Friday, January 21, 2011

"I AM the Dorito of Life"

I learned of this video on Brannon Hancock's Facebook page.

The premise is troubling, but I don't blame Doritos or Pepsi.  Why would we expect any less from corporations for whom the bottom line is their bottom line?  Besides, it's pretty much the image of many evangelical churches and institutions: do whatever we can to get people in the building (free cable, anyone?).  Conversely, it's the image of evangelicals themselves: I'm going to go wherever "I'm fed" and to whomever will entertain me the most.  We are indeed consumers.
Jesus said to them, ‘For real, people, I'm telling you, you are searching for me, not because you want something great to happen in your life, but because you want me to fill your bellies. (John 6:26, JDSV)
And while food & drink is indeed a foundational image that Jesus used heavily, the one depicted here and in much of the evangelical church's emphasis on "more" is far from the picture Jesus gives us in John 6, just after having filled the bellies of some five thousand people on a hillside (feel free to read the whole chapter for context).  While "feeding the flock" is indeed our job, the bread and the cup that Christ offers, and thus the Church should offer, is one that is otherwise difficult to accept:
So Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live for ever.’
When many of his disciples heard it, they said, ‘This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?’  (John 6:52-60, NRSV)
Doritos and Pepsi are easy to consume.  So is "Jesus will make your life just swell."  But it's hardly the message of the good news.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Different Perspective on Haiti

So it's been one year since Haiti's devastating earthquake.  Since then, storms and outbreaks of cholera have heaped more hell upon Haiti.  The picture below is not from just after the earthquake.  It's from this past Sunday.

(Copyright REUTERS/Jorge Silva)

I heard Tony Campolo say similar things when he was at ENC a few months ago as he does in the article below.  I don't always agree with him and I don't completely understand every aspect of the article, but the general notion is right on.  This is a different take from Tony than many of you might be used to:
Making Matters Worse in Haiti

Similarly, I remember a gentleman from Africa standing at the WC Leadership Summit a couple of years ago and bluntly saying, "We don't need your aid.  We need your trade."*

This isn't simply responding to one's personal worry about people spending our money well, but doing all that we can to enter into another's situation to take upon ourselves their need.

I never refuse an opportunity to propose that there is a difference between charity and compassion.  Most of what happens in response to these situations (Haiti, Katrina, etc.) is charity.  Rarely is it compassion.  Charity can serve compassion, but compassion is literally "suffering with" that many people either don't realize, or at least hide from behind the giving of finances.  I propose that compassion is only partially capable of happening through the giving of resources (namely money) and/or a spending a week somewhere.  And if it's in the pattern of Christ, compassion will move to the incarnational (apologies to Dave G.!), that "suffers with" in order to "lift up." (Philippians 2)

We might even say that an God was charitable prior to Christ, but that in Christ God shows compassion.  No longer does God act by proxy...sending divine messengers and messages, and "fixing" situations from a distance.  Rather, God in Christ enters into our situation to take upon Godself the situation in which we live, that we might conquer it together and be lifted up.  By no means do I think we should stop giving money to charitable organizations.  I believe that love can be practiced and that this is a great practice (not unlike beginner piano lessons).  But the money we give out of charity stops short of compassion.  It is simply a proxy.

*This is why I personally think that "giving" $20 to Kiva is money better used than $20 to other organizations.