O Season of Idols! – UPDATED

My Tuesday column is up over at First Things, and it’s pondering the recent Golden Globes show and the season of glittery “awards” that is upon us:

It was never so rare, or harmless. And as our post-modern society becomes increasingly post-faith, our instincts to raise up entertainers as idols become more frequently indulged, and perhaps we manufacture more of these idols now. Is there a nation that does not have a slew of “Idol-creating” television shows, where celebrity magazines don’t cover the newsstands? Even our “serious” newspapers carry pages of social or celebrity profiles.

We’ve become such a voyeuristic society, so keen to watch others and feel “involved” in their distant lives. It strikes me as odd, that’s all. Whenever I recall the national hysteria that accompanied Bristol Palin’s appearance on Dancing With the Stars, and how seriously that was taken by so many (with some shooting their tv’s and fretting that she might actually win the thing, and others suspecting that every busy phone line was a conspiracy to defeat her) I worry about how nutty we can become about our favorite “stars.”

Hey, I’m not immune. Longtime readers can easily recall my fixation a while back on giant Welsh opera singers! But I do take a minute in the column to caution against treating idols like Icons:

An Icon looks out from an Intrinsic light and points to its Source; there are no shadows in which to hide. An idol looks out from man-created light, and points to no one but himself; then walks into the shadows.

An Icon looks you straight in the eye and invites you to pursue truth. An idol wears shades and has his spokesperson tell you what you want to hear.

An Icon teaches you how to focus; how to quiet down, collect oneself and hear the small, still voice. An idol throws noise, images, and issues at you, non-stop—scatters your thinking and deafens you to any voice but his.

You can read it all here.

Icon available from Holy Transfiguration Monastery

UPDATE: Reader Sarah sends along this piece and notes that idols don’t like not being idolized

UPDATE II: The Legacy of Larry King and Oprah

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About Elizabeth Scalia