Thursday, November 03, 2016

Jen Hatmaker

I'll make a few observations about Jen Hatmaker. I never heard of her until she became instantly notorious for endorsing the LGBT agenda. 

i) From the little I've read, she's a 44-year-old mother and the wife of a megachurch pastor. She graduated from Oklahoma Baptist U. Don't know what her major was. According to one background story:

The writer and speaker calls their weekends a "crazy chaotic show, from Friday to Monday," as she flies between Christian conferences before joining her husband, Brandon, at their Free Methodist church plant for worship each Sunday. 
Amid quippy asides and Instagram photos of everyone smiling wide, Hatmaker chronicles her family—three kids "the old-fashioned way" and two adopted from Ethiopia in 2011—on her popular blog. Her 2012 book, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess (B&H Publishing), remains a bestseller as it follows her family's 30-day fasts to combat excessive consumption.

Apparently, she has quite a following among some women. One question is: why? Why think she has any particular wisdom to impart? Why think she's wiser than your own mother? 

There are some gifted women. There are women who have useful things to say. Take a Bible commentator like Karen Jobes, or Christian philosophers like Elizabeth Anscombe and Lydia McGrew, or a poet and devotional writer like Christina Rossetti. These women write with insight. 

But what does Hatmaker have going for her besides natural charisma? What qualifies her to teach women? What does she know that millions of other wives and mothers don't know? Why would you buy her books or attend a conference where she's the keynote speaker? She lacks the exegetical expertise of Karen Jobes. She's not a deep thinker like Elizabeth Anscombe or Lydia McGrew. She lacks the artistic talent of Christina Rossetti. What do women expect to learn from her? 

In that regard she reminds me of other women who have a following, like Joyce Meyer and Rachel Held Evans. Apparently, other women feel that they can "relate" to these celebrities. But why would you cling to their every word and let them do your thinking for you? 

ii) Which brings me to a second point. Unless the pastor or televangelist takes precautions to guard against it, televangelism and megachurches can produce a dynamic in which his family are treated like royalty. Simply to be the wife of a televangelist or megachurch pastor makes her the First Lady. Sons and daughters are princes and princesses. Take husband and wife teams like Kenneth and Gloria Copeland (not to mention that both of them are heretical). Queen to the king. 

Don't get me wrong: I'm not saying there's anything inherently wrong with a husband-and-wife team. I had an elderly relative who used to listen to Jill Briscoe. She graduated from Cambridge. She seemed to be very intelligent. Maybe more so than her husband. 

My point is that a woman isn't morally or theologically discerning simply in virtue of being married to a televangelist or megachurch pastor. Likewise, the fact that someone's a natural public speaker doesn't mean they have good judgment in theology of ethics. That doesn't qualify them to be spiritual leaders. That applies to men as well as women. 

I'm reminded of Erma Bombeck. She was a columnist who made a lucrative career writing about her experience as a housewife. Women could "relate" to her. That's because Bombeck was a humorist. 

In addition, is Jen Hatmaker even a good wife and mother? That's not a part-time job. How can she do that when she's jetting around the country on the speaking circuit? Likewise, is turning your home into a reality show really good for the kids? Is it good for them to live in a fishbowl? Is she even a good role model at that level? 

ii) Now I'd like to shift to a related point. And that's the role of emotions. Emotions are important. There's a sense in which we all live for our emotions. By that I mean, we all want to be happy. 

There is, though, a crucial difference between living for emotions  and living by emotions. It doesn't occur to many people that we need to educate our emotions. There's a difference between raw emotion and sanctified emotion. In and of themselves, emotions are not a morally or rationally reliable guide to forming beliefs or making decisions. 

Likewise, it doesn't occur to many people that sometimes we have a duty to override our emotions. Mere feelings have no moral authority. It's wrong to let your feelings lead you. Sanctified reason, reason informed by revelation, needs to be in the driver's seat, and not emotion. 

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