I’ve been thinking about the “Susan Boyle” phenomenon; you know, the video seemingly everyone in America has now watched. The non-descript 47-year-old pulled off a jaw-dropping performance in England's equivalent of the TV show American Idol.
Pundits have spun the story to highlight prejudice, stereotyping, ageism, bias, and the cult of surface-level beauty. Both judges and audience were caught with their superficial values showing. I’m pleased that the beautiful people at least had the decency to look guilty, but if they learned anything long-term, I’d be surprised.
So why has this story made such an impact? Why is the video viewed time and again, with lumps in the throat and tears welling, and spontaneous applause? I’ve heard better singers; I’ve seen worse dresses; don’t we always pull for the underdog?
Here’s my theory. I believe this is a story about redemption. I believe the tale of Susan Boyle calls to us in the middle of our hopelessness and the void of meaning. The three-minute clip reveals the true implication of gospel, presented in a way people have been longing to hear for a very long time.
I think that the telling of this story has reached so many millions so compellingly because there is so little of genuine hope offered in a world where meaning is calibrated in terms that are guaranteed – ultimately - to disappoint.
SUCH POETRY LIVES INSIDE US ALL:
As Christians we have been entrusted with this Good News: God created each human being on this earth with care and purpose. When Susan Boyle’s gift was uncovered people believed, even if only for a moment, that beauty and meaning and fulfillment and satisfaction are something other than what they have been repeatedly told; they believed that such poetry lives inside all of us, and that the pointless games we all play are not the answer. They believed for an instant that something is the answer.
WHY WE CHEER:
That is why we cheer. That is why we cry. That is why we gasp and clasp our hands over our mouths. What happened on that stage is the closest to the truth about redemption many people are ever going to get…
…Unless, that is, those of us who have been commissioned to share the Good News of Jesus stop living it without enthusiasm or truth or passion, offering faith like a limp handshake or an apology; because, maybe, we don’t even believe any more?
“Shine like stars in the universe”, Paul said, as we “hold out the word of life.” (Philippians 2:15-16) Why not live as if we believe it to be true?
Love, blessings and truth - DEREK