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Bryan Preston

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August 7, 2014 - 8:08 am
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Ann Coulter used her national megaphone to trash Dr. Kent Brantly Wednesday. Brantly is the American doctor who traveled to Liberia to use his medical skills and training to serve the poor there. He and Nancy Writebol served patients who have Ebola, and have now come down with the deadly virus themselves.

Coulter can be a genius one day and a fool the next. In this column, she takes the latter route.

coulter-idiotic

 

Coulter’s basic argument is that Dr. Brantly should have stayed home and served in Texas instead of Africa, because it’s safer to serve here.

That’s not necessarily true on the border. But missionary service isn’t always about doing the safe thing. It’s about being obedient to God. Being obedient to God is often the riskiest thing a Christian can possibly do.

Coulter accuses Dr. Brantly of “Christian narcissism.”

Right there in Texas, near where Dr. Brantly left his wife and children to fly to Liberia and get Ebola, is one of the poorest counties in the nation, Zavala County — where he wouldn’t have risked making his wife a widow and his children fatherless.

But serving the needy in some deadbeat town in Texas wouldn’t have been “heroic.” We wouldn’t hear all the superlatives about Dr. Brantly’s “unusual drive to help the less fortunate” or his membership in the “Gold Humanism Honor Society.” Leaving his family behind in Texas to help the poor 6,000 miles away — that’s the ticket.

Today’s Christians are aces at sacrifice, amazing at serving others, but strangely timid for people who have been given eternal life. They need to buck up, serve their own country, and remind themselves every day of Christ’s words: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.”

There may be no reason for panic about the Ebola doctor, but there is reason for annoyance at Christian narcissism.

Coulter’s column makes me wonder whether she really believes in God or not, or if her God is actually a country and not a supreme being. That would be idolatry, of course.

The Christian missionary call crosses borders, and is as old as Christianity itself. It’s Christianity 101.

Top Rated Comments   
The other annoying thing about this column is that it will inevitably we held up by MSNBC and CNN as evidence of conservative heartlessness.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's a click-bait column...and a cruelly silly one at that. The logical conclusion – not just for Christian missionaries, but for all American efforts – is do nothing outside our borders because there is always going to be some problem within them...which is stupid...you don't have to be a practicing Christian to see this as fundamentally Un-American.

I should also note that the “first Ebola in America” meme from the media isn't true. It's the first infected person brought to America, but there is already Ebola in America. Where do they think all these serums come from? Scientists are working with Ebola in several labs...and probably incinerating a lot of monkeys as they work toward a treatment. There's probably a better chance of someone spreading Ebola in a lab, after working with samples for months and getting too comfortable...everyone is on hyper-alert around Dr. Brantly.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
Mr. Preston, neither Ms. Coulter nor you have ever been accused of sugar-coating a thought. She was harsh, even shocking, and that's her normal style for better or worse.

I took her to be making two points: 1) there is an incredible amount of work for Christians to do here in American and nobody seems to be doing it, and 2) is it possible that there is in fact a thread of adventure-tourism in some of our missionary choices? Reasonable points I thought, though, again, harshly delivered.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (109)
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I don't know if she worships America itself as a God or not, but if she weren't Christian, I doubt she would have written Demonic largely in defense of various Christians in France, being more likely to support the Jacobins largely because they weren't Christian.
5 weeks ago
5 weeks ago Link To Comment
Look at the isolation gear Dr. Brantly was wearing in Liberia as he treated his patients. Even his wrists are taped. And still he got Ebola. Clearly it does not stop transmission for health workers. And why did the workers helping Dr. Brantly off the ambulance at Emory wear the same isolation gear if Brantly was wearing it? It clearly is because they know that the suit alone does not guarantee safety. And why is Dr. Brantly being placed in a reverse ventialtion room, if Ebola cannot transmitted airborne? And if just in case it MIGHT be transmitted airbourne, are they incinerating the exhaust of the reverse ventilated room? That would be necessary (despite arguments that Ebola is so very fragile). But that's not been addressed.

What really gets me is all the "It's Impossible!" propaganda. They did the same with HIV back before it went epidemic.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
When my father-in-law was in Hawaii prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he was part of a group that took supplies to the leper colony on Molokai that Father Damien had established in the 1800s. Father Damien eventually contracted the disease and died in 1889.
'Stupid narcissist.'
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
But didn't he stay the rest of his life in the colony he chose to be a servant to?
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
Didn't the charities that sent Dr. Brantly know, before they sent him, that there was a risk he count contract Ebola? And send him anyway? So why blame him for the costs when it was their choice to send him?
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
I've been on mission trips and I've stayed home and worked here. It's not a question of doing one or the other. It's more a question of where you think your gifts, talents, and abilities will best serve at the time. It's clear that the good doctor had some ability working with viral infections which could be put to good use combatting ebola over there.
Was there a risk? You bet'cha. There are risks working in the poor rural and inner-cities of the U.S. as well, some which will leave your wife just as much a widow and your kids just as much orphans. The folks I know don't go out of wanting to look the hero, but out of seeing a need that you can help fill.
One last thought: I don't think it's exactly a case of work being ignored here, but I have noticed how much more difficult it is to do here with regulations, legalities, and even government assistance programs protecting "their turf." I think the Church has ceded far too much benevolent work to government, but, having done so, it's very difficult to try to take some of it back.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thanks for the thoughtful comments. Firstly, I don't know, despite the few comments or articles that purport to explain it, when Dr. Brantly went to Africa, or what he had expected to be treating there, or why he was working with Ebola (it could just have been treating the disease in front of him, or it could be that he was asked to bring some sort of expertise to the Ebola epidemic).

Secondly, Christian medical missionaries in African jungles are sort of the Navy Seals of Chrsitian work, and there is a certain cachet that invariably accompanies that work. And sometimes, if you are in a thrid-world country, missionary work may provide a grander lifestyle that anything you could achieve, or want to display in the US.

And especially, I appreciate that you did not use the word "call" in referring to how and to whom Christians choose to display the love of Christ. I myself know at least one missionary pastor who was "called" by the force of presuasion by his wife and his pastor and a few friends over the course of a couple of years, who all wanted him to go despite his own indisposition and arguments to the contrary. And he was unprepared (or poorly prepared), unqualified, and unrealistic about his expectations. And furthermore he seems to have looked at the move as nothing much more than changing jobs and localities. And he was very unhappy, stressed out, overworked and utlimately I think crushed by the experience, and looked very depressed and even angry when he finally decided to return home with his family.

So my point in saying this is to all those who say things like "How dare you question the Holy Spirit who calls whom He will." And "My God comes first before all, so don't question the propriety of His calls to his servants". And things like that. I've seen "calls" that were seemingly bogus, and I've seen missionaries who nevver recieved a "call" but only though it was a good and right thing to do, and were successful.

We are called to offer Christ water when we encounter him, as our neighbor, not to go far and wide searching. It is my opinion that Christianity, more than anything else, calls for ad hoc working love; and not stepping past thousands of needy to help thousands of needy elsewhere. As Christianity spreads, then the local Christians will help their own neighbors. The Samaritan only happened upon the injured man; He didn't go seeking out one. I would applaud so-called missionary medicine more (and I do know some good efforts in various third-world countries), if I didn't see the dearth of free-gift medical volunteering in local communities here. And this was, I think, what Coulter was, no matter how grossly, addressing.

And finally, about the bureaucratic difficulties with local work in the US, in my experience the bureaucratic hustle in Christian work is as difficult and turfy as Wal-Mart or Walgreen's.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
A Texas doctor who had moved to Liberia to work for a medical charity has been infected with the deadly virus ebola.


Dr Kent Brantly, who moved to the country before the outbreak, is now being treated for the disease at a Liberia hospital as news that one of the West African nation's most respected physicians has died from the virus.


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2707141/Texas-doctor-moved-Africa-help-ebola-patients-contracted-disease-spread-Nigeria-infected-businessman-boarded-plane.html#ixzz39kdcRexE
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(Quote dated 7/26/14)
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
If you see someone in need and your heart impels you to go to their aid that's wrong? No, that's right.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
Lots of Hate for Ann for her opinion.
Is she not entitled to it?
I thought only the Left were the opinion police.
By the way, from 2005, SOME in Africa want financial aid to STOP:
www.spiegel.de/international/spiegel/spiegel-interview-with-african-economics-expert-for-god-s-sake-please-stop-the-aid-a-363663.html
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
So Ann gets her opinion, and no one else? Sheesh.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
Disagreement is not "hate". That's ghetto talk. It's ignorant and dishonest and disgusting.

6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thanks for the link. It was very interesting.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
It is the left that assumes that disagreement with someone's viewpoint is hate. She is entitled to her opinion, and we are entitled to say why we think she's wrong.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
Quote:

Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.
(--Daniel Patrick Moynihan)
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
Africans appreciate the help. They are real people with hopes and dreams and responsibilities who work harder than most people can imagine. Coulter and especially Trump, the complainers, alone could finance dozens of field clinics, complete with air conditioning to help the medical staffs physically cope with stress of working in sweltering bio suits in hot climates. It would help. Field clinic kits with all the necessaries including ac and generators are immediately deployable, just waiting for funding for purchase and transport. These missionaries have forced the issue, and long overdue. No one cared until now when everyone is terrified they'll catch it, too. Maybe now feel the terror Africans have been feeling? What is it worth in one's illness, struggling to survive, to know someone came so far to help?
Ann should consider for a moment that perhaps the 'needy' people 'at home' in a closer neighborhood have not felt the need to cry out to God for help as desperately as those people in West Africa?
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
I was upset to read her column yesterday, mainly because I think she has no idea what she is talking about, and also because "what business is it of hers why the doctor and his family chose to be in Africa?" I may be wrong, but I think his family was there as a unit for some time before Ebola appeared. They were sacrificially helping medically in an unsung daily way before any of this happened. I also think (may be wrong) that the wife and children went back to TX when they were judged to be in danger. Christian doctors do not run for the hills when the going gets tough (at least if they have any backbone). Coulter makes it sound as though he went over there to be an Ebola-fighting hero, at the expense of his family. (All of this also applies to the female victim who was already there working for the people.)

The bottom line is that each of us makes choices which have consequences (foreseen or unforeseen). The freedom to choose means the responsibility to deal with the consequences. Coulter makes it sound as though missionaries do what they do for the sole reason that they might somehow be seen as heroes. Human behavior and motivation are way more complex than that. He gets a fatal disease because he chose to help many people on a daily basis. Yes, let's blame the victim. That is so constructive.

Guess what, Ann: "there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy."
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
Coulter's words remind me of the polemic of a quasi-Christian sect that derided "Christendom's showy displays of charity." Mere sour grapes from those who show no charity themselves.

Coulter has some sort of self-made religion. The sneering, smarmy provocations of this professional wind-up artist are not Christianity.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
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