Peak stupid in the culture wars – get angry about something that matters!

So, Christian twitter has been going mad. What has done it this time? Hasbro – the children’s toy company – has announced a rebrand of its Mr Potato Head toy. It already introduced a Mrs Potato Head years ago. It appeared to have decided to drop the Mr and Mrs and refer to them as just ‘potato head’, allowing children to create whatever kind of potato they want.

I consider the overwhelming majority of culture war things to be something of a waste of time. There are occasional outlying examples of worthy efforts to push back, but more often than not these are just misplaced attempts to impose a Christian worldview on a country that in no way buys into what we believe. It also ends up being self-defeating as we argue for freedom on areas where we want to be left to our own devices whilst, at the same time, hollering that others shouldn’t be free to do stuff we don’t like even though it doesn’t personally affect us. It can tend to look hypocritical. In cases where companies sell things you don’t like, we don’t need to try and ban them, just don’t buy them and get on with your life.

But I think we have now reached peak stupid. Of course, records are there to be broken and no doubt something even more stupid will rear its head in time. But getting angry about a potato is stupid. A lot of people who were never going to buy it are getting angry that something they didn’t want to buy has changed its name and has gone from being an apparently gendered potato to an apparently gender neutral potato. One wonders whether we can even hear ourselves sometimes.

But added to the general stupidity, it isn’t even quite as its being portrayed anyway. As the BBC report here, ‘the company said the Mr and Mrs Potato Head characters would still be available to buy’. Hasbro have said:

So, it seems Hasbro are just rebranding the Mr Potato Head – which includes Mrs Potato Head – and calling the brand Potato Head whilst keeping the Mr and Mrs Potato Head characters. So, even if it was valid to be getting angry about a potato (and it isn’t), what people seem to be getting annoyed about isn’t even the thing they are getting irritated about it.

But, truth be told, I think what has wound me up most about this is not the inherent idiocy of getting angry about a plastic potato. It is the outpouring of Christian anger over a rebrand of a plastic potato weighed against the considerably more muted response to issues which should exercise us far more than they do. I don’t recall too many Christians getting quite so angry about the poor children who were facing holiday hunger. There weren’t all that many people getting angry about the plight of the poor and destitute in communities like mine. Perhaps most egregious of all, when we speak about the dearth of gospel preaching churches in deprived communities, the response is much quieter and less concerned. But a plastic potato apparently (but not actually) going gender neutral – let’s explode on twitter!

And, frankly, that makes me angry. If you have made loud noises about the rebrand of Mr Potato Head, but you have been unmoved by the suffering of the poor, your moral compass needs a serious wobble. If you have gone mad about gay people being depicted in TV adverts but you haven’t lifted a finger or so much as prayed for churches to be planted in deprived communities, resources to be sent to support poorer churches, or for working class and ethnic minority people to be saved because we are currently missing them in the church, you should be utterly ashamed of yourself. You are not expressing the mind of Christ. You are concerning yourself with having your sensibilities protected whilst ignoring the very real material and spiritual needs facing real people. You prefer to get angry at a lump of plastic than address the needs of real people facing physical deprivation and, worse, a lost eternity.

I wish we would get more angry about that spiritual deficit in our country that means the South East and wealthier city regions have access to gospel preaching churches, but poorer towns and council estates generally don’t. I wish we would get angry about the needs of the poor in deprived communities – both the spiritual and material – that moved people like Shaftesbury, Muller, Spurgeon and others to reach them with the gospel and meet their needs in practical ways. I wish Christian twitter would get angry (and then do something about) the real spiritual and material problems facing people today.

Stood before the Lord on the last day, and he asks us to give account for how we served him, what are we going to say? We went to places where others wouldn’t for the sake of the gospel? We sought to use our resources to establish churches in areas with no access to the gospel so that people might be saved? We sought to feed the hungry and clothe the poor so that we might also share with them the words of eternal life? Or, we love Jesus so much we got angry on the internet about a plastic potato!

God have mercy on us.