So like many of you Wednesday night I was watching American Idol Gives Back. Well, maybe your wife watches it like mine so it’s one of those things you do for your wife to keep the peace…haaaa. Actually, I asked my wife to Tivo it (which we usually do) and not watch it until I got home after some meetings that night.
I was drawn to the concept of this reality show thinking beyond themselves and honestly, they pumped up Bono’s involvement in the show, which was actually disappointingly low. But after watching the show I was left with several questions and things I have been wondering about.
And as I ask these questions, please know that I don’t come from a place of judging American Idol and what they have done, because I wasn’t doing anything but sitting on my lazy rear, eating food and watching a reality show. Not much work or effort.
Unsure: I’m unsure what I think about the tie-in of charity and giving back with consumerism. American Idol was giving back, but the night was very consumeristic obviously in it’s sponsorship, etc. So I’m just unsure what that looks like or what I feel about that. No judgement, just unsure.
Uncomfortable: I was pretty uncomfortable watching us Westerners going into complete poverty while still dressed in our expensive and trendy clothes. And I was uncomfortable watching us Westerners try to console these people and telling them we know how they feel or what they are going through. It just didn’t see right with me. Again, they were there and I was sitting on my lazy rear. But it was just uncomfortable to watch. There was the tendency in the scenes for us Westerners to just try and fix the situation and make comments to make it all better.
Charity: American Idol raised $30 million for their causes. They list where the money went to on their site…I’m curious about how much of it went directly to their causes and how much got caught up in overhead, and other incidental costs. I had a friend who contacted the site to give money and wanted to know how much dollar per dollar was going to the causes and they said they wouldn’t/couldn’t answer that.
Transformation: As I have been reading through Shane Claiborne’s Irresistible Revolution and Henri Nouwen’s Compassion I have been wrestling through the concept of what it means to be transformed and to transform others (i.e. people, communities, charities, countries, etc.). Some of my college students and different members of our church have been asking the question about missional work that is charity, and missional work that is about going into the place (i.e. city, community, neighborhood), taking up residence and transforming it. The statement is that charity, or just giving money sometimes keeps us at distance from who or what we give to, and neither transforms the giver or the receiver. So I wonder how American Idol Gives Back will transform both the giver and receiver. Is there a disconnect and distance giving money from our couches, flipping off the TV and going to bed?
These are just some of the questions and things that I’m wrestling with. Bottom line. I think American Idol Gives Back took great steps to raise awareness, meet some needs, hitting important financial goals, etc. But we still must be asking questions and improving on what is being done.
And maybe I need to get off the couch and be about the work of transforming others and being transformed by them….rather than simply reducing my involvement to giving money at a distance.
Read Scot McKnight’s quick thought on it.