Wednesday, June 28, 2017

"Rockstar Religion"

Our society is addicted to sensationalistic drama like an illegal drug. How else do you explain the explosion of reality TV shows over the last 15 years? And this obsession has not been limited to those who indulge in the tasty, tantalizing, dirty laundry that the tabloids, the “silver screen”, or the flat screen incessantly pump out faster than most sewage treatment plants can pump out their waste. This “phenomenon” has found it’s way quite nicely into the culture of “american religion”. Everybody loves a good story, especially when it is chock full of suspense, intrigue, mystery, controversy, scandal, tragedy, and so on. No one will watch a “boring” story. People seem to tire of the good guy, who somehow remains a “good guy” throughout his life, making right choices, managing to avoid moral or ethical failures, and simply following the path of right character and integrity. Even I’m yawning now! The hottest girl in school always goes for the “bad boy”, right? The guy with the reputation, who has “been places”, and who can wow a crowd with the sordid details of his various escapades. I mean, you gotta live on the edge to hold her interest. You’re not legit unless you serve time, lose all you have, cheat death, or be the main character in a controversial episode of some sort. No publisher, record label, movie director, or TV producer is interested in the people who simply “plod” through life, managing the mundane, making right decisions, honoring their families, maintaining integrity with their spouse, their kids, their boss. THAT DOESN’T SELL!!! Where’s the danger and intrigue in THAT? Where’s the hero who rises from the ashes of tragedy and failure to save the day, get the girl, star in their own TV series, and win an award or commendation from the Mayor?!? THAT’S who we clamor for! That’s who we want to hear! THAT is who we will listen to and take seriously.
It seems intrinsic in human nature, to be drawn to some form of “hero worship” when we’re looking for role models, mentors, or people to believe in! We gotta have someone with incredible curb appeal, somebody who can draw a crowd. And it makes us somehow feel a little better about our own lives to be able to vicariously “live” through the life of a celebrity, or even a “rockstar christian”.
Now, I should interject here, every story of good over evil, triumph over tragedy, and success over failure should be applauded, and honored for its “good ending”, and the grace and mercy afforded to all people who have experienced restoration and healing. I enjoy them as much as the next dude. But what disheartens me—and yes, I HAVE felt the “sting” of this trend from time to time— is how we tend to discount the story, or lessen the power and legitimacy of those whose lives, though maybe not drama filled, tainted with moral & ethical failing, or controversial in some way, are still MOST DEFINITELY a life to be championed, legitimized, given validation, listened to, and even celebrated passionately!
I was raised a pastor’s kid, wore suits and ties (often matching my younger brother, but that’s another issue altogether), never missed church, always tried to maintain that “goober like” squeaky clean demeanor, at least when my parents were around. HAH! I was never addicted to drugs, alcohol, or anything (unless you count pretty ladies and Alabama football) :-) Of course, I NOW have as my soul mate, the ULTIMATE pretty lady who has stayed with me for 27 years, and those of you who know me, know I’m still “in process” with the Bama football thing. :-)
I never ran from the law, never cheated death in grandiose, newsworthy fashion, or became a source of heartache, regret, or trouble for my parents. I was never sexually abused, physically abused, and never spent an hour in jail. I didn’t have a series of “Forest Gump” moments, where fame and notoriety thrust me somehow into the collective attention and consciousness of the masses. Now don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a perfect teenager, and I got into mischief, and even lied to my parents on occasion, usually followed quickly by a tearful confession and promise to do better, so “God would still love me”. I wasn’t a “troubled” youth. I never ran with gangs, never saw someone gunned down in cold blood, never killed anyone, and I never even fathered a child in high school or college. I’ve been faithful to my wife for the entirety of our 27 years of marriage, and she has been to me as well! We love each other! We’ve never had to overcome a life threatening illness, and neither have our incredible kids. We’ve never died and come back to life to tell our story of what heaven looked like. I’ve never been through rehab, never been a member of the “famous fallen and restored”. I’ve never been pursued by christian television to appear on their talk shows to boost their ratings or make them look like they know how to relate to the celebrity crowd. My story has never been the subject of mega church pastors’ anecdotes or examples to “wow” their congregations with their oratory and communicative ability. I’ve never been the “rockstar” wildcard who was brought in to boost visibility for an organization, give them clout in their community, or draw an adoring and quite impressed crowd of folks. I’ve never been asked to endorse a product or write a forward to the book of an author. And THESE THINGS use to embitter me beyond words! I fought envy and jealousy constantly. “WHY DID MY LIFE HAVE TO BE SO FREAKIN’ BORING”, or “Why don’t people notice me, or how good I AM at certain things”! These are the sentiments that rattled around in my mind for years and continued to cloud my true identity, distorting the reality of who I was created to be. You know, when Love Himself begins to heal your heart, and love you to wholeness, your whole worldview, personal perspective, and value systems have a way of drastically reforming!
And can I say, I’m overwhelmingly humbled and thankful that this path has been mine. I wouldn’t trade places with anyone! Everyone’s journey is different. Their story is valuable and unique. Comparing your story with someone else’s is a slippery slope that leads you to a place of disillusionment and misunderstanding reality. When Love himself begins to unfold His plan and purpose for you, it brings such a sense of significance and worth to you! I am learning to look at my life, my story, and my journey solely through the lens of Love’s perspective. I’ve battled the insecurity that comes from feeling like my life hasn’t been “colorful enough” or “book worthy”, but I’ve come to understand how blessed I am! Love knows exactly what He’s doing in me and through me! Your trust is completely safe in Love Himself. And personally speaking, I’m not a fan of drama. I love peace! And God has blessed me beyond words to be able to live my life the way it is unfolding, and to look forward with “giddy” excitement and expectation to what the next 46 years will bring for my family and me!

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