Brodesser-Akner really gets in there with the church’s zealously non-threatening weirdness, which combines some fairly old-school doctrinal nonsense with a shiny, hyper-produced, flannel-n’-man buns exterior. Young celebrity clientele comprise a significant chunk of this mystical luster:
On any given Sunday, Hillsong NYC salves the souls of 8,000 people, and what souls: Justin Bieber, yes, but also Kendall Jenner and Selena Gomez and Kevin Durant and Bono. “People say we cater to celebrities,” Pastor Carl tells me. “And I say, yes, we do. Celebrities deserve a relationship with God. Celebrities deserve a place to pray.”
Sure! Bieber lived with Pastor Carl for a month, and has apparently leaned on him for all things Jesus-related:
He got on his knees and he cried. “I want to know Jesus,” Justin Bieber sobbed to Pastor Carl. And so together they prayed. Suddenly, Justin was overcome by the Gospel, and he said, “Baptize me.” And Pastor Carl said, “Yes, buckaroo”—he really does call Bieber buckaroo, and now you should, too—“let’s do this. Let’s schedule a time.” But Justin Bieber couldn’t be Justin Bieber for one minute longer. “No, I want to do it now.” And Pastor Carl saw salvation in Justin’s eyes, and knew that his baptism couldn’t come quickly enough.
And so they found a bathtub. The bathtub belonged to former New York Knick Tyson Chandler:
“So I called my boy,” Carl says. Carl has many boys, but in this case his boy was Tyson Chandler, who was then on the New York Knicks. It was 2 A.M. by now. The Knicks had beaten the Miami Heat earlier that night. He knew Tyson lived in a fancy Upper West Side building with a pool. “I said, ‘Bro, I’m in a jam here. I have JB with me, he wants to get baptized.’ He’s like, ‘Done. Easy.’ ” But they arrive and there’s no access to the pool; it’s too late. Then Tyson realizes he might have another solution. He reminds Carl that he’s seven feet tall and that his bathtub was built to spec. Justin Bieber is slightly tinier than that, and so they go upstairs to Tyson’s place, and Tyson’s wife makes some food and lays down some towels and Justin gets into the tub, and down Justin Bieber goes, and he comes out of the water, and he is reborn.
The entire article is weird and beautiful and funny and warm. Read it here.
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