His death on November 22nd, 1963 was significant in many different ways, but the passing of British author and Christian apologist C. S. Lewis got pushed off the front pages by the assassination of U. S. President John F. Kennedy the same day.
Fast forward 46 years…
One national evening TV newscaster today clarified that the passing of actress Farrah Fawcett was to have been the lead news item, until, minutes before airtime, they learned of the sudden passing of pop music icon Michael Jackson. At least Fawcett didn’t get bumped from the broadcast entirely.
We live in a celebrity-obsessed culture. Tabloids are often the only contact some have with newsprint. TMZ, Access Hollywood and Entertainment Tonight are often the only “news” shows that some people view on television.
The “fans” have an insatiable appetite for the latest gossip. The “stars” love the spotlight. The philosopher Tacitus said,
“Love of fame is the last thing even learned men can bear to be parted from.”
The Christian community is not immune to all of this. What most astounds me is how preachers — not Christian athletes or Christian musicians — are the object of cult-like worship, even among people who should know better. When some of them weigh in on an issue, You Tube embeds of their pronouncements are flying through the blogosphere faster than you can say ‘idol worship.’
We were downloading some sermon podcasts for an extended car trip on Monday, and my wife said, “I don’t want to hear anymore superstar sermons; I want to hear someone different.” Good for her.
But our preoccupation with celebrity is not entirely limited to those of the ecclesiastical class. We also have Jon and Kate Gosselin. But maybe not for long. With the announcement this week of a pending divorce, evangelicals will drop these two from their superstar ‘friends list’ like the proverbial hot potato.
That’s the price of fame. Soon you’re forgotten.
I’m sorry everyone ignored Clive Staples Lewis’ passing on that November day in ’63, but in some ways, it’s like he never died. He certainly lives on through his writing, though in a celebrity saturated culture, he lives on for many because filmmakers made ‘Narnia’ into a ‘brand.’ Sigh!
Graphic: USA Today online page
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