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.”
- 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.
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN: What do you think? Are you weary of the Christian celebrity machine? Why or why not?