Starstruck & Blind With Celebrity Worship
Celebrity worship is a thing.
Just like social media addiction is a thing, there is a newly identified psychological condition: Celebrity Worship Syndrome (CWS).
Sure, it’s been going on for years in our culture. I’m sure you’ve seen old footage of the Beatles playing a concert with their frenzied fans entranced in worship.
I like this video of Brett Cohen from 2012 where he hires an entourage and paparazzi to follow him around Times Square. It’s a prank/experiment that is full of social commentary…
We do this thing where we become dumb over celebrities. We are starstruck and blind with celebrity worship. It’s silly, embarrassing, and weird.
This is where I wish we Christians would be weird, but differently.
I can’t imagine Jesus seeking celebrity endorsements for his Sermon on the Mount message.
The whole celebrity obsession in our culture reminds me of an Old Testament word: idolatry. And if celebrity worship is idolatry, that’s something we Christians shouldn’t get involved with.
As followers of Jesus, we should be weird by not getting starstruck.
Instead, we go crazy over our Christian celebrities. We get all excited about a celebrity who is “on our team” – as if we needed an endorsement by someone important to make us valid.
We follow the lives of people we do not know. We collect snippets of information, like an obsessed fan, on people we will never meet. We talk about what they’ve said, as if we’re sharing a conversation we had with a close friend – except we only heard the sound bite on TV or YouTube.
There’s a rising tide of celebrity Christian stuff on the market. You can even get your Pepsi with Toby Mac or Matthew West on the can. Wow! I guess Christianity really is valid now…
We don’t need it.
And I don’t give a rat’s pellet-plopping rear-end what some celebrity endorses or doesn’t.
There was a recent blog post by a celebrity pastor entitled, “The Hardest Part Of Ministry.” As I read it, I couldn’t help but think, this isn’t really about ministry—it’s about celebrity status. Make a few little changes to the story and it would fit an actor or pop star’s complaints about pesky photographers, tabloid lies, and deranged stalkers. The article really could have been called, “The Hardest Part Of Celebrity Status.”
Pastor Glenn Pakiam, in his post on Saints And Celebrities, reminds us of the distinction between the two…
- Saints can’t be canonized until they’re dead so we can look back over their life as a whole. Christian celebrities can be made through savvy self-branding and high-cost PR firms.
- Saints are often admired for what they did not have in this world– their lack of riches, of fame, of acceptance by the world. Celebrities, though, are often admired for what they have in this world– their large churches, their fame (christened as ‘influence’), their best-selling books or CDs, and perhaps even their houses and cars.
- Saints are ones whose deep ‘interior life’ with Jesus was often kept secret until others discovered it after their death. Celebrities are those who want to leverage intimacy with Jesus for popularity with others.
Packiam goes on to say that saints weren’t perfect, but they are better images or icons for our rightly ordered desire to see how a human is to live out the Jesus kind of life.
Sometimes, I think we just need to be reminded that popularity and status and celebrity is not the goal. It never was. It never will be (not for followers of Jesus Christ, anyway).
I like this short animated video about Mr. Cat – a feline who becomes an overnight celebrity, but eventually realizes everything he ever needed and wanted, he already had…
In our culture, celebrity worship has become standard. Celebrities are our idols, and we have lots of them.
But I wish we Christians would be weird.
Like less virtual relationships and more real ones.
Like less talking about people we don’t even know, and more conversations with people we do.
Like less excitement about a celebrity Christian, and more excitement about that person who just got saved in church on Sunday (and will probably never be famous).
Like less celeb-obsessing and more interest in the saints.
Like less noisy self-promotion and more quiet humility.
I want to be weird like that.
Also in this weird series: “I Wish We Were Weird Like That” & “Our Weird Collections.” Check ‘em out!
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN: What do you think? Are you weary of the Christian celebrity machine? Why or why not?
9 Comments to Starstruck & Blind With Celebrity Worship
You nailed it here, PB.
“We get all excited about a celebrity who is “on our team” – as if we needed an endorsement by someone important to make us valid”.
It is a sad part of our fallen nature, this need to be validated by someone other people admire and/or respect, whether they should or not. While it is true that many of them have worked very hard to train and develope the special gifts given them, and are therefore worthy of notice, we forget that these celebrities, at their core, are just people like the rest of us.
It is especially sad to me when someone who is already a celebrity has an encounter with Christ and we immediately place them on an even higher shelf in our collection of ‘idols’, as if they are already seasoned in their faith. Too many times, their all-to-public struggles with their sinful nature bring stinging rebukes from the self-righteous, causing many to turn away from faith. Their story becomes just another “wierd christians” story – Bob Dylan and BJ Thomas come to mind.
When I stop and think about it, I can’t figure out why we don’t seem to be satisfied in the knowledge we have been endorsed by Jesus Christ? Perhaps we don’t really respect and admire Him as much as we’d like to think we do.
I love what you said here Bryan, especially the last paragraph.
It can be easy for us to forget that our God, the One who will love and support us no matter what, is also our biggest fan.
I personally am not a celebrity fanatic, never have been. But I must admit I have forgotten that I’ve got the best of the best constantly on my side, cheering me on! And that my friend is quite amazing.
Great post PB.
I love this line: Like less noisy self-promotion and more quiet humility.
You are a great example of this and I admire that about you.
I have been reading your posts for a short while. Found them from your sister’s FB posts. We worked together for over 20 years. I have moved to Idaho in my retirement. I enjoy your posts.
Almost afraid to respond! I might bloat your ego! You might think to many responses make you a celeberty! I wouldn’t want you to fall in that trap. The same one that say Billy Graham fell into, with all those millions over the years that went to see him! His face a lover the place , with shameless self promotion! Why do uptight Christians have to criticize what others are doing in the name of Jesus? If it is good then God will judge it that way. If it was for self and not for the kingdom then God will also judge them for that. I was of course kidding about Billy Graham. In Phillipians 1:17,18 it clearly states, what does the motivation matter, but that Christ is proclaimed! So stop the pious navel gazing! Stop the circling of the wagons and spotting inward! The enemy is out there! He is not your brother or sister in Christ! So get of your high horse and on your knees! You see a problem that’s where you should be! Not criticizing the speck in some one else’s eye!
oh my gosh. This is so great! I want to be a person who makes others feel like they are a celebrity. To prize them, want a photo op with them, so honored to have met them, smiling big to see them, bragging about them to others.
I love the part about the interior life that people don’t know about- and that it’s often after saints are dead that their works remain. That from their “less” life they help “more” by their example.
That sure changes the game. We’re not just in this for the results we see now, but maybe for the results we’ll never see- the way that people are made better after our death.
That’s how I’ll feel about you Brian. I’m getting to live life with my own saint. Little “s”. love you
This is awesome. I feel caught haha. I find myself on Instagram in awe of pastors with NBA players or rappers. Get excited for them, not realizing the “promotion”. Love the post cause it puts into realization of what our heart should be. I wanna be more wierd! Love the part about:
“Like less excitement about a celebrity Christian, and more excitement about that person who just got saved in church on Sunday (and will probably never be famous).”
Great post PB.
Probably my biggest pet peeve in Christianity is how every time a Hollywood celebrity dies, Christians claim they “converted” right before death…
If I see them in heaven, that’s awesome, but why do we as Christians feel the need to spread blind rumors about people who we didn’t know?