Monday, May 17, 2010

My own personal Jesus.

I've always thought that the intersections/battlegrounds between consumer culture and religious culture are  worth my interest.  In ways that have been more fully fleshed out by great minds like Wendell Berry, Jay McDaniel, John Cobb, and Jonny Baker (among others).  But since I am interested in being condensed tonight, I'll just say I think it is one way that the church is in the midst of a new kind of empire in this day and age.  This empire wants to colonize your mental space and enslave your mind as much as the Roman empire cared to colonize your homeland and enslave your body.
When the tension between consumerism and Christianity are expressed in art, I take note.  I saw on Jonny's blog  a link to the new "Mickey Christ" statue unveiled at a Beijing mall.  It speaks quite well to the tension itself, and then the comments below the picture are also enlightening.
The statue reminded me of Banksy's "Christ with Shopping Bags."  Also worth examining.
I recall using the Banksy thing for something one time, and a person in an older generation than my own was worried about promoting the image by using it.  The person's concern evidenced a real difference between generations, I think.  I believe my generation is much more intuitive about irony and less likely to be offended by it.  I realize that is quite a blanket statement, and don't claim that is an airtight theory.  It just seems that irony is a lot more utilized (especially in consumer culture/marketing.) in my generation and younger.  Would you imagine Burger King so gleefully suggesting to the consumer that they are ripping off McDonalds in any other generation?
 Commercials used to be so earnest!  They were the real thing! and now what we have is so smarmy and snorting.  (But, I really do prefer the smarmy snorting kind of commercialism to the one that attempts to tap into the Zeitgeist of a generation and market that to itself......or, is that just what today's brand of consumerism is as well, young grasshopper?)
As you can see, my own mind is colonized.  Commercial taglines like "Give me a break" or "Dr. Pepper, You make the world taste better" frequently echo out of my subconscious and out of my mouth with the gusto of the original jingle singer. As I link up those two references, I imagine that they will resound down into the canyons of your own subconscious too, dear reader.  Woe is us!  Being that this is our mental/spiritual landscape, who are we to deny the Spirit's bucking against the shitstem like an angry bull?  That's what I see happening in those art pieces.  Some people, get caught up in their own sense of indignation about images that confound them and fail to see the truth conveyed--not the Truth That Is, necessarily, but the truth we've made.I don't say that with any sense of "holier than thou" attitude--perhaps the generational thing is simply reflective of a my own genration/culture being more thoroughly warped by consumerism..  Whew, this was supposed to be a brief post....

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