God Only Loves Winners

by Laura on October 30, 2011

We admit it– we’re Survivor fans.  We’ve watched Boston Rob rise and fall and then rise again, we’ve rooted for firefighter Tom from New York, and we’ve rolled our eyes at evil-maniac Russell who burned people’s socks. And even though they’ve been recycling challenges for the past 10 seasons of the current 23 {really, how many wooden puzzle piece-obstacle games could you come up with?}, we still love watching the way this social-game-meets-ethical-quagmire-meets-physical-challenge plays out differently, and dramatically, each season.

And this week’s episode had Matt and I talking the next morning– about the way religion and Godprayer and winning play out in much more than a reality tv show. Watch the first 1  1/2 minutes of the reactions after a game-changing challenge  . . .

And I see human nature show itself  in this modern-day Lord of the Flies, and I’m left with this:

What happens next week when they pray, and then get their tails handed to them by the other team? Did they pray wrong that time, but right this time? Does a loss mean God’s displeasure and, thus,  require a very different argument to rationalize?


Has the church or religion become a Coach {the leader from the winning team}– dictating the way the group as a whole responds, essentially shoving others to their knees smack-dab in the middle of very-human moments? {If you’ve watched previous episodes, you get the understanding that most of the teammates do not claim a strong Christian faith.}


{More Personally} Have I looked like that before? Have I done that before– the pushing to knees, the over-spiritualization of perhaps very ordinary things?

Have I somehow come to believe that God works mostly on the if/then principle–  an idea much more palatable, obviously, to the winning team?


Thoughts? What part of the video struck you most about life, yourself, religion, human nature?
Survivor-fan yourself

  • Carol

    We are fans of the show too. The past few weeks have had some interesting situations. The thing that I thought was most disturbing from the most recent episode was the praying for something that was already in hand. If you wanted to make prayer seem like a big show, that would be a good way to do it.

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com Laura

      Carol, Yes, the “making prayer a big show”– I think that’s what’s pretty disturbing to me about the whole thing. Of course, I know the show highlighted that, too, and we only see what they want us to see, but still.

      Glad ya’ll are fans, too. :)

  • Janie

    I found the first episode of Survivor interesting… it was the first reality show I’d ever watched. (Wasn’t it the first reality show in the revival of this kind of programming that began in the early 2000’s?) But the changing characters with the same plot didn’t hold my interest the way that TV shows with the same characters (that you can become attached to) and different plots do.
    I spend a lot of time in the “please do this for me (and others)” kind of prayer. What would I say to people who are struggling if I couldn’t say, “I’ll pray for you”? Sometimes a nagging inner voice warns me to refer to Matthew 6:7-13 where Jesus tells us not to babble in our prayers like the pagans do, and not to insult God by believing He doesn’t already know what we need and provide for it before we even ask. Jesus said to pray for these things: (1) Acknowsedge that God is the only God in Heaven and on Earth; (2) ask that God’s will be done; (3) ask God to forgive me for the sins I committed on this day; and (4) ask God to deliver me from the evil one.”
    I guess I have to keep asking myself if prayer that is more complicated than that can provide me with anything that could benefit me.
    Maybe I should write those 4 things down on sticky notes :-)

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com Laura


      I do agree that survivor is incredibly repetitive– I suppose that means I am simple-minded! ha ha.

      I love what you said about the simplicity of prayer and the wrongness of us making it so dag-gum complicated. Why do we feel the need to do that so often? I think I need the sticky notes, too!

  • Cheryl

    I am a big Survivor fan also. When I saw this I wondered what their reaction would be if they lost? Can a Christian really win in a game to out-wit, out-play, and out-last other people? Does this show ultimately show Christians in a bad light? I don’t really know the answers to my question, but do still enjoy watching. I also enjoy the Amazing Race. Last week they were in Thailand and I was pleased to see that the young snowboarders are Christians. I enjoy seeing how those who proclaim to be Christians can handle stress in such public situations. I have no idea how I would do in situations like Survivor or The Amazing Race, but even though they are reality shows, they still are just tv shows and really have nothing to do with my life as I will never be on a reality show or even live on a remote island for a month or travel the world in a few weeks!

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com Laura

      Cheryl– yes, it does seem like so often they have a token “christian” on many reality shows. So often, it seems like the ones highlighted are a bit far-out and eccentric and perhaps don’t paint Christ-following in such a great light. But, I suppose, that is true of most stereotypes, right?

      I’m a big Amazing Race fan, too! Though I haven’t seen the Thailand episode yet. . .

      • Cheryl

        The last two episodes were in Thailand, episodes 4 and 5, airdate 10/16 and 23. Last night they went on to Africa. Just for your info if you are watching online. They were in Phuket and Bangkok but didn’t go any farther north. My daughter is in Chiang Rai for another month, so I was hoping they would go farther north so I could see the country there.

        • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com Laura

          Is you daughter enjoying her time here in country? Can’t wait to watch those episodes!

          • Cheryl

            Thank you for asking. She was homesick at first but now that she is learning the language more and is more used to the climate she is doing great! Her blog is:
            She is going to Myanmar to renew her visa and also will be staying at a goat farm in Mae Sae for the weekend. I can’t wait to see all her pictures and hear about how God is using her there.
            Survivor–they didn’t show much on faith last night, but I did like how Coach’s team treated Cochran after the vote.

  • http://www.angiewashington.com @ngie

    YES! I am totally a Survivor fan! Since they brought in the Redemption Island element is seems spirituality has been more dominant in the players. Personally Coach and Brandon kinda make me cringe, as did Matt as times last season (although I appreciated his more down to earth approach). I really don’t think God takes sides when it comes to games, competitions, immunity idols, the lottery, and other such stuff. He is on the side of love.

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com Laura

      Dang– evidence for our potential friendship is just continuing to stack up! ha ha.

      Yes, poor brandon– just a tormented soul isn’t he? I find myself cringing quite a bit this season, as well. Can I just say this was beyond perfect?–

      “I really don’t think God takes sides when it comes to games, competitions, immunity idols, the lottery, and other such stuff. He is on the side of love.”

      YES. Absolutely.

  • Tamara

    Thanks for another great post!
    Well, this fits in perfectly w/ the new move called the “Tebow” (knee on ground, elbow on other knee, head bowed into hand in prayer after a good play or a win).
    While I applaud people of faith publicly giving thanks and glory to God over a victory, I would like to see more people who are visible to the masses giving God praise and glory during times of seeming-defeat. Maybe even see those closest to us giving praise and glory during hard times.
    Romans tells us we are more than conquerors, nothing can separate us from the love of God, Jesus proclaims the poor in spirit-the meek-the righteousness seekers-the peacemakers-the PERSECUTED will win. Our Scriptural examples of the very most Godly heroes suffered and were rarely – ever? – what we would see as “winners”. Makes me wonder if I want to be on the “winning team” here on earth. Ok. Of course I do but I want it to be winning for the right reasons : ~ ) We do pray to win victory over circumstances but I hope we pray with the knowledge that we’ve already won by having the ear of our Savior.
    Yes, God does work on the if/then principle: IF you love me, THEN you will love my children. IF you believe, THEN you are saved. And many more IF/THEN statements (except they often say “therefore”). The worldly sticky-wicket is that we really, really want this list to include: IF you pray, THEN you will get whatever earthly victory you think you want. Pretty sure it doesn’t work quite like that. Not in my almost-55-years.
    I’ve got to be happy, really and truly joyful that at the end of the day I can be thankful that Jesus is the ultimate survivor and he formed an alliance with me – and you – so that I am in His tribe forever and ever.
    Hugs from here!

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com Laura

      I LOVE that idea, Tamara, that people would publicly make a “show” of prayer/faith after a LOSS– I don’t know if that has ever happened, right? But, isn’t it really in life what does happen more– that we typically have more losses than wins, anyway?

      • Tamara

        Well, sometimes it does seem that we have more losses than wins. But if we can turn our perspective just a bit, maybe by only taking a step away, just every once in a while . . . the “losses” are temporary while the victories proven through those loses are stunning victories indeed.
        Hugs to you this late night, sweet smart friend!

        • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com Laura

          Ah, love that perspective of the “long term wins” . . . good stuff, friend.

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