Television has the ability to be creative when you least expect it. Indeed the “Big Brother” programme is compelling viewing for many simply because the unexpected may happen! It manages to so bond its viewers to the behaviour of the houseguests that the daily papers have little to write about but much to photograph. The headlines make for good sales and the followers get involved with the action in an artificial bubble of relationships which are larger than life. It allows for intimacy without the pain that normally goes with it. It permits opinions to be formed on the shallowest of evidence, accusing or excusing their antics and occasionally pouncing on some racist remarks such as those which caused Jade Goody to travel to India to apologise.
It was whilst she was there, on live TV, that she was told she had cervical cancer. The impact exceeded all the previous events in her life. The troubled childhood, the low achieving in “Big Brother” the two sons fathered by a TV presenter and her last boy-friend who was released from prison to marry her, all paled in the face of terminal cancer.
This was reality, not hyped “reality TV”. It focussed her mind and gave her the courage to play out the remaining weeks of her life in full public view. She milked the media for her children’s sake obtaining £800,000 for their future welfare. She went about putting her life in order by getting baptised along with her children and she got married a month before her death last week.
Her death was the occasion for an outburst of grief, reminiscent of that which followed the death of Princess Diane. In a similar way she had become part of the lives of many people who identified so closely with her that they almost knew her. Her highlighting of cervical cancer has produced what is known as the “Goody factor” as young women flock to get themselves tested.
What insights can we draw from all this? The main thing must surely be the desire for relationships. From the virtual variety of the “Big Brother” followers to the intensity of the real that surfaced after the cancer was diagnosed.
Jesus said there was nothing more important than good relationships, the vertical with God and the horizontal with each other. ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’” Jesus was speaking of real relationships and not the virtual ones. They are beyond us. Baptism cannot achieve them. We need a Saviour. One who has taken our broken relationships and by his death on the cross, “he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.”
Jesus has made a way, we need to follow him.