Saturday, September 15, 2007

Capitalist Christians--Part Two

Yesterday's post, although dealing with two specific examples and bloggers, was not meant to single them out individually as somehow being more capitalistic than other Christians.

The intertwining of Christianity, power, and money has long been an issue. Anyone remember papal indulgences? Purchasing forgiveness by contributing to the building of a Cathedral, or the local monastery definitely muddied the spiritual waters.

American Christianity, in particular, seems to have such a capitalistic nature that I wonder if it's possible to completely exorcise it from the the flavor of Christianity we Americans know. The dissemination of popular Christian ideas through TV, magazines, books and music lends itself to marketing spiritual truths. No one will buy books unless they are told about how great the book is and how life-changing it will be. Nobody will buy music unless they are convinced that the musicians are super-cool, edgy, and can convey a worshipful experience for the listener. Suddenly proclamation leads to promotion in order to attract buyers.

I don't think most Christian writers and musicians start down this path consciously. It starts with a very real desire to be "relevant". Add that tendency to the fact that there is no sure way to inform Christians about an upcoming concert or conference without paying for advertising and a "nice" venue and the slope gets progressively slippery. Every perk must be paid for. Soon what started as a ministry quickly transforms into a business with employees that must be paid and budgets that must be met.

Is it possible to minister in America without being lured into monetizing your message or music once it becomes "popular"? I'm not sure. The only example I can think of is the late Rich Mullins who reportedly lived on a set, normal salary for a "working man" and donated all the rest of the money his albums made.

Radical? Yes, but perhaps more in line with keeping our priorities straight.

1 comment:

Your Hubby said...

Rich definitely set the bar high and gave us all a great example to follow. He was not a man concerned with the glitz and the glamour. He tried his best to live a life of modesty and humility but also one of boldness and unabashedness for his Savior.