Reality shows . . . or it should, anyway

A recreation of the logo for the first America...

A recreation of the logo for the first American Survivor season, Survivor: Borneo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reality shows display reality in unrealistic situations. How many people in history have been stranded on an island with a group of people whose “survival” depends on not being voted off by the rest of the group? Not too many people find themselves flung into captive living arrangements with people they’ve never met (other than prison). And, how many times have a couple dozen women vying for a single man’s heart decided to live together as he rejected all but his future wife?

The contestants on Survivor do have it hard, but they know that they will be getting off the island. Even people traveling around the world in the Amazing Race know that if they would become stranded, CBS wouldn’t leave them there forever.

Even their interactions with each other aren’t completely real. Crying and outbursts are often genuine, but there must be some element of acting at times, knowing that millions of people are watching everything they do. The producers of the show have a say in what is portrayed to the audience as well, telling only the version of these stories they want us to know.

As much as we may love to watch them (my family often watches The Amazing Race), reality shows for the most part aren’t based on reality, and all of us know it.

I’ve just finished reading a new book titles The Church In An Age of Crisis:25 New Realities Facing Christianity (Baker Books), by James Emery White. I see his approach as being to Christians who are resisting the reality that we live in a post-Christian Western culture. If there was one word to describe this book it would be sobering.

In the introduction of the book its purpose is stated:

This book offers a whirlwind tour of our day that is meant to introduce and provoke . . . I do not attempt to offer all of the answers in this work. I’ve ventured a few ideas in previous writings, but here I focus on knowing the signs themselves, gathered under the headings of faith, mindset, marriage and family, media and technology, and mission. (p. 12-13)

The Church in an age of CrisisThis author is quickly taking a place among my favorites. He has great lines, like this one about America’s declassification of sin: “It seems we are one of two types of people: mistakers or sinners.  Our culture’s verdict is clear: We are mistakers.”

The book is divided into short chapters, and I’m a big fan. There’s no fluff to confuse or belabor these points. It’s a work that gives an accurate and interesting overview of the crisis for the Church in America. But, the crisis for the church isn’t only the reality of our cultural shifts – it’s our lack of acknowledgement of it.

Maybe there are a few Christians who are willingly unaware of how drastic the change in America’s approach to God is. You are afraid to read books like this because ignorance is bliss. But, you’ll be somewhat comforted by the final chapters. White doesn’t pose a problem without offering a solution. After making the point that people are no longer seeking for God, he shares that they are still willing to listen to what our lives have to say about the Jesus we follow. And, 82 percent of unchurched friends will go to church if invited by us.

You need to read this book. It will put the real back in your concept of reality. Click here to get it now.

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7 thoughts on “Reality shows . . . or it should, anyway

  1. White is a great thinker and I loved this book too. i think it is must reding for pastors and church leaders.Joan & I watch The Amazing Race regularly. I also stop channel surfing at “Swamp People” and “Duck Dynasty” which must be scripted but hilariously funny nonetheless.

    • I’ve never seen “Swamp People” or “Duck Dynasty”. Scripted or not, if it’s funny, I’ll give it a shot. Too bad we don’t have cable. Maybe it’s on Netflix.

      Thanks for the comment Gary. I’m not surprised that you loved this book.

  2. I have not read this book, nor have I seen either of the movies but I acknowledge the FACT of the Church being in a “reality show” of sorts, though it may not be on TV it is being played out in the full glare of public scrutiny.
    We, as the church, are being told that we need to “get with the programme”, “to modernise”, “to live in the 21st Century”. For me the reality is that many Churches feel that they should follow societal trends and changes, personally that goes against the teaching of my church that we should be in but not of the world – not easy in this day and age. But surely our reality is that like Christ we should challenge accepted societal norms, after all isn’t that what Christ did. The woman taken in adultery SHOULD have been stoned, at leats according to the mores of the time. The lepers should not have been touched, yet Christ did so, and as an “orthodox Jew he most certainly should not have spoken with the Samaritan woman, both because she was an unrelated unaccompanied woman AND she was a Samaritan. We are challenged daily by all sorts of behaviour which society finds acceptable – but should we or should we challenge the norms and possibly “get voted off?

    • Interesting idea – a new reality TV show that follow Christians around all week long, from church to work or school and back to church again the next week. Christians can be voted out of church by other members, and the last one standing gets to be the new pastor. Ha!

      Your point about staying true to the tenets of Christianity are well taken. You should read this book! James Emery White explains the dilemma facing the Church against the backdrop of sound Biblical principles. It seems that we are rapidly approaching a world where Christianity is again the radical approach to life, much like in Jesus’ day.

      READ . . . THIS . . . BOOK.

  3. Too funny! I’ve never really taken the term “reality” literally I guess, because I just never thought any of these shows are even close to my kind of reality. But, I do like a handful of them…Duck Dynasty probably at the top of that list, but I haven’t seen a Survivor show since, I dunno, the second season maybe?? Great viewpoint, I enjoyed your post. Happy Bloggin’ to ya Dave!

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