American Idols

In the last 24 hours, storms again pounded the midwestern United States and, while there were no deaths, people were injured and their homes were damaged and destroyed.  Last Sunday, the people of Joplin Missouri suffered a devastating tornado and are in need of almost everything you can think of.  Since yesterday morning, somewhere around 24,000 children have died to due poverty, disease and hunger.  In Iraq and Afghanistan, we still have young men and women serving and putting themselves in harm’s way.  With all this going on, what’s the big story on the local news here in Raleigh?  Scotty McCreery won American Idol last night.  Are you freakin’ kidding me?

Now, before you get all bent out of shape and yell at me for hatin’ on the hometown boy (Scotty is from Garner, a bedroom community of Raleigh), let me say that I have nothing but love for the guy.  From everything I’ve seen, he’s a fine young man who’s very talented and deserves all the accolades he’s been given.  My problem is not with Scotty, it’s with a culture that gets excited over mindless trivia and ignores the important stuff because it’s just too hard to deal with.  I’m mad at the local television stations because they push this inane crap day in and day out, all the while ignoring the plight of the people around them.  And, finally, I’m upset with us because we eat this garbage up and beg for more.

People are dying because they don’t have the basics needed to sustain life: food, water, shelter and medical care.  There are places in the world where people walk miles every day for drinking water that you and I wouldn’t have in our toilets.  On a good day, they subsist on food that wouldn’t amount to a decent snack for us because that’s all they have.  They die of simple diseases that we treat with over-the-counter remedies because there’s no medical care available.  Children are orphaned and descend into a hellish life of slavery and prostitution because that’s the only way they can survive.  That we waste time and money on pop culture trash like American Idol is obscene.  What’s even more obscene is that some these things are happening right here in our own backyard…, and we ignore it.

Why is it that local television stations can advertise and organize a “watching party” at the RBC Center that draws 8000 people, but they can’t donate some time and effort to worthy local causes like Love Wins or the United Methodist Church’s Race of Grace?  By the way if you’re interested, Love Wins is holding a fundraiser at Market Raleigh Restaurant (938 S. Blount St.) with 15% of all proceeds going to Hugh’s group.  Good food for a good cause, check it out.  Now, back to my rant.  Why is that 8000 people will go to a huge auditorium, get in all that traffic, spend money they say they don’t have just to do something they could for free in the comfort of their own home, yet getting a fraction of that many folks to show up for fund-raisers or mission work is like pulling teeth? 

I know we’re broken people, living in a broken world.  But, come on, y’all.  Eventually, you’ve to see what we’re doing isn’t right.  Spending tons of money of luxuries we don’t really need, while our brothers and sisters go without runs contrary to our call as Christians.  I think we all know that on some level and, rather than face that fact, we distract ourselves with trivialities like American Idol (or, if you’re like me, Top Gear and Comedy Central).    Is wallowing in self-indulgence while we ignore the poor the legacy American Christianity is going to leave future generations?  Please, God, I hope not.