Thursday, August 14, 2014

A comedian's death and being a consumer

Ever since I read about it, I’ve been grieving.

Grieving the comedic genius that was Robin Williams. Up there with the greats like Hope and Carson, he carved his own niche when he burst onto our planet and into our lives with his portrayal of a character called Mork. One of my favorite performances was his interpretation of real life medical doctor, Patch Adams, who advocated treating the whole person and brought laughter and joy to his patients, even those with terminal illnesses.

Media has in the past referenced William’s addiction and alcoholism, but his struggle with depression not so much. Who is to say which one came first? Who is to say which one drove the other? Those with mental illness often self-medicate. Mental illness is still something we hardly speak about.

A few days ago, this woman wrote a powerful post on the stigma of mental illness, the shame that can follow because of it, and the church's response. I know what it’s like to stand seemingly helpless as those close to me have struggled, and experienced what it’s like to be that child wearing a cloak of shame. Ann said it well. Bravo.

But something else related to William’s death has been on my mind.

In our culture, we are consumers. We consume stuff, but we also consume people. We devour their music, their performances, their words, their private lives. We forget that they are not just images on the screen, or a voice on the radio, but real live, breathing human beings. We forget the cost of what they do, the hours of private and personal struggle to achieve. We forget many times, those in the public eye, begin to live in a tilted wobbly world where they allow the accolades of others to define them.

I once overheard a group of church people talking about a young celebrity who seemed to be in a downward spiral. As they laughed and discussed her misadventures, I grew more and more sad. Sad that without God’s intervention, the path she was on would most likely end in tragedy. However, I was also sad for the church folk who seemed to think they were discussing someone who wasn’t even real. I wonder what their discussion would have been if it had been their daughter, their sister?

Someone might interject here that if one puts him or herself in the public eye, they’ve opened themselves to scrutiny. Maybe. But so many step unknowingly into the spotlight unprepared for what fame brings.

A year ago, our church began using My Most Wanted Devotional developed by prayer evangelist Terry Tekyl—a book to help us pray for those who don’t know the Lord. In the introductory material where Tekyl suggests we identify the ten people we most want to come to salvation, he writes that the first names we think of are family and friends, but he also encourages us to pray for those who are in the public eye.

So, after adding several family members and friends, I  wrote the names of a few people I will probably never meet in this life. Celebrities. Political figures.

I don’t know the difference my prayers make, but I believe that somehow, they do.

Who do you watch on television? To whose music do you listen? Whose books keep you reading at night?

I have more than ten in my Ten Most Wanted. And the list keeps growing.

Consider investing in people who, through their art, invest in yours.

And if you find yourself praying for some whose art you can do without, well, my friend, that’s fine, too.

Our prayers are going up for the Williams family.
"The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know" ( I Timothy 2:1 The Message).



No comments:


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...