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Thursday, December 22, 2005

What Do We Worship?

Ok guys, she looks pretty good, doesn't she? And how many of you woman wished you were built like this? Pretty impressive for a 14 year old. Too bad she's fake...

Now that I have your attention, I'd encourage you to check this out. Grab your spouse, and your teenage kids, and sit them down in front of the computer and look at this together. If you don't feel comfortable talking about this with your family members, just remember that the media is comunicating non-stop on this one.

So go to the site, then click the image and it will launch a flash viewer that walks you through the step by step process of how they digitally enhanced this young girl to make her look spectacular. Look at what they are changing, and ask yourself why.

What's the point here? This is what guys are demanding, what girls are aspiring to - and its a fiction. It's also a recipe for disaster. It destroys relationships, it belittles the image of God in all of us.

Shocking? It should be. The group who created this example is called GirlPower, and they're trying to illustrate where things are going in out culture. Yet where's the church in all this? It seems to me this is precisely the type of thing the gospel should be challenging in our culture, and I wonder if we could learn something from how GirlPower folks have gone about it...

Thoughts? Comments? I'd be interested in feedback on this one.
(Sorry I can't remember who to hat tip on this one)


At 5:00 PM, December 22, 2005, Blogger Dan McGowan said...

I actually do have a comment on this - but it may not be the one you are expecting...

The very thing that appauls here, is the same thing the current trends in worship/music are doing.

Just as this image is a false view of the real thing, in many churches, we have actually fallen prey to "worshiping" the creation rather than the Creator - and it is nothing short of idolotry.

In far too many churches, we have "nipped" and "tucked" and "airbruhsed" authentic worship of God into a plastic, packaged, performed EXPERIENCE when what He desires is an ENCOUNTER.

It's easy to point a finger at something like this and say, with furrowed brow, "Shame on you!" But will we be just as brave to point that same finger at ourselves; at our churches; at our CCM and Worship Music INDUSTRY and offer the same words of warning?

Time will tell...

At 5:18 PM, December 22, 2005, Blogger Christian said...

Hi Dandykat - I think you raise a valid point here.

I'm not sure I would necessarily say that what we _should_ be pursuing in worship is an "encounter" (Note: I'm not saying you are wrong here - I'm just not sure if I could build a biblical case for describing the goal of worship that way. But that's probably fodder for another post).

That said, I think your basic point is right on - the same attitudes and desires which drive us to hyper-sexuality in the media, also drive much of what's going on in the worship/music arena.

How many people in the church show up for worship striving to look (or lusting after those who look) just like the people in the magazines?

I'm not actually saying we should just point our fingers and say "shame on you" though - I think the first thing we need to do is get this stuff out in the open and start talking about it. That needs to start in the church. And then it needs to extend into the public arena.

I think the way we will communicate effectively is not just by pointing the finger, but by thinking about how better to say it in a way that reaches the hearts and minds of those around us (as well as ourselves - let's be honest here: one of the most troubling aspects of this whole thing is the question "why is this so attractive to ME?". If we can't figure out how to address that one first, we won't have anything to say to anyone else."

At 5:47 PM, December 22, 2005, Blogger Master Aegidius said...

Hmmm, I didn't find her that attractive. The original photo was much better.

But then, add some camoflage, a 12 ga. pump, and a black lab, and we have possibilities....


But then, hasn't this (image over reality) been going on for ages? Not that I am saying it's okay, but why are we so supprised? Or has it snuck up on us?

Think about it: the whole red sports car/ Hummer thing, the Magnum/Ultra Magnum/Short Magnum/Ultra Short Magnum thing, the 69 Billion Modulus Carbon Fiber, wadda wadda wadda ad infinitum ad nausea.

But I don't think everyone is buying into it, and quite a few are dropping out of it. It is this kind of marketing that has driven people into anti- marketing consumption. The Simple Life movement, etc.

And I have to wonder if the people dropping out of the system are causing a corrolary increase of ratcheting up the pressure to buy, buy, buy. Nothing to prove it, just wondering.


But then how do we innoculate our children to it? We don't watch television, very few movies that we preview, we're not super social crazy, and our 5 year old daughter is looking at boys and saying " He sure is cute." That causes my blood pressure to go way up.

And for those of you who don't know me, I am more protective of my kids than a sow griz w/ cubs. GRRRRRRR.

So how do we protect our kids?

At 6:22 PM, December 22, 2005, Blogger Christian said...

Hi Master A!

Yes, I think you are right. There's nothing new under the sun; our fixation on sex has been around since David spied Bathsheba (actually even before then).

At the same time, I think we need to realize that some things have profoundly changed in the last 25 years. The marketing and commercialization (exploitation) of sex has gotten much more overt in the media (and that trickles down into every aspect of our lives). It's hard to buy clothes these days (even for kids) that aren't influenced by sexually charged trends.

Another major difference is the fact that porn is WAY more available via the internet - all from the privacy of your own home. I'd be you'd be surprised at how rampant porn is - even for those in the church. And outside of it, it's just ordinary. Same thing for the casualness which people are approaching sex now - it makes the 60s/70s look like foreplay. So there are definitely some differences, from even when I was a kid.

Having said all that - I'm hopeful, for the same reason you are. I see more and more people rejecting the status quo and looking for something different. And that bodes well for the gospel (not that it makes the gospel more attractive - its just that the gospel often breaks through most powerfully in dark times precisely like these).

As for protecting our kids - I think one of the myths going around in the church these days is that we CAN protect our kids (if we just find the right homeschool cirriculum, parenting model, etc). I'm not trying to know those things, but ultimately this problem stems from spiritual heart issues - and that's the one thing we can't "guarantee" for our children - we can't guarantee their spiritual life, we can't guarantee their physical lives either. Which all goes to show that we are just really dependent on our heavenly Father.

In terms of what to do, I think the best bet is to be very active and talk about this stuff - with our husbands, our wives, and our kids, in our chuches, our small groups, and with our unbelieving friends.

Good stuff to think about...

At 7:22 PM, December 22, 2005, Blogger Master Aegidius said...

Makes me wonder:

How did God "Market" the greatest commodity ever?

In a stable, surrounded by animals, on a cold lonely night.

And who showed up?


At 7:54 AM, December 23, 2005, Blogger Dan McGowan said...

Well, I will try to refrain - cuz I could write for hours right now and, of course, we got that little "Christmas celebration" to attend to...

That said...

My issues with music/worship are as you say - centered around this whole concept of worshiping the IMAGE rather than the IMAGER. It is not just with our desiring to see the glamorous people leading us in singing - it is also in our (the ones on the platform) thinking that if we don't sound just like the latest professional worship CD, then we are somehow giving God LESS than He deserves in our worship - - and, there is a whole other issue here - that we no longer call our LIVES worship - we now call THE MUSIC (almost exclusively) and HOW that music is packaged, "worship." Makes me ill.

On the idea of marketing - yeah, I love the point here about how God marketed the arrival of the most important person in history... no big parade... no CNN coverage... just a star, some shepherds, a crummy inn, a few gifts, etc. Now, I'm not sure - but I have a feeling God knows a tad more about marketing than I do...

Merry Christmas!

At 12:13 PM, December 29, 2005, Blogger Nicholas said...

Ok, I am going to comment, but only as an ad industry insider who often spends many hours building images like the one referenced (I don’t do work in fashion). Retouching, compositing, and etc. is only one dimension of an enormous image machine; aka: The Industry.

A few thoughts about “the machine”…
1) Everything is strategic: Images, copy, the product, the retouching house, the agency of record and the team assigned to the brief. Everything.
2) Strategy doesn’t mean “real”. Strategy often is not bound to the rules of reality. The best work often delights us because it’s a total departure from reality.
3) Because nothing has to be real, it takes a brave brand willing to be "totally real". No one ever is. A few make noble efforts at trying, but this is marketing. If they are trying to be real, its for a reason (Remember Sprite? “Image is nothing, obey your thirst” – so much irony in that one).
4) People like me are retained to translate brand strategy into compelling messages that show the brand in the possible light. So, who decides what constitutes the best possible light? You do. You, the consumer, asked for this. Brands use strategy to bridge the gap between their camp and yours. They do what is relevant because without relevance getting very beautiful and expensive images and ad campaigns to pay for themselves is very difficult. In this case, relevance meant retouching a cover image. In others, it’s a headline, or perhaps a clever concept that has a rare ability to translate that strategy for its audience. Sometimes, it’s a sermon illustration. Its important to note that relevance is a two way street and is fundamentally a symbiotic relationship. The best and the brightest brands always seem to be two or three steps ahead of the rest of the world, leading with instinct on what people will want in the future. But they draw those instincts by listening intently to what consumers are telling them. They have your pulse. You want a shotgun toting Man-tana women? You got. Shag carpet for your floor-mats? Done. The ideal picture of post-modern-youth with a grown-up hippy twist? Just say the word.

Food for thought: They (Girlpower) were strategic in the image they choose to make their point. A young girl, naturally pretty, with obvious imperfections, who would be certain to hit a nerve when made "perfect". Did it work? I was impressed, but I know for a fact models do exist who look like the post-edit girl in everyday life. Its still a very compelling point they made, but they are just as guilty as the people who would actually produce an actual magazine cover, and that to me is the real point: None of us really wants reality, and to varying degrees we are all guilty of it.

At 12:33 PM, December 29, 2005, Blogger Nicholas said...

Oh - btw, a commodity is a bit of a misnomer for the gospel. Commodities, from a branding/marketing perspective, are in fact objects or materials indescriminant of identity conventions or branding concepts.

Your question is interesting, and I am not really sure what to think of the whole "Does God market?" idea. On the one hand, yes, its obviously an idea that originated with him (mass communication). On the other, when churches "market" themselves, I see a lot of potentitial for more harm then good. The idea of "branding and packaging" God makes me cringe...
[Moderators notice Nicholas is off topic, drag away to typist dungeon. End post.>]

At 6:35 PM, January 01, 2006, Blogger Dan McGowan said...

I'm glad Jesus was not too worried about "image" and far more concerned with "impact."


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