Countless fans across the country (and world) today are breathing easier because the long wait is over: "American Idol" is back! And from what I've read about tonight's season eight debut, there will be plenty to keep viewers interested: a bikini contestant, new judge and a guy so nervous that he couldn't stop sweating. Wow, can't wait.
I'm not one to say that over the years I've never enjoyed "American Idol." I have. And honesty compels us to admit that there has been talent on the show. Carrie Underwood can sing. But as a Christian I do cringe at the mainstreaming of idolatry resulting from the show's success.
Christian: stop and say out loud, "American Idol."
Millions of people will spend the next few months "worshiping" their favorite performer. With each karaoke session the zeal for a person will intensify. Can this be healthy for the soul?
I'm currently reading G.K. Beale's new book, We Become What We Worship: A Biblical Theology of Idolatry. In the book Beale argues that "we resemble what we revere, either for ruin or for restoration." Beale explains one of the primary assumptions of his book: "...God has made humans to reflect him, but if they do not commit themselves to him, they will not reflect him but something else in creation. At the core of our beings we are imaging creatures. It is not possible to be neutral on this issue: we either reflect the Creator or something in creaton" (16).
I suppose it's possible to enjoy "American Idol" without committing idolatry. But I'm praying "Idol" fans will not end up reflecting what is consistent with ruin rather than restoration.