Thursday, January 18, 2007

Beware Delusion

I had no idea.

Sarah and I are two of the twenty three people on the planet who have never seen the television show, “American Idol.” And since neither of my daughters have either, we’ve got about a fifth of the world’s Idol-starved population in our home. Tragic.

Well, we watched about fifteen minutes of this season’s second show last night, and, boy, did we see what we’ve been missing. 17,000 Seattle-ites showed up to compete for this year’s top spot, and we saw four of them, who, it was suggested, represent the talent pool in Seattle. Whether or not that’s true (and, dear God, I hope it’s not), there was something worse represented—people think too highly of themselves.

Before singing, each Idol wannabe described to a co-host how good he or she was and that the world was just waiting to see them before bowing in admiration. Once they got going we could not believe the contestants actually thought they had singing ability and enough pizzazz to wow the judges and secure a spot. They were each stunningly bad.

Even after the judges described what they thought of their performance in varying degrees of candor (Simon was rude, Paula was nice), the contestants paid little attention to their assessment. Worse, they argued with the judges, begging them for another chance.

One performer, self-dubbed “The Hotness,” told the panel they had no musical taste at all after giving her a much-needed thumbs down. There wasn’t one performer who quit after an initial rejection, but each of them went on to another song over the protests of the panelists. It was as if the contestants were saying to the well-qualified judges, “You simply don’t know how good I am—you’re slow, so I’ll give you another chance.” Another chance?! What were those people doing there in the first place?!

And we thought, “How can they not know how bad they are? Hasn’t someone told them before now? Who told them they were good at singing and performing?” I came away thinking, “Sheesh. Is this the result of empty or misguided self-esteem pumping our society has been doing over the past twenty years? Hasn’t anyone been fairly guiding these people? What about honesty?”

37 million people will watch each weekly installment of the show, and I wonder how it will affect us. My concern is that we’ll just laugh at the loons and cheer the winners, without giving much thought as to what we’re really seeing. What’s that? It’s that we’re easily deluded. And from delusion come false expectations, inaccurate goals and pursuits, and lives wasted along a delusional path. Only Satan, the deceiver, is happy with that.

The apostle Paul wrote, “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” (Rom 12:3)

This doesn’t mean we’re to think lowly of ourselves, but accurately. Christians are not of this world, are not measured by the standards of this world (good singer = good person), and will not live well by conforming to it. That’s delusional.

I have to remember who I have become in Christ by being renewed in my mind about it. Only then will I be able to pick-off the conforming pressures of this world, which attempt to make the outside appearance more authentic and important than the inside reality. That’s delusional, and that’s a breeding ground for idolatry.

This morning I desperately want to live as I am. I want transformation, I want what’s inside and invisible to come to the outside. That’s real, and I can live from there.


  1. Anonymous11:55 AM

    Glad to hear that you are finally getting some "culture." It is worth watching once just for the experience, but I couldn't do it week after week.
    It's hard to believe that so many dreadful singers have gone so far in life thinking they are the bomb!
    Ralph, I am really glad for 2 things.
    1. I don't think I have incredible talents and abilities that don't really exist...and
    2. I am wonderful...because He is in me, and therefore, I can do things way beyond my own abilities and expectations.

  2. Anonymous11:56 AM

    Well, I'm with you. I've never seen AI either. Good lesson for today!

  3. Anonymous11:57 AM

    The thing that bothered me the most was the contestants lack of understanding of themselves and the people around them. I thought...."Why would you do this to yourself? Why go face someone like Simon in the first place? So he'd tell you how awful you are and that you look like a monkey?" I also think that some of those people go on that show simply to have their 15 minutes of fame. It may not be the kind of fame they are looking for in reality, but it's TV, right? I was both sad and appauled. And then I thought..."Wow, each of those people is a child of God and how quick I am to judge them as well." Many of those people are delusional, but many of them are just unprepared for this world. I hope they find some people willing to be honest enough to love them enough to say...."Stay home and take voice lessons"!!!!!

  4. Great comments! I appreciate you taking the time to make them...