Sunday, July 24, 2005

This Little Light of Mine

After tossing and turning due to the unbearable heat a few mornings ago, I finally went downstairs to turn on the air conditioner. Wanting to give time for the cool air to circulate upstairs I plopped down on the couch and turned on the television. Flipping through the myriad of early morning infomercials, I came upon The New Jim Bakker Show, broadcasting from the entertainment capital of the midwest, Branson, MO.
The scene was disturbingly familiar - Jim seated next to his new wife, looking into the camera and asking viewers to send a "donation." You know, those "suggested donations" in exchange for which the donor receives a "gift" from the ministry. The gift Jim was promoting was a battery-free flashlight that gives an hour of light after being powered by 60 seconds of cranking with a detachable crank. But this isn't just any flashlight. It's a "Revelation Generation LifeLight" with the reminder that "Jesus is the light of the world" printed in gold on its side. (It occurred to me today that this isn't really a gospel searchlight since one only receives illumination by works but that's another story.)

It wasn't long before my twisted sense of humor went to work thinking of other common objects that could be Christianized with the addition of a Bible verse. Here are two potential items:
  • Plant food with "I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten" printed on the package
  • Permanent markers reading "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
Feel free to leave your ideas for Pious Products in a comment.

Of course, one doesn't have to suffer from bouts of insomnia to find similar objects. Christian bookstores (do they still call them bookstores?) are filled with them. Consumerism is in large part the force behind the marketing of prooftexted merchandise but I think Mike Wittmer is right when he traces this phenomenon to a deficient doctrine of creation and its goodness. In Heaven Is a Place on Earth he writes:
....we don't need to stamp Christianity on something before we can enjoy it. In fact, our feeble attempts at baptizing creation tend to cheapen both it and the gospel. Printing "cross-training" or "cross-eyed" on a T-shirt trivializes both the cross (do we really want to compare Jesus' suffering to a type of exercise or astigmatism?) and ordinary T-shirts (which are perhaps not as good as those with religious slogans). The same holds true for spill-proof cups emblazoned with John 4:14 -- "whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst"; key chains that parody milk advertisements with the probing question "Got Jesus?"; dinner plates that claim to be "Home Grown and Heaven Bound"; and stuffed ducks wearing rain gear on account of recurring "Showers of Blessing" (honestly, I could not make this stuff up). Rather than improve creation, such silliness only distracts from the goodness that is already there while mocking the gospel it seeks to advertise (p. 67).
Well, it's early yet and I've not fully woken up so I'm going to get some coffee. Now, where'd I put my Miracle Mug?


Grafxgurl said...

hahaha thatwas a good one.. enjoyed reading it.. do you usually get good ideas in the middle of the night/ am an owl meself so i do my thinking at night...

lol heres my .02 cents bit

Jeremiah 33:3: "Call unto me, and I will answer thee" - on Cell Phones...err lol.. maybe not.. bills might be a BIT high!

Tom Gilson said...

I'm afraid you're preaching to the choir, Keith. We blog readers are, well, readers! So we're bound to agree that Christian bookstores have lost their mission.

OTOH, just because we're biased doesn't mean we're not also right.

Christian bookstores are the quickest demonstrations I know of for the saying that American Christianity is a mile wide and an inch deep.

Mark Hunsaker said...


Great Post. As someone who lives in the area of Jim's production, and works for an AV company that sometimes interact with their organization, all I can say is that your insight serves you well.

Here is the real sadness: Some Christians do not (or can not) think for themselves. I suppose they might think, but they do not read the Scriptures...or they would see this stuff coming a mile away.

Jeff Downs said...

Thanks for the post. I'll send this on to the AR-Talkers, they would be intested.

Anonymous said...

There are some great Branson shows to see!