Muse Reporting on the arts and culture

Pastor steals the show

Media | The Voice crowns an unexpected winner
by Collin Garbarino
Posted 5/26/20, 07:50 pm

From Aretha Franklin to Justin Timberlake, it’s not uncommon for singers to get their start performing in front of congregations. A church background isn’t unusual on TV singing competitions either. Kris Allen, the 2009 winner of American Idol, served as worship leader of a nondenominational church in Arkansas, and Chris Blue, a 2017 finalist on The Voice, served in the same capacity at a Methodist church in eastern Tennessee. What’s a little more out of the ordinary is for any singer to score his big break in his fifth decade of life.

Last week, 42-year-old Todd Tilghman, the lead pastor of Cornerstone Church in Meridian, Miss., became the oldest person to win The Voice in its 18 seasons. In a contest that routinely features contestants under the age of 20, the victorious father of eight has been married for more than 20 years. Before he auditioned for the show, he’d never performed outside of church, yet audiences said they connected with his cheerful personality and found his family life inspiring.

In his audition in February, Tilghman impressed the judges with his rendition of Bob Seger’s “We’ve Got Tonight.” During his first appearance on the show, three of the judges—Kelly Clarkson, Nick Jonas, and John Legend—appealed to Tilghman to join their teams on the basis that they also grew up singing for the Lord on Sundays. Ultimately, Tilghman opted for country music star Blake Shelton as his coach, saying he thought the two of them had similar temperaments.

Throughout his run on The Voice, Tilghman sang a collection of classic pop and country numbers. As coronavirus lockdowns forced the show to start airing remotely, he returned home—and to his spiritual roots. As one of his final songs, Tilghman performed MercyMe’s “I Can Only Imagine” while standing alone in his church.

The setting ironically may have complemented the tone better than a Hollywood studio full of cheering fans would have, a reminder of what the pandemic has taken from us. “You are a man that teaches the Word of God to people, so I know you connect with these lyrics,” Shelton said of Tilghman’s performance. “So really lose yourself in what this song is saying.”

The winner of The Voice receives $100,000 and a recording contract. Tilghman said he plans to use some of the prize money to take his family to Walt Disney World, but he doesn’t plan to make any drastic changes to his life just yet. He’s still preaching each week via Facebook Live. But thanks to his win on The Voice, the audience for his weekly sermon has jumped to tens of thousands of people.

YouTube/SomeGoodNews YouTube/SomeGoodNews John Krasinski on Some Good News

Good news sells

The YouTube hit Some Good News made major news after announcing CBS bought the show for an undisclosed amount. Actor John Krasinski released the first episode on March 29 to highlight good news from around the world during the coronavirus pandemic.

Krasinski’s daughters, ages 3 and 5, painted the poster that became the show’s logo, giving a homemade feel to a homemade production.

Some fans criticized Krasinski for the move, saying on social media that CBS would make them pay to watch the show. On Twitter, Krasinski announced CBS would release the content for free on multiple streaming platforms, but the network has not specified how it will distribute the show. Krasinski will no longer host the program, but he will be an executive producer.

Krasinski’s YouTube channel has attracted more than 2.5 million subscribers, with individual episodes drawing as many as 17 million views. One focused on 2020 graduating seniors and featured guests Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, and Malala Yousafzai. Krasinski also hosted a virtual prom, a wedding, a reunion of The Office cast, and live performances by the Jonas Brothers and Billie Eilish. —Seth Johnson

Getty Images/Photo by Jason Davis/KLOVE Getty Images/Photo by Jason Davis/KLOVE Jon Steingard of Hawk Nelson

Another deconstruction

Last week, the frontman of popular Christian rock group Hawk Nelson revealed he no longer believes in God.

“After growing up in a Christian home, being a pastor’s kid, playing and singing in a Christian band, and having the word ‘Christian’ in front of most the things in my life—I am now finding that I no longer believe in God,” Jon Steingard wrote in a lengthy Instagram post. Among the questions he said he struggles with is why God allows natural disasters and why Jesus had to die for our sins.

Steingard is the latest in a string of public figures with large Christian audiences renouncing their faith. In July 2019, bestselling author and former pastor Josh Harris announced he was no longer a believer. And in February, comedy duo Rhett and Link, whose YouTube channel boasts 15 million subscribers, together told fans they’d left the faith.

What they all have in common is that their fan base was primarily made up of teens and young adults, and all expressed some measure of affirmation of the LGBTQ movement before what they term their “spiritual deconstructions.”

Listen to my recent conversation on The World and Everything in It with John Stonestreet about the deconstruction trend. —Megan Basham

Associated Press/Photo by Sue Ogrocki (file) Associated Press/Photo by Sue Ogrocki (file) Joseph Maldonado-Passage

Tiger King goes on presidential pardon blitz

Supporters of Joseph Maldonado-Passage, better known as Joe Exotic of the true-crime documentary Tiger King, converged on Washington, D.C., last week with an unusual request: They want a presidential pardon for the big cat enthusiast.

Maldonado-Passage currently is serving a 22-year sentence at a prison in Fort Worth, Texas, for more than a dozen counts of animal cruelty and for (spoiler alert!) attempting to hire a hitman to murder a business rival. The Netflix special, despite its adult content, became a sensation as the nation went on coronavirus lockdown in March.

Maldonado-Passage’s legal team drove around Washington, D.C., in a double-decker red, white, and blue bus plastered with a plea for President Donald Trump to “please pardon Joe Exotic.” Head counsel Eric Love and others circled the Capitol and the White House and parked outside the Trump International Hotel.

During a press briefing in April, a reporter asked the president if he would consider a pardon for Joe Exotic. Trump denied knowing much about it but said he would “take a look” at the case. —Harvest Prude

Collin Garbarino
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  • OldMike
    Posted: Wed, 05/27/2020 09:56 am

    Those who apparently are Christians, and then say "I no longer believe," are on the same path I was on about 28 to 38 years ago.  

    I decided that when I "accepted Christ" I didn't really know what I was doing and was in a bad emotional state--I was at the funeral of a close friend.  And then I decided that everyone who became a Christian was similarly deluded, and there was no god to believe in.  This conclusion came from the fact that I couldn't see any difference between my sinful desires and actions before I allegedly was saved and the 10 years afterward that I more or less tried to live like a Christian--mostly trying to look like a Christian on Sunday. So where was the Holy Spirit who was supposedly inside me to help me live a more Christlike life?  I could also see that a lot of other Christians I knew were living one way on Sunday and completely different the rest of the week. 

    Thank the Lord He didn't write me off, but later drew me to accept Him for certain.  We can pray that these entertainers will also find their way to real acceptance of the Lord. I think, having been honest in saying they realize they aren't believers, they may have a straighter road to the Lord than those who have quit believing, but simply continue to put on a front and live a lie. 

  • Big Jim
    Posted: Wed, 05/27/2020 02:03 pm

    "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils"  1 Tim 4:1 KJV

  •  John Cogan's picture
    John Cogan
    Posted: Thu, 05/28/2020 02:22 am

    I wonder how much some of these 'deconstructed' Christians know about their faith, about the Scriptures, or if they even know some elementry principles of Christian apologetics. Not to mention basic Biblical theology. I believe the church is failing to educate young Christians and they are becoming easy pickings for the purveyors of the secular humanist 'gospel.'