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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Clint Eastwood and Celebrity Culture


This is not a political post, just a quick and funny story.

When I was pastor in Scranton PA, I partnered with a group of pastors from Wilkes Barre to organize a big revival in the Wilkes Barre hockey rink. We called it Light in the Valley and we planned on creating a huge Billy Graham type event. In order to guarantee a large crowd we invited a Christian celebrity – retired football star Reggie Williams. We asked him to deliver the main message and then make an alter call. Or course, no one vetted the man’s public speaking credentials. After all, he was a celebrity.

It was a disaster. That night, Reggie Williams was not capable of stringing two sentences together and have them make sense. It was rambling, incoherent and just plain bad (sadly Reggie Williams passed away several years after this event). We had several thousand people in attendance, but by the time Mr. Williams finished, we only had 100 people left. Everyone else walked out before the alter call. I repeat; it was a disaster.

Why did we think that a retired football player could get up and deliver a great sermon at a big event? Because he was a celebrity. And we Americans seem to grant supernatural abilities to celebrities. The same thing happened at the Republican Convention on Thursday night. Everyone who spoke this week had their speeches carefully written and checked by the Romney campaign. With one exception; Clint Eastwood. What made them think that an actor/director can get up in front of a national TV audience and deliver a carefully thought out speech without writing it down? He’s Clint Eastwood, he can do anything.

Well, they learned the same hard lesson I learned many years ago in Wilkes Barre. Celebrities are not superheroes. They’re just ordinary people like you and me. However, when they crash and burn, it turns into big headlines.

God bless you,
Pastor Bill

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