Fame: The American Idol

Posted on January 19, 2013 · Posted in Culture, Ruling Desires

Americans are fascinated by fame, either for themselves or by watching others in hot pursuit of fame. This attraction can be fatal. There is a fundamental reason for this attention to fame – we were designed to worship greatness. We were designed to be consumed with the glory of God, to whom there is no equal. Then came the fall of man in garden. Satan successfully persuaded Adam to question God’s greatness. Ever since  then, humans have looking for fame in all the wrong places. 

 

Romans teaches us that a great exchange has taken place. God’s truth has been exchanged for a lie. Man now worships and serves things which are created instead of the One who creates:

 

They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator… Romans 1:25

 

America was not always been addicted to fame as it is now.

 

In the 19th Century it was next to impossible to ignore the God of the Bible in American Culture. The Supreme Court often used biblical references in its rulings. Authors assumed a basic knowledge of Scripture. The appropriateness of monogamous, heterosexual marriage was unquestioned. Presidents prayed and invoked God’s blessing. Church was an accepted part of life. 

 

In the 20th Century things began to change. Science and Modernism replaced God and the Bible as the source of moral authority. In 1939, Gone with the Wind was the first movie of national significance to contain a curse word. Academics began to openly question the reality of God. This was culminated by the declaration in 1965 in Time Magazine that God had died:

 

“We must recognize that the death of God is a historical event: God has died in our time, in our history, in our existence.”

The words would seem shocking enough coming from someone like Jean-Paul Sartre. As it happens, they were written not by a moody French existentialist but by Thomas J. J. Altizer, 38, associate professor of religion at Atlanta’s Emory University, a Methodist school.” October 22, 1965, Time Magazine

 

In the 21st century, America has decided that there is no God to hold in awe. Americans now worship and adore themselves. We have made stars of those who wow us. These stars may be deeply flawed, but stars they remain. The criteria for star power are benchmarks like these:

 

How hard can a football player hit?

How fast can an athlete run?

How much lust can a movie star invite?

How much money can an individual acquire?

How many promises can a politician make?

How much pleasure do I deserve?

 

You see, once the glory of God has been replaced by the accomplishments of man, man becomes less of what he could be, not more. Our accomplishments pale before the mighty works of God. But, if we chose to ignore God, then all that is left are the deeds of men. In this setting, man becomes self-absorbed like the inhabitants of Babel:

 

Then they said, “Come, let’s build a great city for ourselves with a tower that reaches into the sky. This will make us famous and keep us from being scattered all over the world.” Genesis 11:4

 

Serving at the alter of human fame yields a cruel and bitter end.  People actually think they can serve their own pleasures and suffer no consequences. Tiger Woods, Ernest Hemingway, Whitney Houston, Lance Armstrong, Elvis Presly, Joe Paterno, John Edwards, Bernie Madoff, David Petraeus and countless others would tell you self-service and the pursuit of fame carries a high price. 

 

Fame is a cruel idol. As Andy Warhol predicted 15 minutes of fame passes quickly.

 

Warn your children about America’s consuming idol called fame.  If your children do not worship God, they will worship someone or something else. Model the worship of God for them. Tell them that God alone is glorious. He alone can deliver what he has promised.

 

 

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Jay Younts
John A. (Jay) Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger, and is a ruling elder serving at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He has written Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, Finding the Right Track, the In Touch With Paul stewardship series, and What About War. He has studied and taught about biblical childrearing for 30 years. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.