Brad Pitt, Jesus, and Celebrity

             History is an interesting thing.  We spend a lot of time in school studying the events of the past.  Yet, we still must ask ourselves if we have properly evaluated matters of the past.  Some events and people become so engrained in our personal and cultural psyche that we cannot see them accurately. 

              There are a couple of people in particular of which this is true.  Typically it becomes more accurate the further we get away from a person’s time on earth.  As long as there are people who can remember the historical figure it is difficult to expand the memory too far beyond reality to create this phenomenon.

             Two figures that this is true about are Jesus and Hitler.  Both are larger than life.  Both are far enough removed from the present that we have lost most if not all of those who had any real contact with them.  Both, in historical perspective, were polarizing figures.  My purpose is not to evaluate the historical realities of Hilter.  He is here only to prove a point.

             We all have personal beliefs about Jesus.  C.S. Lewis rightly declared that Jesus was either a liar, a lunatic, or exactly who He said He was.  Those are the only options as to His true identity.

             Unfortunately for us, that is no longer enough.  Even if we believe that Jesus was who He said He was we have more filters to evaluate Him through that we must examine.  One of the most critical filters we must get rid of is the filter of celebrity[1].

             By celebrity it is my intention to deal primarily with the American celebrity concept.  The American version of celebrity is taking root around the world, yet at this time it is still primarily an American phenomenon.

             We Americans have created a celebrity cult that surpasses anything found in history.  This celebrity cult has great influence on our worldview, at least as it pertains to certain people.

             We must start by defining the idea of celebrity.  A celebrity is a famous or well known person.  That seems simple enough.  If it were that simple we might not need this discussion.

             In our modern, media driven world celebrity is so much more than merely being famous.  It is about becoming larger than life.  It is about achieving a special status.  We give more credibility to celebrity opinions.  Otherwise why would we care who Oprah is supporting in the Presidential Primaries.  Without our modern sense of celebrity we do not care that Brad Pitt is spending some of his free time, his energy, and a small amount of his millions of dollars to build some homes in New Orleans.

             Celebrity, in our America, gives a person the best of everything.  That might be okay if there were some achievement that had to be mastered to become a celebrity.  Unfortunately for us, the advent of reality television and the explosion of the Internet have taken away the qualifiers that used to exist on celebrity.

             Celebrities in America come into our home and change how we view life.  Even if we approach life with a strong moral code, we permit celebrities to life according to a lower moral code or no moral code at all.  Celebrity divorce has led the way to a weakening of marriage in America.  Celebrity drug use has led to a dropping of our belief that chemically altered states are bad.

             We want our celebrities to live a life not worth living–partying, carousing, the worse the better as far as we are concerned.  We watch with passion the life styles of the rich and famous.  We dream of being allowed into the club.  Celebrity fascinates us.  Given a choice between rich and famous most of us would choose famous.  Of course, if we are smart enough we will turn famous into rich so it is not really any choice.

             For the sake of our discussion, none of this is a particular problem.  The problem is seen when we look at how celebrity affects how we approach people.  I personally do not care if Brad Pitt does not marry Angelina until same-sex marriage is legal in America.  I do care that Brad’s adultery and fornication are looked at as the high moral ground in the sexual revolution that is still moving through the country.

             Because of the international fame that now accompanies celebrity we find that people who used to live a sheltered life in private now live a sheltered life in public.  We view their homes on television.  We see them coming out of restaurants and clubs at two and three in the morning.  We see them climbing onto and off of private jets, retreating into their private mansions.

             We long to live the same life.  In addition, there is a certain amount of authority that is created by fame.  We assume famous people have a greater understanding of the world.  Add to that the ego that is required to achieve fame and we have a group of people we want to believe are smarter than us.  And based on their egos these people agree that they are smarter.

              They then tell us what to believe.  They then tell us how we should live.  Flying their private jets that burn hundreds of gallons of fuel every minute, riding in limousines and SUVs that burn more fuel than any other vehicles, they tell us that we must conserve fuel—it is our moral duty to the earth.

              I am all for saving fuel and protecting the earth.  I do not need the worst abusers in the world trying to make me feel guilty for my abuses.

             And that is the worst of celebrity.  Celebrities are not required to live by the same rules the rest of us are required to live by.  Celebrities get a pass on everything—moral failings, financial failings, legal failings, etc.

            Again, this is well and good, until we apply it to our religion.  Part of the problem we have today is that Jesus is a celebrity.  He is so famous that even those who do not know what He really believed, what He really said, who He really was, use His name in indifference or profanity.

             I am not concerned with this misuse of Jesus.  Sinners will be sinners.  We should expect it.  We should not demand that sinners act like saints—that is part of the problem we have in the church today.

[1] Other filters like family teachings, cultural teachings, pet theories or theologies, or church teachings are important filters.  They could each warrant their own lengthy discussion which is not the purpose of this particular writing.


3 Responses to “Brad Pitt, Jesus, and Celebrity”

  1. 1 Celebrity Drug Use 8 February 2008 at 3:46 pm

    When it comes to celebrity I think you have to talk about drug use and the sort of role models they are. You cannot talk about celebrity without drink, drugs, debauchery etc. Something worth considering.

  2. 2 Amanda 8 February 2008 at 3:49 pm

    That part about Brad Pitt was harsh, bro.

  1. 1 Celebrity Blog » Blog Archive » Brad Pitt, Jesus, and Celebrity Trackback on 8 February 2008 at 2:31 pm

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Books Worth Reading

C.S. LEWIS--Mere Christianity; CLAIRE BERLINSKI--Menace in Europe: Why the Continent's Crisis is America's Crisis, Too; BRUCE BAWER--While Europe Slept: How Radical islam is Destroying the West from Within; DAVID LEVERING LEWIS--God's Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215; THOMAS SCHIRRMACHER--The Persecution of Christians Concerns Us All; PHILIP JENKINS--God's Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe's Religious Crisis

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