Tuesday, 7 July 2009

The king of pop to meet the King of kings

Though I didn't manage to catch Michael Jackson's memorial, thanks to the wonders of technology, I am able to watch most of it off YouTube, thanks to ever-resourceful Netizens.

Catch part 1 of 11 here, and follow the subsequent parts in the playlist by RedbyCat.

I remember as a young boy watching Michael's career with interest, starting out as a child prodigy, and becoming famous almost overnight, spanning almost 4 decades of fame and fortune. A quick Wiki search showed that he was born 29 Aug 1958 and died 25 Jun 2009, making his debut in 1968 at age 10 with the Jackson Five, and started his solo career in 1971 at age 13. He won 13 Grammy awards, 13 number one singles, and sold over 750 million records worldwide. His 1982 album Thriller remains the best-selling album of all time. He popularized pop music, as well with signature dance moves, to earn the title, the "King of Pop".

Over the past decade, he has been the subject of much controversy, including his changing appearance and behaviour, child sexual abuse charges, and his 2 failed marriages and 3 children.

Recently, just shortly after his death, I was reading interesting reports about him converting to Christianity just prior to his death; however, this was later confirmed to be inaccurate. Having been raised as a Jehovah's Witness, he apparently converted to Islam later in life, following the example of his brother, Jermaine. I came across one of his previous songs, from his Dangerous album, entitled 'Keep the Faith'.

1. If you call out loud, will it get inside
Through the heart of your surrender to your alibis
And you can say the words like you understand
Bridge: But the power's in believing
So give yourself a chance

Chorus: So keep the faith
Don't let nobody turn you 'round
You gotta know when it's good to go
To get your dreams up off the ground
Keep the faith, baby, yea
Because it's just a matter of time
Before your confidence will win out
Believe in yourself
No matter what it's gon' take
You can be a winner but you got to keep the faith

2. And when you think of trust, does it lead you home
To a place that you only dream of when you're all alone
And you can go by feel 'stead of circumstance

Sounds faintly Christian in theme, but without being over-analytical, slightly post-modern and all-encompassing, especially with phrases like "Believe in yourself," and "you can go by feel". Perhaps we'll never know for sure what faith meant to Michael. As Lisa Anderson, host of Focus on the Family's 'The Boundless Show' puts it,
As of today, I have no idea where Michael Jackson stood spiritually at the time of his death. But God knows. And God will decide what He does with Michael's soul. It may sound cliché, but it's devastatingly true: The King of Pop will be called to give an account to the King of Kings.
As Challies noted, during the rendition of "We are the world," religious symbols of all faiths were flashed across the screen. Those who spoke during the memorial used God's name, and made reference to Michael being in heaven.

As Challies puts it,
Words and phrases invoked God and used the Christian lexicon but without any reference to the gospel, the true gospel, the gospel that saves. Lost men declared to other lost men untruths about the god they wish for, not the God who is.
Related articles
Idolatry new and old (Challies, 8 Jul 09)
Michael Jackson and identity theft (Bill Hull, 7 Jul 09)
Gospel artists say they did not lead Michael Jackson to Christ (Christian Post, 3 Jul 09)

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