Haterz?

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I’m not much of a TV watcher. I think that too many of us in the American Church spend far too much time watching TV and not enough doing what Jesus commanded us to do.

I watch two shows a week, and normally tape the one for viewing during peak downtime. I’ve enjoyed Antiques Roadshow for years (I think it’s the aesthete in me), plus I started watching the show Fringe this season. That show is much like a former obsession of mine, The X-Files. So as much as I said I wasn’t going to get involved in another series, I got caught up in Fringe. (And was devastated by the show’s story arc, which I’ll leave for another post.)

A weird thing happened in watching Fringe, though: It didn’t always start at 9 p.m.  sharp on Tuesday nights because it followed American Idol, which ran long many nights. Idolatry on parade?That meant I always saw a few carryover bits of the final Idol performances of the evening.

I can’t speak as an Idol aficionado, but Adam Lambert has to be one of the best performers I have ever seen—anywhere. He not only has a set of pipes, he was riveting to watch. His performance of “Mad World” was a tour de force. I thought to myself, How can this guy not win?

My tapes captured a couple performances by Danny Gokey and Kris Allen, and time and again, I kept thinking, How did these guys make it so far into this competition? They weren’t bad; they just had nothing extra going for them, something which Lambert had in spades, even from the limited number of performances I saw of him.

So, I was checking the news on CNN.com this last week, and noticed one of the most commented upon links from their entertainment blog was about the Idol outcome. Seems that Kris Allen won, a surprising and disappointing outcome, at least as I saw it. I mean, what was up with the voters?

Then I read the comments on the CNN blog. Here are some samples (all sic):

I guess we can thank those hatefilled, intolerant, homophobic Christians for this injustice. I am so sick and tired of those people. I used to be polite to them, but no more.

Another Christ loving Heterosexual male who wont sell albums… way to go America.

…yes it was a robbery because the only thing about Kris is that he’s a christian and you homophobic people would rather keep talent down to pump yourselves up. Kris is horrible he had 2 good songs all season and isn’t even as good as Allison is. he should have been gone a long time ago but he didn’t win and i mean didn’t win based on talent it was based on religion and that Adam is different and that shakes your whole damm world. Even he had to address the issue of religion and didn’t want to win based on that well he won and only based on that.

Obviously the Falwell coalition lives on and regardless of Adam’s true sexuality, the rumor flourished enough to cause “Jesus freaks to triumph. The sad thing is that Kris is really a cookie cutter talent. Vocals are along the lines of most boy bands of the past. Adam was the true talent and unique in his singing and stage appearance. He will do like Clay Aiken did and sell a hundred times more albums as Kris will become the winner, much like Taylor, where you scratch your head and say, “He won Idol? Really?!

I am sick of all you people (i.e BODEE!!! {Note: the first comment above}) . What is your problem???? Kris didn’t win because he is a Christian anymore than Adam lost because he is gay. GET OVER YOURSELVES!

NOBODY CARES! But if they did, you are going to have to face the fact that Christians ARE the majority in the country…no matter how much you , Perez Hilton, Obama and the Democrats stomp your feet and cry foul…

Well, the Christians spoiled the vote, but as they say †“ the devil has the best tunes.

Go Adam.

And on and on…

Well, I had no idea that Kris was a Christian, though he exuded plenty of that harmless Michael W. Smith boyishness that so many young women adore. And as far as I can tell from Googling, Adam’s never come out and said he’s a homosexual, so I don’t exactly get that point.

But none of this, in the long run, has to do with American Idol. This post has everything to do with the comments on CNN’s blog. As there are almost 1,500 of them, they make for interesting reading. Definitely a good representation of where America is in 2009.

Over at the Huffington Post,  Michael Giltz commented on this phenomenon of Christians voting as a bloc for the most Christian of the contestants. He posted this partly t0ngue-in-cheek, but I’m not so sure he’s wrong. I know many Christians who watch Idol, and some do almost as an obsession. I can imagine they are voting for their faves en masse. And until this disputed outcome of the show, I had no idea that people could vote more than once. Seems like the Bible Belt was certainly throwing a few multiple votes Kris Allen’s way.

So here are my questions:

1. In the same way that we have the Ugly American, have we created the Ugly Christian? What are the characteristics of such a creature?

2. Are Christians the majority? And if they are, what kind of Christians are they?

3. Are Christians obligated to choose a Christian over a non-Christian, no matter what the focus of the choice might be ?

4. What’s up with Christians supporting blandness? What Christian artists of the past rocked the world with their controversial works?

5. Suppose one of the finalists on Idol were openly homosexual. Would it be a sin to vote for him/her? What does that answer say about the Church in this country?

I’ve talked with a few folks over the holiday weekend about this, and their answers surprised me. What do you think?

51 thoughts on “Haterz?

  1. I just liked Kris better, his style of music. I don’t get into the hard rocking stuff. But more power to Adam, hope he gets a record deal and struts his stuff. I tried to vote several times but the lines were always busy.

    • Dusty Chris,

      I thought the whole point of Idol was to find the best singer/performer. Shouldn’t that transcend styles? If I only vote for people who sing songs I like, isn’t that a little too safe? Shouldn’t Christians be more discerning in that regard? I mean, discernment is more than weeding out the bad; it’s knowing what is good even when that good is different than our traditional view.

  2. Candy

    I have watched American Idol (and voted) for 5 seasons. My faves were Danny and Kris. I knew Danny was a professing Christian, but didn’t know Kris was. A couple of his songs threw me off I think, such as “She Works Hard for the Money”. Several thoughts. First, the majority audience for AI is not into the harder rock stuff, no matter how much the show tries to make it be so. (This is supported by my 20-something son who won’t watch BECAUSE it’s not a show for rockers.) Second, Adam did have a really, really good voice, but the theatrics really got old. I rarely felt that I saw the real Adam, usually just a “performance”. Interestingly, when they showed his audition on AI Extra, none of the judges was that impressed and Simon felt he was “too theatrical”. Also I think Adam appeared arrogant perhaps based partly on my next point. Thirdly, I think the judges partly have themselves to blame–especially Simon. The last two or three shows they were blatantly for Adam; Simon even went so far after one of Adam’s performances, to tell viewers to be sure to vote or the favorite might not get through. Tuesday night of the finals week, the judges sounded like they were already giving Kris consolation comments while praising Adam to the skies. Not a good move. And fourthly, I voted for Taylor Hicks. I do not think America got it wrong and I think Taylor proved that the night he made a guest appearance on AI this season. Even Simon gave him a standing ovation. Something he did not do when Kris won even though all the other judges stood. Sheer arrogance! And fifthly, everyone votes multiple times. To point the finger at Christians for that when gays, latinos, Indians, feminists, rockers (the ones who deign to watch) all do the sameis a bit–to put it mildly–patronizing.

    • Candy, et al.

      So what you’re saying is that Christians support the underdog?

      I’ve heard rumors that some folks in some churches encourage “the faithful” to vote as a bloc for Christian contestants. Right? Wrong?

      And why do so many Christians watch American Idol?

      And what is the reasoning behind pushing Christians to the top of the heap here? Seriously, the lifestyle promoted by the show eats people alive. Perhaps NOT voting for the Christians is the best thing we can do, so that they don’t wind up selling their souls to the system that made them. I never hear that concept argued, though, only that we have a responsibility to promote fellow believers.

    • What is it, Michael, about Christians and celebrities. We love our celebrities as much as anyone. I’ve never understood that. Perhaps it’s redirected envy.

      • I never watched a single episode of Idol this season, not that I ever could stomach an entire episode any other season. I never follow bands, either, or musicians. Sometimes I may go a little overboard on a particular writer.

        Did you see what Dan wrote on his blog today???

  3. Don Fields

    Interesting commentary and questions. I don’t think Christians have an obligation to vote for Christians, nor would it be “wrong” to vote for non-Christians, even an open homosexual. This isn’t a vote for your next pastor or deacon. This is a singing competition. Vote for the best singer.

    I liked Gokey the best, but never voted. My wife, a devoted Christian and conservative Baptist pastor’s wife, voted over 20 times for Adam on Finale night. Since she got through so many times we were pretty sure Adam had lost.

    If we want a competition to find the best Christian maybe we could have a show called “So You Think You’re a Christian?” Each contestant from various denominational and theological backgrounds could field questions, face real life challenges and go through a completely thorough background check. And each week the audience could vote out who they think is the least Christianly. Wouldn’t that make for some great reality TV?

    • Peter P

      I feel uneasy about Christians getting caught up in the who idolization thing and definitely don’t like the concept of churches suggesting to their members that they should vote for the ‘Christian’ contestant just because he/she professes Christ.

      However, if Christians are going to watch and vote then….

      We come to the age-old discussion of whether or not homosexuality is a sin.

      Let’s say, for the sake of arguement that it is (and I think that most people here will agree that it is). Every vote that person recieves gives that person a little more sway in the media, it throws them a little more fully into the spotlight.

      If we vote for someone who is homosexual then we are responsible for giving that person a slightly louder voice in this society.

      Every dollar we spend on that person, every vote we cast for them makes them more attractive to the media. The media will give time and attention to the people who are the most popular – and they ascertain that by votes cast and money earned.

      How can we find it acceptable to give a voice to someone who, by their very lifestyle, is promoting something that we believe is a sin?

      American Idol is far more than just a singing contest, it’s a phenomenon which shapes what people in this society hear and see as being acceptable.

      People truly idolise these ‘celebrities’ and thus they copy and buy into every aspect of what that person does and promotes.

      As Christians, we cannot close our eyes to the fact that when we support a celebrity in any way we are supporting and increasing their ability to share their message with the world – and everyone has a message.

  4. All,

    I found it curious that when I posed the question of voting for the most talented person, the universal response I got was “Why wouldn’t you vote for the Christian?”

    This poses all sorts of problems, as I see, in all sorts of arenas of life.

    Take politics, for instance. Sarah Palin energized the faithful. She’ll be a great voice on the national stage—someday. The keyword is the final one in that sentence. The GOP rushed her to the front before she had more national experience and that was an enormous mistake. And the Evangelical crowd pretty much labeled her Deborah, the righteous judge. Would they have done the same if she claimed no religious belief but held the same political beliefs? I don’t think so. The fact that they fell all over each other to laud her is disconcerting to me, no matter how fine a candidate she might one day be. The fact that she was a born-again Christian trumped everything else.

    There’s a sort of “we’ll prove the Gospel true by dominating __________” belief within the American Church, particularly the Evangelical branch, that really bothers me. There’s a fear of marginalization behind that belief that I find disturbing. And if it disturbs me, then I’m sure it bugs the heck out of some people, as is evidenced by the respondents in the CNN comments.

    • Brian

      Whoa, very different scenario here. AI and Politics (in terms of celebrity or interest from Christians) is very different.

      But your point about proving the gospel true by dominating X is very valid and probably would take an hour to fully explain in detail.

      In terms of politics, sigh, its almost too daunting to address. Yes, Christians believe you fight fire with fire in politics. Our interest groups versus your interest groups. Christians have bought this hook line and sinker.

      I remember having dinner with some christian friends and I mentioned the former Bush speech writer’s book about Christianity’s role in the Bush White House and how the author said Christians should fast from politics. The looks I got were almost lethal.

      I don’t think Western Christians know how to reconcile a democratic republic and the gospel.

  5. All,

    I guess I’m wondering why Idol draws such a large Christian viewership. If it’s the touching backstories people like, aren’t our neighbors’ backstories just as important? Why then are we not as interested in a personal backstory that we can engage rather than getting wrapped up in the story of a person we’ll never meet? Honestly, is there some rationale going on that says, If I feel for this Idol contestant out of the Christian love of my heart, that shows how good a Christian I am, or am I off-base?

    • Brian

      Are you assuming that it does draw a large Christian viewership just based on Chris winning?

      I think there was more about Adam turning off voters than Chris winning voters.

      I loved watching Adam at first. I don’t care that he’s gay and I didn’t know Chris was a Christian. I got sick of Adam because the judges were in the tank for him and weren’t being impartial (he had several bad performances) and that he would just rely on squeeling through songs instead of being in control of his voice and reserving the power. When he did this he was much MUCH better.

      So he would just squeel the whole song and it would suck and the judges would just bow to him.

      I don’t think its Christianity that likes underdogs, I think its an American thing. We don’t like presumption of success. We don’t like partiality. And yes we do like underdogs.

  6. I agree with your assessment of the talent in the show. Adam may be the best singer I’ve ever heard in my life, period. He can sing Plant, Mercury, Tyler, better than they do. I bet that’s true for anyone in pop music, including Elvis. No one held a candle to him as a singer or performer or artist in the contest. And yet… I suppose there’s just no accounting for taste. Look at the record of who’s won in the past, how often has the vote come close to picking a good singer, let alone the best.

    I think it’s just the nature of the beast, but if Christians did vote for Kris as a block, and got him the victory– that explains as much as anything else why Christian music is so consistently insipid and pitiable.

      • Preferred may be the wrong term. I sometimes think we operate under a self-imposed (self-deluded?) restrictive diet, because we assume it’s fleshly or self-conceited to want to tap the extremity of talent or performance. We don’t actually prefer substandard art, but we think we should. There may be a need for some restraint in a church meeting where participation is the key, but I don’t think it’s so in the professional arts.

        To tell you the truth, I think I’d prefer artists who happen to be Christians (or maybe, Christians who happen to be artists) rather than a “genre” or niche within the ranks of artistry which, in my mind, turns Christianity into a marketing ploy for pablum.

        • slw,

          The black velvet painting of Jesus seems to epitomize “art” in too much of Evangelicalism. Our appetite for kitsch knows no bounds.

          This is why I asked the question about Christian artists who pushed the envelope of taste in the arts. So far, no one has touched that question. That’s telling. Either we feel no one does or we are not educated enough in the arts to know who did. Either way is a sad reflection of modern American Christianity’s aesthestic.

  7. Candy

    Ahhh! Music the great divider–except for some doctrinal issues of course! Has anything caused so much discussion and dissension (which can be a very good thing if it leads to honest searching of the Scriptures)? In response to your response, there are a zillion threads of thought in my brain right now. Hopefully I’ll be somewhat coherent. I also watch very little television. AI is probably the only show I watch in its entirety. Most of those in my church do not watch it, though some of them are avid TV watchers. My sister is appalled that I as a Christian would watch anything with the word “Idol” in the title. I did not realize that some churches support voting as a block for a “Christian” contestant. I do not base my vote on the contestants religious views. I voted for Blake Lewis over Jordin Sparks in season 6 just as one example. Voting for the “Christian” is a gamble at best, since many who say “Lord, Lord” have only the vaguest notion of what a Christian is. So I do vote for the one whose music and style I like and one who connects with the audience. Perhaps the root of the problem being discussed here is whether Christians are following a “church” or a “preacher” and succumbing to a group “us against them” mentality rather than trying to be faithful to their Creator and His Word. ‘Fraid I didn’t consult anyone before I voted. I do have wide ranging musical tastes and part of that does include what has been called “insipid”. BTW I did hear comments saying that Kris could be the next Jack Johnson who has done very well for himself.

    • Candy,

      I think it is an “us against them” mentality. Those who are “not us” definitely see it that way, whether that’s a perception or reality. In most cases, the perception matters as much or more than the reality. I would also say that we are very strongly “us against them” in Evangelicalism—culture wars, anyone?

      All that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It should never be “us against them” from our perspective. That’s the way the world will think, but we cannot hold that position.

  8. Six of the final twelve were professing Christians. Paula Abdul, called it correctly when she said that many of Gokey’s supporters (another Christian and worship leader) would go to Allen when he was eliminated.

    That being said, having watched many American and Canadian Idol shows, one of the deciding factors has always been the cuteness factor where Kris Allen definitely surpassed his other two contestants. When he had a stunning song in the second last round, where he sang with just his own guitar as accompaniment, I said, “that’s it, Kris Allen has just won the competition.”

    As for Adam Lambert, while I thought he was a very talented singer, my wife and I soon grew tired of his vocals. His songs sounded the same night after night, with the big screaming high notes. He would be great in a 70’s rock band, hence the solo with KISS. This is great if you are into 70’s rock bands, but most of us are long past that.

    One final note: Many of the comments that I have read make it sound like Christians shouldn’t be able to vote in competitions like this. I have also heard that they shouldn’t be able to run for office, teach in schools, practice as gynecologists, etc… Yes, we let our faith inform our decisions in many ways, but quite frankly I find the trend quite worrisome that people try to invalidate that.

    • Michael,

      I guess the question I still have is why American Idol is such a favorite among Christians. What is drawing Christians to the show and why? What is ultimately gained? Do Christians feel some obligation to ensure the “right” person wins? If so, why?

  9. ccinnova

    I’ve watched American Idol only a handful of times over the years and not at all this past season. Right now I’ve got more important things on my mind, like trying to find another job.

    I didn’t become aware of the controversy until after the results were announced. Quite frankly, it seems to me there’s an awful lot of conjecture and speculation about the outcome rather than cold, hard facts. So your guess is as good as mine as to whether the contest’s outcome was correct or the voting was fair.

    While I’m not an AI fan, I recently read an article discussing how AI finalists and winners fared following their appearances on the show. Ironically, a number of the non-winning finalists have had successful music careers while only two AI winners, Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, have enjoyed similar success.

    If Kris Allen is indeed a professing Christian and goes on to a successful music career, I hope and pray he does nothing to compromise his witness as so many other Christians in the public eye have done.

  10. I’m off to work, and so didn’t get to read all the comment thread yet. I don’t suppose I’m the only one, though, who finds it ironic that professing Christians are so devoted to a show about idols that they are willing to invest themselves in it in this way. Those phone calls, as I understand it, cost money.

    Were I to watch this show, and vote, I would vote based upon the skill and talent of the individual, NOT their personal stuff. I don’t choose my auto repair guy based upon whether he has a wife or a “husband”. I don’t listen to music composed only by clean living folk – as far as I know. It’s the music I’m interested in, not idolizing the musician. (I may also add here that it runs contrary to American ideals to hire someone for a position based upon their religious beliefs.) I do understand the notion that whoever wins may become a role model of sorts, although for the life of my I don’t see why that is the case. The Scripture gives us and extensive list of role models for Christians in the letter to the Hebrews. Self-denial seems to be a common thread there. I also don’t see how it is a testimony to Christ one way or another for a professing Christian to promote themselves in this way.

    I think of the recent Miss USA business. Just because that gal says she doesn’t think marriage is for gay people does not make her a Christian or a role model. I, for one, think walking around on a stage in high heels and the textile equivalent of bra and panties sets a horrible example for young women – and sets oneself up as an object of lust for countless men. (Perhaps I’m alone in feeling that way. I assure you I’m no prude. I just see that whole thing as the height of hypocrisy.)

    Idolatry is alive and well in America, and in the church today. It is unhealthy to set people up on such pedestals. Just choose the most qualified person for the job. Now, if you’re really hiring someone to be a musician, pick the best musician for the job, period. If you’re hiring an idol – well, do what folk have done throughout history, fashion one like you imagine yourself to be, whether it be gay or straight, secular or Christian

  11. Brian

    1. In the same way that we have the Ugly American, have we created the Ugly Christian? What are the characteristics of such a creature?
    Yes, its the political aspects of the church that have gotten us into trouble.

    2. Are Christians the majority? And if they are, what kind of Christians are they?
    Polls show that a majority of people in the US believe in some simple doctrines of the church — heaven, hell, etc. But those numbers dramatically drop when asked about very critical beliefs like being born again and the death of Jesus.

    3. Are Christians obligated to choose a Christian over a non-Christian, no matter what the focus of the choice might be ?
    Hmmm, really really depends on what the topic is. Politics versus a singing competition are very different things. Not that I’m saying one area should default us to picking christians. Just that its not a fair question.

    4. What’s up with Christians supporting blandness? What Christian artists of the past rocked the world with their controversial works?
    No idea. Pat Boone! Heh. Not sure I really care though. In some ways I would rather not have a massive christian celebrity. I don’t think Jesus tends to work this way, at least not in the gospels. But besides that, we don’t need more christian “idols.” I’m happy with the one God I have now — Jesus.

    5. Suppose one of the finalists on Idol were openly homosexual. Would it be a sin to vote for him/her? What does that answer say about the Church in this country?
    In a singing competition it wouldn’t matter at all. Matter of fact I think it would be to the churches credit to pick talent over orientation. Of course no one is going to go on CNN and make comments about how Chrisitians voted for Adam despite him being gay.

    Let’s also keep in mind that CNN’s audience is predominately left. There is already a pre-disposition to hating Christianity in quarters of that ideology.

    • Jim D

      This claim came about becasue someone accused Go Phone users in AR from texting a huge amount. AT&T has refuted this “fact” as untrue.

        • It’s a brand of prepaid wireless phones, the kind you buy at Wal-Mart and then buy a card to add minutes. Used all the time by the bad guys on TV cop shows so they can’t trace the call. No contract, no billing records. Make the ransom call, then throw the phone away and use another for the next call. Also called a “burn phone”

  12. Arkies really did carry the day for Kris, and it was more a case of “home state boy makes good” rather than “vote for the straight Christian guy”.

    I think the griping from Adam’s supporters is the same victim mentality we hear from a lot of Christians when they don’t get what they want or think they deserve. Rather than accept that things just didn’t go our way, we whine about “persecution” and “anti-Christian bias.” We don’t have any clue what persecution is compared to believers in China or the Muslim world.

  13. merry

    1. In the same way that we have the Ugly American, have we created the Ugly Christian? What are the characteristics of such a creature? The “Ugly Christian,” to me, not to offend anyone here, is the kind of Christian who never leaves their Christian bubble, and who are slightly ignorant as to how others in the “outside world” feel about them. This kind of Christian, in my experience, has the tendency (sometimes without really realizing it) to be judgemental and critical toward non-Christians. Of course there are a ton of people who aren’t like this at all, but I think the self-righteous, judgemental Christian tends to be more of the stereotype because these kind of Christians tend to be so outspoken about various major issues.

    2. Are Christians the majority? And if they are, what kind of Christians are they? Well, doesn’t 89% or some large number of Americans claim to be “Christian?” That’s the only majority I can think of.

    3. Are Christians obligated to choose a Christian over a non-Christian, no matter what the focus of the choice might be ? If it’s church-related or obviously Christ-related, yes. Other than that, I really can’t think of a situation where that should be happening (although it does all the time.)

    4. What’s up with Christians supporting blandness? From past conversations about this, it seems that Christians have a much different, more conservative definition of the word “controversial.” A quick Google search of “Controversial Christian Artists” brought up articles with titles such as “Christian Hip Hop Music: A Controversial Musical Approach” and “Derek Webb Presents Controversial CD: Mockingbird.” If that’s what Christian define as “controversial,” than of course Christian music and art is going to be “bland.” What Christian artists of the past rocked the world with their controversial works? Alice Cooper? 😛 What exactly do you mean here by “controversial?” What would be controversial to me would probably cause an absolute uproar among Christian circles…

    5. Suppose one of the finalists on Idol were openly homosexual. Would it be a sin to vote for him/her? In my opinion, no. The reasons I say that is probably an entirely different subject and would take much, much too long to explain here. What does that answer say about the Church in this country? I have no idea? 😛 There are so many different, conflicting opinions in the church that it’s hard to say.

    • merry,

      Thanks for answering each question. I appreciate your responses. I think your first answer is dead-on correct. The opinions of the Ugly Christian, most of which have little to do with the Gospel, only serve to drive people away from Jesus.

      As to your Googling of controversial Christians, I think that approach and the responses you received are telling. As to Webb, his “controversial” album gets him no airplay on Christian stations, yet his “controversial” works are the Gospel, pure and unadulterated.

  14. Diane R

    I want to comment on the CNN comments. Sadly, all of the commenters you quoted are very ignorant. Every poll I’ve seen, including Christian ones, say that the younger Christian adults think the evangelical church is hateful toward homosexuals and they aren’t as hung up about this as the BIG sin. Since most of American Idol’s demographic are younger adults (from articles I’ve read), hordes of Christians voting against Adam because of his “maybe” gay persona may not hold credence. There is also another thing here which you pointed out. Many Christians may have voted for Kris because he is a worship leader in his church, and I would add to that, but not necessarily FOR Kris because they were voting AGAINST Adam.

    • Diane,

      What do you think we as a Church did right in dealing with the homosexual issue? What do you think we did wrong? In what ways do have those responses brought us to the place we are today?

      As to the Idol results, I’m not interested in the facts, actually. I’m more intrigued by people’s perceptions of those “facts.”

  15. Jim D

    My 18yo and 17yo daughters watch AI all the time and vote many times. They had 5 phones dialing for Danny in the next to final week and 5 for Kris in the final week. They probably recorded 400 to 500 votes for Kris that last week. Adam lovers probably did the same. In fact, most Christians who are marginally invovled with it, probably only voted a few times. My 15yo son liked Allison best and dropped his interest level after she was voted off.

    I am personally pulled into it via the association through my kids even though I often do something else when it is on. I did try to hear the best performers from their point of view via Youtube each week, and they are usually are right about the best performers. So, I believe I have some expertise in this discussion. I have several points to make:

    1. Adam never said he was homosexual, but there are some very revealing photos on the internet. If deep French kissing with another guy was done as a stunt and not a reflection of his true sexuality, then Adam did nothing to debunk the rumors that have flown.

    2. I did not hear many Christians saying that they would not vote for Adam because they believed him gay. The bigger outcry was more from those who I call “heterophobes”. These are people who support homosexual issues. They take any negative comment about a homosexual, and they twist the comment into a belief that the speaker of the comment is a homophobe. Most of the comments you quoted on CNN appeared to be from Adam lovers mad that he lost or heterophobes. You call the Kris lovers “Ugly Christians” for voting against Adam, but I think the heterophobes are propogating that idea. I really don’t think Christians voted against Adam because they thought he was gay.

    3. Adam was not that good. Really. He tried to hit the highest notes, but when he did he “screeched”. Kind of like Steven Tyler on “Dream On”. It is a classic song that I like until the end, but I never have liked the final screeching. I’m also not a fan of “screamo” music. Adam screeched regularly — he tried to go too high, too often.

    4. While AI judges and producers like original interpretations of songs, an artist can go too far. While Adam performed some songs quite well like “Mad World” (which he performed wonderfully – it was his best performance of the entire competition), Adam regularly went too far in his interpretations. I love Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire and Adam’s middle eastern interpretation was an abomination to the song. He also killed “One” by U2. When he finished that song, he solidified my opinion of him as a screecher. Instead of blending his vocals to the music like Bono does, he tried to dominate the music with his vocals — big mistake because it killed the song.

    5. Looks also matter. Most of America still hold to traditional values (Christian, Agnostic, Islamic, Buddhist, etc.). This is why every state gay marriage amendment fails — even in California. My daughters hold to these same traditional values, Christian or not. They thought Kris was cute and Adam was disgusting with way too much “guyliner” every week. The only time they liked Adam’s looks was whenever he slicked his hair back and wore a suit. Even then they did not like that he was changing his image constantly. I also thought Danny had a kind of cool, Elvis Costello look with the glasses.

    6. Kris improved every week. When they reduced to the final 12, I though Kris would make top 5, but certainly not top 2. Every week, though, he got better and better. His interpretation of “Heartless” by Kanye West was better than the original! He took songs and made them his own. He worked with the song; he didn’t try to dominate the song like Adam. He also played the piano and guitar when it was appropriate. As my daughter said, “Kris is an artist, Adam is just a performer, and an over-the-top performer at that!” I think a lot of America saw this too.

    7. AI judges and producers tried to shove Adam on us. He regularly got the “pimp” position (last performer of the night). He was lauded constantly by all judges including Simon, who actually even encouraged America to not assume he is safe and vote for him in the next to last week. He also got more time than other performers during the special interest segments. Finally, I found it curious that when the performers got to go back home, we saw crowds of thousand cheering on Danny and Kris in Milwaukee, WI and Conway, AR, respectively. Yet, we did not see huge crowds for Adam in San Diego, CA. Also, each performer sang the national anthem at an event while at home, but they only showed Adam singing the national anthem — trying to get him the patriotic vote. Also Kris and Danny sang at their churches, but AI never showed this on television, probably to try to dissuade the “Christian” vote. I think some people voted against Adam simply because they didn’t like AI pimping him so much.

    So, in the end America got it right. Kris was the best artist, PERIOD. There are all kinds of conspiracy theories about AR people voting 38 million times while others say AT&T refutes that claim, some people saying that the vote wasn’t close while others say it was within 1%, etc. The only real truth is that FOX is loving all the controversy. They will do anything to keep this kind of controversy brewing and making their show #1 in the ratings and continuing to generate all the money it generates. Can you imagine the money they make with the AI tour of the top ten across the country? I even laugh at the whole “Idol gives back” theme. Idol doesn’t give back (at least not significantly), America gives to Idol causes. It is really just a money making machine for FOX.

    • Jim,

      In truth, I’m not so interested in the results of Idol. I’m more fascinated by the post-results conversation. We are seeing perceptions here that are intriguing. I mean, WHY is someone claiming that Christians rigged this vote by their actions? What is going on in that person’s head so that they say something like that? What has been their past history that they respond so bitterly?

      That’s what I’m interested in because it tells us something about the way people are thinking. And often, perception really is more important than reality.

      • Jim D

        Some of the reaction may be from continued media conditioning. Americans have been reminded for years about the stength of the “Moral Majority” and the influence of the “Christian Right”. I think many people, Christian or not, still stick to traditional values. Chris appealed to more of mainstream America. When a wholesome man gets chosen over a man that wears guyliner and makes extremely sexual dance moves, many want to “accuse” the Christian right. This is further exacerbated by the entertainment elite who all loved Adam for his edgy look. They are the ones in their blogs that probably started the whole Christian conspiracy view because they could not understand why most of America would like someone less flashy and edgy. If you don’t believe it, just look at the outrage of the media and entertainment elite over Miss California’s comments. She never even tried to impose her values on anyone, she just stated that her personal opinion was that marriage should be between one man and one woman. They have been crucifying her ever since. I think Kris’ win just mobilized those same heterophobes to outrage again.

        • Jim,

          The fact that we put people into categories such as “media and entertainment elite” and “heterophobes” may be part of the problem, at least in the eyes of people categorized that way.

          Jesus smashed those categories because he hung out with the crowd that the religious people despised, the “media and entertainment elite” and “heterophobes” of that day.

          In fact, that categorization may be the very problem—for both sides. Christians don’t like being labeled, and neither do those who oppose us. Maybe the Golden Rule means we are forced to drop those labels. And maybe doing so will make more people willing to see Jesus as He is rather than having His followers draw attention to themselves by always categorizing and labeling people. Labels and categories have a way of backfiring, and I think that the present state of things in America today exhibits that backfiring to the nth degree.

  16. connie

    It really depends on what criteria you are judging by. Adam was too theatrical for my taste, and I never really connected with how he performed. Remove him from the Idol stage and compare him with the industry as a whole and he’s a dime a dozen.

    As far as skill was concerned, I felt Gokey was actually the best.

    But I never bothered to vote, so whatever.

    You do need to know that there are plenty of people who do vote out there who specifically hate voting for Christians, period, so I think it all balances out. As AI is the one show I watch (not into tv much myself) I know that every Christian on the show pretty much has run into that.

    Now as to whether a Christian should be on such a show? I will leave it to them and God. I watch it because I am a musician of sorts and I learn a lot.

    • Connie,

      Isn’t it true, though, that someone’s Christianity should have little to do with winning this competition or not? I find it strange that people play the Christian card like some imprimatur toward legitimacy. It’s a little like adding an ICHTHUS to one’s business cards just to hammer the point home.

      • SJLC

        Speaking of fish symbols…

        Jesus told his followers that their agape (sacrificial, unconditional) love for one another would prove to the world that they were his disciples… does that apply to Christians that don’t really know each other? If you see someone with the fish on their business cards or car, should you give them the benefit of the doubt that they do believe, and leap at any chance to help them out?

        Not that voting for someone in a popularity contest is necessarily helping them! But maybe there are other cases where favoring a fellow Christian for the sake of being a family member is actually the right thing to do, even if it naturally makes non-believers upset about favoritism.

        What do you think?

  17. Dan,

    I know I’m a couple days behind on this, but after reading this post in my RSS feeds I felt compelled to comment.

    It seems as though talent has to be set aside for rumor in Christian communities these days. Odd, I thought gossip was one of those things we (as “Christians”) were supposed to avoid. And yet, as seems apparent from how things went (I’m not an Idol watcher, but one cannot help but see it through the news) the Christian vote upheld someone more openly Christian in the end, despite the apparent lack of talent. It seems at odds with what God would have us to understand about Him giving gifts and talents, sure there are those openly gay that have incredible talents, but I think it is a far cry and a huge leap of logic to assume that just because one has incredible talent he/she must be gay. This propogates a lie in the case of this year’s “Idol” assuming that some Christian group got behind the media hype for one person above another, regardless of talent level.

    Like yourself, I don’t watch much TV these days, and its usually more to do with science or nature or hockey when I do watch (other than Lost). I think part of my issue with shows like American Idol is the emphasis of the Idol part. And, like you said, some Christians take this to a point near obsession, which is unhealthy and quite near blasphemy and idolatry. Yeah, I know it’s just the title of a TV program, but the thought it instills in the youngsters that watch it is that it is okay to idolize these people, a clear break in a command of God.

    Just my two cents worth – and that coming from a person who has never watched a single episode of American Idol (however long it has been around).

  18. Interesting!

    The same accusations have been levelled against Christians regarding AUSTRALIAN Idol – that there was some kind of Chrisitan conspiracy going on to better the chances of Chrsitian singers in the competition.

    The charges were in particular directed towards “Hillsong” members – suggesting that they were part of some organised voting block.

    The obvious problem with these conspiracy ideas is that the finalists are selected by judges before they actually get to the viewer-vote stage. So IF Christian singers are represnted in the competition, it is because they have enough talent for the judges to put them through to the final 12.

    The accusations in Australia were most evident when at least three professing Christians with Assemblies of God connections made it to the final 12 (Hillsong was part of AoG). Considering the emphasis many large churches (Hillsong in particular) put on the quality of their music – and the opportunity taleneted singers get to perform on a regular basis in their churches; it’s not surprising that they do well in the initial auditions.

    • onesimus,

      Thank you for the “Down Under” view. I find it intriguing.

      At the same time, I am discouraged that excellence is so heavily preached to our potential musicians. Many future performers may be dissuaded from ever taking the risk to perform because the expectations are too high. I give so much credit to the organist and youth leader at my old Lutheran church because she encouraged me to perform even when I was not that good. She made it safer for me to go before the congregation and share songs that I had written, even if my voice was not perfect and my guitar playing rudimentary. Those experiences helped me improve as a musician to the point that I was later the worship leader in several of the large Christian camps I worked in. In a church like Hillsong, that kind of opportunity would never happen. And that’s a shame.

      • Hi Dan,

        Excuse the rather lengthy response here, but I find the topic of excellence important. I have an average voice and I am an average guitar player. My wife is about a grade five or grade six in Piano, so there are many better than her as well.

        It has been my privilege to lead worship in a variety of churches, denominations, and para-church settings. I have been doing this for most of the last 27 years. One of the things that I find most important in doing what we do at church, is having a commitment to quality. The things that we are doing we are doing “to the glory of God. God expects us to do our best at the tasks that he has given us.

        For me, this commitment to quality means that on the Sundays that I am leading worship, many hours of preparation would have gone into planning in the previous week. Typically I spend 7-8 hours of preparation for every service. You can read the breakdown at EclecticChristian.com.

        Part of that commitment to excellence has been a mentoring process, and I have been fortunate to have some excellent mentors. The first guy to take me under his wing, many, many years ago is now a Covenant award winner and Juno nominee (the Canadian equivalent of the Dove and Grammy awards.) The point is that he was willing to take people much less talented than himself, but who had a heart for worship, and bring us along in understudy roles, to the point where we could lead on our own. I know that people like (Canadian) Brian Doerkson have also been very involved in mentoring worship leaders.

        When we worship God we are worshiping the King of Kings. He deserves nothing but our very best, even if like me, our very best isn’t in human terms, all that good.

      • Hi Dan,

        Excuse the rather lengthy response here, but I find the topic of excellence important. I have an average voice and I am an average guitar player. My wife is about a grade five or grade six in Piano, so there are many better than her as well.

        It has been my privilege to lead worship in a variety of churches, denominations, and para-church settings. I have been doing this for most of the last 27 years. One of the things that I find most important in doing what we do at church, is having a commitment to quality. The things that we are doing we are doing “to the glory of God. God expects us to do our best at the tasks that he has given us.

        For me, this commitment to quality means that on the Sundays that I am leading worship, many hours of preparation would have gone into planning in the previous week. Typically I spend 7-8 hours of preparation for every service.

        Part of that commitment to excellence has been a mentoring process, and I have been fortunate to have some excellent mentors. The first guy to take me under his wing, many, many years ago is now a Covenant award winner and Juno nominee (the Canadian equivalent of the Dove and Grammy awards.) The point is that he was willing to take people much less talented than himself, but who had a heart for worship, and bring us along in understudy roles, to the point where we could lead on our own. I know that people like (Canadian) Brian Doerkson have also been very involved in mentoring worship leaders.

        When we worship God we are worshiping the King of Kings. He deserves nothing but our very best, even if like me, our very best isn’t in human terms, all that good.

  19. “Christians don’t like being labeled, and neither do those who oppose us. Maybe the Golden Rule means we are forced to drop those labels.”

    Great words Dan!

  20. Dan said:
    “At the same time, I am discouraged that excellence is so heavily preached to our potential musicians.”

    Then maybe you will find encouragement in this.

    At the local church the regular organist is a man with Alzheimers. While his short term memory is almost non-existent, his muscial ability remains intact (though far from perfect) and he is well loved by the congregation who could easily replace his mucial accompaniment with a more accomplished musician.
    Instead they prefer to tolerate the musical imperfection and enable to the man to retain an active role within the church.

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