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The Rev. Dr. Scott Black Johnston The Rev. Dr. Scott Black Johnston

The Rev. Dr. Scott Black Johnston is senior pastor of Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York, NY.

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Presbyterian Church (USA)

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Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, New York, NY


Dr. Scott Black Johnston: The Kardashians Go To Church

October 07, 2011

Last week, a producer of the reality television show, "Kourtney & Kim Take New York" called the church.  Really!  In case you don't know (I didn't), Kourtney and Kim are two of the three Kardashian sisters.

Who are the Kardashians?  Well, that's a darn good question.

The Kardashians have become famous in the odd way that people gain renown these days.  They are "stars" of their own reality show.  As with other reality shows, the basic premise here is that you (the viewer) are being granted a peek behind the scenes into the private and oh-so-dramatic lives of a celebrated family.  You get to witness them making cutting digs at each other, lamenting their on-again/off-again relationships with professional athletes, and, of course, going on their legendary shopping trips.

The producer of their new, New-York-based show wanted to know if they could set up a bunch of cameras and lights, and film Kourtney and Kim attending church at FAPC.

I said, "No."  I said it nicely.  I said, "They are welcome to come to worship here, but no filming during our services."

The producer called back.  "Listen, we really want to do this, and I'm not Christian, so I don't know how to phrase this, but couldn't we just film the two of them walking down to the front and lighting a candle or something?"

I said, "No."

As my Catholic ethics professor used to ask, "Sweet Mother of God, what is the world coming to?"

When the Roman Empire was about to collapse under the weight of its own corruption, a succession of emperors tried to keep the restless population placated with "reality" entertainment.  To the delight of the crowd, enslaved gladiators (some of whom were Christians) were forced to battle starved lions (and each other) in the Coliseum.

Are we so very different?

As rising unemployment eats away at people's sense of self-worth, as wars abroad continue to take their toll on our young men and women, as political clashes produce not answers but more rancor and anxiety, Hollywood serves up a tasty distraction: "Kourtney & Kim Take New York."

Yes, it's true; I am a curmudgeon.  But, consider this.  In the midst of the mess and the stress that surround us, we will gather this Sunday as the churchto worship.  We will act out the Christian story for each other.  We will confess.  We will forgive.  We will break bread and share wine.  We will talk about salvation.  We will stand around our new associate pastor, and we will lay our hands on her shoulders, and we will tell her that she has been ordained by God to preach the good news to a hungry, confused world.

I wonder what the Kardashians would make of this "reality"?

You never know, maybe we'll find out.

[Taken with permission from Scott's blog, SharpAboutYourPrayers.com]


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