New book explores the faith and life of the world’s most popular teenager
By David Buckna
September 27/2011 marked the publication date of the highly anticipated book “Belieber!: Fame, Faith and The Heart of Justin Bieber” (Worthy Publishing) by Cathleen Falsani, the award-winning religion journalist and author who specializes in the intersection of spirituality and popular culture.
Test your knowledge of some of the biblical connections to Justin and his music gleaned from Falsani’s book.
“His faith–and the fact that he talks about it–and talks about it so openly and so comfortably–is also affecting alot of these kids. I read a tweet yesterday from a girl saying, ‘The way you talk about your faith has made me believe in God. I didn’t think God existed before.’ When’s the last time you heard that about a pop star?”–Cathleen Falsani
See also: The Justin Bieber Bible Quiz
1. After Pattie Mallete and Jeremy Bieber split (when Justin was ten months old) a Stratford church mentored Pattie, “brought her food, gave her good counsel, and even bought her the car she so desperately needed to get to the two jobs she worked in order to support her baby boy”. What church?
2. On February 3/07 Pattie posts a video on YouTube of Justin singing a song by Christian artist Jennifer Knapp. What song?
3. On December 11/07 Pattie posts a video on YouTube of Justin singing a song in a recording studio. What song?
4. When Scooter Braun (Justin’s manager) first announced Justin had agreed to be his client, one person told him: “You have to become a father figure to this kid.” Who said it?
5. According to Falsani, it “is something God gives every single one of us, whether we realize, recognize it, or deny it it, because God loves us.” What is it?
6. What bird tattoo did Justin get on his left hip when he turned sixteen–a dove, owl, or seagull?
7. “Pray” was the first single from Justin’s remix album, My Worlds Acoustic (November 2010) The song’s video closes with the on-screen quote: “God speaks in the silence of the heart. Listening is the beginning of prayer.” Who said it?
8. Jamaican-American singer Sean Kingston released his debut mixtape “King of Kingz” online on February 3/11. The closing track features Justin. What song?
9. Just before “Never Say Never” is released in theaters (February 11/11), Pattie was interviewed about her son and their shared faith on the Hollywood Prayer Network. (www.youtube.com/user/HPN90028)
What TV producer founded the network in July 2001?
10. Regarding one scene in “Never Say Never”, Falsani recounts: “It was such a real, true moment and said more about Pattie and Justin’s faith and relationship in a few seconds on film than they could have expressed in a million words.” What had happened?
11. At a London press conference (February 16/11) who did Justin say was his biggest role model?
12. On February 21/11 Justin’s famous “flip” hairstyle becomes a short, spikier do. The hair collected from his cut later raises $40,668 for the Gentle Barn Foundation, a California-based animal-rights organization, through an online auction.
In the book of Judges, who calls for someone to shave off the seven braids of Samson’s hair?
13. What April 1/11 “news” about Justin did Cathleen believe, until later learning it was an April Fool’s Day joke?
14. In April 2011, what church in Israel did Justin, his parents, manager, and other friends visit?
15. While in Israel, Justin and his father Jeremy got matching tattoos. What tattoo?
16. The following Bieber song preview (1:16) was posted online and includes the lyrics: “Cause you been traveling/The same road for a long time/Feels like you’re burning rubber/Going nowhere fast/I meant to tell you there’s no limit/To what you can do”. What’s the next line?
17. This former teen idol said in a May 18/11 CBC-TV interview: “Yeah. I’m crossing my fingers for him [Justin], ’cause I know what it feels like right now. I hope he’s relishing every single moment of this excitement, this enthusiasm, this hysteria that’s going on. It is exciting, but in 2 or 3 years, hang in there buddy, hang in there, you can get through it, ’cause it is… you have to go through hell and back.” Who said it?
18. Falsani writes: “…those of us who watch him [Justin] from a safe distance–should be careful not to try to make him into some sort of Christian superhero. He is just as imperfect and vulnerable as the rest of us.”
In what Bible book does Paul say: “But now apart from the law the
righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
19. Falsani writes: “The main reason for my optimism about what Justin’s future might hold can be summed up in a single word.” What word?
20. At the the 28th annual MTV Video Music Awards (Aug. 28/11), Justin wins a Moonman for Best Male Video. For what song?
1. Jubilee Christian Fellowship (www.jubileecf.ca). Co-pastor John Bootsma said in a March 2011 interview: “And so she [Pattie] sends out a prayer list to a few of them [confidants] that are here, and so we will lift him up at least on a weekly basis and sometimes more often publically. We feel like God has his hands on Justin and on Pattie for such a time as this. And we recognize the influence that he’s got. And so
we pray for him. Prayer is powerful.”
Pattie recalled in a June 2008 interview on the 100 Huntley Street telecast: “They [church family] just embraced me wholeheartedly and they just mothered me and fathered me. And I just had so many mothers and fathers that just loved on me unconditionally and just taught me about God’s love and His mercy.”
Faith Behind The Fame: The Prayers of Justin Bieber’s Mom
2. “Refine Me”. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1XC1jNo2g8s)
In the video, sings his own abridged version: “I come into this place, burning to receive your grace/I come with my own chains, wars I fought for my own selfish gains/You’re my God and my Father, forever the same/How could I feel so empty now, how I speak your name?/Lord… Come with your fire, burn my desire/Refine me/Lord… My will has deceived me, please come and free me/Come rescue this child, for I long to be reconciled to you…Refine me, Refine me, Refine me, Refine me.”
3. “Set a Place at the Table”, written by Jake Leiske and produced by Jay Riehl. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzRj34ZmyJw)
Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Luke 14: 12-14)
4. Scooter’s mother, Susan. “Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.” (Proverbs 1:8)
Writes Falsani: “Not only did Scooter heed his mother’s advice, in characteristic form, he aimed higher, wanting to be the best manager/friend/back-up-parent that he could be to his young prodigy.”
Scooter: “I know my compassion for others comes from my mother. Since I was a little boy we spent Christmas at the soup kitchen. I’m Jewish, so my mother would say, ‘We’re not going to celebrate it, so we might as well help people who need it.'”
Falsani continues: “In Judaism, there is a concept called tikkun olam, meaning ‘to repair’ or ‘to heal’ the world….Christianity, which has its roots in Judaism, teaches the same thing–that faithful believers are supposed to be the ‘light’ and ‘salt’ of the world.” Matthew 5:13-16.
5. Grace. Falsani continues: “We can’t earn it. We can’t do anything to un-earn it, either. It’s a gift–a free gift, a surprise, a little bit more, and the extra cherry on top of an ice cream sundae. Grace comes from God, but sometimes God uses us to show it to each other.”
Ephesians 2:8-9: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.”
From: “Waves of Grace” (words and music by David Noble): “Now I see/The walls I’ve built are falling/And Your waves of grace are washing over me”
Waves of Grace
Justin Bieber Then and Now – Waves of Grace
6. Seagull. Falsani:”Apparently, it’s a tradition in the Bieber family for male members to get inked with the bird on their sixteenth birthdays. The outline of a seagull is an homage to the 1970 novella Jonathan Livingston Seagull: A Story. It’s a fable about a young seagull leaning about life, how to fly, and becoming, essentially, the best bird he can be. Justin’s father, Jeremy, his uncle, and several other relatives also have the seagull tattoo.”
7. Mother Teresa (1910-1997) born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, the Albanian-born Roman Catholic nun who founded the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, India, in 1950. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mother_Teresa)
8. “Won’t Stop” by Sean Kingston, featuring Justin Bieber.
From the rap Justin wrote himself: “I’mma rock to where I need to be./Walk the path of destiny./Definitely been neglected, but God is always testin’ me./Rest in peace to all the men that died that were protecting me./Objectively, I need to tell you what just gets the best of
me./Essentially, people in this world just wanna let it be./A lot of men ain’t different though, just let it be./Set it free./Never be scared to make change, effectively./Always look at things from different ways, perspectively./Every person in this world can do good./I just want this message understood./Alright…stop./Everybody’s gotta listen make the decision to envision a better place with no division./Religion./Everbody needs a mission. Haters need to stop it, just listen./
9. Karen Covell. Falsani describes the Hollywood Prayer Network (www.hollywoodprayernetwork.org) as “a grassroots network of more than 10,000 intercessory prayer warriors around the world who are committed to prayingt for people working in the Hollywood entertainment industry. The goal of the network is to provide spiritual support to both Christian believers and nonbelievers who work as actors, producers, directors, writers, technicians, support staff, crew, and in other positions in television, film, music, and other mainstream media. Since early 2001, the Hollywood Prayer Network, at Pattie’s request, has been asking intercessors to pray for Justin.”
10. The night before Justin’s Madison Square Garden show, Justin is sick, exhausted, and on total vocal rest. Pattie puts her arms around Justin, holds his hand, and prays for a complete healing. Falsani recalls: “Sitting with my own son in the theater, I was a puddle, and I know I’m not alone in how moved I was by that scene. Justin wasn’t fighting for his life or in any great peril, but that didn’t make the scene any less powerful. Every parent–every child, for that matter–has been in that moment, where there’s brokenness and the need for healing, mercy, and grace.” (Justin recovered in time to play the sold-out show!)
11. Job. “Who’s my biggest role model? Um… does it have to be, like, in this day and age? (Anybody at all.) “At all? OK… Job. I’m serious. Do you guys wanna know why? Do you guys know who Job is? Yes, from the Bible. OK, so, he got tortured, like, he got his family killed. Everything was taken away from him–like his job, his cattle, everything. And then he still remained, like, still faithful to God and still trusted God after everything was taken away. He was, like, he didn’t know why it happened, but he still put his faith in God and remembered that, like, everything happens for a reason. So, that’s why… Read the book of Job.” Go to the 8:20 mark of (www.youtube.com/watch?v=TxxbIt-Ypwc)
“The Remarkable Record of Job” by Henry M. Morris
12. Delilah. So he [Samson] told her [Delilah] everything. “No razor has ever been used on my head,” he said, “because I have been a Nazirite dedicated to God from my mother’s womb. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man.” When Delilah saw that he had told her everything, she sent word to the rulers of the Philistines, “Come back once more; he has told me
everything.” So the rulers of the Philistines returned with the silver in their hands. After putting him to sleep on her lap, she called for someone to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him. And his strength left him. (Judges 16: 17-19)
13. The “announcement” that Canadian record producer/songwriter Daniel Lanois–best known for his work with Brian Eno, producing a number of albums for U2, including The Joshua Tree–would be producing Justin’s next album.
Daniel Lanois to Produce Justin Bieber’s New Album in July 2011
Falsani: “I was so excited that I tweeted the story, posted it on Facebook, and even blogged about it. A few days later, I received an email from a friend of mine in Canada who, like me, is a journalist who writes often about the intersection of faith and popular culture. ‘You did know that post about Lanois and Justin was an April Fool’s Day joke, right?’ D’oh! I turned three shades of purple from embarrassment. Hey, it’s a great idea even if it was a joke. So if Scooter, Justin, and Danny are reading this…”
14. The Church of the Multiplication, in the town of Tagbha, Israel. Falsani writes: “The church is said to mark the location where Jesus performed one of his more famous miracles–the multiplying of loaves and fishes, sometimes known as the ‘feeding of the five-thousand.'”
On April 12/11 Justin posted a series of tweets that he later described as “frustrated”: “You would think paparazzi would have some respect in holy places. All I wanted was the chance to walk where jesus did here in isreal./They should be ashamed of themselves. Take pictures of me eating but not in a place of prayer, ridiculous/People wait their whole lives for opportunities like this, why would they want to take that experience away from someone/Staying in the hotel for the rest of the week u happy?”
Falsani continues: “Following his well received show at Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon Park on April 14, Justin was able to continue his pilgrimage in the Holy Lands with friends and family without significant interference from the paparazzi. He visited the famed Western Wall in Old Jerusalem (sometimes called the Wailing Wall, it is perhaps the most important spiritual site in the Jewish tradition), where he left a prayer written on a small piece of paper, tucked between stones in the wall, as is the custom. He had to visit the wall in the middle of the night–3 a.m.–but at least he got his special time at that sacred place. Eventually he also was able to visit the Sea of Galilee, the Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem, and a number of other holy sites that are important to his Christian faith.”
15. The Hebrew letters which spell “YESHUA,” the Hebrew name for Jesus. (www.wagerrun.com/8077/justin-bieber-matching-tattoos-justin-bieber-and-dad-jeremy-get-jesus-tattoos/)
The tattoo runs a few inches vertically down the left side of the rib cage.
Falsani: “The location of the tattoo made me think of the place on Jesus’ body where he was stabbed with a sword as he hung on the cross and figured it was Justin’s way of expressing his commitment to his Christian faith. I wasn’t alone in reaching that conclusion. The Rev. Kyle Steven
Bonenberger, pastor of City Church in Anaheim, California, applauded the young superstar’s new ink, telling The Christian Post he thought it was Justin’s way of telling the world he is a person of faith.”
Justin Bieber’s Jesus Tattoo Is a Powerful Symbol, Says Church Minister
16. “You just gotta believe”, from the song “Believe”
In the Bible, the first time God [the LORD] says the word “believe” is in the book of Exodus:
“This,” said the LORD, “is so that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their father–the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob–has appeared to you.” (Exodus 4:5)
17. Donny Osmond. In the mid 1960s, he and four of his older brothers gained fame as the Osmond Brothers. Donny went solo in the early 1970s covering such hits as “Go Away Little Girl” and “Puppy Love.”
The CBC-TV interview continues:
Host: Like you did.
Donny: Yeah, absolutely, because 2 or 3 years from now everybody’s gonna say, “Oh, Justin Bieber, that’s for little kids. Well, he grew up too!” Everybody else grew up, but for some reason–it’s human nature–I’ve done the same thing with certain artists I liked as a little kid–you leave them with yesterday’s dinner. It’s passé. Until he reinvents himself and comes back, and someday he’ll be able to embrace, “Baby, baby, baby, oh”. He’ll be able to sing it as a 40-year-old…”
18. Romans 3:21-24.
Falsani:”How we respond to or judge a superstar on his or her worst day says more about us than it does about them….As Justin continues his
journey–with the ups and downs, joys and failures, and unexpected detours that surely will come–may we support him in prayer, be gentle and kind when he stumbles, and remember that God never runs out of patience for his children and that grace makes brokenness beautiful.”
19. Authenticity.”It is precisely that authenticity–his realness–humility and gratitude that appeals to his fans and in turn makes them feel a kinship with him that leads to fierce loyalty, a sense of ownership, and a
passionate compulsion to protect and defend him as if he were one of their real-life friends. They love his music, his hair, his smile, and his dance moves, but they _know_ his story on a soul level….Rarely a day goes by when he doesn’t express his gratitude to his fans–and God–on Twitter for blessing him with the extraordinary journey he’s had since 2009. His fans love him. And he genuinely loves them back. For real.”
@justinbieber Sep 24 2010, 14:51 it’s a big big world…remember we are blessed and should be grateful for the gifts the lord gives us and the love of our friends and family
James 1:17 “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
Colossians 2: 6-7: “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”
[On July 13/11, Justin surpassed 11 million followers on Twitter.]
20. “U Smile”. Justin told the audience: “I just want to say thank you so much not only to God but to Jesus because I wouldn’t be here without him. He’s really blessed me. He’s put me in this position so I want to say thank you so much.”
One of the reasons Falsani wrote “Belieber!” is to document all that Justin has said on the public record about his faith, “so that his fans and their parents and their teachers can see it in one place and say ‘This is the conversation Justin is having with the world. This is the kind of conversation that we can have. How is his music affecting you? How is his story affecting you?'”
“Belieber!” concludes with 20 “Conversation Starter” questions, including:
If you could sit down with Justin and talk to him about faith, what would you want to ask him? What would you want to tell him?
Have you ever prayed for Justin? Is so, why? What did you pray for?
How has Justin’s charity work–how he “pays it forward” or “gives back”–inspired you to get involved in a similar way?
What films have you seen that you think reflect ideas, good or bad, about faith, God, religion, or spirituality? How do they do so and what is the message they’re sending?
When you hear Justin or his mother talk about faith or religious issues, what do you take away? What kind of a message do you think they’re presenting? Does it inspire you to talk about faith in a different way? If yes, in what way? If no, why not?
Falsani writes: “Justin is forever encouraging his fans to do whatever they can to help make the world a better place, whether it is volunteering, donating to charity or, as he urges in his song, ‘Pray,’ lifting those who need healing or a touch of kindness up to God in prayer. Listed below are a few of Justin’s favorite charities (and a couple of Cathleen’s as well) and suggestions for how you can get involved–in big and small ways–in making the world a better place.”
A portion of the proceeds from “Belieber!” will be donated to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
For further reference
Cathleen Falsani: Twitter
Justin Bieber: Twitter
Tweets by justinbieber
Pattie Mallette: Twitter
The Dude Abides
Belieber!: Fame, Faith and The Heart of Justin Bieber
Justin Bieber [Official Site]
Justin Bieber: Facebook
Justin Bieber: Wikipedia
Belieber!: Fame, Faith and The Heart of Justin Bieber
Cathleen Falsani [Sojourners Magazine]
Interview with Cathleen Falsani
Interview with Cathleen Falsani
The Gospel According To Justin Bieber
The persecution of Justin Bieber
Justin Bieber Story: The Origin of His Faith
The Gospel According to Justin Bieber
Justin Bieber Thanks God For Best Male At VMAs
Justin Bieber records Christmas song with Usher
Belieber!: Fame, Faith and The Heart of Justin Bieber (EXCERPT)
Defending Justin Bieber
Cathleen Falsani: Believing in Justin Bieber