Has anyone noticed that the past couple of weeks have been mostly about child abuse? On one hand, we have the sentencing of Cardinal George Pell, and on the other hand we have the documentary about Michael Jackson. With all the hullaballoo surrounding these two cases, I wonder what the media is trying to hide… but that’s not what I want to discuss today.
I am neither judge nor jury, and I am, like any reasonable person, absolutely against any form of child abuse; however, I feel the need to point out that the line needs to be drawn somewhere: Pell does not represent Christianity, and Jackson does not represent Pop.
Most often, people rush to bundle the messenger and the message in an ad hominem sort of way claiming that if the messenger is corrupt, then so is the message. Of course, there is more controversy surrounding the sentencing of Cardinal Pell than around Michael Jackson because Pell is seen as an extension of the Catholic church. While the church is doing all it can to help people see the difference between the actions of one man and the actions of the whole church, it is also worth pointing out that the church’s own history is full of such controversies such as the Crusades and other wars. Therefore, it is wise to also point out that George Pell does not represent the Catholic Church, just like the Catholic Church – despite all its attempts – does not represent the truth of Christianity as it should be.
On the other hand, Michael Jackson does not represent Pop Music, nor does Pop Music represent music in general. It struck me as quite funny how some radio stations stopped playing Michael Jackson’s songs after the release of the documentary. Following the same reasoning, would you stop using electricity if Edison was accused of theft (which is actually true as he stole ideas from Nikola Tesla), or would you stop all physics research if Newton was accused of child harrassment?
This also takes us a few years back to when Dan Brown released The DaVinci Code and caused a huge uproar about Jesus being married. Again, it was a case of separating the messenger from the message: if Jesus was, in fact, married, would whatever he said and preached change? While for Christian philosophers it may change the dogmatic side of the faith, for any normal person, the principles that Jesus talked about remain the same whether the guy was married or not. There was also the Zeitgeist movement after that claiming that Christ never existed to begin with. Even in that situation, the message would not change. If Harry Potter was made to say “forgive one another”, would the value of the message change because it is coming from a fictional character?
In conclusion, we really need to stop being swayed by stories whether they are distorting facts or not. The main question that we should ask ourselves when we are confronted with any story is “what difference would knowing this make in my own personal life and in my own personal beliefs?”