The Day I killed My God
It is now October, 2019. I am in the twilight of my years. Strange how a month can mean something, good or bad, or maybe not. In 1955, two things happened in October. I read in the paper that James Dean had died, killed in an awful car wreck in California. I had not particularly known who James Dean was, because I was 15 years old and seldom went to any movies but the Saturday afternoon matinees at the Paramount theater in our little Podunk town. And besides, we lived way out in the woods. But my curiosity was aroused: the picture in the paper looked like a pretty hunky guy.
As it turned out, I didn't have much emotion at that time to waste on a Hollywood guy who got killed, because about two weeks later, my own brother died a suspicious and tragic death we think was murder, but was ruled suicide by the locals.
My Mother couldn't bear living out there in the woods where he died is why we moved to town and I had a different kind of life than before. Movies and the movie magazines became a regular part of my life now, and the songs on the radio also made for the making of heroes in a teenage girl's life. I probably was in love with them all, anyways, the black-haired, brown-eyed variety of male icons. (I even had a genuine Italian boy who wrote to me).
Tony Curtis, James Darren, those were the guys I had eyes for. So my falling for James Dean is a mystery, because he had light hair and wasn't at all my type. I had already seen the movie "The Wild One" with Marlon Brando, who was hunky as a young man, but somehow his charm escaped my imaginative mind. Then I saw Rebel Without A Cause, and I was hooked. James Dean it was. I started a scrapbook. I bought Movie magazines. I collected:--everything that came out on my hero. It was all the more tragic because in October both of them died, the one who became my hero and the one who was already my hero. I was my brother's shadow. We trekked everywhere together when we were kids. Then we got older, and things changed, he was 16 and I was 15, and for a brother and sister, somehow a door opens and it's not the same anymore. The other door closes, and there is no getting back in the room again.
While my mother mourned, I chose James Dean to fill my heart, my mind, my time--and my soul. This is not to say that guilt didn't enter in, because all too soon it did. By the time I was seventeen the eyes of my mind started to clear.. I was always a girl who loved the Lord Jesus Christ first in my heart, and I was, for some time, beginning to realize that James Dean was filling my life, taking over where only my Lord the Christ belonged. I was worshipping a dead man, a movie star I had never met and would never meet. I was sick over him. In place of my King, another had robbed the throne of my heart. Another was stealing away my principles, my loyalties. Another was slowly, subtly inching his way under and over and through the walls of protection from wrong, and evil, which had guarded me in my Christian walk with the Lord. For Jesus Christ , my Savior, had always, from the moment He came into my life, been my First Love, the One whom I loved more than any other, even my brother.
And now here I was, stealing a magazine on the rack outside the store. I had no money to buy a magazine, but here was the latest: an issue all of James Dean, his life, his movies, his Everything--that enticing picture on the cover. I had no money to buy. I had never stolen anything in my life. I didn't lie. I didn't steal---but I in that moment became a thief.
I had to have that issue. Like all thieves, I was scared of being caught, but the moment I chose to take that magazine from the rack and walk away , I was condemned by thievery. Someone else had stepped into my Lord's place. James Dean had become my God.
I do not remember exactly when it all came to a head. I did not return the magazine. I did not confess to the grocer who had always trusted me. I did not openly tell anyone what I had done. I did not even tell my mother, who had raised her daughter never to take anything that was not hers.
I do know that one day I took out my entire collection, including the magazine, and I asked the Lord to forgive me for displacing Him on the throne of my heart, to forgive the act of thievery and treason, so deep was my distress and sorrow over what I had become and committed.....
And so shamed.
I opened the lid on the wood stove and one by one, I burned everything I had meticulously and dishonestly saved of my Hollywood god. I stood and I watched while James Dean went up in smoke.
That was the day I killed my false god.
The rightful King still reigns.