Friday, February 4, 2011

My [Likely Unpopular and UnAmerican] Opinion

I don’t give a hoot about the Super Bowl.

I hear all of the buzz about it and can’t help but think of all of the money that is poured into this event. What comes to mind is the fact that on Sunday, while millions of people stuff themselves on nachos and pizza, somewhere between 16,000 and 20,000 children will die from hunger. With just a fraction of the cost of a 30 second Super Bowl ad, they could have all been fed and then some. It tugs on my heart.

Nowthese are just my opinions and thoughts. People tend to get up in arms and feel the need to defend their interest in watching the Super Bowl. I need to say, what tugs on my heart isn’t necessarily what tugs on yours. My cousin said to me, “The same could be said for just about every American past-time.” He is right. But, in *my* heart, that doesn’t justify it. It just says VOLUMES about our priorities. It isn’t just the Super Bowl that makes me ponder this topic. As I said in this post, everything from Disney vacations to paying for manicures and pedicures brings these thoughts to mind. Even the fact that we’re thinking of going to the 4 day Kingdom Bound concert series this summer. While we could really cut corners and make this trip as cheap as possible, I can’t help but think about what else we could do with the money it would cost.

(Just to be clear, my disclaimer is that my thoughts aren't your thoughts. My convictions don't have to be your convictions. Please don't feel like you need to defend your decision to watch the Super Bowl, go to Disney or get a manicure. I'm still working through my own decisions and priorities here.)

This amazing post by Ann Voskamp says, in a far more eloquent way than I could ever convey, the feelings in my heart. If you haven’t read that post before, please take a few minutes to do so.

This one quote has stuck with me since I first read it.

God gives the world enough of what it needs. He just doesn’t distribute it.

We will have to share.



Amy D said...

Basically what I said on your FB post. I don't give a hoot about Football or the superbowl either, BUT as long as WE are putting OUR money where our mouth is, I am okay with it. :-) Of course, it's hard for me to criticize how other people spend their money, when one coffee that I buy from Starbucks is a person's wages for one day in many countries. Also, many of those companies do give generously from the money they earn.

I know that you are much more careful about where your money goes, but every book, every coffee, every bag of apples I buy could be another fed mouth in another country. Apples are healthy and all, but many people are surviving on rice and beans, so really, there is no reason we can't.

I understand your heart and I totally understand this post, but I often have to remind myself that although it looks one way from my side, it may look very different from the inside. :-) Some of those companies that advertise on the Superbowl really do give generously. Look at Angelina Jolie. Some people argue that it's crazy she gets paid so much or that we pay so much to go see her movies, but look at the good she does with what she earns.

You and I are the same way, we may not earn as much, but we give just as generously!

Jessica said...

You know I'm with you.

A lot of times I hear people defending others actions by worrying that you're judging that sect of people for their actions. But I don't think that's necessarily the case. It's obvious that "those" people have not listened to God's call on their life and purpose yet. But it's not so relative an issue that it's "maybe okay for you, but not for me". No, the wastefulness involved is actually wrong. Bonafide wrong. Doesn't mean I think God doesn't love those people. But doesn't make it a relative issue, either.

Norm Deplume said...

I struggle with this sort of thing all the time. While part of me understands that leisure activities and pastimes and vacations and pretty tchothkes in houses all bring pleasure, and pleasure isn't a bad thing, the other part of me wants to weep about it all. We as a society have grown to believe that all this extravagance is normal. But it isn't, not really. This is all very new in the human experience-- and I don't think as a species we're handling this wealth very well.

While I go to the store in my car and stare at the 12 different varieties of orange juice, trying to decide which one would be best for the picky tastes in my house, children are dying because they don't have clean water. I try to share what I can, but I fail more often than I succeed.

Jessica said...

@ Amy - I posted my comment before I saw yours. Lol. I thought I'd say though, when tackling an issue about excessiveness, (like the millions spent on the super bowl, vs you buying apples), I get your point, and it has some merit, but God sees a difference, I think. We can't just say it's the same, or a matter of perception. Makes me think of the parables where God gives some people more than others, and says from those who have been given much, much will be expected.

And I think the Angelina's are few and far between.

Judy said...

I'm with you on this one. I don't give a hoot about the Super Bowl either...and I'm sort of disgusted by the amount of hype and money that goes into it.

And I'm not sure the same COULD be said about any American pass-time...In 2010, the average cost of a 30-second Super Bowl commercial was approximately $3.01 million. This excludes costs and fees for actors, equipment, ad agencies, directors, crew and other personnel. And these multi-million dollar ads are only played during the Super Bowl. Afterward, most of them aren't seen again except on news bits recapping the "best Super Bowl commercials" and on Youtube.

The Burgess family said...

I'm gonna repost what I said on FB about this: "Michelle, I agree. I am easily sickened but then I feel that I am really not much better. Just because I live simply compared to some, I still have a lot of comforts that many don't have, and splurge on stuff all the time-- just because the t-shirt is on clearance or I use a coupon for the pizza, doesn't mean I NEED it! But I also need not be a constant wreck over everything and enjoy my life some. It is definitely a difficult line to walk!"

Then I'm gonna say: What DO you guys think our lives should look like? I think we should be content with less instead of "keeping up with the jonses", but how much less? It would seem there's no magic formula that would be just one-size-fits-all to follow. I agree with Jessica that excess is wrong and the issue isn't relative, but while it's not a "realative truth" issue, how you act it out isn't always so clear. I would venture to say that God knows our hearts, just like the woman who gave her last two coins, it wasn't much but it came from the heart. I could give a lot and not have it come from the heart, or it could look very different, no one may be able to tell except God? Because my other issue is that I definitely don't want to sell all my stuff and "live poor" just to LOOK like I'm a good Christian. Sometimes Im afraid to give too much because I don't want people looking at me and thinking "oh look at her, being so goody goody." kwim? I'm rambling I think. Sorry ;)

Amy D said...

Waste is waste is waste is waste. It doesn't matter if it's one dollar, 30 dollars or millions. If it's wasted, it's wasted and it's wrong.

Deanna said...

I completely agree Michelle.

I understand that everyone can rationalize away every penny they spend, but lets be real - a million dollars is totally different than my coffee addiction.
We are accountable and responsible for the way we spend our money. I think getting so pumped up and spending a gazillion dollars so grown men can chase a piece of dead pig around the field is insane.

Last night we had our family devotions and we talked about idols. It comes down to what do we worship. The superbowl players are chasing down their idol (winning/big gold trophy) and us chasing our idols..sports, celebrity status, etc.

"Much will be required of the person entrusted with much and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more." - Luke 12:48

Jessica said...

Waste is waste. There is truth in that. But, as Christians, I do think we're allowed to address issues of sin. Other wise preachers would be out of business. After all, the bible doesn't give them the job description of being the only set of people that can tackle issues without pulling the log out of their eye first. I think issues should be approached in grace and love, but they must sometimes be approached, or said. Otherwise, no one could every say anything to anyone. Say someone was having multiple affairs, I could just say, "Well, I'm no better, I looked at a playboy one time when I was 13 and I've thought men in movies were attractive and God sees into my heart and knows my sin just as well as theirs". Seems like there has to be a point where we can address sin issues without it being "judgemental" but just true. But I don't pretend to know precisely where that line is.

kathy55439 said...

Last year the women in my church made pillow case dress to send to Haiti when the men watched football. It was more of a we do not care for football thing so lets do something for others but thought it was a cool idea... And it was fun to see pictures of the kids wearing the dresses after on of our teens went to Haiti and brought them to a home out church supports there.

The Burgess family said...

Ok Jessica, I see what you're saying, but then you say you "don't pretend to know precisely where that line is." Drat! I was hoping you could tell us all how to do something about these things! :)

I tend to think that it's by example, but I'm trying to apply that sort of thinking to your 13 affairs vs finding movie stars attractive analogy. Yes, we SAY something-- but can we actually MAKE anyone else change except ourselves? Hmmm, I'm gonna be chewing on this for a while...

Amy D said...

The problem is wider than what you think. You are looking at the companies that are spending the money, but what about the people that make it profitable for those companies to spend the money? I think it starts with changing the hearts of the "little" people and not with expecting big business to not make money where there is money to be made. Those hearts are changing too! We are all living proof of it!

Jessica said...

I don't know, Kit. I think example CAN be more powerful than words in many instances. And I try to think about what changed me in areas. Often times it was reading books, etc. Which was someone putting their convictions in text, I guess. Lots of people can admit to hearing something on the radio, or in a sermon, or reading it in a devotional that made them think. If all those preachers and writers had kept silent because they knew they were just human sinners, too...? *shrugs* It is an interesting topic to ponder.

faithlikemustard said...

I DO think that God sees the heart and that motive matters more than anything--or that's what I keep seeing in scriptures lately. I've mentioned this to Jessica before and I really do plan to blog on it in the future, but I think that there is a real emphasis in Christian circles on "the gospel of poverty" or "the gospel of suffering" which basically implies that you are a bad Christian if you don't live on pennies per day or if you aren't suffering in some way. I don't think we should live in excess or waste especially when there is such a gap between the "have's" and the "have not's," but I do want to refute the idea that a Christian life should be one of continuous suffering and that you can't enjoy anything from a bag of apples to recreation/entertainment with your family. I don't think God intends for us to lead miserable lives.

Again, BALANCE is the key.

I think the Super Bowl think is all out of balance and a ridiculous waste of money, but I refuse to judge someone for spending part of their money on a $4 coffee at Starbucks every now and then. Was it a necessary expense? No. Neither was my light bill this month.

How do y'all feel when Compassion families spend part of their family gift money to purchase Coca-Cola or candy? Do you think "I wish they would have bought a can of soup or a bottle of medicine instead," or do you think, "I'm glad they are getting a sweet treat for a change"?

Jessica said...

@ Amy - I think you're right. I would much more be addressing the "little" people than the companies. After all, it's the average Joe's interests (obsessions?) that keep the business going. That's actually what makes this issue so depressing for me. :( A lot of those Joe's claim to be Christians. And think their pastime and their pursuing of it is harmless.

I'm from Georgia, so the college football team, The Georgia Bulldogs is a HUGE obsession down here. There are actual vanity license plates that have a Georgia trademark G, combined with a Jesus fish. I was APPALLED when I first saw it! Are you kidding me? Yeesh. It just makes me feel icky all over. :(

Amy D said...

I sent the link to a friend of mine. She doesn't comment on blogs, but I also can't disagree with what she said:

I'm with you on the "I don't give a hoot about the Super Bowl" thing, I couldn't care less about football in general. But on the other hand, I'm a firm believer in capitalism and the economics of free enterprise. Any time a person spends money here...on's contributing to our own economy.

I could take the $30-60.00 I spend on hair or nails and send it to a hungry child, somewhere...but if the manicurist or the hairstylist has to be laid off because of lack of business, she's probably going to have to have government assistance. Our taxes will support her and that makes no sense to me. When I read that 105,000 people are expected to attend the Super Bowl, I see revenue for that state and the country in general. And that's a good thing. Did I need all that stuff I bought at Target? Not all of it, but the cashier at the check out needs my business to keep her job. Do we need to take a vacation? Yes. My husband works very hard and he needs and deserves time to do nothing. We pay tithes, support missionaries and contribute to charities. God is good to us.

Somebody has to work to make those nachos and cheese. Somebody has to buy them. I see that as a functioning, healthy economic structure and given the state of our current economy, every dime we can contribute benefits all of us.

The Burgess family said...

These are all such great points! What a good discussion!

Jessica said...

This is probably just going to sound blunt, because I'm in a hurry and tired, but...

Amy, I see the logic in your friends thinking. But it just feels like rationalizing. And capitalism isn't a virtue, or sent from above.

I think our economy and society is in desperate need of a 180.

faithlikemustard said...

Capitalism is not a virtue, but it does allow us to help "the least of these." Without it, we just might be "the least of these."

Still...we do need an attitude adjustment.

Amy D said...

There are many people who DO need an attitude adjustment. Sometimes even me. But like Megan said, it does allow us to help the "least of these". If there was no wealth to spread, well, there would be no wealth to spread. Everybody doesn't spread it, of course and that stinks.

I heard a quote on Focus on the Family that I really liked. A missionary was asked how he prays for the United States. He was hesitant to answer, but when he did, he said "We pray that you could be persecute just like us, because until you are, things will never change".

I've often said that despite the circumstances, I think that the girls in the dump are more blessed than US, because they have their priorities in the right place. They deal with evil every day, they recognize it, we Americans wouldn't know it if it bit us in the butt!

Jessica said...

I feel the same way, Amy. A lot of people think that America is on it's way to becoming a 3rd World Country. Scary thought. But can't bring myself to fight it, either.

heatherinin said...

I "liked" what your cousin said, but not in the sense that I think because you could say that about everything, we should do nothing. More in acknowledging that it's true--our culture, as a whole is extravagant. I know you felt it at Christmas, too, so it's not limited to just this one event.

I don't know what the answer is. I like football, and enjoy watching it. I recognize that it's an extravagance of our culture. I just like sports.

I also like Compassion, and foster care, and adoption, and eating less, and buying less, and giving more. The first thing, sports, doesn't drive my actions. I don't make financial decisions based on sports. I still enjoy them. The second set, that's what drives us. We make a lot of decisions as a family, on how we spend our money, based on the poverty around us: both locally and globally.

So, is it hypocritical? Perhaps. If I could be convinced that not watching the super bowl would make any difference in the world, then I wouldn't watch the super bowl. Instead, I'll watch the Super Bowl (and the commercials, at least some of them), and have fun doing it. And I'll continue to give away most of our disposable income, and to live below our means (as small as our means may be) so that we can give more. I'll continue to try to make a difference in the small ways that I know how.

It's OK for you to feel moved and burdened by the Super Bowl, and try to act through a bigger way. Who knows, maybe I'll end up there someday, too. I always appreciate posts that make me think, even if I end up choosing a different way.

Do justly, love mercy, walk humbly. May that guide my steps today.

faithlikemustard said...

Well said.

Kimberly said...

Great quote there at the end of your post! Do you know where it came from?

I can admit I likely spend more than I should on some things, however I DO agree that money for pro sports in general is just tossed around like nothing.

Going with your point of the superbowl. People say it is an pasttime, historical, blah blah blah. Whatever. We can play football without all the crazy money that is put into it. Geez. Not even just the event, but lets cut all players salaries by 1/2 for even a year and see what a change that money can make. (tough decision... new car for someone who has 12 already, or a years worth of food for a family...)

Amy D said...

We could cut the player's salary by half, but how do we force that money to go where we want it to go?

And I think of some of those inspiring famous people, actors, actresses, football players, etc, etc, etc who DO do good with what they are given. Really, it should be their choice. Do I wish more of them would give more? Of course. But I don't know who is giving, how much, etc. Even though I don't make a fraction of what these people make, I would not want someone coming in, saying I don't need what I have and cutting my salary in half.

And I do believe it matters to God, whether you have $5 or a million dollars, He cares what you do with it. We could say "But, Lord, I only wasted $5 and that guy wasted so much more", but I think He is only concerned with our heart and what we do, in that moment.

Did any of that make sense?

The only real perfect solution is to put our faith in God and not everybody is willing to do that. Not only that, God doesn't REQUIRE it. It's still our choice.

I think of that lady that gave just 2 coins. I wonder if anyone looked at her and said "What? I gave more, she could give more too". Only the Lord knew that she had given it all. (My point is that we don't know what people are doing with their salaries - And I tend to make assumptions when I see how much people have, but like anyone else, I don't know their situation, I only know what I see)

Michelle ~ Blogging from the Boonies said...

Whooo, biggest comment turn-out ever, I'd say!

I love the discussion and have to say, once again, I don't have all of the answers. I do think the argument that any money spent here is at least contributing to the economy is a weak one. The girls in the city dancing on a pole are working and staying off welfare, but does that make it right and good? Not in my eyes.

For me, it comes down to this. Waste is waste. Gluttony is gluttony. Self-indulgence is self-indulgence. Personally, I still struggle with ALL three. However the scale and size of which these three issues seem displayed when it comes to things like the Super Bowl make it seem like a much bigger deal.

Again, no one has to defend their choice to get their nails done or support the SB to me. I have my own struggles in this life and am FAR from living the perfect life.

My heart is burdened by the numbers. The knowledge that today thousands and thousands of children are going to die from preventable causes. It doesn't HAVE to be that way.

Kimberly, the quote came from the Ann Voskamp blog post I linked to.

Caitlin S. said...

A very thoughtful post. I almost hate to toss in my own comment, because it can't match your thoughtfulness. But I've always had something against the superbowl, simply because my birthday is January 25, and many years of childhood birthdays were trampled by superbowl parties. Now they've moved the superbowl back a bit...but I guess I'm still bitter! (You explain to an 8 year old that she can't have her party near her birthday because all of her friends are at football parties that weekend instead, and see how soon she gets over it.)

Debra919 said...

I often think when it comes to sports (particularly my nemesis football) that if people were HALF as enthusiastic about our Lord and doing HIS will as they are about football (or insert other sport here) what a world it would be--no matter WHAT the economy.

I agree with the "to whom much is given, much is expected" thought. That means that there will always be people with more. That doesn't make them doomed simply because they were blessed, inventive, lucky or whatever. Jesus also said that the poor would always be with us. That means that the playing field will NEVER be equal. There will always be "haves" and "have nots".

It's up to the "haves" to help the "have nots". It is also, im*v*ho not healthy to feel guilt about being blessed. That is like burying your talents in the ground and not doing anything with them.

If you do your best and your heart is right, it doesn't matter if you spend $14,000 on a car or $250,000 on a car as long as you can afford it.

If we were all meant to be poor, guilty, lonely and penniless, God wouldn't be setting up mansions for us in heaven. Paving streets with gold.

In the end, it's about us as individuals and doing the best we can, and helping those less fortunate than we are whenever possible. Even a kind word in passing is putting positivity out to the world.

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