Culture Friday: Wisdom from Proverbs


MARY REICHARD, HOST: Up next on The World and Everything in It, a jaw-dropping development in the world of comedy. And I don’t mean it in a bad way.

DAVIDSON: Alright, so last week I made a joke about a picture of you and I feel like it’d only be fair if you got me back and made fun of a picture of me. Does that sound okay?

CRENSHAW: I don’t really need to do that.

DAVIDSON: No, c’mon. I deserve it.

CRENSHAW: All right…

DAVIDSON: Please?

CRENSHAW: I’ll do one.

DAVIDSON: And now, First Impressions with Lt. Cmdr. Dan Crenshaw!

NICK EICHER, HOST: This is some of an exchange between Saturday Night Live comedian Pete Davidson and now Congressman-elect Dan Crenshaw. Crenshaw’s a conservative Republican from Texas and Navy Seal who lost his eye in an IED attack in Afghanistan.

Davidson made a bad joke on-air and Crenshaw only gently responded to it. He did not lash out. And SNL invited him to respond, as you just heard.

And there was some mild joking, which is unimportant. What was important was when Crenshaw turned serious, and I’ll play that for you in just a minute.

But first: It’s Culture Friday and time now to welcome John Stonestreet. He’s president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. John, good morning.

JOHN STONESTREET, GUEST: Good morning, Nick!

EICHER: Let’s listen together to Crenshaw’s really remarkable moment on the comedy show.

CRENSHAW: OK, but seriously. There’s a lot of lessons to learn here. Not just that the left and right can agree on some things, but also this: Americans can forgive one another.

We can remember what brings us together as a country and still see the good in each other.

This is Veterans’ Day weekend, which means that it’s a good time for every American to connect with a veteran. Maybe say, ‘Thanks for your service.’ But I’d actually encourage you to say something else. Tell a veteran, ‘Never forget.’

When you say ‘never forget’ to a veteran, you are implying that, as an American, you are in it with them. Not separated by some imaginary barrier between civilians and veterans, but connected together as grateful fellow Americans, who’ll never forget the sacrifices made by veterans past and present.

And ‘never forget’ those we lost on 9/11: heroes like Pete’s father. So I’ll just say, ‘Pete. Never forget.’

DAVIDSON: ‘Never forget.’

CRENSHAW: And that is from both of us!

Lt. Cmdr. Dan Crenshaw! Pete Davidson! Weekend Update! Goodnight!

EICHER: Pretty unexpected, John.

Now, the opportunity to bring a demonstration of public forgiveness to an audience you’d otherwise probably never reach is a rare thing.

But how might we go about putting ourselves in position to offer this kind of healing touch that seems so needed in our culture today?

STONESTREET: You know, it’s funny, maybe we should just do what Proverbs says. I mean, that’s what Crenshaw did. There’s times these days, Nick, and I don’t know if you’re like this, but you read Proverbs and there’s a couple things here. First, that compared to other religions and other worldviews, our wisdom book is understandable. Proverbs is just straight forward, down the line, and just gives you really great advice like this: a soft answer turns away wrath. And that’s what he did.

And, by the way, there’s another part of this, too, and that is understanding that SNL is SNL. That entertainment is entertainment. And I’m not saying we let Pete Davidson and SNL off the hook for what they do, but I also think there’s a level of keeping in a perspective that entertainment dominates the planet, but it’s really not all that important at the end of the day, entertainment is not the end all of reality. And that there’s a whole lot of noise and a whole lot of sarcasm and cynicism that comes out of that industry these days, when it comes to things that really matter. But one of our best responses is to let it not overwhelm us and outrage us.

And then, also, and Crenshaw’s op-ed in the Wall Street Journal directly called out the outrage industry that we have, which is everything is cause for outrage and a demand for an apology and a demand to measure your own stance against it.

First of all, it’s exhausting. It’s unsustainable and it’s just not helpful at the end of the day. It’s a way of actually, in the name of caring, not actually putting your neck out there at the right time and doing anything. Being outraged, that’s an emotion. That’s not a success. 

All that to say, I did appreciate a couple things:

I do want to say that the apology that Pete Davidson did issue seemed like a sincere apology, there was also kind of an afterwards kind of moment between them that was caught in which he said to Lieutenant Commander Crenshaw that he’s a good man. Davidson has kind of a habit of being self-deprecating on the show, talking about what a bum he is, he still lives with his mom, he smokes too much marijuana, things like that. And the contrast between the guy who’s popular, and then the life, the sacrifice, the drive, the — from one life of public service to the next life of public service of the man sitting right next to him that he had the gall to mock, for him to acknowledge that was — I appreciate that he did it and that he did it directly. So, there was a lot to be commended for. If SNL did a little bit more of that, it’d be a better show.

EICHER: Well, John, you heard just a moment ago Sarah Schweinsberg’s report on the interesting surprise this week from the White House on prison reform.

And specifically, he talked about sentencing reform. Let’s listen to the president had to say at the White House on Wednesday:

AUDIO: Among other changes, it rolls back some of the provisions of the Clinton crime law that disproportionately harm the African-American community. And you all saw that and you all know that. Everybody in this room knows that. It was very disproportionate and very unfair.

EICHER: Three years ago, former President Clinton acknowledged that that law he supported, along with lots of tough-on-crime Republicans, in practice, was unfair. This is a long time coming, John.

STONESTREET: It is a long time coming and I think it’s a continuing legacy of an awful lot of work and an awful lot of effort. This wasn’t something that happened this week. This is something that’s been going on for decades and I’m pleased that the namesake of our organization, the Colson Center, Chuck Colson — his legacy needs to be brought up in this because it is the only bipartisan thing on the planet right now is prison reform and sentencing reform and justice reform and trying to get at this whole issue of incarceration.

And I think that this reform bill recognizes a number of things: number one, it maintains that recognition of personal responsibility, which is huge. Because while there are plenty of injustices in the system, the vast majority of the time, there’s an issue of personal responsibility that gets the process started. Not only that, but recognizing the injustices in the system and that, really, the system itself was set up to basically let us get back at those we were mad at. And, you know, that’s not justice. That’s vengeance.

Now, you can recognize that and still be tough on crime and still hold a straight line and realize that, then, that has got to change your whole approach. And so there are at least four parties whenever a crime is committed—the perpetrator, the victim, the community, and the state. And all four of those have to be restored in the relationship to one another. And, of course, this sounds an awful lot like theology because it is. This is a worldview issue about what the nature of crime is, what the nature of victimhood is, what the nature and the role of the state is. And all these have to be put into place here and so ultimately, specifically the point of this bill that addresses and welcomes faith-based initiatives, faith-based organizations, those throughout the history of the planet have been the most successful in addressing crime for what it is and also caring for the families that are left behind when people are incarcerated, and then also giving a moral framework, as well as a path to redemption. These are things that are necessary for communities and individuals to move forward after a crime is committed, but they’re not things that the state is good at. It’s just not things that the state can do.

And that’s the interesting part of this. These are things that people who are consciously bringing God into their work. So, this is good news and good for President Trump for being willing to sign it. And this is a ray of hope. And I hope it’s a model of what we can see problems solved in a bipartisan way going forward.

EICHER: John Stonestreet is president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. It’s Culture Friday, John, thanks so much. We’ll talk to you next time.

STONESTREET: Thanks, Nick.


(Will Heath/NBC via AP) In this Nov. 10, 2018 photo provided by NBC, Lt. Com. Dan Crenshaw, from left, a congressman-elect from Texas, Pete Davidson, Anchor Colin Jost, and Anchor Michael Che appear during Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update” in New York.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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