KONY 2012, Invisible Children’s Detractors, and Loving, Christ-Centered Discernment and Disagreement

Update (3/9/12): Probably the best roundup of links I’ve found anywhere on KONY 2012 is at Rachel Held Evans’ website, so I thought I’d point you there right at the top of this post. I’d also encourage you to read this post from missionaries who lived in Uganda for 17 years (they now serve in Kenya). I’ve updated the list below accordingly.

I don’t usually write on this blog about issues or controversies that aren’t related pretty strongly to Discipleship, or Family, or Ministry (hence the blog’s name). But, I’ve found myself trying to catch up on this issue (The controversy surrounding Invisible Children’s film about Joseph Kony, KONY 2012), and since we as a youth ministry (and probably many readers) have hosted Invisible Children at our church, I thought I’d try to help by providing a small resource page linking to pertinent news stories and sites.

Before we get to that, let me first say that I’m posting this before I’ve come to any sort of a conclusion about KONY 2012 or Invisible Children. I wasn’t really aware of the amount of concern that some have regarding the current KONY 2012 campaign or Invisible Children until very recently, and I haven’t read or digested as much as I would like to on the issue. A friend pointed to a Facebook discussion about this “discussion” from her Twitter account, and I wasn’t really too surprised about the content of the arguments. Whether western aid really helps political and social issues on the African continent are really not a new issue, and neither is the question of whether certain non-profit organizations spend their money wisely on the causes they seek to support.

What concerned me was the tenor of other Facebook conversations I perused after reading that first one. I don’t spend much time on Facebook, so I saw pretty quickly that I’m a bit late to the game regarding KONY 2012, since many people were promoting the film by posting links on their wall or by changing their profile pictures. I also saw there are a small, but vocal number of people concerned about the film. And I was disappointed that a couple of the conversations have simply deteriorated into an online shouting match. Searching a few blogs, I found the same result.

For followers of Jesus who are engaged in this discussion, please remember that while what you are arguing says a lot about your passion and opinions, how you say it says a lot about your character. So, let me suggest we take a minute to read Proverbs 17:27-28, helpful words that are helpful in any online argument:

Whoever restrains his words has knowledge,
      and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.
Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise;
      when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.

And know that as I offer that advice, I speak as a life-long hot-headed know-it-all whose quick words have gotten me into a whole lot of trouble.

Now that we have that out of the way, here are some important stories and posts I’ve found on KONY 2012 and Invisible Children, loosely organized for simplicity’s sake into three categories: those who support IC and their project, those who don’t, and (mostly) neutral news sources. I make no claim on the accuracy or quality of these sources; I’m just putting them here to be helpful.

In support of Invisible Children and KONY 2012
Invisible Children’s website (which as of today redirects to a single page about the film)
Official response from Invisible Children
Washington Post, “Invisible Children responds to criticism about ‘Stop Kony’ campaign”
Clutch Magazine post on “White Savior Syndrome” (warning: crude language)

Not in support of Invisible Children and KONY 2012
Visible Children
The Daily What
Added 3/8/12: An article from The Telegraph

(Mostly) Neutral
CNN blog post
Christianity Today article on the topic
Added 3/8/12: Matt Cleaver has some really good thoughts here, including more helpful links.
Rachel Held Evans’ website (tons of links here)
Drs. Scott and Jennifer Myhre (missionaries who lived in Uganda for 17 years)

If you have helpful links you think I ought to include, feel free to leave them in the comments below and I’ll update this post if needed.

And, in case you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the video causing all the stir:

News Story from West Virginia: Local Youth Group Participates in "30 Hour Famine"

I don’t remember how I came across this, but I thought I’d share it, because I never get tired of seeing teenagers and youth ministries make the news for this sort of thing:

Martin Luther King Jr. I have a Dream Speech (Video)

In honor of today’s holiday:

“But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” –Amos 5:24

Video of the Week: CNN Story on the Passion Conference and Ending Slavery

Pretty amazing this made it on CNN:

Great Post By a Missionary Friend: "The One Percent and Me"

Please head over to Aspen Leaves to Acacia Trees to read a great, thought-provoking post from my friend Jim, a missionary in Kenya. He’s got a great perspective on the “Occupy” movement here in the U.S. and wealth distribution. While you’re there, I recommend you poke around their blog for a few minutes, and perhaps even consider supporting them financially; they’re looking to make up about $250 a month in support.

Here’s an excerpt:

My parents visited last month and we celebrated an early Christmas with them – ham, cranberry sauce and all. After eating, I took some of the traditional meal to our yard-worker, Edward. He had a great time trying all the foods. He really liked cranberry sauce, enjoyed the ham. His favorite part was the stuffing; he didn’t care for the olives. NONE of it was familiar to him. After he’d eaten it and had seconds of the stuffing and that precious cranberry sauce he asked, “You eat like this every Christmas?”

“Yep.” I couldn’t admit to him that I would have normally eaten twice the amount he’d just had OR that we’d had a meal like that only a month ago when we celebrated Thanksgiving or that we’d probably do it all over again when Easter came around.

“Wow!” Wonder filled his face. That he couldn’t really fathom being wealthy enough to eat one meal like that was obvious – and Edward’s a guy living on MORE than two dollars per day – better than over 50% of the world population!

I’m rich. I use the internet, own a car, buy health insurance, have running water (hot water, no less) and listen to an ipod. Maybe I’m not the one percent – but I eat until I’m full.

Read it all.

Sermon: Do For the Least of These

Our senior pastor Roy gave a great sermon yesterday on Matthew 25:31-46, “Do For the Least of These.” Take about 25 minutes and watch it all:

One cool opportunity Roy gave at the end of the sermon was for people to purchase tickets for homeless folks and others in need in our area to attend our annual Christmas Theater program this week. After all, how silly is it to have a great theater program and a nice dinner, but only let people come who can afford it?

Video of the Week: Advent Conspiracy

During Advent, our junior and senior high group is doing the Advent Conspiracy. I’m pretty excited about it and encourage you to check it out. Here’s a great promo video that’s from a couple of years ago, but very powerful:

Video of the Week: Two High School Students Make a Difference

We showed this video last Sunday as part of our One Meal One Day wrap-up:

Ten Things You Can Do Without A Building

1) Gather in a park for worship (unless you are a Christian in one of several countries where that’s illegal, in which case having a building is probably pretty low on your list of priorities).

2) Support a missionary as a church. Or two. Or several.

3) Pray daily for the missionaries you support.

4) Sponsor a Compassion child. Ask the children and teenagers in your church to help sponsor the child and write letters.

5) Host a Bible study in your home.

6) Hand out free Bibles.

7) Learn from Matthew 25:31-46 by visiting hospital patients and prison inmates, volunteering at a homeless shelter, and giving away clothes you never wear anyway.

8) Organize a group to fix up homes of widows and single moms.

9) Adopt a local school to volunteer at as a church.

10) Organize a week-long local mission trip.