So I was watching American Idol tonight (yes I do watch it) and the whole issue of how Christians interact with the world came up. One of the contestants is a selfproclaimed Christian named Mandisa. She has a decent voice, but isn’t my favorite. Tonight’s theme was 21st century songs and she chose a gospely praise song by a group called Mary Mary. From the moment she started I was uncomfortable. Having existed in the Christian subculture I remember the weirdness of celebrating anything Christian when it appears in the “secular”world (and to try to push anything Christian into that world as often as possible). In fact when that was done, it was celebrated as evangelism, as not being ashamed of Jesus Christ, etc… So I understand her choice in choosing a very preachy praise song to sing on live tv, but I cringe instead of celebrate. Obviously the judges didn’t know what to think. Randy said something about the song choice not working. Paula tried to be understanding of Mandisa’s spirituality, but ended up insulting her. But Simon I think got it right when he called her choice indulgent. As he expounded with another contestants indulgent song choice – this is American Idol and they need to respect that – in other words not make it their personal playground and soapbox.
So why did the whole thing bug me? One – it plays into the sacred/secular distinction that evangelicals have so bought into - only if something is labeled Christian can it be good or serve Christ. Why can’t Mandisa be a good singer for Christ on the show without going outside the assumed bounds and preaching. Two – it shows the lack of respect Christians have for nonchristians. By forcing a very Christian song into an arena where others would not understand it is arrogant (and indulgent). I’m sure Christians were proud of her and will blame antichristian libral bias if she gets voted off. But why can we lament lack of respect for our beliefs when we refuse to respect others’ and force our beliefs on them? I think there is a time and a place for evangelism – one that respects others and allows for dialogue. Tonights drama just reminded me in a small way of how often Christians are out of touch and miss the point.
Labels: Entertainment, Reflections