Worshipping Diana

If you had any doubts that we are living in a post-Christian era, the unprecedented media extravaganza over the funeral of the late Princess Diana should have laid those doubts to rest. The frenzy that accompanied the burial of the princess was an amazing testament to America’s love affair with glitz and glamour. When news of Princess Diana’s death broke, the news media flew into action. All three of the big networks immediately relocated to London. They examined every aspect of Diana’s life and death in repetitive detail. Everybody in England, it seems-including the bartender in Diana’s hometown-was interviewed on national television. During the funeral service, Dan Rather of CBS compared the eulogy given by Diana’s brother to the speech given by Marc Anthony in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. You know, the one that starts "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears…" Tom Brokaw of NBC topped Rather in the hype sweepstakes. Brokaw announced that Diana’s funeral was the most significant event in the history of Westminster Abbey. Brokaw apparently forgot a few minor historical details: Every king and queen who ever ruled England has been crowned at the Abbey, starting with William the Conqueror 900 years ago. Several great historical figures are buried there-Dickens and Handel, Gladstone and Disraeli. In Brokaw’s own lifetime, Winston Churchill, the man who saved western civilization, was laid to rest at Westminster. Were our media moguls so caught up in the glamour of one of their own that they were blind to history? And what does the media’s feeding frenzy tell us about Americans’ skewed value system? For a comparison, consider the way the press has treated the death of Mother Teresa. Over the following weekend, they turned it into a kind of sidebar to Diana’s funeral. One network even referred to Mother Teresa as simply "another humanitarian." Hold everything. A princess known more for her wardrobe and latest hairdo was counted as a humanitarian on the same moral plane as a nun who devoted her life taking care of the poorest of the poor? A woman who won the Nobel Peace Prize? Where is our sense of proportion? The Book of Romans says that when people stop distinguishing between right and wrong, truth and falsehood, they fall into idolatry. They’re no longer capable of seeing beneath the surface; appearances become paramount. As the Canon Camera commercial puts it "Image is everything." That’s what we’ve witnessed these past two weeks. Presented with two high-profile deaths—one of a glamorous jet-setter and the other of a woman known as "the angel of the gutters"-the media preferred glamour. Our cultural elites can’t seem to understand or appreciate the kind of moral strength it takes to serve the poor—those whom Mother Teresa referred to as "Christ in His most distressing disguise." When your children see the world worshipping at the shrine of glitz and glamour, help them understand that this is what happens when a culture stops believing in truth: It falls into idolatry. Its values become skewed. As we see the culture around us worshipping glitz and glamour, make sure your kids have good examples of true moral greatness. Why not start by giving them a good biography of Mother Teresa—a woman who, out of her love for the Truth, gave her life to the poor in service to Christ.


Chuck Colson


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