Yesterday (at least I think it was yesterday) I had a long layover at Heathrow Airport in London. I picked up a tabloid someone had left in the waiting area and read the lead article over the course of three pages. Then I realized that the entire tabloid was 48-pages of the same story: wall-to-wall coverage of Michael Jackson’s death.
Can I say it? Michael Jackson’s death doesn’t mean that much to me.
Oh, I care for this man’s soul. Honestly, I do. He seems to me a pitiable figure who had everything the world had to offer and learned that the world can never offer enough. A man known by billions but altogether lonely. A man loved by everyone but himself. A man who lived in luxury and yet was uncomfortable in his own skin, with his race, with his gender, and even with his species (the tabloid said his best friend ever was Bubbles the chimp!). That’s epically tragic, and I care that such tragedy was this man’s life.
But how was I to process the juxtaposition? 10 days of seeing, being among, ministering to, touching the poorest of the poor, and now I’m supposed to be moved by the death of one man who fared sumptuously every day? How many African children died of starvation and disease on Thursday? How many of their parents joined the missing generation? And I should be touched by fans gathering at a star on the Hollywood walk of fame? Really??
In this particular tabloid, the outisde columns were devoted to comments by other celebrities. It was fascinating. And instructive, I think. Without exception, every quote was not really about MJ, but about the one speaking. “I remember when I shared the stage with him.” “He came to one of my concerts.” “He told me he loved my work.” I was struck by the narcissism. Then I wondered if I could see it in others but was blind to my own.
I prayed that God would use this trip to transform my life. I hope perspective is part of that transformation. Maybe in the future I can be more concerned about the plight of the poor than about my portfolio. Maybe I’ll care more about children than the Atlanta Braves’ record while I was gone. Maybe.