Summary: The third of series on ‘Developing a Heart for God’

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(1) In the September 11th issue of the Los Angeles Times, Patrick Goldstein wrote an article entitled, ‘Five Years Later: Pop Culture of Denial.’ Its subtitle made a very interesting statement, ‘Our fascination with glitz is unabated, and artists remain cautious. We haven’t come to grips with 9/11.’

In the article Goldstein wrote, ‘Just days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a column ran in these pages saying how pop culture would be transformed by the carnage at the World Trade Center. "The terrorist attacks may have brought to a close a decade of enormous frivolity and escapism," observed the writer. "Maybe Hollywood will recognize that Americans suddenly view the world as a more serious place. There’s a new moral gravity out there."

He goes on to say, ‘That, alas, was me, blissfully unaware that it would take more than a horrific catastrophe to quench our thirst for the madcap antics of Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Star Jones Reynolds, Jessica Simpson and all the other bobble heads bouncing around our celebrity universe. When it comes to frivolity, escapism and a lack of moral gravity, we haven’t lost a step, have we?’

Then he makes this very pointed statement, ‘Is it any wonder so many of us put on our wishful thinking caps, hoping that all this fascination with glitz — and the trashiness behind the glitz — would mercifully evaporate? But the truth is that the trauma of Sept. 11 did not change us, not so much because we live in a culture of superficiality as because we are imprisoned in a culture of hyperactivity. ‘

(2) When I read Goldstein’s article I thought about our culture’s passion for stars. We have our music stars and I have no doubt that if I would ask you to name your favorite county music stars they would come fast and furious. Just ask our kids what their favorite cartoon character is and you would get a quick listing of names that sound foreign to your ears. Some of us would also name a favorite movie star or movie that we think others should see.

I sometimes think that there is no difference when it comes to the ministry because I believe that the same obsession often holds true. As I think back to the ‘stars of ministry’ in the past 25 years (which is the beginning point of full-time ministry for me), some have passed on and some are no longer ‘stars.’ Some have retired and serve in limited ways.

Two well-known pastors have been role models for me since the mid-90’s and their churches and books have been sources of inspiration. But they have given way to new ‘stars’ of ministry who are both men and women and run the gamut of Christianity. Last week’s issue of Time magazine highlighted some of them in its cover story.

However, that has been true throughout the history of our faith. There are the great names of the faith that are still looked to for guidance and inspiration. But, I remember hearing comments at my seminary, named for one of the early Church leaders of our nation, Francis Asbury, this question, ‘Who do we worship here John Wesley or Jesus?’

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