Sous le pont Mirabeau coule la Seine.
Et nos amours, faut-il qu’il m’en souvienne?
La joie venait toujours apres la peine.
Vienne la nuit, sonne l’heure,
Les jours s’en vont, je demeure.
~ Guillaume Apollinaire
Voyeuristic impulses are hard to shake in the culture in which we live. Even though I have been undergoing a process of re-sensitisation, a deliberate process of discovering the real humanity found in those we tend to ignore, mock, or despise, I find that these elements still surface within me. Sometimes at work I still catch myself thinking, “I can’t wait to write home with this story!” It saddens me to discover this about myself, and it makes me all the more hesitant to share stories with others who are not involved with the type of people with whom I have the privilege of journeying. If, in the immediate situation, I am still tempted to find something entertaining in the events that transpire then those removed from the situation will almost inevitable experience the event solely as entertainment.
What is equally saddening is the way in which we need to appeal to the voyeur in everyone if we are to attract donors. This holds true for all people including Christians. People want a story that titillates, that entertains, that is oh so tragic. Stories of violence make me shiver and feel alive, stories of prostitution are so romantic, stories of abandoned kids remind me of puppies with sad eyes. And if any of these people end up loving Jesus, well, gosh, I’d pay good money for that. What a satisfying little adventure.
It brings me back to something shouted by an unknown British TV reporter in a crowd of Belgian civilians waiting to be airlifted out of the Belgian Congo c.1960. He looked out on the crowd, knowing what kind of story makes for captivating news, and yelled,
“Anyone here been raped and speaks English?”
Sometimes I feel that Christians are looking for the something similar. Donors come to us asking,
“Anyone here been raped and loves Jesus?”