Pop Culture Prayer Room

I haven’t called Google or anything, but I would be willing to bet that in the last 36 hours, “Miley Cyrus VMA performance” was one of, if not the top search on the web. Everyone is talking about it, and most people (especially those in Christian circles) are outraged over it.

And if it wasn’t Miley’s performance, it was Lady Gaga in a thong, or Macklemore’s gay rights anthem that earned a standing ovation. (And rightfully so, he’s a lyrical genius and that girl that sings on that song with him has serious pipes!) At the very least you heard someone say something negative about how all the guys from NSYNC got fat.

What kind of blows my mind about the response to artists like the ones performing at the VMAs from the Christian culture as a whole, though, is that we act like we don’t expect lost people to act like lost people.

You know they were performing on the MTV Video Music Awards, right? It wasn’t the Dove Awards.

I wasn’t actually watching yet when Miley performed (I turned the TV on just in time for Justin Timberlake — phew!), so I watched it on Youtube later. Did I see something that morally made my insides crawl a little? Yes. But more than anything I was just kind of sad for her.

I wonder what goes on in a heart that acts out that way. I wonder if anyone has even asked. I wonder if she’s just numbing a whole lot of pain — she’s obviously crying out for something. Maybe I’m extra sensitive to it in her case, since we grew up in the same town and had mutual friends in high school. It seems like she should have turned out … different.

And I wonder if any of those people I knew in high school that know her still talk to her. I wonder if they’re among the millions of people posting nasty things about her. I wonder if there’s anybody actually believing for her life and contending for her soul in Heaven.

Why do we feel entitled to talk about celebrities like they aren’t real people? What if that was your sister, or your best friend? Wouldn’t it weigh on you a little differently?

I started thinking about this a few months ago when I was talking about going to see Beyonce in concert and someone brought up that her “Sasha Fierce” alter ego was demonic. I don’t really think that’s true, and I kind of think the whole “all of hip-hop is in the illuminati” conspiracy theory is stupid, but it got me thinking about the way we talk about celebrities like they’re so disposable. And the way we treat them like they’re untouchable, whether we put them on a pedestal or a guillotine. It seems like we’re either worshiping them or wishing death upon them.

We don’t even give them a chance to be better. We put them in the “unsaveable” category and somehow that makes it ok to say awful things about them.

Here’s the reality: they’re in the spotlight, so we’re going to talk about them. We’re going to think about them. We’re going to see their faces plastered on magazine covers every time we check out at the grocery store.

But what if we started talking to Jesus about them? What if no one else is? Maybe we could be hopeful for them where everyone else is hateful.

So I’m taking action. Once a week, this space is turning into a prayer room for celebrities. Artists matter, you guys. They shape the culture that we live in. Their work infiltrates our lives, so we might as well invest back into theirs.

It seems appropriate to start with Miley.

  • I’m praying that she gets tired of searching for pleasure and thrill in the world and finds the wild adventure she was made for in Jesus.
  • I’m believing for the people she needs in order to walk out in that to find their way into her life.
  • I’m asking God to preserve her life even in the midst of rebellion, because he made her for something in his kingdom. Nobody is a mistake.

Will you join me?

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6 thoughts on “Pop Culture Prayer Room

  1. Sara! Great post! Random thought:

    I “missionary dated” a girl when I was 15. I knew I shouldn’t have. She had already had her first tast of alcohol, wore pretty short skirts, and I had even heard her cuss before. But gosh was she cute, and funny too. I convinced myself that I could pry her away from the “dark side”. That simply by spending enough time with me, she would give up her worldly ways, fall madly in love with Jesus (or at least become a Christian), and ride off into the sunset with me. I ignored everything about her that I knew didn’t line up with what I believed in and dove in to saying “gosh” and “dang it” as loudly as I could whenever I could.

    It didn’t work. 3 months later she wanted to dive into the world of sexual exploration and I had to jump ship. And from that moment on I swore to myself that I would never missionary date again.

    That didn’t last long. Before I knew it I was at it again. This time it was with “The Office”. It was too funny not to watch. The writing was just sooo good. The constant jokes and innuendos about sex didn’t effect me. Yea that was me, the teenager struggling to get over an addiction to pornography convincing himself that the sex jokes didn’t effect him. Right.

    And so on I went. Sometimes it was movies, other times it was actors or comedians. But always the same old song and dance. “They’re just so good…”

    I hear so many fellow believers talk about celebrities using terms like “artist” and “talented”, and to me it has always seemed like an excuse for watching or listening to something that they know they probably shouldn’t. At least thats what I did.

    I’m sure Mackelmore is talented, but does it really matter? How much talent should it take to drown out the voice inside saying “this is terrible. this is promoting something sick and making fun of the Truth”?

    How good does a dancer have to be to ignore that fact that their are barely wearing any clothes?

    Now hear me out, I dont want to be an isolationist. I don’t think Christians should stick their heads in the sand and pretend everything is better down there. I want celebrities and athletes and politicians to get radically transformed by the power of the Gospel and start influencing others for Christ.

    So my question is this, can we pray for them without supporting them? Can we believe for transformation without watching their shows or listening to their music?

    That’s not sarcasm thats a legitimate question. Can I pray for someone, like really intercede for them, without staying up to date on what their doing. Without watching the shows or reading the magazines?

    I guess if my question was to be made fit for twitter it would be this: Can we pray for entertainers without be entertained by them?

    Hopefully you hear my heart. We’re on the same team and I agree with everything you said. Your awesome and I love your writing!

    • Codi! Great thoughts. Let me try and address them in somewhat of an orderly fashion.

      (1) There is wisdom in the things you take in regarding media. For example, I YouTubed the performance for the sake of knowing what I was talking about in this post, but I did it away from Noland because the only woman he needs to be seeing in her underwear is me. This is the same reason females do strip club ministry, not males. Make sense? It’s gray and different people have different convictions about what they can handle, but that’s the nature of everyone having their own walk with Jesus. Are there black and white issues? Absolutely. I don’t advocate Macklemore’s cause. But I will still call him talented, because he is. I want to believe for those talents to be used for the Kingdom! I pray that someone wins his life for Jesus. Can you imagine!?

      (2) I’m not usually into using Christian cliches, but for lack of a better phrase, there is a way to be “in the world and not of it.” I am constantly trying to challenge myself with the question, “am I doing this for the sake of purity or is it pharisaical?” i.e., is it appropriate for me in any given scenario to avoid a situation because it will be contaminating or am I operating out of fear or judgement? Do I need to be the Jesus at the table with the sinners and tax collectors, or do I need to avoid this one because I probably can’t handle it? And the answer changes all the time. That’s the nature of abiding.

      But, at the same time, I subscribe to Rolling Stone magazine. Every two weeks I read a new issue cover to cover, and that’s mostly just because I love music! But in the last issue I learned a lot about Macklemore’s life that makes me know how to pray specifically for him. Were there some profanities in the story? Yes. But I feel great about the fact that my relationship with Jesus wasn’t tarnished by me reading that story.

      (3) Can we pray for them without supporting them? Absolutely. You do whatever you want to with your time and money. Don’t buy albums that you don’t want to buy. Don’t watch shows that you don’t want to watch. And more importantly don’t listen to or watch things that you shouldn’t watch, regardless of what you want to do. Part of what I’m doing here is saying, “Hey, here’s the facts of this person’s life, will you believe for them with me?” So honestly, if you want to be safe, you can avoid all media and still come right here every week and pray with us for the lives of influencers to be influenced by the Gospel.

      More often than not, there’s worship music playing in my car and my house. But I’m still reading about what’s going on in the world. I think there’s a way to know what’s going on in Hollywood without being a “fan” of certain music, movies, TV shows or art. I think we’d be missing out on an opportunity to change the world if we didn’t live somewhere in the tension of the two.

      Hope this helps.

  2. Good thoughts Sara. Challenging & thought provoking. I agree we have to live in the tension while always listening to the Spirit as we pursue unbelievers with the gospel. There will be times we say, “I can’t go there” and if that’s motivated by our acceptance in Jesus and not our fear of losing his acceptance then that’s good and healthy. But I believe there are many people unreached because of fear of being “stained” by the world. I’m so glad Jesus was not worried about getting “stained” for me.

    Thanks for your post!

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