Thirty years ago, fast living, drugs and heart disease buried quintessential entertainment icon, Elvis Presley. Ever since, admirers have tried in vain to recapture the heart-palpitating moments they experienced when the King of Rock and Roll was alive.
Devoted fans drag him out of the grave via trashy memorabilia, movies, CDs, postage stamps, tattoos and Elvis impersonators. Just yesterday, -after years of snubbing the impersonation concept, Elvis Presley's estate capitulated and held a contest to find the “Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist.”
To commemorate this week’s 30th anniversary of his death, Elvis’s only child, Lisa Marie who was nine when he died, recorded a posthumous twosome with her father. She laid down vocals over her father's original 1969 classic “In the Ghetto."
Supposed Elvis sightings energize Elvis apostles who hope that perhaps, just perhaps, the coroner was wrong and their idol is alive somewhere in secret.
“I would give anything to be able to go back in time and see him live on stage,” said internet writer identified simply as “Adrian from the UK” in 2002 on the 25th anniversary postmortem.
Maybe you will see him again - live. But Adrian, fast-forward mentally rather than back. If the theology of Elvis Presley’s confessed faith is real, Elvis lives. He’s just playing a better venue - Paradise.
Fundamentalist Baptist writer Davis Cloud disagrees and thinks hell is home to Elvis due to Elvis’s hedonistic life of sex and drug use.
“Elvis was a fornicator and adulterer…Elvis’s music was reflective of his lifestyle: sensual and licentious…He abused barbiturates and narcotics so heavily that he destroyed himself,” writes Cloud. “Elvis prayed a lot in his last days, asking God for forgiveness, but the evidence points to a Judas type of remorse instead of godly repentance.”
That’s a rigid verdict by one who never counseled Elvis personally. After all, Scripture reminds us that faith, not works, is the ticket to Glory.
“I believe in the Bible…all good things come from God,” Elvis said. The only three Grammy Awards he ever won were for gospel music. In the last year of his life, though bloated and wasted from unrestrained excess, he sang more Gospel songs and often read from the Bible while on stage.
“Somewhere, beyond all the dazzling lights and the flashy capes and the limousines and the throngs of screaming fans, his mind and heart returned again and again to the simple [Christian] tenets taught to him at an early age by his mother,” says Joe Moscheo, in his new book, “The Gospel Side of Elvis.” Moscheo, a former member of the Imperials, began in studios with Elvis in 1967, later sang back-up at concerts and remained friends until Elvis’s death.
Elvis’s favorite hymn, “How Great Thou Art,” became his vehicle to unwind in the early morning after Las Vegas shows. He prompted his entourage repeatedly to sing the verses until he decompressed.
“I could see him going into preaching because that's something he really actually wanted to do from a very young age,” said Elvis’s former wife Priscilla. So deep was his faith, she believes, that had he escaped his addictions and career demands, he would have eventually quit showbiz to become a preacher.
When concert fans called out, "Elvis you're the King!" he would reply, "No honey, there is only one King and that is Jesus Christ, I’m just an entertainer."
So perhaps Elvis lives. If we are heaven-bound and Elvis went up, not down, we can garage-sale the Elvis memorabilia.
Once beyond the veil, our rapt attention will on the Redeemer. But a sweet bonus could be standing off to the side; a Tennessee country-boy, restored in body, soul and voice, singing back-up with his favorite hymn, “Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee, how great Thou art…”
Byte: "He who believes in me will live, even though he dies;
and whoever lives and believes in me will never die." John 11:25
© 2007 - Ellen Makkai - All Rights Reserved
are used strictly for NWVs alerts, not for sale
From 1985 to 2002, Ellen Brewster (Makkai) wrote for several major metropolitan editorial pages, a well-known website, Creator's Syndicate and a national Christian publication. Her columns provided a counterpoint to the vast majority of secular writers who frequently discount or insult the faith community. The small feature, "Bible Byte," offset daily horoscopes in one local newspaper.
“I believe in the Bible…all good things come from God,” Elvis said. The only three Grammy Awards he ever won were for gospel music.