We will worship, the only questions are "Who?" or "What?"
The default religion of our culture is "Pop." Pop "gods" hold up the standard to which many aspire. Wealth. Fame. Power. Stuff. They have it all, at least all we're told we should have.
And so everyone wants to be a superstar. We want to be known. We are wired to think our value is determined by others. Thus, the proliferation of YouTube and Facebook. Even for the masses who will never make it to the big stage, commercial advertising caters to this appetite, to this insecurity. You're the star if you buy these clothes. Go to that place. Do that thing.
So all this raises the question: What does your "god"... your religion... do for you? What happens when the pop-culture religion is proven empty, if not destructive?
Neil Young said, "It's better to burn out than to fade away." And within pop-religion, so it is. Marilyn Monroe, Whitney Houston, John Belushi, Jimmy Hendrix.... just a few, now dead "gods" pronouncing the dead nature of their religion.
The truth is, what we perceive as most desirable, most of them pronounce as most reprehensible, even while basking in the light. Proof? This religion has the highest depression, divorce and general destruction rates of any profession. Mick Jagger (Rolling Stones) was living all those dreams and had the honesty to proclaim, "Look at me! Does it matter? I've been shattered!"
Keep it real pop-culture religion. Are we really having fun yet?
So it should be clear that our souls were made to worship. And even more clear now that they were made to worship Someone. Flowing from our identity, every conscious act is a participation in a kind of religion. When we experience the emptiness from worshiping any other thing, there ought to be an awakening, a moment of honesty. Does it fit?
The highest pronouncement here is perhaps in the lives of those pop-culture icons who have turned to that higher place. Their faith invites us to consider that the greatest "thing" worth pursuing in this world is not the star of narcissistic emptiness, the bright stage of adulation, but in the transcendence resulting from relationship with Someone who fashioned us in His Image, for Himself... whose Star illuminated not worldly wealth and glory, but a stable and a manger.
"Towards the end of the show someone out in the crowd...knew I wasn't feeling too well," recalled Dylan in a 1979 interview. "I think they could see that. And they threw a silver cross on the stage. Now usually I don't pick things up in front of the stage. Once in a while I do. Sometimes I don't. But I looked down at that cross. I said, 'I gotta pick that up.' So I picked up the cross and I put it in my pocket...And I brought it backstage and I brought it with me to the next town, which was out in Arizona...I was feeling even worse than I'd felt when I was in San Diego. I said, 'Well, I need something tonight.' I didn't know what it was. I was used to all kinds of things. I said, 'I need something tonight that I didn't have before.' And I looked in my pocket and I had this cross."
Dylan believed he had experienced a vision of Christ in his Tucson hotel room. "Jesus did appear to me as King of Kings, and Lord of Lords," he'd later say. "There was a presence in the room that couldn't have been anybody but Jesus...Jesus put his hand on me. It was a physical thing. I felt it. I felt it all over me. I felt my whole body tremble. The glory of the Lord knocked me down and picked me up."
If you get the chance, listen to his "Gotta Serve Somebody." Says it all.
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