NPR Doesn’t Get It

NPR Doesn’t Get It November 11, 2016


I just took that NPR “How Big Is Your Bubble” Quiz and according to them, I live in a thick and impenetrable bubble. Thanks NPR.

No really, I have some things to say about the quiz, and then I really have to take a break from politics, at least for the weekend, or we are all going to die. And to the person who tried to leave a stream of profanity on my blog–sorry honey, you might want to go see a pastor or a therapist or something. If you feel like you’re coming unglued leave a prayer request in the comments and I’ll pray for you. And of course I mean that in the most offensive and patronizing way possible. [thats a joke, praying for people is not patronizing] Where was I?

Oh yes, the NPR quiz–definitely made up by a bunch of young ‘uns in an office, trying to put together a list of what they “think” constitutes knowledge of middle America. It largely fell into the realm of pop culture and even included a list of movies and tv shows, and restaurants, that you have seen, binged on, or visited in the last year. To which I say, if you think that puts you in touch with Merica, as viewed from the citadels of micro-aggressed privilege, you’re not really getting it. The quiz itself betrays why the left doesn’t understand this election.

Think of it this way. We know that Applebee’s is for the Pooooour because of Talladega Nights. We know that NASCAR is low-class and what a funny movie. And so there you are. If you want to classify yourself among the low class, you better get yourself over to Denny’s because that’s one of the signifiers, the markers, of class and culture.

Except I know some people who can’t afford to go to Denny’s. I spent five minutes commiserating with a tired, exhausted, seventy year old woman who has to go back to work full time to support her two grandchildren and her daughter who can’t get off heroine. She probably didn’t vote, who knows. She’s really tired. But also, she is a person. She was easy to talk to. I didn’t have to make a big deal about my college education while I was talking to her and she didn’t have to try to let me know that I don’t understand her life. We wanted to figure out how her two grandchildren could sometimes come into my Atrium to learn about Jesus, because life is so busy and she is so worn out. We, and I want to say this slowly and loudly because I think it might be useful, JUST TALKED. TO EACH OTHER. That was it. The fact that I talked to her doesn’t make me into some kind of great Saint. Neither her with me. We are two ordinary people who live in the same community, at different economic levels, and perhaps with different priorities, but we can talk and commiserate with each other.

One thing that knocked me back, though, was taking her to little grandchildren into my Atrium and sitting with the Last Super material, just for five minutes, and lighting the tiny candles and asking, “what do you know about Jesus?” and having the little girl say, “he died for me and he lives in my heart.” Her big eyes were hungry, desperate, not for the cake and soup outside, but for more about Jesus. She was the one who drug me to talk to her grandmother, who wanted us to figure out how she could come back.

What is really ticking me off, this whole election cycle, and all the ones leading up to it, is that because of the Internet, we don’t get to be individual people who have souls and who make decisions one way or another. We have become voting blocks, constituencies, cut apart by race and class and religion and gender like so many deconstructed ingredients on a tasteless and unaffordable plate. You examine them one by one and come away not even knowing what they are. Is that seaweed? With ketchup? What is that red stuff?

But that’s not how human people are. We live and move and function in all different realms. And, being actual individual people, we relate to other individuals. And each relationship is complex, nuanced. And at the base of it, the very roots, the bottom of the well, we are all in desperate need. The rich, the poor, the black, the white, the brown, the gray-faced weeping, the exultant, the uncaring, the obsessed–each and everyone needs to turn to the one whose body, as I say to the little ones in my Atrium, broke open, whose blood spilled down because he wanted you to be able to live with him forever. Are you in the dark? Does the darkness scare you? He is the Light that can never be put out. Are you thirsty? He is the Water that quenches the most profound thirst. Are you hungry? He is the Bread. Are you afraid? He is the Shepherd who calls your name and keeps you safe forever. No election, no amount of money, no human solution can rescue your soul from death. But he wanted to, and was able, and so look at what a beautiful thing he did, and listen to the beautiful words that he said, and be satisfied with him. And so many whisper the words and their eyes shine in the small light and they go out refreshed, able to deal, wanting to come back.

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