Eugene Cho

the brilliance and mystery of michael jackson

2009385508It’s not like you need another Michael Jackson tribute or post but oh well… Clearly, there are more important things going on around the world but it doesn’t mean that we can’t pause to reflect on one of the most iconic figures of global pop culture.  His shocking death is news all around the world. Amazing and yet, reflective of his status as a global icon.

He was brilliant; Truly one of a kind.  There will never be an equal to the album, Thriller. I wish I hadn’t burn my Thriller vinyl album when I was told by some Christians early on in my faith that it was satanic!  His work – particularly with Quincy Jones – was amazing in so many ways.

What are your thoughts of MJ? What are your favorite MJ songs?

And if many of us are honest, we tried and tried hard to emulate the king of pop. We practiced his dance moves; sang his songs; imitated his gyrations; wore that one white glove, did the moonwalk, got that red leather jacket, the white socks, etc.

Two videos of MJ’s brilliance:

People liked MJ so much that they tried to forget his bizarre behavior, mental instability, and sexual abuse accusations.  But, there were too many bizarre incidents and while I always had an enjoyment of his music, I simply grew detached from him altogether…he was no longer the Michael Jackson I had grown to emulate.  He was someone else.  If anything, it was really sad to see him – the King of Pop – appear so uncertain of his identity. In fact, I felt sorry for him.  This video captures the eery ways that Michael Jackson’s facial appearance changed over the years:

My all time favorite Michael Jackson song is “I’ll be There” when he sang with his brothers in the Jackson 5.  There’s something excellent, pure, and beautiful about the young MJ in this video. He was certainly gfited, talented, brilliant, and the most iconic pop figure of our generation and arguably, of all time, and yet, so many uncertainties, questions, strife, conflict…  He was a mystery.

In tribute: MJ singing I’ll be There:

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17 Responses

  1. Peter says:

    Beat It, Billie Jean, and Man in the Mirror are my favorites. He is the greatest entertainer but it really is too bad his life turned so bizarre and then a tragic and early death.

  2. My Michael Jackson memory…..age six, Louisville, KY, 1982. My mom left me in the car one night at a local dept. store (back in the day when you could still do that!) and came back with Thriller on vinyl. Wow. A close second is the slumber party where we held a dance contest–we all had to dance from a song from Thriller. I no longer have my Thriller on vinyl either (so sad😦 )

    Eugene, I think it’s great that you posted about Michael. Yes, he was troubled and made some bad choices, but he’ll always be remembered for his music.

  3. Dana says:

    “Man in the Mirror” and “P.Y.T.” are my all-time favorite M.J. tunes. What a tragic death. And it is tragic too that we may grow understand MJ more in his death than we ever did while he was alive.

  4. mike says:

    I liked Michael Jackson a lot. He wasn’t my idol, I just thought he was a great artist who knew how to make uplifting, entertaining music.

    I agree that his behavior was bizarre, he was mentally unstable at times, and that he was accused of sexual abuse (never found guilty though). If you read his Wiki entry, you see what a hard life he had. As someone who has also had hard times, I chose to stand with him internally, even just around friends and family who mocked him and treated him like a leper.

    I have always found it strange how good Christians, and in my situation, good Catholics, would be so unloving and unforgiving towards the man, so often hurling stones at the guy rather than standing up for his dignity as a human being. That’s really sad to me. It’s also sad that his clear message of love, compassion, healing, and understanding has been forgotten by those who choose only to see his shortcomings.

    All the while, many musical and cultural influences that molest children and adults through their music don’t get the same attention. Presidents who kill children, Pope’s who hide pedophiles, they’re not demonized in any way. They’re just normal I guess.

  5. Jan Owen says:

    I’m going to write about this later today but Jackson’s death reminds me of Elvis’s death in some ways. Both were treated – in their time – like gods. No human can take that. There is a down side to being adored in a way that only God should be. It destroyed them in some ways – and probably didn’t help the identity crisis either. The only identity they knew was this public persona that had to be maintained at all costs. It is a sad thing to see – in gaining a huge public persona and fan base, they lost the ability to truly be themselves.

    My favorite MJ tune was “Beat It” – the soundtrack to my senior year in high school.

  6. Darlene says:

    I wonder if he had safe places and people to turn to when things became difficult… Perhaps that would have eliminated some of the bizarre stuff on some level.

    I celebrate his genius and outrageous musical skill! What an amazing artist he was!

  7. Tony says:

    Wow, was I shocked to hear about his death yesterday. I’ll admit it: I was online for a good 30-45 minutes yesterday afternoon trying to look for the latest news on his condition. I find it so sad that a lot of the teens-and-under age people will mostly only know MJ for the bizarre behavior, and not for his absolute musical genius.

    What made him so great was that he was not just a fantastically gifted singer/songwriter/dancer, but that he actually discussed real social issues in some of his songs and advocated for/gave towards so many worldwide causes. I think my all-time favorite is Man in the Mirror. But really, you could just grab a random assortment of MJ tunes and I would dang-near love every song. Other notable faves of mine are Remember the Time, Thriller and Beat It.

  8. gar says:

    Whoa, you really burned your vinyl album Pastor E? That stuff would be worth money now…

    RIP, MJ.

  9. Hilary says:

    I’ve got two vinyl copies of Thriller, and I will keep them forever! MJ truly inpsired me as a child to pursue a career in music, and to sing and dance with reckless abandon. It is so disturbing to me how people want to focus on his shortcomings even in his death. (not speaking of you Pastor Eugene, but many things I’ve been reading online). He touched my life in a real way, and although I don’t worship him as a god or idol, I do see him and his life as a gift from God to the world. Even people who accuse and hate him still jammed out to his music at some point.🙂 I really hope he is at peace now. The world can’t hold that much genius for very long, and he left us early just as so many other talented icons have done in the past.

  10. Tony Lin says:

    Man… most of my childhood and youth was spent imitating his every move and sound…

    Eugene, this acapella version got me all tearry…

    Michael I will never find someone new, you’ll always be there. The one and only…

  11. Jan Owen says:

    okay, so i just listened to a tribute on Serius and heard every single hit he ever had…..another favorite I had forgotten about is “Shake Your Body Down To the Ground”. I think we did a dance routine to it once long ago in my cheerleading days.

  12. alexoh says:

    Black or White, Beat it, Bad, The Way You Make me Feel

    Man, first time I saw Jackson, he did the moonwalk. I was like !!!! jawdrop. Great singer and dancer. RIP MJ.

  13. alexoh says:

    btw…does anyone remember Jackson’s Captain EO?

  14. Peter says:

    The greatest entertainer in history. Simple.

  15. For some reason, I guess because I relate to the honesty in it, “Man In The Mirror” is his song that sticks most with me.

    He was one talented guy. So sad to die so young.

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It appears I brought a little Seattle to the NYC. Drizzle fest. 24 hour gathering with a small group of leaders from around the country. Learning. Listening. Asking hard questions. Head exploding. Heart trying to have hope. As I soaked in this breathtaking sunrise this morning above the clouds, I felt compelled to pray for so my places in America and around the world that are experiencing such pain, heartache, injustice, and violence. At times, it feels so overwhelming but in prayer, I was reminded of these words from John 16:33. As we keep striving, working, hoping, preaching, loving, truthtelling, reconciling, repenting, forgiving, dismantling, peacemaking, Kingdom building...may we fix our eyes on Christ: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33 Grateful for a very full weekend of ministry and preaching in Toronto, Canada (GTA). Such a privilege to partner with @worldvisioncan @wvcollective to advocate for the most vulnerable around the world. God is so gracious. A true honor to meet and encourage local pastors, lecture at Tyndale University & Seminary (photo), and preach at Richmond Hills Community Church, Compass Point Bible Church, and New City Church. Thank you, Lord, that you use broken and imperfect people like me to speak of Your love. Today, Minhee and I dropped off our eldest child at her college. We have been thinking and praying about this day for many years. On some days, we hoped it would never come. On other days, we couldn't wait for it to come. On some days, we prayed for time to stop and other days, we prayed with anticipation. 
After an entire summer of laughing it off, it hit us...hard...this week. Seeing all of her stuff laid out on the basement floor was the catalyst to a load of emotions.

After unloading the car and taking her stuff to her new home for this year and mindful that she might never live with us again; helping sort out her stuff, saying hello to her roommates...I wasn't sure what to do or say.

A flood of thoughts rushed my mind.

Is she ready?
Have we done enough?
Have we taught her enough? 
What if this? What if that?

And so we shared what we have shared with her the moment she began to understand words: "Remember who you are. Remember WHO you belong to. Remember what you're about. God loves you so much. Please hold God's Word and His promises close and dear to your heart. We love you so much and we are so proud of you." And with that, we said goodbye. Even if she may not be thousands of miles away, this is a new chapter for her and even for us. I kept it composed. Her roommate was staring at me. I didn't want to be that father. I have street cred to uphold. Another final hug. 
And I came home.
And I wept.
Forget my street cred.
I miss her. I love her.
She will always be my little baby.

I'm no parenting guru. I just laughed as I wrote that line. No, I'm stumbling and bumbling along but I'd love to share an ephiphany I learned not that long ago. Coming to this realization was incredibly painful but simultaneously, liberating. To be honest, it was the ultimate game-changer in my understanding as a parent seeking after the heart of God.

While there are many methods, tools, philosophies, and biblical principles to parenting, there is – in my opinion – only one purpose or destination.

Our purpose as parents is to eventually…release them. Send forth. For His glory. Met a friend and fellow pastor who I haven't seen in over 20 years. In him, I saw a glimpse of my future. While only 10 years older, his kids are married and he's now a grandfather of 3. His love for his wife and family were so evident and his passion for the Gospel has not wavered. It was so good to see someone a bit older still passionately serving the Lord with such joy and faithfulness. Lord, help me to keep running the race for your Glory. Happy wife.
Happy life. - Eugenius 3:16

I still remember that time, many years ago, when Minhee was pregnant with our first child. She had left her family and friends in Korea just two years before. Her morning sickness was horrible and when she finally had an appetite, she craved her favorite Korean food from certain restaurants in her neighborhood in Seoul, Korea. I had no way of getting that food from those restaurants so I actually said, "How about a Whopper? Big Mac?" Sorry honey. Eat away. You deserve it.

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