The Cross of Kitsch

Are you gellin’?” If you watch TV then you should know what commercial I am quoting – and it probably annoys you at least a little. Scott at Scattered and Covered points out a something potentially more annoying: In-Souls, the Christian shoe insert. For years I have been frustrated with the innumerable ways the church trivializes God and the gospel. I can only see so many resurrection/empty-tomb play sets, toy dinosaurs that say, “Jesus is Rex-ellent!” or those stupid Testamints before I want to snap. My wife tells me I say, “I hate” too much... but I hate this stuff. I believe the third commandment doesn’t speak about cussing with God’s name (though that is an application) but of the misuse of his name. Breaking that commandment is essentially not regarding God, or the things of God, as holy. With our ridiculous t-shirts, bumper-stickers, and Christian-kitsch we wind up portraying Jesus as a pop-culture icon and relegate the gospel to the domain of the temporally significant (a passing fad). The church needs to be careful here, and in many cases repent.

Having said this, I must say that I do not think it is sinful to put Scripture on a t-shirt, or in a shoe. God commanded Israel to put his word on their doorposts, and even the Puritans were known to inscribe Scripture into their house wares. This reminded God’s people that all of life is sacred. Our eating, drinking, working and playing do not exist apart from the spiritual life. It’s all connected. Part of my problem with Christian consumerism is that we have lost sight of the truth that all of life is sacred, and wind up (unintentionally?) working in the wrong direction.

We have made the mistake of thinking all of life is scared if we make it so. By slapping something “Christian” on an item or event we believe it has been sanctified, and God is pleased. But this only reinforces the false dichotomy of sacred/secular in the Christian life. The bible-verse on a pan does not make our cooking holy. It should only remind us that work itself is holy. Unfortunately Christians continue to sell us ways of superficially redeeming the smaller parts of our lives with junk. And we buy it because we desperately want what we don’t know we already have.