Wednesday, June 25, 2008

God Makes Headlines

Last weekend I was browsing headlines the lazy way, by seeing what comes up on the default AOL homepage, and one caught my eye, “Flood victims turn to prayer”. And I thought to myself, have we become such a secular society that when victims of a natural disaster pray, it makes national headlines? It sounds obvious to me, not at all newsworthy. I didn’t click on the headline, so I don’t know the context, but when I looked for it again today it took forever to find this story from the NY Daily News. Not a lot of surprises in the story, it mostly describes people’s reactions, weather service reports, and impacts on communities. What is interesting though, is that despite the headline, only the first two paragraphs in a two-page article mentions anything at all about prayer. Ok, maybe we’re not so secular that prayer makes headlines, but maybe we’re so polarized by religion that adding “prayer” to a link generates hits?

Then there’s the case of the teen who lost an arm to an alligator in Florida. I saw the first headline and ignored it, thinking it was too bad, but equating it with the all-too-common headlines of someone losing an arm or leg to a shark while surfing. I didn’t give the story a second thought until I saw the headline “Teen: God was with me when gator bit” and I checked it out. I was expecting a self-righteous “God saved me” but what I found instead was a humble acknowledgement that he couldn’t have survived if something divine didn’t intervene. But just like the NY Daily News article, only one paragraph out of 24 said anything related to the headline.

And then of course, who can forget the catchy headline, "God Busted for Selling Drugs Near Church"? Nothing religious at all in this article, but I still clicked.

But seriously, our God doesn't need headlines. Our lives should be all the publicity he needs. What kind of press are you giving God? At work we have what we call "the 60 Minutes Rule", meaning we should always ask ourselves if we would want what we're doing to be reported on 60 Minutes. The hyper-religious might have a similar "700 Club Rule" or "World Net Daily Rule" but you get the picture. If you were interviewed on camera would the world know you're a Christian? If you loudly proclaim it for the world to see, would those that know you best agree? Think about it, you never know when a headline might find you.

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