Thursday, January 18, 2007

Death by Stupidity: Postmortem Revenge

A young woman has died after drinking two gallons of water in a short period of time without relieving herself. This was part of a contest to win a Nintendo Wii gaming console (whatever that is). Now her survivors want to sue the radio station that sponsored the bizarre self-torture-for-toys "contest." We have a new martyr to the absurd.

Perhaps this could only happen in post-sane, post-sensible, over-the-top-all-the-time-and-you-can't- stop-us America. People do idiotic things for silly prizes or just for a few minutes of fame or glamour. If they are hurt or killed, lawsuits are immediately filed. The hungry lawyers leap out of their caves, salivating. How many things are wrong with this?

1. The body is a creation of God and should not be abused.
2. Risks should not be take for frivolous purposes.
3. Law suits should not compensate for personal irresponsibility.
4. A life focused on the things that matter most would never abandon itself to utter inanities such as this.
5. Radio stations should not promote freakish behavior.

As with the fall of Rome, when a culture loses or abandons a transcendent orientation to life, all manner of oddities, perversions, and distortions take over. It is a descent into the abyss of meaninglessness. Life not lived under the audit of eternity soon becomes a theater of the absurd, but a theater without a director and in which the actors have no roles, but only random poses and frantic gestures. This is but one example of thousands that abound in American culture. Energy not spent on serving God and others is dispersed and dissipated into trivia, mania, eroticism, gossip (Donald verses Rosie) or endless self-promotion.

The Wisdom of God declares:

35 For those who find me find life and receive favor from the LORD.
36 But those who fail to find me harm themselves; all who hate me love death.

Proverbs 8:35-36.

This is a sad and pathetic story. I am not making light of this poor woman or her family. We should pray for her family. But it seems to be a frightening portent into a miasma of meaninglessness.


Than Brown said...

A Reuters article points out, "In an online recording of the show, the DJs can be heard making comments joking about people dying from water intoxication, even discussing a case in Northern California two years ago in which student Matthew Carrington, 21, died after drinking too much water during a fraternity pledge. One of the DJs even admitted they maybe should have done some research before the contest."

Situations like this make me personally understand, to a greater extent at least, Hosea's indictment against Israel, " people are destroyed from lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6)."

The Daily Fuel said...

Funny, I was talking to my wife about this the other day. I have heard about the story but I do not know the details, so perhaps I should not speak about it. Still, the first thing that came to mind was "I'm not going to say that anyone deserves to die for something like this, but surely you have to be pretty foolish to subject yourself to such a trial for a Nintendo game console." But then I have to wonder: would the average person know that you can die from drinking too much water? I don't know that I would have, the thought never even crossed my mind until this happened. People do much worse (even though the stakes are higher). I think of TV shows like "Fear Factor", which I have personally never watched because I find it unattractive, but which I have caught enough glimpses of to know how ridiculous people can get in the name of greed. Episodes like these speak volumes about the times we live in. Some may like to blame this on a lack of godliness in the world. I don't, but I certainly agree that it shows just how vacuous some people are that they feel the need to risk their health (even their lives) to attain one more physical possession.
Nevertheless, this goes to show how harmful a mix of ignorance and greed can be.

Craig Fletcher said...

Who knows if this woman, or any of the other contestants or radio station employees (8 of which are now fired) were Christians or not.

Would it be surprising if they were? For those of us who believe the gospel, who believe in Heaven - we must remember that Heaven is where the real action is. This life is a vapor.

Why is it then, that 95+% of most Christians efforts in this life are focused on worldly things? I am not above this, I ask myself this same question often. It shows me that my faith pales to that of the original apostles, as does the faith of most Americans. Our abundance rarely affords us the experience of true desperation.. although we all succumb to desperation eventually.

This woman gave her life for a video game console (Doug, it's a machine that you can plug video games like Gears of War into and blow your mind out through the TV. Hundreds of games for your children to choose from!). Given an eternal perspective - a video game console is not only worthless, it's costly. Even if you are an unbeliever, what redeeming value do video games offer? Read a book! Discuss something valueable (or even plain amusing) with your children.

May the Lord have mercy on this woman's family. So sad for those kids to lose their mommy so young.

Rudolf van der Berg said...

In reacton to Fletcher first and to the Curmudgeon later on:

I find your reaction puzzling in many ways. You wonder why 95% of our actions are for worldly things. Shouldn't it be that all or actions come from a Spirit guided heart and that makes them by default non-worldly? There is a perspective on sin that sais that sin is doing what is not in God's plan for your life. Praying can therefore be a sin if you were supposed to help your old mother. Don't stare yourself blind on the old apostles. Many people in the first church had a job to do, tent making or fishing.

Abundance had little to do with it. Faith caused by desperation can't have a strong foundation. Faith proven in desperate times can help build that foundation. But faith is most tested in abundance, so rejoice that you're not given an easy way out.

Yes the Wii is a game console. It is a game console that allows you to influence the game by physical movements. So you can bowl, by really making that movement. Same goes for baseball and swordfighting. It allows your kids to have fun, to develop skills in pattern recognition, improve reaction time and learn about the world and deal with strange new situations. It teaches them patience, it teaches them to deal with success and failure, it teaches them all these things and more. As long as there is a teacher around to show them how to deal with their experiences. As a believer and a player of video games I wonder what is wrong with the medium of video games. Video games are a canvas, or better like canvas, like a white piece of paper. Every medium the world has used to convey information has been used for information people liked and didn't like. Be it stone, rituals, paper or bits. There is no redeeming value in a book on an eternal scale if the book contains no valuable content, but most of all if the reader doesn't learn from it. (BTW run the numbers, price spent on game/time spent with game vs price spent on book/time spent on book)But it is always good to spend time with your children. Throw a ball with them, bowl with them or play a race game.

And now a bit on the lady who died. I disagree with the Curmudgeon on points 2 and 4. How many of us knew you could die from water poisoning? I had heard of it, but I never thought it was this easy. This lady didn't know the risk, she thought it to be minor. If she would have had to play a game with the same chance of dying, she wouldn't have done it. It seemed like a dumb, but fun and harmless idea. (Much like skiing down a slope, or painting your house, both of which are dangerous too). We hand out prices for people doing the weirdest stuff... cycling fast, bowling over pins, writing the most interesting book. Achieving all of these can be jolly good fun, unless we loose sight on what is around us. Don't judge, you might be judged too.

Jonathan Erdman said...

I'll tell you what, we can say what we will about this being a reflection of a corrupt culture, etc., but you have to respect the passion that the woman had for her kids. She was willing to endure a lot of pain as well as public humiliation so that her kids could have some fun.

Midguided? Perhaps. But this mom literally laid it all on the line for her kids.