Monday, December 31, 2007

Operation Candlelight

As we approach the changing of the year I've been thinking about the future of conservative thought in America. Although I want to be optimistic I feel conservatives--all those who believe in traditional values, really--are coming in for some hard times in the new year. My gut is telling me that the Left is poised for a comeback in '08. The mainstream media has convinced the majority of Americans that Iraq is a hopeless mess and I suspect they'll vote accordingly, i.e. Democrat, in the upcoming presidential election.

And Americans seem to be leaning leftward on issues besides Iraq. A majority approve of universal health care, support for capital punishment is waning, and though voters rejected gay marriage in various state referendums in 2004, opposition to it is declining. All and all I fear the next several years, not just 2008, bode ill for right-wingers. But facing that bleak scenario has made me start thinking again about something that's been in the back of my mind for a while. How do we spread conservatism in America?

I think conservatives, religious and secular, have put too much emphasis on politics. Winning elections is important but it doesn't guarantee that people will adopt our values. We must convince people of the truth of conservatism rather than assuming that election victories will make converts out of them. We are in a culture war and our side is losing. I once heard someone say that this war won't be won by those who tell the truth but by those who tell the best stories. And therein lies our opportunity.

No, I'm not saying that we should tell a bunch of entertaining lies to sell our worldview. I AM saying that we must use the transmitters of culture to fight a culture war. What are the transmitters of culture? They are everything a people uses to teach their way of life to the next generation. Language, the family, churches, schools, entertainment, newspapers, even blogs are all transmitters of culture. And outside of the family the most powerful transmitter of culture is entertainment. Liberals have understood this for at least a generation and have brilliantly used entertainment to advance their cause. Conservatives, unfortunately, have been asleep at the wheel.

Weaving an idea, belief, or point of view into a compelling story is one of the best ways to "evangelize" it to the public. Conservatives do know this and have been calling liberals on this practice for years. I can remember conservative groups bemoaning the content of television way back in the '70's. We have been excellent in cursing the darkness. What we've failed miserably at is lighting candles.

It's time to stop wringing our hands over anti-Christian and anti-American movies, violent video games, and sexed up tv shows and start producing better entertainment. We need to criticize by creating, as Chuck Colson put it. Conservatives need to take the entertainment industry by storm and start creating the best books, movies, tv shows, music, and video games on the market. I call this "revolution" Operation Candelight or OC. But how would this revolution actually work? Let's use tv as an example.

There are lots of cops shows on tv. What if, on one of those shows, the detectives had to solve the murder of a pastor who was the victim of a hate crime perpetrated by a militant gay activist? Or how about a drama with a morally traditional character who's a good guy? Why not have a prolife teenager, portrayed sympathetically, show up on one of the night time teen soaps? I know, today's tv writers would never write such episodes. But that's where the talented, conservative OC revolutionaries would come in. They would write those tv episodes, and lots more.

They would write, produce, and direct movies that show conservatives and moral traditionalists in a positive light. They'd write novels that sympathetically depict another side to issues that have, for far too long, been seen only from the left-wing perspective. And they'd do the same for plays, music and even video games.

Imagine a film about a family being persecuted for homeschooling. Imagine a young adult novel about teens fighting communism in Hungary's 1956 uprising. Imagine a video game where the hero fights for freedom against the global caliphate. Imagine a hard rock song glorifying our troops' skill and bravery in the Battle of Fallujah. Imagine. Imagine. But none of these things will be delivered to us by those now dominating the entertainment industry. It will take talented and committed conservative artists to get our worldview into the public imagination. It will take Operation Candlelight.

To our shame and our culture's detriment we conservatives have left the arts and entertainment to the liberals for too long. We are as creative, artistic, and talented as the leftists now controlling the media. It's time we regained our confidence and showed it. We must take back what once belonged to us. Are you ready for the revolution?

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