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Monday, February 22, 2010

RevGalBookPals Discussion: Salvation on the Small Screen?

Our book this month is Salvation on the Small Screen? 24 Hours of Christian Television, by Nadia Bolz-Weber. Nadia is a Lutheran church planter (House for All Sinners and Saints) who blogs at Sarcastic Lutheran, and she is also a member of the RevGalBlogPals webring. 
Lazarus tattooNadia has a lot of tattoos, including this fairly awesome image of Lazarus. I say this as a person who doesn't generally care for tattoos. And I mention it because my usual response to tattoos is probably not far off from Nadia's gut reaction to being asked to watch Christian TV for 24 hours. 
Nadia bravely watched 24 straight hours of "Christian" television, accompanied by friends who took shifts at her side. Having grown up in a more conservative tradition before later becoming part (albeit a non-traditional part) of a mainline denomination, she had concerns about what she might see and hear. She reviews each show and reflects honestly when the theology expressed touches her despite her assumption that would not be likely.

This is a hilarious book full of actual wisdom and sarcasm and humility and trenchant analysis of the Trinity Broadcasting Network. (Unfortunately it is also at my office, so I am unable to provide quotations until I can get there later today.)

Here are a few questions to get us started:

1) What is your experience with Christian television? Has it played a part, positive or negative, in your life or faith development?

2) Have you ever been surprised to learn something about faith or belief from a person whose doctrine or other understandings differed from yours?

3) In the book, Nadia keeps track of the products offered for sale after each show. How do you respond to the merchandising of faith? If you had a TV show, perhaps based on your blog, what might you sell to encourage people to understand God the way you do?

4) And on that note, suppose we had a RevGalBlogPals TV Network. Who might we feature on our 24-hour schedule? No need to limit your imagination to ring members. Who would you like to see on a TV network providing both encouragement and challenge to your faith and ministry? Would there be preaching, discussion, teaching? History? Humor? (Please say yes.)

Be sure to check the sidebar for the books we will be discussing in March and April!


  1. Hope you enjoy my little book. I'm happy to answer any questions! If you'd like to listen to audio of me reading first from my essay and then from the book you can hear it here:

    Blessings to my Sister Preachers!

  2. Hi, Nadia! Thanks for stopping by and for sharing the link!

  3. Nadia! I'm thrilled to be part of this discussion. Your book makes me laugh, think and wonder what else TBN will come up with to entertain/save us.

    My experience with TBN is limited to watching it in hotel rooms when I travel. I see Joyce Meyer mostly and enjoy her. Seeing her in her "cocktail suits" with dangling earrings makes me wonder what image her style means to non-liturgical listeners. I like her humor and direct comments although I don't share her sense of the devil monitoring my every move for weakness.
    I'm about half way through the book and have been carrying your book with me so I can read it, even if just for a few minutes, during the day. You are the perfect person to write the book. Love your friend's comments, too.
    If we had RGBPTV, I'd like tours of our communities and discussions about ministry issues there. And, we'd need a review of great places for pedicures...
    I'll check in on the discussion later.

  4. The denomination to which I belong, the United Church of Canada, once had its own television program called "Spirit Connection." It was wonderful. We had thoughtful, insightful guests on such as Anthony Bailey and Marcus Borg - whoever was 'hip' at the time. They occasionally had "call-in" shows, but not often.

    They also focused on particular United Church issues and missions. Then the money ran out. Now Spirit Connection is mostly an online program that is filmed during our General Council every three years. It's unfortunate, but those are the breaks.

    Otherwise, the religious television up here is appalling. Mostly we get the uber-conservative, send-in-your-money-and-be-saved variety of programming with perpetually smiling and annoyingly optimistic hosts. The implication is always that the world's hunger, poverty and violence wouldn't exist if everyone would simply receive Jesus as their personal saviour. I hear that and the clicker goes to the sports channel.

    Please. Surely the friends and followers of Jesus have a wider lens through which to view the world than that. These programs (I'm thinking of the 700 Club in particular) have ZERO mention or understanding of the rich diversity and pluralism that is our world. All they see are billions of lost souls waiting to saved - for a small donation...


    Sorry SL, haven't had time to read the book yet, but it's on my list!

  5. Does TBN and other Xn TV lessen the power of the Church? When religion is reduced to personalities is this what happens?

    I'm a mainliner who appreciates the blessing of being connected to my denomination so that I'm not responsible for being a glittering personality.

    Just thinking...

  6. ooh! I can't wait to read this. I asked my library to order via Interlibrary Loan and they said it was "too new" (what!?) so I will have to wait a bit.

    Songbird, I love the way you've done the questions on this, so that even those of us who haven't read the book (blush) can play. I'll be back to do so!

  7. I was absolutely laughing and then horrified at some of the things I read. I can't take 10 minutes of a show, let alone 24 hours! (shudder)

    Truthfully, I find this kind of TV embarrassing for the faith. And since I'm about to gradumacate from Ol' Whoopin' Divinity School, I'll wait until I have my parchment to say more...

  8. OH - I think RGBPTV would have a "theological yarns" show (natch) and probably a really good "geocaching in Galilee"...

    tee hee...(sorry it's late and I'm punchy!)

  9. Deb - you crack me up. Geocaching episodes - definitely!!!

  10. I can't wait to read this!

    Here in the backyard of TBN (really, it's in Irving, about 35 miles down the road) I don't watch it, ever. Occasionally, though, my husband gets on a kick of watching Jan Crouch, the lady with the pink hair who wears two wigs at a time and cries incessantly. Mostly I am safe.

    Hub used to get into watching Doyle Davidson at the Water of Life Church in Plano. Google that one and watch a video if you have some time. I found it loathsome.

    I'd love RG TV to visit our various churches and film worship, also the different programs we offer. I love reading about what everyone here does and getting to experience it via the screen (on Nadia's head?) would be excellent. In person would be better. But that's *my* book plan for later in life. :)

  11. Keep posting stuff like this i really like it


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