April 9, 2009

It’s Holy Week, and that means not only the most sacred time of the Church Year – a time to recollect and contemplate the Lord’s institution of the Eucharist, His Betrayal and Suffering, Death, and Resurrection, but also a time to see how local churches market their services in the hope of attracting newcomers and those twice-a-year Christians to their Easter services.

Around here you see a lot of aggressive marketing by the “non-denoms” – churches not affiliated with any particular mainline Protestant faith, and therefore non-denominational in nature. These churches are typically Bible-centric, aggressively anti-Catholic (as I’ve come to found out personally), and often have a charismatic leader armed with a Master of Divinity degree and/or vision of a church that combines conservative Christianity with modern-day marketing techniques as a guise for evangelism. You can tell the demographic all these churches are seeking by their slick literature and the people shown in the materials they leave at your door or in your mailbox: the young professional either single or married with children.

Sometimes the materials are very professional and slick; it takes a minute just to figure out that it’s a church and not a dentist that has opened shop recently. Other times, the material is just laughable – like today when I opened my door to see a pamplet wedged into the door jam. Have a look at this picture and see what you think:

Now I don’t claim to know what Jesus looked like, but I can almost guarantee he didn’t look like some Hollywood actor out of central casting with beautiful hair and perfectly-trimmed facial hair, like someone out of a late-night infomercial. And check out the decidedly Anglo-Saxon Protestant features – I mean, that isn’t the Lord, that’s James Brolin, for Gawdsakes!

For some reason, I couldn’t help but stare at the picture for the longest time. My thoughts began to wander. Was that guy on Jesus’ left Judas or Peter? Either way, he too has the same perfectly-styled facial hair. Did they both go to the same stylist before the Last Supper? Perhaps all the Twelve went – you know, to take advantage of the pre-holiday special at Calvary Hairstyling and Salon. I couldn’t help but recall those great lines from Warren Zevon’s classic tune “Werewolves Of London”, where he sang:

I saw a werewolf drinking a Pina Colada at Trader Vic’s,
And his hair was perfect.

Look, I know all about marketing how marketing works – I get it. And maybe some people would have been attracted by this picture and the message it was attempting to convey and have their lives turned around by attending church for the first time in years. And good for them if that were to happen. But to me it was more than just silly, it was offensive.

Of course, knowing today’s culture it all fits. I just wonder what would happen if a church were to graphically and realistically portray what a Jew like Jesus of Nazareth would look like beaten, bloodied, and naked, hanging from a cross and taking all that humiliation, suffering, and pain on behalf of you and me, for your sins and mine, for the redemption of a world I often wonder is even worth saving. But God did, out of His infinite love and mercy.

Somehow I don’t think it would work. After all, the whole idea of anyone having to be inconvenienced – let alone suffer and/or die on behalf of anyone or for anything – is a concept so foreign to our corrupt, self-centered, and narcissistic culture that it’s no wonder some people have a hard time with the concept of God and religion. After all, being an athiest is easy – you can do anything you want to anyone and feel not a shred of guilt, and better yet, you get to sleep in on Sundays or spend all Saturday doing chores around the house.

And that leaves plenty of time to visit the hair stylist. After all, God or no God, you gotta look good, right?

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 00:33 | Comments Off on Holy Week, Holy Cow
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