Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Faith and Reality

Hi, I'm Michele, and I'm a Reality show junkie. So, if you run a  support group for people like me, I just became a member.

Our fascination (bordering obsession) with other people must date back to ancient times. Why else would the Bible warn us about gossiping and coveting? Yet today's innovations, like streaming video, social media, and smart phones, provide constant, unprecedented access to others. Millions of us around the globe are watching, voting, and connecting. (Hmm, if we could text our political election votes like our Top Chef favs, we'd probably see higher turn-outs.)

The idea behind this post came after I referenced several shows with friends this week. First, I quoted the spouses on Sister Wives in a conversation about jealousy. "I don't personally believe in polygamy," I explained, "but I like what the Browns say in the opening of their show. 'Love should be multiplied, not divided.' and 'I think there's room for everyone.'" Next, I used the premise of two shows to explain a third. "Auction Hunters is a cross between Storage Wars and American Pickers." That explanation surprised even me. When I followed the comment with one about the historical treasures that come into the Pawn Stars shop, I figured it was time to write a post. And with today's news that Amber from MTV's Teen Mom show attempted suicide, I want to come clean about why I'm more than a junkie. I'm a Reality television advocate.

Reality TV keeps us connected.
On any given day, I can observe and visit with a cross-section of the world - couples getting married; couples having children; teens having children; families buying houses; families renovating houses; singers, dancers, bakers, and fashion designers pursuing (and sometimes testing) their dreams; along with any number of people buying, selling, celebrating, or crying.

Reality TV teaches compassion.
One morning last month, our 6-year-old son caught me watching the latest DVR'ed episode of Sister Wives. Because I'm familiar with the Brown Family and their values, I knew I wouldn't be exposing him to profanity or other social ills by allowing him to watch it with me. I seized the opportunity to explain the difference in what we believe and how we all need to respect each other even if when we don't agree.

Reality TV exposes needs.
Shows like Mob Wives, Intervention, and 16 and Pregnant provide a window into the lives of everyday people we might otherwise never meet. For example, some hurting people visit their pastor or counselor. Others get a tattoo. But I can honestly say I've seen more scripture on tattoo shows like LA Ink than I've heard in some sermons. We can't claim to be out of touch with society when prayer needs are delivered directly to our boob tubes every day. (Hence, I've already prayed for Amber.)

In the end, Reality TV is more popular than ever. And I don't think it's going away any time soon. Sure, it has its drawbacks. But there are also ways to use it for good.

Image: nuchylee /

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