Monday, June 25, 2012

Not overcoming

Here is an issue that I have never given much thought to myself, which Aunt Melanie expresses so well. From the world's point of view, this is a ‘so what?’ issue. From the Christian point of view, it is important, as it defines an impediment to life in Christ that even many Christians, especially those involved in the arts, overlook. Life is struggle, and overcoming, or winning, is the goal. Though this victory is not ours by our own power, in cooperation with what God gives us—grace, for that is what it is called, and under that term usually misunderstood—we are meant to win. Aunt Melanie writes…

I was thinking about the status of celebrity in America, and how many people seem to swoon over and almost worship celebrity. There was an actor/singer who died a couple of years ago. Thousands of fans mourned and there were television specials about this individual’s life. A basic theme seemed to be that because the actor/singer was a flawed human, people identified not only with the music but with the lifestyle. This individual was an active drug addict–not even in recovery–and the musical performances involved a certain vulgarity. Also, this individual had enormous wealth and spent millions of dollars on self-indulgent enterprises and objects.

What strikes me about this is that the actor/singer’s life was so different from that of Christ–who was tempted but never sinned–and from the lives of the saints. People seemed to prefer an imperfect idol over God. They elevated the status of an active addict and extravagant spender over that of a holy saint or any entertainer who lived a more balanced life. And, this has happened before (I am now thinking of Elvis Presley and John Lennon). People go beyond sympathy for the human condition and struggles–they glorify he who is impaired and that which promotes a non-Christian value system. Because, it justifies their own weaknesses and sinful preferences and gratifications.

The life of Christ or the life of a saint would not allow for willful indulgences. I am not criticizing addicts and I am not dismissing the talent which these individuals have, but I am saying they are not to be idolized just because they can sing a song and because their flaws are appreciated more than the Christian virtues. We appreciate saints for their virtues and as lights along the way. Certain celebrities are worshiped precisely because they shine no light and therefore the fan and consumer is not expected to overcome.

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