Unless you have been living in a cave the last day or so, you have no doubt heard about the death of Michael Jackson, "the King of Pop." Yes, "Jacko" as he was called in the tabloids was a pop music genius. I am not a person to affix the label of "genius" to too many folks.
I never really cared for his music. I never owned an MJ album, nor ever had any desire to. But the fact is, he really was a genius in the popular music genre. He wrote most of his own songs and choreographed all his own dance moves. Most teenagers today only knew Michael Jackson in his creepy "Wacko Jacko" persona, but go to any high school sporting event that has cheerleaders. I guarantee over half the moves the cheerleaders do are copies or elaborations of stuff Michael Jackson invented. It's truly amazing how much he influenced culture in that sense.
Quite a difference from the canned fluff most Boy Bands and Pop Tart sensations of the last 15 years have done. Britney Spears never once wrote a solo song or solely choregraphed any dance moves. Jacko was an original; the like of which we will probably never see again with the advent of completely personalized tastes in music and television that cable TV and the internet have spawned. Jacko was simply everywhere in the early 80's on all channels then available, a feat that could no longer be accomplished with 21st century media outlets.
As with all people, especially those the masses want to idolize, we can learn something from his life. In Michael Jackson's life, one sees the dark side of the genie that comes out of the fame and fortune bottle. At his peek in the late 1980's, Michael Jackson had more money and success than just about any pop celebrity in history. And yet, as the cliche goes, money can't buy you happiness.
His personal demons were widely told of in the tabloids. His completely bizarre behavior got progressively stranger as he aged. I won't even go into the really dark escapades he seemed to be involved with that involved young boys and the lawsuits and money problems.
He has gone, like all men eventually will, into the arms of the Almighty, so it is not for us to judge the man. God will take care of that in the end. While we make no excuses for him, we pray for the repose of his soul and that God will have mercy upon him.
What we can judge is how we ourselves respond to pop idols and other sensations. We want to envy them their fame and fortune, without stopping to ask if fame and fortune is really what God calls us to be about. We also want to put other people on pedestals above other people because of the one has fame and fortune and the other does not.
If God has blessed you with money and power, use it wisely for it is a blessing as we read about from the chapter of Job in the lectionary last Sunday. And in some ways if you don't have that fame and fortune, perhaps it is all the better for as the needlepoint wall hanging in the corrupt warden's office in the movie the Shawshank Redemption subtly reminds the audience, "His Judgment cometh, and that right soon..."