Lauren Sandler’s, Righteous, Illustrates that Hatchet Jobs Sell Books

Dear friends of mine agreed to be interviewed last year by Lauren Sandler for a book she was writing – the just released, Righteous: Dispatches from the Evangelical Youth Movement. The interview was with Ted Dietz, mainly, but following the interview Ted and his wife, Sarah, my best friend of fifteen years, invited Lauren and her husband over for dinner…


What was just released this week is a gross twisting of fact and reality, and a sad distortion of the lives of two women – my friend, Sarah, and another gal I know, Judy. These are lovely, strong, educated women who have made the choice to be married, to raise children, and to stay home with their children while they are young.

Their lives and the choices they have made are currently being mocked and scrutinized and debated on the reputable, and in blogs across the internet. Lauren has portrayed both these women as shallow, trapped, sell-outs who left behind great careers and a fabulous life of partying because they bought into the brainwashing tactics of a tennis shoe wearing, cool aide drinking pastor.

You can read an excerpt of the book here at If you know Ted and Sarah as I do, you will be disgusted at how they are portrayed. If you don’t know Ted and Sarah, please know that what is printed is not fact, but rather an attempt to shove a size 10 foot of reality into the size 8 shoe of Lauren’s agenda.

When Bryan and I were talking last night, and I was flying off the handle with expletives and threats of dismemberment, he reminded me of Jeffrey Overstreet’s hilarious story on his Looking Closer blog – the one where he was contacted for an interview on whether he thought the media was anti-religious. As he was preparing his response, one that called out the media’s tendency to cover the most arresting stories, which also tend to be the extreme voices in religion – the Jerry Fallwell types who blame terrorist acts on homosexuals – the media source called him back to cancel, determining that Jeffrey’s voice was not extreme enough for the interview.

“I can’t think of a punchline good enough to end this story,” he said in conclusion.

Ted and Sarah are balanced, salt of the earth people. What they lacked in extremity, Lauren fashioned with words in a James Frey Million Little Pieces sort of way. But hey, a little augmented reality never hurt anybody, right?

It certainly sells books.

3 thoughts on “Lauren Sandler’s, Righteous, Illustrates that Hatchet Jobs Sell Books”

  1. We have to remember that we ALL have filters. And Lauren’s filters are evident in this article if you know the Dietzs’. I think if we can suspend personal indignation over how they were portrayed–we can take a lot from this perspective.

    I think it’s actually a very interesting article and sums up pretty consisely what Mars Hill and subsequent church plants (like our own) must look like to an unbelieving mind. I was challenged by the article and laughed at many of her statements…like “Hipster culture is what sweetens the proverbial Kool-Aid, which parishioners here seem to gulp by the gallon” I mean, that’s funny.

    I’ve often wondered how subversive our “missional living” really is to the unbeliever and what an educated mind not moved to faith by the Holy Spirit would do with some of our lingo, lifestyle and seeming fundamentalism….now I know.

    I understand being offended–because I know Sarah well too and have made some similar choices with my life. But, I have to remember that this life we lead looks very strange from the outside…it confounds the nonbeliever and seems foolish. Which comforts me in a way–that I’m doing something right. 🙂

  2. You tell ’em, Jen!

    Thanks for the inside scoop. I read the article and found it really patronising to the people involved. Driscoll’s gender-role views (from the little I’ve heard) don’t click too well with my own, but depicting Mars Hill people as being brainwashed drones is entirely uncalled-for. Everyone makes their choices and it’s not fair slander people to make a polemical point.

    Unfortunatel it’s a common problem with politically-minded writers from both end of the spectrum that they see others’ choices as being a direct attack on their own.

  3. I attended Mars Hill with my husband for seven months in 2000-2001. The Salon article, though irritatingly hyperbolic in places, rang true for me in many ways.

    My husband and I left for two reasons. It felt like a cult and because of its view of women.

    It felt like a cult because people quoted Mark far more than scripture. Because of its “love it or leave it” attitude. Because of the “Mark drones” who parrotted him at every turn. Because Mark made comments that suggested that no other Seattle-area churches were worth attending/true. Because it revolves around Mark and would clearly fall if he were not there. Because Bible studies through the week discuss what Mark said on Sunday. Because Mark wants to “increase the flock” by his church members having children. (Ummm. Where is that in Scripture?)

    Its view of women was troubling (understatement…) because Mark made comments to me and to my husband that go far beyond any hard-to-swallow verses about gender differences. The comments he made to us made it clear that he believes women are less intelligent. Really. (I feel that quoting him here would be more provocative than I wish to be.) MH members want desperately to believe that Mark’s view is biblical because they have based their lives on it. He is so charismatic, so clever, that few the time to check out what he is saying. It feels dangerous.

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