I Say Unto You, Pray for Your Famous People

August 28, 2009

People die all the time. I’m told one day that I will die, although I am so youthful and handsome and full of life, I have a hard time believing this. If I am to really die and go to heaven, I think I’ll request that I keep my present body, because it’s just so glorious. Seriously, I’m awesome.

Most of us will die the way we live – surrounded by a few people who love us. Outside of that, it’s relative anonymity. There won’t be parades or tributes on TV or newspaper articles (outside of the section by the used car ads.)

But a very exclusive club of people will die with all that stuff. People will make little shrines in public for the famously deceased and leave flowers and trinkets and love notes, which will soon get rained on and turn into mush which has to be cleaned up. Nothing’s more depressing than a shrine after a rainstorm. And nobody says ‘boo’ even though there’s a $500 fine for littering. If I litter in memorial for someone famous, it’s okay.

People usually seem to get more popular once they’re dead…Maybe because they finally shut up. Even Richard Nixon. Death was very humanizing for Nixon, even in the eyes of those who hated him. There are so many people I can’t wait to start loving once they die. Maybe I’ll make a shrine to myself in the city with dozens of pictures of me. People will say, “What a shame, such a handsome young man with so much to give.” Then people will know how awesome I really am…especially when they find out I’m still alive and handsome. No such thing as bad publicity.

We’ve had several prominent people die recently, and no matter how you feel about any of those people, I think death always gives us a funny feeling, even if only for a moment. Someone I am used to existing, to affecting this earth is no longer doing so. The end.

I was at the gym early in the morning when I saw the closed captioning on the silent TV that Ted Kennedy had died overnight. I had that funny feeling for a moment.

I had a funny feeling over it because I didn’t really care for Ted Kennedy when he was living. I didn’t consider him a shining personality. I didn’t agree with him on the social subjects he was most vocal about; though I can admit that he did sponsor some important bills in his career. I wasn’t enamored with his speechmaking. Really, I thought he was an old and usually bothersome relic that ought to move on already…kind of like Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson. But, that was the end for him. I can’t go on disliking him, because he doesn’t exist on this earth.

After a minute, I realized what I should’ve done. I said a simple prayer for Ted, “God, please have mercy on Ted.” My conscience was placated, because I was a good Christian. I prayed for someone I didn’t really like. Jesus loves me.

The radio was on, and the DJ was commenting on Mr. Kennedy. His comment was that the media will of course, cover his death ad nauseum. But overnight, lots of people died – moms, dads, children, soldiers, grandparents – all important people. No one’s death is more important than another’s.

I liked what the DJ said. “Yeah! Ted Kennedy is no more important than anyone else!”

But, then why did I just pray for him? A man no more important than anyone else, just someone who happened come from a prominet family. Why on top of that fame and satisfaction he had in life, should he have the benefit of millions of prayers and tears and petitions to God for mercy that another, anonymous, sinful man who died overnight didn’t get?

And I realized that by praying that little prayer, I had somehow fallen into the same trap that everyone else would over the coming days, whether they actually prayed for him or not. People will think special thoughts about a famous person, despite the fact that they never knew them, but don’t give a thought to the rest of us who die anonymously and alone.

Death is the great leveler. And it should level our prayers too.

I spend a lot of time praying for myself. I’ll be honest, it’s probably 60% of the time, and that’s making myself look good. Probably another 30% of the time is spent on people I know personally and/or love and/or hate. That only leaves 10% for the ‘Ted Kennedy’ prayers – prayers for people I don’t know, but they’re famous enough to somehow deserve a prayer. And a tiny sliver of that, I admit is spent on on people who I have no idea even exist – random people who will die tonight without family, friends or Jesus.

It’d sure be nice if I had a lot of people praying for me when I die. But why should I be so special to have that? I just don’t deserve it based on my prayer performance.

How do you react when someone famous dies? Do you say the little prayer? Do you have a ‘good riddance’ in some moments? How does your prayer life break down?