OK, I admit it. I watch Lifetime’s Project Runway. I would have been embarrassed to confess this guilty pleasure previously, but during the current season something altogether too noteworthy from a theological point of view has occurred. Early in the season a contestant was saved from elimination by one of the producers, and the ongoing results of this rescue bear witness to the fruits of salvation.
If you don’t know Project Runway, it is a reality television competition between aspiring fashion designers hosted by super model Heidi Klum. Each week the group of contestants is given a new challenge to produce a garment. They are brought out on the runway, and then the contestant with the weakest showing according to a panel of judges is eliminated. However, this season there was a new twist added to the eliminations.
Tim Gunn is not only a producer on the show and a mentor to the contestants, but he is also a well-known fashion personality and all-around nice guy—and he is always impeccably and colorfully dressed. This season he had the ability to save just one contestant over the course of the entire season. This means the one eliminated contestant he thought had enough latent potential to carry on despite being eliminated could remain. He used his “Tim Gunn Save” for Justin LeBlanc, a relatively new and young fashion designer who happens also to be deaf. Everyone (judges, fellow contestants, and viewers) has agreed that Justin was the best choice for the save.
In a way, Tim Gunn bore the weight of Justin’s elimination. What I’m trying to say is Justin’s lack of design experience was atoned for and Tim Gunn put his own fashion reputation on the line for making this call. What I find most interesting is that the act of Tim Gunn saving Justin has produced stunning results. Justin gets better each week and is shining above the more experienced competition. Now he is one of the four finalists on the show who will be competing in New York Fashion Week. But that’s because Tim Gunn “made it work” for Justin—to use one of Gunn’s own catch phrases. Honestly, even if Justin doesn’t win in the end, I count his subplot this season as the winner, and it’s all due to what Tim Gunn did for him.
The Tim Gunn save is a mere shadow of what the Jesus Christ Save is like, however. Although we deserve elimination before God, Jesus pulls his get-out-of-jail-free card for each of us. When we come to grips with the existential reality of this Save (that nothing else matters and that we are truly liberated), we might begin to bear creative fruits of the Spirit. As a matter of fact, life in light of this Rescue can be a crucible for all kinds of creativity.
Well, until the finale, Auf Wiedersehen!