Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Mere Marketing: Did Disney Pay For Your Sermon?

This article, Weblog: Did Disney Pay For Your Sermon? - Christianity Today Magazine, shows a remarkable and troubling trend - using the pulpit for product placement. It seems that there is a contest for pastors who preach about particular topics related to the film and book The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Just the latest in a series of product placement for the impending opening of the movie - and your pastor might get a free trip to London.

A friend at school recently asked me if I was sufficiently geeked about the upcoming Narnia film, remembering my excitement over the Lord of the Rings and figured I'd be a fan of these as well. I hadn't really thought much about it, thinking that the films would probably be pretty cool but I wasn't chomping at the bit to go see it like I was all three Lord of the Rings films. (I did manage to go to all three films on opening day with my good friend Ron Rienstra - a wonderful time of fellowship and orcs! I also remembering seeing the the people gathering for the opening day of the movie and thinking "it's the swarming of the geeks!")

So why am I not as intrigued by these films? I enjoy the books and I dipped my toe back into them a few years back and picked up the Silver Chair (one of the Narnia books) again and enjoyed it even more than I had the first two times. (Come to think of it - I reread The Silver Chair because of a sermon Ron preached. Thanks, Ron.) As I did the appropriate amount of soul searching I realized that the enthusiasm of the Christian media has tempered my enthusiasm for the film. I've been disappointed too many times by so-called Christian art. When I see the film (not "if") and when I enjoy it (and I really do expect to) I'll probably come around. But my lukewarm reaction so far says more about Christian marketing, like the sermon contest - do I really need to go into why I think this is a terrible idea? - than it does about the film itself.

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