With all the articles, blogs, tweets, e-mails and news reports about the recent deaths of Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett and Ed McMahon, one more would probably make little difference. So, here’s another one.
I wish I could say that this will be a unique perspective, but I’ve already read a couple of blogs along the same lines as what I’m writing here. But, maybe someone reading this one didn’t read the others. If you’re that person, this post is for you.
One question among a lot of people out there is something to the effect of “Why do so many people make such a big to-do when a famous person dies? I mean, it happens to everyone, so why should it be so different when it happens to celebrities?”
I don’t claim to have all the answers. But, one thing I’m pretty good at is speculating. Note, that does not necessarily mean that my speculations are always (or even ever) correct. I’ll let you make that call for yourself.
If I were to speculate an answer to this question, it would start with thinking that, at it’s core, there actually is a valid, respectable, wholesome, non-anti-faith reason for this phenomenon. But, like so many other intrinsically benign things, it gets out of control and inflated to something less benign.
All that to say this…I think there is extent to which such wide-spread compassion is actually a good thing. It can be a way for people of different backgrounds, different cultures, different levels of education, different faiths, different political systems, etc. to identify with one another based on some common thread of their lives. I mean, who in the world was not somehow affected by these three people to some degree?
Some people may not realize the affect certain celebrities have on their lives as individuals, but these people have enormous impact and influence on culture, which in turn impacts our own lives in some way.
Therefore, when someone famous dies, it can be a good way for all people everywhere to feel some sort of connection with one another in that we can mourn together the loss of someone who, even perhaps in the smallest way, had an influence on some aspect of our lives. We may not have any other thing in common than that. So, this can be a way to bring people together.
I wish I could say it ended there. But, sadly, it does not.
The sad truth (I believe) is that, in addition to just the fundamental kinship we may feel with other fans of a given celebrity, there is almost a deification of some of these public figures. How many times do we hear about the death of a pop-culture icon and, when we really examine our mindset, realize that we are in shock mostly because of a belief that this person could not have died? We see in the news how often celebrities are granted leniency with respect to our laws and then we begin to assume that they are untouchable in every way…even by death.
For many centuries, it has been a driving force behind powerful leaders that they would be somehow immortalized by leaving behind some work that withstands the onslaught of time. Writers, architects, kings, queens, warriors, poets, etc. All types of people from various professions throughout history have attempted to “cheat” death by leaving a lasting mark on the world for which they will eternally be remembered.
Over the course of the last century or so, however, it almost seems as though our society has transferred the focus from a person’s work being immortal to the person themselves being immortal.
What is the reason for that? My guess is that it is a subtle plan of the enemy (from a Christian world-view, that would be Satan for those of you who are trying to keep up) to cheapen the person and work of Jesus.
It is the belief of the Christian community that Jesus is the only truly immortal man who ever walked the earth. He is the only man who truly endures. And to place that sort of power on other mere humans who have little real power, but only have their worldly fame, it seems to make Jesus’ immortality more mundane and less significant.
Let’s not be too shocked at the reality of death in this world. We know from Genesis 3 that sin entered the world through Adam and death through sin. So, essentially….death happens.
What we would be better off talking about around the water coolers, in the coffee shops, over the fence with our neighbors, etc. would be the resurrection of Christ and the eternal reward we have through that. It is far bigger a topic to discuss our pending resurrection into a new heaven and new earth than to discuss the inevitable realities of the world we’re already in.
At least, that’s my $.02.
Grace, love and peace.