Thinking Out Loud

October 23, 2017

How Does This Affect Me?

If you’re a news anchor or a late-night stand-up comedian, the 45th President of the US has been an unparalleled blessing. Like the latest episode of The Truman Show, people tune in daily to see the latest installment of ultra-reality television or they tune in later in the day to see it expressed as farcical humor.

I wrote about what last November’s election has done 14 months ago:

There can be no doubt however that the U.S. federal election is also pushing a large number of stories and reports off the news cycle. What business mergers, medical advances, environmental initiatives or social trends are we not hearing about because every significant quotation from Donald or Hillary needs to be included?

On reflection however, my second sentence simply reflected the absence of other American news stories. In the middle of last week however Rachel Held Evans posted this link to a story about the exodus from Myanmar, made more real by the drone footage of those fleeing the country.

to which I felt I had to reply:

It’s true. Only those stories which will affect the U.S. in some way are considered. This reminded me of when I was writing for Contemporary Christian Music magazine a lifetime ago. The purpose of CCM/Canada, my page of the magazine was to expose Canadian Christian artists to the wider subscriber base that CCM had. Or so I thought.

But then I got a directive from the editors: “We want to read about our artists touring in Canada and information on how our artists albums are selling there.” He was dead serious. It was part of larger paradigm shift in how Christian music was marketed and is now marketed and I quit shortly after.

Also, returning to the more serious subject at hand, I think it’s interesting that Rachel got her story from BBC World. My son gave up on North American news media a long time ago and still uses BBC as his primary source. The British network is rather protective of the rest of its broadcast content — they geo-block just about everything — but their news is widely shared and is considered authoritative around the globe.

Americans know so precious little of the world outside their borders, with the exception of the small group able to afford travel. About six months ago I realized that I could name all 50 states, both in terms of placing them on a map or naming them alphabetically, but most Americans can’t name Canada’s much smaller number of provinces; let alone plot any of the world’s hotspots on a map.

Well maybe North Korea. Then again, perhaps not.

The problem is the same as what I said in August: What takes place in the large white building at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in DC simply pushes far too much off the news cycle. Some of the most important things to take place this week — the things Paul Harvey described as having the most lasting impact — will probably not even be mentioned on U.S. network news.





June 7, 2009

Trumpeting Your Offering

Filed under: Christian, Jesus, philanthropy — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 2:56 pm

Titles Wordle

So there we were, on the website of a well-known, Canadian,  Christian organization making a donation by credit card.   You know the kind.   They trust you to be able to type your name and address alright, but when it comes to your state or province, you have to defer to a drop-down menu in case you mess it up.

Only this site also had a drop-down for “title.”   Mr.  Mrs. Ms.  Rev.  Dr.   Only it didn’t stop there.   There were all these:

Col. (ret)
Lt. Col.
Mr. Justice
Mrs. Brig.
Mrs. Capt.
Premier Ministre
Prime Minister
Rev. Fr.
Right Rev.
The Hon.
The Most Rev.
The Rev.
The Rev. Dr.
The Right Honourable
The Right Rev.
Pastor and Mrs.
The Venerable

…plus a couple I didn’t include.    For you Americans, the M. and Mme. represent Monsieur and Madame; and the inclusion of Prime Minister in both English and French is appropriate if Stephen Harper decides to donate, but there’s no such option for President in case Barak decided to donate to this group, nor Her Royal Highness or HRH should the Queen decide to throw some money their way.

My wife noticed that the military designations tended to be upper level.  There was no Sgt. or Cpl.    And the St., meaning  ‘saint’ was just too funny.   Bet they get a lot of saints donating.    We also wondered how many rabbis donate to this very Christian organization.   And who knew that Evang. was now the official abbreviation for Evangelist?   Of course, we both noticed that there was no option for ‘Mr. and Mrs.’ collectively, which was the very one we were seeking.

Christians are very hung up on prestige and position.   The faith that encourages people that “the last shall be first” and that “those who humble themselves will be exalted” still puts a premium on earthly achievement.   At the end of the day, if Pastor Joe Smith is donating $50.00; I’m not sure it matters that he’s a pastor if he’s just donating in his own name.   And the tax department doesn’t need the title on his receipt.

What pomp!  What fanfare!

Imagine someone like the woman in Jesus described in “The Widow’s Mite” story negotiating a website like this in our century.    Just wants to make a small donation, but hey,  look at all those important titles.   If they have that kind of people donating, then perhaps they can cover all the needs.   Maybe my “two mites” aren’t really needed here.

This led me to think of the classic passage in James’ epistle on favoritism.   When someone comes into your church, do you ask to see their titles?   Of course, from there it was a short jump to thinking about the letters that come after a person’s name.   How can we avoid thoughts of status and preference when pastors measure academic degrees among themselves. MDiv.  MTh.  MThS.  MA.  PhD.  Etc.

Thankfully, in Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, rich nor poor, slave nor free.    Though I’ll compromise on leaving the Mr., Miss or Mrs. option on the form.  Okay, Ms., too.   Then again, that’s the ‘male nor female’ thing; why not just ask for names?


Suggested reading for those with titles:  Mark Sanborn’s You Don’t Need a Title to Be a Leader.

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