KONY 2012: Awareness and accuracy; Idealism and cynicism

Joseph Kony is an evil man. But are the people who likely made you aware of him in the first place even worse? Over the course of just a few days, the world responded to the message of Invisible Children’s short film, Kony 2012, then shot the very messenger that brought them the news. And by the end of it all, at least one man was naked on a street corner.

It was a unique event.

The video itself was the eleventh by Invisible Children, and even in its short lifespan, the most effective. As of the writing of this post – three weeks after the video’s release – Kony 2012 had been viewed over 100 million times on YouTube and Vimeo. MSNBC wrote in greater detail about how the video went viral, while the Chronicle of Philanthropy provided a more philosophical, yet briefer account.

So, Kony 2012 was achieving its goal – to make Joseph Kony famous. There is no denying that the world is now more aware of the man than before the campaign. However, in the process of making Kony famous, Invisible Children too became noteworthy, and when one attracts a certain amount of attention, it is only a matter of time before a critical lens is applied.

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[Clickworthy] Harry Potter, Jesus, and Me

C.S. Lewis had some strange theological ideas. I still read and love his work. George MacDonald was a universalist. His book are still instructive and beautiful. Tolkien had his own theological failings. After watching the fiery debate over the Harry Potter books, I wonder if any novel, Christian or otherwise, could withstand the theological nitpicking that’s been inflicted on Rowling, either in the work itself or the author’s worldview.

Andrew Peterson’s exploration of spirituality – even overt Christianity – and Harry Potter isn’t necessarily a new thing. But his post on The Rabbit Room blog is quite poignant, conversational, and, given the historic weekend Potter’s final chapter is having at the box office, clickworthy.

Peterson makes an argument that has long been made of mainstream literature and film – that parallels to the story of Christ can be made and should be enjoyed by those who hold the beliefs. I’ve seen creative uses of The Matrix, Lord of the Rings, and countless other films in the context of a sermon. I once used the Harry Potter book series in a speaking appearance of my own. Are they intentionally, explicitly “Christian” works? Not at all. But they still reflect the story in which so many place their hope. As Peterson explains:

Let me be clear: Harry Potter is NOT Jesus. This story isn’t inspired, at least not in the sense that Scripture is inspired; but because I believe that all truth is God’s truth […] I have the freedom to rejoice in the Harry Potter story, because even there, Christ is King. Wherever we see beauty, light, truth, goodness, we see Christ. Do we think him so small that he couldn’t invade a series of books about a boy wizard? Do we think him cut off from a story like this, as if he were afraid, or weak, or worried?

I have always held the same impression of music. Songs mean different things to different listeners, approaching the creative work with different experiences and beliefs. Artists will tell you it’s one of their favorite things about making music – that their art can be interpreted so many different ways. There are many songs in my library that I interpret as having spiritual lyrics (as the mocking statement goes, replace “baby” with “Jesus” and you’ve written a Christian song). When I worked in Christian radio, I loved being able to place those songs in the context of a faith-filled playlist. It added (badly needed) variety, and perhaps accentuated the message I perceived.

So, what do you think? Are people of faith misguided when they attempt to draw parallels between their own source of salvation and a movie or book that may, or may have not intended such a meaning? Should the parallels be used to teach others, even if the other portions of the work arguably depart from the message of the faith?


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[Clickworthy] Is your church too cool?

We have one place for the uncool people—our ministries—and another place for the cool people—our church services. When we actually bump into one another, things can get ‘awkward,’ so we try to avoid it.

Rachel Held Evans explains why she longs for the traditional “uncool” church in a brief feature for Relevant Magazine that hit their website Wednesday. While I certainly think it is possible for a church to market itself and not lose its way, her story shows us how quickly branding and image can supercede the mission.

Read more from Evans on her blog. This clickworthy article was spotted on Jonny Diaz’s Twitter feed. Follow him. He’s entertaining. And his brother is a major league baseball player.


See something in the news that you think is Clickworthy? Email Dylan.

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