Fame and Influence

Published at: 04/10/2021

Also available in fr

Fame and fortune

In February 1968 Warhol exhibited his first international retrospective exhibition at the Moderna Museet gallery in Stockholm. The exhibition catalogue contained "In the future everybody will be world famous for fifteen minutes.". It is far and away the best-known of the many quotations attributed to Warhol, in fact it is probably the only comment of his that most people know. We live in a world where social media influencers can quickly attract millions of followers and lose them just as quickly if they make any kind of social faux pas. This type of fame is ephemeral but can be extremely lucrative while it lasts. In the past it was necessary to have done something noteworthy or been someone of substance to attract fame. These days that qualification no longer applies, just a shapely butt or a highly opiniated view on a topic might be sufficient.

Even more surprising is that there is a desire for fame by many people who deliberately seek attention in order to gain fame. To me their efforts seem affected and overdone, the lip fillers and makeup can get in the way of the person. How refreshing it is to see someone that is natural, with no agenda except to enjoy the moment. Someone like Maggie in the video below leaves you with a wonderful sense of delight and fun and the joy of being alive. Honesty, integrity, warmth are attributes that draw us.

Where are they now? Gangnam Style ruined my life?

It seems the internet and social media combine to make it easy for someone or something to go "viral" and indeed we can go from unknown to known within hours. Psy became the first person to reach a billion views on Youtube with Gangnam Style but these days there are so many spin-offs that it is difficult to find his original video. I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the video below but it does raise an interesting question.

J K Rowling, who has made her fortune popularising the occult and demons, has run into opposition from those who exhibit these phenomena. Harry Potter author has been accused of transphobia

Even church leaders are fame seekers

Here is one short list but there is no need to look too far to find more

Preachers who fell from grace

Some things never change

John 7:3-5 The Passion Translation

So Jesus’ brothers came to advise him, saying, “Why don’t you leave the countryside villages and go to Judea where the crowds are, so that your followers can see your miracles? 4 No one can see what you’re doing here in the backwoods of Galilee. How do you expect to be successful and famous if you do all these things in secret? Now is your time—go to Jerusalem, come out of hiding, and show the world who you are!” 5 His brothers were pushing him, even though they didn’t yet believe in him as the Savior.

John 7:18 The Passion Translation Jesus put it this way:

Charlatans praise themselves and seek honor from men, but my Father sent me to speak truth on his behalf. And I have no false motive, because I seek only the glory of God.

Before looking closer at the example of Jesus I want to first consider a well known woman in the Bible even though her name is not given. She is a popular subject for sermons but her character is usually trashed as part of the message. I refer to the woman at the well in Sychar recorded in John 4.

7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give me a drink?’ 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?’ (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

There is a clue here that is usually missed as the focus is on the fact that she had been married five times and the man she now lived with was not her husband. Most commentary I have seen about her leaps 2000 years, applies western ideas of marriage and women's rights, and assumes that she has divorced her husbands and is now living with a partner while unmarried. Any Middle Eastern person would read this quite differently. Before I explain I will jump ahead in the life of Jesus to an incident as he hung on the cross at Calvary.

John 19: 25-27

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing near by, he said to her, ‘Woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

In the Middle East then, and much the same today, a woman needed a guardian. Usually this would be her father or husband. If she was a widow, as presumably Mary, the mother of Jesus was by this time, her guardian would be her eldest surviving son, which is why you will find women in the Bible who have no son lamenting their misfortune. The woman at the well could not divorce her husband, only a man could divorce his wife. She had lost five husbands to disease, accident, death and was a widow five times over, a victim of misfortune. She had no son, was likely too old now to bear children and so was unable to find a new husband, so her guardian was a family relative. Ruth loses her husband and sons in a similar situation. Jesus on the cross could no longer be the guardian for his mother so he appointed his disciple, John.
The woman at the well had suffered much grief and loss in her life and was considered a failure, five husbands died on her, no living son, to a Jew an extra negative was that she was a Samaritan. She presumably was aged, and unattractive, she would be covered up. No wonder the disciples were amazed that Jesus was talking to her but he saw her pain and understood her sorrow because he was a man acquainted with grief and sorrow.

Isaiah prophetically described him in this way in Isaiah 53: 2-3

He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Jesus knew exactly how she felt and could relate to her and her situation. No wonder the woman believed Jesus was Messiah and that her life was changed. Her life was starting over again.

John 3: 28-30

Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 ‘Come, see a man who told me everything I’ve ever done. Could this be the Messiah?’ 30 They came out of the town and made their way towards him.

Imitating Christ’s humility

Philippians 2: 5-8 New International Version (UK)

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!

How different is the way of Jesus Christ to the way of the world? Many, even church leaders, would rather the world of the world.

Philippians 2 : 3-4 New International Version (UK)

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Chris Martin on a shallow substitute - Pantheism