Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Golden Calf

Worship fest. That's what we're having at the Staples Center in LA today.

We scoff at the biblical story of the golden calf built by Moses' brother Aaron when Moses was presumed KIA on the mountain top in prayer and receiving the Decalogue from God. God shoulda seriously gone for a higher baud rate in his analog data transmission system back then. The current fourth grader blindfolded could out-text God today a zillion to one. And then there was the painfully slow backup process when the first Decalogue was destroyed by Moses' temper. Wow! All over what the people were worshiping when Moses got back to town.

Yeah, it's about what we worship.

Years ago when I was working long hours and driving home in my little 1971 Honda 600 sedan I kept the radio on to stay awake. The only station my bad antenna would pick up on the AM radio was a station that broadcast Bruce Williams' three-hour nightly calli-in show about money, small business and entrepreneurship. Ol' Bruce won my heart. He had learned so much the hard way: by experience. And he was willing to share it all. He always advised people to learn a business by working for someone else already in the business and to invest in themselves through education and training. Timeless, sound advice.

I also liked Bruce because he was a (former) pilot. Nearly killed himself in the crash of his Cessna 182. Like many people who get overcommitted and overstressed, he thought he was God and could/should do it all. Had to get somewhere as though the world depended on him. Nearly died and learned the world did not depend on him. Turned his life around and instead of doing it all helped as many other people as he could.

One night somebody asked Bruce if he didn't want to leave the small potatoes of radio and take his show on TV instead. "No way!" Bruce replied. "I get three hours. Three hours every night on radio. That would be impossible on TV. On TV, the Second Coming of Christ would only get 15 seconds--45 seconds max on a slow news day."

So when a dead pop star or a dead president gets a whole day's worth of coverage on TV, radio, the Internet and via global hookup in movie theaters it tells us the Golden Calf is alive and well. The calf has turned into a bull that has bulldozed his corral to smitherines.

Yes, Michael Jackson could sing. Yes, he could dance. That's not gone. We can hear it all, see it all endlessly on CD, DVD, etc. It is immortal for as much as we want to wallow in it.

But the accolades will ignore the man's disfunctionality and his abuse of children. The accolades will be about self-pity, how much we miss him, how badly we hurt now. Oh, poor fame and dzzle-deprived us! Wah, wah, wah.

Gimme a break.

Black Elk had a definition for gold which was of no value to the Lakotas because it did not promote or sustain life or teach wisdom. But to the Wasichus (white people), gold was "the yellow metal that they worship and that makes them crazy", as Black Elk put it. Yeah, see who ended up owning the Balck Hills?

Find someone every day who needs your help. They are as close as your street and your block. Don't blink or succumb to idol worship. Or you might miss the Christ walking among you. After all, you might have spent more than the necessary 15 seconds texting, Facebooking and idol worshiping and not noticed His arrival.

On a slow news day, you might even get 45 seconds. Can't even order a latte in that time.


Pastor Roger

PS The "American Idol" road show starts in Portland. Good grief!


jon said...

The funny thing is I have MJ's funeral on TV as I'm reading your blog.

I remember enjoying his music growing up. My Aunt, who lived in in a room right next to mine when I was young, would listen to "Dangerous" in her room.

I don't know how many times I've seen someone do the moonwalk or tilt their hat in a classic MJ stance.

I was never captured by his music or an intense fan. But I know how much music affects people, and MJ is the best selling artist of all time.

If we are a people who are prone to worship I suppose this is the best man for the job.

Pastor Roger: said...

No one who understands Micahel Jackson's life should be envious, I would think. His childhood was not pleasant, and I'm glad his father was not mine. Would wholeness ever be an adjective one would use for celebrities, MJ in particular?

MJ came along at the right time, just as music videos were exploding and the MP3 had not yet allowed people to steal music they had not purchased. He was hugely successful. He went global. His popularity created an enormous icon for people.

Often,perhaps always,icons become important to us--idolatrously important--because of what we project onto them. How else can we explain the explosion of flowers and teddy bears following the death of Princess Diana? Had even one hundredth of one percent of the people expressing such grief ever met her or spent time with her? Did they know her kids, her parents, brother? So the question I always ask is whether the outpouring of grief is quite misplaced?

Are we really grieving for ourselves and our fantasies? Are such artificial and imaginary relationships healthy for us, and do they become more central to us than the relationships we could and should be having with the people who live within two blocks our our house--the relationships that could actually give back to us and grow us?

More questions than answers here... Thanks for reading.