1.31.2006

get rich off Christ dyin'


I was in a recent church service where the pastor was talking about the evils of the entertainment business, Hollywood, violent video games, and MTV. He was saying that these media vehicles were spiraling out of control. More violence, more sex, more depravity.
In conversation since then I've posed the question, "are Christians partly to blame for this problem?" Here is my theory: Christians in the media, left their positions of influence to create a smaller niche where they could completely control the content; "christian entertainment". Christian consumers took their purchasing power to a "christian marketplace" abandoning the popular marketplace. How can we complain about how bad everything has gotten when we abandoned that marketplace a long time ago? We retreated to our own subculture. We left "them" to their own devices. We created our own music, our own literature, our own clothing, our own art, in my town there are even a few "christian restaurants"! They are owned and operated by Christians and they market through word of mouth; "have you been to "so 'n so's", Oh you should really check it out... they're Christians!"

I understand the initial thought of these separatists. They were trying to be holy, trying to be separate. But if the end result is that we've become so separate that we are rendered impotent is it really worth it?

Another aspect of the "christian marketplace" that worries me is the thought that if you put a christian label on it, Christians will buy it. I read a review of a video game a few years back. The game was about a paper delivery boy. The paperboy would go along his route throwing papers in order to get to the end of the game where a bikini clad young woman jumped up and down to congratulate him on a job well done. It was a stupid game.
The game flopped.
The gaming company had a brilliant idea. They changed the game up a little bit. The had the paperboy deliver Bibles. They changed the story line so that the paperboy was on his way to Sunday School. They changed the bikini babe to a dowdy looking Sunday School teacher. They put a cross on the front of the video game box, and they started marketing to Christian book stores.
The game was still stupid.
It was a smashing success.
The video game review I read was in a "secular" magazine. The reviewer had seen both versions of the game. His closing comment was along the lines of, "Those stupid Christians, they'll buy anything you tell them to as long as you call it a christian product."

Even more disturbing is the fact that people will avoid something that has been marketed towards Christians even if the product is amazingly beautiful! I went to a pre-release screening of "the Passion of the Christ". It was a big deal. Mel Gibson was there answering questions and the whole deal. At first I thought, "this is amazing." Then I realized what they were doing. They were marketing to Christians.
They invited pastors to the screening so that we would go back to our churches and tell our congregations that it was their duty to go out and see this movie... you know, because it's "christian." Obviously, "passion" was a huge success (but was is truly the "biggest evangelistic opportunity in 2000 years" as it was hyped? That's another post I guess.). Recently a similar marketing campaign was used for the movie "Chronicles of Narnia". Again, a beautiful, excellent movie, but I have read on blogs, and heard people say in conversations that they would avoid these movies just because they were being marketed to Christians, and they didn't want to be fed church propaganda.
Read a little more about the Narnia marketing machine by CLICKING HERE, HERE, OR HERE.

What's wrong with letting the art speak for itself?

Here's an idea: If you are talented in music, or visual arts, or movie making, or script writing, or clothing design, or whatever, go into the marketplace and let your art speak for itself. Create excellent art that is indicative that we are creative beings, made in the image of a creative God. Don't tell people they should partake in your product because of your faith. Tell them they should partake in your product because it is a quality product.

Go out there and redeem the marketplace.

If you disagree and prefer to purchase only christian goods, your prayers have been answered!
CLICK HERE to be redirected to "LordMart" your one stop shop for Jesus Junk, and Holy Hardware (Jesus Saves... especially when He shops at LordMart).
Ask yourself... WWJB (What Would Jesus Buy)?

16 comments:

TGL said...

Jimmy,

I agree that in many ways we have left the marketplace, and therefore have little basis to complain. This has happened in other areas of life as well. It has happened in education, where Christians have left the public schools. My kids attent public school, and one of the reasons is I want them and me to have an influence on what goes on there. The education establishment would not be nearly as liberal if more Christians stayed and fought.

Keep it up,
Tim

Indie said...

Awesome, awesome, awesome, awesome. What a great post! I'm looking forward to reading more of the blog.

jamie said...

Blech...good post.

bjk said...

THAT was an awesome post!

Roman said...

I've been angered(?) with Christian market for a while too. I am working on a story that deals with Christian mythology, but is still more of a "secular" story. If I don't call it "Christian", I become a heretic. If I do call it "Christian" I become a Family Bookstore bestseller, but it isn't what my story is. It isn't a secular or Christian work, it is MY work. I'd rather people just read it without leaning towards either side.

By the way, on "Narnia", I work at a movie store and I have seen a lot of Christian shoppers complain that Disney made the movie and so therefore, despite how true it was to CS Lewis' own words, it could never be called "Christian" and they refuse to prepurchase the movie. Yet we still have 50 or so reserves and the movie isn't released on DVD until April 25th. More regular movie goers without any sway of religous politcs are interested in the movie than Christians are.

Jenny Jorg said...

the part that bugs me is at Christian bookstores. They slap anything Christian on a product and sell it. For example: Testamints http://christianthings.com/testmint.html

It's just ridiculous.

I'm trying to break out of my little safe Christian bubble...we'll see how it goes. ;)

Hidden Valley Girl said...

Yup, Yup!!! Good stuff, blah blah blah!!! Everyone already said it!!! I have probably retreated alittle too much, but really, I just don't want anymore of the hype, christianese or anything to do with people who live in their own "safe christian bubble" and don't want to set foot in the real world and just live life without the plastic, Sunday perma-smile!! ( I think you know what I mean) Alright, venting done, enough said . . .

Charly Murphy said...

This is the best blog post i have read in a very long time. I totlaay agree with the idea that we as christians ought not seperate ourselves, lest we become ineffective to the world by trying to be not of the world.

Crissi said...

Couldn't agree more, everyone's said what I would have. Amazing post!

Gina said...

Brilliant, as usual, Jimmy. My friend and I went to a gay bar a couple weeks ago after I got off work. We got a beer and played pool. We were the only two in the place and as we were playing, we were talking about our relationships with God and what was going on at church etc. The bar tender was chattin with us as well and was enthrawled that WE would be THERE. We had a pretty good talk about God and what it means to walk with him every day. The world needs that.

kt said...

ITA!

and some use the buzz word "christian" to mean that it must NOT be 'that good' ...but it's 'Christian'. The expectatiosn are lower...& that is disappointing, frustrating & sad.

kt said...

PS: there is a book that speaks about this very same thing.... "Roaring Lambs".

Natala said...

i think it is so sad that church finds the need to sell christ - in a store, or at church.

Mike Gandy said...

Jimmy,

I gree to some extent in the fact that we shouldn't purchase or even market things to "exclusive" groups of consumers. The problem I have is that people,well, a lot of Christians, have stopped being discerning. They are not discriminating in their choices about what to bring into their homes or put into their minds. And not all "secular" movies or entertainment is bad. See Remember the Titans or Spy Kids 3, especially the final 15 minutes, as examples. Christians need to be out in the market place promoting quality, character, values and morals to everyone not just the already convinced.

shayne pasaol said...

StRiKinG blog post this is!

I went to a Caedmon's Call concert not too long ago, and the speaker (who, by the way, had a fabulous Argentinian accent) persistently and repeatedly had the audience repeat after him in saying the words: BUSINESS, and the MARKETPLACE. At first I thought: okay, what's the deal here, yo?!! It turned out to be one of those gentle yet quite loud whispers of revelation from the King Himself. Yep, yep. That's right!

I eventually got the juice of the speaker's message. Jesus spent some good time in the market place of the old Jerusalem temple, and that's the place of business. Followers of Christ are called to win hearts of those who do not yet know Him or love Him, and to impact the world tremendously to the point of no avail to shun the King's message. In this world we live in, it's totally the marketplace that needs to be redeemed!

Anonymous said...

I agree...there is a big marketing thing going on. I have heard people buy something because of the Christian stamp of approval. There is even a Christian phone book of businesses.
It is just the greedy hypocrisy that turns me off.