Thursday, August 16, 2012
All Hail the King
Remember the terrible shock 35 years ago today when Elvis died so unexpectedly at the young age of 42?
What has always most fascinated me are the conspiracy theories which started to circulate shortly afterwards: Elvis is not really dead. He faked his own death so he could live a simpler life out of the limelight. Elvis lives! Even now, all these years later, there's still reported sightings of Elvis every once in awhile, somewhere or another in rural America.
The other fascinating aspect of the Elvis legacy is the thriving tribe of Elvis impersonators: amateur, professional, dead serious, tongue-in-cheek. These "Elvi" tour with tribute shows, parachute out of planes, perform weddings in Las Vegas, enter contests, go to international conventions, you name it. There are even female Elvis impersonators.
I have often thought that the powerful reaction of Elvis fans to his death has much to teach us about the origins of Christianity, if we are open enough to consider it. Were the adoring fans of Jesus equally unwilling or incapable of accepting his death? As with Elvis, some of those fans reported post-mortem sightings of Jesus. Others soon began to imitate Jesus in clothes, words and lifestyle. His "brand" grew immensely after death too. Raked in billions eventually. Jerusalem and the Vatican -- which do you think is Graceland?