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Pope Francis and Rush Limbaugh: Changing the Narrative

by Art Hyland

“The pope says, in a manner of speaking, debate Hell if you wish, I’m talking about Christ.  Next question.”

If ever there were a comparison of similar media tactics, it’s Pope Francis of the Roman Catholic Church and Rush Limbaugh, leader of American conservatives. Both deeply want their worlds…well, the pope’s goes a little beyond the world, but you know what I mean…repeat, both want their worlds altered to where what is being discussed is within their definition of what’s important.

It’s Christ, Stupid

In an interview Pope Francis was asked why he hasn’t much discussed abortion, divorce, sexual orientation and other popular topics on the minds of media people today.

Pope Francis: ““The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules. The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you.”

In so many words, Pope Francis says he intends to discuss Christ, which seems rather understandable since he holds the Catholic title Vicar of Christ, a position believed held before him by none other than St. Peter, the first Apostle of Christ. He considers his supreme mission as spreading the Word of Christ throughout the world. That’s the message he wants to convey, plain and simple.

Why would the pope have to explain this obvious point?  The first part of the above quote explains it: he says the church has locked itself up in small things, by which he means the incessant media questions his church is hounded with–you know, all the liberally-relevant, worldly issues on the minds of the cultural elites in America and elsewhere, who happen to also control most of the major media and drive public opinion.

The pope says, in a manner of speaking, debate Hell if you wish, I’m talking about Christ, next question.

It’s called changing the narrative, defining your mission to be the mission you are living, not someone else’s idea of what your mission is supposed to address because of the latest trend defined by others. Get back to basics, the pope says, and all issues will be put in perspective, and all participants will begin to see the ways of Christ first, Who knows of these and all issues with such clarity and purpose, we don’t have to. The world will adjust to its correct position in line with God’s word if loving Him is first and foremost in the minds of human beings.

It’s Conservatism, Stupid

Enter Rush Limbaugh, although with legions far less in numbers than the pope, he nevertheless has been fighting a very similar battle, and for longer than Pope Francis.  His philosophy, quite consistent throughout a 25 year career on Talk Radio in America, has been to bring the political and cultural issues of the day into a perspective that surrounds conservative basics:  freedom, the U.S. Constitution, free-market capitalism & classic liberalism. He rants against even some conservative colleagues who are too willing to attempt to answer unending allegations by political opponents, thus falling into the trap of discussing the opposition’s narrative. The result is conservatives ignoring their very strength: conservatism itself.

So Rush talks constantly about the values, successes, and history of freedom, all in the context of the American conservative experience.  Of course he’ll rant against liberals from time to time, especially pointing out their hypocrisy in a manner not unlike an emotional pastor raging against obvious sinners, but he can be excused from this tactical departure from that of Pope Francis, since the pope’s timeline and Rush’s can be said to be slightly different.  America’s debate is only a little over 200 years old, while the pope’s declarations have started, well, since the beginning of current time as measured by the Gregorian calendar–like 1AD.  Both have goals that require great patience.  Patience to overlook the valleys of despair that have occurred in both of their worlds by relying upon the source of their strength.

The Devil is in the Opposition

While the pope is looking at a future well beyond the next election cycle, Rush has become worried there may not be many cycles left before it doesn’t matter anymore.  We’ll be toast.  At which point the legions of the pope, and the Prostestants with them, may be the only reliable beacon of spiritual and human optimism.  It’s happened before: European Christianity drove invading Islamists out of Western geography.  But, history is repeating.  The West currently faces not just radical Muslim threats, but internal, imploding threats of socialism, fascism and other central governmentism, all of which is weakening the West to the advantage of all potential invaders.

I think we know the pope’s primary nemesis, a name synonymous with evil itself.  At this point the mind races to make the human analogies of evil by putting faces on it. Certainly we should feel no apprehension in mentioning evil or heretics of color, given how they have existed within every race known to man. Anyone come to mind? Well, there is one who was partly raised in a foreign land, helped organize the poor and disadvantaged, swept into prominence by the force of his voice, and challenged and won against the presumed leader of the day.

When asked about the mortal issues of the day or about its leaders spreading the secular dialogue, Pope Francis said, “I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else.”

In other words, let’s talk about the lack of Christ’s presence in your heart (the wounds), not whether you think you’re another sex, or you believe babies should be terminated in the womb. Those subjects are symptoms of your larger problem – which is what we need to talk about first and foremost.

Rush, as “America’s Truth Detector,” couldn’t possibly say it better when he talks about freedom and American exceptionalism.  He believes we can defeat the trappings of liberalism by promoting the basics of conservatism.  The pope would agree with that plan, since he apparently adopted Rush’s media stance.

How do you argue with the Vicar of Christ when it comes to telling the truth?  You don’t, you emulate him.

This is the second in a series about Rush Limbaugh.  The first is here.  

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