American Idol and Human Dignity – UPDATED

Who would have thought it?

I’ve been a vocal critic of the way American Idol so often showcases people at their undignified worst (admittedly with their permission) during the auditioning process. Paradoxically, that winnowing-the-worst process eventually permits the audience to witness others at their artistic best, because art can be transcendent. It invites the God-spark.

This season, however, American Idol seems to be collecting an unusual number of contestants with personal stories that affirm the dignity and value of human life, and these stories–these people and their lives–are truly moving.

This is either the most cynical exploitation of human drama for the sake of ratings that we’ve ever seen, or it’s a downright providential celebration of the inherent worth of every human life (and the right to live the life one has, no matter what the challenges) and a far-reaching lesson in the transcendent power of love.

Gotta tell you that after reading the filth of the utter disregard for humanity contained in the Grand Jury Report against Kermit Gosnell and his abortion clinic, these videos feel like pure gift.

So does this:

UPDATE: A must read from Russell E. Saltzman, over at First Things:

I knew that elderly patients with moderate confusion suddenly suffering trauma and surgery may emerge from anesthesia in a greater state of confusion. Perhaps they emerge no worse. The surgeon was optimistic—show me one who isn’t. My mother did not awaken unscathed. Her confusion swiftly grew so distinct she was unable to participate in therapy, and then began nighttime rages of shrieks and howls and daytime spaces filled with blank recognition.

She no longer knows me. She remembers the name but can no longer recollect the connection nor place my vaguely familiar face. She makes a heartbreaking plea reaching for my hand, please, would I please tell Russell to come for her and take her from this place. She is living an eternal moment no longer bounded by tomorrow or yesterday. She knows not where she is; she knows only that she wants “him” to come for her. She repeatedly asks, will I promise to tell him.

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