Nov 29, 2005

games christians play

Well, apparently we've won.

Whatever that means.

I've seen in several news reports that Christian t-shirts are selling better than anything else out there. Yes - this means that the majority of Americans will choose to buy something with a snappy spiritual slogan on it versus an Abercrombie logo or a shirt honoring the NBA team of their choice. Maybe our "In Case Of Rapture This Shirt Will Be Empty" thinking has finally caught on... or maybe the fact that the shirts are often marketed by smiling girls in relaxed poses has something to do with it.

I know I should be happy, because I've been a part of this madness over the years. I have a couple of shirts hanging up in my closet that I bought at a Christian concert or convention, not to mention the "Poop On Satan" shirt I made myself back in 1999 to promote a youth ministry I led. In fact, even though I don't buy very many Christian t-shirts these days I still support the heart of the concept... given the choice to promote Jesus or an overpaid athlete, I'll always go with the Savior.

I just am a bit bothered by how commercial it's all gotten.

While I look forward to the Narnia movie, for instance, I am not a fan of seeing my local Christian bookstore sold out to Disney. By the way, it is there (as well as on-line) where you can find many of the products that I would like to spotlight to you:

The iBelieve iPod Shuffle Cap: Now you can protect the coolest toy on the block by turning it into a cross. This allows you to not only listen to some cool tunes but will make you wonder if your playlist is random or somehow predestined by some higher power. Some assembly required... if the chain breaks you may be required to carry your own cross.


The Official "Jesus Hates It When You Smoke" Ashtray: Why not think about your eternity as you go to reach for that next death stick? After all, "Heaven is non-smoking, so you might want to get used to it now."

Argh.

Maybe there's a better way to share our faith.

Oh, yes! There is!

The Salvation Challenge: Forget passing out tracts... that is so 20th Century. Now it's time to roll the dice on a board game to save your loved ones. Each player starts with one million in "kingdom cash" with the goal of handing it all away. However, players need to get "saved" by landing on Calvary and making the salvation call, “Jesus save me”, before they are able to carry out certain activities. Just think - now you can trick Uncle Fred the atheist into heaven because of a forced confession of faith.

Or not.

Man, I feel like this is starting to wear on me. I feel like I gotta get moving...

Dance Praise: That's right - no longer do you have to put up with the crazy tunes of Dance Dance Revolution. Instead, you can jump around to DANCE PRAISE - the NEW interactive dance game that turns your PC into a dance arcade with over 50 top Christian hits! If you're non-Pentecostal, though, don't worry. Because you're told where to step it isn't actually official dancing but can be categorized at "strategic choreography."

Whoah... I think we need to slow down a bit. Maybe be still and get all postmodern for a second...

His Essence: Apparently someone got the fragrance of the Messiah into a candle. The company was inspired by Psalm 45:8 - "All your robes are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia..." - to create a candle that smelled like what Jesus will be wearing when He returns. "The result is a scent, which serves as a reminder of His Presence."


Hmm...

On the "okay, I won't make fun of this one but I'll still put it into my post" list:

  • White Knight Games: They have some innovative ideas about how to merge cool graphics and 3-D gaming with faith. Worth a look.
  • King's Call: Not quite so cool, but still kind of fun... a short game that gets you to think.

Did you know...

  • The retail clothing store Forever 21 has the verse John 3:16 printed on the bottom of its bags?
  • Starbucks will be printing quotes from Rick Warren's book Purpose Driven Life on its cups in the spring?

In Rob Bell's book "Velvet Elvis" he writes:

    "The word Christian first appears in the Bible as a noun. The problem with turning a noun into an adjective and then tacking it onto words is that it can create categories that limit the truth."
Is it possible that in winning the war of Christian marketing...

    Switchfoot on secular radio...

    The Passion Of The Christ setting box office records...

    The Purpose Driven Life selling twenty-three million copies...
that we have lost a significant piece of the Gospel along the way?

    "It is written," [Jesus] said to them, "'My house will be called a house of prayer,' but you are making it a 'den of robbers.'" (Matthew 21:13)

25 comments:

The Cubicle Reverend said...

As much as I think Christians in the creative community, whatever it may be, needs to be a light and create a new rennaissance I am seriously concerned that we are creating a Christianity fad. And like most fads eventually interest wears off and people go on with their lives.

Which brings me back to a lot of churches desiring to be relevent and cool.

Though I do admit I think those Jesus is My Homeboy t-shirts are cool

Royal said...

It is easier to wear Jesus than to live for Jesus...

Non-believers have been wearing crosses for years because they are cool...

jeff said...

yeah, i've seen these around the blogs too, and they're pretty funny.

personally, I think it's all harmless, although I choose not to participate in much of it.

The Cubicle Reverend said...

Amen to that Royal.

Brian said...

Didn't Jesus say all men will know we are his disciples by our t-shirts?

Katie said...

makes me think about the idea of being in the world but not of the world and where that line is drawn.

Tony Myles said...

Apparently it's drawn in front of your local Christian bookstore. "TestaMINT, anyone? Good prep for greeting others with a holy kiss..."

Friar Tuck said...

I personally like some of the cheesy Jesus stuff just for a good laugh.....but your closing to this post is powerful.

I hate the tshirts. Although I did get one stocking cap just to piss my friend off that hates all this stuff with a passion.

I know someone who decided to create and market Bible gum. He was an athiest, but thought it would be a great money maker for him and his family.

The Cubicle Reverend said...

How about the Buddy Jesus from Dogma?

And I think he might be right about the gum.

Gman said...

Somehow the whole http://bobbleheadjesus.blogspot.com blog just got some more stuff to put on.

Mark D said...

I think because of how trusting Christians tend to be, we all are part of one big marketing bullseye. The main Christian bookstore where I live is not even Christian owned. I like what 'the cubicle reverend' said about the fad thing. Cool and relevant today will be on tomorrow's "Where Are They Now?" show.

john alan turner said...

My personal fave are the "Gospel Shoes". I can't find the link right now, but they're a pair of sneakers -- on the sole of one is the word JESUS -- on the sole of the other is the word SAVES.

Just in case you want to witness at the pool or on a rainy day.

But you don't want to talk to anyone.

Robbie said...

I love the quote by Rob Bell. I have begun to hate all things that are "Christian", and I thinks it's my least favorite adjective. I especially hate christian music, christian art, and uber hate goes out to christian interior decor.

Tony Myles said...

I wouldn't go so far as to say I hate these things... I would say, though, that they frustrate me.

After all, what makes something Christian? What makes something secular? And might they (in this case) be something of the same thing?

derek bethay said...

Great post Tony! We're in the same dugout on this issue. What frustrates me the most about this issue is that 97% of the Christianized merchandise is a spoof on something that is already out there (e.g. the "A Bread Crumb & A Fish" T-shirt vs. "Abercrombie & Fitch").

Chris Marsden said...

I'd have to say one of my personal irritations in all this "christian" stuff is the church companies. Christians, making products and selling services, targeted at Churches. Some of these companies are breaking even and creating necessary tools for ministry. And some of these companies are making a fortune off Churches. The ones that really get me are projects that started off within a church, then get sold to other churches. Now the church is making money on something that they had already created and were going to create, regardless of the opportunity for profit. If I charged people for all the ideas I have freely shared with other ministers my budget would be a lot better off. Some things cost money to produce (books, cd's, etc...) but the ideas are free (or should be). Especially from one church to another or one minister to another. I don't mind supporting some company, pagan or otherwise, if I like the shirt or product. They are in business to make money. But I dislike supporting other churches/ministries to buy the kinds of resources that I freely share out of my ministry with others. Might just be me, though.

anDrew said...

Just as anyone can wear this stuff, anyone can talk the talk. The Church of Christ is within your heart and you witness everyday with the path you walk, by the life you live and the examples you set, not by your appearence. Honestly, I'm quite sick of all this guirella witnessing.

The Cubicle Reverend said...

I think it's a lack of culture. There was a time we didn't take what was out there and put the Christian stamp on it. We were the creators of great works of art, music, and literature. For whatever reason for the past 30 years or so we've lost sight of that. A poorly written novel on Revelation comes out and we call it fine literature. A band makes sappy syrupy music with little impact and we call it deep. Instead of being culture, we've been piggy backing on the ankles of culture and poorly at that.

lee said...

hey...

anybody for xtian porn...?

http://www.opiummagazine.com/interviewdouglaschristian.html

The Cubicle Reverend said...

That wasn't real was it? That wasn't a joke

lee said...

joke or not, i think that it serves as an aweful illustration as to how we can justify anything that we are involved with or put our minds to...

i'd like to think that it was a joke, but i don't know...

Kevin I. said...

I'm tempted to think of this stuff as harmless or just funny until I see people taking it seriously, like when people feel it's somehow better to play Dance Praise then Dance Dance Revolution etc.

It seems more often then not it crosses the line from creative and possibly evangelistic to creating stuff that people purchase to somehow feel holier without actually doing anything Christ commands.

When I read this I thought of that episode of "King of the Hill" where Bobby starts attending a youth gruop and get's "into" his faith.

He then proceeds to buy stuff marketed to Christians like a Moses video game, shirts, bumper stickers, CD's and poster (Fav Hank wuote of the episode "How many 'Footprints' posters does one boy actually need?")

Hank (the dad) eventually confronts Bobby about how this new outlook on his faith is dangerous (especially because it's causing him to disobey his parents etc.)

He confronts him by showing Bobby all the merchandise he's bought for different fads (Bean-bag dolls, Ninja Turtle outfits etc.)
Bobby comments about how those things where dumb.

Hank talks about how Bobby didn't think they where dumb at the time and asks Bobby to be careful with his faith because Hank doesn't want to "Put the Lord in this box"

I think this stuff can quickly become a stumbling block and merge a lasting faith with temporary fads.

Tony Myles said...

I totally dig that episode.

Yep - fads come and go, but God's Word stands the test of time.

Chick Tracts? ALMOST. But definitely God's Word.

Kevin I. said...

Don't get me started on Chick Tracts, the offend my as a follower of Christ, a person determined to share his faith ,a cartoonist and a comic book lover.

Daphnewood said...

I just wanted to jump in and say even though the motivations for t-shirts and christian consumer goods might be money driven, I think it is better to have the name of Jesus plastered everywhere than forgotten. Too many places don't even let you say His name. So if one person learns about Christ because of a t-shirt my kid wears to school, then it was all worth it. JMO

great blog BTW found you through Jayleigh