Last year 0n July 19 I wrote about a new reality show that was in development. Given the working title, “Pulpit Masters,” it was being produced by Original Productions, the same folks who have given us “Monster Garage,” “Monster House” and “Plastic Surgery Before and After.” Now, 900 auditions later, the final 10 will have their preach-off aired on The Learning Channel beginning July 23 (HT: Gene Bridges). According to the Winston-Salem Journal, the show is called, “The Messengers.”
Actually, it probably isn’t fair to call it a preach-off. Let’s call it an inspirational speak-off. According to the Religion News Service, “Each episode revolves around a field trip. In the first episode, contenders spend 24 hours ‘homeless’ on the streets of Los Angeles’ Skid Row. Then, they deliver speeches on the topic of charity. A studio audience votes for the best speakers and eliminates one.” The promotional trailer indicates that the same emotionally manipulative techniques that characterize other “reality television” shows will be employed (given the state of modern preaching, maybe “preach-off” is an apt description).
Bobby Schuller, grandson of Robert who built the Crystal Cathedral, is one of two experts who will evaluate each message before the studio audience votes each week. He is positively full of hope about the new show:
Politicians and even preachers are giving shallow messages. They tell people what they want to hear…. What we value as a society is becoming more and more shallow. For some strange reason, the leaders in our communities are movie stars. But now, the culture is recognizing that a vacuum is there and we need to change our perspective.
There definitely is a leadership vacuum in our culture and I agree with Schuller’s assessment of politicians and preachers. But the idea that depth and gravitas can be delivered from an entertainment company via an entertainment medium by wannabe movie stars is at best laughable. The irony seems to be lost on the expert.
Note: July 15 marked the first anniversary of this blog. When I entered the blogosphere I wasn’t sure what I would find. The friendships and encouragements that have come my way are far beyond my expectations. Thanks for allowing me to participate in the conversation with you.