Sunday, November 21, 2010
As usual, the audience gathered for the show in Oprah's Chicago studio not knowing that this was her annual gifting fest. As far as the audience knew, the shows subject was to be meditation. The adoring fans awaited for Oprah's appearance and she did not disappoint. The audience obligingly rose to their feet amidst screams of adulation as though some great military hero had just entered the room. She began the show by introducing the subject and then pulled the surprise. From here on out, the audience could barely control itself.
As each prize or gift was announced, the audience once again obliged by going wild. Both men and women jumped and clapped and screamed at the top of their lungs as the gifts were either distributed or shown to the audience. It appeared that there was about to be a mass fainting spell at any moment. This orgy of celebratory nonsense went on for what seemed to be hours even though the show is only an hour long with commercials.
This frenzy continued throughout the entire show. It was amazing to me how excited the members of this audience became over these gifts. Mind you, the gifts were not your ordinary gifts. There was a plasma TV and expensive jewelry among other things. But such display of hysteria over mere material gifts was beyond my understanding.
Now there may be some of you who would say to me that I might react in the same way. Since I have never been on the receiving end of such opulent gifts, I wouldn't know how I would react. I would hope that I would be far more restrained than Oprah's audience was. To me, this display was bordering on the obscene. It highlighted the notion for me that our material world has completely hijacked any notion of common sense and robbed us of the values that have made our society envied throughout the world. I have to wonder how many of these people complained about the lavish travels of Michelle Obama to Spain complaining of her spending so much money while millions were unemployed and finding it difficult to feed their families. I wonder, will any of these audience members sell their gifts and give the money to charities who look after the poor, the hungry, and the homeless?
All of us like to receive presents. Its fun. We all enjoy being on the receiving end of someone's generosity. But what I am saying here is that this is materialism gone wild. I am not questioning Oprah's motivation. She may be, in fact, a very generous person. What I am saying is that her gifts to this group of people and their resultant reaction tells me something disturbing about society as a whole. I'm afraid that there are many of us who would react in much the same way. Have we reached a point when materialism has become our god? Or has the drive to obtain things always been this ferocious?
Christmas is the time when we celebrate the ultimate giver, Jesus Christ. He gave His life so that all may live. I wonder if the joy on display on the Oprah show as the presents were rolled out will be duplicated in the churches as we celebrate the coming of the ultimate gifter! I rather doubt it.