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Why Britney and Anna Nicole Smith Matter

February 28, 2007

Why Britney and Anna Nicole Matter

First, let me get the theologically
obvious out of the way: we all matter in the eyes of God. I cannot
operate within a theological worldview in which that statement is not
true. Our lives, our prayers, our suffering matter in the eyes of

In watching the news over the last
couple of weeks, I have caught myself asking the question, “why
does this matter?” My wife asks it too. With the Iraq war
continuing, the sabre-rattling with Iran, genocide in Darfur, the
Scooter Libby trial, why in the world do the major news outlets need
to devote such time to Anna Nicole Smith and Britney Spears?

Well, they don’t need to devote
that much time to entertainment news (is “entertainment news” an
oxymoron?) for any reason other than the fact that people watch it
and the news channels have to get ratings to pay the bills. And a
very cynical part of me cries out, “this DOESN’T MATTER!”

But maybe it does.

Craig Ferguson, on his excellent
late-night talk show, gave a monologue on why he will not make
Britney Spears jokes. Having struggled with addiction himself (now
fifteen years sober), Ferguson claims that we don’t need to make fun
of the vulnerable, but rather the self-important bigshot blowhards.
And make no mistake, anyone in the throes of addiction is vulnerable.
They are dangerous to themselves and to others. Both Smith and
Spears are/were mothers of young children whose lives are sure to be
deeply affected by these events. It’s easy to forget, probably too
easy, that these are real human beings with real lives.

What seems ridiculous on TV, especially
compared to other current events, is actually a portrayal of sad,
pathetic lives offered up for our entertainment. What we forget is
that there are lives equally sad and pathetic in our own
neighborhoods. There’s probably someone who needs help as
desperately as Anna Nicole Smith did and Britney Spears does within a
decent tee shot from our churches. There might even be someone in
that much trouble in the next pew, or just across the sanctuary.

Let us pray that we are sensitive to
the suffering and pain of others. Let us pray for eyes to see and
ears to hear the voices of those who cry for help. Let us pray that
our churches will be called to action by the needs of others rather
than entertained by them.

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