Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Michael Jackson's memorial: spirituality, human-ness and popculture.

Fascinating, intriguing, moving... what else ? How can one describe the Michael Jackson Memorial? Is it significant for churches and Christians to ponder over this question?

CNN suggest that this memorial was in the class of Diana Spencer-Windsor's funeral, or the JFK-assassination or the landing on the moon. Given the traffic on Twitter and Facebook, the audience, was huge and highly significant in pop culture. Social commentators call Michael, the King of Pop (I've reflected on his significance,in a post February, last year) and the pastor, who closed the memorial with prayer, said: (paraphrased) 'The King of Pop will now have to bow to the King of Kings'. How are we to assess this mixture of pop culture and spirituality. This is a much deeper question, which needs a lot of research, but the Memorial yesterday, provides an opportunity to make some comments.

The memorial brought home a few random thoughts:
1) Jackson (as with all these celebrities, who spoke last night) was a human being, exceptional in many ways, but also flawed and dependent on God.
2) For many, he was simply a brother, son, father, a friend...Michael Joseph Jackson, MJJ not MJ, an 'icon', 'legend', hypertext image, a 'sex symbol', etc.
3) Seemingly, the music industry own these people.It seems as if they create pop products, mirages of eternal youth, of sensuality and power, which they sell for billions. We all buy these 'products' and never ask the deeper questions about the tortured souls and broken bodies that are hidden behind the plastic. We often glare into their lives, and with contempt spew at any indication of being like us, fallible and weak. We expect them to live up to the dream, whether they are on stage or not.
4) The 'Michael Jackson' phenomenon and following on the previous point, the brand, like 'Elvis Presley', 'Marvin Gaye' and 'The Beatles', amongst others will live on and continue to rake in the millions.
5) These pop products will continue to shape different generations...
6) It shaped and will continue to shape inter-racial relations even to the point of creating a 'post-racial' context.
7) The world looks for healing, one-ness; not essentialist identities, but love, etc
etc.... not institutional politics or powergames. They look for glorious mirages of healing, hope and human-ness.

These things, I think may have a bearing on how we share the gospel, today. Maybe, Michael Jackson has done more for a post-racial America, then her churches or maybe this pop product, is a dangerous delusion, a false prophet, of sorts.

Yet, last night I realized that deep down, I feel compassion for the people behind the glove. Because maybe, I have my own little gloves, which hide the real self. In this memorial, last night, we've seen, and felt (!) glimpses of the vulnerability, of the human-ness, that we all share.

We never knew the real Michael Joseph Jackson, the son, brother, uncle, friend, which is fine. We cannot know every one. But we may pray, in our common human-ness, may you rest in peace, brother, and may your family find comfort and consolation, by the power of the Holy Spirit...
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