Come to Jesus

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We've posted Jeremy Lott's wonderful analysis of the Christian Culture Industry over on the main page of Reason Online. Jeremy's article, which appears in our February print edition (subscribe!), is very much in keeping with our interest in how people use cultural production and consumption to create meaning, value, community, and identity in their lives.

As Jeremy concludes,

The products, good and bad, that dominated the [Christian Booksellers Association convention] both reflected and validated the subculture that generated the demand for them. The people who read the books, listen to the music, hang the Thomas Kinkade paintings in their homes, and use the other products of this industry are surrounding themselves with artifacts that reflect their values and beliefs, that validate who they are. For such consumers, the Left Behind novels, the evangelical pop music, and all the rest serve as the building blocks of a shared evangelical cultural identity. In brief, evangelicals are using the market to fashion and refashion themselves, and to project the resulting identity to others, in just the way that all consumers do.

Here's a Web site that's not for the faint of heart: Divine Interventions, a sex toy operation that uses religious imagery in a way the nuns at good old St. Mary's never discussed (though Linda Blair anticipated it all in The Exorcist).

Interestingly, it was an evangelical Christian pal o' mine who told me about the site, claiming he'd "stumbled" across it by accident.

NEXT: Phil Donahue's Biggest Fan (Who's Not That Girl)

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  1. It’s ok, O’Rourke regularly steals from Dave Barry.
    On another note, didn’t Jesus drive out the money-changers? I definitely recall something about profaning his father’s house or something.
    While we’re at it, has anyone noticed how tacky all that crap is? The aforementioned P.J. O’Rourke has an amusing take on it from his visit to Heritage Village U.S.A.

  2. John:
    The problem is, the American TNC’s that do business in China don’t WANT to educate them in libertarian values. The very reason they locate there is that the Chinese government acts as an enforcer for the sweatshop system. Trying to organize a Chinese sweatshop is a good way to end up in a mental hospital. Pretty much the way they locate in Central American banana republics where the death squads hack torture and disappear union organizers. The state capitalist collusion between these TNCs and the commissars of the “Workers’ Paradise” reminds me of the meeting between the pigs and the neighboring farmers in Animal Farm.

    Evilcor:
    Yes, that crap is extremely tacky. The reason, I think, is that the religious hucksters who sell it think they have a captive market. Anything that is wrapped up in a “Christian” package has an automatic leg up–after all, if you don’t want a piece of cheap plastic crap with the word “Jesus” on it, you must not be a REAL Christian. It’s kind of like Lee Greenwood’s automatic “patriotic” market, despite the sphincter-clinching awfulness of his work. As somebody said, his whole career depends on whether the U.S. is at war with somebody.

  3. I sent this message to Mr Lott:

    “My question is:

    How many of the coffee mugs, stuffed animals, etc were made in the officially-atheist, religion-oppressing People’s Republic of China?”

    He said he would find out at the next convention.

    I tend more towards the Plains Indians theory of trade with China……if we trade more with China, they will come down with a fatal case of Western Values; kind of like the Plains Indians got smallpox from the blankets we gave them.

    (I plagiarized that from PJ O’Rourke)

  4. EMAIL: pamela_woodlake@yahoo.com
    IP: 62.213.67.122
    URL: http://psybnc-account.1st-host.org
    DATE: 01/20/2004 11:52:35
    Gratitude is born in hearts that take time to count up past mercies.

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