A Week of Watching TBN (Part 1)

Todd Hertz

Travis Mamone
January 13, 2010

What's with TBN women and big hair? I guess the higher the hairdo, the closer to God.

Have you read Nadia Bolz-Weber's "Salvation on the Small Screen?" In it, she watches TBN for 24 hours straight. Brave woman!

Allan White
January 13, 2010

I'm struck by the similarity in concept between this and the guy who ate at McDonald's for a month.

Glad you founds some worthy elements - the faith stories can be really powerful and there's really not many other outlets for things like that.

There's a certain... aesthetic about that show that illuminates a subculture in the U.S. It's completely alien to me and many viewers (c.f. the "big hair" and flashiness).

Where does that aesthetic come from? Who is it targeted at?

A troubling development is that TBN is how other people abroad (such as Africa) see Christianity itself. It's contributed mightily to a blatant focus on a prosperity gospel, which can be absolutely toxic to poor tribes and countries. It's twisted their view of Christ.

January 13, 2010

You are a brave man!

I do appreciate that TBN Christian movies and entertainment and discussion to airwaves.

I just wish they had a better screening policy. Its hard to be legit when you also air Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, Kenneth Copeland and Marilyn Hickey.

I am glad they are reaching the lost...I just wonder about the overall message they are using.


January 13, 2010

TBN is interesting. Like you, I can only watch so much because it seems cheesy and often there is an emphasis on giving that I find uncomfortable. However, the cheesiness I can excuse. Paul and Jan Crouch come from an earlier era that grew up on Lawrence Welk, big hair and polyester suits. My grandmother had big blue hair. What I think is more significant though is the racial mix of the audience and guests. Christian intellectuals and mainline protestant denominations may talk about racial reconciliation and justice, but what you see on TBN are people of all races respecting and loving each other and worshipping elbow to elbow. Main line denominations may debate women serving in ministry but these unsophisticated inner city churches are often pastored by women. One of the most interesting "Praise The Lord" segments is when pastors in the audience are introduced at the beginning of a program. The pentecostals in the 1901 revival on Azusa street were poor and racially mixed. That egalitarian strain continues today as a pentecostal distinctive. Amy Semple McPherson insisted on interracial meetings in her crusades in the south in the 1930s. She also kept much of Los Angeles alive with her free soup kitchens during the depression. I read an interesting comment recently that we rarely talk about prosperity or “seed faith” in our middle and upper class denominational churches. You hear more prosperity talk among the poor, the inner city, the racial minorities because that is their greatest need. I share the uneasiness with the emphasis on prosperity and the occasional cheesy theatrics, and while I don’t watch TBN very often, I respect what they are doing. Jesus loves these people and in some ways they are ahead of the curve.

Jorge Fusaro
January 13, 2010

Only God knows if TBN has done more good than harm. Personally, I have a hard time with the whole showcase of riches, prosperity, flash, pink hair stunts, etc. As a Latino of Italian descent and born/raised in Puerto Rico, I find no common grounds with their programming. I bet other non-Caucasians will probably feel the same way. It is not even an accurate representation of the church in America (aside of Osteen, Copeland, Hinn and others).

This is an example, in my opinion, where the medium distorts the message.

Another main concern, along with what Allan wrote is how Christianity is perceived outside of the US. The US is the leading exporter of media (and with it a bag of mixed American values) which seldom ignore Jesus and reject the Christian faith.

Perhaps TBN + Hollywood = a recipe for disaster and a misrepresentation of the Gospel.

January 13, 2010

A few years ago there was an alleged sex scandal involving Paul Crouch. I just don't watch it that much.

January 13, 2010

I have to agree with RunZip here. The Church needs credibility. If we are perceived not to be able to follow even our own Bible, how can anyone believe us? The truth will be rejected lock, stock and barrel with the heretical claims of the false teachers.

The same goes with those 'well-meaning' Christians who simply pass on all sorts of urgent and important message without even bothering to validate them. Tell me, do you trust someone who ask you to forward an email so some organization will donate $x to a cancer patient who does not exist or to look for a child missing 20 years ago but mentioned in the email as 'seen last week'? They claim to know the one true living God too, you know.

January 14, 2010

I watch TBN, or rather my kids do. We have an antenna for TV and the digital TBN station has 5 channels total. One of them is a kids channel called "Smile of a Child" (63.5 in Atlanta).
My kids love it and there is pretty much no advertising, which is much better than qubo or the other kids only programming on the major networks.
So, I like it. I don't watch the normal TBN stuff though, I just can't seem to get into most of it.

January 14, 2010

I am a caucasian, and I feel the same way you do.

Jessica Denise
January 15, 2010

I like Praise the Lord. My uncle Roosevelt was on last year before he passed away, too, so it definitely was a cool thing for me! It has its good and bad moments, but I think that even cheesy things can draw people closer to the Lord, so there's room for all of it.

January 16, 2010

I think this has more to do with social class than with race.

January 18, 2010

I watched TBN in the mid-1990s when they aired a Christian kids show called The Filling Station on Saturday afternoons. I watched the show on VHS tapes when I was in kindergarten, so I was glad to see it on TV again. Aside from that, I have not watched TBN.

Add your comment to join the discussion!