Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sideline Society

OK, so I'm hearing and seeing all this news about a family in collapse and I'm wondering what makes it so different from any other family that melts down. I mean, I understand that they have 8 kids. But, some High School friends of mine were from a family of 10 and their parents seemed to do OK. I get the fact that they've had cameras shoved in their faces for the past several years. But whose fault is that? I understand that trying to raise that large of a family, especially when they are all mostly the same age (and young) has got to be a strain. But what merits the media coverage Jon and Kate are getting today?

Especially when there is flaring unrest in Iran. Not to mention a fatal train crash in DC. I guess I just don't get it. Why do we, as a country, seem to be so fixated on watching other people experience life while we sit insulated and isolated in our sealed-up homes? I'll admit that there are several shows that we have our DVR programmed to record. I don't miss them. I'll stay up late to make sure I see how one episode ends so that I won't be confused next week. So, I guess I'm as guilty as everyone else.

But, the question still stands. Why do we do it? Wouldn't life be more interesting if we'd just get off our backsides and live it? What could I do if instead of watching Alaskan crab fishing for an hour, I went out for a run with my dog? What could I accomplish if, instead of watching one of umpteen different shows about Crime Scene Investigation or Naval Criminal... I was working on one of the book ideas that is crowding my head, or simply sitting down and playing a game with my kids?

What makes us so voyeuristic?

I wish I had an answer. But I think it's the same thing that causes us to go to church and learn about God when we could be out experiencing God in the world. Don't get me wrong, I'm all in favor of going to church. Heck, my livelihood depends on it remaining an important part of many people's lives. But, all-to-often, it stops at church. Our impact never reaches beyond our own front doors. Our faith doesn't seep into the majority of our lives, but rather sits in it's isolated Sunday and Wednesday pockets, which are hermetically sealed against contaminating the rest of the world.

We hold God, like reality TV stars, at arms length. We enjoy watching what's going on, but are afraid of what the bright lights of attention might expose in our lives. It happened to one TV family. Why couldn't, why wouldn't it happen to us?

I pray that something good will come out of the tragedy that has gripped the headlines today. Maybe someone will realize that kids don't fix the holes in our lives, nor do our spouses. The only way to fill those holes, that emptiness, is to confront the brokenness in each of us. I believe that there exists in each of us a "true self" (if you will.) A true self that is the image of God. An image in which each one of us comes into being. Only when we begin to understand that we don't find some magical Garden of Eden that exists outside of ourselves, but rather a mystical, still, small voice that calls to us to encounter God in all our nakedness and brokenness.

My wife does not complete me, nor do my children, nor do my athletic endeavours, nor my job. I am only complete when I find myself, broken, incomplete and vulnerable: and yet loved by God. In the mean time, I believe I'll chose to live my life: not as a voyeur but as an active participant. I probably won't ever make the national headlines. Frankly, I'm OK with that...

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