Saturday, January 06, 2007

"Fame Junkies" & the Power of Community

Every day the media is filled with stories and photos of Britney, Paris, Jolie and Pitt, Tomkat, and Lindsey. Where were they? What were they doing? What were they wearing (or not wearing)? We have entire magazines, newspapers and television shows devoted to reporting the every move of celebrities.

Jake Halpern has discussed this fixation in a new book, Fame Junkies: The Hidden Truth Behind America’s Favorite Addiction. Halpern argues that some people, particularly young girls, are literally addicted to celeb trivia. Paris Hilton was the most Googled name in 2006.

Halpern points out that we become addicted to things that have a mood-altering effect. The usual list includes drinking alcohol, using porn or eating chocolate. But now it seems that celebrity gossip is rising to the top of the list, especially for young people.

America’s youth hunger for fame. That fact is part of the reason for the success of America Idol. Young people are dreaming of becoming famous celebrities.

Halpern conducted a survey of 653 middle-school students in the Rochester, NY area. Given a choice of becoming the CEO of a major corporation, the president of Yale or Harvard, a Navy SEAL, a U.S. Senator or “the personal assistant to a very famous singer or movie star,” almost half of the girls (43%) chose the assistant role.

When given an option to become stronger, smarter, famous or beautiful, boys in the survey chose fame almost as often as intelligence, and girls chose it more often.

Why? I believe two powerful legitimate needs are going unmet and therefore many are trying to satisfy those needs in broken ways. Everyone needs love and relationship. To say it another way, many people today are insecure and lonely.

There is so much exposure to the celebrities and many feel like they know these stars and that feeling helps them feel less lonely. And when we see photographers and fans falling all over these celebrities one will conclude that they are greatly loved. Conclusion: if I want to be loved I need to be famous.

The biblical word for being loved and connected to others is “community”. In the Bible it means more than neighborhood. Community has a connotation of heart to heart life connection and commitment. It is a state of being known, cared for, challenged and supported.

Granted, there are many churches that still play a religious game of ritual and legalism, but many churches are becoming tremendous communities where life is being lived well, deeply and with purpose.

Don’t waste your time seeking fame. Diligently search for biblical community. It makes an eternity’s worth of difference.

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