I think I understand Carl Trueman’s critiques of American evangelical celebrity culture after touring (to use a celebrity word!) England for a fortnight (to use a British word!). No one asked to take a picture with me–not once. Actually, the one selfie I took was with two Americans (friends of a friend), and we were razzed by the Brits for doing so. Every introduction I received was in the form of a brief interview. People did not queue up after a talk for me to sign their Bible or get a photo for social media. In fact, several church leaders told me that when they really like someone they make fun of them! The culture struck me as one that would rather chop the head off all the tall poppies than point to the one others are pointing at.
I didn’t have a problem with any of this. I like sarcasm and friendly scorn. I’d rather not get my picture taken. I don’t long to sign things. But at the same time, it felt to me like these were cultural values I was experiencing more than strictly biblical ones. Although the lack of pizzazz was refreshing, there were also times no one came up to me to say anything. During break times, I could wander around looking for the loo without fear of someone interrupting my wandering! I didn’t mind. Everyone was exceedingly kind. I’m simply commenting that the same culture that was wonderfully free of celebritification might seem to others unfriendly or unwelcoming (again, that’s not how I took any of it). I don’t think people from America should assume the British are rude, just like I don’t think they should assume people from the Midwest are too nice, people from the South are fake, people from the Northwest are weird, or people at Christian conferences in the States worship the speakers. As we learn from each other, part of what we will learn is that we do things in different ways and skew toward different dangers.
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