I’m moving towards writing about status, from a Girardian perspective, some time soon. Meanwhile, this post of Canadian pastor/not-pastor Scott Williams, is on the same topic; specifically, it’s about mega-churches and the underplayed celebrity of some evanglical Christian leaders labelled as ‘ordinary radicals.’ It’s about jealousy, envy, hero-worship, desire, man’s search for meaning and purpose, and most of all, status anxiety.
Here are the phrases and sentences that stand out for me:
** “I think I was also experiencing a low-burn jealousy that was to last for many years.”
This is the kind of jealousy we don’t admit to others except in jest, clouded in ambiguity and mixed signals, and we may not even be conscious of feeling it. It’s the kind where we say, “It’s great that he’s doing so well” and then give reasons why we don’t want that exact situation or position, explain why what we have is good enough, explore what it is — about us, about those around us, our circumstances, the system, nature and God — that keeps us from being and getting what we envy.
** “The emerging church movement wants to let you know that it is made up of little people, regular fallible leaders and friends. We want to be known as ordinary radicals — regular people who do extraordinary things.
“Some time ago I happened upon the Ordinary Radicals website, a website featuring some of the most highly regarded thinkers in the North American church.” Scott lists about 15 names of so-called ordinary radicals (I’ve heard of 3 of them), then says,
“When I read a list like that … I am frustrated by the absolute ‘un-ordinary-ness’ of the people it is about. Several of the people on the list are international superstars in the religious world, have been on The Colbert Report and any number of high profile talk shows and television appearances. … Though I genuinely laud the intentions for such projects it is simply symptomatic of the problem in North American faith and culture. We cannot seem to get beyond the love affair we have with celebrity culture. Even in a climate of anti-heroes we are easily infatuated with the cult of personality.”
My thought is that this is the same motivation we have for watching reality TV shows — they too are ‘ordinary people’ we can easily identify with, and yet they’re doing something extraordinary (they’re on national TV, for one), so we can also model ourselves after them, look to them as ideals and the embodiment of our manifold desires (i.e., one desire: to be valued for who we are).