Being a member of a youth group at Church will teach you a lot of things. You may (hopefully) learn about the Christian faith. You may learn about friendship, romance, or conflict resolution. Maybe you’ll even witness for the first time that yes, farts can indeed be ignited into flames (and it’s the funniest thing I’ve ever seen).
What you’ll definitely witness and likely take part in, however, is the time-honored practice of the Christian Knock-Off. You see, we Christians don’t like to be original. We’re rip-off Jews, what are we supposed to do?
We take what the “secular” world produces, and we say “Hey, that’s super rad! But since it’s secular it’s probably going to hell along with everyone at MSNBC and Stephanie Meyer. We should make our own version of it so that we can make sure it goes to heaven too!” From music to movies to t-shirts, if you make it, we’ll take it, throw it in the washer a bunch of times so it shrinks and fades, draw a cross on it with a Sharpie, and sell it at LifeWay.
Remember back in the day when YouTube exploded like Octomom’s v…oracious appetite for childbearing (and life-ruining)? Music videos became relevant for the first time since MTV decided to change its programming strategy from “Music” to “whatever sucks and will destroy happiness and souls,” talentless pubescent zit-bags with webcams all over the world found a way to express their talentless pubescence with ease, and the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America found a whole new way to satisfy their hunger for all things related to lawsuits and making everyone hate them. It was a beautiful thing.
Fresh off of the loss of Jessica Simpson to 98 Degrees, Evangelicals needed us some beauty. Rather than, you know, participating in the normal trend with the rest of the world, we made “GodTube.” It’s like YouTube, but it’s for God. So only God can use it. Or something. Anyway it’s Christian, so tell your pastor.
Go back a few years before that. Remember when boy bands started tearing up our hearts? Anyway, we Christians lamentably had a boy band all of our own. The sonic equivalent of religiously motivated castration, plusOne – whose name signifies absolutely nothing except a possible reference to a wedding invitation – hit the scene in 2000. Their line-up consisted of 5 moderately-attractive-but-fantastically-moral Christian dudes singing songs about Jesus. Which makes a lot of sense, you know, to sing songs about Jesus using a genre that is known for its romantic songs marketed to pre-pubescent girls. Somehow I feel dirty, having just thought about the whole thing.
What about reality TV? You just cringed, didn’t you? You know what’s coming, just like my toilet knows what’s coming after a meal at Chipotle. Get it?! Crap. The joke is that it’s crap. One Christian reality TV show is called “The Uprising.” I said “one” on purpose. There’s more than one, but because I love you and this hurts me more than it hurts you (seriously) I’m only going to talk about this one. The central conflict of this particular show centers around whether or not a few pro skateboarders will decide to be “born again.” I’m fairly sure that will give people more delusions about God than anything Richard Dawkins could write.
Ever heard of the blog “Stuff White People Like”? It’s pretty funny. An original idea. Wasn’t long before the Christian “me too!” version popped up as “Things Christians Like.” It’s pretty funny, but can we really be proud of a good imitation? Thank God everyone else keeps having original ideas, otherwise we’d be stuck with Carmen and the PowerTeam.
I’m not going to even mention every single ridiculous Christian t-shirts you can still purchase at your local Christian bookstore. Those go without saying. I’ll mention an all-star though:
How are people supposed to trust that our faith is relevant when our art and culture is not? Can we be “not of this world” and the “salt of the earth” without having what amounts to the store-brand version of secular culture? Only Kirk Cameron really knows. Speaking of which, if you’ll please excuse me, I’m going to finish writing a letter to Kirk Cameron about my script for a Christian vampire flick called “Sondown.”