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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Celebrity Worship

One of the things about our culture that drives me crazy belongs to the Cult of the Celebrity.  I simply don't understand it.

Fair Warning:  this post is NOT going to be among my most popular; in fact, I am quite certain I will be losing readership over this one. Don't say you weren't warned, but you knew what I was when you started following me.  If you haven't been offended by my opinions, then you haven't been following long enough.

If I'm not honest, I'm not Adoro.  Just sayin'

Teen Celebrity Infatuation:

As a teen, of course,  I went through that particular phase of infatuation, writing letters to a few chosen male celebrities which were never answered (oh, thank God for that, I so wish I could forget those letters!), and went so far as to hang pictures of them on my walls. But I passed through that phase and moved on with my life. Admittedly, it was in moving on that I also let go of wanting to be an actress or famous person myself.

At that point, I finally began to see celebrities as people just like me with all the very same failings. I discovered at the same time, that if I was in the public eye, it wasn't comfortable, not fun, not glamorous, and actually...seemed overall to be quite ridiculous.

Over the years I've met a few celebrities, both secular and Catholic, and found them to be...well...average people.  I liked them just fine, but didn't find anything there to make me turn myself inside-out with adulation in their presence.

Yet I continue to see people rolling like submissive dogs peeing all over themselves when they read the words of this or that Catholic celebrity.

Clearly, as this is a Catholic blog, I'm focusing mostly on the ecstatic behavior of the average internet Catholic in the internet presence of some Catholic celebrity.'s downright embarrassing to witness.

Now, certainly, Catholic celebs don't have the worldly panache of the seculars, nor should they. And indeed, those held in high esteem are wonderful role models, based on what can be witnessed in the public eye.

Still, even with a good example, I don't see anything of them that is worthy of the public worship that is given to them day in and day out. I don't see why people find they need to hang on every word, or work so hard to be noticed and approved by this or that Catholic celebrity figure. It's almost like some people think their existence and very Catholicism must be recognized and ratified by some of these celebs in order to be authentic. 

I wonder at the reaction to these people, whose gifts given by God have placed them in the public eye, giving them a certain "Catholic Celebrity" status, and who, to so many, seem to be the final word on ANYTHING going on in the Church.

It fascinates me.

It fascinates me especially because I am sure that most of them, if not all, would not WANT the adulation of the masses, and probably didn't ask for it, and would further prefer that people NOT hang on their words.

Admittedly, though, I wonder at a few of these Catholic celebs who seem to crave that adulation and beckon it onward. The sad thing is that I've seen it not only via the internet, but also in person, in, for example, the "cult of the priest". There are certain priests who have a certain following of people who apparently see him as a kind of Savior...and will follow him ANYWHERE he goes. (I am not speaking here only of the internet, but also of a certain few priest-cults in my own diocese. But lest you are Protestant...check out the cult following of the charismatic pastors of the "Free Churches" in this area. suffer the same scourge and spiritual danger Maybe even MORE so for there are fewer of you.) 

Ew. Creepy.  

What I don't understand is WHY this behavior isn't so creepy over the internet? Isn't it the same thing?

I am seriously concerned that good, knowledgeable Catholics spend so much time hoping for the approval of certain Catholic "celebrities".

I am truly amazed that, in the past when I happened to criticize this odd obsequious behavior directed toward a certain personality, I was villified and quite literally admonished to "SHUT UP!", and even further, was calumniated by my accuser who said that all I talk about is "this" topic.Yet I had only brought it up once before with the very same question:  "What's the big deal about X Catholic Celeb?"

No one has been able to give me an answer, and so in place of the answer, they chose to insult me with an ad hominem attack...which I expect on this post as well, even though I've not given any names.

I'm sure all my readers have their favorite Catholic Celebrities, and some of you assume I'm talking about YOURS.

So I'll let your comments reveal what's in YOUR heart: who do YOU worship? And why will you tolerate no criticism against your hero or heroine?

And what does your lack of tolerance reveal about your own spirituality, lack thereof, your attachments, and how far you've fallen from Our Lord and His Mother if you're so ready to shut down a legitimate question about a mere mortal man or woman celebrity?

Seriously...if you rely so heavily upon some celebrity, whether it is an internet celeb, a priest, or an alleged visionary such that any legitimate criticism of them and their humanity pisses you off, it's a sign you need to get a grip and spend more time at Mass, Confession and Adoration and LESS time on the internet peeing all over yourself in hopes of being noticed.

That's all I have to say about that. Let the hate mail begin...combox is open for discussion.

P.S. ~ The com box is NOT a litter box. If  you have need to relieve yourself, I suggest you find appropriate facilities elsewhere.  


Hidden One said...


Been there, done that, never again!

Joe ( said...

I think that we all go through it in waves. I think that the insular nature of blogging, especially Catholic blogging can suck some of us in... even if we wouldn't want to be or least expect it.

I think that as a RECENT blog creator/writer I have fallen under such spells, but it is a learning process. For example, I never really went through such a thing as a teenager, even with celebrities. With our faith though, I think that many of us are in different places, and sometimes the Catholic CELEB is someone that we have longed for or speak to us in a certain way. Now don't get me wrong, I dont think this makes it ok, it is just an explanation.

Also... I think that sometimes in the Cathologosphere, alliances are assumed or drawn when in reality such people may not see eye to eye except on a few issues which just happen to create some faux alliance.

Also, sometimes, at least for me, the Catholic circle of bloggers seems a lot smaller than it may actually be. Interaction seems as if we all "know" each other, so a familiarity is assumed, when in reality it isn't as such. From the outside such relationships may seem to be more than they really are.

I don't know if this makes sense, but it is just an attempt at an explanation. It doesn't make it right :) Just an explanation.

shadowlands said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Adoro said...

Hidden One ~ started to, here, but realized I didn't want to look like the fawning people. As such, never got "into" the blogging celebs.

Joe ~ Oh, yes, I think you're right on, and that IS some of the reason for what we see. I've been blogging now for a few years and HAVE met quite a few people in real life, and have been consistently following others for awhile. There's a definite "circle" there that involves a real exchange...and that DOESN'T exist with the "celebrities".

I could say more but I don't want to name any names, rather letting readers wrestle with who it is they ID.

Shadowlands ~ yes, popularity can be dangerous to the one who is popular, but I don't see the popular ones gushing away. That's why I wrote this post directed at the READERS/COMMENTERS who are posturing to get attention.

And of course, this doesn't apply to ALL commenters on those blogs or articles...not by any means! (Thought I better add that... lol)

shadowlands said...

Ooops sorry about tha Adore, I've removed my comment seeing as it totally missed the point haha! I must concentrate more.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I hang on every word you say and when the book you are withholding from us is finally published or even self-published, I want mine autographed.


MJTA said...

I agree wholeheartedly with this post (though perhaps I wouldn't have worded it this way). I think I don't run into priest-worship as much as worship of fairly public figures in the Church. If I had a list it would be: Scott Hahn (his is not the final say on Bible interpretation), Christopher West (I think he often gets Theology of the Body wrong, and focuses too much on certain aspects), and George Weigel (He has a hermeneutic of discontinuity when it comes to the social teaching of the Church). It seems to me many people worship every word from these people's mouths as though they were inspired.
But it is also good also to have some respect for people that have earned esteem for good ideas.

AmMen said...

I'm listening to Greg Willits right now, talking about the challenge of refocusing the Rosary Army apostolate, so that they were certain it was about God, not about them. Partly for that reason, they discontinued their podcast. When they stopped doing the podcast, he says the RA lost HALF their regular support, even though the apostolate is NOT primarily about new media! Wondering if they are suffering the celebrity problem, from another direction.

Adoro said...

shadowlands ~ Oh, I wish you hadn't deleted...I liked your comment! You said some great stuff!

Saintos ~ ROFL! Riiiight!

MJTA ~ Yes, I did pick some provacative phrasing, didn't I? (on purpose... lol)

You nailed's as though some people think every thing certain people say is "inspired". Certainly we're all glad for good speakers, presenters, authors, etc., and the Church has benefited GREATLY from them. But they, like us, are just people, as prone to error as we are.

There has to be a balance and you said it well: healthy respect.

Adoro said...

AmMen ~ Interesting! It might well be, or it could be just that some people prefer to get their info via the new media. Myself, I don't listen to podcasts because at home I only have dialup. It limits my options. That and I prefer to read...I get sick of people talking at me all the time via tv and radio, and crave silence.

But you might be on to something.

Ed Kohler said...

Great points. Personally, I see this as a case of people wishing to live vicariously through others, which may say something about the worshipper's self-esteem. Frankly, I wish more people would see themselves as role models rather than creating role models out of those who find it through fame.

Maureen said...

Re: podcast

Well, the podcast was like having an ad for the RA -- an ad that people chose to listen to. Listen to the ad enough, and you remember to send stuff in!

If you give up all your current apostolate "advertising" all of a sudden, you're bound to lose people. They just don't remember to think about you as much.

I work in advertising, and yet here, I have a less cynical view of human nature than all of you amateurs. :)

Hidden One said...

I find the thing that's most annoying is celebrities who self-present as celebrities. Or non-celebrities who self-present as celebrities. I could drop quite a list of names if I put some effort into it.

I'm also not much of a fan of blogs that give away various items (but I'll take that somehow-published heretofore withheld book of yours, Adoro, and autographed, too) on a regular basis.

Hmmmm... maybe Adoro will eventually do a rant on the subject of people who happen - by snooping or mistake - to do some variation on putting together blog identities with real identities or aspects of those identities and people who don't have the decency to shut up. Or people who know the RL person and then blab blab blab while blogging about who they are.

Or maybe I oughtta write a rant post sometime soon. But then some of my occasional readers might flip out at me in RL...

Adoro said...

Maureen ~ Advertising can't hold a candle to years in mental health, law enforcement, and insurance in its cause of cynacism in the subject.


Hidden One ~ Hmm.....doesn't sound like my kind of rant. So...did you get burned by someone?

LarryD said...

Good post, Adoro. I have a co-worker who feels that way about Fr Gruner. It's a sad thing. And not good for the soul.

Although truth be told, if I should ever meet Terry, I just might pee all over myself! He's quite the celeb, you know? LOL!

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt said...

I've never been a hero worshiper, and I have no idea which Catholic hero you are referring to. But at the risk of getting slammed, I wonder if people "worship" the Pope in some of the ways you cite.

It's not that I don't think the Pope is a holy person being worthy of attention. It's just that I wonder if some people go overboard.

Or maybe I am just not truly understanding what you are trying to say because I don't know to whom or what you are really referring.

(Incidentally, I LOVED your cat pan comment and should have used it several times on my own blog.)

Adoro said...

Katherine ~ I'm actually not referring to any one person, actually. It's more general behavior that I'm seeing, and actually it can be applied to any celebrity. For the purpose of this blog, being a Catholic-oriented blog, well, I just limited to the field to "our own."

People can go overboard with ANY celebrity. I'll fully admit if I ever had the chance to meet the Pope, I might well do what I have described in the post above! And there ARE people who disconnect their minds and simply parrot whatever their fav. celeb does as if it is God himself speaking.

Now, as far as the Pope goes, yes, the Holy Spirit DOES speak through him, but he also often speaks just as himself, being a man, a scholar, a human being, a priest of God. You're right in that some people might go too far and decide that EVERY word he says is ex cathedra...which it is not, and our dear Benedict XVI never claims to be. (In his intro to "Jesus of Nazareth", in fact, he said that he was setting out his opinion based on his scholarship and no one need feel bound to agree.)

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt said...

Thank you so much for responding! And I think if I met the Pope, my mouth would be hanging open but nothing would come out : )

Hidden One said...

Burnt a few times over the years. One of the reasons why I use comment moderation and essentially avoid commenting on blogs of *almost* all bloggers who I know in 'real life'.