First, I would like to offer condolences, and the comfort and peace of God, to Michael Jackson’s mother, family, children and fans.
As one of the most creative and energetic performers of the last decades, Jackson played a role in the enlivening the American psyche to the role of black artists in the tumultuous years following the civil rights movement. Everyone plays a part in the shaping of culture; Jackson played a large one on the entertainment scene.
He was 6 years older than me, and led a life that seems very strange from the outside. Others will write about that strangeness; I however, will not.
They live out our dreams. They receive the adulation something inside of us wishes to receive. They may keep their bodies in shape, or even reform them in Michael’s case, to be what they want them to be. What we think of Michael’s “whitening” of himself, and his phobias aside, the fact that he or any other celebrity can do something about their persona, fascinates us.
Now, the question of a life’s impact, when granted celebrity status by the micro and macro powers that be, rises to the surface. Whether it be Mother Theresa, or Michael Jackson, I believe the same list applies.
Here is my short list of values I look for, embodied in the life of someone who has become a celebrity:
1. Did they leave us with a worldview that will not only enrich us, but generations to come?
2. Did they breed further health in their treatment of others through modeling a strong stewardship of power and resource?
3. Did they leave a legacy of faith and belief in God, and further, in the specific human story of salvation in Jesus Christ?
4. Did they live their lives in vivid view of their death?
5. Will their leadership influence nurture the human arts (embodied in Jesus’ life and teaching) of forgiveness-giving, hope-stirring, peace-making, creative living, neighbor-love and right-relating in those drawn to their person?