Nancy Dear, I Have One Word For You

The Church of Christ blogosphere has been abuzz the past week since one of its own ministers, Matthew Winkler, was tragically shotgunned in the back by his wife in Selmer, Tennessee. She has confessed to the crime and a motive, but so far only authorities close to the case know what she said and to date they haven’t shared that information with the rest of the world.

Of course, that doesn’t prevent folks from speculating on the “why” (after all, these things must make sense, right?) and everyone from the greeter at Wal-Mart to such paragons of journalistic excellence and integrity as Nancy Grace has their own theory. Personally, I’ll go with the greeter at Wal-Mart after watching Nancy Grace’s spasmodic prancing and preening on CNN last night. You see, Ms. Grace has uncovered the titillating tidbit that is the lynchpin to this investigation–the Church of Christ is a cult and Mary Winkler is its mind-numbed pawn.

How this “fact” escaped the attention of authorities in Selmer is beyond me, but thank God Nancy is around to help move things along. Nancy featured a Baptist preacher on her show a couple of nights ago who indicated that yes, indeed, the Church of Christ does have “cult-like” characteristics, and Nancy left hanging in the air the insinuation that this somehow played into the tragic events in Selmer. Last night she had another Baptist, Dr. Bob Jones (president of fundamentalist Bob Jones University), who to his credit refused to label the Church of Christ a cult, although he did take the opportunity to say that he believed that some Church of Christ beliefs and practices are “unbiblical.”

Enter our own champion and spokesperson, Dr. Rubel Shelly. Our family knows Rubel from our days in Nashville in the early 90s when he was the pulpit minister at the Woodmont Hills Church of Christ (he is now a professor of religion at Rochester College in Michigan). Rubel has a PhD in philosophy from Vanderbilt and is an intellectual stalwart and if anybody could give Nancy a run for her money, surely it would be him.

If he could get a word in edgewise, that is. Try as he might, he was able to do relatively little of that as Ms. Grace, her mind apparently made up before the fact that Rubel was the epitome of the stereotypical knuckle-dragging, wife-beating fundamentalist, dismissed him for the most part with the wave of the hand and a roll of the eyes. The transcript of the show can be found here, and an excellent analysis of the “inquisition” here.

One person whom she could not control as well was Mary Winkler’s lawyer, Steve Farese. Mr. Farese is a dapper Southern gentleman with an interminable drawl who appears to be a barrister who just stepped from the pages of a John Grisham novel. Don’t let the drawl and Southern vernacular fool you–this guy’s got an assortment of long knives tucked away in that silk blazer of his and he knows how to use them. After watching him for a few minutes, I was convinced that if I ever got into a heap of trouble anywhere below the Mason-Dixon line, that he would be the “go-to-guy” of choice.

As to the charge of the Church of Christ being a cult, as a lifelong member I can say that yes, I have met a few of my brethren who were a bit controlling and walked around with a zombie-like stare and their arms rigidly extended looking for someone to choke. And yes, if you check the typical Church of Christ pantry, you’ll find an ample supply of Kool-Aid, but I assure you that we only buy that in bulk from Sam’s Club for the sole purpose of Vacation Bible School each summer.

The fact of the matter is that for the most part, we in the Church of Christ do much more good than harm (witness the grace-filled behavior of the Selmer brethren toward the accused murderer) and are much too loosely organized and disagreeable with each other to ever truly qualify as a cult. We can’t even agree on one-cup versus many cups for communion or whether or not we should have paved parking lots–what chance do we possibly have of ever agreeing on who should be our “Grand and Glorified Leader?”

One thing folks in the Church of Christ will find themselves agreeing on in the next few days is that Nancy Grace is the epitome of a yellow journalism hack and a certifiable spaz. My three sons were howling in laughter at certain points in the show, and Number One commented, “She has way too many people on at once to ever discuss anything in a serious way.”

Nice observation, Number One. CNN should be renamed ADDN (Attention Deficit Disorder Network). Nancy dear, I just have one word for you–Ritalin.

  1. Ed

    I’m sorry that I missed all of those “reality” shows. I quit watching CNN several years ago when I became aware that their coverage of the War was extremely biased and the reporting bordered on mis-information and the telling of non-truths (notice, I did not say lies). Specifically, their coverage of a certain weapon system was grossly inaccurate. So, it does not surprise me that they continue in that vein of operation.

    Unfortunately, the masses don’t question the authenticity of the words that spew forth from CNN and the CoC will be presented with a PR problem for years to come. As you mentioned, the response to this is not words, but action. They are picking a fight and I hope the CoC is smart enough to turn the other cheek and carry out its mission. The CoC has been presented with a unique opportunity to be the best cult around and provide examples for others 🙂

  2. mike the eyeguy


    Yes, I know how you feel about seeing a sermon versus hearing one.

    I forgot to mention that the another fine sermon acted out in recent months was the Church of Christ hurricane relief effort to NO and the Gulf Coast. I double dog dare Ms. Grace to do her next CofC expose on location from Biloxi.

  3. greg

    I’ve seen Nancy Grace on shows like Larry King a number of times over the last couple of years. I always found her annoying, and it didn’t take long to realize she is an idiot. She proved it once again last night.

  4. David U

    Mike, this is as good a post that I have read concerning this whole situation with Nancy Grace. Keep up the good posts! I appreciate your heart and your perspectives.


  5. mike the eyeguy


    I so appreciate that, bless you. I owe my writing skills to God and that fine training that I received at my dear ol’ alma mater, Harding U. (Hail!).

  6. Mark Elrod

    Nice post, Mike. I got the same impression about the ADD thing when she was jumping all over the place last night. She seems to have a hard time focusing on one thing for any length of time.

    She got her 15 minutes of fame from from me, so I’m through with her. If she makes it to her 1-year anniversary on CNN, I’ll be surprise.

    My respect for CNN is waning by the minute.

  7. mike the eyeguy


    Thanks for stopping by and for the kind words–right back atcha BTW. In fact, I have a confession: I ripped off the Kool-Aid idea from you. Thanks in advance for your forgiveness!

    I usually stick with NPR, but I gave Ms. Grace a look last night out of solidarity with Rubel–never again. Regarding CNN, I hear there is another cable news channel out there somewhere–maybe you should switch! 😉

  8. Mark Elrod

    I like NPR too; when I watch the TV news, I usually surf the networks.

  9. DJG



  10. Hoots Musings

    Mike once again you so eloquently summed up things nicely and of course I agree with you.

    You ought to be writing for the masses….who knows, maybe you can replace Nancy Grace on TV some day!

  11. mike the eyeguy


    I take it you’re not an Anderson Cooper fan either? 🙂


    Thanks. Yesterday it seemed like I did write for the masses judging from my stat counter (it was my biggest day ever).

    But I’ll take a pass on the TV gig. The hot seat is not for me–I just want to get back to blogging on basketball. What time is tip-off?

  12. Mark Elrod

    I’m going to defend CNN just a little. I think if you looked at the entire spectrum of shows on the network, there’s something there for everybody. For example, I’ve seen Lou Dobbs and Wolf Blitzer taken to task on both liberal and conservative blogs. Likewise, many of their reporters were some of the worst for rolling over for the White House when the war in Iraq was going well but now they’re not barking for the administration, so they look like they are biased.

    I’m not happy with CNN myself right now and haven’t been for a while, but I think for the most part they are more middle-of-the-road than FOX or MSNBC, the two all-news cable alternatives. But imho, nobody ever likes the cheerleaders for the other team anyway.

    But in Grace’s case, I think she’s just plain sloppy and uninteresting.

  13. mike the eyeguy


    I’m sure that CNN has some serious and respectable journalists as does Fox, but I’ve grown weary of the sensationalism of TV news in general at all levels. The over-the-top coverage of Katrina was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. In fact, it was about that time that I discovered that blogs often have information that is just as accurate sans the manipulation and hype.

    I recently saw “Good Night and Good Luck” and loved it. I was struck at how much less histrionic and manipulative the news was then and how they presumed a reasonable level of intelligence on the part of viewers.

    These days, shows such as Ms. Grace’s aim for the lowest common denominator and seek to titillate rather than educate. Where’s Edgar R. Murrow when you need him?

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