Because life is a series of edits

Not Even Jack Bauer Can Get Us Out of This One

In Calling, Humanity, Places, Thought, TV, Westminster on November 24, 2008 at 6:57 am

Powerful episode of 24 Sunday night. “Redemption” caught us up with illegal expatriate Jack Bauer (played by Keifer Sutherland) coming to the aid of African children kidnapped to be made into child soldiers under a would-be dictator.

As always, the show’s story was straight out of news headlines, even including a presidential transfer of power in Washington, with the only major detail missed being the casting of the new President as a woman instead of a black man (apologies to both Senators Clinton and Obama). In a word, the episode was heartbreaking, as the use of thousands of child soldiers is going on in at least 17 different countries today.

For the past two years, Westminster has been involved with an organization called Invisible Children, whose Schools for Schools initiative exists “to creatively raise money for the schools of northern Uganda, improving the quality of education for war-affected students.” So far this fall, the WCA student body has raised over $15,000 (mostly in spare change) to help the same secondary school in Gulu that we helped last year, ranking us first in the country of all participating U.S. schools with less than a month to go of the 100-day window.

While I’m not a big fan of the competitive giving strategy utilized by the organization (and enabled by Westminster), I was glad that one WCA student, as well as my friend and teaching colleague, Ann Heyse, “won” the opportunity to represent our school in Gulu this past summer. Ann spent six weeks with Invisible Children, training teachers and teaching students with her expertise in English, and based on both her personal testimony and her excellently-written blog documenting her experience, it seems the organization does good work in a place that needs much good work done.

Last night, as I watched the two-hour teaser that creatively gets Jack Bauer back to the United States for the show’s seventh full season beginning in January, I found myself overwhelmed by the realism of it all…that is until one particular commercial break when there was a quick screen shot for the Human Rights Watch website, followed immediately by a national Pizza Hut commercial, and then a local ad for St. Louis’ very own Casino Queen (“home of the loosest slots”). Whew. Assuagement by advertising.

What an incredibly confusing postmodern culture we have created, one in which almost every aspect of life is separated from any true and meaningful meta-narrative. How strange to go from African children dying to ordering two-for-one pizzas to having a great time gambling, all in the course of 60 seconds. And yet for those of us who have been breathing this postmodern air our entire lives, the progression doesn’t seem strange at all; it is exactly what we have come to expect (at least, that is, before God’s revelatory red pill of the gospel allows us to see power, gluttony, and greed for what they really are).

We live in a broken world, friends. Whether in Africa or America, ours is both a needy place and time to be alive, and not even Jack Bauer can get us out of this one.

  1. great thoughts craig.

    i wonder though if we can’t at least applaud postmodernism’s attempt to point to the tragedy? it has no answers and so can’t give any, but unlike many worldviews out there it has no problem raising up the horrors of our current world. it seems to me that many in the church would continue in a state of blissfully ignorant, pseduo-modernistic living within self-built cocoons of safety and security. if God could use the babylonians to break the israelites of their idolatry and injustice maybe he can use postmodernism as a bit of a slap in the face to us. just a thought.

    oh, and i’m glad you enjoyed the season premier of 24. i can’t watch that show because i always feel like i need a heavy sedative when it ends. it’s always so intense!!!

  2. I totally agree with your take on postmodernism as a goad to the Church, Travis. The challenge is helping evangelicals resist fleeing from it by way of sub-culture and using it to deconstruct our western culture still so desperately clinging to modernism’s promise of hope and progress.

    Sorry you didn’t get to see the show last night (download it tomorrow as they’re making it available). For what it’s worth, I usually pop the sedative at the first commercial break and all’s well from there.

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