For those who haven’t noticed the phenomenon, there’s an internet meme about “First world problems.” These are problems that aren’t really problems, or at least, they are things that only become problems when you don’t have issues of real gravity to concern yourself with. Here are a few examples:
- Lack of clean drinking water = a real problem
- Lack of your favorite bottled or flavored variety = first world problem
Make sense? Here’s another:
- Lacking access to life saving medical care = a real problem
- Lacking access to, or resources for, butt-cheek augmentation = first world problem
Here’s one more:
- Being oppressed/jailed/tortured or killed because of your faith (such as Christians in various parts of the world) = a real problem
- Google choosing to run a “doodle” about Cesar Chavez rather than one about Easter = definite first world problem
Here’s the offending image:
I like it artistically, as it’s one of the more serious doodles they’ve done.
Out of curiosity, I looked back at the doodle archive, and the only example of an Easter doodle I found was from 2000, and it looked like this:
Notice the prominence of bad pastels and fertility symbol-ish eggs? Nary a cross or empty tomb to be seen. And guess what: who cares? Christians certainly shouldn’t. Google is not a Christian organization, it is a public business. Certainly there are Christians who work at Google. Larry Page and Sergey Brin both have a Jewish background. I don’t know how active they are religiously, but that doesn’t matter: Google is made up of a lot of people and serves a lot of people with diverse views, why the heck should they start promoting a particular faith? And more than that, what makes American Christians in particular take offense that this year’s doodle wasn’t related to Easter? As though a doodle would be a great religious statement.
I’ll tell you what I think, I think it’s related to what Walter Percy writes about in his novel The Moviegoer as “certification.” Here’s what he says about it:
“She refers to a phenomenon of moviegoing which I have called certification. Nowadays when a person lives somewhere, in a neighborhood, the place is not certified for him. More than likely he will live there sadly and the emptiness which is inside him will expand until it evacuates the entire neighborhood. But if he sees a movie which shows his very neighborhood, it becomes possible for him to live, for a time at least, as a person who is Somewhere and not Anywhere.”1
I think what Christians are looking for when they get up in arms about crap like this is simply this: they still want the culture to do the heavy lifting for their personal faith. Not only that, but for many, the dulcet tones of a faith-affirming culture–even if that faith is incredibly superficial, as it usually is–can keep the boogeyman of doubt at bay. But I have news for those of you who maintain belief: it’s up to you, not to society, and that’s a very good thing.
Besides, Google has done a lot more to help Christians (and everyone else) through their digitization projects. For example:
- Google Library Project (Including Oxford, Princeton and Harvard, among others)
- The Digitization of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Google Cultural Institute generally
And while Google can’t take credit for other projects, such as the digitization taking place at St. Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai or at the Vatican’s Apostolic Library, its efforts have certainly advanced the cause of making knowledge more available, including a large number of texts that are relevant to Christianity and western cultural heritage more broadly.
So, all this is to say, folks getting bent our of shape about Cesar Chavez (a Christian by the way) being honored instead of bunnies, eggs or Jesus: suck it up, gird your loins, and move on.