Today's service for Michael Jackson was fascinating for so many reasons.
More people seem to have been moved by Jackson since he died than when he was alive. So what's the deal?
But it's not just MJ. It seems like we have a growing need to acknowledge public passages more than ever before. Think Princess Diana. Even think Pierre Trudeau. Sometimes the emotion surrounding a death are greater than the emotion surrounding the life we are celebrating.
What's going on? Why is that? Why do we seem to be grieving more openly, more publicly and more profoundly? Is it just me, or is the reaction to select deaths far greater than it ought to be? Not that we shouldn't grieve Michael Jackson (he was an incredibly gifted artist). It's just that this seems to me to be way out of proportion to how we felt about him when he was alive.
A few thoughts:
- Although God gets moved more and more to the sidelines of most people's lives, our desire to worship - the human need to worship - doesn't go away. If we're not worshipping God, we'll create gods. Happened then. Is this just what it looks like now?
- A pastor I respect said that in his view, one of the biggest phenomenons of life today is that people accumulate ungrieved losses. Life is so fast, we often ignore small losses and big losses. We lose a contract, but rather than pay attention to our feelings, we just stuff them and move on. A distant aunt dies, we pause for a minute, but our day moves on. We lose a job. Lose a friend, but we keep moving. Do events like this arrest our attention and cause disproportionate emotional responses because essentially, we're not grieving Michael nearly as much as we're grieving all the other losses that have accumulated over the months and years? I love how in the Old Testament, whenever someone died, life ground to a halt. People mourned. They grieved losses - whenever they occured. They went to God and each other with daily hurt. They were emotionally and spiritually so much healthier than we are. Over the last few years, I've tried to notice the losses in my life and process them when they happen - pray them through, sometimes shed a tear - grieve them. It feels so much healtheir than stuffing it. It also means when Michael Jackson dies, I'm really only feeling his loss, not a thousand other losses in my life - they've been processed before God. And I actually wasn't that much of a fan - notwithstanding his giftedness.