Summary: Just how realistic is the way of Jesus, the way of the Beatitudes, and the Sermon on the Mount? Just how true is Jesus’ statement, “Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth”? (Mt 5:5.)


On Friday nights while all of us should be at our Cell Groups, ntv7 is showing the 2nd series of Survivor—this time at the Australian Outback. While I don’t want you to cut short your CG meeting to head home to catch the programme—still, I think watching a couple of episodes is good. Discuss the values that are presented there.

Survivor has been very popular. I don’t have the statistics for the second series but in the first series filmed in Pulau Tiga off the coast of Sabah had an average weekly viewer-ship of 28 million in the US and the grand finale drew a record-breaking 72 million Americans to the TV to see who would be the ultimate survivor and win the US$1 million prize money.

In Malaysia it was watched by 519,000 viewers—comprising mostly of young urbanites in their early 20s to 30s.

Why is Survivor so popular? There are probably many reasons. Slick promotion. Comments by the media that inadvertently created even more interest. A lot of people watch the programme—which they call it a reality-based gameshow—is, in my opinion quite interesting and exciting—the outcome being quite unpredictable.

Imagine putting 16 people together from different backgrounds—trying to surviving together and at the same time competing against one another for individual survival.

You see, after each round the participants meet together to cast their votes to see who will be dismissed from the group. It can be for any number of reason—because I think you

are not pulling your weight, or you are no good or simply because I don’t like your face. The ultimate goal then is not to get voted out. And the way to survive is to make sure that there are people on your side—alliances are made—and broken—leaving behind a trail of betrayal and suspicion. It’s better than soap opera—better than Dynasty and Dallas. This is real life played out in a gameshow. That, is perhaps, what makes Survivor so popular—it is so close to what the real world is like.

Survival of the Cunning

Headings in the newspapers on this programme reads: “Survival of the Cunning”; “It Pays to be Ruthless and Rotten”.

And the winner in the first series was Richard Hatch—openly gay and who had come to Pulau Tiga determined to win. This is how one article in the Star puts it,

“Hatch, a former West Point, played like a snake but earned the respect of his fellow castaways. While others went there to make friends, Hatch was there for the money. He quickly cemented a pact with the three other finalists and they managed to kick others off the island one by one.

In the end, it was left to t a jury of seven ousted castaways to decide between Hatch and Wigglesworth and, their decisions showed, it was not about the better or nicer person but who played the game better. In picking Hatch as the winner, the jury was rewarding him for his smarts and his integrity [I am not so sure about that]—although he was ruthless.”

One person who was asked about his view of the show, I believe, nailed it on the head when he said, “It’s sorry that our society is this way, but the people who are conniving and back-stabbing are the ones who make it. I think many of us will agree—that that’s the picture of our world. In Hollywood and Bollywood they can and still script to let good triumph over evil. But in Survivor no one controls the plot and how things eventually turn out. That is why it is closer to real life than the movies that come out of Hollywood.

And we sigh—what’s the point in being good, if being good can’t help us win!

Survival of the Strong

Scenario No. 2. 20 years ago the Allied Forces stormed into Iraq to end the Gulf War. Philip Yancey in The Jesus I Never Knew wrote about his thoughts when he heard General Schwarzkopf at the morning press conference, through a live-coverage on TV, after the invasion of Iraq. At that time he was also watching a movie on video about Jesus in preparation for a class he had to teach. But, Yancey said,

“Soon I to abandoned the VCR altogether—Stormin’ Norman proved entirely too engaging. He told of the ‘end run’ around Iraq’s elite Republican Guard, of a decoy invasion by sea, of the allied capability of marching all the way to Baghdad unopposed. He credited the Kuwaitis, the British, the Saudis, and every other participant in the multinational force. A general confident in his mission and immensely proud of his soldiers who had carried it out, Schwarzkopf gave a bravura performance. I remember thinking, That’s exactly the person you want to lead a war.

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