In large part, when Christians attempt to do pop-culture it fails miserably. For one thing, I personally feel cheap thriller movies and boring worship rock songs inevitably fall short of achieving a truly holy or sacred nature. Christians would do well to stick to deeper, less overt means of discussing their faith, or perhaps just avoid the trap of “pop culture” altogether. Some of the best examples of mainstream Christian thought, rather than pop-Christianity, are the writings of C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien or even Thomas Merton. These are writers whose work transcends the Christian community and is read widely by non-believers and members of other faiths.
Now, this may be just a matter of taste. I’m not sure. One of the holiest services I ever attended was a mass done entirely in chant; the church was lit only by candlelight. It all felt very peaceful, very sacred. I’m sure not everyone would really enjoy this sort of service, but for me it gathered up all the centuries of Christianity together into that cathedral and just the age of it all, the ancientness of it resonated throughout the room.
Christianity in America has been weaved into pop culture much to the detriment of that religion. The co-opting of pop culture to try to make Christianity seem more “hip” to the times has backfired. Simply countering every Nirvana or Green Day with a Christian version of the same will not make teenage boys prefer the latter to the former. When cool becomes more important than sacred than we’ve got a problem. The fact of the matter is that secular movie makers will always be able to make more edgy films, and secular musicians will always be able to make cooler music, and the reason for this is they’re just trying to make movies and music – they’re not trying to make explicitly Christian movies and music. (I think the same thing has been applied to the difference between liberal and conservative media as well.) When cool is manufactured, or foisted upon our youth by their parents and preachers it immediately loses its cool. It then becomes cool to rebel against it. Another problem with “cool” is it relies heavily on trends, and trends these days last at most five years.
Couple all this with the politicization of Christianity by the religious right in recent decades and you start to see a broader reason why more and more Americans are leaving their faith. Why stick around when the entire experience is not only plasticized but also inextricably bound to corrupt politicians and their failed policies? Why remain a member of a community that seems to spend more time judging others than it does getting its own house in order? The problem is, to some degree, a problem with “branding” or “image” but the answer is not in finding new and better ways to market Buddy Christ. I’d say far from helping with Christianity’s image problem, pop-faith misses the point altogether.
Oh, and Andrew is dead wrong about this trailer. No matter what you think about Mel Gibson, the man’s a damn fine filmmaker. He would never make a movie about a cancer-patient-dancer being chased by the devil. And if he did, it wouldn’t look like this at all…