Thursday, January 31, 2013


Stars are lighting up the night sky. Not the gaseous, flaming globes placed in the heavens by the creator, but the celebrities created by human adoration and intense market manipulation. A quick review of the trending stories at Yahoo makes no mention of the war in Syria but is topped this hour with yet another story of JonBenet Ramsey, a child beauty pageant competitor who was murdered at the tender age of six, thirteen years ago.  Judging by what is foremost in the media, it would appear that we are more interested in celebrities than in any other subject. People magazine is the most popular magazine in America with 46.6 million readers. That's more than double the news magazine Time, its publishing parent.

Have we been manipulated into arrested development? When I was in junior high I read Tiger Beat magazine for alleged details of the private lives of Bobby Sherman and David Cassidy. I'm pretty sure that my mom had no idea who those heartthrobs were. By the time I started high school I was listening to different music and had abandoned Tiger Beat and the other celebrity rags. It seemed the natural order of things.

These days it would be hard to find someone who can't distinguish between Justin Bieber and Justin Timberlake. It would be nearly as hard to find any American who can name both the Canadian Prime Minister and the President of Mexico. It seems we have abandoned life as adults in favor of perpetual adolescence where we follow the exploits of the Real Housewives instead of the Real Kids living in our homes.

Celebrities aren't harmful in their own right but they have the power to distract us from things that really matter. It is a short walk from celebrity to idolatry. The celebrities themselves may not be the idols; it is often the lifestyle we imagine they live that we covet. When time spent keeping up with celebrity news takes away from worthier pursuits we may be committing sins of omission, leaving things undone. Another potential result of celebrity watching is the discontent with ourselves and our lives that can be generated. Who still loves their three-bedroom, two-bath home after taking a tour of Oprah's 23,000 square foot home on 42 acres outside of Santa Barbara?

The stars in the heavens cause us to pause and consider their maker. They can dazzle with their brilliance and lift our minds to a higher plain and a longer view. They can ignite our curiosity and inspire awe and wonder. The stars of Hollywood cannot do that. At best they entertain us while at worst they elicit discontent, envy, and distract us from things that are far more important.

I never tire of these words from Psalm 8: "When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?" Lift your eyes to the stars and moon and give thanks. God is mindful of all us mortals here on earth. . . even the ones we think are stars.

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