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Culture of Celebrity Worship

(image uploaded to Flickr by frgdr)

Yes, it’s cliche by now, but I had to have the Michael Jackson has passed away post. I figure enough time has passed that I don’t come off as too trendy, though.

Don’t worry, this post isn’t going to be about my memories of Michael Jackson or what my favourite song of his is or even about the colourfulness of his life most recently. When news of his possible death arrived, I was shocked at how quick most everyone on my Facebook started commenting about it. It wasn’t long before every network and news outlet pre-empted everything to follow the story (even the death of Farrah Fawcett that same day became secondary news).

Admittedly, I have no emotional connection to anything Michael Jackson did (unless it sounded like the Gaithers, it wasn’t played at home), but I was really taken aback at how much time and attention was diverted almost immediately to this superstar celebrity. I know that this is not a new phenomenon, but it concerned me nonetheless.

What does it say about our culture when we idolize and stop everything to pay tribute to a pop singer? Yes, I understand the effect he’s had on the music industry and pop culture. But I thought we were all fed up with celebrity worship. I thought that stuff like that was left to reality shows and tabloids and so-called entertainment news outlets.

I don’t remember this much hoopla and time go into covering Mother Teresa’s life when she passed away, and she accomplished way more for humanity and lived a life of integrity up to the day she passed.

Robin Dugall had this to say about a culture of celebrity worship. Go ahead and hop on over to read what he said. While he uses stronger language than I would, I have to agree that this is a sign that we are still mostly celebrity driven, narcissistic and consumeristic in out leanings regardless of how much we claim not to be.

I can’t help but wonder how much of that we inadvertently pass down to the kids we minister to. I’m not saying that we elevate celebrity to the kids. But I think that we in CM have our own version of celebrity status. We look to the big names in CM or the big churches. We go to conferences to listen to so and so more because they are famous rather than what they have to say. We want to be like them. We want to write books or curriculum or wish we were invited to speak. We buy their tapes (um I mean CDs… um download mp3s)…

Am I saying that we shouldn’t go to conferences or read books or listen to teachings by these CM celebrities? No. What I am saying, though, is that we need to check ourselves and make sure we are elevating these people to celebrity status in our minds. As we do that, we model for the kids watching us that it is OK to do the same with the celebrities they are familiar with.

What do you think about all this?

Do we have a culture of celebrity worship? If so, how do we combat it?

How do we keep from elevating those in CM to a place of celebrity and keep Jesus at the top?

4 Responses to “Culture of Celebrity Worship”

  1. jonathan July 1, 2009 at 5:08 pm #

    I would like to go on record as apologizing for your Gaither years…

    • henryjz July 1, 2009 at 3:07 pm #

      Your condolences are greatly appreciated.

  2. Desiree July 1, 2009 at 9:50 pm #

    Haha! I second Jonathon and I am thankful that I probably have never heard any of it. Yay! It sounds like a nightmare.

    Anyway, as far as the worshiping part, we were made to worship. We can't help but worship. Unfortunately we pour out ourselves out to things, people, and activities, instead of God. It's tricky to keep on track but I think if we stay connected to God by praying, repenting, and hearing the word, then God will help us. So I don't think we will REALLY ever move past it.

    For myself, I loved MJ's music. I don't mind paying tribute by listening to his music and remembering the good things about him. For me it is a way of thinking about his life and death that doesn't leave me depressed. I don't think anyone is blind to the reality of his life. It's sad and dysfunctional for sure, but I sure do think he was talented.

    • Henry Zonio July 3, 2009 at 4:46 am #

      Yes, when talking with a friend about this whole celebrity worship thing, we talked about how it shows that we are hard-wired to worship something. I'm just wondering how we can refocus where that worship is directed. I think it's a travesty that entertainment and celebrity is what gets worshipped.

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