One could argue that, heretofore, the gold medal for embarrassing (and disappointing) Ann Coulter public stands would have to go to 2012’s eye-fluttering infatuation with “Christie for President”. Alas, that wrong-footed crusade will have to be satisfied with second place now that her August 6 column has hit the presses. Delicately titled, “Ebola Doc’s Condition Downgraded to ‘Idiotic’ “, the piece takes to task missionary Dr. Kent Brantly for migrating over to a “disease-ridden cesspool” (Liberia), where he eventually contracted a nearly fatal dose of the Ebola virus, instead of setting up shop to serve Christ in his homeland.
Casually hearing about Coulter’s beef with the Texas-trained, Samaritan’s Purse physician, I was tempted to assume the always entertaining, unrelentingly witty, immensely gifted scribe was floating a satirical effort — Ann Coulter, in other words, at her impishly provocative best. Upon perusing her 800 words for myself, though, it became evident she really meant it when she wrote, “Why did Dr. Brantly have to go to Africa?… Can’t anyone serve Christ in America anymore?”
Ms. Coulter, an unhesitatingly professing Christian, properly diagnoses: “America, the most powerful, influential nation on Earth” is locked “in a pitched battle for its soul.” She then wanders logically afield by sarcastically snorting, “So, no, there’s nothing for a Christian to do here.”
That snarky quip, mind you, as another opinionator, Janice Shaw Crouse, points out, is a blazingly false alternative. Frankly, it’s beneath the normally perceptive, no-nonsense Coulter.
No one is arguing any American follower of Jesus should blow off the spiritual well-being of the USA for the cause of rescuing a frantically needy world. Happily, that’s an “either/or” dichotomy few, if any, believers need confront, especially in 2014. The “only America” option, however, is equally specious — at least for Christians who take the Bible as their pre-eminent guide.
Even self-sacrificially slaving away in East Africa — “marinating … in medieval diseases of the Third World”, as Ms. C piquantly phrases it — a soul can –and should— meaningfully impact things both here and abroad. A heart for home and hearth and the nations? Yes-sir-ee, it’s possible!
Hello? Has Ann missed the globe-trotting revolution of the past hundred years? Air Travel? The Internet? Telephones? I personally know lots of American Christians who, with relative ease, can be in Mexico City or Johannesburg or Kuala Lampur or Athens on Wednesday, and back in their customary seat at their local church on Sunday.
Additionally, putting all that aside: since when can’t these fifty states spare, for a season, the physical presence of one noble healer to carry truth and improve life for some impoverished and hurting human beings who happen to speak a language different from ours in a country thousands of miles away?
“America is the most consequential nation on Earth, and in desperate need of God at the moment, ” Coulter, again accurately, attests.
Pardon me for adding: this Republic also remains the most church-saturated, Christian-ministry-rich, health-care -brimming land on the planet. We already have more than we need when it comes to gospel-oriented resources and medical services. Much given? Much required – the Son of God mentioned something about that as well.
The blonde firebrand further chides the heroic thirty-three year old for forsaking his Zaval County, TX home, “one of the poorest counties in the nation, … to fly to LIberia and get Ebola … risk[ing] making his wife a widow and his children fatherless.”
Well, that’s one way things could have turned out. It goes with the proposition, I suppose, of putting one’s health and wealth on the line for others. Sound familiar? That’s the route taken by the Savior worshiped by Coulter and Dr. Brantly.
She famously jokes about the benefits of life as a full-time commentator: sleeping in till noon, staying in her pajamas all day. I’m, reluctantly, wondering if that’s been happening too often for her on Sundays lately? Or if she hasn’t been cracking her Bible for a fair spell? Otherwise, she might remember Jesus’ approvingly avouching those who’ve “left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake ” (Mk 10:29).
Venturing abroad to bless others and communicate the virtues of God’s Kingdom might make scant sense to Ann Coulter, whose heart commendably aches over this Republic’s blatantly straying from its Judeo-Christian moorings. Said venturing, nonetheless, remains one glowingly esteemed earmark of those who’ve pledged themselves to Christ.
Particularly bizarre is her finger-pointing blast that folks like Brantly “slink off to Third World countries, away from American culture to do good works [because] [t]hey’re tired of fighting the culture war in the U.S., tired of being called homophobes, racist, sexists and bigots.” “Christian narcissism” she vituperatively styles it; a gambit to “impress” the “Times’ Nicholas Kristoff” set.
Her evidence for divining these dark motives in the now-Ebola-infected missionary’s heart? She offers none — only her scornful speculation.
“We’re supposed to take care of our own first,” she continues. “The same Bible that commands us to ‘go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel’ also says … ‘You shall open wide your hand to … to the needy … in you land.’ ”
Umm, yeah. Ann nailed that point, as well: Holy Writ does indeed enjoin both responsibilities: tend to “your own”, so to speak; and reach out to the multitudes the world-over, too.
But, different individuals, led by God’s Spirit, will settle on different ways to fulfill that twin mandate. It’s as if, acknowledging that former “Go ye” charge, she then marches polemically onward as if it’s not particularly relevant, after all. Move along, Christians — No “Great Commission” to see here!
All the same, Christ’s explicit command to blanket the planet with His”good news” endures. Resoundingly (Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, Acts 1). Even more authoritatively than Ms. Coulter’s contrarian grousing. Time and again, portions of Jesus’ parting words take issue with her.
This uncomfortable, internecine episode sounds a cautionary note for Tea Party/Reagan-loving/Constitutionalist Conservatives: Beware making anything your lodestar – any style, preference or earthly ideology – to the exclusion of God’s unsurpassed word. It alone is the standard by which we’re to ruthlessly filter all things.
“Today’s Christians …,” summarizes Ann Coulter, “need to … remind themselves every day of Christ’s words: ‘If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.’ “ I’m hoping that heads-up prepared Dr. Kent Brantly for ridicule from one of America’s most popular, most visible commentators– who also happens, bewilderingly, to be his sister in Christ.