Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Fans Anonymous

My sister used to plaster the walls of our room with posters of pop stars. I still don't know how I fell asleep with scores of smiling, airbrushed faces leering at us from every side. Admiring musicians, actors, and jocks is a normal part of growing up in America, but when does fascination with a celebrity cross the line?

Admiration becomes addiction when we rely on our so-called "connection" to the stranger as an escape from pain. Do we "fan"-tasize about one of People magazine's hundred most beautiful people as a way to calm ourselves from worrying? Do we feel like we "know" that famous actor better than others do because of our loyalty to him through thick and thin — even though he doesn't know us from Adam? These are clues that adulation may have crossed the line into idolatry.

Strikingly, along the red carpet, starstruck fans often call out "I LOVE YOU!" to a celebrity, and savvy celebrities are primed to reply with an echo. What a sham of three life-changing words intended to be exchanged first and foremost with God, and second between people in an intimate relationship. But there's room to admire peple we don't know personally — after all, I've never met Amy Carmichael, Mother Theresa, or Catherine of Siena. But there's a huge difference between admiring a celebrity and looking up to a hero — celebrities don't need character to draw attention. Heroes do. So what famous person besides Jesus do you admire and why?

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