Friday, December 3, 2010

Scrubbing New Jerusalem's Toilets, Part 5: The Jesus Junkers

My beloved Mrs H and I don’t go very often to Christian bookstores. Here’s a reason why.

We went to one last week – for the first time in years – to get someone a gift certificate for Christmas. Now it is bad enough that Christian bookstores are being slowly engulfed by what is rightly called “Jesus Junk” – everything from T-shirts to wall plaques to toys, so much so that you can see copies of Chuck Colson’s latest book slowly morphing into Precious Moments figurines. At some point the junk will be an irresistible force that will meet the immovable objects that are the Left Behind series, and it’ll be interesting to see who wins.

But I digress.

The latest manifestation of Jesus Junk is what got my attention and inspired this entry. Yeah, I notice the latest craze with the smaller kids these days is rubber bands shaped like animals and whatnot: Better than them smoking crack, I suppose, though when we were that age we were content to use our imaginations to turn things like cardboard boxes into castles. Well, now we saw the Christian version of that latest craze – they’re called “Faith Bands.”

In the interest of disclosure, I should fairly point out that the maker of these bands apparently gives 25% of their take to charity. But if you’re a parent buying this Jesus Junk for your kids, chances are you could already give 100% of their price to some charity many times over – and your kid will be a little less indulged with the junk.

Maybe I’m just being a curmudgeon on these, but I doubt it. I don’t think it is a good idea to teach children that the symbols of our faith can be so readily trivialized. Jesus Junk tends to do this to our faith – turn it into mindless trivia meant to be emasculated into toys and games for our entertainment.

And yes, I feel the same way about a lot of things. Many of the Bible video games. Testamints. Christian pencils, Christian stickers, Christian recipe books, you name it, I’ll complain about it.

There’s also some stuff on the borderline, like Christian T-shirts. Actually if those are made with a poignant message that makes you think, that’s one thing. Morphing a corporate symbol into something Christian (like “Got milk?” into “Got Jesus?”, or “Gold’s Gym” into “Lord’s Gym”) – not so sure about that. There’s poignant, and then there’s cutesy, and in that case maybe it’s more how you use it that matters.

No doubt some of the makers of Jesus Junk have an altruistic motive, but I’m betting more than a few see this sort of thing as a secure market niche which panders to the Christian’s unique sense of self (which is something they’re supposed to be suppressing, after all – a city on a hill doesn’t call attention to itself). And it’s those who engage this sort of holy capitalism who are likely to end up, too, on the non-business end of a toilet scrubber in the New Jerusalem.

Hey, now there’s an idea….Christian toilet scrub brushes

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