Jade Goody dies and passes into glory
There were tears and sadness, but she wanted to be remembered for the laughter she brought. There will be very many who do not care, for who was she to them or they to her? There will be some who are relieved at her departure, sickened by the incessant, trivia-obsessed voyeurism of the tedious red-top notion of dumbed-down celebrity. There will be those who scoff at the paucity of her biblical understanding; who question the validity of her repentance and the efficacy of her death-bed baptism; who pour scorn upon her imperfect grasp of the soteriological and theological imperatives. They will doubtless make themselves known in the ensuing thread to this post, or in another place.
But there is also her family: her two sons, her husband, mother, stepfather, grandparents and friends. They did not ask to be thrust into the spotlight of perpetual scrutiny of emotional invasion. They are a family in grieving, and it is incumbent upon Christians to weep with those who weep.
It is curious how the death of a media creation has the capacity to inspire collective compassion, almost national mourning. If Kermit had died, the grief would be no less. It is consistent with the age of ‘feeling’; the emphasis on the spiritual; the zeitgeist of Dianafication.
Yet Jade Goody was no Princess of Wales. She had no palace in Royal Berkshire; just a house in Essex. She did not inherit vast wealth; she struggled to make ends meet for most of her life. She did not consort with kings and presidents; she was the daughter of a convicted criminal who died of a drugs overdose. She did not so much live like a candle in the wind as a foot in a cowpat. And the tabloids loved it: she was ridiculed for her ignorance, criticised for lewd dancing, derided for her drunkenness and shamed for her ‘racist’ bullying.
She did not win ‘Big Brother’, and yet her fame has spread far more than anyone who ever has. She thought she might earn her Warholian 15 minutes of fame, but was soon to discover that it was to last for the rest of her life.
A life that was destined to be tragically ever so brief.
Cranmer is fully aware that some of his readers and communicants will be thinking that he has lost it: this not religio-political; Cranmer has morphed into Dale; he has abandoned his thoughtful and erudite musings for the politics of gossip and social commentary.
Nothing of the sort.
Let us not forget that this was the young woman whose casual reference to ‘Shilpa Poppadom’ on national television caused an international outcry, gaining absurdly disproportionate coverage in the Indian media. It was the moment when reality television began to set the political agenda. Gordon Brown, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was visiting India at the time, condemned her behaviour for damaging relations with India and undermining the perception that Britain is a country of tolerance.
He probably had no choice. And yet Gordon Brown could now learn so much from Jade Goody, for in her living she was vibrant and in her dying she was authentic. While he evades the issues and laboriously ponders his words, she was direct and told it like it was. Of all the failings which beset the modern political class, it is the perception of the almost total absence of honesty and authenticity which is proving so corrosive to political discourse.
It is probably true to say that, had Jade Goody stood for Parliament, she would have won in almost any constituency. Politics has ceased to be about government, and the ‘soap opera’ has infinitely more to commend it. And politicians ought to ask reflect very deeply upon this and ask themselves why.
Jade Goody so very subtly entered the hearts of all those who have followed her tearful traumas and debilitating trials. Cancer is a monstrous demon, and it is heartbreaking to have to watch anyone be consumed agonisingly by its remorseless strangulation of life. Yet her dignity in dying has accomplished more for the common good than a thousand obscure and unheard-of members of parliament have ever accomplished.
Cranmer would have preferred Jade Goody MP to one of ‘Blair’s babes’ any day, whatever party she stood for.
Who would have thought that the Lord might have made her notorious in order to make use of her fame? Who would have thought that he might have chosen such an unlikely vessel to tell the world of his love; to remind us that he died so that we might live; that he paid the price that we may enter the Kingdom prepared since the foundation of the world? She ran the race, tasted the Passion, and kept before her the ultimate prize of her redemption.
God’s ways are not ours. Max Clifford now has had an ‘exclusive’ divine appointment to tell the world of Jade Goody’s salvation. And by speaking of her corporeal suffering and her spiritual peace, he preaches Christ and him crucified. And his audience is global – from the USA and South America, through the UK and Europe and on to India, the story is that of the first star of reality television having found Christ: of turning from her old life to that of the resurrection; of reading the Bible, placing her trust in the Lord, repentance, baptism, and now glory.
Like a little child, Jade Goody embraced the Christian faith like her Heavenly Father intended. And the moment she did, she was forgiven her past, cleansed of her sin and was born again.
In paradisum deducant te angeli,
in tuo adventu
suscipiant te martyres,
et perducant te
in civitatem sanctam Jerusalem.
Chorus angelorum te suscipiat,
et cum Lazaro quondam paupere
aeternam habeas requiem.