Behind fame is often shame. Most gold is fool’s gold. The glass of a skyscraper in a wink can be shattered. (See 9/11.)
Shame and sham. More on this in a moment.
Time after time — always — those who have glimpses into the eternal, whether a near-death or mystical experience, male or female, come back and preach love, saying it is the big test of life, the crucial lesson of earth, how Jesus evaluated them.
No matter how we want to react to that (“I’ve had enough of the love stuff!” we men often want to bark), the truth is the truth and the Truth is Love.
No questioning it. It doesn’t matter what we want to think. It matters what God thinks.
And so in looking at the “test of love,” we know that a lack of it can take many forms, that we can see it not only in folks blatantly mistreating each other and at an extreme causing violence but also in the more subtle ways we hurt others, including by speaking ill of them, including through gossip.
When we look forward to hearing or speaking or reading about the transgressions of another — especially “juicy” transgressions; when there is — we violate the rule of love. We are savoring the downfall of another.
But there are times when such news is relevant because it involves those who are in a position to influence our culture or even directly govern us — making major moral (or immoral) decisions that affect millions and setting the tone for our young.
So it is that, to an extent, we must realize what is behind prominent folks, and right now we are seeing an extraordinary “lifting of the veil” on our current culture.
Sins are being laid bare. It is “our sad (or sordid) times.” It is a “purification.”
Simple fact: many who formulate our media and movies, who star in football or basketball or baseball, who are elected to high offices, or who preach, have histories that include sexual harassment and even assaults on fellow humans, including children.
This, to be sure — treating others as inferior, as objects — is also a classic lack of love and certainly qualifies as sham and shame.
The news is now almost hourly: this Hollywood mogul (dozens of victims there), that action star, this candidate, that senator.
Astonishing it is to note that three of the last five U.S. presidents have been accused or have admitted, even on videotape, such harassment.
For shame. These are our idols? These are the bearers of the moral torch in America? These are whom we go to the mat to defend?
In one case, a former president has been accused not just of pushing himself on a woman, not just of lewd remarks, not just of putting his hands where they didn’t belong, but of actual rape. Yet, he remains in the public eye; a library was built for him; he is filthy rich; he has never faced prosecution.
To be fair: our society is schizophrenic in that it now makes such big news of this while immersing the culture in fleshiness, encouraging woman to dress (or undress) in the most seductive way. At Fatima, one of the seers was told that many go to hell because of what they wear. Modern fashion is a seduction, a red cape in front of a bull. In China, Victoria’s Secrets had a lingerie fashion show this week featuring five-year-olds.
But nothing justifies assault.
What would the Puritans have said (let alone St. Augustine, whose name graces the city where the first thanksgiving to God was actually held)!
It is a time of reckoning and for that we give thanksgiving, for what we are seeing as the veil lifts is how ridiculous it is to idolize any human, to esteem “celebrities,” to fund their wayward lifestyles. The only one Who walked this earth and deserves to be idolized is Jesus.
Let the chips fall where they may. Let the actors and comedians and producers and talk-show hosts (including conservative ones who put themselves forth as standing up for our values) now face a cleansing reckoning. Nothing strays from love further than degrading fellow humans.
We’ll not repeat the details — they are all over the news — but to note the many ways evil fools us into focusing upon celebrities, on the hoax of worldliness, and sways us in this life from the mission of love.
Today’s Gospel reading, Luke 17:
“Jesus said to his disciples:
“As it was in the days of Noah,
so it will be in the days of the Son of Man;
they were eating and drinking,
marrying and giving in marriage up to the day
that Noah entered the ark,
and the flood came and destroyed them all.
Similarly, as it was in the days of Lot:
they were eating, drinking, buying,
selling, planting, building;
on the day when Lot left Sodom,
fire and brimstone rained from the sky to destroy them all.
So it will be on the day the Son of Man is revealed.
On that day, someone who is on the housetop
and whose belongings are in the house
must not go down to get them,
and likewise one in the field
must not return to what was left behind.
Remember the wife of Lot.
Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it,
but whoever loses it will save it.
I tell you, on that night there will be two people in one bed;
one will be taken, the other left.
And there will be two women grinding meal together;
one will be taken, the other left.”
They said to him in reply, “Where, Lord?”
He said to them, “Where the body is,
there also the vultures will gather.”