Monday, July 9, 2007

Live Earth is Out of This World

If you happened to watch the "Live Earth" concerts on TV, you witnessed history. These concerts were historic in the amount of live and television viewers they attracted (2 billion people), the amount of stardom involved, and the amount of money raised to support environmental causes. The concerts actually were off the hook. Though U2 and Bono were noticeably absent, performers included Madonna, UB40, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Metallica.

You can't help but look up to all these stars as they have given so much to ensure that God's creation remains secure for future generations, right? Actually, no. The Daily Mail, a news outlet in the United Kingdom, released an article entitled, "Live Earth is Promoting Green to Save the Planet - What Planet are They on?" that pointed out the abusive hypocrisy of the Live Earth concerts and its participants. The concerts themselves will generate more than 1,000 tons of waste, the majority of which will be sent to land-fill sites. In addition, the A-list performers will each be flying their posse in on carbon-emitting, fossil fuel-guzzling private jets. Madonna, the Live Earth headliner, has an annual carbon footprint of over 1,000 tons. That is over 100 times that of her average countryman!

The funny thing is that these people have become exactly what they accuse Christ-followers of being - hypocrites. It is a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black. The only difference is that the dubbed-and-redubbed, CD-selling, cone-bra-wearing stars get a pass and we don't.

But a pass is not what we should be looking for. Hypocrisy makes God angrier than it makes any of us (see Matthew 24:51). If you follow Christ, you must be in a constant state of refinement, with each step of life churning you up to a higher level of holiness and maturity. The church is not perfect, and it never will be. But, Christ is. We must focus on Him to minimize the level of rampant hypocrisy among ourselves.

Can you think of a time when you lived in a way that was inconsistent with what you claim to believe?

What are good ways to live out a consistent faith during your work week?


Bill Parsons said...

good site. keep up the good work.

Karen Underwood said...

Great blog! I really think you let Jesus take the wheel on this one.

Jonathan Merritt said...

Thanks for the encouragement, guys.

Christin said...

good job. if only all those people that lable christians as hypocrites would realize that they are the poster children for hypocrisy. keep if up and some day you'll be taking on everyone's favorite hypocrite, michael moore.

Jonathan Merritt said...

Very funny, Christin. I have a strange feeling that Michael Moore doesn't wants a platform more than debate. :)

Jason said...

Dead on.

Have you read Dr. Russ Moore's article on this subject titled: "Blood, Gore, and Global Warming"?

I think you'd like it.


Jonathan Merritt said...

No. Russ Moore? Southern? Where can I find it?

J. Jay said...

Jonathan, you seem to be a talented writer (at least at the slow gazelle level) and thoughtful person so it is a bit disappointing to see you making such a tenuous connection from the hypocrisy of “Live Earth” to the “stars” accusing Christ-followers of being hypocrites.

The statistics you present on Live Earth are probably generally correct. They are at least in line with most major news reports. It is definite that fossil fuels were burned to get the performers and audiences to the concerts and there were lots of plastic water bottles and food wrappers that ended up in the trash. Conceding you that point, have you given any thought to the good that may have been accomplished? As a result of the concert helping to bring the issue to the attention of millions of people is it possible that the benefits will outweigh the event’s carbon footprint? Is it possible that the material girl has seen the light and decided that it is time to do some good for this material world? Maybe she could use a prayer for further insight and guidance rather than a public flogging for her efforts.

I’m at a loss as to how you determined that the Live Earth performers are accusing Christ-followers of hypocrisy. I didn’t see that reported in any news outlets. Perhaps the need for a catchy tie-in to the hypocrisy theme of your blog was greater than the need for accuracy.

You harp on the hypocrisy of the stars yet as a student I would guess that you have created a little more than your fair share of carbon on trips to Atlanta to see family or friends! Perhaps you should leave the driving to Greyhound or send an e-mail!

As a budding theologian, maybe you’ve taken mission trips to some far flung country to deliver Christ’s message? Did that plane you were on burn any jet fuel?

I like your statement about being in a “constant state of refinement, with each step of life churning you up to a higher level of holiness and maturity”. Take it to heart. Strive to stress the good rather than seek out the negative. Strive to be fair and balanced. Remember the message of Matthew 7:1-5.

My guess is that if you did drive to Atlanta, the fuel you burned to get to there probably warmed the heart of friends and family more than the climate and that the carbon you saved by keeping those souls from burning in hell will more than offset the damage you did to the environment by getting to that far flung destination.

Somewhere I once read something to the effect of: We must focus on Christ to minimize the level of rampant hypocrisy among ourselves. Sounds like a pretty good idea to me.

J. Jay

Jonathan Merritt said...

J. Jay-

Great questions. Thanks for taking the time to completely lay out your thoughts. Let me try to answer everything you brought up, and you can let me know if it makes more sense. I will go in order.

First, thanks for the compliment about my writing. My prayer is that my God-given gift will bolster the weak places where my intelligence is more shaky.

I made what I think is a fair connection between the "stars" and "Live Earth." From Gore to John Mayer to Madonna, I could catalog for you a list of comments regarding Christianity and/or the religious right. Surely you are not saying that the hollywood/rock star crowd is not openly critical with people of faith.

The statistics I mention are not "probably generally correct," but are verifiable facts. If you will link to the Daily News article, you will find most of them there.

Now, you point out the potential positive effects of the concerts, which are not in dispute here. I think there was probably some level of awareness and support raised, though initial reports on the disappointing net gain don't look good. The bigger problem with your statements is that they insenuate that the ends justify the means. You might as well say, "It doesn't matter if you kill the environment as long as the good you produce outwieghs the evil it took to get there." This is terribly flawed. As my parents taught me growing up: It is NEVER right to do wrong to do right.

The fact remains that these stars, of their own CHOICE, do more harm to the environment than dozens of times(or a hundred, in the case of Madonna) the average person. Sure they flew on private jets, but many were within the distance of a long car or train trip. When comfort and conviction went head to head, you tell me which won with these individuals? This is clearly hypocritical.

If you wonder about the hypocrisy connection, it seems clear to me. Let me know if you disagree here: The basic negative premise of hypocrisy is consistency. We are constantly attacked for being inconsistent (sometimes a fair charge against us) with our own convictions by the same group. Doesn't it strike you as ironic that those who often fire those flaming arrows don't measure up to their own mark? In the Jan/Feb. Relevant magazine, Ed Young made this statement: "Criticism is a boomerang." What does he mean? Well in the book of Matthew we have the answer. We should all be very apprehensive about offering judgement when we cannot stand up to the same scrutiny by "the same measure."

That is why your statements about my long drives to Atlanta (and they get longer every time, trust me) don't connect. I am not making sweeping claims about carbon footprints and atmospheric awareness.

You remark about the possibility of the material girl seeing "the light." I don't know what you mean by "light", but I know she has not seen THE Light. Only a matter of months ago, Madonna remarked that the Bible was nothing but a collection of stories in another religion.

No one can really measure the effect of that series of events and no one can make a judgement as to whether is created more good than destruction (I think it probably created more good), and even if we could, the logic would not sustain the conclusion. Therefore, we should not be looking for a "get out of hypocrisy free card" and should instead focus on our own need for sanctification (c.f. my last paragraph).

Maybe that makes things clear as mud. Let me know.



Bill Parsons said...

The sad thing brother is that so many Christians listen to the John Mayer's and Jay-Z's of the world. It'd be great if we could really rally people to something besides Gore and Mayer. People like our great president and some of the great CCM artists that are out there.

Jonathan Merritt said...


Thanks for the input.

I am not sure I follow you completely. The point of conversation has nothing to do with political or artistic rallying. If a Christian likes Al Gore or John Mayer, that is cool with me. In fact, I like alot of John Mayer's stuff. His Continuum album is one of the better I have heard in the last year or so.

Furthermore, I would digress to discuss the President or the awkward tweener state of contemporary Christian music.

Maybe you could elaborate your point a little more and help me to connect?



Bill Parsons said...

I'm sorry. I was just thinking that since you were talking about Gore, Mayer, and Madonna talking negatively about Christianity and the Religious Right in your point about Live Earth and the parallel you made to the hypocrisy of them poking fun at us all the while remaining hypocritical in their carbon emissions by flying back and forth on big planes the waste generated . . . I just thought that meant you thought they were hypocrites and you stood by that. Which is why I recommended some of the great CCM artists that are out there. But I'm confused now.

Because I noticed that you called that Nathan fellow a hypocrite for questioning your generosity when he had rather ungenerous links in his own blog. And for calling Mayer, Madonna, and Gore hypocrites for their attacks on Christianity and the Religious Right . . . I just thought that it would mean that you wouldn't support such hypocritical people. So does that make you a hypocrite?

I guess I just got confused. But I'll defer to you and your dad. I trust you no matter what direction you're heading in. Although I may have to spend more time over at the SBC Voices Blog where things are more even Keel.

Jonathan Merritt said...


I am most confused as well, thought it is from trying to make sense of your soomewhat erratic comments. (What CCM and Bush have to do with this I will never know.)

I think your sentences would improve by doing two things.
1. Proofreading. Surely you can see that sentences like the second sentence of your first paragraph look like a preposition bomb blew up and threw the shrapnel of your thoughts between two periods. (And, the awkward use of an ellipsis in the middle only makes it worse.)
2. I would invest in a copy of "Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation" by Ms. Lynn Truss. If you can look past her British colloquialisms, I think it would be a big help to you.

Speaking of proofreading, you might als benefit from re-reading my two blogs with their listed comments except this time read it while thinking critically.

The logic of my most recent blog breaks down like this: A. The "Live Earth" performers are (documented) engaging in counterproductive, hypoctrical activites with respect to the environment B. These same individuals are often criticizing Christians for being inconsistent in their own passions C. It seems that this is an ironic, if not pernicious, position D. In the end, neither should be tolerated, and Christians should strive for consistency anyway.

With regard to Nathan's comments, the logic breaks down like this: A. Nathan does not like the tone of my post about bloggers and claims that if a blog makes "ungenerous" comments they are bothersome to him B. I point out that this is an odd position, since he endorses many blogs that are also less than generous, if not spiteful C. I explained to Nathan that rather than have his cake and eat it too, he should just be consistent. It is easy to see that attacking and endorsing ungenerous bloggers are mutually exclusive.

Bill, these two positions in no way intersect. I never made the claim that one should not support the "Live Earth" artists. I do not take offense with their material, but with their logic. I may be confused at John Mayer's logic, but that doesn't prevent me from supporting him. ESPECIALLY when I note that many claims of Christian hypocrisy are rather fair blows. Neither party is without blame.

On the other hand, if I wrote a letter to Sean Paul crusading agaisnt sexual and crass lyrics, it would be terribly inconsistent if I support Ludacris and T-Pain. (This is an analogy.)

I am assuming since you and Nathan are cross-referencing each other that you have some sort of connection. I have never personally met either one of you, but I appreciate your interest in this blog. While I may not share your lopsided logic, I appreciate your Christian passion. As the great Luther Rice once said, "My feelings often vary, and vary much, but not my hope."



Jonathan Merritt said...


Also, I never called Nathan "a hypocrite." With that level of fact checking, I might agree with you spending more time at that other blog.