A large number of people, young and old, are extremely devoted to celebrities such as Bono, Britney, Demi, or Brad and Angelina. With the decline of mainline Protestantism and other religious affiliations, these pop figures have become the gods or guiding lights of fans who read all they can about them, become members of fan clubs, and follow their every move. Peter Ward, the author of this thought-provoking work, is a a Senior Lecturer in Youth Ministry and Theological Education at King's College, London. Although eschewing the idea that celebrity culture has become a religion, he does describe it as a "para-religion."

Ward looks at celebrity worship in his discussions of the deaths of Michael Jackson, Heath Ledger, Princess Diana, and others. He goes on to examine the role of the media in keeping attention focused on pop icons ranging from Bruce Springsteen to Paris Hilton. Ward quotes Wade Roof who sees the media as creating "spiritual carnivores" who are hungry for new experiences. Of course behind all the hype is consumerism. Celebrities, after all, are salespeople pushing products like everyone else on television and the other commercial media.

Ward hits the target when he says "the worship of celebrity is the worship of the self writ large, (and) celebrity culture is a key element in the media-generated religious environment that stimulates and supports notions of the expansive self." Pop culture presents a changing pantheon of film, musical, or sports stars who are viewed as gods, saints, and demigods. These superstars often fall, and we wait for them to redeem themselves by turning their lives around. Perhaps one of the things that makes them so appealing is that many of them look "forever young" due to plastic surgery, rigorous body work, and repeated diets. That is a miracle that many fans would like to have happen in their own lives. But, alas, only a few lucky ones are called to fame and wealth and eternal youth.