Melody is one of our favorite commenters here at BCC. She earns a living as a Registered Nurse. She currently teaches Sunday School for twelve-year-olds and sings in the ward choir when guilt gets the best of her. She grows a respectable garden and hikes the trails of the Rocky Mountains year ’round. She writes when she’s not building sheet-forts with her grand children. Her poetry has appeared in Irreantum, Segullah, Utah Sings Volume VIII: An anthology of contemporary verse by Utah poets, and in Utah Voices 2012, and in on-line journals and forums.
I missed the Grammys this year, but I’ve watched a few video clips. I had the same response this time as every other time I see a celebrity awards show: “Seriously? It’s not enough that they make millions of dollars, that they live like Royals, that they have a gazillion admirers who praise them, serve them, and seek their counsel and company? (Also: Oprah) Then they gather together as a group of worshipped beings to worship each other and themselves?!”
Even worse, I find myself wanting to be one of those people. Which makes me feel both joyful with the fantasy and sick to my stomach with the knowledge that in my own imagination I have become part of a deplorable culture. That’s when I stop watching and go eat ice cream.
I’m not saying celebrity is all bad. Most of us enjoy having our talents affirmed by folks who know and love us. And I’m not saying we shouldn’t herald achievements or celebrate the very existence of our loved ones. But lately I’m wondering about the No Other Gods Before Me idea. Perhaps it’s a good time to revisit this commandment.
For instance: not only do we have plenty of Gods available from which to choose to worship, but social media has given us all the chance to become the star of our own brilliant, real-life production. I haven’t joined twitter, but I check in with Instagram pretty routinely. And I log on to Facebook almost compulsively. I’m uncomfortable admitting that, but it’s true. I keep up on news, family goings-on and, you know . . . maybe someone likes what I posted.
By the way, have you seen how Facebook makes a film about your last ten years, highlighting posts that were “Liked” the most by your Facebook fans? That’s right – Facebook made a movie all about you. You’re famous! I wonder if you’ll win an Oscar. I refuse to make my movie because there is no way it will even come close to Rick Egan’s beautiful Facebook short. He’s a professional photographer and shoe-in for Best Picture.
Personally, I believe we are hard-wired for worship. Maybe it’s in our DNA. I don’t know, but that might explain why the Creator gave that first great commandment. It seems we simply can’t stop ourselves. We will find the thing we love and we will worship it. We’re like salmon, willing to nearly kill ourselves to get where need to be. We are driven by an innate desire to be with God, who is our home. But God isn’t always readily available. And some of us don’t even think S/he exists. So, things like George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson, or Bill Nye (if you’re into that sort of thing) start looking pretty good. Praise, adoration, acclamation, and devotion connect us to deity and we, through our agency, choose who or what that deity will be.
Our desire to worship is one of the great gifts our heavenly parents gave us. It is like a memory of home, evidence there is indeed a God in what often looks like a God-forsaken world. It’s like residue of those clouds of glory we trailed when we came to the planet; divine glitter left in our hair and on our skin from the big after-party. Or, in this case, the before party.
And being thus overcome with the Spirit, he was carried away in a vision, even that he saw the heavens open, and he thought he saw God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels in the attitude of singing and praising their God.
–1 Nephi 1:8
I’d like to suggest there is only one celebrity worthy of our devotion and adoration: Jesus Christ. When we worship something or someone other than Christ, we utilize that innate spiritual, worshipful energy to support something unhealthy inside of us and possibly inside the object of our adoration.
On the other hand, the act of worshipping Christ requires us not only to acknowledge our fallen state, (thereby surrendering our own celebrity status) but also to in some small measure we recall a more exalted sphere where we lived in His presence. We restore our one-ness, our eternal gratitude and connection to the divine through worship. For me, the act of worshipping and praising God feels like the key to living both in mortality and eternity. It provides a way to balance self-denial and humility with healthy self-respect. Honestly, nothing makes me happier than to praise Jesus and our Heavenly Parents. And in some of those rare moments of worship, we come to know exactly who we are: beautiful souls who are loved, adored, and celebrated by the most awesome beings in the universe.
Now, shall we chat about the Wheaties?