Gold Coast Bereans

Out of Ghana, West Africa; Christian hearts and critical minds seeking, speaking and writing the truth with love. This is a conversation of a group of friends, now living in the USA and the UK, who have known each other for more than 20 years.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


The recent discussion we had on the way we view the portrayal of Ghana in particular and Africa in general in the media raises several issues for me. There are some Americans who bristle at the pictures of Katrina that were shown around the world. I remember the President caught some flak for refusing help from Cuba (it seems this was real help because Cuba is very used to post-hurricane relief and was well located to help), but I can see how the President must have felt. A far cry from his reported statement a few years ago, that "Africa is a country with many problems."

I have often wondered about some of the "good" Bible people who had some of their most disgraceful acts recorded for us. David and Bathsheba, Judah and Tamar, and Noah and his daughters come to mind. And all the family dirt about the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is well documented in the Bible. Then there are those we may consider as "bad" characters like Onan. There's even a practice named after him. But maybe there was a lot more to his life than his unique copulatory style (the pleasure without the responsibility)- something a part of me sympathizes with ;) . Then remember Esau; you seldom hear his name without the comment: "he sold his birthright for a meal".

So when the Discovery Channel, National Geographic, AIDS researchers and even well-meaning Missionaries deliberately, mistakenly. unconsciously or subconsciously misrepresent Africa by selectively portraying the bad aspect in order to boost TV ratings, raise further grant money, raise more money for missionary work or simply to let the audience see/hear what they already expect, what should our response be?

Are we not also being dishonest if we selectively portray the nice side in our attempt to restore balance? Should we just crusade against their dishonesty, and how should we seek to expose their lack of balance keeping in mind the greater purposes of Christ's Kingdom which should supercede our ethnic or patriotic pride?

If we attempt to [counter] show only the good side of Africa, we will also be accused of dishonesty, and the average westerner will tune out and just not see those images, or they will disbelieve them. A possible parallel is the sweet "Cotton candy' messages which dominate Christian Cable Television. It rings phoney to anyone who knows the Bible well. Even Larry King, by no means a christian, pointed it out when he interviewed Joel Osteen, who is arguably the foremost apostle with a lower case "a" of this line of thought

One approach even tries to expose their hypocrisy or blindness by retaliating. It's not hard to find negative images here in the USA. I bet I could find pictures of roaches 2x bigger than any found in Ghana right here in central Phoenix. They are called sewer roaches. Huge monsters, frightening to adults and children alike. And I can tell you about other critters, including scorpions which climb into your bed and sting your wife at night! I could highlight the polygamy practiced to date in some places in this country. Some of these guys are married to a woman and her daughters. But such attempts and such a response is futile.

This retaliatory or sometimes condemnatory "in your face" approach also turns people off. They will be offended and not listen. You and I know that it is very unlikely that the Holy Spirit will soon be using the public utterances in Falwell and his ilk to convict any homosexual of sin. Likewise some prominent professed Christians in the public eye will never reach single mothers, blacks or immigrants that way.

In the secular world, the labelled left-wing press- Al Gore, Michael Moore, New York Times, and NPR ( I really do not understand why some label NPR this way but I am just an alien) and the labelled right wing press- daytime TV, Christian radio, AM radio and Fox News have become more and more polarized, with no-one listening to the other. Now even the audience of one doesn't generally listen to the other.

Soon, cable companies and other marketers will target these audiences separately. They will realize that you can sell cable packages more effectively if you bundle Fox with TBN- and incidentally the entertainment channels that go with Fox include some of the most sordid. And you can add NASCAR and wrestling, and market PCs, SUVs, American Automobiles Cars and drugs for Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy. :-)

On the other package you would have the History channel, Discovery, NPR, and then sports like basketball, soccer (including Mexican Soccer) and scrabble. And the advertisers there will sell Apple Mac computers, orange juice and the Toyota Prius. :-)

Writing as a prophet with a lower case "p". I want you to mark my words; this will happen. And it will polarize America more.

But here is my take and I believe this to be the good news. We must take the approach of the Bible. Seek the truth, and portray the dirt as well as the good with honesty, here (in the USA) as well as there (back in Ghana). Those who truly seek the truth (and we shouldn't worry too much about the others) will learn to differentiate our message from others out there. The is, when the true worshippers will seek to worship Him in spirit and in truth, FOR SUCH THE FATHER SEEKS TO WORSHIP HIM.

My humble view. No doubt I am wrong in many places, and I would love your feedback.-Calorius


Blogger Robbo said...

Sometimes it is a cultural thing, shaped very much by how you are brought up, what your parents said around the dinner table, the conversations you overhead between your parents and their peers, and the kind or politics your parents believe. Then there is the influence of college, what you read, which Professor or Teacher impressed you or rubbed you the wrong way and what they believed, how much you travel and how much you interact with other people not “like you”.

When you finally reach adulthood it becomes a choice and an attitude. There are those who are still willing to learn and there are those who have it all worked out. There are prejudices that people can’t shake or do not want to shake. Just yesterday I was reading a respected “Christian” site where posts of interest from the Christian and political blogosphere are aggregated. This is how the writer of the blog chooses to editorialize a link to a blog where someone reports on a recent visit to Tanzania and Zanzibar.

Joshua Claybourn returns from Africa and lives to tell about it. And, of course there are pictures
If you follow the link you will find similar "joking" comments to the story about being eaten by lions.

It is very easy to find out how many western tourists have died in Tanzania or Zanzibar in the past 5 years, but that is not important to the story and he is not even thinking about that. He is only innocently echoing an oft used expression.

But having being duly sensitized, I went further down the archives and found similar editorializing. One link says “New York city is now a city of illegal immigrants” yet when you follow the link the article simply talks about immigrants, and says nothing about illegals. I think some people chose ignorance or arrogance, deliberately or other wise.

These are our brothers in the Lord who confidently talk a version of truth which they have worked out and which is not so much what the Lord or the Bible teaches but rather what is right in their own eyes. We are by no means immune and we have to be very careful that we do not develop the same jaundiced outlook in reverse. There is such a thing as absolute truth and it matters. May the Holy Spirit guide us in all truth.

September 1, 2006 at 2:31 PM  

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