There is actually a show called Reality Wrap-up on VH1 that summarizes all of the intellectual genius of these shows so that you don’t have to watch. What a blessing that is! For example, what if you missed the latest round of Date Plate, the show that pits two culinary Casanovas in a competition to win the stomach and heart of a beautiful bachelorette? The Food Network describes the riveting drama of this show.
They work within a budget -- and against a clock -- each cooking a special meal for a woman they've never met. The most delicious part is that the bachelors can see and learn about the bachelorette through a video greeting card, while she knows nothing about the men trying to woo her -- except for their cooking skills of course! She chooses her Romeo based solely on the meal he makes for her -- a truly tasty twist on dating television.
Okay, I confess. I won the heart of the stunning Mrs. Burchett with a lovely presentation of my reknowned dish that I dubbed “aide d'hamburger.” Less sophisticated gastronomes might call it Hamburger Helper but you wouldn’t get a girl like I did.
You likely know many of the reality shows. American Idol is the gold standard. Others are familiar such as The Amazing Race, The Biggest Loser, The Apprentice, Survivor, et al. But you might have missed a couple. Have you seen the latest episode, for example, of Filthy Rich Cattle Drive? The premise is that spoiled rich kids are thrown into a City Slickers like experience. Here is, honest to goodness, a real description of the first episode that aired on the E! network.
The adventure begins. The group, after arriving via private jet, is escorted to a pair of pickup trucks. After being divided into a Red Team and a Black Team, the gang engages in hot-rock massages, horse wrangling and cow-rectum checking. Don't miss this one!
I have never been more grateful to report anything in my life as I am to let you know that I missed that episode and the next seven as well. The primary reason I passed on celebrity cowboy wannabes arriving by private jet and having uncomfortable bovine interaction is contained in the subtitle of the show. Filthy Rich Cattle Drive – Cows don’t care who your Daddy is!” Bottom line – neither do I.
Spiritual themes are now working their way into the mix as well. The premise of God or the Girl revolves around four men who, for reasons known only to them, allow A&E to record their decision about joining the priesthood. The press release describes the show.
They’re bright, All-American guys with ambition to spare, hilarious friends and family, even girls they might want to marry. But beneath the surface, they are in turmoil trying to decide whether they’re being called in an entirely different direction. GOD OR THE GIRL captures the tension, terror, and triumph of Joe, Mike, Steve, and Dan, four 20-something men at the most important crossroads of their lives, as, over the course of this series, they decide whether or not to enroll in the seminary and become Roman Catholic priests, or to find the love of a woman and settle down with a family.
Excuse me. The terror of deciding between the priesthood and a family? That must be a either a very rough parish and/or a very mean girlfriend.
The irony of reality tv is the lack of reality. Reality is not found on shows like these. Reality is found in everyday life. I would love to see Christians (present company included) become totally committed to reality living for Christ. The sad truth is that most of us are not doing a really good job of living out the challenge from the gospel of Luke. The parable talks about servants being ready for the master to return. If they do not do what is expected they will be punished because they had been given much responsibility.
From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.
The practical reality is that we (Christians in America) have been given so much compared to most of the world. I fear that we are falling far short of what can even reasonably be asked. Ron Sider (author of Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience) is a guy that I would rather avoid because he makes me uncomfortable with that darn truth thing. He was quoted about our cultural materalism in Christianity Today.
Materialism continues to be an incredible scandal. The average church member [from across the denominations] today gives about 2.6 percent of his or her income—a quarter of a tithe—to the church. Evangelicals used to be quite a lot better [in giving] than mainline denominations. But their giving has declined every year for several decades, and they're now getting very close to the norm. The average evangelical giving is about 4.2 percent—about two-fifths of a tithe.
Six percent of the "born-again" people tithe; nine percent of evangelicals do. Our income has gone up fabulously over the last 30-plus years. The average household income now in the U.S. is $42,000-plus. If the average American Christian tithed, we'd have another $143 billion.
Imagine what organizations like World Vision or Samaritan’s Purse and countless others could do with 143 billion dollars! Imagine how that could impact the reality of suffering souls in Darfur. Katrina victims that are still displaced. Children that need medicine and food and hope. Single Moms struggling to make families work. Orphans of the Aids epidemic in Africa. And millions of souls living in hopelessness and darkness that could use a little love and a lot of light in their lives.
The reality is that you and I would scarcely miss that new car, outfit, or whatever material thing we somehow believe we simply must have this week. There will be an accounting some day. And that is reality.