Tag Archives: SMBI

Fame, and idolatry, and Zayn Malik, and God, and me.


Today when I got on twitter I saw that the BIG NEWS of the moment was that Zayn Malik, one of the members of the popular boy band One Direction, was quitting the band. Big deal, right? I’ve often wondered how someone with any musical integrity at all could be in a band that is only popular because the members are cute and the music is manufactured by professionals who know how to craft bubblegum pop to appeal to the masses.

If you have ever heard a sermon on modern-day idolatry, I’m sure you’ve heard celebrities mentioned. A number of people, both Christian and secular alike, are disturbed by the way people treat celebrities as gods.

As I read through the comments bemoaning Zane’s departure, however, I realized that treating celebrities like gods extends beyond mere worship.

Have you ever noticed that people often get the idea that God owes us something, whether it be a happy life, a job that we enjoy, or a romantic partner? In a similar way, people get the idea that celebrities owe them something.

Over an over I saw the same disturbing type of comment. “How dare he leave the band? How dare he not give me my favorite music? How dare he not be the person I want him to be?”

In general, I try to spend as little time as possible thinking about people like Zayn. This struck a nerve with me though, and suddenly I was having flashbacks to a year ago, at Sharon Mennonite Bible Institute (SMBI), when I was first struck by a large-scale feeling of not living up to what strangers expected me to be.

I don’t claim to be a celebrity by any stretch of the imagination. In Oregon, isolated from the Mennonite world at large, I rarely meet strangers who know me through my writing. But at SMBI, five out of the fifty students admitted to me that they were big fans of my blog.

Now, five might not sound like many. But that was 10% of the student body, and SMBI provides as smooth of a cross-section of Mennonites as you’re likely to get. And that scared the heebie-jeebies out of me.

Those were just my hard-core fans. Multiple other people knew who I was, similar to the eerie way Mennonites always seem to know who Hans Mast is even if they don’t know much about him. All three of my roommates later admitted to knowing who I was before they met me, and, worst of all…

I wasn’t like they expected me to be.

I am perfectly fine with being the unexpected Mennonite you’re just not quite sure about. If you’re not in my family or my community, and if you’re not my God, I never thought I owed you anything.

I never thought you expected me to owe you anything.

Let me just clarify: My roommates were all lovely ladies and we had great fun together. Sooner or later I was bound to find out that I have an audience, and that the audience has expectations, and that it is impossible for me to meet those expectations.

All the same, it was very painful, and I have had a hard time writing for an audience since then.

Recently I’ve begun to feel that God wants me to write more, and if it weren’t for that, I wouldn’t be writing this post. I think it’s time to get over my fear of being idolized, and embrace the blessing of actually having an audience.

At the same time, I have a plea for you readers: Please remember that people you have never met are humans too, whether they be your favorite author, an annoying celebrity, or a little blogger with only a few hundred subscribers.

Idealizing someone, even that Christian writer who inspires you to follow Jesus with your whole heart, is very often a form of idolatry.

We All Love SMBI

Hello everyone.

I am at SMBI.

It is snowy here. That is why the world looks so white.

There is a snow shovel on the front porch. Or maybe it is too small to be considered a porch. It’s more of a front stoop.

I haven’t posted for a while because first I was flying (boo-ring!) and then I was in Virginia and I didn’t really feel like writing.

I was sad.

And packing up all my stuff.

And sad.

But now I am happy because it is almost impossible to not be happy when you are here.

With the mailboxes.

And the little box where the secretary sits.

And the nice cooks who let you hang out in the kitchen if you feel like it.

Last night I was so tired and I went to bed early. “Bed” being the couch in the ladies’ lounge. But I didn’t go to sleep because I started arguing with a girl about whether or not you are still a sinner after you are saved.

This is a picture of her. Her name is Krista. If you are wondering why that picture is at such a weird angle it is because I can’t use my mother’s camera anymore because my mother is in Oregon and I am in Pennsylvania. So instead I am using my webcam.

This is a picture of the great divide and part of my forehead and nose.

There are two parts of SMBI. One part holds the gym, classrooms, boys dorm, lounge, kitchen, and dining room. The other part holds the ladies dorm, library, chapel, and offices. They are connected by two double doors known as The Great Divide.

At a certain time every night, all the boys are required to be on the boy’s side of the great divide, and the girls are required to be on the girl’s side.

Sometimes, after that certain time, the boys will stand on the boys side and the girls on the girls side and they will sing the Great Divide song. I don’t know what it’s called. But the lyrics go something like, “There’s a love calling from the other side, bla bla bla cross the great divide.”

It is an SMBI joke.

I always thought it would be fun to, around Christmas time, hang mistletoe in the doorway of The Great Divide.

Maybe that would be a bad idea.

I miss SMBI.