Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I Wanted to Be Famous

Copyright © 2011 by Chris R. Glaser. All rights reserved.

I am 60 years old, and sometimes I fear I have done my last great thing. And Oprah never called.

I confess I wanted to be famous. Household-name famous. Not for something inconsequential, but famous for writing the great American novel, an award-winning play or screenplay, or a “must-read” spiritual treatise.

Apologies for contradicting my website’s promise that my posts would not be self-centered; but perhaps it’s inevitable that genuinely spiritual writing—perhaps all writing—comes always from the perspective of one’s self. Thus academic papers that began, “I write as a white, older, American male, etc.” became fashionable.

Yet I make my confession about wanting to be famous because I believe that many share this experience of having been infected to varying degrees with a hunger for celebrity. Many of us want to stand out from the crowd, or at least, in our field.

Reading a recent article about Lady Gaga, however, I felt exhausted just learning about her busy, frenetic schedule. I act the part of the extrovert well, but afterward I am exhausted, and need some down time away from the crowd.

And I would not like to be under the scrutiny of the media, which often plays the harsh, judgmental, unforgiving, and omnipresent “god” of our time. I don’t even like to be the subject of local gossip.

In my morning prayer yesterday, I reflected on all the other things I wanted from life. I wanted to love and be loved, and that’s happened. I wanted to write, and I have. I wanted respect, and often I have had that, though sometimes I let out a Rodney Dangerfield grumble. I wanted to do ministry, and even my non-ordination made that possible. I didn’t want to struggle financially—well, that’s another post for another time!

Last week, my neighbor Jose gave me Andrew Greeley’s autobiography. Greeley has achieved fame as an author and is also a Roman Catholic priest. A New York Times writer is quoted, saying of him, “His parish is in his mailbox.” These days it’s probably in his e-mail box as well. As a writer, that’s where my parish has been, for the most part, and on the phone and Facebook.

I don’t really think a “contemplative” blog like mine can make me famous, though I’d love to be proven wrong! The reason I write this is to cheer on a “congregation” again, one that is wholly voluntary and so far, conflict-free.

Chris Glaser’s next workshop will be held at First MCC Atlanta, Saturday, June 11, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., free of charge with lunch included: “Sex Talk: The Interface of Sexuality and Spirituality.” His books will be available for purchase.


  1. This post really resonates with me. I am more than a decade older than you are, Chris. I never exactly wanted to be famous, but I definitely wanted to be "Significant". Shortly after completing grad school with a MS in Chemistry (not really a path towards fame, I guess) I was involved in a rollover car crash from which I emerged with only minor injuries. I thought at the time this meant I'd been preserved to accomplish "something important". Now, over 40 years later, I still sometimes wonder about that perception.

    I did want to make a follow-up comment on the workshop scheduled at FMCC. In a sense, this is part of my dream. In the last few years I've had the feeling that one of the things I'm called to do is to bridge the gap between the extreme phobia and misinformation the community at large has about sexuality (not just homosexuality!) and the gifts of understanding that gay theology is beginning to develop. I hope that people who are really, really concerned with this as I am will join the dialog.

  2. Frankly I'm surprised you're not (more) famous, and it's endearing to know you feel the same way. Celebrity is a strange, often arbitrary thing. But I'm glad you're not famous for going postal at the Presbyterian General Assembly some year, or for a sex scandal or even for sending your child up in the air in a hot air balloon.

    You haven't chased the cameras with the same dedication as you have ministered to your community, Chris. It's as simple as that, perhaps.

    But keep plugging away. Maybe you'll strike gold as that really old Christian gay guy. Wait, are Troy and Malcolm still alive...? Hmm. Keep thinking.

  3. I'm surprised you're not more famous, too, Chris, just as Mark wrote. I love this article! I always wanted to be famous, too. While I got the slightest taste of it in the eighties (thank you Tammy Faye and Jane Pauley), I learned that "fame" did not solve any of my problems as I thought it would. Maybe if I'd been as famous as Cher or Angelina. But wait...they've had heir problem, too

    1. You WERE famous, and still are to your friends and colleagues, which is what counts in the final analysis. And of course, we're ALL famous to God, most importantly!Thanks as always for your comment and for your steadfast love!