spirits that speak


Selling the Gospel

i went to see a presentation tonight. the people behind a new magazine called geez were presenting some ideas about commercialism and how the Church has made use of it.

they actually used very few concrete examples of what the Church has done in terms of advertizing/commercialism, but they did show us a few pictures of "Christian" t-shirts. i sometimes wonder about the intentions of the companies that manufacture/design these types of apparel and i have seen many examples of them (mainly because i used to work at a company that helped distribute Christ-wear).

well, one of the examples they showed us was the one you see at the left of this post. right at this moment, a few hours later, i still don't quite understand my reaction to the design. i didn't have any thoughts as an intellectual reaction to what i saw. but i had the most unexpected physical reaction to it. i actually felt sick all of a sudden. like...nauseous. they showed a second design that i really had no reaction to, whatsoever. and other designs i've seen previously, while i have thought that they were extremely ridiculous, have never made me feel ill. but this one was different.

when the presenters asked for comments about the "sweet Jesus" design, i expressed my reaction out loud. someone else in the audience asked me why it made me sick and i couldn't quite explain it. i still have to guess about it.

what it comes down to is i can't quite explain it. and i don't want people to think it's a judgement on anyone (wondering about the company's intentions isn't exactly a judgement), especially not on the people that wear these kinds of designs. but, i honestly don't believe Christ-wear does the Church much good, if at all.

just my opinion, i guess...


  • in the same way that advertizers try to use the 'currency' of certain social phenomena (never sure if i spell that right) i.e. sex, power, status, etc to be associated with their brand these shirts are also piggy-backing on existing feelings and attitudes. The Gospel must take particular cultural forms. However, the question is whether peanut butter cups maintain the integrity of Christ's life, death, and resurrection. hmmmm . . .

    or perhaps, mmmmmm . . .

    By Anonymous daved, at 11:13  

  • um, perhaps it could be argued that the flawless combination of chocolate and peanut butter is somewhat similar to the concept of the trinity...and perhaps that argument would be horribly, horribly wrong.

    also, with this shirt having been made, no one can ever again say that reese's peanut butter cups are "sinfully delicious". they're heavenly.

    the joke made during the presentation was "what's next? Jesus pieces?"

    By Blogger johnny m, at 23:05  

  • jesus pieces, that's funny.

    By Anonymous daved, at 14:01  

  • I find it all kind of disturbing. Just as disturbing as "hell-fire and brimstone" preaching. It's emotional manipulation either way - at least from my perspective. I personally think Christians will become even more a "laughing stock" than we already are. I would NEVER wear something like this - EVER!

    Besides that, way to go Johnny on all the new postings. You are keeping us well entertained and I, for one appreciate it!

    By Blogger Shiny Beamer, at 15:13  

  • I don't care for Christian T-shirts and can completely understand why this one turned your stomach.... I don't care for Christian "mints" and other merchandise .... BLAH! (not to be overly negative!!!)

    By Blogger agapetos, at 18:03  

  • i'm glad for these reactions. it tells me not all is lost.

    but i also think you're right cranky, we have to choose our methods of communication carefully. honesty and just appealing to others as people is often the best idea.

    and beloved, the mints came up as a verbal example at this presentation. good call on that. i noticed that "testa-mints" didn't last that long on the shelves.

    when will the merchandisers learn?

    By Blogger johnny m, at 18:34  

  • Last night - since I couldn't sleep, I read a lot of blogs. There sure are some cool people out there. Anyway, I found it so neat that I actually found a post that addresses this issue and pretty much relates how I feel about this subject. So here it is:

    Jesus isn't like Pepsi........

    My husband and I got into a conversation yesterday that I am still thinking about. When you walk into a "Christian" bookstore and look around, what do you see? Jesus mints, Jesus coasters, Jesus bumper stickers, Jesus gum, Jesus toilet paper...........just about anything you can think of. Here is my thing: I am all for us being proud of who we serve but who we serve isn't just some guy down the street. We are talking about the KING of all kinds, THE ONE and only Savior, Jesus Christ who lived and died and rose again. This isn't just some random someone picked out of a crowd and decided to serve. He is the creator of our universe. He is the maker of all living things. He deserves some respect and for us to have some awe.

    ON another note, I have to tell you that I am almost to the point of not calling myself a christian. Hold on, hold on. Don't get your panties all in a wade. I'm talking about the word...........CHRISTIAN. It has become like a dirty word in our world. So many times it represents people who are judgemental, hypocritical, and not at all like Jesus. I mean when did "Christian" become an adjective instead of a noun. (have to say that my husband said the last sentence, but I thought it was good.)

    I guess all I am trying to say that Christ is holy. He is to be served not chewed. He is to be adored not wrapped around your neck. He is to be loved not marketed. And lets make it our lifelong goal to change the way our world views "Christians". Let's be real. Let's be in love with Jesus Christ. Let's be Christ-like and Christ followers. Not walking around acting as though Christ should be following us and keeping up with us.

    "Lord of my life, Giver of strength, Keeper of Hope, Come and fill me now,

    Lord of my life, Giver of strength, Keeper of Hope, Come and fill me now,


    words and music by bryan r. thompson

    - post written by kthompson - shared with permission - she said I could give you her link to her blog, johnny.


    By Blogger Shiny Beamer, at 16:06  

  • lol...jesus toilet paper! yeah, that's a good post. thanks cranky, i'll add the link to my page.

    By Blogger johnny m, at 18:41  

  • cranky...interestingly, that person's blog has a link to labrynth, which is one of the links that tan e-mailed josh about. apparently labrynth popularity is spreading. wonder why it's so popular in the Church.

    By Blogger johnny m, at 18:54  

  • I think everyone is just tired and bored of having everything the same old way. Especially the younger, post-modern "emmergent" generation. So when something new and different comes along, it logically appeals to people - and not JUST the younger crowd. We all want our faith - and our prayer life - to feel fresh and exciting. It does make sense. I'm just not sure that people are always testing things well enough before getting into them. And that can be dangerous. When our hearts are parched and needing excitement and freshness, we need to be calling out to God and drawing near to HIM - not looking for the latest "program". Now I know there are people who get into things like this who really are trying to get closer to God and that's alright. I have more of a problem with people who are putting their faith in new ideas and programs than in the SAVIOR.

    By Blogger Shiny Beamer, at 00:10  

  • I love your post... Found you link by clicking links opon links and so on.

    I think the thing that really bothers me about equating Jesus with Candy, Soda, and other products that have risen from man's mind. Jesus is NOT something that mand made up, and should NOT be equated - at any base or level - with them.

    It tends to be true that those who wear their "faith on their sleve" like that are the ones who least live like Christians ought to.

    By Blogger davey dude, at 17:46  

  • hey dude, thanks for stopping by. i appreciate you leaving a comment. hope you continue to read my blog (i will also try to keep up with yours).

    i don't know if i entirely agree with your assessment on the authenticity of the faith of those who wear such...things. however, it may be telling of the maturity of them. of course, i don't endorse judging a book by its cover. i've been proven wrong enough times when i do that, and it has taught me my lesson (i.e. writing people off on any superficial basis is always a mistake).

    that said, i appreciate your honesty and welcome the posting of opinions in the comments section. please do so whenever you see fit (that goes for everyone).

    By Blogger johnny m, at 10:06  

  • blogman dan said...

    "I think it's fine to buy and sell christian t-shirts but if they start selling video games that are christian and good then us poor christians might need to borrow these expensive games. I know of a outstanding web site for fixing and getting good credit. It is..."

    By Blogger johnny m, at 09:06  

  • hey dan, i am replying to your comment even though i deleted it. just so you know, i will delete any comments that contain commercial links since i consider them spam-like.

    regarding your comment, it's not so much "Christian" t-shirts that I have a problem with, it's "Jesus" t-shirts that are only modifications of corporate logos (but i think probably the ones that are original designs are mostly ok). as someone i know recently put it, it can easily qualify as taking the Lord's name in vain.

    i am going to have to completely disagree with you regarding video games (that is, i disagree with such creations).in my opinion, if none of the mainstream video games are within someone's realm of acceptability, why not just stay away from video games? i feel the same way about Christian organizations that "neuter" movies by cutting out all the "objectionable" content (ooo, that'll stir up some controversy). again, if a movie contains content that is so objectionable that you can't simply overlook or just ignore it, how about not watching the movie at all? neutering it is altering the form that the creators intended and is therefore often missing the point. again, it's an opinion of mine and it will, no doubt, ruffle more feathers than my t-shirt post.

    By Blogger johnny m, at 09:09  

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