Posted by Rich on November 28, 2008
As with many areas in my life these days, High School Musical seems to be the nexus of my latest rant/pet peeve/consternation.
No, I’m not going to complain about the HSM franchise and its ubiquitous appeal to children all the world over. The issue isn’t even the fact that the related soundtracks somehow made their way onto my iPod—for the kids’sake only.
My gripe is actually directed towards Christians. Can’t understand the connection? Let me explain.
A couple nights ago, my wife rented some movies for my children since they will be out of school for Thanksgiving break. One of these movies was titled “Sunday School Musical”. As she told me what she had rented, I wondered if it was just coincidence that the title so closely mirrored “High School Musical”. When she got home with the movies and I looked at the DVD cover, I realized there was no coincidence. The cover art was designed to look just like the Disney product…only with a slightly different color scheme. And of course, they changed the word “High” to “Sunday”. Obviously this would make ALL the difference in the world. The fact that the tag line for the movie was “They put the ‘Hip’ in Worship” only lessened my expectations further. Not wanting my own jaded opinion to affect my children’s review of the movie, I kept my mouth shut.
After I came home from work the next day, I asked my daughter if she had watched “Sunday School Musical”. She had, and she liked it. When I inquire about her favorite part, she told me that it was a song called “You’re not the boss of me”.
Fantastic. What a wonderful life lesson for my daughter to take from a musical about Sunday school. Candy-coated anarchy. (Ok, maybe that’s a stretch. Maybe.)
Thankfully, I think she gave the movie about as much consideration as she gives me when I tell her that spending her birthday money on another Barbie is just wasting it—since she has 37 of them already and they all look exactly the same. Naked with irrevocably damaged hair. But it did get me thinking.
Why do Christians feel that by tweaking something that was successful as secular entertainment, they can somehow make it acceptable for Christian audiences but also relevant to society in general? “Sunday School Musical” is but one example. In the local Christian bookstore, I saw a display for Guitar Praise—a video game obviously mimicking the hugely successful Guitar Hero game series. The look & game play are exactly the same as Guitar Hero, but instead of playing famous rock standards, you play Christian worship songs. It’s the same—but different.
Now before you think that I’m going all “Holier than Thou” on this subject, let me tell you that I own Guitar Hero. I’m actually fairly good too. So as a Christian, should I automatically want to play Guitar Praise instead of Guitar Hero? I hope not. Because I don’t.
In the spirit of brevity (strategically placed after the 514th word of the post), I’ll cite just one more example. Church signs.
Seemingly all the rage in Christianity today is the drive to have the most clever, pithy saying possible on one’s church sign. I’m sure this started with original sign messages like the good ol’:
C-H-C-H . What’s missing from church? U-R
Haha! Clever. Funny. Makes me smile. But from there it’s gone downhill.
Rather than think of original sayings, churches just began taking various marketing campaigns for consumer products and changing a couple words to make them applicable to the church. Or so they thought.
Topping the list of my personal most hated church signs is:
For all you do, this blood’s for you
Is that seriously supposed to make a non-believer want to visit that church? Are they supposed to think “Gee, those Christians sure do have their finger on the pulse of society. There’s something different about them, and I just HAVE to find out what it is!”
I think not.
Sadly, if there are Christians like myself that feel these attempts to simply take something the world produced, change a few words, and re-market it as “Christian” come across as lame & ineffective; is it any wonder that many non-Christians claim that the Christian faith requires you to check your brain at the doors of the church?
The way I see it, Jesus came to this earth and brought a message that was different. His message was strange, yet attractive to unbelievers and it drove the religious leaders batty. He came to a religious establishment (church) that was consumed with following The Law for their salvation, and he basically told them that The Law was now useless for that purpose. He didn’t tweak their rules a little and claim to have a “New Way”. He turned everything they knew completely upside down. He then called us to follow Him—to be the Light in the Darkness.
He didn’t call us to be the “Fun mirror to the world”. You know, the kind you hold up to something so it can see its reflection…only it’s a reflection that is slightly altered by the funky shape of the mirror.
Fun mirrors don’t change anything. They just make people laugh before they walk away.