Rebecca Miller had a good post the other day about Celebrity Christians and how other Christians do and should deal with that little wrinkle. I personally have never been a big fan of that concept. It’s part of the feminine aspect of the modern church that I find squicky. That whole “Ooooh, It’s BETH MOORE!!! Let’s go hear her speak” makes me feel like we are turning Christianity back into High School and have annointed Popular Kids whose parties we all want to get in to. It’s especially weird to me that these people are preaching some form of the Gospel and charging a lot of money for it. But this is America and finding a way to charge a lot of money for something is what we do here. As long as nobody is FORCED to pay I’m good with it. From a distance.
But then I was in the checkout line at Publix the other day and I saw my all-time favourite Christian Celebrity on the cover of People Magazine whinging about how she will no longer be able to feed the eight children she chose to bear now that the third (or fourth) iteration of TV show has been cancelled. I remember how, well into the run of the last iteration, round about the same time she and her (now ex) husband were buying a mansion in Pennsylvania on the QT, they were STILL going to various churches and crying poormouth, passing the offering plate and charging $20 for photographs. People were enthralled by their celebrity and women on Social Security and women who make no money at all were all forking over to keep the Gosselins in high style.
My mom was one of the women who, for a long time, thought Kate Gosselin was a great Christian with a wonderful testimony. After all, she didn’t abort any of those babies and there were Bible verses taped to the refrigerator of the Gosselin home. But then when Christian Celebrity wasn’t good enough and Kate made a play for “real” stardom, my mom and all those women like her soured on the whole idea.
Now, though, that the TV money is no longer rolling in, I suspect we’ll see Kate back in the church. Oh, I reckon she won’t come to local churches anymore but those churches will advertise her speaking engagements at whatever auditorium is large enough to book enough seats to make it worth Kate’s time. Because Jesus always welcomes back His lost sheep. Even when their main aim is to fleece the other sheep in the pen.
I think that’s why I get nervous about Christian Celebrities. I remember being a kid and watching my Grandma Doc by cooed at and petted by Tammy Faye Baker on the PTL club. I knew my grandma had no money to pay her bills (my dad and his brothers and sister were forever on the phone about it) and rarely gave presents to us but she still was happy to keep Jim and Tammy Faye’s “ministry” funded. We all know how that turned out. I guess it seems to me that more often than not the Christian Celebrities start serving that Other Master, that love of Mammon. And then we’re all in a weird place because these people we’ve programmed ourselves to revere as prime examples have morphed into the prime example of what Jesus told us to avoid.