Saturday, 16 September 2017

The ESPN Topic

From a brief period in the early 1980s (two years), and around 2010 (3 years)....I had ESPN.  Most of my life....I've live outside of the US without the ESPN option.

If you watched ESPN for first twenty years of existence (it started up in 1979).....they just ran plain sports.  You could turn it on at 1AM and find a soccer game or some rugby match being covered.  During NFL season....they covered injuries, and the leftover news from the weekend.  It was a simple formula.

By 2010, on fifty-odd occasions that I did view the network....it was hit-and-miss.  They were starting to add comments that went beyond sports.  If some NFL player got into a wife-beating episode....you could expect ESPN to find two experts and have some twenty-minute moderated chat over a non-sports topic.  If some Yankees guy got busted for drugs....they'd go and find two lawyers to chat for half-an-hour over drug-abuse and legal consequences.

In a way, you could predict....week by week....they were edging toward a political agenda.  That agenda?  It would be toxic for probably a quarter of the viewers.  Why watch something that doesn't appeal to you.  So viewers left.  Advertisers realized the loss and demanded less pay-scales.  The network, without any thought over where this was leading them....was losing money.

Here's the thing about economics.  If you build semi-conductors or chainsaws....that's your core situation.  You don't want to have politics in the middle of selling your product.  A guy shouldn't have to stand there at the store and look at a chainsaw that he'd like to buy.....realizing that it's attached to such-and-such political theme.  It's the same way with pizza.....if you come to realize your pizza has to be attached to some political agenda that you can't agree with....you won't buy the pizza.

So I see ESPN today....in a deep pit of trouble.

At some point after this NFL season, and probably after March-Madness....I think the ESPN management folks will go and have a two-day meeting outside of the US (as far away from cameras as possible....maybe even in Moscow).  This whole lost revenue thing and political gimmick? If this continues....the network will have to cut pay by the end of 2018.  They have no choice...dump politics, period.

But ESPN won't be the only network doing this.  My guess is that 2018 will be a harsh year for some other networks, and they will make the same choice.

Religious Provocateurs

Quietly, without a lot of fanfare.....various foundation groups are now coming to grasp that you can turn an entire religious population of folks to a particular political agenda.  It's not simple or an easy route....but you could quietly entice several million Americans into supporting some agenda that a decade ago....they would not have accepted.

The basic route?

You go and find one very impressive minister who talks a good bit and gets people enthusiastic.  The game to be played out is that he isn't there for a church or to save souls.  He's there as part of a structure.....a network....as a middle-guy.

So around this middle-guy minister....you have people of the legal profession.....foundation lobbyists....money-people....and social media types. In a sense, you are building up the tools which the talkative minister uses to connect to the church-based ministers below him.

The foundation money people lay out funding which you can use to have week-long discussion groups at nice resorts.  You send out ten invitations to people with larger congregations (at least a thousand members).  Free hotel deal.....bring the wife along....prayer and spitual discussions....and some injection of political thoughts.

You never go and over-sell the political part of this gimmick.  You simply want these ten ministers and their wives to feel like there's some extra things in life that they ought to be stressing.  Along the talks....you start to break out mental patterns of deacons that some deacons are too old-fashion to realize the new world approaching....so you give these ministers the understanding of how to by-pass those deacons.  In a way, you need them to retire, or be forced out by the remaining deacons.

You talk up social media and innovation.  Maybe your money-handlers will even help to finance a church web-site or some social media endeavor of that church.

You talk up different ways of getting ministers to a leadership level....performing not just church functions but society-like functions.

You talk up cross-denominational efforts and cultural themes.

You start talking about core-community practices....enforcing your standard not just across the church crowd but the local community itself.

You pick out certain individuals who show enthusiasm and capability, and use mentor-skills to bring them to a new threshold or plateau.

You stress youth involvement....involving this new theme introduced.

You use the words awesome, fabulous, breath-taking, impressive, magnificent, stunning, awe-inspiring, majestic and mind-blowing a great deal.  You keep a list of a hundred description words which tend to be used over and over, but people like to hear sermons where the words are used.

The seed of the network is then laid down.  In four years or eight years....you call upon your crowd to deliver.  In the midst of this 'wave'....some folks....even some deacons....will stand there and say 'no' because it's obvious to them that this is a manipulated political agenda.  The ministers caught up in this?  They will show these people the door and suggest they leave.  Some might leave....some might suggest firing the minister, and the deacons might call a meeting to implement the firing.  The fired minister?  He'll call up the network 'chief' who got him all peppered-up on social causes, and they will work to find him another church.

Religious provocateurs?  Yes.  That's the simple term to use.  As much as Jerry Farewell did a marginal job to bring a number of Christian conservatives to one central view there in the 1980s.....there's another effort underway now to create the new wave....the Christian liberals.

The amusing image here...is that you might profess to be a iron-clad conservative today, and wake up in six years as a member of some church-group, and suddenly find that you've fallen into a crowd of socially active church members, and you feel kinda 'liberal'.  You go home one Sunday....pour a shot or two of some strong alcohol....light up a cigarette....and stand there amazed that some minister has convinced folks that Jesus was a liberal.  After a long bit of pondering and thinking....you eventually come to realize that the only way this could work is if you were deceived, and then you kinda wonder....how this was possible?

So....you might want to pause and think over things that you often hear on a Sunday.  Some of the Jesus-chat....might be a opening line for a provocateur message.