Our week away came to an end yesterday and as we tidied the holiday house the kids sat down to watch the Super Bowl. I was fascinated as I came in and out of the room to see what a remarkable production it all was.
One one of the things that stood out to me was the adulation that the quarterbacks and senior coaches were afforded. Every move was dissected and past greats were referenced with hushed tones.
I was left thinking how good Americans are at shaping myth.
The whole event reaffirmed what it meant to be American and much of the time was taken up telling and re-telling stories about mythical heroes.
Americans do heroes well. Their sporting stars, movie stars, political stars and even religious heroes are all larger than life, something more than human.
One of the things l loved about the television showThe West Wing, was the way the President was so deeply respected and almost revered. That really isn’t how we treat our Prime Minister.
I think there is something normal about wanting heroes. I know for much of my life I have kind of hoped to find someone like that… Someone who was more than human who would have all the answers. I actually think most of us are secretly hoping to find someone like that… We never will.
Some fall into the trap of letting people put them on that pedestal and try hard to maintain the facade. As the trashy magazines attest, it rarely works and is never the truth.
Jesus made it clear that we need to be suspicious of anyone who wants to be on a pedestal, or anyone who wants to put us on one.
“Don’t let people do that to you, put you on a pedestal like that. You all have a single Teacher, and you are all classmates. Don’t set people up as experts over your life, letting them tell you what to do. Save that authority for God; let him tell you what to do. No one else should carry the title of ‘Father’; you have only one Father, and he’s in heaven. And don’t let people maneuver you into taking charge of them. There is only one Life-Leader for you and them—Christ.(Matthew 23:8-10 (MSG))
Are you on a pedestal?
Do you have other people on a pedestal?
There is a flip-side to the pedestal. When you fall people are not so keen to help you back up.
Janet Jackson has never recovered from her “wardrobe malfunction” at the Super Bowl and singer M.I.A. has received a massive backlash for departing from the script during the Madonna halftime show.
A friend was at a Christian music award ceremony where Amy Grant was to receive a lifetime achievement award. Grant had fallen from grace after her marriage fell apart, and my friend recounts his horror as not one person in the room clapped for the woman who had done more than most to create the industry they were all benefitting from.
When you are on the pedestal people can’t imagine reaching your heights and when you are off the pedestal people can’t imagine reaching your depths.
There is only one person who deserves to be there and doesn’t have feet of clay.
Perhaps we need to learn to have more grace for people who succeed and let them be human, and more grace for people who fail, and also let them be human.