E-pistle June 26

The Bell Tolls for Michael Jackson … and for me
As of this hour (9:30 on Friday morning), CNN’s homepage is still dominated by the death of Michael Jackson with the kind of graphics and in-depth reporting that is usually reserved for the most important news stories.  “’King of Pop’ Michael Jackson is Dead,” the somber headline reads.  When I turned on the television after I got home for our Worldview Forum last night, it was all Michael all the time. 

Part of me is repulsed by it all; the overkill, our cultural fascination with celebrity however warped, and a finally deadly philosophy that celebrates just about anything so long as “I did it my way.”
I am not a connoisseur of pop culture.  I understand that Michael Jackson was, at his best, a remarkable entertainer, but he did not entertain me, so I have not much to mourn in the death of the king of pop.  For better or for worse my memories of Michael Jackson are not of the records cut or concerts given, but of the headlines made, and they were many and universally disturbing.  He may have been prince, even king of pop, but he was a moral, spiritual, ethical and relational pauper. 
That there was little about Michael Jackson that I liked is a statement of personal preference.  That there is little, though there may be a little, about Michael Jackson for us to celebrate is Scriptural truth. 
So, excuse me, though it may be sad, I’m not going to join the global angst over the death of Michael Jackson.  But neither can I simply dismiss it as something that has no effect, concerns me not. 
The Seventeenth Century poet and Anglican priest John Donne penned these famous words, “send not to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.” The words come from a longer meditation and the particular section begins, “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”
I am not free of culture of which Michael Jackson was one of the princes.  I am not free of the humanity the brokenness of which Michael Jackson is a notable, but hardly unique, example (I being another telling example; “Everyone has turned away, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one,” David writes in Psalm 53).
Michael Jackson was a sinner in need of Christ’s redemption.  So am I. So are you. This side of glory we cannot know with certainty whether Michael Jackson was among Christ’s elect, and we need not know. But we can claim the redemption Christ has offered us – boldly and confidently.
The pop culture of which Michael Jackson was king is also in need Christ’s redeeming.  Am I saying that, somehow, there will be moon walking in heaven?  Don’t count on it.  But I am saying that in the mystery of God’s providence and in his time, we will join the choirs of heaven in singing, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15). And to that we may just want to add, “Hallelujah!
On Sunday we are beckoned to come and worship the High King of the Universe.  I’ll take that over mourning the king of pop.