On being a celebrity


I was sent a link for a bible study. A short video of a few verses from Mark. Nothing unusual in that you say – bible study is bible study. We all do it.  But this was The Archbishop of Canterbury talking about The Bible!  The Archbishop – the head of the Anglican church – the man who speaks for God – that Archbishop. And he was accompanied by the Archdeacon of Hackney. That is Church hierarchy!  That is celeb stuff!  That is Church bigwigs!  That is something I should listen to!  And I did!

Here is the video – click the link and see what you think.

The title of “Archbishop of Canterbury” means we usually see Justin Welby on national television. We see the Head of the Church at major state occasions. Could be any faith.  We see the pomp. The role. The image. The holiness. The righteousness. The saintliness (!!). We see an “it” that can never be “us”. We see “the bubble.”

So I was left with one Big Thought after watching this …

That was very ordinary!”

I thought the two of them missed a few points (!!) – I thought they were trying to teach – I thought they were working too hard at looking at ease – were aware of their titles and their words – that we all look to them for “spiritual guidance” – that we would listen to them for spiritual guidance.  And I thought ALL of that got in the way of them “hearing” God as much as they could have heard God.  No matter what they said about “anybody can – honest!”  That is so ordinary.  That is so us.

I saw no more insight, no more “wow”, no more anything than any of “us” would share together – no more than any of us would “hear” in the bible (if we allow) – and that neither he nor she are any “closer to God” than any of us who have a relationship with God.  These two people – the bigwigs of the Church Hierarchy – are no different to you or me.  They are so ordinary.

You and I could sit on a sofa with a bible in our hands, a camera pointing at us, both looking uncomfortable, very aware of how we “look and sound”, the sound of a dog barking in the background, someone “doing the media” (who is SO not a professional)!

The Archbishop of Canterbury is no closer to God than you or me.

(BUT … just the title “The Archbishop of Canterbury” oozes holiness, righteousness, better than us-ness, closer to God-ness, celeb-ness and distances “us” from that bubble.   So do I really live all that “head stuff” I teach and preach?)

“PAUL!!! The Archbishop of Canterbury is no closer to God than you are.”

This was His message for me: The Archbishop of Canterbury is no closer to God than you are. The “celeb bubble” is your mentality – never Mine – always yours.”

And with that thought rattling around my brain …

How do we REALLY feel about the disciples? The twelve who became eleven.  Those celeb preachers.  The ones who we elevate.  How do we really feel about the “names” we share and discuss?  The names we go and see just to be in their presence?  All the “bubble stuff” we deny time and time again.  Are we the same as them? Are they the same as us?

Do we REALLY believe we and them are all just “us” – that “they” are no closer to God than you and me – that we hear God no differently – that we and they ARE the same (and always have been)?

Someone told me this: “He only ever asks one thing: “Follow me.””

That is the great leveler – that is the best “All Are Welcome”!  That invitation has no relevance to the bubble or any of that stuff.  That invitation means we ARE all one in one of One.  That invitation says there never has been a “them and us”.

So unless I can be that ordinary …

Just how will I ever get out of the way of God and let Him work through me?  How will I ever believe I am as “special”?  And how can I ever be what He intends for me – and you – and him and her over there?

The Archbishop of Canterbury is no closer to “God” than you are.  Nor the “disciples” nor the Apostles nor the Saints nor the Prophets nor the Popes nor the “Church royalty” nor the religious dynasties nor any of the “but they must be – surely” that you idolise. 

Now who do you believe: you – or Me?

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9 thoughts on “On being a celebrity

  1. Paul, first off I want to thank you for this post that brings so many thoughts to mind that go in so many different directions… thanks indeed!

    Second, since a few of those thoughts might seem discourteous to the Archbishop (and others) in a brief comment, an impression I would never want to give, I’ll just share a saying that went around a number of years ago in my former line of work, and I think you’ll see the point… “Politics is show business for unattractive people”

    I could be wrong, but there is likely a wider application for that trustworthy saying.

    • WoW! Thank you Don. What struck me was – despite my best endeavours to be ordinary – a clip from that “title” still makes me curious. What can I learn from his/her wisdom? And I did. But no more than would have happened anywhere with anyone.

      “Respect your elders and betters” – do what you mum/dad says – “I am the boss and don’t forget it” – all that stuff runs deeper than I realised. And all those tricks for reducing the “celeb/power factor” (like imagine them sitting their naked – in their smalls – doing something embarrassing …)? I think that touches about ten floors higher than the deep-rooted “genetic stuff” of the pecking order.

      This clip got right down deep and in the same area – and did some “ordinary” in a way I hadn’t expected.

      And as for your “observation”? No comment (if that is not equally political)

      • This is so very interesting, seeing this from a somewhat different cultural perspective; again thank you. The thing that really makes the discussion come alive for me is “Respect your elders and betters”.

        I was taught, and I’m guessing most over here were taught the same way: “Respect your elders”. “Betters?” My dad always told me, “Son, don’t ever think anyone is better than you, and don’t ever think you’re better than anyone else.”

        You have given me an epiphany today.

  2. Hi Paul. I agree. It is dangerous to put plane ole humans in that ‘sacred bubble’ just because they wear the cloak…the collar…and have a title of holiness. As with all bubbles….they usually bust. ;). Hugs!

    • Hiya Dale, thank you. I am not sure who does the bubble making – often it seems to be a joint enterprise. “We” want them to be in a bubble, as much as “they” want it. And then the variants (both ways) on that. And the size and perception of “bubble”: big fish in a small pond and all that! And then the perception of “bust”. And then why have I ended up going around in ever decreasing circles!! 🙂

  3. Pingback: Feet of clay embraced and washed | Just me being curious

  4. Paul, so interesting, this conversation and the dichotomy of these titled folk reading from the gospel of Mark. Mark is my favorite gospel writer. Because he writes as a ghostwriter/biographer of Peter’s memoirs, and perhaps because Peter, in hindsight, is such a humble disciple and so completely honest about his own faults and weaknesses, John Mark writes with utter truth about the failings and offenses of all the apostles. Poignant even the more that Peter chose John Mark as his own apprentice since John Mark was the disciple once excluded by the apostle Paul.

    All through the gospel of Mark, we see the failings of the apostles to understand the words of Jesus, to lack compassion, to doubt who He is, and to run away in fear when their faithfulness is tested. They were ordinary men just like us who had a deep, heart connection with Jesus. They made mistakes but learned and matured along the way with Jesus’ help, which Peter, through Mark, helps us see.

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