Beliefnet
The Prophet of Pop

Welcome one and all to part 2 of the Justin Bieber Bible Study review!  Today we’ll be looking at the opening sections which describe the purpose of the discussion.  The writers also subtly try to convince us that Never Say Never really even deserves a study guide.  Do they succeed?

The opening is a letter from Justin’s mom which describes her faith and how it has impacted her life.  While the letter is chock full of Christian cliches, it does manage to come off as sincere.  For the purpose of the pamphlet, it humanizes Justin Bieber by making him less of a teenage sex symbol and more of a normal kid.  The letter also frames the talented Justin as a pop star who wishes to use his platform for furthering the Christian message.  I’m not really sure how that “baby baby baby oh” song furthers the gospel, but hey, what do I know?

One interesting thing to note is the huge disconnect between the pictures and text throughout the guide.  Given the subject matter one would think nearly every picture would have some relation to religion, especially since we know there is a scene where he prays over a pizza.  Instead you get pictures of him signing autographs, hanging with celebrities, looking seductively at a camera, and one, just one, picture of him praying with his crew.  It simply doesn’t work, unless Justin is actually signing that picture of himself as a gift for Jesus.  That would introduce a new layer of depth to this discussion guide for sure.

After the letter are sections where the movie and the purpose of the discussion guide are described.  Let me share a few of my favorite quotes:

“The movie includes appearances by Usher and Boyz II Men, who serve as mentors and interact with Justin in a nurturing, protective manner.”

“Justin Bieber: Never Say Never represents the kind of compelling cultural event that can’t help but spark spirited discussion in faith circles.”

“In being who he is and rising to the heights of entertainment industry success, Justin Bieber has provided a golden opportunity for faith leaders to energize young people in the practice of their faith.”

“In an effort to help you reinforce the themes and messages of Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, we recommend that you see the film as a group and then follow up with the questions and scripture found herein.”

In addition to these quotes there are also a few words about him praying before concerts and learning drums from a Christian rock drummer.  Otherwise, the reasons why this discussion guide exists really seem to be remarkably vapid.  That doesn’t really bode well for the actual content of the discussion guide, does it?

I will say this though – they are right about this movie being a cultural event that youth leaders need to take note of.  The amount of teenagers who have already seen this film is staggering, and it may be interesting, or even necessary, to discuss the movie with them.  However, the faith themes of the movie as they are reflected in this book are either so obvious or so forced that I almost feel sorry for the poor soul who had to craft the introduction and discussion questions.  As we’ll see in part 3, it isn’t necessarily that the movie doesn’t deserve discussion, but whether or not this discussion guide asks the right questions.

See you then!

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