Tuesday, June 30, 2009


The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever.
Isaiah 40:8

For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.
Psalm 100:5

This will be short. I am aware of the irony of writing twice about Michael Jackson’s death, when my first note said that I found myself unmoved.

That’s still true. But I am fascinated by the attention it has been given, and I can’t resist.

One of the commentators said that his music would live “forever.” That’s a long time. Forever doesn’t belong to us. It belongs to God.

I was reminded of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem:


I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:`
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away".


  1. His family will miss than man. His fans (who span the whole world) will miss his music and everyone else, I think, will miss the spectacle. He was loved and hated, but he was never ignored.

    A friend of mine posted on Facebook, “I guess we should remember him for the talented performer he once was and not the freak show he became. Do you think he has a natural, whole, properly pigmented face wherever he ended up?”

    At first I thought the “freak show” was a harsh comment but it probably an apt metaphor. Michael Jackson in his later years became something to gawk at and comment about. He was a man who constantly had surgery to alter his face, walked around with a medical mask, named his two sons Prince Michael and Prince Michael II, had a pet chimp, slept in an oxygen tank, had a theme park at his house ("Neverland Ranch"), admitted that he slept with children that were not his own and tried to defend how innocent, natural and beautiful it all was. His life was strange beyond all reason.

    And yet before he became an image of scorn and strangeness he was an icon of the 80s (which were my formative years). I remember watching his music videos on MTV when MTV first came out(and still played music videos). I remember his songs played at all the dances I ever went to. I remember trying to do the moonwalk and the "Thriller dance." Although I don’t consider myself a Michael Jackson “fan” I feel that a part of his life was connected to a part of my life.

    Perhaps his passing is not the stuff of global and epic proportions that people make it out to be but what I find sad (and scary) is how people can become a commodity more than they are human beings. The media coverage has less to do about a people in mourning the death of an individual or memorializing his accomplishments as a performer than it does capitalizing on the "commodity of Michael Jackson." It is about a few more seconds of airtime to squeeze out to get people to watch. And we do watch … if only to sneer and scorn.

    I thought my friend’s final comment was also worthy of reflection … when we think of life after death is he now natural and whole? Ideas of the afterlife do not tend to be foundational in my theological reflections ... but if we were to see Michael Jackson after we die what would we see?

    The young Michael Jackson of the 60s?
    The "classic" Michael Jackson of the 80s?
    Or the spectacle of the 90s and 00s?

    It is almost like they are 3 different people.

    If forever belongs to God, who is Michael Jackson in the memory of God?

  2. That's an easy question Keith. Wacko Jacko is one of His children.

  3. Kieth I definitely agree with you. I feel like ours is a culture of consumers. All things are a commodity. Resources, the earth and yes people. I feel like we have this hunger that is never satisfied people can't even stop after someone has died. A never ending hunger... what are people really aching for? something is missing in the equation.