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  • Writer's pictureKyle Davis

Death of the icon

We love icons. It's in our nature to look up to people who seem larger than life and want to emulate them. They become symbols of power, skill, money, or whatever aspect of life they have that we want. As kids, it's obvious when we do it. We play pretend and become Iron Man or we shoot a basket and yell "Kobe!"

We'd like to think we grew out of those simple-minded ways as adults because we're educated or we aren't so naive anymore. But the way we react to icons who fall from grace shows us otherwise.

In the Christian world, the news of Ravi Zacharias is hurting a lot of people who do great things because they believed him to be "better than that." But truth be told, he's just a man. A good man, but a man nonetheless.

But it's not just Christians who are noticing what happens to these icons. Podcaster and social commenter, Joe Rogan, tore apart Carl Lentz because Carl was a pastor but he used his celebrity status to the detriment of many. Carl had an affair on his wife and was removed from ministry. Rogan commented,

"That's where celebrity preachers come in. Someone can come in and harness your celebrity and it boosts them up and they can also provide some sort of structure that makes you feel like there's more..."

Preachers have the message of hope or a way to make sense of life, but they end up using that as a soapbox on which they can highlight themselves.

So when they inevitably fall, we doubt the sincerity of the message. It happens all the time to preachers. It happens when we find out our favorite running back abuses his wife. It happens when politicians sell out to lobbyists. It happens all the time when people put their hope in other people.

People aren't made to bear that kind of load. We simply aren't strong enough to hold that kind of weight. No matter how "good" a person is, they are still just a person. There is a reason icons only stay icons until someone gets to know the real version of themselves. Iconicism is built on a false perception because the perception not all-encompassing.

So as we examine our own heroes--or icons. Consider what would happen if that person were to become an abuser or have some other moral failing. Would they still hold up to where you held them in your mind?

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