Eugene Cho

sex, gossip, and entertainment sells but…

Sex, gossip, and entertainment sells but stuff like compassion and justice often seems like a hard sell. Feels like pushing a big boulder up a big hill. Even on this blog, I’m often disappointed at the lack of response to posts that aren’t “pop [christian] culture.”

Sometimes, I wonder if one of the reasons why certain topics don’t get addressed from the pulpit isn’t because of the lack of awareness of important issues but actually the awareness of the lack of response from the congregants which translates into lower attendance and lower income.

I know. Too simplistic and too cynical but worth thinking about.

Someone sent me this poignant drawing last week (via San Diego Union Tribune) steve breen…in response to the frenzy of media attention surrounding “the boy who flew away in a homemade balloon.”  It pretty much proves my point.

What do you think?

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17 Responses

  1. Hi Eugene, I think you raise some excellent points here. Often, speakers and communicators are afriad to address real issues because it is too close to the bone, and substitute in with pithy pseudo-funny stories that have little or no bearing on the life of Christ. Now don’t get me wrong, I am all for effective and engaging communication, but please let’s not shy away from the issues. People, PEOPLE are being bought and sold much like the groceries we have in our cupboards. We are often more concerned about plants dying than humans. More concerned about beauty than life, not realising that life is the essence of beauty.

  2. Esther says:

    Thank you for the challenge! When I step back and am honest with myself I see that more often than not I get more involved with discussions about, for example, women in the church or virtual church and I shy away from really engaging with discussions on how to meet the needs of others. My initial thought is this is because the needs of the poor throughout the world feel so distant from my everyday life so it’s easy to not even be pressed to think about them. But on deeper reflection I think in all honesty I care more for myself than others so I really only take an interest in what I want and not what God wants me caring about.

  3. Esther says:

    Thank you for the challenge! When I step back and am honest with myself I see that more often than not I get more involved with discussions about, for example, women in the church or virtual church and I shy away from really engaging with discussions on how to meet the needs of others. My initial thought is this is because the needs of the poor throughout the world feel so distant from my everyday life so it’s easy to not even be pressed to think about them. But on deeper reflection I think in all honesty I care more for myself than others so I really only take an interest in what I want and not what God wants me caring about.
    P.S. – Sorry, forgot to tell you great post!

  4. Arianna Huffington wrote a blog post not too long ago suggesting that perhaps we should put all children in need in balloons, and then the world will notice.

  5. Tony Lin says:

    Regarding the lack of teaching on the topic from the pulpit, you have to read Passing the Plate: Why Americans Don’t Give Away More Money by Christian Smith and Michael Emerson (Authors of Divided by Faith) with Patricia Snell. Quite convicting book.

  6. Travis McKee says:

    i think the problem is that you have to educate many people on what the problem IS first. I don’t think that enough people want to realize what is happening elsewhere, or what the true (non-balloon) problems are. Even in our own back yards, we have much more to be concerned with than celebrities or CNN.

  7. […] sex, gossip, and entertainment sells but… « eugene cho eugenecho.wordpress.com/2009/10/28/sex-gossip-and-entertainment-sells-but – view page – cached Sex, gossip, and entertainment sells but stuff like compassion and justice often seems like a hard sell. Feels like pushing a big boulder up a big hill. Even on this blog, I’m often disappointed at… (Read more)Sex, gossip, and entertainment sells but stuff like compassion and justice often seems like a hard sell. Feels like pushing a big boulder up a big hill. Even on this blog, I’m often disappointed at the lack of response to posts that aren’t “pop [christian] culture.” (Read less) — From the page […]

  8. David Greco says:

    do you think a lack of posts on a blog about social injustice has more to do with the fact that people agree and have nothing to add (except for maybe a quick “amen”)? or perhaps it’s that readers just plain don’t know what to say to something like, “1.4 billion people live on less than $1.25 a day.” hopefully the response is one of doing and not so much one of speaking (or typing).

  9. Kay says:

    Hi PE,

    Did you happen to read the column written by Bob Herbert in yesterday’s NY Times?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/27/opinion/27herbert.html

    He’s really talking about our society’s passive voyeuristic position with respect to all that’s going on in the world. Anyway, I think it’s a call to activism with a heart of compassion in a way…

  10. Erick says:

    Thanks for sharing your frustration about this stuff, Eugene. Lately, I have found myself so sad and angry about things like this and quite honestly I have not handled my frustration very well. I am praying more, because I just feel lost in all of this sometimes.

    The youth I work with are passionate about helping those with little or nothing at all, they are incredibly inspiring to me and I hope that their excitement continues to spread to others around them.

  11. danderson says:

    My guess is that abortion is often not talked about in certain churches, either. I think we have to be careful in making sermons agenda driven versus being faithful to God’s word, no matter if it has to do with world hunger or being consistently pro-life ala Psalm 139. This false dichotomy might make for great media stories about how extreme some pro-lifers might be, versus those “do-gooders” who want to make sure they get the media’s attention on hunger and poverty issues. Just my two cents…

  12. your friend says:

    We have become a society of SPECTATORS. It is easy to see pictures in the papers and on TV, we are bombarded with them, and we do not feel part of them, since they are out there, so we just stay onlookers.

    Words have become cheap (due to mass media). Pictures still speak volumes, but often not to our hearts, it stays in our discussion.

    As soon as I lived with the poor in Africa, it all changed. They became my friends, my family, my people. I forgot that I looked different. And they felt my heart was with them.

  13. Bill Harper says:

    As another preacher who has to find the “right” words to say every Sunday, I too find myself “editing” the content based on my own intuitions about how it will be received. I am more inclined to preaching as pastoral care, and less inclined to prophetic preaching. And I worry about my own hypocrisy. And yet, there is truth to be told. And then action to take. Thank you for reminding me.

  14. chad m says:

    i confess, i am one who knows of all the injustice, but feels at a loss as to how to tackle all the things i know about. i love awareness and having a “social conscience”, but i need help on the action part. i am great at serving in some areas, but can’t figure out how to tackle these major issues of social, systemic, and political injustice.

    throw me a frickin’ bone!

  15. Cindy says:

    Eugene, I just read in Kristof’s Half the Sky about a psychology research conducted where two groups of people were asked to donate to a certain cause. One group was told the money would go to save the life of one person, the other was told the money would save the lives of eight people. The first group contributed twice the amount of the latter. People are compelled by individual stories. I believe God calls us to be the voice for the voiceless, to enable the poor to tell their stories and broadcast them to the world. Press on and don’t be discouraged!

  16. Eugene Cho says:

    @david greco: thx for the comment. certainly can be the case. my statement was based on the stats i check out every now and then. the disparity between “reads” on posts are often 10 to 1.

  17. I’m with Cindy on this one. We help people that we can identify with because personalized stories generate actual emotions. And humans only act on emotions.

    The reason we don’t help the “millions of starving people” is because that phrase doesn’t generate any empathy, joy, love, hope, etc. Abstract numbers and intellectual cases can convince someone that “it would be good” to help but don’t actually connect to a person’s heart. Most folks who hear the statistics over and over feel despair, fear, or anger and want to help just enough to stop being exposed to the problem (i.e. to make the fear, despair, etc. go away).

    In my experience the only way to motivate someone to help when they aren’t emotionally engaged is to either appeal to their self-righteousness or subtly threaten them with the fear of being unrighteous should they not make some sacrifice. This is the ugly (but useful) underbelly of morality.

    This is why marketing is so crucial. And why short-term trips overseas have dramatic effects on the rest of a person’s life in respects to addressing global issues.

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The answer to who you serve makes all the difference... It's the day after International Women's Day - and it's still important to celebrate the contribution of women in our lives, society, and world. As we honor women all around the world, I'm also reminded of how women and children are those who are most deeply impacted by injustice - especially poverty.

Sadly, I have witnessed this reality in too many places. ​In 2012, I traveled to a remote area in Eastern Kenya as part of a @onedayswages response to a famine that struck the Horn of Africa region. This famine impacted nearly 13 million people and according to some sources, took the lives of about 250,000 people. During my trip there, I had the chance of meeting many people but the person that still remains in my memory was a Muslim woman named Sahara.

She was so hospitable in inviting us to her small and temporary home. During our conversation, I learned that ​Sahara traveled 300 kilometers (a little under 200 miles) – some by cart and some by foot – as they sought to escape the worst drought that has impacted East Africa (Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia) in the past 60 years.

This is not a misprint.
200.

She traveled about 200 miles on cart and foot. ​And all along, she was ill. If you look closely ​at the photo, you might notice the large lump in her throat - likely a large cancerous tumor.​ She did not travel alone. She traveled with her husband who I was not able to meet because he was staying with one of his five other wives in this polygamist community.  She did not travel alone. She also traveled with her six children – the youngest being about 1 and the oldest being around 8. She had just given birth to her sixth child when they began her journey. Her youngest was severely malnourished when they arrived to this new settlement in a town called Benane. 
Sahara and her children all survived this journey. They survived because she persisted. 
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