03 June 2009

exposé plus 10

Over the past few weeks my wife has been home on maternity leave, while we welcome in our daughter who was born on May 1. Something which I have noticed from having a newborn around the house is the amount of time sitting and holding. And this leaves not much opportunity to do other things. So inevitably you find yourself planted in front of the television until you are directed to somewhere else by this tiny person who is controlling your house.

My wife ran into a marathon of Jon and Kate Plus 8 - the ongoing documentary style program of a family with 8-year-old twins and 5-year-old sextuplets. This family has reached the point of superstardom in the evangelical subculture of North America, and has gained much attention from other media as well. But their lives have been nothing like the last few weeks, with allegations that (both) Jon and Kate were cheating on each other and that their family is a shame and quickly heading to disaster. I have no idea what their family situation is like, I only have seen what the producers want the public to see in thirty minute segments designed to get an audience. And, frankly, that should put a lid on all of the criticism and condemnation - not to mention the acclamation and adoration - which has been thrust upon them.

Julie Vermeer Elliott has posted a very interesting article which provides a similar perspective at Christianity Today. The issues which she raises point more toward the evangelical subculture than the Gosselin family. As well they should. For too long Christians have allowed their morals and values to be shaped by things which are popular and passive rather than spiritual and demanding. Television is the last place where we should be looking for examples of ethics and morality. Yet that is what we have done, and now many people are left scratching their heads, vainly tuning in for comfort, and disillusioned by the inevitable.

One could charge the Gosselins with the axiom: this is what they chose for themselves. Yes, it is. But for evangelicals, this is what we have chosen for ourselves - to allow a televised family to be the shining example of morality rather than asserting the Word of God as the full revelation of redemption. The gospel only fails when God's people fail to live it. So, let the chips fall where they may with the Gosselins - I am not writing this to make judgments about them or their choices. We do not have adequate information to judge their behavior, especially when our information is packaged to appease and attract. Rather, this is an exposé of the condition of the evangelical church . . . a sad reality indeed.


Julie said...

Michael --

This is Julie Vermeer Elliott, the author of the article you reference here. I just want to thank you for your reflections on it. It was indeed meant to be a critique of evangelical culture, not a personal attack on this family. I'm glad you got that and expounded on it. You have a great blog!

:mic said...

How cool is that?!? An actual writer made the remark that this blog is "great" and left a comment.

Thank you, Julie, for your article and for your positive feedback here.