Peace if possible. Truth at all costs. ~ Martin Luther

The Challenge of the “I Saw My Own Obituary” Society

reading your own obituaryNew York Magazine ran a story yesterday listing a group of living celebrities who have read about their own rumored deaths.

P.T. Barnum, the famous circus promoter and businessman (who, incidentally, was born in Bethel, Connecticut, just 7 miles from our church) had publicly remarked that “the press says nice things about you after you die”. So three weeks before his actual death, the New York Sun Newspaper ran the front page headline: “Great And Only Barnum — He Wanted To Read His Obituary — Here It Is.”  And so Barnum got to read his own obituary.  (Source: www.ringling.com )

But apparently he’s not nearly the only one. It’s been happening, in fact, with increasing regularity to celebrities. And thanks to the gossipy virulence of the web, and especially Twitter, more and more will”, says Christopher Bonanos.*

In his article, the list of prematurely saluted celebrities includes Miley Cirus, Harrison Ford, Jeff Goldblum, Kanye West, Emma Watson, George Clooney, Johnny Depp, Natalie Portman, Tila Tequila, Rick Astley and Abe Vigoda.  (If you had heard one of those reports, it was incorrect and the actor is probably doing just fine.)

Going back into history, the group also includes Mark Twain, Marcus Garvey, Jo Dimaggio and Bob Hope.

What if you woke up tomorrow morning and opened the paper to see your own death being reported. After the initial shock, wouldn’t you be curious to see what people had said?

Having thought that over for a while, I’ve come to the conclusion that the only kind of thing I would definitely NOT want to read is the kind of tribute that boils down to “Phil Morgan was a really nice guy”.

Acts 5:12-14 is a fascinating read:

“ And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch. Yet none of the rest dared join them, but the people esteemed them highly. And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women,”

People had one of two reactions to those earliest Christians.  They were either entirely repelled or they were drawn to become believers themselves. Throughout the Book of Acts, wherever the apostles went they either had a REVIVAL or a RIOT!  Sadly, we have precious little of either these days.

In 2 Corinthians 2:15-16 Paul writes,

“For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?”

That’s what we, as Christians, are supposed to be to people. Either the aroma of life or death.

Let us elicit from people either their love or their hatred. Let them either praise God for our lives, and the mark we left for Christ on them and the world, or else let them deride our memory and curse us. But God forbid that our lives should produce only an ambivelent murmer when it’s done.

If this is truly our desire, then it should determine how we live this very day. What are you saying and doing that will be the aroma of life to those God is saving, and the aroma of death to the perishing?

Phil


* To read the whole article by Christopher Bonanos: A Group of Living Celebrities Who Have Read About Their Own Rumored Deaths — New York Magazine