Those of you who know me, know that reading and I are not friends. We may have dated in middle school, but by seminary we had long since gone our separate ways. It may, then, come as a shock to you that what follows is a review of and the suggestion that you read a book.
The book in question is Salvation on the Small Screen? 24 Hours of Christian Television by Nadia Bolz-Weber from whose blog, Sarcastic Lutheran, I shamelessly steal. She is a leading voice in what seems to be emerging in mainline denominations, and is the mission developer at House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, Colorado.
Her task, simply enough, was to watch 24 consecutive hours of the Trinity Broadcast Network and write a book about her experience. She notes in the book that, in a very unfortunate set of event, she had to do the research step twice; for which she no doubt has a jeweled crown awaiting her. Having met her over a Kaliber a few years ago and "gotten to know her" by reading her blog I was expecting a snarky look at the depth of perversion that is TBN. What I found was an hilarious, yet insightful tour of the inherent brokenness of a network that so clearly skews the message of Jesus, and yet has such a profound impact on so many.
While the humorous thoughts and running commentary of Nadia and her friends kept the book in my hand long after I give up on most books, the most most important pieces of critique were often written such that it could easily be made any who attempts to proclaim the Good News. Questions like: What makes something Christian? As one who lives off the gifts to God of another, to what level of lifestyle am I called? Is Donatism (4th century heresy that said the efficacy of the sacraments is dependent on the morality/faith of the celebrant) alive and well in 21st century America?
Please buy this book. Please read this book. If you live anywhere near me and have as many as 4 - 24 hour Christian broadcast networks read, mark, learn and inwardly digest this book. If will no doubt help you understand the appeal of TBN and its cousins as well as offer some illuminating questions for your own ministry.