The rumors flew. Many hoped they were not true as most parents dream of normal children. P.T. Barnum saw something different for his distant cousin. He had visions of dollar signs. Soon, he talked his cousins into letting him teach the little boy to sing and dance. Two careers were born out of the fateful meeting. Tom Thumb would only grow to 3’8” and become a hero to many little people. He carried himself with dignity and respect. Barnum would start his career as the founder of modern American marketing. It is Barnum who continues to mark our culture.
Yes, we all remember Barnum as the founder of the famous circus. Yet as I reflect on the latest Mark Driscoll Ballyhoo, and know there will more Driscoll ballyhoos, I thought of a quote by Barnum which defines our young Pastor Driscoll along with many others both in and out of faith, “I don't care what you say about me, just spell my name right.”
Early last month there was a Facebook post by the young hero pastor and fighter for the maleness of Calvinism, asking from his friends for remembrances of effeminate male worship leaders. For those not familiar with Driscoll and his ministry, he preaches a brand of muscular Christianity that borders on cartoonish. Jesus was a man’s man, and had no time for silly girl stuff. Certainly no group kumbaya singing at Driscoll’s campsite. Today, Jesus would be, if not an NFL linebacker, surely an ultimate fighter. I always find it interesting that many of the leaders of such a vision of Christianity look like guys bullied in school. It is almost like they want Jesus to be like the guys that used to bully them. This, of course, should be for another time as to ponder why.
Of course the usual suspects came out to declare him lacking in love. He removed it with neither a comment by him nor an excuse or even, dare I say it, apology. Though before it was removed, it had 87 likes and counting. One day it was here and the next gone. The storm continued. Over on Religious Rhetoric they saw this as a case in which Facebook restrained the good pastor Driscoll. I take it as further evidence that Driscoll has learned the lessons of Barnum. Like Barnum, he knows that all publicity is good publicity. He knows that many of the same people that he stirs up are ones that others despise. People will be both turned off and turned on by his message.
Rachel Held Evans, no stranger to drawing attention, was one of the first to pounce. And then others pounce on her pouncing. Soon, the Internet was abuzz and all involve got a bump in hits and readership. Outrage raged on both sides. So, what to think of the whole affair? Or the many like it? Ah, as the grandmaster of promotions, our infamous Burnham would say, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”