The kind of character cults she describes are just about absent in “mainline” Protestantism, Black Protestantism (there are some obvious exceptions within the health-and-wealth world), Catholicism and different U.S. non secular our bodies. By coincidence, Rodney Palmer, an American Baptist who teaches preaching at Palmer Theological Seminary, echoed her issues just last week in an article for the progressive Baptist Information World web site.
Inevitably, Beaty has a lot to say concerning the media that we practitioners and customers ought to ponder.
She’s a well-marinated evangelical as writer, former print managing editor of flagship Christianity As we speak journal and at present a New York-based acquisitions editor with Baker Publishing Group, one of many majors whose Brazos Press division printed “Celebrities.” (Observe the corporate’s different guide imprints: Baker Books, Baker Educational, Bethany Home, Chosen, Revell.)
For that reason, The Man finds particularly newsworthy — and gutsy — Beaty’s chapter treating the evangelical guide business, which is claimed to pour “jet gas” on the kind of fandom, branding and advertising she decries.
The underside line, right here: This bite-hand-that-feeds angle alone provides a powerful story theme that journalists may draw from this guide. By her account, the enterprise is rife with inferior merchandise from huge names, underpaid and unacknowledged ghost writers, plagiarism and gambits to goose gross sales numbers that border on fraud. What do business leaders say in response?
In any other case, Beaty provides a notably perceptive evaluation of celebrityhood, together with the all-too-frequent non secular injury, psychological twists and ethical rot it inflicts on the celebrities themselves. Naturally, she surveys among the ensuing money-grubbing, energy performs and sexual scandals.
The nub of her case: Movie star is just not merely some useful instrument to get the Gospel out. It workouts “extra energy over the consumer than the consumer has over it. It seems to be a wild animal — crafty, slippery, and insidious. And that wild animal is now tearing up the home of God from the within out.”
Apart from the late Rev. Billy Graham, the celebs she examines have restricted fame exterior their non secular subculture. The typical American might have idly seen a few of a Joel Osteen telecast, heard a few Rick Warren or Tim Keller bestseller, seen an advert for a Beth Moore look or learn information gadgets that guys named Carl Lentz and Ravi Zacharias are in bother. However these personalities, so influential with their followers, don’t rank up there with Justin Bieber, Bob Dylan or Kanye West (whose non secular involvements additionally get point out right here). Criticism: This guide wants a reader-friendly index to maintain the gamers straight!
Like so many in her youthful era, Beaty is sort of candid about associated wariness towards twenty first Century evangelicalism. A conversion expertise in 1998 swept this United Methodist youth into the evangelical world as a fan of its famed preachers, writers and musicians. Now she understands the “spiritually harmful” aspect of the “evangelical consumerism” that she herself embraced, when church buildings mimic secular celebrityhood relatively than difficult it.
Beaty is equally ambivalent about even describing herself with an “evangelical” label that’s been “sullied by political alliances, by central whiteness and resistance to racial justice, by a management tradition that appears to reward bullyish males and silences ladies.” It’s attention-grabbing that, not like different evangelical criticism writers, she barely mentions President Donald Trump.
Is there no hope? She provides: “Bizarre persons are the first method God has labored in and thru the world over the centuries,” and such of us made doable her personal persevering with dedication to the Christian religion.
I’ll finish with some extent of non-public privilege: The Faith Man is more and more irritated by too many Protestants’ erasure of the road between worship of the Dwelling God and mere leisure, with these night time club-style performances on Sunday mornings. Their perspective is infesting modest neighborhood congregations with parishioners’ tic of applause for musicians that carry out throughout worship. Exception: Be at liberty to laud musicians’ flag-wavers as soon as the benediction has formally concluded the service!
FIRST IMAGE: From the Facebook page of Lakewood Church in Houston. The Rev. Joel Osteen on stage with hip-hop celebrity Kanye West.