Celebrity Versus Celebration
Last night, after I got home from our parish's soup kitchen, my wife and I sat down to wait for the premier of a television show we both enjoy. Normally, we would have put on the media player and choose from several streaming services we subscribe to a program to watch. Instead, we left the regular broadcast television signal on. I realize that I don't watch a lot of "commercial" television, and in watching TV last night I was overwhelmed by the number of commercial breaks. On top of that, we also had left the channel on that habitually airs back-to-back half hour "celebrity news" shows. We heard about what red carpet dress which actress wore. We heard a report on the separation of a prominent Hollywood couple. We heard about a media personalities "un-breakdown" after a difficult interview in which she alluded to a strong emotional response she had to another celebrity's tale of a nervous breakdown. We also heard about how viewers of one show could get great deals on consumer fashion items that celebrities wear. And then, there were more commercials.
Such is the state of our culture and our continuing popular fascination with the celebrity lifestyle. I realized about 3/4 of the way through last night's experience that many of the people the celebrity journalists were reporting on were for the most part famous....because they were famous.
I think this is what Peter is drawing out attention to when he decries the way we all tend to desire the comforts of the age, when we chase after fads and the excitement of the current trends. He notes that real life cannot exist apart from the true comfort we experience when our full attention is on God. If we are going to live in the way of the Christ, then it means letting go of some root human motivations to be "in" and have "that." Peter's call to community is simple, humble and direct: Open yourself up to God, let the white noise of the busy-ness of life subside and focus on knowing and loving your neighbor as you seek to know and love God more fully. He isn't promising that everything will then be easy-peasy. In fact, he is pointed in alerting us to the "fiery trials" that are to come. He does speak to us on how to face them while embracing God and each other with mutual respect, humility and affection.
Now, if we can just resolve to change the channel when the onslaught of celebrity threatens to overwhelm the life of celebration that Christ has given to us....