23 April 2016

The World Celebrates Sin: When Celebrities Die

They think it strange that you do not run with them in the same in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. (1 Peter 4.4)

It is moments like these we feel most acutely that we are but exiles on this earth. As the world celebrates the death of an androgynous pervert, a sick deviant and wretched soul, we feel... out of the loop.

The last couple of days have been oppressive. Every time you turn on the news whether on the internet, radio, or television you are assaulted with images of Prince and his deviance. I don't want my kids to even see clips of his music videos and the moral rot they represent.

The world wants to celebrate his career and his supposed cultural achievements. True, he was ahead of his time, if you want to look it at that way. He pushed the envelope and it got him a lot of attention back in the 1980s.

And yet his message, his whole life was a rejection of Christ and His Kingdom.

It's moments like this that we feel the antithesis. We realise we're not part of what so many others seem to celebrate. I don't doubt his popularity but I also wonder if the news is overplaying it. Maybe it's the circles I ran in but I barely knew anyone who liked Prince. I sure didn't. It seemed to me he had faded away in the 1990s with the exception of a brief moment of revival on New Year's Eve 1999. Maybe I'm just out of the loop.

I'm kind of shocked out the outpouring of emotion and sentiment. It's interesting to consider, but what if he had died in 1996 instead of 2016? Would there be such a fuss? In 1996 he was still something of a freak. Now he's a hero, a cultural pioneer.

It's morbidly interesting to hear male commentators wax Sodomite and declare that he was a 'beautiful man', praising his distortion of gender as well as their own confusion. Prince, once the monstrosity is now the ideal.

Today, we live in a climate of epistemic dissonance wherein people try to claim the moral high ground by declaring that love and physical attraction should be based on the person alone regardless of gender or physicality. And of course your tastes and own identity are supposed to be flexible. It sounds noble, but only to reprobate ears and the dictates of worldly wisdom. Apart from atheistic forms of Existentialism and certainly Nihilism it fails every philosophic and scientific criterion for verification. In terms of ethics, it's pure chaos.

The chasm is growing between those who follow Christ and those who live under the shadow of Sheol. That's fine. It's good to have the lines drawn. Some think it's wonderful if we as Christians can compel and train a multitude of lost people to behave as if their Christians, to form a Christian veneer around the rot that is in their hearts and drives their lives. I don't and the notion is foreign to Scripture.

As I've expressed many times before, Nihilism is the only real alternative to Christ. And though Prince like many entertainers and in particular African-American celebrities, profess a form of religious faith, in the end it's pretty clear where Prince found his meaning in life... the self and pleasure.

Many will agree with me up to this point and yet I'll take it further.

I feel the same way when the Right celebrates figures like Reagan. I felt this acutely when he died and watched in fascination and horror as a mythology about him quickly began to form. He was championed as a man that he wasn't and while some were moved to tears I stepped back in perplexed disgust. I revered Reagan as a lost person. Once I became a Christian I totally re-assessed him and the more I've learned about him, the less I esteem him. He was no hero or paragon of Christian virtue.

As a Christian, a case might be made that Reagan was a more moral person than someone like Prince but this is relative isn't it? What's worse, perversion or violence? Both roads actually lead to the same place. Reagan wasn't a moral person either and in the end both stand guilty before God. Neither died reconciled.

And while I think ill of Prince, one has to admit that though his message and deeds were evil, one has to consider whether Reagan's were worse. I'm not talking about the mythology concerning the fall of Communism or his supposed leadership, but the proliferation of weapons and the host of proxy wars in Asia, Africa and Latin America that directly caused and have led to literally hundreds of thousands of deaths. I could say more about his policies and what they did to people's lives, communities and the cultural impact of concentrated wealth, the expansion of credit etc... but that's for another time.

Actually I would argue it is Capitalism that leads (in the end) to something like Prince but that's a real can of worms isn't it? Most Capitalists reject the notion that it is their system that leads to decadence, the kind of decadence Prince represented.

I felt the same way when the Right celebrated the deaths of figures like Norman Schwarzkopf and Charlton Heston and the way to continue to celebrate figures like Churchill, Lincoln or in many cases the leaders of the Confederacy.

One should grow immediately suspect when history is cast in terms of heroes and villains.

Trust me, they're almost all villains. The heroes are generally not celebrated by the world. With a few exceptions they are largely either reviled or forgotten.

Luke 16.15 contains a message most Christians have failed to understand... 'for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God'.

This is not our home. When you live in another country and a celebrity dies and the coverage plasters the newspapers and television and is on everyone's lips, you feel like an outsider. You might barely know who the person was, if at all. You feel like an outsider because you're not part of it.

And this is because you're not. But we should feel the same way in whatever country we live because our country isn't here. Let the dead mourn and bury their dead.

They will think it strange that you're not with them. That's right, but this is true not only of the world but the apostate Church. They too will not understand why you won't celebrate their heroes and show due reverence to their monuments and myths. Your refusal will breed hostility because in the end they will intuitively realise that you're not one of them, you're not part of their Babel project.

That's right, we're not. And while we do not use violence and smash their idols and monuments as did the Iconoclasts of old, we bear witness against them and proclaim their immorality and doom.

I am not opposed to filtering through the messages of the lost world, their movies and music and finding points of interest and something worthy of consideration. I can empathise with the lost at points and understand their struggles and perspectives. Even lost people have a sense of injustice and degrees of morality that sometimes can convict even Christians and put us to shame. I'm not saying the works of man can be redeemed or will be but they do possess a certain value in helping us understand the world and interact with it.

I'm afraid I never found anything in the work of Prince that I think would qualify it for this category. It was little more than smut.

3 comments:

  1. Wasn't Prince a Jehovah's Witness?

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  2. Apparently, but not like any of the Watchtower people I've known.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I did some digging and it turns out he converted to the JWs back in 2001-2003. He attended a Kingdom Hall in Minneapolis and even engaged in door-to-door proselytizing. He didn't even disguise himself like Michael Jackson did, either.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3555735/Inside-Prince-s-Jehovah-s-Witness-Church-singer-went-door-door-Bible-hand-large-cash-donations-years.html

    This article indicates that for all intents and purposes, he was on good terms with the congregation when he died. Of course, one should note a key point: he gave a significant amount of money to the church. It is reasonable to assume that this would have earned him special privileges within the organization. At the very least, he would have enjoyed much greater personal freedom than the average member. For example, he never rejected his flamboyant lifestyle and personality. By contrast, every JW I've met has been terse, rigid and extremely soft-spoken, the kind of personality a culture of fear and intimidation engenders.

    ReplyDelete