That Win Bassett is a really good writer. Here’s his LA Review Of Books essay contemplating the meaning of Phil Robertson and his Duck Dynasty. Excerpt:
Robertson devotes almost a third of Happy to discussion of his faith and the role God plays in the success of his family and business life, which are often one and the same. In one chapter, he analogizes the need for forgiveness of his sons’ adolescent mishaps, from alcohol and drugs to reckless driving and breaking hunting equipment, with Luke’s parable of the prodigal son. He greets his eldest child with open arms and a big meal after he returns home, badly beaten by a date’s jealous ex-husband. “My boys might have strayed from God’s path for them at times, but they always had their faith to fall back on,” Robertson writes.
And while he sets aside an entire chapter for his advice to “Share God’s Word,” Robertson isn’t your typical evangelist; or rather, he’s a square peg unfit for the Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell round hole in which unfamiliar viewers would likely try to shove him. He’s a keen student of the Bible, often discussing the text’s application to his life and prescribing a calm faith of love and inclusion fundamentally opposed to dogma of difference and damnation. “[N]o matter how sorry and low-down something might be, everybody’s worth something. But you’re never going to turn them if you’re as evil as they are,” writes Robertson.
Perhaps a better analogy for his theology is that of Will Campbell, who died last month after famously counseling both the Ku Klux Klan and Dr. Martin Luther King. Campbell was known for his tagline, “We are all bastards, but God loves us anyway,” and like Robertson, he frequently called himself a redneck and disliked the title of “preacher.” One of Robertson’s tales, in fact, sounds like it could come from a page in Campbell’s award-winning book Brother to a Dragonfly:
“I’m standing here under a sign that says, ‘Budweiser is the king of beers,’ and everybody’s got their beers here today,” I told them. “But I’m here to talk about the King of Kings. I know I might look like a preacher, but I’m not. Here’s how you can tell whether someone’s a preacher or not: if he gets up and says some words and passes a hat for you to put money in, that’s a preacher. This is free. This is free of charge, which proves I’m not a preacher.”
His disowning of the divine title, however, doesn’t mean Robertson won’t try to tell you about God, though he does so peacefully and peppers it with the humor of someone who spent a lot of time on the opposite side. And like shedding the sheepskin of a backwoods hillbilly, his faith lands him with another label. “[N]ow it’s gotten to where I’m some kind of nut or Bible beater,” he writes. Robertson says he doesn’t care about this perception of him and instead loves revealing how he and his family prioritize their faith and their business. The depiction of living this hierarchy may contribute to the show’s large audience. “You know there are more people who watch the show who aren’t hunters,” Jase Robertson tells Game & Fish Magazine. “I think that’s because we’ve tapped into human life, which is what we’re about. I mean I love to duck hunt, but I love the Lord a lot more, and I love my wife and kids more than I love to duck hunt.”
Man, I love those Duck Dynasty guys. They are great Americans, and I mean that literally.
[H/T: Reader J.B.]