We all know a book supremacist, somebody who swears that the books are better than the on-screen portrayal. Famously, Crissle West, of The Read podcast, is a perfect example. She frequently tells her co-host, Kid Fury, and the listeners how horrible the Harry Potter movies were in comparison to the books. She makes no effort to conceal her distaste for the films. She admits freely that she has only been able to sit through two and a half of the movies. I’ve heard similar critiques about the Game of Thrones series, anything based on J.R.R Tolkien’s novels, and even the children’s book , Mr. Lemoncello’s Library.
Book supremacy is a real thing. There is something to be said to leaving things to the imagination. Which brings me to my point: Mike Todd’s sermon illustration crossed several lines. I went back and forth about whether or not to watch the video of him hacking up phlegm, rubbing it in his hands, and then wiping it on another black man’s face in the middle of a pandemic! But ultimately, I felt like I had to watch if I was going to comment, and I couldn’t not comment. Everybody else is commenting. Let me throw in my two mites. (You see my little biblical reference. I be reading and stuff!)
First let me say this. I like Mike Todd. His “Crazy Faith” sermon series was a blessing to so many people, including myself. I sang along when he sang, “I got the keys, keys, keys…”. Relationship Goals is a best seller for a reason. But umm, this latest sermon illustration went just a bit too far, which he acknowledged and apologized for. I appreciate you for doing this. I wish more pastors felt compelled to apologize when they misstep or overstep in public. Unfortunately that is not the norm.
Mike Todd absolutely owed an apology to his congregation, and to every person who watched that demonstration. But more importantly, he owed an apology to that young man who stood there and took that abuse, all in the name of making the word come alive. I love a good sermon illustration. I love it when pastors pull out props. I love a multimedia presentation. Some of us need that to understand biblical concepts.
I refuse to watch the Babysitter’s club shows, because nothing on screen can recapture the nostalgia of my mid-90s self reading about Claudia (the real star in the books) and her friends dealing with teenage issues. Denzel Washington’s lone tear in Glory, was a magnificent piece of work, but even that horrible scene wasn’t as bad as actual slavery. I didn’t like the Passion of the Christ because there is no real way to depict the agony of a crucifixion. No movie magic can portray the painful death of Jesus on Golgotha’s hill. And none of us needed to see Mike Todd spit into his hands (twice) and rub it on somebody’s face.
Remember, when the old church mothers would corner young women and tell them they were dressed inappropriately. If your skirt was too short and/or too tight, (as many of them were in the 1990s) the older women would say “leave something to the imagination.” How come nobody ever said that to the pastor?
The word to the pastor is always, “Make it plain.” Plain doesn’t get you likes or retweets in today’s social media environment. Instead, some preachers are opting for sensationalism. And in employing the sensational, we have lost our common sense. We have forgotten that God’s word and his grace are sufficient. Nothing needs to be added. Nothing needs to be taken away. The Word is enough.
I guess that makes me a book supremacist, too. I wish more of us were.