A rising theme in popular Christian culture is the dichotomy between our faith as followers of Christ and the fame with which mainstream North American consumers are obsessed. The adage “The love of money is the root of all evil” has evolved into “Fame is the root of all evil.” But the question remains, Is fame itself against God’s will for us, or is it simply a tool that can be used to illuminate other, often more complex desires and insecurities?
In her most recent novel, Fifteen Minutes, Karen Kingsbury alludes to the unholiness of fame in Zack Dylan’s journey through a popular singing competition called “Fifteen Minutes.” Before participating in the show, Zack had enjoyed living on his parents’ Kentucky horse farm. He and his girlfriend were happy, and he turned to his grandfather for spiritual guidance and wisdom. However, the footage of him aired on “Fifteen Minutes” and the image of him created by the show cause Zack’s family and girlfriend to believe that he has lost his way.
Other characters in the novel also suggest the struggle between faith and fame. Fame has destroyed the families of judges Chandra and Kelly. In a desperate attempt to reach Kelly, Chandra tells her, “Marriage is beautiful. Fame is ugly,” as if Kelly’s rise to fame were the single factor in Kelly’s separation from her husband.
In contrast, Bob Briner argues that Christians don’t have enough of a presence in popular culture. In his book Roaring Lambs, Briner suggests that the lack of positive, family-affirming content in mainstream media is directly tied to the lack of Christians creating that media.
“What I’m calling for is a radically different way of thinking about our world,” Briner writes. “Instead of running from it, we need to rush into it. And instead of just hanging around the fringes of our culture, we need to be right smack dab in the middle of it.”
Briner argues that if more Christians were to immerse themselves in the mainstream culture, even if it is fame-obsessed, the content produced by that culture would contain the values Christians could stand behind.