“The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” – Oscar Wilde
Charlie Sheen is the highest paid television actor in Hollywood. Rob Bell is the pastor of what some say is the fastest growing church in American History in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
These two guys don’t appear to have a lot in common. Except for one thing. Both have created a stir within the past couple of weeks.
Charlie’s lifestyle of drugs and prostitutes landed him in hot-water with his employer. Two and a Half Men went on hiatus and now he and every other employee of the show are (temporarily, I assume) out of jobs. This scandal led to a series of interviews on ABC News in which a very old-looking Charlie told us, among other things, that:
- He’s “extremely old-fashioned.”
- He “exposed people to magic.”
- He is “on a drug, a drug called Charlie Sheen.”
- That he “blinked and cured his brain.”
- He’s a “bitchin’ rock star from Mars.”
- And (this is my favorite) he has “tiger blood.”
This whole circus was wildly and widely viewed and talked about. The country ate it up and hung on every word. His words and lifestyle evoked strong feelings from people. Emotions from outrage to pity to admiration to compassion (and everything in between) were expressed about the man.
Rob Bell’s teaching and theology have been a source of inspiration and tension for a long time. However, the frequency and intensity of the challenges from his critics are at an all time high. You see, Rob has a new book coming out. You can view the trailer here. It’s called Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived. Twitterverse erupted with responses to the trailer. The evangelical community is up in arms. One prominent Christian voice tweeted, “Farewell, [from evangelical Christianity] Rob Bell.”
These 2 otherwise unrelated situations got me thinking…
First, who would win a Charlie Sheen vs. Rob Bell steel cage match? It’s hard to say, but if I was a betting man, I’d put my money on Charlie (because of the tiger blood).
Second, if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find some truths about humanity hidden beneath the surface.
Here’s what I mean…
- We love controversy, in any form. It doesn’t matter the reason, the source, or the situation, we flock to controversial situations like a pack of wild hyenas is drawn to a wounded wildebeest. Whether it’s an actor addicted to drugs and prostitutes or a pastor teaching things we disagree with, we fill up the front row at Controversy Theater with our popcorn and soda and soak up every scintillating scene. A lot of writers, TV hosts, and radio personalities have recognized this and laughed all the way to the bank.
- We love to choose sides. Edward vs. Jacob. Conan vs. Jay. Chantel vs. Emily. Sheen vs. Sanity. Bell vs. Hell. We choose our team and nothing can sway our loyalty.
- We make sweeping judgments about people we don’t even know. I don’t know Charlie Sheen. He’s a funny guy and a heck of an actor, but that’s the extent of my knowledge of the man. But I can fill in the gaps with how he presents himself, and how the editors of the TV stations that air the interviews present him. I don’t know Rob Bell. I’ve met him a couple of times and he was kind enough to give me a reading list that has proved invaluable. I think he’s a brilliant communicator, although I don’t always agree with what he says. But I don’t know him. If nothing else, I admire his marketing savvy. The trailer did exactly what it was supposed to do. It got a gaggle of people interested in reading his book, including me.
These are our tendencies. But is it the best way to live?
Maybe showing compassion is better than soaking up controversy. Maybe trying to find balance and common ground is better than choosing sides. Maybe we should be a little less judgmental, and a lot more understanding.
Or maybe I’ve got tiger blood…