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The rampant idolatry of celebrity, Part II

By Scott Tibbs, July 15, 2009

Late last month, a famous pop singer passed away unexpectedly, leading to wall-to-wall news coverage on the cable news networks and news Web sites. While the coverage has decreased somewhat, that story continues to be a featured item for the news media, surpassing news that (let's be honest) is far more important and relevant. I pointed out that this obsession with a recently deceased pop singer is a small example of our culture's rampant idolatry of celebrity. (As before, I will not mention the singer's name.)

The circus has gotten even worse, as Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee has introduced a resolution praising the singer for various things he has done and the impact he had on the music industry. Honestly, is this something for Congress to be considering? (Thanks to Michelle Malkin for pointing this out.) Is this an issue of such gravitas that Congress needs to be spending time on it? The cost of considering this resolution (such as printing the bill) are a waste of taxpayer dollars that Jackson-Lee should reimburse from her own pocket.

While we can complain about the coverage of the pop singer's death, the news media is only giving us what we want. This culture is so steeped in celebrity worship that we do not even realize what is going on, much less recognize the serious eternal implications. It hit me during worship on Sunday how many singers are worshipped. It is common for people to lift their hands to God while we sing. When you go to a concert, what do you often see? People in the front row, right in front of the stage, lifting their hands toward the singers. Notice any similarities?

The laser-like focus on celebrities (an entertainment in general) has me concerned for the future of this nation. I am concerned when people know more about the details of a pop singer's life or the latest movie or television show than the protests in Iran, the saber-rattling by the Communist North Korean regime over nuclear weapons, and even the basic structure of our own government and the wording of our Constitution. In an entertainment-focused culture, it isn't surprising that so few people recognize why the First Amendment is so important. In a system of government where the people choose their leaders, it is critical that we have an informed, educated, literate population. Is our celebrity-obsessed culture a signal that our nation is in decline? And most importantly, where are the pastors and elders in our churches warning us about idolatry?