We live in a glam world. A glamour driven world. The people we listen to, trust most, believe in, honor, admire, venerate - are people in the public 'glam' eye, glamming it up, and in so doing likely over-feeding their ego like a labrador running the neighborhood on trash day. Justification for the glam-way is that the glammer is about spreading 'good-news'.
The glammer has the opportunity to glam through three primary ways: 1. a personality that has been carefully developed and groomed for glam 2. happy accident of being attractive to the public 3. sheer giftedness and genuine insight - giftedness and insight most often stroked and maximized because of the love and allure of glam.
Glam dominates our culture. Hollywood is built on glam as is every other industry to some degree. It is what marketing is all about - creating glam. Glam garners attention and notoriety, helps put forth an image or idea and makes money. Given these things, it is not a wonder that seeking and possessing glam is highly desirable.
What is troubling is glam-seeking - even inadvertent glam seeking (if this is possible), for those who advocate living a spiritually disciplined life and whose message should be one (I suppose this is dependent on the spiritual tradition) quite contrary to the life-style of glam. Certainly this is so for followers of Christ.
There are countless spiritual advisers these days. Many of the best known write a book about their advice and seek to publish it and sell it in as high a volume as possible. This seems reasonable enough if the author believes the message to be valuable. Typically with a book comes touring - strategy in the publishing world to sell more books. Fair enough. Publishers are in the business of selling books.
These spiritual advisors, now authors, often become speakers as well, globe-trotting to put out the message that seems so valuable to so many from cities to backwater communities. The author, on whatever level, becomes a celebrity - even if for a niche community and the glam life begins.
This glammin' life is dangerous at all times and in all industries - but maybe most acutely so in the realm of 'religion' and the emotional coercion and starry manipulation that can go with it by glam-seekers with a religious message. Not to mention it is contrary to the actual authenticity of what it is to seek a spiritual growth.
Who is your favorite religious glammer? Are they coming to a city near you?
Post-script: Wendell Berry is a sagely author who has largely, if not completely, averted the glam trap. He seems to know that doing so would compromise and undermine his entire ethic, just as it undermines the ethic of those who purport to provide insight to the teaching and way of Christ. Mr. Berry has routinely turned down countless invitations to speak. He is wise to the fact that extensive travel, carbon credit or no, is not environmentally responsible, a topic he is passionate about. Moreover, he does not seek to become a celebrity for what he writes. Rather, he seems to hope that others will embody and learn the wisdom that he has by practicing themselves, and seeking those with wisdom locally. They are there, just slow down long enough to look and listen.
How many 'sages' that you read and look to for wisdom, direction, advice, glam about the globe?