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« You Look Just Like . . . | Main | Looking for a few good men and women »

July 25, 2007

Suffering Starlets

Lohan Pop culture really isn’t my beat. I just don’t care about the kinds of things that fill the tabloids. And yet, I find the recent troubles of Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears and Paris Hilton fascinating. Not that I find their behaviors particularly surprising; no, when I say I’m “fascinated,” I mean I’m fascinated by our responses to their behaviors.

We react, of course, like humans do. Which is to say that our Pride kicks in and we think, “Those imbeciles! They have everything and look what they do! For shame!”

I’m particularly fascinated when Christians feel this way. Don’t get me wrong, there was a time when I’d have felt similarly. I, too, would have thought “For crying out loud! These women have wealth, fame, looks, fans, TV shows, movies, mansions, Ferraris … everything! And look how they squander what they’ve been given. Now they’re getting what they deserve.”

But, more and more, I’m gaining a conviction that far from “having everything,” these young women have absolutely nothing. Nothing that matters anyway.

How, precisely, do wealth, fame, looks, and the other tools of the pop culture fame provide anything that matters? In fact, don’t we see Jesus warn constantly about the trappings of wealth? Sometimes, it seems like we must think Jesus was joking in Matthew 19:23&24, Luke 6:24, and Luke 8:14 (ah, Jesus, that kidder!).

No, these temporal glories – wealth, fame, looks, possessions – they aren’t advantages. If anything, they’re anchors. So why are we so surprised when they drag one down to the depths?

And why do we act as if we, apart from Christ, are any better? I know I’m not (Romans 3:9-30). It’s utterly nonsensical for me to have empathy for the child who grows up in a rotten family and becomes a criminal, but to despise the rich, famous starlet who publicly implodes after one too many hedonistic gorges. 

Both are worthy of our empathy. And both would be far better off to receive such empathy from us rather than our participation in the easy, public ridicule.

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