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A life to celebrate, a death to mourn

Another one bites the dust.

This has been quite a year already for celebrity deaths with the most recent and unexplained just a few days ago when the enigmatic Prince died at only 57.


I appreciated his talent to compose, sing and play a wide range of popular music styles conveyed with an air of mystery and significance that was very compelling.

Victoria Wood also died earlier in the week. I wasn’t a great fan of all her work especially the sitcoms, but who could fail to laugh out loud at her stand-up routines mocking some of our ridiculous social conventions.

I had David Bowie’s greatest hits album on vinyl and played it over and over again – especially the reflective “ch-ch-ch-ch-changes”. He sings,


Time may change me

but I can’t trace time…


It seemed somehow wise and insightful. I wonder how he feels about his time now.

Celebrities are not immortal

Like the rest of us, these talented, popular, ground-breaking artists reach a moment when they breathe their last and go the way of all flesh. Some of them go earlier than might be expected but in the end, whether living on a cocktail of drugs or summer fruits,


the silver cord breaks…

the dust returns to the ground it came from…

and the spirit returns to God who gave it… (Ecclesiastes 12:6-7)


Their very public deaths reminds me that life is short and uncertain. What will I do with mine?


Celebrities are not gods

There is something ritualistic nowadays about how we respond to these deaths. Something about our culture of celebrity means that when someone dies we feel the need for an outpouring of grief, a kind of religious rite. We may have worshipped them in life or perhaps had grown weary of them, but their death still evokes one unified last gasp of praise.

Perhaps it is the vacuum created by our failure to confess the one true God that we fill when we celebrate these cultural icons. It satisfies (albeit temporarily), the desire to have a god to lead us out of our mundane lives.

But these gods fail, of course.

Their life was brief. Their talent, even if immense, was limited and didn’t change anything fundamental about the way the world works.


Celebrities are not good role models

I think what disturbs me the most about our modern day culture of celebrity is that the value we place on such people has very little to do with character. I may be wrong, but most of the famous people who have died in my lifetime were not examples of faithfulness, selflessness, self-control and sacrificial love. Mainly, they reflected moral decline and godlessness. And yet we weep and wail as if the world is so much poorer without them.

Only the death of Jesus should arouse the deepest mourning and only his resurrection (something not achieved by the most famous) should provoke the most joyful praise, our certain hope of overcoming mortality.

And only the life of Jesus is the role model we really need to follow.

Written by Graham Nicholls

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