It's amazing to watch our culture. Paris Hilton's jail cycle is consuming the news. Let's think about that. With all the things going on in the world, it's a young, wealthy blonde's DUI
consequences that is consuming the U.S. I don't necessarily blame the news. Simple economics (supply/demand) means the news will show what people watch. We must confess that as a nation, we are consumed with the meaningless. Far from saying I am above this (Bob Barker's retirement still hurts), instead, I am critiquing myself as well. But I do not care what Paris Hilton ate for breakfast today.
What do we say about a culture that for the most part is more concerned with "celebrity" hookups and party scenes than war, abortion, divorce, and God? It is just evidence of the "gods" our culture worships. Entertainment, popularity, fame, and money are the gods of our culture. I am not bashing American Idol, but when more people are interested in electing the next American Idol than the next president....something is awry. In high school and college, we live for the next fun party or weekend road trip. It is no surprise that post-college, entertainment and popularity continue to be the driving force of culture. We have truly made a god of the entertainment industry.
C.S. Lewis once said "Just like the Nazis, by valuing too highly a real, but subordinate good, we have come near to losing that good itself." The arts, entertainment, enjoyment of company, and celebrities are all good things. However, they are subordinate goods that are to be enjoyed under
and in subordination to the ultimate good. We've made a "subordinate good" THE GOOD.
It should remind us of the wisdom of Ecclesiastes. Anytime wealth, approval or sex is treated as an ultimate good....its declaration is "vanity." Why, because one day it will all vanish. Its why Paul's statement if Philippians
seems so foreign sometimes. "For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." Only when all of life is realized as being subordinate to life with King Jesus can culture be enjoyed for what it truly is. For Paul the removal of popularity or wealth by death meant nothing. No, his ultimate meaning in life came from a relationship with the King. No weekend party or worldly achievement was better than that. For Paul, death doesn't end life, instead it ushers in a more glorious experience of his ultimate life (A life serving Christ).
In conclusion, I'm reminded of a newspaper article I once heard about. A lady wrote for a New York newspaper and was constantly around celebrities. She knew plenty struggling actors and actresses while they waited tables trying to "make it" in the Hollywood world. She specifically knew 3 celebrities when they were struggling and looking up saying "if only I can make it, then I would be fine." But when they finally found fame in the entertainment world, instead of being fulfilled they were unhappier than before. She said this: "I pity celebrities, no I do, celebrities were once perfectly pleasant human beings, but now their wrath is awful, you see they wanted fame, they worked, they pushed, and the morning after each one was made famous, however, they wanted to take an overdose. Because that giant thing they were striving for, that thing that was going to make everything ok
, that thing that was going to provide them with personal fulfillment.....(when they finally got it)....the disillusionment turned them howling and insufferable."
Christians should be leading the way in meaningful culture. Which means keeping first things first and everything else secondary. As Lewis states, "at least the suggestion is worth a thought. To be sure, if it were true that civilization will never be safe till it is put second, that immediately raises the question, second to what? What is the first thing? The only reply I can offer here is that if we do not know, then the first and only truly practical thing is to set about finding out."