View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Michael Jackson and violating a Commandment

Michael Jackson has been acquitted

Of course, that doesn’t mean he’s innocent – just that the jury had reasonable doubts concerning these particular charges.

We have to leave the ultimate judgment to God.

But my concern here is not with the charges lodged against Jackson.

Rather, it’s about the fact that so many people paid so much attention to the charges and the trial.

The reason for that attention, of course, is the fact that Jackson is a celebrity.

We have a cult of celebrity in our culture. The checkout line at many of our grocery stores boast a slew of magazines devoted to the lives of these celebrities. We know what they wear, what they eat, whom they’re dating, their secret desires and sorrows, and so on.

We know their lives inside and out.

And did you see the people who were in tears outside Jackson’s courtroom?

Tears of sorrow as he was tried.

Tears of joy as the verdict was announced.

They danced like David before the Ark.

And then so many people made the pilgrimage to Neverland.

People worship him, and other celebrities, with a fervor rarely seen at church (except, perhaps, sometimes at bingo).

But then, how often have we heard Bono, Bruce Springsteen, Dale Earnhardt, (insert name here) is god?

(Well, in Bono’s case, the mistake is understandable. But I do wonder why we rarely hear Ani, or Oprah, or Janis is god. At least Alanis Morisette got to play God. Sexism creeps into even blasphemy!)

It’s not without reason that they call a certain popular program American Idol.

However, as anyone who studied the catechism (i.e. those who attended Catholic schools or CCD before roughly 1970) knows, the First Commandment says “You shall have no other gods before me.”

Some of us might have some explaining to do.

Maybe we need to pray for ourselves and all the other idol worshippers.

I’m sure Bono will be listening.


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