The Value of Celebrity

Mark Traphagen, a friend and brother in Christ, recently addressed Don Miller’s highly political take on George W. Bush. [Full disclosure: I am the technical support behind [donmillerfans.net], and I’ve ended up as the administrator of the DMF.net forum, as Bryan has again become busy with work, life, etc.] I found myself nodding at some of what Miller had to say, especially his indictment of the modern American church—a point which I feel that the commentors on both Don and Mark’s entries have largely ignored, having decided to pick the low-hanging fruit of Don’s political espousings.

I’m frustrated at the responses here that have largely railed against Don’s desire to politically express himself: comemnts such as “Miller should stick to personal reflections about his own life,” “don’t really care to hear your political opinions. just write great books and thats all.thanks,” and “I was more than a little disturbed concerning your political ramblings. Your judgments true or not are divisive at best.Your website space could have been dedicated to something more positive and helpful!” are disheartening, because they ignore this fundamental precept:

Don Miller’s political proclamations have just as much value as our own until we judge them for ourselves. To those who say, “But Don is a best-selling author! He’s using his platform for the wrong reasons!” I respond: He has as much right to his opinion as you do. His celebrity certainly amplifies the signal, but it does nothing to improve the quality of that signal.

I think that Don intended for people to engage him on the point that our President can be viewed as a creation of the modern American evangelical movement, but few seem to be doing that, choosing instead to respond to Don’s politics—whether or not they are in agreement with theirs or not. This is rather simliar to the phenomenon of “megadittos“, which simply goes back to letting other people speak for you. There’s value in that, sure—I believe in representative republics just as much as the next guy.

Our only error in evaluating Miller’s comments is if we add extra value to them because of his stature. Come election day, his vote doesn’t count any more than mine [Electoral College disparities notwithstanding].

1 comment

  1. geof, well said. our culture loves elevating celebrities to this higher echelon of existence, where its not only their ability to act, write, compete, or sing that is seen as special, but also their opinions on foreign policy and their theology. people are going to put more weight into what Don says, whether it’s right or wrong for them to do it. and he needs to realize that it is the case, whether he welcomes the attention or not. But this added responsibility doesnt mean he cant share his opinions on things unless he is an expert in the field. The people who have asked him to keep his political opinions to himself are indirectly putting him up on the pedestal and adding more weight to his thoughts in the process. Having met Don recently and enjoyed a late night dinner with him at Cracker Barrel, i can tell you that he does not live his life on a pedestal. He doesnt see his opinions as more valuable than anyone else’s. He is not going to stop sharing them just because he lives in a culture that wants to glorify everything that emerges from his brain because he is a gifted writer. should he be careful to think through his opinions on things he shares? yes. and so should you and i. at least his rant on Bush met that criterion, whereas the “stick to personal reflections” seemed to fall a bit short.

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