29 September 2008

Stretched Tie-ins to Pop Culture: Church Peeves Part 5

Church Peeves: Part 5

This is the fifth in a 5-part series of things about church/churchgoers that piss me right the hell off that are of little or no consequence whatsoever:

5) Extremely stretched tie-ins to popular culture

Is it reasonable to talk about the gross stuff you saw last night on Fear Factor as a prelude to a sermon about Acts of the Apostles?

How about spending five minutes talking about watching Canadian Idol with your wife just to introduce the topic of idolatry? Yes, it has “idol” in the title, but it’s just a freakin’ talent show.

Here’s a hint for all the preachers out there: admiration for Sam Roberts as a musician does not equal idolatry either. We know that you’re just attempting to ride the coattails of a successful popular culture figure in order to hook the audience into listening to you.

And you know what? It’s lame and ineffective. Please cut it out. You’re only embarrassing yourself.

One time, we had a pastor who was a huge hockey fan. He introduced his sermon with a few slides discussing the rather silly Vote for Rory* campaign, where NHL fans tried to elect the unworthy defenseman to the NHL All-Star Game. I have no idea how the Vote for Rory campaign even tied into anything the pastor was saying. I would like to say it was something like “Jesus is voting for you even though you don’t deserve it,” but that wasn’t it. I can’t even remember what the sermon was about anymore since the tie-in was so loose. It hurt my brain, not only as a church-goer but as a hockey fan.

Few things are more mentally painful that an awkward, desperate tie-in. Yet time and time again preachers try and stretch to connect the fad of the day to whatever Jesus topic they were planning on speaking about.

I don’t think they can be that clueless as to how bad their connections are. My guess is that it’s one of two things, possibly both, depending on the person:
1) preachers have no shame and are willing to tie anything to anything else to try to sell their product
2) newbie preachers/speakers have been told that pop culture tie-ins are a great way to engage audiences, so they use them, despite knowing that they are clueless about doing it properly

* FYI: In the NHL, the starting lineups for the all-star game are decided by online fan voting. The ballot has options for voting for the most likely star players at each position, but write-in votes are allowed. Back in 2006-2007, fans started a movement to try to elect Rory Fitzpatrick, a journeyman defenseman with no standout qualities, to the starting defense. The movement took on a life of its own and Rory just missed out on the all-star selection.

Ps. Yes, I voted for Rory a bunch of times.

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At September 29, 2008 9:34 a.m., Blogger Carlo said...

Your church uses PowerPoint in its sermons? Isn't that going against the whole 'tradition' thing? I mean, the theory that gave us transistors is also being used to explore the origins of the universe - thus pissing off God or whatever.

Here's a question: How would your wife feel about you saying, "Honey, I respect your beliefs, but they're not mine. I'm not going to church anymore"? You're basically just making yourself angry*.

*Which, I DO like to do from time to time...

At September 29, 2008 10:24 a.m., Blogger Eamon Knight said...

The only pop-culture tie-ins likely to get my attention would be Star Trek or LOTR references. Or maybe non-moronic science connections.

Which would explain why I'm now in a Humanist Book Club where we read Zimmer, Dawkins, SF, etc, rather than church.

At September 29, 2008 12:14 p.m., Blogger King Aardvark said...

Carlo, I've thought about it (repectfully telling her I'm not going anymore) but I've come to the comclusion that it's not worth the effort:
1) I'm actually getting used to waking up earlier on weekends because we usually have something going on, church or no
2) we don't actually go to church that frequently because we have busy lives for other reasons - usually only go about once a month
3) given (2), the nuisance of my wife frequently nagging me to resume my church-going (plus the initial Big Fight upon telling her originally) outweighs the nuisance of church
4) it's good to understand what's important to my wife, even if it evokes a "wtf?" response from me
5) it leads to blog posts ;-)

Some churches are traditional, but all the services I've ever been to have used powerpoint. I think most modern christians embrace technology just not the philosophical implications behind it.

Eamon, I have yet to hear a Star Trek or LOTR tie-in so far. Probably because nerd stuff isn't as popular as we'd like it to be, and also because my church going has missed both the ST:TNG and LOTR heydays (Star Trek was starting to dwindle when I was in highschool (Voyager [spits]) and LOTR was mainly when I was in undergrad - before I met my wife).

At September 29, 2008 7:11 p.m., Blogger Eamon Knight said...

Well, I didn't really think my preferences would be high-runners in sermon hooks ;-). Not even in the very liberal circles I hung with most recently.

Of course, I never belonged to a church thay used Powerpoint, either.

At October 01, 2008 9:09 a.m., Blogger King Aardvark said...

FYI, both my wife's current church and the catholic highschool I attended look like shopping malls. That may explain something. However, every other church I've been to that wasn't greater than 40 years old had powerpoint.


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