Saturday, November 14, 2009

A great tagline from an article on Double X, "Glamour and charisma are two different things",0

The article compares Amelia Earhart and Florence "Pancho" Barnes. The article offers a theory as to why the new film Amelia bombed. For my part I had absolutely no desire to see what looked like a two-dimensional static icon ripped from the pages of history. If I want to see a film with a two-dimensional static icon there are already superhero movies and even those, in their better iterations give us three-dimensional and dynamic versions of Batman and Spiderman and even Superman (at least Richard Donner did, anyway).

The distinction between glamour and charisma is not necessarily a subtle one but one that can be easily lost because, really, there is a great deal of overlap. A person may be glamorous without being truly charismatic. A person may be charismatic without being glamorous and a, of course, a person may be both glamorous and charismatic.

Neither charisma nor glamour are necessarily virtues but they are measures by which we assess a person's character, often to our detriment, and often within Christian leadership. It's sexier to like the sexy leader, the magnetic personality, or the attractive person.

I suppose we could say that charisma is only palpable and observable in person while glamour is from afar. If this is actually ture (and I'm not saying it necessarily is) then a video preacher can be glamorous while said preacher is not charismatic unless he or she is as winsome in the flesh. There are musicians who are glamorous but not charismatic and I don't feel like making any enemies by naming names. There are also musicians who are charismatic but not really glamorous.

All the same things can be said, of course, about preachers past and present. Paul was, apparently, not particularly glamorous or charismatic compared to others, and his defensiveness in his epistles at least suggest this. Were Paul to come visit one of our churches now I'm not sure some churches would even let him in without a suit and tie. Others would note, as those in Corinth did, that in his letters he is forceful but in person he is not much to speak of. Perhaps Paul was victim of the blogging/php discussion forum dynamic! His posts came off as authoritative and powerful but in person he just didn't live up to his username!

It can be tempting to be drawn toward the glamorous preacher or the charismatic preacher without assessing the quality of the preacher's character. We evangelical Protestants have our own capacity to venerate saints. I notice that one of the more popular saints to venerate among the Reformed is John Piper! Another popular object of veneration, of course, is Driscoll, and Tim Keller is arguably a subject of veneration. John Macarthur (though I don't really like his work) is also venerated. While I remain a fairly loyal Protestant I can understand why people would feel inclined to bail on the enterprise seeing how much cults of personality develop within this faction or that faction. One is for Apollos, the other for Paul, the other for Cephas ... .

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