|"This Guy" who goes by the name of Brett McCracken|
I'm not going to read it.
Because if you click this link here, we get an article by McCracken that seems to serve as an overarching summary of what he is getting at in his book.
And he spends a good 75% of the article ripping any recent attempts for churches to market themselves as relevant in the past few years (which he said the trend was birth out of the now dead "emerging church" movement).
Fine. Good. I see what you're doing here McCracken. We shouldn't be marketing Christ.
But McCracken, what do you suppose as a solution instead of attempts to be relevant?
(In his own words that are in the article):
"If the evangelical Christian leadership thinks that "cool Christianity" is a sustainable path forward, they are severely mistaken. As a twentysomething, I can say with confidence that when it comes to church, we don't want cool as much as we want real.
If we are interested in Christianity in any sort of serious way, it is not because it's easy or trendy or popular. It's because Jesus himself is appealing."
That's it? That's it McCracken? Your answer is Jesus?
You can't be serious?
(I think he's serious).
Which Jesus is it you're referring to then?
Scorsese's insane, marrying Jesus in Last Temptation of Christ Jesus?
Gibson's Catholic Jesus in Passion of the Christ?
Pausolini's ethical Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew?
How about the crowd favorite, of Swedish, blue-eyed Jesus in the Greatest Story Ever Told?
Maybe it's clown Jesus in Godspell?
Wait...McCracken...you can't be...no....my goodness...you're crazier than I thought man....
This is the Jesus you're talking about?
You mean to tell me McCracken, you are referring to crucified Jesus as appealing?
You're nuts. Sure that means our sins are forgiven, but you can't think about Jesus like that without realizing that our call here on earth is the same, all that "he that loses his life will find it" stuff, that whole "pick up your cross and follow me" bit. Yeah, that's real appealing McCracken.
If I wasn't such an ethical man and one who abides by a faith commitment, I would say that McCracken is ripe to be put in a parade of clowns and himself as the grand marshall, dressed up just like he is with a banner that goes before him saying "Brett McCracken, Church Jester: Buffoon." And he will be in handcuffs too (or maybe a Chinese finger trap?).
To you, dear reader
So you may be wondering why I am so harsh on our bearded man. Mind you I am this frustrated, and I haven't even read the book (just a small essay by him)...
Here's the deal: First off, this guy is saying we don't want relevant, we want real. And everyone's going around promoting this "real" Christianity or "authentic" Christianity (no harm meant whatsoever towards any churches that carry said labels as their church names). But no one's dared to define what real Christianity or authentic Christianity is that makes Christianity so much more tangible and concrete than any other churches that do not promote being "real." Until someone produces a concrete definition of what "real" or "authentic" is that makes this "non-fake" brand so appealing, and that allows us (potential consumers/potential competition) to anaylze/scrutinize/praise what they stand for.
The way I see it, they stand for absolutely nothing. And I am willing to bet that when we can kind of grasp what "real Christianity" is, it will itself just be one more marketing ploy.
This is how I read the McCracken article:
Darkened rooms: Fake!
Pastor who looks hip with relevant haircut: Fake!
Church that brings out Sex as a theme: Fake!
And then finally: It's all marketing! Instead, let's "Be Real." (what's real?) "Jesus: Good."
I myself don't mind McCracken as a critic. Most of the stuff he mentions, I am annoyed by. But just because I don't like those methods doesn't mean I would dare call their Christianity fake. But McCracken is part of the growing voice in Christianity that is reacting against attempts to change the definition of church (sometimes slightly, sometimes with an overhaul). This voice is that of some weird unearned exceptionalism that for some reason thinks their OWN version of church (which is probably just embedded into an older brand of Christianity that appealed to their culture from decades ago) is "real." As Peter Berger, a renowned sociologist and devout Christian pointed out, that ever since protestantism broke onto the scene, each church and religion is apart of a marketing ploy to outcompete their competitors (other church/religion). Even if one defines their church as being anti-marketing, and therefore traditional, that too is a marketing tool to appeal to the Christians who are so turned off to the proactive marketing schemes they see in "relevant" churches.
I guess in summary, this whole "real" Christianity thing is so frustrating because it acts like it's above all of the noise of desperate churches trying anything and everything to reach the lost (some it good, some of it bad) when real christianity itself is embedded into a culture trying to be relevant to to that culture (even if the culture it is trying to relate to is anti-modern culture) and therefore waist-deep with all of the rest of Christianity in trying to figure out how to maintain the careful balance of trying to appease the times, but without abusing the purity of Christianity (what is essential? What can go?). In other words, Real Christianity stands against many things, but seems to stand for nothing for itself other than "Jesus" which can be an entirely abstract and vague idea itself. It is no better than us. It is one of us. Even if their "being real" is claiming that it is against the rest of us.
And the biggest irony for McCracken....His book is being actively marketed and promoted and sold to Christians, in a format that is... entirely relevant. Look no further than his website. (it looks like all the music blogs I visit). Actually when I come to think of it...it's kind of cute in a sad way. Like a puppy dog trying to bite the fingers off it's owner with it's harmless baby teeth (although they can slightly sting sometimes). The owners fingers, which feed the puppy daily and try to take it on a walk.