Jesus for Sale

The title of this piece on religious consumerism in the Detroit News says it all - What a Trend We Have in Jesus

Here's the lead:

Jesus Christ Superstar, indeed. Pop culture’s reigning “It” guy is not some prefab pop star or some scruffy-haired actor with a million-dollar smile. Rather, it’s none other than Jesus Christ

The piece goes on to talk about all the pop culture ties in to Jesus these days--movies, TV, music--though it does miss the new Jesus Beanie

Vicky Thompson, author of “Jesus Path: 7 Steps to Cosmic Awakening” is quoted as saying this move to Jesus as a cultural icon is a move away from organized religion to a more spiritual connection to Jesus.

“It’s personally saying not that Jesus is my savior, but He’s my best friend and buddy,” Thompson says. “We have a huge population of unchurched people (in America), but often, they aren’t leaving spirituality behind. They still have a desire to feel a spiritual connection, but on their own terms. They’re embracing Christ, but from a different viewpoint.”

The Fort Wayne Journal takes a look at this subject in this enjoyable piece on Pop culture and spirituality meet in entertainment middle

It's got some interesting insights on "religious consumers"

Like this from Timothy Matovina, director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame: "You have to be kind of entrepreneurial ... it's almost like people are religious consumers. It's the way people are talking about it and it is the reality."

Or this from David Brakke, an associate professor of religious studies at Indiana University:

"Jesus T-shirts and action figures may seem to dilute the seriousness of Christian faith, but they also allow people to express their beliefs in ways that feel natural to them, and they enable Christians to appeal to non-believers or lapsed Christians in ways that they will understand," .

Forbes magazine did a big spread on Christian Capitalism a while back, and updated it recently with this pithy insight on the Passion's opening""

Ticket sales for Mel Gibson's The Passion of Christ film have surpassed $26 million since it's opening on Wednesday, proving what savvy businesspeople have known for ages: Christianity sells.

All this makes me think that American Christians need a little less Forbes and a little more of the advice from the Russian monk, St. Nilus:

We must resist and avoid like deadly posion the desire to possess earthly goods.

or perhaps this:

Not only gold or silver and property must be absent from our lives, but we should have only the barest necessities for life, as clothing, shoes, cells, dishes, instruments of manual work. And these should not be of any value, not decorated, not capable of arousing in us a fretting and preoccupation, and thus tempted to have contacts with the world. True victory over avrice and in general attachment to thnigs consists in this that we not only do not have, but do not wish to have anything. This leads us to a spiritual purity.


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