- (I think I have blogged about this before but it has re-entered my thoughts so here it goes …)
Sometime ago I read a book by Stewart Justman, Fool’s Paradise, which deals with the phenomena of pop psychology. It talk about Dr Phil and the numerous other TV evangelists of a better-you. He traces some general themes: a general denial of personal responsibility, utopianism, a hostility to tradition (lived truth), the theory that living is simply a matter of learned (from exports) techniques, and above all else that all of this is a closed system beyond all scrutiny. Also he makes the comment that in the modern world the psychologist’s chair has replaced the Confessional. It is not the type of book I would normally read (and intellectually swallow) but it was very interesting.
Why am I bringing this up now? Last night on A Current Affair (don’t bother flaming me it was a once off) there was a report on Hillsong and various other Christian groups and their abuse of the Australian tax-system. (Even stranger than the whole programme was Father Bob Maguire’s comments!) It struck me again: this is Pop Christianity. The themes are the same with a little bit of God-talk added into mix. It is self-help Christianity with Dr Phil replaced by a charismatic speaker, the psychologist’s room by small groups following yet another study about techniques for a better prayer life/health life/relationship with Jesus etc.
As the title suggests, it’s a Fool’s Paradise presenting an unreal world. Yet it is not the conclusions pre se we need to reject. Rather we can rejoice in the Truth which is present but be critical about the overall method and package which presents them to us. So next time someone praises a Pop Christianity programme or book rejoice in the Truth, reject the method!