From John Brown, Father Coughlin, and Billy Graham to the likes of Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker to Rick Warren and Joel Osteen, our most famous preachers know how to move a crowd, whip up a religious fervor, and bring us closer to Him. There's always been a political element to these folks too, and lately most of these mega-preachers have become associated with what's called the Religious Right. But they're not just political. Most of these guys are self-help gurus, and people look to them for "answers." They try to help people navigate this harsh, mean world and make sense of the senseless.
And they build HUGE churches, stadiums really, where literally THOUSANDS of people flock each week like it's a football game. It's really mind-blowing.
Most New Yorkers assume this is a scene to be found in the South or the Sun Belt -- and that's mostly true. But what if you heard that such a scene exists right here in NYC? And perhaps most shockingly, it's to be found in the beating heart, the ground zero, the epicenter, the very headquarters of the liberal elite?
'Tis true. Yes, you heard me right -- Sarah Palin has a friend on the Upper West Side.
Meet Tim Keller. For the last twenty years, he's been preaching his stern, conservative version of the Gospel at Redeemer Presbytarian Church. And he's got an enormous following of New Yorkers who come to hear him preach every week. He's so popular that he has to have multiple services every day to accommodate everybody. Forget Cardinal Dolan or Reverend Al or even Rabbi Shmuli or whatever his name is-- Tim Keller is the Voice of NYC.
You must read this fascinating article about him in this week's New York magazine. Who knew a guy like this existed or was so popular in this town?
What's amazing about Keller is that his "hook", the thing that gives him such a following is that he preaches less about social issues and more about what he sees as the sins of over-achievment -- mainly that people strive to be overachievers because they desperately want to fill up the emptiness of their souls. It's an interesting idea and, in these tough economic times, needless to say, many people are questioning the ethos of unbridled capitalism, of greed, or more more more ... stuff. It's an interesting article, and he's an interesting guy, so I suggest you read it and come to your own conclusions.