My experience in Gatlinburg was really great. I had a good time with new friends, and got to experience Gatlinburg as I never had before. Seems there are a ton of little shops right down town that are the magnet for droves of people. We were included in those droves Saturday morning as we took time to stroll through the busy city stores. While there I had a unique experience.

My two favorite (to be read LEAST FAVORITE) stores were called "GodsWorld" and "GodsCorner". Now I want to apologize ahead of time, and say that I will try to make this my last of this type of blog...but man "Christians"....and Christian marketing kills me. I want to be clear here....I believe that people are God's treasure, and that we are to love one another and all....and I try really hard at that....but as my dear Dad would say "There ain't no accountin' for stupid."

What's got me so chapped? Well in both of the stores were just tons of t-shirts all with a Christian theme. But let me give you the full effect. This will be like those associations on the SAT, only worse. What I am going to do is give a company name....a decidedly well known company name, and then I will give an equals sign, and then show you the Christian rip off of that company's logo that has been tactlessly plastered on these shirts. For example Subway = Hisway. Get it. Good. Hold on tight cause here we go.

1. Got Milk? = Got Jesus? (surprisingly years after this marketing campaign is abandoned by Milk it is still apparently novel to Christians who wear t-shirts.
2. Pentium Inside = Jesus Inside
3. Burger King = King of Kings
4. You Tube = You To Be (with "God wants" on top and "saved on the bottom. So the message is God wants YOU TO BE saved....hurling as I type)
5. Deal or No Deal = either Take the Deal (meaning salvation) or Deal or No Deal followed by "Jesus is the only sure bet."
6. Reebox = Reeborn
7. Arm and Hammer = Armed and Ready
8. Sprite = Spirit
9. Ford = Lord
10. Hersey's = He Saves
11. Staples "The Easy Button" = Jesus "It's Just That Easy"
12. Abercrombie and Fitch - Abreadcrumb and Fish (embarrassing)
13. American Idol = Amazing Grace
14. iTune = I Tune Into God
15. Mountain Dew = Meant to Die
16. Yoo-Hoo = You Who (It was YOU WHO Jesus Died for)
17. Crush = Christ ( that's just plain unimaginative!)

And my personal favorite

18. Myspace = "Jesus died for MYSPACE in heaven.

And seriously I am just scratching the surface here! I could go on but I won't. You know I gotta be honest, I am pretty sure that these shirts step dangerously close to breaking the third commandment. Not to mention that whole copyright infringement thing. And pile it on with a whole slab of silliness (borderline stupidity). But the part that really gets me is that these stores are stacked full of these shirts, and probably making good money because there are plenty of people out there who buy these shirts. Now I won't infringe on a persons right to wear whatever they want, free speech and all....and I definitely don't think of myself as the fashion police. It's the marketing above the mentioned, totally ridiculous shirts in the rack of the store that reads "For the BOLD CHRISTIAN"

Oh man!!! I have failed as a Christian because I refuse to wear some hideous garb that screams "I'm an out of touch, unrealistic, squeaky clean christian who thinks that by wearing this shirt, you will see the light and become glorious redeemed, all the while I don't have to say a word, just keep this goofy shirt on with an equally as goofy smile on my face." OK perhaps I am being too harsh...and I really don't mean to degrade, or even further see myself as "too good" for this stuff. I honestly just don't get it....and I think it is doing more harm than good.

My final case in this needless point is the most marketed shirt in both of these shops. It was hung prominently all over; outside, inside, ceiling, floor, counter. I didn't buy anything, but I suspect that if I did the cashier would've said "Did you want to get one of our best selling and most thought-provoking shirts?" What did the shirt have on it? The following (and I am not kidding:) all on the front:

"Dear God,
Why do you allow all those shootings in the school? Signed, A Concerned Christian

Dear Concerned Christian,
I didn't allow all those shootings. They have kicked me out of the schools?
Signed, GOD"


Yes all of that was on the shirt. Yes I did want to buy them all, take them to a trash dump, and then light a bon fire. Yes I did let out an audible groan. Yes I did shave my head, put on my sackcloth and sit on an ash heap and wail! I don't know that I need to point out all that is wrong with this shirt....but if you are wondering let me know....I'll be working on my doctoral dissertation about it!!

Listen, here's my bottom line. I have a great idea for Christians. Let's skip all the hokey (and sometimes heretical) marketing, and start BEING like Jesus. Let's stop plastering Jesus name on our apparel and start plastering the love of Jesus around our communities and work places by meeting needs, being genuine and authentic, and heaven-forbid engage ourselves in conversations that could lead to the gospel being presented (and I don't mean in a canned FAITH outline....I mean in real relationship, friendship conversation. Let's honor God with our lives. Let's do good works so that people will see Jesus in us, and not just on us. Let's get our hands dirty so that people can, by the power of God through Christ Jesus, have their lives cleaned up. And for the love of pete.....get rid of those shirts!

6 comments:

VENT:

I try hard to avoid "Christian book stores" with all I can but I was out with some friends a few nights back and one wanted to purchase a Bible for someone so we entered.

No joke.

If I'm lying, I'm dying.

The entire 'best-seller' rack and the entire front wall of the store was filled with spiritual dingleberries such as Joel Osteen, T.D. Jakes, Joyce Meyers, and your latest Health-Wealth proclaimer (e.g. The Georgia Prophet, but I digress) IF THAT WEREN'T ENOUGH. Next to that were books by Kathie Lee Gifford, Alan Jackson's wife! (no joke, the cover said, "by Alan Jackson's wife"), Robert Schuller's son, the hits just keep on coming. So I asked one of the employees, why? The response was, "because people want it and it sells".

WHAT!!!

Why do we as a society of Christians cater to the lowest common denominator? Our Sunday School 'literature' is reminiscent of a Dr. Phil episode. Our worship liturgy evokes as much a sense of worship as Radio Disney. Surely the Holy Spirit will bring sinners to conviction by my screen-printed, t-shirt with a pithy Christian saying. It kills me. It kills me. We are horrible, horrible stewards of the gospel message.

But hey, Jesus sells.

October 22, 2007 at 7:20 AM  

I agree with you both! Those shirts are lame! I think anyone would take one look at those and laugh their heads off while they walk right on by. Are we really going to win anyone to Jesus by wearing such stupid shirts? I totally agree with Matt about living what we believe. Our lives speak so much more loudly than any t-shirt or tract. I can't help but think that Jesus is sitting up in heaven shaking his head at us wondering what happened to his followers. I think we have totally lost sight of how Jesus conducted his ministry. He didn't wear some t-shirt or stand on a street corner with a tract and a billboard. He lived what he taught! He definitely got his hands dirty. His ministry was all about service. We've reduced that down to some ridiculous slogans and an "I'm ok, you're ok." mentality. Sheesh!

October 22, 2007 at 2:49 PM  

Matt,

I used to work at LifeWay. I share your pain.

Check this out:

Christian Cheese

October 22, 2007 at 6:41 PM  

Oh man, Matt, you and Lance both just opened two huge cans of worms (and it makes me wanna open a can).

First let me say that Christian dopiness, cheeseballness and all around out-of-touchness is the biggest problem pervading modern evangelism. We act offended by Christian stereotypes like Flanders on the Simpsons, and then we behave in a way that reinforces said stereotype.

@mrlancestuckey: I would like to line Olsteen, Jakes and Meyers up, along with Creflo Dollar and anyone on TBN, and then run down the line slapping each one. Jesus sells, indeed.

October 23, 2007 at 4:19 PM  

Dang, Matt. I guess I'll have to return that MySpace t-shirt I bought you for Christmas...
Those t-shirts remind me of church signs. I'd love to steal all the letters to stop them from making Christians look SO STUPID!

October 24, 2007 at 7:39 AM  

Hey Matt, I think Christian T's are a hip way to put Jesus out there. I like to mix it up with a my tie-dyed shorts sometimes.

Hope you're well,
Randy Lord

PS: Sorry you got locked in my bathroom Josh.

PPS: Still having trouble with Bethany.

October 24, 2007 at 12:33 PM  

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