Thursday, October 12, 2006

Kitschy, Kitschy, Coo

For a satirical look at items like this divine door knocker (I wonder, can I get that in a Revelation 3:20, instead?), check out kinda kitschy, a blog whose tagline reads: "The world is laughing at us. So am I."

Speaking of kitsch, Quentin Schultze made the following observation about its use in worship in By Faith magazine (HT: Phil Ryken):

Young people witness some of the cheesy video and computer 'art' in worship and see it for what it is: kitsch. Stock clip art. Old-fashioned, 19th-century background images under song text: the sun shining on the cross, running streams, baby faces--all of the stereotypical images that say, 'Christians are crummy artists and naive sentimentalists.' To them, such kitsch is like handing out illustrated kids' Bibles to high school students and telling them that these images represent the depth of insight and excellence of the Christian faith.


Gregory said...

Amen, brother, to you and Mr. Schultze.

Gregory said...

By the way, I love that quote by Harry Blamires. I'm using it as the quote of the week on my personal blog. I want to get my hands on that book.

read with open eyes said...

Just what is the point of these critical and sarcastic comments? That God is now a music and art critic? That only those with professionally trained skills can offer them to worship God? (No clipart or amateur stuff allowed) Or, that Christian symbols and phrases have no place in the ordinary world?
I understand and agree with the point this blog has made that a door knocker or shirt or whatever has value per se, without a Christian symbol imposed on it. But does that mean Moses was wrong to encourage the Israelites to write God's commands on the doorposts of their houses?

KP said...

Of course Moses was not wrong in calling the Israelites to obey God's commands. But I can't for the life of me see the parallel between that and contemporary Christian marketing. Hebrews selling Torah-inscribed doorposts to make a profit would be a better analgy as I see it. I'm certainly not advocating confining Christian symbols and phrases to explicitly religious settings such as church buildings. I have no opposition to scriptural references in various forms being displayed around the house. Such is the case in my own home. What I take greatest issue with is what seems to be an impulse to justify the existence of ordinary items by stamping Bible verses on them, often in what must seem to the manufacturer as a clever manner but that actually makes a mockery or joke of biblical faith.

The command to inscribe their doorposts with God's commands appears in the context of instruction. I imagine that both in the process of carving the words, and seeing them daily, the Israelites would be constantly reminded of their covenant obligations to Yahweh and each other. Perhaps "Knock and it shall be opened" knockers and shirts that read "Got Jesus?" or "This blood's for you" have a similar instructional and edifying effect on some but I'm highly skeptical. In most cases, products of this nature are intended to be evangelistic but little thought seems to be given to how the medium used to convey the message may be altering and/or distracting attention from the intended communication. I think this is what Schultze is getting at in his comments as well. His focus, in this brief statement, is not on whether worship is acceptable to God on the basis of the media we employ, but rather on how our choice is interpreted by young people. I don't think what he says requires professionalism as opposed to amateurism, but rather a greater attentiveness to matters of beauty as well as to truth and goodness.