Real Housewives and Food Challenges

Real Housewives and Food Challenges August 18, 2011

There are very few things in the world that are black and white to me. Wherein I am comfortable saying “this is ALWAYS right,” or “this is NEVER ok.”

For instance, I am a pretty steady liberal on most things, but I don’t have a clear line on abortion. I take issue with both sides of the aisle on this one, and it is just a difficult, painful truth of our society. I guess you could say i’m of the “Safe, legal, and rare” school, all the while knowing that “legal” means, really, you can’t control who uses it to what end. But a clear right or wrong, or who has sinned here? Nope. I don’t get it.

Capital punishment. Again, there are cases in which i say, really, what else could you do with a person who committed a crime so heinous? At the same time, at my sacred, theological core, i feel that God is the boss of all that and not us. And for good reason.

On a lighter note–television for kids. Does too much make them stupid and hyper-active? Absolutely. Will a few cartoons in the afternoon or some morning time with Elmo ultimately stunt their creative prowess or their connective ability? I don’t buy it. Elmo lets me drink my coffee most days, and for that, I will go to bat for him any day of the week.

So you see, on many hot-button issues, I can see both sides of rhetoric. I am comfortable with my own powers of discernment to navigate the tricky issues of the world. I know to whom I can talk about what, and in what circles i might best remain silent.

Furthermore, you’ll rarely hear me preach on sin or God’s judgment. I figure one person’s sin is another person’s healthy moderation, and nothing in scripture will help me distinguish one from the other. That’s not my job.

HOWEVER; watching a commercial for a “Man vs. Food Nation” Marathon in conjunction with coverage of the famine ravaging Somalia makes me think, without missing a beat of the [bleeding liberal] heart–sinful. Shameful. Excess. Offensive.

Bible-thumping, pulpit rattling, sin-preaching preachers are missing out on a lot of great material here. However, I don’t think i need to preach much of a sermon. Either you don’t see it and won’t see it, or you agree and are shaking your head in disgust already. If the latter is true for you, you probably also sigh and die a little, everytime a new “Housewives of Wherever” comes out, revealing another level of excess and entitlement toward which Americans should strive. Every time an idol or icon appears on tv, lamenting the fate of starving children everywhere while sporting a $4,000 designer bag and making our youth think that is the life they should aim for.

It doesn’t add up, does it? By and large, we are an enormously compassionate and generous nation. And yet, the television that we watch is not all Elmo learning to share. It feeds a deeply hurtful, selfish and inwardly focused culture–from competitive eating to famous heiresses who are famous for being famous, right down to our political discourse on C-SPAN. It is a sickness, and it is sinful.

Maybe i don’t preach on this stuff often because I haven’t exactly taken a vow of poverty either. I live a life of comfort-not just relative comfort, but comfort. Even if my husband or I lost a job, we would still be pretty comfortable on a single income. We have options in any given tight spot, we have places to go and people who love us, and we have–i’m gonna go all patriotic for a minute–freedom. And however lefty liberal i may be, I do not take that for granted.

What I’d like to see are some reality shows about humanitarian aid workers trying to get past terrorist cells with life-saving food and water. We could call it “Man Vs. Al Shabaab.” Or “The Real Housewives of Somalia.” But i don’t reckon that would rate very high with viewers. If it would, CNN would have abandoned the story of the American dollar long ago and devoted all that air time to starving people.

Do we reflect what we see on TV? Or does the programming schedule reflect our own values? It is a scary prospect either way, pointing to some deeply depressing realities.

I’m not gonna lie. I’m going to watch Project Runway tonight, and then I’m going to think about what I’m wearing tomorrow. But in the meantime, I’m going to take what might be my Starbucks money or my new purse money, and give just a little to the suffering places that, most days, we can’t bear to watch. If you’d like to do the same, travel to and say  a little prayer for the very real wives–and husbands, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters of the world–who have never heard of a food challenge, but live in one all the same.

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