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Thursday, July 01, 2010

Celebrity Deaths

If you've turned on the TV or listened to the radio this past week or so, you've no doubt been inundated with the tributes to Michael Jackson.

The media has been commemorating the one year anniversary of his death. One day last week I was flipping channels on TV and there were three different shows about Michael Jackson on three different channels - at the same time!

As I've thought about Michael Jackson's death, it's occurred to me that his death looks pretty much like so many others. Marilyn Monroe. Elvis Presley. Heath Ledger. Anna Nicole Smith. So many of these famous, rich, powerful and influential people died of accidental drug overdoses, etc.

In addition to the celebrity deaths, of course we have people who would fall into this same category who have not (yet) died. But they are known to have struggles with drugs, alcohol, etc. Some of struggled with sexual addiction (Tiger Woods), anger (Charlie Sheen) and a host of other issues.

For the most part, what they are doing is trying to change the way they feel - or to cope with the feelings they have. Is it recognized that these rich, famous, powerful and influential people have such troubling feelings? Do we understand that they have feelings they can't handle - or will resort to dangerous, life-threatening behaviors in an attempt to manage those feelings? Isn't that what's going on here?

It is a problem common to the human race. It's a part of the human condition, really. We have these feelings about things, and we don't get to pick them. We can often predict them, but not often prevent them. Sometimes they're good feelings. Sometimes they're bad feelings. Somethings they appear to be both good and bad. They can be incredibly complex!

Whatever is bad about feelings tends to feel like pain. And of course we've been taught to run from pain. It's part of our society. Deny it, mask it, eliminate it. But never - ever feel it. It's just not something that we do with pain. Similarly, there are feelings that we try to suppress, deny, avoid, manage or whatever. Would it ever occur to us to just feel them? I mean just let them happen? Isn't that what feelings are for?

God wired mankind with feelings and emotions. He gave us the capacity for pain, as much as He gave us the capacity for pleasure. But why did God do that? Do you suppose, just maybe, that feelings and emotions have a purpose? If so, then suppressing them, denying them, smothering them with drugs, alcohol or whatever - is likely to deny them their purpose.

It's sad when people lose their lives needlessly. It's even sadder when they do so out of their own stupidity. These people who die are ignorant of God's truth. I can't judge them, of course. But it sure looks to me like they are without the Truth that would set them free. And so they die.

As we commemorate celebrity deaths ... as we gawk at celebrity gossip ... we might want to consider the simple fact that the more blessed someone is, the more desperately he or she needs to be grounded in God's truth. Without it, the feelings can be overwhelming and powerful. In fact, they can cause us to take foolish actions that, in the worst case scenario, can result in death.

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