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Monday, September 2, 2013
I turned on my computer last Monday, only to be bombarded with Facebook status updates about Miley Cyrus’ performance at MTV’s Video Music Awards. Although I probably should have known better, curiosity finally got the best of me, and I watched the event on YouTube.
Since then, the chatter on Facebook and Twitter has been fairly predictable: outrage, disappointment and/or sadness at a lewd display by a young woman and the potential influence this has on young girls who are growing up in a world that will too often value them only for their ability to be sexual.
As I ponder my own response to Miley Cyrus, I keep coming back to one question: Why should I care?
I don’t mean to sound too insensitive, because I actually do care (more on that in a bit). But, really. Haven’t we seen this particular train wreck before? Whatever we might lament, a whole lot of us (myself included) are talking about Miley Cyrus, when we weren’t before the show.
Is there anything more to the story than this? Between pop stars and reality TV, our culture has honed the fine art of creating celebrities who contribute virtually nothing to our society but their own celebrity. We feed that beast by our willingness to watch them for an hour on cable. And then, when our attention inevitably wanes, along comes the next shocking act to capture everyone’s attention again. And the cycle repeats.
The author of Ecclesiastes was way ahead of us on this one when he wrote:
What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
But I do care. In fact, I probably owe it to at least myself to write several blog entries just to clear up in my mind the number of ways I actually do care. For today, I’ll just pick one.
I care because we are outraged about the wrong things.
My congregation is situated between the downtown business and residential districts. Walk a few blocks in one direction, and you’ll find very nice restaurants, trendy condos and several high-quality music venues. Walk a few blocks in the other direction, and you’ll find a neighborhood coming back from the edge. Scattered among the recently remodeled houses are families still struggling with poverty. While the homes might appear to be in good condition on the outside, the inside is too often filled with rotting floors, cockroach-infested basements, children without enough to eat and a certain amount of crime.
Who is talking about these families and the children being raised there?
In a recent speech, Pope Francis noted that in some places, a 10-point drop in the stock market is considered a tragedy, but children starving to death in the street is no big deal.
Where is the outrage?
Jarrod McKenna, Jesus-follower and activist from Perth, Australia, writes on Facebook: “I’m trying to come to terms with a boy, only a little younger than my son, telling me about his bedroom door being kicked in at 2 a.m. by soldiers and serving 6 months in jail for throwing rocks at soldiers who killed people in his town. Meanwhile, everyone discusses Miley Cyrus. This, my friends, is what’s wrong with our culture.”
Where is the outrage?
Roanoke City Public Schools began the school year on Aug. 19 with 600 homeless students among the population. Who is posting to Facebook about these children?
We should never be shocked when a culture that thrives on consumer choice, sex and death gives us exactly these things. A close examination shows us that this is what has been promised all along.
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