–Rabbi Shmuely Boteach, who is currently writing a book on values that deals with suffering.
All of us (including myself) were stunned and surprised at the death of pop music star Michael Jackson since that warm but surreal and strange evening a week ago (hard to believe) this past Thursday. I could write an essay about Michael Jackson and his pop culture influence in my life. Seriously, I don’t know where to start. I can even remember the historic Worldwide Church of God’s “war” against Michael Jackson and the rest of the Jackson family. In my current affairs blog, The Way I See It, Anyway— I suggested that the historic WCG should have concentrated on serious objections to Michael’s abusive father Joseph (but the ministers would have loved to lick Joseph Jackson’s you-know-what. He was just like them!) . Back in 1984, at age 14 I remember when Mr.Waterhouse came for his visit to Toronto, Mr. Waterhouse ranted (as usual) about Michael Jackson “perverting” his vocal chords and will not “inherit the kingdom” unless he repents. Well, excuuuuse me!!! Did Mr.Waterhouse just kicked God off his throne and made a coup-d’etat??? No way, not a chance in the universe buddy (but ONLY and the word ONLY must be stressed,in Mr.Waterhouse’s mind he did just that). This is not to say Michael Jackson was a “holy saint” (in the stereotypical Catholic sense). We all know about his eccentricities (which sometimes frustrated me very heatedly at times) and his serious controversies (we know what they were and those controversies did also make me very heated too) but no one can dispute his transformational music of our time and that alone has to be strongly admired.
I have not been beer buddies with bloggist of COG Writer Bob Thiel and I want to do an unusual move for praising Dr.Thiel’s from departing from what the historical WCG would say about a tragedy like this. Read his article about the Jackson tragedy plus the other celeberties lost that same week at http://www.cogwriter.com/news/doctrine/can-god-save-billy-mays-michael-jackson-farrah-fawcett-and-ed-mcmahon/. With saying that, I want everyone to know that I do accept orthodox Christianity (yes, I am a Walter Martin-Kingdom of the Cults type when it comes to the essential doctrines of Christian faith) but I do agree with Dr.Thiel that God will make a righteous provision for the unevangelized dead. Some of you might be familiar with a former WCGer, who has his own Christian apologetics site by the name of Robin Brace (UK Apologetics). He too, has embraced orthodox Christianity but like myself has rejected passionately (and rightly so) the Augustinian-Calvinist position of the unevangelized dead and has embraced the Patristic, ancient Eastern Church thought. Read his article here at http://www.ukapologetics.net/07/INC21.htm and this one at explaining theological inclusivism as opposed to exclusivism, pluralism and universalism http://www.ukapologetics.net/1theoterms.htm. While I may respect those who may have the exclusivist view on salvation, I think this Pastor Bill Keller of Live Prayer online church who declares that Michael Jackson’s spirit as we speak is in hell is simply in a spiritual jurisdiction he does not belong. That is simply, God’s perogative and as one of Pastor of a fellowship (post W/XCG mind you) told me, “Doesn’t ONLY GOD have absolute truth?” While mankind only sees the surfaces, doesn’t God really knows what is in any persons heart? Also what about 2 Peter 3:9? God does not want anyone to perish—shouldn’t that be the attitude of believers too? It may be tough sometimes but it’s an attitude that I think is worth it. You could see the article about Pastor Keller’s assertion at God Discussion at http://www.goddiscussion.com/6955/church-reactions-to-michael-jacksons-death/.
Also in another unsual move, I praise United Churchof God President Clyde Kilough’s video which was shown on Gavin’s site at http://ambassadorwatch.blogspot.com/2009/06/thriller-final-note.html. Again I must caveat with Gavin’s statement when which he said, “I did gag a bit at the end when he talked about encouraging “normal” childhood. He should listen in to the testimony of the lost generations of “church brats.” But, all said and done, it gets a 6/10.” Maybe if Gary Antion (who has some professional expertise in marriage and family counselling) did the tribute, I think I and Gavin might give him a 9/10.
Rabbi Shmuely Boteach, of “Shalom in The Home” fame on TLC was Jackson’s spiritual advisor. Rabbi Boteach articulated his emotions about Michael Jackson in life and death (and boy I can transparently identify with the Rabbi’s rollercoaster of emotions on Michael Jackson). Read this here at: http://www.shmuley.com/articles/details/master_of_an_empty_kingdom_the_tragically_short_life_of_michael_jackson/
As I have said on The Way I See It Anyway in my 39 years I have seen many episodes of let say, “the day when the music died”. I remember the death of Elvis in 1977 at age 7, been through the assassination of John Lennon in 1980 at age 10, the murder of Marvin Gaye in 1984 at age 14 and the tragic suicide of Kurt Corbain in 1994 at age 24. As long as you and I live and if Jesus Christ does not return to swallow death forever, I am very sure there will be episodes of “the day when the music died”. The good news is that Jesus Christ is the Victor of Death. He conquered His own death at Calvary and presented ALL mankind the offer to live forever. In that day, those who have accepted that opportunity will finally receive it. I firmly support CS Lewis assertion that in the day, there will be those who WANT to be with God and those who DON’T want to be with God. Those who want to be with God will say to God, “Thy will be done!” Those who do not want to be with God, God himself will say, “Thy will be done!” Christ’s death and ressurection on the cross provided the opportunity that Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Ed McMahon, Billy Mays and the recently departed Karl Malden of The Streets of San Francisco and American Express commercial fame these people don’t have live a short measly several decades on earth but to have glorified human bodies that is completely free from sin, disease and death! I am sure Karl Malden who lived to 97 this past Wednesday is looking for a new glorified body after the health problems he had in the final years of his life! Those of us who believe, need ever so vigilant and enthusiastic to know that in spite of recent events the Good News remains the Good News.
I like Rabbi Shmuely Boteach, a New York City based Orthodox Jewish spiritual leader, who authored many books such as Kosher Sex, Judaism For Everyone (both of which I own), The Private Adam: Becoming a Hero in a Selfish Age, his hard ass and hard hitting Hating Women: America’s Hostile Campaign Against the Fairer Sex and 10 Conversations You Need to Have With Your Children among others. He also has on TLC, he has a show called Shalom In The Home and as of late, has a radio show on Oprah’s radio network. A very brilliant man who makes compelling cases whether wholeheartedly agree or passionately disagree—you just simply cannot ignore what he says. Read his latest comment on his website called, G-d’s Thoughts on the Presidential Election. It is truly something to think about really deeply. Enjoy it.