This past month, as I prepared this article for you out there in church land, I listened to the news channels discuss the battle over the body and estate of Anna Nicole Smith. As I watched this, I also observed that Paris Hilton had been busted for alleged drunken driving and Britney Spears had shaved her head and entered rehab. I wish I could say that the problem is with this generation, but we all know we had our Elvis and Marilyn Monroe. In the end, their deaths seemed to boil down to the question of whether it was an overdose or whether it was suicide.
Hollywood has always been about illusions. They have the ability to make the unreal look real. They make their characters look larger than life. The problem occurs when we mix fact and fantasy and believe what we see on-screen.
Remember the movie, The Da Vinci Code? We had a fiction novelist who told us what he wrote was true. To add to his credibility, Ron Howard was the director and the movie starred Tom Hanks. This further convinced the public that the movie was indeed based on fact. Of course, he wanted us to forget the other illusion that Ron Howard was Opie of Mayberry and Tom Hanks was Forrest Gump.
I remember after the fall of the Berlin Wall one of the East German officials explained that the wall was not there to keep their people in but to keep our people out. To keep out our pornography, our drugs, and our filthy music. The reason was to keep us out so we would not destroy their people.
Unfortunately, I'm sad to say some of that is true. We have become so open-minded that our brains have fallen out. We all talk about freedom but we don't talk about responsibility.
The freedom of Hollywood is exaggerated by the fact that there is enough money to buy the fantasy. We all struggle with fact and fantasy — the feeling that there is something on the outside that will fill the emptiness on the inside. It is in our earth suit handed down from Uncle Adam. The difference is, with me it's a car, but with Hollywood it's a yacht. With me it's Snickers; with Hollywood it's a drug. And the drug is fantasy. But the fact remains, what turns you on will eventually turn on you.
We call movie "stars" substance abusers. Actually, the person doesn't abuse the drugs, the drugs abuse the person. They don't have a rehab center for drugs; it's for the people. It's ironic that the rehab center that many stars enter is called Promises. That is the problem. The promise of the fantasy is that what we need on the inside can be met with things on the outside. To be specific, scotch and water can be substituted for living water.
The truth is, fantasy is a lot more exciting and entertaining than fact. That's why I read stories to my grandkids that begin with "Once upon a time …" and end with "… happily ever after."
I confess I love the fantasy of the TV show 24. It reminds me of church work; except Jack gets to shoot the bad guys. I know it's fantasy, and Jack has no boundaries. It is a written script; it is not real. If I shoot a deacon, I get to start a prison ministry. If I speed like Jack does, I won't have enough money to pay my tickets, much less my car insurance. We get into trouble when we compare our reality to a fantasy that doesn't exist.
We sometimes compare our mate to those Hollywood women. Kate Winslet is a beautiful movie star whose photo was recently on the cover of a national magazine. They airbrushed pounds off of her and computer-generated a better body than she actually has. She was irate that her body was not good enough for the Hollywood fantasy. We have two choices in life. We can tear up the fantasy that does not exist and accept our mate, our church, our family and friends as a gift from God, or we will spend the rest of our lives tearing up the people in our lives trying to make them into a fantasy.
I will never forget the previews to the movie Titanic in which the main character leaned over the bow of the ship declaring that he was the king of the world. Remember, this movie is about the Titanic, the greatest shipwreck in history. This image flashed through my mind when I saw one of Anna Nicole Smith's last commercials. It promoted some diet plan as she strutted out and told us to "Look at this body, baby." The news played it just before they showed her real "life." Her body was on a gurney being wheeled from the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino near Hollywood, Florida. After legal battles between her boyfriends and family, her body was finally buried next to her son. The fact of life is that the wages of sin is death. You probably won't see that in a movie, but it will be on the news channel.
This Easter, let's declare to the world the living water of the King, the risen Savior.