Untangling the Gramophone
Editor's note: When Gungor was nominated for a couple of Grammys for their 2011 album Beautiful Things, frontman Michael Gungor went to the awards ceremony thinking about what such recognition means—and what it doesn't mean. When 2011's Ghosts Upon the Earth, was nominated for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album, Gungor posted some of those thoughts on his blog, and has given CT permission to reprint an abridged version here. Good words.
It is no secret that people worship celebrity in our culture. To be recognized as more special than others is a powerful feeling of love and acceptance. The problem is that this sort of recognition never satisfies. The feeling of worth that comes with the accolades of the crowd is shallow and fleeting. It is a counterfeit to real love and security.
Lust may have a lot of the same feelings associated with it that love does. Desire. Passion. Arousal. But lust is not love. It's a shallow and cheap counterfeit for love that never satisfies the soul; it only quiets the body for a moment. The pleasure from indulged lust is short-lived and shallow, but a life of true love is the richest and most satisfying life possible. Our true confidence and self-worth are rooted in the fact that we are the beloved of the Creator, fearfully and wonderfully made.
We see the difference between true love and public celebrity in how quickly the public can turn on its celebrities. How quickly the press jumps on the offensive comment or tasteless wardrobe decision or the extra 10 pounds hanging over the bathing suit of the celebrities that we claim to love and respect. How quickly the beloved pastor becomes the hated pastor when news of his affair surfaces. This demonstrates that it was not actually that pastor that we loved, but our ideas of what we thought he was. When he falls short of our expectations, we gladly feed his carcass to the wolves.
We do this because it isn't the human beings that are the actual objects of our adoration. It is the fame or importance that we believe they embody. They represent the importance, power, and love that we want for ourselves.
I'm not immune to the allure of the currency of celebrity or the praise of others. It was pretty exciting to be nominated for the Grammy Awards last year. Some of our friends and family had come with us to LA for the awards. I knew the folly of putting too much stock in people's opinions, but come on, this was the Grammys! An honor that very few musicians ever get. So we all dressed up pretty and went to the ceremony, but I tried to not get my hopes up for winning. I reminded myself that it was just people's opinions and that it shouldn't have any bearing on my contentment or happiness.
But then they started reading the names …
Drum roll, please
There is something about being in a room full of your heroes, the people that you are guilty of buying into the illusion of fame with yourself … and knowing that your name could be called to win the biggest honor that your heroes and peers can possibly bestow upon you.
"It's such an honor to just be nominated," I remind myself.
"Yeah, but to win would be pretty awesome," my other self replies.
"Don't get too worked up about it."
"Michael, this is the Grammys! Do you even know what you'll say if you win?"
"Well, I haven't thought too much about it because I didn't want to get my hopes up."
"Dude, what is wrong with you? Do you want to look like an idiot in front of the people that you most respect in the world? In front of your friends and family that flew out here to be with you?"