Precious and Profane
This last week, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City hosted their annual Met Gala. This is a major extravaganza; interface between the worlds of high society (money), Hollywood (fame), music (creativity) and couture fashion (glamor). Should you secure an invite to pop culture’s upper echelon, you’ve really ‘made it’. As a single photo can net both celebrities and designers priceless exposure, everybody, from stylists, to glam squads, to the Star who will wear the garment, take this event as seriously as a heart-attack. In the tower of Babylon, it’s the pinnacle turret.
As a designer trained in fashion and art, I admit, the Met Gala holds a specific interest for me. Every year, a particular theme is chosen, which dictates the creative focus and acts as the catalyst for cutthroat competition. This year’s theme was “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination”. A-list celebrities sported ornately embellished, exaggerated caricatures depicting the most iconic visual symbols of religion, especially Catholicism. While it’s equally true that vestments do not a true priest make (as witnessed by sexual abuse scandals that rocked the Catholic Church in recent years), the open contempt for sacred institutions has reached new heights and volume. It’s become high fashion to sneer. While all the oohing and aahhing was going on for these admittedly ingenious and exquisite works of art, my spirit was unspeakably grieved. I’m seeing the new wave of a spirit so disturbing, I can hardly find words for it.
Or, maybe, I can. It’s really rampant, unabashed narcissism. A profane self-glorification at deity levels. The Met Gala, as barometer for the zeitgeist of the times, brought it all into sharp focus, but it was by no means the first blatant exhibition. That belonged to a celebrity who considers herself ‘a queen’. When she graciously condescended to announce to the us the world-shattering importance of her pregnancy with twins, she chose to do it in a photo depicting herself as the Virgin Mary. Her subsequent performance at the Grammy’s, complete with fawning supplicants, served to solidify this outrageously supercilious statement. Are you telling me, lady, that you equate your importance to the singular, sanctified glory of Mary, mother of Jesus? Are you saying that your position at the top of the heap is so solidified, so impregnable, that you do dare call yourself ‘holy’ in your own domain? Wow. There’s an unspoken arrogance there that simply takes the breath away. The Beast is here, promenading wantonly in the robes reserved for the hallowed. As I observed this monstrous manifestation of ego, Jude’s words were inescapable.
“In the same way, these sensual “dreamers” corrupt and pollute the natural realm,while on the other hand they reject the spiritual realms of governmental power and repeatedly scoff at heavenly glories. These people insult anything they don’t understand. They behave like irrational beasts by doing whatever they feel like doing. Because they live by their animal instincts, they corrupt themselves and bring about their own destruction. They are wild waves of the sea, flinging out the foam of their shame and disgrace. They are misleading like wandering stars, for whom the complete darkness of eternal gloom has been reserved. Jude 1:8, 10, 13
Yes, I know those are extremely heavy, terrifying words. We’ve come to the age where this phenomenon is completely in-your-face, rather than the rare exception. In case you think I’ve gone off the deep end condemning pagan behavior, look to the Old Testament. We see God’s response when one of His own tried to pull this presumptuous crap. I’m referencing the story of King Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26). Uzziah was an outstanding king of Judah, who began his reign at sixteen, and continued strong for 52 years! He was a go-getter who built up the nation’s economic, military, and spiritual identity with massive undertakings, unparalleled by any, save Solomon. As so often happens, at the height of his power and influence however, he committed a fatal flaw which exposed the true state of his heart. 2 Chron 26:16 tells us bluntly “But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the Lord his God and went into the temple of the Lord to burn incense upon the altar of incense”. As the priests reminded the arrogant king that he was on forbidden ground, Uzziah was furious and unrepentant. Apparently, so was God, because leprosy sprang up on the King’s forehead, banishing him from both the temple and his throne for the rest of his days. If the Lord would not tolerate effrontery from a stellar king with a long history of righteous acts behind him, you can bet, He’s not going to take it with a grain of salt from the heathen either.
We’ve come to the age where people’s comprehension of “holiness” and what is sacred is no longer learned in Sunday School. An entire generation, two, actually, have absolutely no grounding in the Sabbath culture of the Church or a basic knowledge of Christianity. In this void, there is only power and beauty to worship. Celebrity is the new God. But without knowing it, this homeless generation of 2018 are actually longing for the rightful coverings of our ancient inheritance. They are eagerly grasping for Joseph’s ‘coat of many colors’ (Genesis 37:3). They covet the heavily embroidered, long-sleeved robes of the Kings’ daughter (2 Sam 13:18). In an era of extreme exposure and dangerous privilege, they’re desperate for the secure, brilliant plumage of the shadow of the Almighty. Deep is calling unto deep with an ache to be ‘the Beloved’; redeemed, sanctified, safe and beautiful. O Lord Jesus, hear their cry! Let the lost look into the mirror of your love and presence, and find themselves. Give them your robes of righteousness Lord. Show them how beautiful they are!
Take off the mitre, Rih Rih. Wait till you see what He's designed for you.