Monday, 29 July 2013

Icons of the New Religion ?

I recently read an old blog by the BBC’s Northern Ireland correspondent William Crawley entitled: ‘Is celebrity culture a replacement for religion?’

Discussing the impact of the singer Michael Jackson’s death on his fans, Crawley argued that, “one of the reasons why so many people are building "shrines" at locations related to Michael Jackson's story is that celebrity culture has taken the place that religion once had in our society. Celebrities are secular saints. Their deaths become moments of pseudo-religious intensity. People make pilgrimages to celebrity sites where once they travelled to Canterbury.”

Michael Jackson was a very talented but personally flawed individual whose fame was rooted in his musical skills. However many of today’s celebrities have no unique skill, gift or talent....... they are simply ‘famous for being famous’. 

According to Wikipedia, “famous for being famous in popular culture terminology, refers to someone who attains celebrity status for no particular identifiable reason, or who achieves fame through association with a celebrity e.g. Judy Murray is famous as Andy Murray’s mum, similarly Pippa Middleton shot to fame as the sister of the Duchess of Cambridge.

The term is a pejorative, suggesting that the individual has no particular talents or abilities. Even when their fame arises from a particular talent or action on their part, the term will sometimes still apply if their fame is perceived as disproportionate to what they earned through their own talent or work.”

Jon Hamm one of the stars of the TV series Mad Men recently summed up the views of his more seriously talented showbiz colleagues. Interviewed by Elle magazine he said: “whether it’s Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian or whoever, stupidity is certainly celebrated.......being an idiot is a valuable commodity in this culture because you’re rewarded significantly”.

In a disturbing development, the culture of celebrity is now infecting the church. Adept in their use of the media, there is today a generation of evangelists, pastors, worship leaders and conference speakers who act like celebrities and are sadly often treated as such by their adoring ‘fans’ .

According to the Bible, man is 'made in the image of God'. This is why people feel a need to worship and, if not God, they focus on something, or someone, else.
The 17th century French philosopher Blaise Pascal talked about 'a God-shaped void in the heart of every man’. This void can only be filled through a personal relationship with the living God and His Son, Christ Jesus. No celebrity, secular or religious even comes close.

As the old hymn says: Now none but Christ can satisfy,
                                    None other Name for me!
                                    There’s love, and life, and lasting joy,
                                    Lord Jesus, found in Thee.

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