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Op-ed: Jerry Falwell Jr.: Failed Institutionalist

(Kyle Griesinger)

Jerry Falwell Jr.: Failed Institutionalist was first published at National Review.

In December 2015, I sat with about 10,000 other students in Liberty University’s Vines Center for one of the thrice weekly Convocations, this one featuring remarks by Jerry Falwell Jr., the school’s president, chancellor, and son of its famous founder. It was already well-known by the student body that for Jerry, as we half-affectionately called him, off script was a dangerous place to be. Mostly that danger took the form of bad jokes and awkward malapropisms. But on that particular day, it was worse…

Continue Reading at National Review.

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Politics 🔗 Link Post

Appearance: Matt Lewis and the News

I had the privilege of joining Daily Beast Senior Columnist, Matt Lewis on his eponymous (and excellent) podcast, Matt Lewis and the News. We discussed Jerry Falwell Jr. in light of his recently announced leave of absence from Liberty University. We also talked about the culture of Liberty and what Jerry’s fall says about the broader culture.

I hope you’ll give it a listen! And subscribe to Matt’s podcast if you like smart, long-form conversation.

Here’s a preview:

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Politics

Thoughts on Tomi Lahren

In case you missed it, Tomi Lahren has regained control of her Facebook page. Which means that we are about to be inundated with new ‘final thoughts’—though, one has to wonder why they are ‘final thoughts’ if they’re now the whole show. Tomi lost her gig as Provocateur-in-chief at TheBlaze recently over some comments she made on The View. This post will not address the comments she made—which have been addressed and refuted thoroughly. Rather, it addresses what I view to be the deeper problem with Tomi and what she represents for modern conservatism.

Shallow Conservatism

I have not cared for Tomi since she first skyrocketed to popularity. The very first time one of her ‘final thoughts’ videos meandered into my timeline I wrote her off as a flash in the pan that didn’t have the intellectual heft to last long. I must admit, I made a serious miscalculation—not just about Tomi, but about the whole 2016 election and possibly the modern conservative movement as a whole. I honestly believed that conservatives would see through her platitudes and recognize that her conservatism was inches deep. Conservatives didn’t want intellectuals, they wanted firebrands. Rather than gravitating to the pages of the National Review or The Wall Street Journal, they flocked to the Facebook page of a fiery upstart whose shtick was going on-air and lambasting liberals, millennials, and anyone else who opposed her views.

The people didn’t want reasoned, measured conservatism; they wanted bombastic, exaggerated pragmatism. Conservatives didn’t just want to win, they wanted to decimate and destroy. They wanted revenge for decades of insults, put-downs, and ill-treatment. I think this points to a deeper, systemic flaw in the current conservative movement—something I will write more extensively on later.

The Tomi Problem

Returning to Tomi, she offers an object lesson on why it is so important to have a reasoned and holistic worldview [1] and ideology. Please note, I do not mean that conservatives must or should be ideologues; only that they should hold to an ideology and allow it to inform their views on all issues. This is where Tomi erred. Tomi seems to hold to a conservative political ideology but she does not understand the philosophical roots of that ideology, and she does not allow it to guide her on all issues.

Conservatism has a certain set of underlying presuppositions. Chief among them, that the individual—created by God—is of inestimable worth. As such, the protection of human life is the first and predominant purpose of government. Whenever government fails to protect human life, it necessarily fails its first responsibility. Tomi, knowing only the platitude of ‘limited government,’ fails to make such a nuanced distinction. She does so because she does not have a thorough grounding in conservative thought and philosophy. She should recognize that that prohibiting abortion is a limited government position because, in doing so, government remains within its proper jurisdiction—protecting the life, liberty, and property of the people.

Sadly, Tomi is a conservative Icarus. Like Icarus, filled with hubris, she flew too near the sun. Someone once said, “when your visibility exceeds your credibility, you are heading for a fall.” This perfectly illustrates the ‘Tomi’ problem. Her worldview does not operate as a unified field of truth which is comprehensive and applies to all of life including all political issues. In short, her ideological foundation is insufficient. When you gain a platform, be sure your foundation is deep enough to support it.


[1] For and understanding of what I mean by ‘worldview,’ see the first section of Dr. Glenn Martin’s essay “Biblical Christian Education: Liberation for Leadership.