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Summary: There are so many voices out there trying to get us to play the game of greed, but we are much better off if we listen to the voice of God calling us to be content with what we have.

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The Game of Greed

I Kings 21:1-10

June 24, 2007

Now, this is my opinion. Feel free to agree or disagree. I really believe that network television programming is at an all time low for creativity. We are in an era when it is so expensive to produce programming that network executives are looking for shows that are cheap to make, yet have the potential to bring in large audiences.

Again, this is just me – and I know that there are millions of people who disagree – but I find shows like “Wife Swap,” “The Great Race,” “Survivor,” Super Nanny,” Dr. Phil,” “The Simple Life,” “The Bachelor” and all sorts of shows like that – to be mind-numbingly stupid.

But it is obvious that they have captured the attention of many people because they continue to multiply. That wouldn’t happen if they weren’t making money, so I’m probably the one who is out of touch.

There is another show that I find to be just as idiotic (again, that’s my opinion that is probably not shared by many others.) It is called “Deal or No Deal.” Many of you have probably seen it. It involves 26 models, each holding a case with a dollar amount all the way to one million dollars. The contestant gets to choose a case which becomes his or her prize. One by one, the other cases are taken off and the contestant is able to see which dollar amounts are no longer in play. The goal is to end up with the million dollar case, or at least as much money as you can get. Every once in a while, the “banker” will call down to the stage and offer a sum of money for the contestant’s case. The contestant can take that money or continue playing. They can leave with a huge amount of money or next to nothing. It just depends on how the winds of fortune blow.

Game shows like this are about as old as television itself. When I was a kid I remember “The $64,000 Question.” Then there was “Let’s Make a Deal,” the $10,000 Pyramid,” The Price is Right,”, “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” and so many others.

At the heart of all of these shows is the chance to win a whole lot of stuff or a whole lot of money. We’ve all seen contestants pass up on a lot of money on the outside chance that they could win more. It all plays into our greed, doesn’t it. The way it works is that, regardless of how much you have; there is always the possibility of having more.

On July 16, 2002, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan went before the Senate Banking Committee to tell them that our national illness was infectious greed. We all remember Enron, WorldCom, Arthur Anderson, and all the others who allowed unbridled greed to sweep through corporate boardrooms and executive suites.

Phyllis Tickle is a lay Eucharistic minister in the Episcopal Church and serves as a contributing editor to Publisher’s Weekly. In 2002 and 2003, the New York Public Library invited a variety of scholars to present lectures on The Seven Deadly Sins. Tickle, who is also a widely-read writer on prayer and spirituality, delivered the lecture on greed which was subsequently published in book-form titled simply “Greed.” In it she says that it is ironic that our money has printed on it, “In God We Trust” when we spend more time counting our assets than we do trusting God.


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