News Release: Faculty Experts, People

Jun. 26,  2009

Laderman Comments on Celebrity Worship, Pop Icons

Emory University's Gary Laderman, author of the new book, "Sacred Matters: Celebrity Worship, Sexual Ecstasies the Living Dead and Other Signs of Religious Life in the United States," is available to comment on the passing of two pop icons, Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett.

As Laderman says in his book, "Americans look to the stars for guidance and inspiration, intimacy and ecstasy—powerful motives that bear on the sacred and can transform entertainment into revelation, escapism into liberation, and mortals into gods."

Human history is filled with figures who are "subject to imitation and become objects of devotion," writes Laderman.

And today's celebrities "move people to action as well as contemplation, they bear on the emotional lives of large numbers of people, they embody power that far exceeds the material riches that can accompany fame, and their personal life stories become public morality tales instructing larger communities about right and wrong, success and failure, fulfillment and tragedy."

Laderman is a professor of religion and culture at Emory and co-editor of the new online religion magazine,


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