Admittedly, my blog posts from Southeast Asia have been sobering indeed. But I have never shied away from telling it like it is, have I?

In yesterday’s Huffington Post, the leader of an interfaith orphan ministry criticized the motion picture Slumdog Millionaire as “poverty porn” because of the movie’s great financial success without a corresponding commitment by the filmmakers to alleviate issues of poverty. I certainly don’t know all the details about the filmmakers’ hearts or financial contributions but, if true, I would concur with the writer’s comments. There is an obligation to not just show or dramatize poverty, but to be an agent of change, especially if profiting from such depictions.

However, I do take exception when the writer states that his orphan organization “has a policy never to show children in need or distress.” He instead chooses to portray “children after, not before or current.” He continues by stating that “Sally Struthers can stroll though the garbage dumps of the world showing you pathetic children, but this is truly pornographic. My organization will not stoop so low.”

I think this is taking the analogy too far and, quite frankly, is misguided and condescending.

More than one billion people live in urban slums today. That’s over 15% of the world’s population and doesn’t count families living in rural-poverty equivalents. More than half of the world lives on less than $2 per day and one-third of urban dwellers have no access to safe drinking water! Did you really understand that…or did you just skim over the words like I often do? Over 3 billion people will make $2 or less today while we try to decide whether to add a shot of vanilla into our $4 lattes.

Severe poverty is rampant and, yet, we are safely entombed in our comfortable bubble of isolation and denial in the West. Believe me, our current economic crisis is a joke compared to the living conditions of most people struggling to survive in the world today.

Yes, let’s please show the images and tell the stories of happiness and improvement, but the reality is that the Church in the West needs a wakeup call; it needs to be radically shaken by the sad realities of this world. Much like the Gospel that the Western Church is also prone to water down, we need to understand the bad news (sin, separation and death) in order to truly understand the good news (reconciliation, transformation and life). We focus on being blessed instead of being a sacrifice, of fulfilling self instead of dying to self. We focus on being at ease instead of being afflicted by the needs and conditions of others.

I never thought of myself as a pornographer before, but so be it.