Only Copycats?

Last night I watched part of a show on PBS about the marketing of the Christian message. Undoubtedly that show has aired earlier. This particular PBS station, one of three in my area, tends to produce rerun programming. Which doesn’t bother me and isn’t material to this discussion, except many others have probably already hashed over the content.

The program documented the rise of Christian merchandise, including music. I don’t think books were mentioned.

What surprised me was the number of people thinking the stuff was good as an evangelistic tool. One person even said having a song by a group that sounds like and looks like some popular secular group might hook kids into buying their CD where they then might hear some songs about Jesus, and this will cause said kids to stop and think and ask questions.

Well, that bothers me.

For one thing, I don’t see Jesus feeding the crowds as a hook to bring in more people. He fed people and healed people because they needed feeding and healing. In his most evangelistic conversation (with the woman at the well), he didn’t give anything; he started the conversation by asking for her to give something to him.

Then, too, there is the complete disregard for Christians becoming cultural leaders. This marketing approach permanently puts Christians in copycat mode. How can the world ever respect our artistic endeavors if our best is a mere image (pun only partially intended) of what the secular best has already produced?

Everyone knows the Beetles. Who were the Beetles copycats? Some might remember, but those groups, in general, are relegated to second tier.

So, too, for Christian artists. We will languish on the second tier, at best, if we never aspire to the tier where ground is broken.

And with fiction, I am not talking about style. Fads abound—first person, first person with the present tense, multiple first person points of view, and now omniscient. These are some of the stylistic “new” things being done in fiction. Along with non-linear story telling, use of letters or email to convey the story, and the like.

I see that “everyone’s doing it” stuff and want to run the other way! Sure, these stylistic changes might seem fresh to an editor who has just slogged through 15 other manuscripts written in third person multiple point of view, but does that actually make the story with the multiple first persons better?

Or new?

No, it means there is a shift in the popular trends. But where are the Christians leading the way with the stories and the writing and the characters that take the nation by storm?

In film, Mel Gibson did that with The Passion of the Christ. Can novelists and publishers aspire to do the same?

Published in: on February 12, 2008 at 1:05 pm  Comments (5)  
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