12.19.2006

Welcome to the Salvation Walmart.

I am on an Amos kick.

Amos was not a prophet by occupation. In reality, he was a sheep herder. He was less MDiv, more FFA . At one point, he blurts this out as if to say "I didn't ask for this job...". Talk about getting swept up in the purposes of God.

Regardless of his paying gig, he speaks it pretty straight. In fact, factor in the brevity of his work - nine short chapters - and I'm thinking his poke-per-chapter index is higher than any of the other prophets on the major list, minor list or elijah list.

Amos prophecied for a brief period of time when the northern and southern kingdoms were enjoying a false sense of security. Looking at their accomplishments and ideals, none would have imagined that in 40 years, the kingdoms would be desolate and the society collapsed. Just when everything looked rosy, the bottom drops out and people were only left with what they'd stored in their hearts. One would think there are lessons to learn here.

One of the things Amos goes after hard is a false sense of dispensing justice. The second edition of the New Living Translation is my favorite - it says
"You twist justice, making it a bitter pill for the oppressed."
Apparently one of the precursers of the destruction of the kingdom was their mishandling of these matters - not only the poor, but how they thought about the poor and what they did to fix the issue. Sometimes, even in fixing the issue, we do things that are fundamentally wrong, tainting the whole process.


Ever hear about Product (RED)? I've been following this Product (RED) media frenzy for a bit, and I'm thinking it smells like fish. Or slightly twisted justice. Rather than try and explain how it works, I'll just paste in their words from their website.
"As first world consumers, we have tremendous power. What we collectively choose to buy, or not to buy, can change the course of life and history on this planet...(RED) is not a charity. It is simply a business model.

You buy (RED) stuff, we get the money, buy the pills and distribute them. They take the pills, stay alive, and continue to take care of their families and contribute socially and economically in their communities.

If they don't get the pills, they die. We don't want them to die. We want to give them the pills. And we can. And you can. And it's easy. All you have to do is upgrade your choice."
In short, you buy products labeled (RED) and a portion of the profits goes to buy medication for legitimately needy people. It's hard to argue with this. Good will be done here...but I think we have to ask what we're really buying...An iPod or a smug sense that we are a part of the solution?

A lot of hip brands are buying in. GAP. Motorola. Amex. Apple kicks in $10 every time you buy a $250 iPod Nano. Interesting. (RED) manages to congeal our innate desire to be philanthropic with our overarching characterteristic of being self serving. It's a great idea for the Africans - and I'm glad they're getting the mdication - but I wonder what it's doing to our mentality.

Is it really a good thing when a 20 year old thinks justice is best fulfilled by skipping through the mall, chatting on her RAZR, en route to the GAP where she'll smack her AmEx against the upper credit limit?

Is this justice? Or just another way for us to buy stuff and still feel good?

I've probably gone too far...rattling not only Oprah fans, but those who worship at the altar of the foul mouthed irishman. I know that questioning such a (hip) humanitarian endeavor is to risk commiting blogicide, but when the most prosperous people on the planet land on consumerism as the model for justice, it makes me wonder what (really) comes next.

Maybe we've got to do more than upgrade our choice. Maybe we upgrade our motives.

10 comments:

ylmurph said...

well said

Brent Steeno said...

I think THIS might be the blog post of the Century. Actually according to me it is!

Uber_Tech said...

preach

Nathan said...

Randy tackles Bono benevolence?

Might I suggest www.bonofatigue.com?
Or if you are in need of a sacrement, the U2charist - http://www.usatoday.com/life/music/2006-10-25-u2-churches_x.htm

Enjoy

Zack Hensley said...

If I agreed with you any more I could possibly burst a vien in my forehead!
well done, I read this verse yesterday: Prov. 28:5 Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the Lord understand it fully.

peace out

Randy Bohlender said...

Is it just me or does Uber_tech look a whole lot like Colin Powell? And an FBI hat?

I'm just sayin'....

Anonymous said...

i actually saw this (RED) oprah show with bono a couple of days ago. i had a similar stream of thoughts running through my head as i watched and listened. yet, by the end of the show, i found myself wanting to make a GAP run...disillusioned that i really was justified in buying more...that my buying would lead to justice for a people in need. although i am thankful that people are getting meds because of the purchases, i am pretty sure my motives for binge shopping at the GAP were more than a bit focused on what i would receive rather than what the people in need would. thankfully my "justice" high only lasted for a brief time before i could hit the strip.
thanks for the fresh reminder of what true justice is and should be.

Isaac Bennett said...

Buying the Gap clothes and the iPod nano oppresses the third world countries that are exporting them at near no cost to Gap and Apple. That is oppression not justice.

Sean MacNair said...

Well, Bono could do nothing, and then you would be on him for that... the foul mouthed Irishman just can't win. (And even if he could win you would just get on him for pride or something.)

---Sean (under no illusion that this will ever see the comments section, but goes through the motions of posting anyway)

Randy Bohlender said...

Sean! I thought you'd given up there for a while. Love the Cap'n Crunch icon.

Actually, if you'll read the post again, my concern's not so much with the foul mouthed irishman as it is with a society that has to reward themselves with a hip product in order to make it worthwile to contribute to a cause.