When I wrote a post a few days ago questioning some aspects of the Samaritans Purse Christmas shoebox project, I was simply giving voice to some things that were rumbling in the back of my mind. I was hesitant to formulate much more than a few random thoughts because I really thought I was alone in criticizing a program that is so widely subscribed to by local churches.
I was wrong. When Sarah’s comment came, I realized I had only begun to scratch the surface of issues raised by the program. Here’s a reprint of her comment, but I want to strongly recommend you visit the link, which documents why in one Canadian province, a large denomination isn’t encouraging support of the program. It takes you to a 16-page (.pdf file) report of which pages 4 to 11 are most important and will only take you a couple of minutes.
Thanks for this article–I think all your questions and concerns are excellent. If you’re interested in more, with a powerful eyewitness story about shoebox problems, see http://ucskco.sasktelwebhosting.com/TheGiftMattersSchoolkit.pdf
It shouldn’t be about followup for the giver at all; that’s a form of strings-attached giving.
Does this encourage children to value Western cultures more than their own?
Do “shoebox” gifts become better than something simpler made lovingly by a family member?
Are they introducing commercial gift-giving into a culture that doesn’t celebrate Christmas in that way?
Do they respect people of other faiths who don’t celebrate Christmas at all?
Do they portray one race/culture as being better or more successful than others?
Most importantly, how do they work to bring about real change, in places where the needs are for justice, peace, and access to the necessities of life?
~ Comment by Sarah Shepherd
Your responses to this can go here or in the comment section of the original post. If anyone has seen other good pieces online where the program has been critiqued, feel free to put the link in a comment as well.
- Bill Kinnon looks at youth culture ministry and points out that, “What we win them with, is what we win them to. Win them with entertainment, and you’ve created customers – who expect to be continually entertained.”
- Here’s a book that’s got me curious. Trevin Wax reviews Chris Armstrong’s book Patron Saints for Postmoderns. “Chris focuses on ten ‘saints’ from Christian history and offers insights from their lives that can be learned and applied today.”
- Some of the Christian cartoons I use here are a lot of fun. This one digs a little deeper, and could only be written by someone with an intimate understanding of life in the Charismatic or Pentecostal environment. So some of you are going to really, really connect with this, and others maybe not so much. But if you’ve been in those circles, you won’t want to miss this. Check out World of Dod’s blog.
- Speaking of all things Charismatic, over a week ago Christianity Today did a really good article on that community’s voice of reason, Charisma magazine editor J. Lee Grady. I also recommend subscribing to Lee’s weekly e-mail, although it’s bundled with other things from Strang Communications, so it’s an all or nothing subscription.
- Our iKettle still needs the support of our Canadian readers. Money given to the Salvation Army stays in the donor’s community. Click here.
- Jessica at the general-interest blog, Indexed accurately sums up why people feel the way they do about their wealth. It’s all relative. Ain’t that the truth!
- Paul Stoecklein, author of the general market humor book You Had Me At Idiot, has a very irreverent post about surviving the Thanksgiving holiday in a ‘religious’ family. Sample: “Protestants are different. With them, saying grace is like really bad performance art. I swear, I think these people believe that saying grace should have been one of the categories on Star Search…“ Read — if you dare — the whole piece here. [HT: Shallow Frozen Water blog]
- Christian apologist Josh McDowell and coauthor David Sterrett discuss why they wrote a book, titled ‘O’ God, about Oprah Winfrey and why they don’t think Christians are equipped to respond to Oprah’s ‘teaching.’ This link takes you a four minute video on YouTube.
- Speaking of Christian Apologists, New York Magazine profiles Timothy Keller and his Redeemer Presbyterian Church in the Big Apple. “Although relatively few secular New Yorkers know about it—Keller prefers to keep Redeemer mostly under the media radar… —an Evangelical Christian megachurch is growing in the heart of Manhattan.”
- Carlos Whitaker invites readers at his blog, Ragamuffin Soul, to leave their favorite quotation. So far, over 80 responses, but plenty of room for you to add yours.