Why I Love (True) Religion Because I Love Jesus, Redux

bethke

This coming Sunday, Jan. 12, will be the two year anniversary of the post that has inexplicably (to me) probably been the most-read thing I’ve ever written. It’s always somewhat odd to me to note the things that get the most hits. They’re almost invariably stuff that’s more off-the-cuff than much-deliberated (like this silly post of coffee and theology jokes). (Kind of depressing, really.)

One thing I’ve noted from the comments on the post is that, at the time, many people chided my criticisms since I was picking on some “kid” who was just expressing himself, while I insisted that he was acting as a professional and making a contribution to public discourse that was therefore subject to critique.

Since then, that “kid” has of course made quite the career from the video in question and now has a book entitled JESUS > RELIGION. It’s still selling quite well on Amazon, with 308 reviews and counting, and is a NYT bestseller. His Facebook page currently has over 231,000 “likes.”

Now, one might argue that it was this video that propelled him from “amateur” to “professional” status, and it certainly did make him a celebrity. But as I mentioned at the time, the video was quite professionally produced, and he had already been soliciting speaking engagements for some time before the video came out. So he was clearly a professional, just not quite yet a very successful one.

But now he has joined the pantheon of Evangelical pop spirituality stars. I wish him well. I do not think that that kind of spirituality will long endure, however, as Evangelicalism now seems to be engaged in a fairly serious self-critique which is coming to look at the sort of religion this gentleman pushes as rather shallow and even heretical.

I actually ended up doing a couple of follow-up posts to explore some further issues related to the original. Here are all the posts in the series:

A lot of this kind of thing I would probably today post on Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy, but the site didn’t exist yet in January 2012. The popularity of the original post and its follow-ups are actually part of what led me to start the O&H site in the summer of 2012.

Thanks to all my readers. I appreciate whatever attention you can lend.

7 comments:

      1. My understanding is that there is not a lot to being a “NYT bestseller”. It’s usually based on pre-orders to sell in bookstores, not actual sells. That’s my understanding anyway.

  1. Fr. Andrew, It was your very post on this video that played a large role in bringing us face to face with the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. We were evangelicals searching for a real, tangible, and grounded tradition, and when our Facebook friends were going gaga over this guy, we were shaking our heads in frustration. Somehow by a friend of a friend we ran into your critique and we couldn’t help but wholeheartedly agree with everything we read. It was the wisdom (of the Church) found in your critique as well as comments that help grow our interest in Orthodoxy. We have read as well as listened to many of your teachings and we are truly greatful for your representation of the Church and her Truth.

  2. Fr. Damick,

    This original post was indeed a rubicon moment for many of your readers. This sort of rebuttal-style writing is powerful in drawing the line of demarcation for many Evangelical refugees, of which stripe I was just three years ago prior to coming to Orthodoxy. Your works are powerful. Keep up the good work!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *