Posts Tagged ‘celebrity culture’

Indiscretion. Infidelity. Fraud. Scandal. Fallen.

Mark Driscoll. Tullian Tchividjian (Billy Graham’s grandson). Andy Savage. Bill Hybels. Paige Patterson.

Just a few names in a long list of disgraced Christian celebrities. However, we dare not be too quick to point fingers. Christians and the rotten models of church and “ministry” that most believers hold dear are partially to blame: we are so eager to put popular preachers on a pedestal. Inevitably, it’s only a matter of time before pride surfaces amidst the toxic swirl of personality, power, popularity, prestige, pay, pragmatism and politics. I need not elaborate how the ubiquity of social media serves only to amplify the temptation to fame and glory.

And we need not feel too bad for the fallen idols, for most go in hiding briefly before resurfacing again and proudly carrying on in a new public “ministry” (Driscoll, Tchividjian). Patterson was “promoted” to the position of President Emeritus for which he continues receiving compensation and may still get to live on campus [Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary] for free as “theologian-in-residence” (seriously?!! Whatever Patterson is, he is NOT a theologian!). And Savage received a standing ovation for his “confession”. Hybels? He still has a legion of adulating fans and don’t be surprised if he will surface again in another capacity in due time.

Andy Crouch has written a fine piece on why It’s Time to Reckon with Celebrity Power but alas, I fear it will fall upon deaf ears, or at best, call forth for the moment a few earnest promises of more accountability and transparency. However, unless we root out our innate desire to idolize, these sporadic and superficial acts of contrition will not lead to lasting change.

Also: unless we deconstruct the clericalism and institutionalism that breeds a culture wherein superstars are unabashedly promoted and empire building is unashamedly encouraged (perhaps couched in pious clichés), the ground remains fertile for the pernicious weed of “the Christian celebrity” to flourish.

I appreciate Al Mohler’s acknowledgment regarding The Humiliation of the Southern Baptist Convention, and I agree that “the issues are far deeper and wider”, but will there be enough moral fibre to dismantle the old boy’s club and clean up the corridors where money, power and favours flow? What about the immense hurt and damaged lives of the victims?

… somewhere ‘long the way
I got caught up in all there was to offer
And the cost was so much more than I could bear

Though I’ve tried I’ve fallen
I have sunk so low
I messed up
Better I should know

We all begin with good intent
When love was raw and young
We believe that we can change ourselves
The past can be undone
But we carry on our back the burden time always reveals
In the lonely light of morning
In the wound that would not heal
It’s the bitter taste of losing everything
That I’ve held so dear

Heaven bend to take my hand
I’ve nowhere left to turn
I’m lost to those I thought were friends
To everyone I know
Oh they turn their heads embarrassed
Pretend that they don’t see
That it’s one missed step, one slip before you know it
And there doesn’t seem a way to be redeemed

– Sarah MacLachlan, “Fallen”

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