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Psalm 78
. . . we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. .
so the next generation would know them . . . and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Narrative

I'm seeing a lot of word cloud visuals for the major political party convention speeches lately. Looming large in everyone's speeches, for Democrats and Republicans, are words like "president," "America," "Obama," "Mitt," and "government." I'd like to see some word cloud analysis on the words of the television anchors and analysts, reporters and pundits. I'm betting that this phrase would loom large: "CREATE A NARRATIVE."

Yesterday's spin is today's narrative. This is more than a turn-of-phrase. It is a revelation of worldview. And everything comes down to your narrative. In spite of the popularity of journalistic fact-checkers, the media that shapes our interpretation of the news events is hardly focused on facts. Instead, it is all about the narrative. 

The media tells us that there is a GOP narrative, a Democrat narrative, a Romney narrative, an Obama narrative, a Ryan narrative, and, well, even Biden has a narrative (and it isn't a happy one). Like sports analysts before the game telling us what the quarterback must do to win the game, pundits tell us what sort of narrative the politician must create in order to win over voters. 

What if the brilliant narrative created by the speaker doesn't match reality? No matter. In this post-modern age, the reality of a speaker's belief system takes a back seat to their narrative. If the narrative isn't polling well, politicians scramble to shift the narrative. When the Democratic party platform failed to affirm Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and failed to mention "God-given potential" it rightly upset a lot of Americans. To remedy the situation, Democrats scrambled to amend the platform and shift the narrative. Did it change the beliefs of President Obama, who has been pretty candid about not affirming Jerusalem as the capital? Not at all. Did it even reflect the sentiments of the delegates who, when asked to vote on the amendment, did not cooperate with the new narrative (in three tries the nays were at least equal to the ayes). Not really.

Tonight we hear from President Obama. Recent news reports have revealed that he has struggled to govern, struggled to lead the executive branch, and struggled to form relationships with people in government in order to get things done. This isn't a narrative that he must struggle to overcome. This is the reality of his administration.

In spite of this, I expect to hear a masterful narrative tonight and I expect that the media will expound enthusiastically on the narrative that our President has managed to craft.



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