Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Let's lighten up on the fangirling of "celebrity" converts

The Church brings people home to Orthodoxy throughout the year. At times these people are "famous." There is a rather unwholesome spectacle often made of these moments that (if you'll forgive a personal opinion) needs to be tamped down a bit. For one, God delights in every soul brought to Him regardless of what they do for a living or what their Nielsen rating is. TV stars, radio personalities, movie actors, garbage truck drivers, Sleep Master mattress salesmen, et al. are all cause for celebration but they are also honestly just on the start of a long process of ascetic struggle. What they need is prayers, not plaudits.

Honestly, as someone who has been an avid listener to Ancient Faith Radio podcasts, Orthodox Youtube series, and other such media I can attest to how we seem to give near adulation to our clergy only to see them flame out spectacularly in a way that is destructive to the people who have elevated these personalities to unrealistic heights. We aren't a church of televangelists and for good reason.

Can we acknowledge the joy we feel at someone we know (whether personally or as a media personality) joining the Body of Christ? By all means. But we should do so understanding that Jesus commands nothing short of complete conversion and this is not an easy process nor one that everyone who starts to "run the race" finishes with the "imperishable crown." Let's take the fangirling down a notch for their sakes and our own alike.


  1. If you want to squeeze everything you can out of a convert, get 'em while they're hot, as one priest I knew put it (derisively, mind you.) It's a short-term strategy that bets enough will be gotten out of them that we get more short-termers to replace them and get a few long-termers out of it, too. Converts are like souffles: you have to cook them just right, otherwise they either fall or never rise.

  2. Your second paragraph: I'm glad someone with a voice has said it. Lately, this has been really bugging me. I'm glad we have more books coming out and I'm glad we have things like AFR, but it's starting to worry me. I'm seeing things that remind me of Protestant media with things like "If you donate, you'll get this free gift!" This just doesn't sit right with me.

    Seeing websites of some of these people (clergy and non-clergy) talking about how they're available for talks with prices and such seems to me like we're starting to turn the Church and its ministries into a show.

    We need to back off the personality cults that are developing. And while some have a knack for public speaking or writing and that's a great thing, I fear we're losing humility and remembering why we're doing this. It wasn't that long ago that if someone was invited to speak, it was with humility that they accepted. Now, it's advertised everywhere.

    AFR and the presses and those writing the books are something we desperately need (and something I aspire to), but humility needs to be forefront and we have got to get away from this televangelist mindset that's starting to creep in. But, if you send me a donation, I'll be glad to send a free gift!

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  4. Great post ! Totally agree. I was a bit put off that someone actually made a Facebook page (which I received an invitation to ; I declined) so that Orthodox folks could post messages of affirmation and "Many Years!" to Hank Hanegraaff (the "Bible Answer Man") who has recently been received into the Church. Well, don't get me wrong , I'm happy for Hank and his wife and kids who have found the Church , that's great for them , but c'mon now ... this is the type of "fangirly" stuff I think you're referring to. Where are the "Welcome and Many Years !" Facebook pages for the non-celebrity converts received into the Church this week and year around ? Are they of less value ?