are talking as though timidity were this huge, glaring sin.
Me: Yes. It is. God has not given us a spirit of timidity (2 Tim. 1:7). When the Spirit is poured out in the book of Acts, the result is boldness. And because our evangelical leadership today is so stinking cautious, they are not in a position to accomplish the things they declare as most necessary. Women don’t need mild forms of feminism from the men, and milder forms than that from the Christian men. They need men who will love them, honor them, protect them, and provide for them. And don’t tell me that’s “old-fashioned.” That’s not old-fashioned — it is just plain old vanilla normal. But a timid man won’t love a woman if the spirit of the age tells him he isn’t allowed to.
Me: Why are you so rude to the notion of white privilege?
Me: Not because it is an imaginary concept. The idea of white privilege is the rudest, most privileged, and whitest idea to come down the pike in a long time. And to the extent that there is privilege, to take it and bury it in the ground in a napkin, to “check your privilege,” is to claim you serve a harsh master.
Me: Why do you think you are so detested in some quarters?
Me: “They hate him that rebuketh in the gate, and they abhor him that speaketh uprightly” (Amos 5:10).
Me: That’s it? God, Jesus, Bible?
Me: Anything wrong with God, Jesus, Bible?
Me: A critic might say that you always think you’re right. You leave no room for discussion, no room for the possibility that you might be wrong.
Me: It is true that I always think I’m right. But I don’t think I am always right.
Me: Come again?
Me: Thinking you are right is the same thing as thinking. Everyone does it. Stepping back and looking at the sum total of your thoughts, of course it would be folly not to see that you have been guilty of mistakes and errors. But while you are thinking at all, you are thinking you are right. So that is why I say I always think I am right, but I don’t think I am always right.
Me: But isn’t that arrogant?
Me: The curious thing is that out of all the people I have met who think so (and I have met a number of them), they think so. And they think they’re right. No one ever came to me in a spirit of rebuke, but with the prefatory proviso that they might be the arrogant one and I might be the innocent baaa lamb. Furthermore, I don’t ask them to. But I do find it curious that they ask me to. And so it is that I conclude, 9 times out of 10, that the goal is not to admonish and edify me, but rather to steer me.
Me: Steer you where?
Me: Back onto the reservation.
Me: Did you just say what I thought I heard you say?
Me: Yes, you did. And freedom of speech cannot be defended in the abstract.
Me: But surely Christians should voluntarily abstain from speech that some might find offensive . . .?
Me: And thus become the permanent prisoners of the Coalition of the Perpetually Offended? Never underestimate the ability of the sob sisters to sob.
Me: What would you like your epitaph to read?
Me: I would like my epitaph to say, “I was holding back.”