To say that I was a Michael Jackson fan as a child would be putting it mildly. So learning of his death this afternoon was a bit of a jolt. I, along with many of his fans, grew tired of eccentricities over the years and were troubled by the allegations that had been directed towards him. But during the peak of his Thriller days, MJ was nothing more than a tremendous entertainer that took the music world by storm.
As a young white kid growing up in the eighties, I wanted to be like Michael in many respects. The Thriller album was the first record I ever bought, his poster was on my wall, I owned a "Beat It" jacket and sequined glove and I even impersonated him at some events and talent shows. Yes, in case you're wondering, I can still moonwalk.
As I got older and Michael got weirder, I began to see him in a different light. I saw him as a child trapped in a man's body with an incredible amount of insecurities to go along with his immense talent. It became increasingly obvious to observers that his issues ran deep and he often seemed out of touch with reality. As a child I looked upon him with admiration and awe; as an adult I viewed him with concern and pity.
There is no doubt that he was one of the most gifted performers in the history of modern music. His videos are still the standard by which others are measured and his upcoming concert dates in London were sold out almost as quickly as they were made available. As I reflect upon his death I feel a sense of sadness because I don't think he ever found the wholeness and fulfillment that each of us long for. His riches and worldwide fame couldn't bring him the happiness he so desperately longed for.
I don't know where Michael was in his faith or what his beliefs about God were. But I do know that his musical talents are not what counts now that he is dead. He had fifty years on this earth and I hope that at some point he placed his faith in Christ.
My all-time favorite song of his is "Man in the Mirror" and I've included the original video for it in his honor. (Please click here if the video player doesn't show up).