Monday, July 25, 2011

The Tragedy of Fame

Yesterday we learned 27-year-old English singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse had died, apparently of a drug overdose. Admittedly, I wasn’t a fan. I couldn’t tell you one song she sang or wrote. I can’t keep up with the often-crazy pop culture.

I’d heard about her history with substance abuse, another celebrity held captive to that curse. But were it not for those occasional reports, I’d have thought Winehouse was a tourist stopover in California’s Napa Valley.

Her death, it seems, wasn’t a total shock. Her family and friends had lamented her life’s downward spiral, feeling helpless to intervene. Now she underscores the high price – and tragedy – of fame.

The long list keeps getting longer: Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison, among many in the hard rock world; Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, Hank Williams, Michael Jackson. You probably remember others.

Sadly, some current “stars” seem headed toward the same fate if they don’t turn their lives around. I hope they do.

But my goal isn’t to mourn those who brought about their own untimely demise. Rather, it’s to remind us all that wealth and celebrity are overrated. Just as Yogi Berra purportedly said, “The future isn’t what it used to be,” it could also be said fame and fortune are not as fun and fulfilling as we might think.

Thousands of years ago, King Solomon wrote, “I denied myself nothing my eyes desired, I refused my heart no pleasure…everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind…” (Ecclesiastes 2:10-11).

Then at the book’s close he wrote, “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). We would be wise to heed his advice.

It’s better to be in God’s “Who’s Who” and the world’s “Who’s He?” than in the world’s “Who’s Who” and be unknown to God.

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