This is a summary of our discussion
Many newspapers are full of stories about celebrities, TV personalities, soaps etc- some magazines focus on royalty. Why are these so popular? Do people “need” to compare themselves with “glamorous” people- either to fantasise that their own “ordinary” lives could be different, or to feel better about themselves when celebrities are involved in scandals and failures?
The question of how we value ourselves and our lives is a matter of our “spirituality”. In Hindu thought “avatars” of divine beings appear on earth in human form. Is the “adoration” of celebrity and royalty in some way related to this? If so what does this say about the “earthiness” of most people’s lives?
In the story of Solomon (1 Kings 11) his many wives (most probably acquired for the purpose of military alliances) “enticed” him to serve other gods. In Athens (Acts 17) Paul appears to accept the existence of worship of “many gods”. In other places the Bible is clear that the “other gods” can seduce communities into putting destructive priorities (rather than God’s justice) as the main goals of their life. (eg in Solomon’s case, and true of our UK politics today?)
Modern “scientific” culture (since the Enlightenment) tends to dismiss talk of “spirituality” and “spiritual powers” as superstition. Often this has been in reaction to the misuse of “spiritual gifts” by people seeking power over others (modern examples are cases of physical abuse masquerading as “casting out evil spirits” from rebellious children). But this is perhaps to ignore the reality of communal and psychological “forces” (however they are explained) which can “take hold” of individuals and “possess” whole communities (Nazi Germany might be an example of this). Modern churches that have “bought into” enlightenment culture too much can perhaps be rightly criticised for being unable to deal effectively with these forces (the rise of Pentecostalism in the 20th century is an example of such criticism, though with an emphasis on individuals and small groups, rather than on the powerful ideologies that can dominate and warp whole societies).
The time around present-day Hallowe’en (as Autumn turns to the darkness of winter) was felt in pre-Christian northern Europe to be a season when the “spirit world” (especially spirits of dead people) were very close to life on earth (when the “barrier” between the two was very “thin”). Rather than attempting to ban the rituals popular at that time of the year, the Church set out to “Christianise” them, creating the festivals of All Hallows and All Saints (it did a similar thing with the mid-winter Festivals and Christmas). Its message was that the world of “spirit” was not to be feared, but needed to be dealt with properly (the upsurge in Spiritualism after the First World War, and the difficulties many people have today in coming to terms with the death of family members, especially children, is another example of the same need).