Jade Goody has turned to God
Only a few months ago this appalling creation of reality television seemed to represent all that was wrong with modern society. She was a superficial and crass product of legendary Essex; variously referred to as being a ‘pig-faced’, ‘loud-mouthed’, ‘ignorant’, ‘selfish’, ‘racist’ and ‘self-promoting’ chav. Her life was just that of another quasi-celebrity - a two-dimensional virtual existence with no higher purpose other than to copulate and consume; to wallow in Armani excess whilst patiently awaiting an invitation to stumble onto ‘Dancing on Ice’. She was a commodity of Max Clifford who owned her, the chat shows which fed off her, the ‘celebrity’ culture which scoffed at her, and the ‘red-tops’ which would one day destroy her. The inexorable course of her petty and pointless existence was set.
But cervical cancer changed all that. Now, as she awakes each new morning, she is increasingly riddled with malignant tumours which have spread to her groin, bowel and liver. As she sleeps at night, the cancer ravages her body as it courses through her arteries and veins. She has exchanged champagne for morphine, and in a few short weeks she shall be dead, and returned to the earth in ashes and dust whence she came.
It beggars belief as someone stares death in the face that there are those who spitefully criticise Jack Straw for sympathetically relaxing Jack Tweed’s curfew restrictions to make their wedding day possible. Where is the compassion, understanding or mercy in these people? What has the nation become that, as a girl faces death, there are those who callously cling to the pedantic letter of the law and demand that our politicians harden their hearts to human suffering? Why would they wish to deprive a dying woman of the warm embrace of the man she loves on what is supposed to be the happiest day of her life?
Nothing has become Jade Goody more than the manner in which she is leaving the world. Cranmer has known this, and has extended his hand to some of the world’s most noble and inspirational as they turned their mourning into rejoicing.
And let us rejoice that Jade Goody’s life has now found a purpose. In her final weeks it is reported that the publicity she has generated has already helped to save the life of another cancer sufferer. More importantly, she is saving souls, for it is also reported that she is ‘taking comfort in The Good News Bible, repeatedly reading a passage promising hope’. And she has decided to christen her sons Bobby and Freddie, so they know ‘Mummy will be in heaven and watching over them’. These young boys will soon have no-one to call ‘Mummy’, and there shall be no-one to wipe away their tears. So let no-one pour judgemental scorn upon the simplicity of this fragile faith.
As Jade Goody walks in the valley of the shadow of death, she will be weeping day and night, screaming at God with frustration, and angry with the world. She will be asking ‘Why me?’, as the Psalmist has done, pleading for this cup of suffering to be taken from her. She could have chosen bitterness and resentment and the path that leads to Hell. But she has turned to God ‘to help her cope’. She says:
“I’ve always thought there’s a God although I’ve never been a churchy kind of person but now I think, 'Why not go to church?' I’ve got a version of the Bible which is easy to read and I look through it when I’m feeling down. It really helps. And I’ve always prayed but now I do find it helps. Maybe the big man upstairs thinks 'She’s a tough cookie, she can handle this. She’s watched her dad inject heroin, watched her mum do crack, she’s lost a baby, had boyfriends who’ve hit her. Yeah, she can handle this too.' But I do think after this is over, God might think I’ve had more than my fair share to deal with.”
Jade Goody was made in the image of God, and, like all images, she has inevitably fallen short. But she is an incarnation nonetheless, and her heart has discovered a belief that salvation is found in Jesus Christ. The one who took our human nature knows his creation, and he shall fulfil all of Jade Goody’s deepest needs as she seeks the breath of his life-giving Spirit.
And Jade Goody has become a witness to this truth, now professing the faith uniquely revealed in the Holy Scriptures and set forth in the catholic creeds. She has become one of the counter-cultural mad ones, but is embracing the very aspect of that culture by which the gospel may be made known. It is now for Max Clifford to tell The Sun, The Mirror and The News of the World that ‘God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son’. It is for Max Clifford to tell the BBC and SKY of Jade Goody’s new-found faith that 'all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose'.
For God indeed loves the world – the whole human family which is his creation, and that includes every politician, publicist and chav, no matter how much we may occasionally be tempted to believe them to be worthy of nothing but contempt.