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Pop Culture Part Two – Contemporary Idol Worship

idol-02Welcome to part two in my series on how pop culture is distracting us from faith.  We've heard from Susan Moore, who submitted a sermon she wrote based on the story of the love triangle between Jacob, Rachel and Leah, and I talked a little about how we are so obsessed with our outward appearance that we forget that God loves us just as we are, He loves what's inside.  And He gave us these bodies as gifts, we need to learn to love them, just as He does.

But there's another issue here, that may even be greater than the body image crisis fuelled by the media…the concept of “celebrity” has become synonymous with “idolized” we are making idols out of these pop culture icons, and it is heading into dangerous territory.

In addition to fuelling body image issues, society's obsession with celebrity and the need to know everything they're doing, highlighting each destructive or damaging moment is taking a toll on the faith development of each individual and the faith community as a whole.  We don't have time or space in our lives for God and His Word.  We practically worship these “idols”: Brittany Spears, Mylie Cyrus, Barack Obama.

There are all sorts of reasons, some of them very legitimate: I mean, I would have voted for Obama, too, if given the chance, the man is brilliant and has the potential to enact some serious change.  But he is just one man, albeit with a powerful position and a host of people around him who are able to make important and powerful decisions that might actually change the world.  But he isn't a superhero.  Many people have unrealistic expectations of the man, he is on such a high pedestal that the potential fall could be fatal.

idol-01Other obsessions are considerably less legitimate although still perfectly human.  We want to have others to look up to, we like to be entertained and it is in our nature to be curious (and even nosy) so when the gossip mill starts running it's hard to stop.

And what about TomKat and Brangelina? (where did the name combo thing come from anyway?) Do we really care about their relationships or is it more like a trainwreck, you just can't look away?

And if I hear one more time that Brittany Spears has put on weight so help me I think I'll scream.  Personally I think it's about time the poor girl ate a cheeseburger and put on a little weight, she was starting to look a little gaunt.

We need to care less about the lives of the people we see on tv and in movies.  It's as simple as that.  But where do we start? I'm not sure.  I would start by trying to find God in all the media we encounter.  Is there a bigger message here?  How should I feel about what I'm seeing or reading?  How does it impact my life and the life of those I know?  If we think a little more actively we might find we're able 9;do my essay'>do my essay

to find room for God in all the media madness, and maybe even come to understand our relationship with him a little better.

What do you think?


Matt's comments:

“Good points Allison, I know I do this far too often in my own life.  I was actually shocked a few weeks ago when one of the young girls in my church came up to me and was able to tell me verbatim the newest dealings between Chris Brown and Rhianna.  It's surprising the amount of time, money, and energy people invest in to the lives of celebrities and Hollywood.  I'm reminded of what Paul had to say about the early Christian's about not conforming to this world but to be living sacrifices to God.  Man, that's something I've been struggling with for a long time, but you're right in that we need to seek God out and pray.  It's not easy, especially with the constant bombardment of advertising and commercialization in our society, but we, as Christ followers, need to be different.

Judy's Comments:

I like your thoughts Allison, and I think it's really important to think about how we respond to contemporary 'idol worship' in our communities of faith.  I think my comments are on Matt's comments.  How do we be 'different', and yet still be part of the world we are living in?  I wonder if it's about being genuine people, as opposed to being obsessed with media imagery, or obsessed with contemporary, fast-paced 'entertainment'?  This might affect the choices we make in youth programming.  Do we go to laser tag and the latest Hannah Montana movie with our youth groups?  (just to be 'cool'?)  Young people can do those things with any group.  Or do we do something together which has meaning, and helps us build real relationships with real people (it might go a long way to helping us to love ourselves too!).

I'm reminded of something I read by Parker Palmer recently, who said that we are our best selves when we are doing something meaningful, beautiful and fun together.  What a great mandate for making choices in youth activities (or heck, in deciding to do anything in life!) – Make it meaningful, beautiful, and fun.


I made a big transition once in my ministry.  I used to think it was really important to keep up with everything the youth in my group were into – the latest celebrity gossip, the teen idols they liked, etc.  Yes, I know who some of these folks are, but now when a young person tells me all the latest about 'so and so' I say “You know, I really don't care about that – what's going on in your life these days?”  I found that drawing a boundary and modeling an indifference to popular culture made a lot of difference to how and what we talked about at youth group.  And maybe modeled authenticity and different values in life.

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