Today’s maze of di-mystification now spreads across the world from Walter Peyton to Courtney Love; with a generous dash of Jesus and Hitler somewhere in between….!
This calls for some explanation. It starts with the way we make grand and mysterious some special people in our lives. It’s our peculiar need to find pedestals on which to place them. Popes, presidents, athletes, rock singers; sometimes composers, authors, warriors, even criminals. It’s one of the most empowering ways we can reach outside our own little lives in order to participate in the larger lives of those we envision as special.
Our name…? Fans, followers, believers, whatever. However, there always comes a time when we tire of our pedestal-ed icons. Our reasons….? Boredom, envy, disillusion. Yes, it’s that last one that comes oozing through our psyche. And so this week’s announcements were simply a matter of time. First, a sizzling tell-all book about Chicago Bears hero Walter Peyton; followed by a promised explain-all memoir by troubled rock star Courtney Love.
But lets face it, they’re small stuff compared to Jesus and Hitler.
After 2000 years of mystification, Jesus of Nazareth has been di-mystified in recent decades by both Biblical scholars and Broadway producers. The scholars pore through historical records which they say suggest everything from narrative inconsistencies to outright Vatican fraud. None of which can’t be challenged by other scholars. However, when “Jesus Christ Super Star” hit Broadway in 1971, the gig was up. Not by defaming the historic God-Man; simply by humanizing him to the bawdy big beat of rock. How could the average believer ever look at the di-mystified Jesus quite the same again?
A few years later, Mel Brooks took on Adolf Hitler in his Broadway hit “The Producers.” Hitler — the manic scourge of the Western world — was suddenly knocked off his pedestal and reduced to a heel-clicking absurdity. The man who led thousands, killed millions, and almost conquered the globe, was now di-mystified into what he himself would have hated most: laughable irrelevance.
What is there about this mortal coil…? This compulsion we have to create and then collapse our icons….? Maybe it’s subconsciously mystifying ourselves by granting ourselves this god-like power. I’ll leave that to our clergy and psychiatrists to fathom. In the meantime, I still wrestle with another epic human habit. Our need to have the mystification of gushy boy-girl stuff in every movie. I mean, love stories, OK; but even our good-old-boy action, sci-fi, and war flicks too??
As a kid, we’d always boo the “girl scenes” in the middle of our Saturday matinees. Say, what kid wanted to see John Wayne or Superman get kissy-kissy in the middle of a movie. Ahhh, but my world’s changed. Today I’m not only allowed to re-examine Jesus and laugh at Hitler…I’m expected to watch Tom Cruise, Harrison Ford, even Captain Kirk to have a girl-friend while they’re saving the world.
The mystification of human love — I guess no one’s going to be kicking that off its pedestal anytime soon. And I guess I’m just as happy as you are.
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