does mtv play, um, music anymore? it seems like the bulk of their programming these days centers around the young, rich and bored (e.g., laguna beach, my super sweet sixteen, etc.). or, as one commenter wryly noted, the progams belong to the faux-hawked and orange-skinned. critiques aside, my wife and i stumbled across a program the other day that has us pretty hooked (hey, it’s summer and lost doesn’t start again until october!)…

on why can’t i be you, a person approaches someone else he or she admires and asks to spend the next 48 hours with that person, learning about whatever qualities had initially been attractive – e.g., being outgoing, funny, unique, etc. it might be the awkward pause between the two people that starts each episode, or the slow, frustrated head-shaking of the host as he observes the often-difficult transformations, or just the goofiness of watching both people come together at the end wearing the same outfits to discuss their experience with the host, but this show has been providing hours of brain-numbing fun for our household…

while i don’t want to be one of those pastors who turns everything into an illustration (and not to be a pastor who tells embarrassing stories about his family – so hard!), i can’t help but catch a glimpse of how discipleship could work as i watch this show. i mean, wouldn’t it be amazing if our faith in jesus was so profound, powerful and attractive that total strangers would approach us and want to know what makes us tick, and how they can live their lives in the same way? the fact that the two people on each episode must spend 48 straight hours together says something about the nature of friendship and transformation – it requires a serious investment of time, and can include some awkward moments, even disagreements. and, while there some overtly didactic moments (“if you want to shred as a snowboarder, you have to just go and kill it out there, dude”), most of the learning happens through observation and close proximity.

i don’t mean to suggest that this show is a perfect analogy for discipleship. after all, the “teacher” receives $1000 for agreeing to participate (although, i suppose a church could go ahead and try that method anyhoo)… just a couple of thoughts – especially since “discipleship” is often reduced to a 12-week course taught in a church classroom (as i have done in the past)…

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i’m intrigued by the use of 80s new-wave songs as titles for current things (“why can’t i be you” is a cure song), especially among christians. i wonder if the good folks over at youth specialties have a special arrangement with depeche mode – does ys have to pay royalties for titles like enjoy the silence and everything counts? i wonder if any customers were surprised to hear larry hampton’s voice instead of robert smith’s when they purchased just like heaven? i think i’ll write a book on relationships and community-building one day called people are people, of course.

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