I have been captivated by our society’s obsession on fame and shame.
We desire to create celebrity in every area and avenue of our society. For those who are heavily into the idea of excellence, we have a business, sports and arts awards system. For those who are into equality, we create a system where everyone gets an award.
The point is – fame is an investment we would all like to have shares in. We all want to be honored by someone. Because we have lost faith in God, we do not allow ourselves to be honored by God. Our society is fickle – that has gone on for millenia (check out Jesus from Palm Sunday to Resurrection Sunday). Our own small circle of friends is probably the closest we come to being a place where we expect honor. Facebook and other social media have “outed” that thought – too many friends are skin deep only and are willing to expose us to ridicule and shame.
So all that leaves as far as fame is ourselves.
Not a pretty picture.
For you and I are fragile. We are made from dust and when we die we go back to dust. If all we can live for is the fact that we are here, if there is nothing beyond this life, and in this life there is no permanence or true recognition outside of ourselves (for when we die, if we are the only ones who honored us, our legacy will die with us) – why continue on?
I dreamt/ had a vision when I was young. This vision has shaped my life.
I was looking at a my upcoming career (I was 17 at the time). I wondered about becoming a manager in a business – like my youth sponsor from our church. A voice kept asking me if this was a true contribution to the world, and a thing that I should put my life into. In the vision, I compared the longevity of that business to that of working for the church – which had eternal roots and would always be there. The choice was obvious. And the vision vanished!
At the time, I did not realize that this was a matter of fame and shame. As I approach retirement, I see that I was being directed to consider receiving honor, not from a worldly human organization, but from an eternal divine organization. In that way, any shame that may have been heaped upon me for following / being employed by the church would not be able to stand the honor that would be lavished on me by God.
40 years later, I’m still affected by the recognition that in God I am recognized. Not for the work that I have done – although this is a part of judging my commitment to God and this career path. Rather, I am recognized because God chose to recognize me and to give me honor, and to adopt me into his family and kingdom.
Well, that is a lot of words – more than my usual amount.
This essay on fame and shame is also a first attempt to philosophize and organize some of my thoughts in a written form on a public forum.
I’d love to hear if you have comments. I’m sure there are points where I need to be clearer (or just plain explain what on earth I just said). And perhaps there are points that made sense that need expansion.