Monday, September 10, 2007

Britney’s performance at the MTV Video Music Awards

After listening to the news this morning, my heart really went out to Britney. I can’t help but think that the best choice she could make would be to put her present lifestyle to rest and get out of the entertainment industry altogether.

I’ve been reading a book by Philip Yancy, titled Where is God When it Hurts. It’s an excellent book, and ties in with the ID debate quite nicely.

After hearing about Britney this morning, I thought about something I read from the book last night in regard to pain and pleasure and the intimate connection that link the two. I highly recommend reading the book for a better understanding of that connection, but here is a portion I wanted to share:

Jesus captured succinctly the paradoxical nature of life in his one statement most repeated in the Gospels: “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Such a statement goes against the search for “self-fulfillment” in advanced psychology - which turns out to be not advanced enough. Christianity offers the further insight that true fulfillment comes, not through ego satisfaction, but through service to others. And that brings me to the last illustration of the pain/pleasure principle: the Christian concept of service.

In my career as a journalist, I have interviewed diverse people. Looking back, I can roughly divide them into two types: stars and servants. The stars include NFL football greats, movie actors, music performers, famous authors, TV personalities, and the like. These are the people who dominate our magazines and our television programs. We fawn of them, poring over the minutiae of their lives: the clothes they wear, the food they eat, the aerobic routines they follow, the people they love, the toothpaste they use.

Yet I must tell you that, in my limited experience, these “idols” are as miserable a group of people as I have ever met. Most have troubled or broken marriages. Nearly all are hopelessly dependent on psychotherapy. In a heavy irony, these larger-than-life heroes seem tormented by incurable self-doubt.

I have also spent time with servants. People like Dr. Paul Brand, who worked for twenty years among the poorest of the poor, leprosy patients in rural India. Or health workers who left high-paying jobs to serve in Medenhall Ministries in a backwater town of Mississippi. Or relief workers in Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, or other such repositories of world-class human suffering. Or the Ph.D.’s scattered throughout jungles of South America translating the Bible into obscure languages.

I was prepared to honor and admire these servants, to hold them up as inspiring examples. I was not, however, prepared to envy them. But as I now reflect on the two groups side by side, stars and servants, the servants clearly emerge as the favored ones, the graced ones. They work for low pay, long hours, and no applause, “wasting” their talents and skill among the poor and uneducated. But somehow in the process of losing their lives, they have found them. They have received the “peace that is not of this world.”