Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Adventures in Missing the Point

Each week I receive student ministry articles via e-mail. There's a section at the bottom called "Stranger Than Fiction" that always interests me. This week's was equally intriguing...and more than a little infuriating.

Stranger than Fiction
Dissin' Jesus at the Emmys - On September 8, Kathy Griffin, a bawdy, foulmouthed comedian, accepted an Emmy Award for her reality show, My Life on the D-List, and in her acceptance speech she explained that while other actors might thank Jesus for such an honor, she wouldn't consider it. "Suck it, Jesus," she exuberantly added, waving her statuette in the air. "This award is my God, now." Outrage from Christian groups followed, and newspapers reported that E! Television would scrub the speech before airing it the following weekend, which triggered an equal and opposite outcry from liberal groups accusing E! of censorship. When the awards show aired the next weekend, edited but not completely airbrushed, a small Christian theater company based in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, took out two full-page ads in USA Today at $90,000 a pop, decrying Griffin's remarks and pleading for a new civility. Griffin, meanwhile, went on Larry King, who played the unedited clip and ignited the entire thing all over again.(Newsweek, October 1)

This made me angry. Not for the reasons you would expect (Unless you're familiar with my post about Imus.). I can't say that I agree with what Griffin said. I believe it was in bad taste and completely unnecessary. On Larry King, she refused to apologize or back down. However, she readily admitted that it was a joke. While it was a deplorable "joke" (if that is what it was), was it any worse than those who do choose to thank Jesus and turn around and deny him by their lifestyle, their career choices, and their actions? That's another blog...

What really upset me about this article was the price-tag on the two full-page ads that the Christian group took out in USA Today. $180,000? Come on! Was that good stewardship? Do we honestly think Jesus is applauding these people for "defending" Him? It is hard for me to picture a whole boardroom of people who thought it was a good idea to spend such an exorbitant amount of money on a useless add that few will read and even fewer will respond to positively. It is a poor representation of the Gospel we say we believe.

People are not alarmed when Christians get angry and protest things. This is just an opportunity for a world of lost people to roll their eyes at us again. "Here we go again...another Christian rant. Those people are always mad about something?" Is that how we want to be perceived? More importantly, are we really representing Jesus well when we do things like this?

Jesus doesn't need us to defend him. He calls on us to love him. And he takes it one further and also asks us to love our neighbors while we are at it. Who are those people? The poor. The weak. The girl or boy next door. And even the difficult ones that say things that offend us.

I am not saying Kathy Griffin was right. I've already said that I think what she said was in bad taste. I am not calling on Christians to support what she said or condone it. But no two page spread in a magazine is going to convince her that Jesus loves her and longs for her. I am doubting it will do that for anyone. Perhaps it made them feel better to make a statement against her and plead for "a new civility," but it did little or nothing to advance the Gospel.

How about using that money to feed the hungry in our backyards (and all over the world, for that matter). I don't know much about that area of Tennessee, but I am guessing it is a safe bet that there are people right there in Pigeon Forge who are hungry - physically and spiritually. How about spending that money to reach out to them and say to them with our actions that there's a God who loves them? That is the kind of "response" that causes people to take notice...

I have much more to say about all of this, but I'm more curious as to what your response is to this scenario. Agree? Disagree? I welcome your thoughts on this. I don't have it all figured out myself, I just know that my gut instinct tells me this was poor stewardship on the part of the church and a poor representation of the God we say we love.

A quote I love that I believe speaks to this (especially the last sentence)...

"You know, we say we are followers of Jesus Christ, and yet I fear that we crave a life almost in opposition to the one he lived. We want what's easy; he chose what's hard. We want life for ourselves; he chose to give his life for others. We want approval for our own deeds; he chose to do the deeds of his father in heaven. We seek the condemnation of others who are not life us; he wants to redeem us all." - Stan Gaede

4 comments:

Katie Swisher said...

Wow Julie...I didn't even hear about this until I read your blog. I'm disturbed, but not entirely surprised.

I love Kathy Griffin - I think she's funny, and her irreverance is part about what I like about her. Am I going to hell for loving her? No. Anyway...what she said is pretty crude to Christians, but that's Kathy Griffin. Whether she meant it or not is a matter for she and her soul to deal with.

I totally agree with you though...this Christian company could definitely have spent that $180,000 in better ways. It doesn't surprise me that they didn't though...I guess that's what is sad. If only awesome people like you and me ruled the world...(sigh) :)

Jackson said...

I totally agree Julie. The fact that Christian groups would spend this enormous amount of money demonstrates how out of whack much of the church's priorities are right now. That they'd rather combat one person's comment in poor taste than help the cause of world hunger or fund missions projects (or any number of good projects) displays a misunderstanding of our calling as Christians. But the reason that we as Christians (I include myself) so often stand up for things like this is that they are easy. We can stand back, pay some money and take a right stand without getting our hands dirty or sacrificing much of ourselves. To enter into the homeless or poverty situation is much more dicy and will demand much more of us than a couple of meaningless ads. Therefore, we chose the ad and stay away from the homeless. And so the world, who has already forgotten what Kathy Griffin said, goes on seeing a hurting world and much of the church paralyzed to do anything about it.

Julie said...

Katie: Ah, yes...if you and I ran the world it would be perfect. And much more fun. ;)

Jackson: Well said and very convicting. While I am sure I would think twice about spending $180,000 on anything (much less, an ad to say what is already obvious and not the least helpful), my name could easily appear alongside the people who did. I seldom do what is hard to extend the love of God to others. It IS messy and much more difficult, but what we are called to do nonetheless. And why do we find it so impossible in light of the crucifixion? That's a question for the ages...

Cindy said...

There is nothing to add except Amen and well said. :)