All of the uproar about Caitlyn Jenner reminded me of this story which a friend told me years ago. But, before I get to it, these two disclaimers:
- I have no idea whether the story is factual or not, but it is a good (dare I say, true?) story.
- I also have no idea about the number of children he said died of hunger, but the website poverty.com references a UN statistic that 21,000 die every day from hunger or hunger related causes.
Tony Campolo, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Eastern University and noted Christian speaker and writer, was invited to speak at a well known and fairly affluent church. When it came time for him to speak he stood up and said, “Today, around the world, 20,000 children will die of hunger or hunger related causes. Do you believe all that shit?” After the gasp of the congregation faded away, he went on. “What offends you more? That I said shit or that 20,000 children will die today from lack of food?”
It’s a good question.
What offends you more Caitlyn Jenner or the fact that 6.5 million Syrians have been displaced by the war in Syria and the wider Middle East conflicts and now live in refugee camps? What offends you more the fact that a gay couple may get married or the fact that countless teenagers continue to commit suicide because they are gay or teased about being gay? What offends you more the fact that a cafeteria worker gave free breakfasts to hungry children or the fact that tens of thousands of children in our country will go to bed hungry tonight?
Too often, with good reason, Christians are seen as focusing on the Caitlyn Jenners and gay marriage and the cafeteria worker and forgetting the desperate plight of the refugees and the awful reality of war and that fact that too many teenagers see suicide as the only way to escape the pain and rejection they experience and that children in our own neighborhoods will go to bed tonight hungry. And, those around us look at what we do and what we say and turn away shaking their heads.
What offends you more?
Those of us who take our place within faith communities and stand within religious traditions, need to decide.
Because IT IS IMPORTANT.