One of the most insightful episodes of Comedy Central’s animated television series, South Park, was an episode entitled “Christian Rock Hard.”
In it Cartman and the boys decide to start a Christian rock band because they think they can dupe Christians into buying their music.
Kyle: I think our band better buy a whole bunch of music CDs to listen to for inspiration.
Cartman: [stops] Inspiration? Wait a minute, [turns right and walks away from them] that’s it. Inspiration, you guys. Don’t you see?
Stan: See what?
Cartman: [turns around] Our band should play Christian rock! [beams with pride]
Kyle: Christian rock?!
Cartman: [races back to the band] Think about it! It’s the easiest crappiest music in the world, right? If we just play songs about how much we love Jesus, all the Christians will buy our crap!
Kyle: That’s a %$#@! great idea, Cartman!
Cartman: [protests, takes a step towards Kyle] It worked for Creed!
Stan: I don’t wanna be in a stupid Christian rock band!
Cartman: [steps towards Stan] You just start that way, Stan, then you cross over. It’s genius!
Christians used to be known for producing great art and classic literature, now we’re so afraid of the evils of the culture at large we’ve created a Christian subculture where we buy and sell sub-par Jesus junk. Purged of bad language and suggestive dress, we’ve insulated ourselves from the non-Christian culture at large. Occasionally smart executives will use this against us.
“Christian” has become a corporate marketing niche…
- We have Christian bookstores, Christian television stations, and Christian websites.
- Those who are curious can flip through a Christian best seller, thumb through a multitude of Christian magazines, or sit back and enjoy a blockbuster Christian motion picture.
- One can quickly find Christian solutions for any and every problem a bewildered American faces—there are Christian exercise videos, and Christian weight-loss programs.
- And now, thank goodness, even Christian vitamins.
I’ll never forget walking out of the movie theater after seeing Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” and saying to another staff member, “That was the biggest evangelical hype since Y2K. We were duped.”
And then the hype for The Bible mini-series on The History Channel started flooding my inbox.
The Bible will provide the church with the greatest opportunity for outreach and discipleship since the Passion of the Christ. – Scott Evans, President and C.E.O., Outreach, Inc.
Oh geez, I thought. Surely the church will see through this.
No such luck.
Since debuting March 3, 2013, THE BIBLE has been seen by more than 68 million people, and according to producer Mark Burnett, “The most-read book of all time is the most-watched TV event of our time!”
Please. Jesus. For. The. Love. Of. God. No.
Fortunately most Christians were spared the cheesy pre-marketing to pastors to get the Christians in their churches to watch the show.
- The Christian marketing tie-ins.
- The appearances by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey in megachurches to promote the film.
- The email blasts.
- The ads in periodicals targeting church leaders.
- The pre-done Bible study materials and sermon series.
- And finally the Rick Warren endorsement.
Ah, yes, the ever-coveted Rick Warren endorsement, virtually ensuring every white suburban congregation in America would not only hear about the series, but also view it as the single greatest evangelistic opportunity of the 21st century.
I believe the church has been waiting for an outreach tool like The Bible. – Rick Warren
Rick. Please. Tell. Me. They. Forced. You. To. Write. That. Under. Threat. Of Bamboo. Under. The. Fingernails. Torture.
Is The Bible mini-series bad because it’s teaching the Bible? Of course not.
It’s bad because, well, it’s just bad television. Period. Mediocre acting following a jumbled plot filled with a Scottish talking Noah and Ninja assassin angels saving Lot and destroying Sodom.
As Madeleine L’Engle once observed, “Much so-called religious art is in fact bad art, and therefore bad religion.”
Or as the boys from South Park would say, “Think about it! It’s the easiest crappiest television in the world, right? …All the Christians will buy our crap!”
Am I wrong?