Tuesday, July 6, 2010

LeBron - more popular than... well, that guy John Lennon got in trouble for mentioning

Another American icon has skyrocketed to the top of the popularity charts. LeBron - he only needs one name - a potential professional basketball star much sought after by all the big teams, has in the first 7 hours on Twitter achieved over 150,000 followers, making him instantly more popular than the redoutable Bill Gates. (Brawn has always been more attractive to the general public than brains, let's face it!)

In the past week, LeBron James, by staying silent about his intentions while all the major teams woo him for a professional contract, has suddenly become the most sought-after of celebrities. In a stroke of public relations genius, he opened a Twitter account today - with no posts - and everyone is piling on as fast as they can to see if he will make his announcement of intent on Twitter.

This overnight sensation will have a lot to live up to as an athlete - and once he joins a team everyone who follows such things will be watching to see how he does. One can only hope that he is not the embodiment of Abraham Lincoln's adage "Better to keep silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt."

It rather reminds me of the Beatles, who John Lennon once declared were more popular than Jesus... and famously got into great trouble when that part of a longer quote was printed out of context. What he actually said was somewhat true:  "Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue with that; I'm right and I will be proved right. We're more popular than Jesus now; I don't know which will go first - rock 'n' roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins it for me."  Was John wrong? As attendance at church and church affiliation continue to shrink world-wide,  one cannot help but wonder.

At the moment, it appears that for the general populace LeBron is indeed more popular than Jesus.  If Jesus in his own time, had set up a Twitter account, how many followers would he have had back then? Probably not more than the first 12 guys  (OK, 11 of them) and a few more - mostly tax collectors and sinners.  If the same thing happened today, would Christians rush without question to follow Him?  Would they even recognize Him? Or, would most be scandalized that he would make use of Twitter - where a lot of the people hang out today? Would they instead waste time arguing about his identity, nature and mission? Isn't this exactly what John Lennon was complaining about? Jesus, because he spoke and taught about the who, what, and why of it all, has engendered endless controversy and schism.

Notice, no one complains as long as LeBron is silent. Once he speaks his choice, there will be endless discussion about why he made his choice and what it means. Until then, silence is golden. Makes you wonder what Jesus would say to the world on Twitter in His first tweet... and what would be the reaction.

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