In an inspiring display of bipartisan bridge-building, talk radio personality Rush Limbaugh has accepted Jim Wallis' invitation to deliver a keynote address at Sojourners' Mobilization to End Poverty conference in April.
"I've always said the monologue of the extreme right is over, and a new dialogue has begun," said Wallis. "Well, that dialogue is about to get a whole lot louder."
Limbaugh, longtime champion of conservative media, announced his acceptance of the invitation on his daily radio show. Interrupted occasionally by call-ins of incredulous listeners, Limbaugh detailed months of off-the-record conversations with Wallis during which the two forged a deep friendship despite political, theological, philosophical, ideological, ecological, anthropological, eschatological, and soteriological differences. That dialogue came to a head one night when an anguished and sleepless Limbaugh called Wallis after 3:00 a.m., seeking spiritual solace.
"I responded like any good evangelical would," said Wallis. "I told him he should read his Bible. And then I hung up and went back to sleep."
Vexed but desperate, Limbaugh grabbed his trusty KJV, fanned it open at random, closed his eyes, and thrust his index finger upon whatever page it might find, landing upon this passage from James 5:
Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter.
"I admit, of all the verses for him to read, this passage sounds a bit harsh-especially in the King James," said Wallis. "But with 2,000 verses on poverty in the Bible, Rush was bound to hit one of them."
Limbaugh's response to the Word was swift and dramatic: "Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount."
As part of Limbaugh's dramatic change of heart, he has reciprocated Wallis' speaking invitation by naming him the new co-host for his daily radio show, giving it a more faith-based focus.
"The way Kathy Lee needed Regis, that's the way y'all need Jesus," said Limbaugh. "That's what Jim will bring to the show on a daily basis-that good ole' Red Letter Christian gospel!"
Limbaugh further detailed his plans to team up with Sojourners and others to fight domestic and global poverty, issuing this challenge to all Dittoheads in a recent broadcast: "I want everyone within the sound of my voice to call upon their members of Congress to cut the number of Americans living in poverty in half in the next 10 years, and to support America's commitment to the Millennium Devleopment Goals. ... And always remember to recycle. ... Oh, and one last thing: fur is murder."
Watch a video sneak preview of Rush's speech at the Mobilization to End Poverty:
With Mobilization attendees and legions of conservative talk radio fans both reeling from this dramatic turn of events, many are asking what other surprises are in store for the Sojourners conference.
Anonymous sources have confirmed that TV talk show host Stephen T. Colbert (pictured) will be delivering the prayer of invocation to kick off the event. Also, Bono has cancelled the free U2 concert for emerging leaders due to lack of interest. Instead, band members The Edge, Larry Mullins Jr. and Adam Clayton will accompany Jim Wallis in leading the young people in a sing-a-long of church camp fireside favorites. "Arky Arky" anyone?