Wednesday, April 22, 2015

a Teddy Roosevelt quote about critics and 1910 speech--"It is a bad thing for a nation to raise and to admire a false standard of success", revisiting Result Source

As we've revisited Teddy Roosevelt's speech that made mention of "the man in the arena" we've considered whether advocates for Mark Driscoll could or should attempt to appropriate that axiom with reference to the man.  That Driscoll's book turned out to be full of ideas that weren't his but that weren't adequately credited in first print editions has been fairly well established here and elsewhere.

Just as it seemed the controversy surrounding the subject of Mark Driscoll and plagiarism was dying down another controversy erupted.

There was a relatively quick response from the Mars Hill Board of Advisors and Accountability simultaneously admitting the contract was set up, that it was not illegal but that it was unwise and would not be repeated.

That thematically leads us, actually, into another part of Roosevelt's 1910 speech:

  Nevertheless, while laying all stress on this point, while not merely acknowledging but insisting upon the fact that there must be a basis of material well-being for the individual as for the nation, let us with equal emphasis insist that this material well-being represents nothing but the foundation, and that the foundation, though indispensable, is worthless unless upon it is raised the superstructure of a higher life. That is why I decline to recognize the mere multimillionaire, the man of mere wealth, as an asset of value to any country; and especially as not an asset to my own country. If he has earned or uses his wealth in a way that makes him a real benefit, of real use- and such is often the case- why, then he does become an asset of real worth. But it is the way in which it has been earned or used, and not the mere fact of wealth, that entitles him to the credit.
            It is a bad thing for a nation to raise and to admire a false standard of success; and their can be no falser standard than that set by the deification of material well-being in and for itself.  [emphases added]

Roosevelt had a specific false standard of success in mind but we would not range far from his intent in suggesting that any false standard of success would be a bad thing for any people to praise.

Like Result Source rigging your way to a spot on the New York Times bestseller list?  A false standard of success, Roosevelt declared, was a bad thing for a nation to raise and admire.  How much more then, perhaps, could this be said about those Christians who might admire the success and activity a man whose status was bought rather than earned?  And while Mars Hill insisted it never again resorted to Result Source let's not forget the iPad Mini offer. 

Now we'll just skip past the part where Roosevelt's speech touched on the necessity of an active and responsible political class and a responsible press because Wenatchee the Hatchet largely agrees.  It's the part that people quoting Roosevelt might not remember was in the speech because reading Roosevelt advocate for an active and responsible press/journalistic group was probably not why they were reading the speech to begin with.

We'll get back to Teddy, but let's revisit that Result Source was not the only promotional approach Team Driscoll resorted to.  Though not returning to RSI for the next big Driscoll book, Who Do You Think You Are featured another promotional campaign that was noteworthy, featuring the offer of an iPad Mini, pre-loaded with Driscoll books, and all you had to do to enter to win it was do something like, well, Driscoll explained it thusly:
Monday giveaway: Win an iPad mini!
 It’s gonna be a fun week on Every weekday this week, I’m giving away a free prize to celebrate the release of Who Do You Think You Are? We’ve never done anything quite like this before—and who knows if we’ll ever do it again—so enjoy!

To start things off, today’s winner will receive a brand new iPad mini, pre-loaded with some of my books.

To enter, all you have to do to enter the contest is share the following phrase on your favorite social network and/or submit a review on Amazon, then submit the form below. We'll accept entries until 11:59 p.m. tonight (Pacific).

One can now wonder whether those pre-loaded Driscoll books have since had their citation errors fixed.

So as indicators of a status gained by, well, contracts and stunt promotions, it's a little hard to imagine that if Teddy Roosevelt were alive today he would necessarily endorse his quote about critics being applied to a guy like Mark Driscoll.  We can't be sure, of course, but it's a point that might be worth bringing up as we approach the 105th anniversary of the speech. 

But there is, in fact, one more thing to consider from Roosevelt's speech on its anniversary and whether it might be applicable to a man like Mark Driscoll as, no doubt, some of his fans may still hope.

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