Influencers

For in him we live and move and have our being.

Acts 17:28

Our days might come to 70 years, or 80 if our strength endures…

Psalm 90:10

By Dr. Jim Ferguson
I didn’t know the term influencer until the last year or so. Perhaps this is because I am largely absent from social media. Sometimes “news” items describe people as influencers, so I researched the term and the definition is straightforward. An influencer is a person or thing that influences someone. By that definition, advertising is a technique used to influence us. And make no mistake, we are mightily influenced, even manipulated, by the surveillance capitalists of Silicon Valley (Facebook, Twitter, Google, Amazon).

I was recently challenged by the question, “who” are the five influencers in your life? I consider this a more relevant question than what “things” influence your life. The writer in Guideposts averred that the people you spend the most time with are the principal influencers in your life. That seems logical. Sheepishly, I admitted that my first thought was of my wife Becky. I do spend more time with her than anyone else. I’m hopeful the Lord understands this hierarchy of thought. After all, I am more a creature of the here and now rather than “the world to come” (a Jewish concept).

In the header, I quote Paul debating the epicurean and stoic philosophers in Athens during his 2nd missionary journey. Paul was a passionate influencer for Christ. He was a learned man and no shoddy philosopher as the Greek’s learned. With a little research I discovered that Paul was actually quoting a pre-Socratic philosopher from Crete named Epimenides. What a cutting barb to quote one of their own philosophers in his argument for Christ. And in Act 17:22 Paul began his apologetic defense of the Way by acknowledging that these elite philosophers seemed “very religious.” Again, research tells me this phrasing is only used once in the Bible and contextually could be complementary or cynically imply superstition. Some of my critics should similarly be wary of my apologetics.

Some years ago I happened upon a perspective called panentheism (not pantheism). One explanation of this complex term is that everything exists within the created sphere of God. Even evil. It is gratifying that I stumbled upon the same conclusions of reality as Epimenides and Paul, and demonstrates a Fergism: “Very few things have not been thought of before!”

Recently, a reader railed that I write about things that are not explicitly “medical.” Actually, his comments were poorly conceived and not worthy of a reply, but it made me reconsider the power of hatred. There is little I can do or say to someone who thinks I should just go to the back of the bus and shut up. Professor Harold Black and I have both pushed back against leftist intolerance and cancel culture. We still have freedom of speech and thought at The Knoxville Focus.

Influencers abound in the media under the ruse of “news.” CNN and MSNBC and the NYT are still protecting the odious Andrew Cuomo. Tony Fauci flip-flops daily in his “science” proclamations, and POTUS signs anything his non-elected influencers put in front of him.

I was keeping my Grans last week and watching what they were watching. In other words I was keeping an eye on their influencers. Cartoons are different than when I was a kid. Gosh, that sounds “old” to make that analogy!

I grew up with Merrie Melodies and Looney Toons. I learned to appreciate classical music from Bugs Bunny and Heckle and Jeckel. I learned the concept of a muse watching the tiny devil and angel on opposite shoulders of a cartoon character. As these influencers whisper into the character’s ear, his conscience struggles to choose right or wrong. I don’t see that in today’s moral relativism which eschews an absolute. But I’m old school and also labeled as a racist, sexist, homophobe and a bigot because I disagree with the left’s manipulative political correctness, wokeness and the rejection of free speech.

About 25 years ago my wife influenced me to begin listening to Rush Limbaugh. His bedrock conservative principles resonated with me, so I became a regular listener. If you never tried Rush it’s too bad because he died last week after living threescore and ten. Limbaugh was a big guy who lived large. His bombast turned off some, but this was his shtick. And he was a virtuoso influencer and articulator of conservative principles.

President Trump was an influencer of Americanism. He opposed leftists, big tech oligarchs, the crony capitalists of Wall Street and the Washington elites. And they hated him for it.

President Trump in many ways reminds me of President Andrew Jackson who was also despised by the establishment. No man is without flaws, but I would choose either of these presidents over the likes of Romneys, McConnells and Cuomos of the world. And as Texans freeze from frozen windmills and solar panels covered with snow, and Chicago style murders arrive in Knoxville, history will vindicate President Trump, not AOC or “blue” governors and mayors.

Last week I listened to the impassioned plea of a Knoxville woman for more police presence in her neighborhood and for people to cooperate with the investigations of murdered Knoxville children. Even Minneapolis is having second thoughts of defunding the police. Folks, there are consequences for the choices we make.

As a writer, a teacher and a doctor, I claim the title of influencer, though you won’t find me on Instagram! But as I conclude this essay I want to return to those who influence me the most. These include my wife and my Grans with whom I spend the most time. I also list family and some trusted friends, and my readers, who I vicariously spend time with writing these columns.

However, in this new year I’ve pledged to spend more time in the Word. I’m seeking the wisdom of The Great Physician and principal Influencer.

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