|Good Morning Everyone,|
Our theme for this month: “Think for yourself”
Our Bible verse for today: “On an appointed day, dressed in royal robes and seated on the throne, Herod delivered a speech to them. The assembled people began to shout, ‘It’s the voice of a god and not of a man! At once an angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give the glory to God, and he was eaten by worms and died.” Acts 12:22-23 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “Avoid the cult of personality”
One definition of a cult of personality states that, “The cult of personality phenomenon refers to the idealized, even god-like, public image of an individual consciously shaped and molded through constant propaganda and media exposure. As a result, one is able to manipulate others based entirely on the influence of public personality … the cult of personality perspective focuses on the often shallow, external images that many public figures cultivate to create an idealized and heroic image.”
Cults of personality have existed in some form for much of human history. The Roman Emperors were considered to be divine and they were worshiped by the people (see Acts 12:22-23 above). Napoleon Bonaparte achieved near total power in France by means of a large and loyal cult of personality behind him, as did Joseph Stalin in the Soviet Union, Adolph Hitler in Germany, Saddam Hussain in Iraq, and Kim Jong-un in North Korea, just to name a few. In 1978 the religious leader Jim Jones led over 900 people in his cult of personality to move with him from San Francisco to the jungles of Guyana, where they all ultimately committed suicide by drinking poisoned cool-aid.
In a cult of personality, the followers become so enamored with their leader that they begin to believe the leader can do no wrong. Even if the actions taken would be wrong if someone else did them, if the dear leader said it or did it then it’s okay because after-all, he’s the dear leader.
The situations cited above were extreme examples of cults of personality. In our day, in our nation, we find less extreme, but still troubling versions of this cult of personality mindset. We find it mostly among the followers of charismatic politicians, and to a lesser degree, influential religious leaders. Some would say that the most hardcore supporters of Donald Trump fall into this category because to listen to them, the man is never wrong no matter what he says or does. On the other end of the political spectrum the supporters of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez do the same thing. In the religious world we find something of a cult of personality surrounding pastor and author Joel Osteen. A cult of personality is always a dangerous thing because it diminishes accountability and it enables and encourages the worst aspects of the leader’s personality.
As mature Christians who think deeply and Biblically, we should never allow ourselves to be drawn into a cult of personality mindset. We can support, encourage, and assist our political and religious leaders while still holding them accountable when they’re wrong, and without giving them a free pass to do or say whatever they want.
We’ll think more about this tomorrow.
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