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the Speidi monster: ‘celebrity conversion’

spencer and heidi pratt

spencer and heidi pratt

Something inside me bucks against the “post-worthiness” of this post.

Maybe its because I have to begin with the confession that I actually watched an episode of NBC’s I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here, having been hooked by commercial spots depicting a Baldwin brother baptizing Spencer Pratt in “the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” in a South American River.

Maybe its because I have to confess that I even who Spencer and Heidi Pratt – that I am actually familiar with the sordid history of these two less than savory ‘reality’ TV celebrities from MTV’s The Hills.

I know, I know, but cut me a little slack, its a college carryover from when Beth and I could only afford a steady diet of ‘noodles in a bag’ and ‘whatevers on’ television entertainment. (side note: apologies aside, there actually is much to learn about our culture by watching some shows that depict a ‘reality’ that is no true reality, yet somehow resonates with a large number of people).

Enough with the personal disclosures and apologies, take a look at ‘The Gospel Accoding to Speidi“, a biting piece of commentary by Jason Boyett at The Daily Beast, which presents some substantial (and heartbreaking) food for thought:

In case you’ve only been paying attention to Iranian elections and other events that don’t merit coverage in Us Weekly, here’s a recap: Last week, the (Spencer and Heidi Pratt) appeared as contestants on the first two episodes of NBC’s I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here, during which Montag prayed with Patti Blogojevich (wife of the disgraced Illinois governor), Pratt got baptized by fellow contestant and born-again Christian Stephen Baldwin, and the two of them generally annoyed the other D-list contestants. Then they quit the show. Then they unquit, and then quit again. At some point, Montag was rushed to the hospital with a gastric ulcer, and Pratt alleged that they were tortured. Then he took it back, presumably for contractual reasons.

Montag recovered, thankfully, in time for the publicity tour, during which we learned that the couple is still very committed to Jesus, and that Montag posed for the September issue of Playboy. “God made humans naked,” she told Ryan Seacrest on Monday. “We weren’t even born with clothes!”

But the couple’s awkward public embrace of religion has left some true believers flummoxed. The pro-Christian message that Speidi is espousing becomes garbled when blended with TV’s need for sensation and sleaze. Then again, in an era where the church could use a PR boost, Montag and Pratt are providing Christianity the type of pop-culture credibility that could wrangle new followers. Whether this tradeoff is worth it depends on who you ask . . .

[Click to read the complete article over at the Daily Beast (which is worth reading)]

I think that most people, whether you consider yourself a Christian or not, are likely to watch Speidi’s televised religious spectacle, read about it in the news media, or hear about it around the coffee pot at work, and shrug it off with a dismissive “stupid publicity hungry wanna-be celebrities”.

I get that.  I agree with that because I think it is probably true, but I think there is more here.

I definitely have my own thoughts, but I posted this excerpt mainly because I am curious to see what you pull from Boyett’s article.

. . . . . . .

What does this say about the state of Christianity in America?  How does this influence people’s perception of Christianity?  Or, is all of this so foolish that it is basically meaningless?

And, what I am most intrigued by is your responses to the idea of ‘celebrity conversion’ and the potential influence that it has on our culture.

Is there any truth to Boyett’s statement that, perhaps, “Montag and Pratt are providing Christianity the type of pop-culture credibility that could wrangle new followers”?

If you don’t buy that, do you think you are representative of most Christians?  Do you think that most people in American churches would affirm that the  “pro-Christian message that Speidi is espousing becomes garbled when blended with TV’s need for sensation and sleaze.”?

I am dying to hear your thoughts . . . happy thinking!

  1. Jason
    June 20, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    I’ve recently been churning through something Johnathan Edwards writes about in his “Thoughts on the New England Revival.” He writes a huge section about spiritual pride, how it manifests itself and how careful we should be to not fall into it.

    “He is apt to think that it belongs to him to speak and to clothe himself with a judicial and dogmatical air in conversation, and to take it upon him as what belongs to him to give forth his sentence and to determine and decide, whereas Christian humility vaunteth not itself, doth not behave itself unseemly, and is apt to prefer others in honour.”

    He follows by exhorting members through scripture to be meek and mild, living at peace with one another. He urges that the “sons of thunder” appearance be left to the ministers and preachers – I’m still trying to sort through the practical effects of that argument.

    It’s easy on the surface to step back and blast “speidi” for all their errors after apparently proclaiming Jesus as Lord. When I read this article I can’t help but fear that there are many bloggers poising their venom to attack speidi. They need loving rebuke, and as one pastor mentioned in the article – someone to disciple them into what repentance means. I appreciate Lee not contributing to a potentially pharasaical response on the blogosphere in sparking discussion over the issue.

    I truly hope the Holy Spirit pricked their heart and brought them to light, and these very public sins are followed with great conviction. Surely Jesus has been patient with us, as he was with the fumbling disciples, and as Paul was with the early churches. It’s helpful for me sometimes to think about how there were early churches still proclaiming the necessity of circumcision! God’s mercy and grace is infinite, and I pray the same for the speidi. I’m not advocating total tolerance, but would rather like to term it encouraging discipline and loving rebuke.

  2. June 21, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    Whoa! Check out the grace comin’ from Jason’s comment! You’ve GOT to love that guy. I’ll make this statement: No one can not love Jason, or put positively: Everyone must love Jason. Boom.

    As for my thoughts…

    On American Christianity: I don’t think it necessarily has to mean anything for American Christianity; that is, for true believers. Those with true faith in Jesus will persevere to the end, and those that don’t will not. Time and substance will reveal what is genuine.

    One the perception of American Christianity: I think it does a lot for the perception of Christianity. For better or for worse, our culture has thousands of media outlets to which we look for our information and assessment of the goings-on. What the media chooses to report on is, of course, biased…just like we all are. Some folks who call themselves Christians get more publicity than others, and so people naturally look to them to make their judgments about what Christianity is and is not. So, from that perspective, American Christianity looks to be pretty silly and, for the most part, absent of the Lordship of Jesus.

    That said — we are indeed silly (sinful) people. And there are plenty of instances where someone can point to my life and say similar things. What will always remain is the gospel message, and it is the same for believers and unbelievers alike: Repent and trust in Christ your righteousness, for the kingdom is at hand.

    I’ll add one more thing: We are a culture who worships celebrities. We love them like we love breathing. Inevitably people will follow their pet celebrity and do, wear, and say what they do. If this includes claiming Christ, then they’ll do that too. However, wherever the true gospel is preached, whether or not its with pure intentions, the Spirit will take the word and do as he pleases.

    That was a smattering of thoughts, but there ya go.

  3. June 22, 2009 at 6:43 am

    honestly, I could not have hoped for two comments that better exemplify true grace and discernment towards these two people.

    thanks for smattering, feel free to smatter on this blog any time.

    follow up question:
    any thoughts on the buzz that spreads through the Christian community when it is discovered that a celebrity claims to be a Christian?

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