MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (Christian Examiner) -- Philadelphia Eagles' quarterback Tim Tebow told believers to spend less time watching television and surfing social media, but to do more to help change lives, at a middle Tennessee event Saturday with author and filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza.
The two featured speakers drew 2,600 to Tennessee State University for "God's Purpose for America," to declare there is hope for America's future despite the problems the nation now faces http://factn.org/events/gods-purpose-for-america/
D'Souza, an immigrant from India who came to America in 1983 as an exchange student and has since authored several books and produced movies including the controversial Obama's America: 2016, reminded the audience of America's uniqueness as a nation invented rather than inherited.
"In America, a group of people in Philadelphia sat around a table, and they said, 'What kind of a country do we want to have here?' Most countries of the world are the product of accident and force. You look at the boundaries of most countries, they're established by conflicts. But in America, the founders got together and reflected upon what are the core ideas on which this new society would be based," he said.
D'Souza said the founders built the nation on three pillars: liberty of thought, expression, and religious belief; political freedom, which he described as self-government with its core principle of limited government; and economic freedom, interpreted by D'Souza as the freedom to create new things. "For most of history wealth was not created, it was confiscated. Historically, people have gotten rich by taking other people's stuff," he said.
The American Dream is also unique to this nation according to D'Souza. "No other country even has a dream. Ever heard of the French dream? The Chinese Dream? There isn't one," he said.
He claimed today's conservatives are actually liberal since they are defending the liberal principles upon which the nation was founded.
"There are people who consider us to be right-wingers, and extremists and radicals. But we're not radical. Our politics are actually very modern. The American founding was to some degree a liberal experiment," D'Souza said. "It was a revolution. So who are we as conservatives? What are we conserving? We are conserving the principles of the American Revolution. We are conserving a liberal idea. There's nothing radical about that."
Regarding current value system clashes in America, D'Souza stated a new type of liberalism has emerged which defines the term away from the three pillars of the founding fathers and in a way they could not have imagined.
"For example, when the founders spoke about freedom, they didn't mean moral freedom. They didn't mean freedom from moral law," said D'Souza. "The fathers understood that there is a moral order in the universe external to us that makes claims on us. Our job is to try to live up to the principles of that order. We might fail, but it supplies a standard for us.
"This notion of external morality, represented, for example, by the Ten Commandments, this was taken for granted by the founders. But now we have a new liberalism that declares itself in opposition to that moral order that basically says that the inner self defines morality."
The result, D'Souza said, is a fight about America occurring within America. That fight, he believes, is the greatest threat to the nation. Stating that dangers from Islamic extremists are real, it is internal division which prevents the nation from effectively addressing the threat.
"If America were united, we would take our collective fly swatter, and we would deal with it accordingly. The reason that we can't do that is that when we take out our fly swatter, other Americans grab our arms. In other words, we're divided internally, and we are at loggerheads over what America means and over what our future should be," he said.
D'Souza said those adhering to the newer definition of liberalism are not anti-Americans who hate the country. "They love a different America, and they hate the America that we represent. They hate traditional America. They love the America of the recent Supreme Court decision. That's their America," he told the audience.
D'Souza believes solutions to America's divisions can be found in creative capturing of ideologies holding Americans' attention along with awareness of culture.
"We have to realize what is being done to us . . . the political left has recognized that politics is a part of culture . . . and has focused in the last generation not simply in fighting politically but also in taking over the major institutions and instruments and ultimately megaphones of culture."
D'Souza listed megaphones such as the mainstream press, television stations, Broadway, Hollywood, academia, and elementary and secondary schools. "For the left, all of those are instruments of propaganda, and they are instruments of bringing people over to a different point of view."
As an example, D'Souza argued that the gay marriage debate did not start at the Supreme Court but in with characters in comedies and movies. "It started ultimately with persuading people that this is not an alternative way of lifestyle. 'This is a bit like whether you like strawberry or chocolate ice cream. This is just a choice. It's another way of life. Why would we want to persecute people who like strawberry ice cream?' This argument was hammered at us for 25 years," he said.
He further explained conservatives often huddled together focusing solely on which political candidates to support while the political left seized the "high ground" of culture and targeted conservative institutions such as churches.
D'Souza believes the most effective way to fight back is to not merely complain but think of creative ways to provide new institutions which will place conservative ideas in front and make opposing ideologies obsolete.
"One way to defeat the other side is to make it obsolete. What made the rotary phone obsolete was not that people offered critique of the rotary phone. Somebody created the IPhone, and instantly, every other phone was obsolete," he stated.
Realizing a motion picture had potential to reach more people than books motivated him to make "Obama's America: 2016." D'Souza stated he is also working with technology and education to create alternatives.
"We need to have courage. We need to recognize that this is a bigger game than politics." "We're confident that truth will prevail, yes. But truth does need to be heard. If we have really tiny megaphones that whisper and they have big megaphones that blare into everybody's ear, truth will not prevail. A lot of people won't even hear it," D'Souza commented.
"For the first time, certainly in my lifetime, possibly in the history of this country, the American Dream itself is imperiled," but the nation is far from done, he continued.
"It's going to take our creativity, our intelligence, an alertness not just to politics but to culture, and also our prayer - our humility under God."
D'Souza received a standing ovation from the audience before being joined on stage by Tebow.
TEBOW TALKS LEGACY
The Heisman Trophy winner picked up on the theme of Christians taking action explaining that the Tim Tebow Foundation, which utilizes a variety of methods to help needy children around the world, came about after a mentor explained to Tebow that wealthy people become rich by making investments which will earn money even while they sleep.
"I really took that to heart," Tebow said coming up with the foundation as a means by which his desire to help others could happen even while he was doing other things and on a broader basis than what he could accomplish in individual activities by himself.
He explained his life goal of leaving a legacy of helping people as he believes Christians are called to do and not merely focusing on winning football games and championships.
In response to a question from D'Souza as to what gave him the courage to be public about his faith, Tebow, who admitted to being unashamedly competitive by nature, said football is a platform and life would be empty if it was only about winning ball games.
Everyone is a role model, he stated, not just athletes and entertainers. "The question is, 'Am I changing someone's life for the better or worse?'" he said. "I believe in my heart God created us equally and he has a place for each one of us. We're not all called to do the same thing but to do the best with the talents God has given us. Football is something I was given to use as a platform."
Tebow views himself not as an athlete who happens to be a Christian but a Christian has to be an athlete.
Recalling an opportunity he and a friend had to lead a death row inmate on suicide watch to a saving knowledge of Christ, Tebow would like to see Christians argue with each other less and focus more on the greatest commandments of loving God and loving people. If Christians would stop arguing, love Jesus, and help each other, "What could happen?" Tebow asked the audience.
He also emphasized the importance of Christians doing all things with excellence because believers represent God. He encouraged the crowd to spend less time watching television and using social media and instead do other things. "It's not just about feeling. God will work if you get out of your comfort zone," he said.