We’ve all attended a nominal Christian funeral. The Michael Jackson memorial service gives us a glimpse of how it works for the non-Christian celebrity service. Some things are the same as the nominal Christian funeral: vague uplift, religious bits-and-pieces, Hallmark-card spirituality. But there are differences: Barbara Walters shows up. If the celebrity is black, Al Sharpton attends too. There are lots of people onstage in very expensive-looking clothing, wearing expensive-looking glasses and hairdos. These people walk in higher circles than the Starbucks crowd.
Instead of a focus on God’s goodness and His glorious promises, we see a focus on helping our fellow man. The vague uplift is all about feeding the starving and caring for others. It’s about creating good vibes. It’s about making ourselves feel better with no basis in anything other than our wishes. The vertical dimension — man before the living God — is absent.
I don’t wish to minimize the pain of a family in mourning, but it is sad to see people finding such pathetic and empty comforts. These are mud pies in a slum instead of a holiday at the sea. When we fall back on ourselves after something so momentous as a death, it’s even clearer that there’s nothing there.