Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Emergent Migraine Rant

Another pause from the Post-Restoration Hope - more to come

I had a marketing experience and church experience that enlightened me on the worries some emergent folks have on branding, evangelical colonization, and linguistic thievery.

I walked into a drug store to purchase some Extra-Strength Exedrin. I needed to make a pre-emptive strike against the fast approaching trip to the dentist who likes to drill my teeth. By mistake, I picked up Exedrin Migraine Relief, not Extra-Strength. I did not notice my mistake until I got into the car. When I ntoiced that it was specifically for migraine relief, I figured that there was some kind of special medicine in it that was unique to relieving that kind of headache. And besides, it cost more. I then got back out of the car and asked the pharmicist what was the difference. He said that he was not sure, and then looked at the label.

"Nope, it's the same stuff."

I kept the medicine because although it cost more, it was not that much more and I was in a hurry, but thought that if I did have a migraine headache and realized that I am paying more for the very same thing, I'd feel duped.

It was a marketing technique. What emergent people fear is that evangelicals will do the Exedrin switch, calling their church emergent with its new packaging (candles, video clips, coffee etc) when in reality, "it's the same stuff."

I visited a "new kind of church" last Sunday. I heard it had candles and was different. It took me about three minutes (yeah, I'm slow) to figure out this was a contemporary repackaging of old school Southern Baptist. Sure, it had young faces, actually, it had an ucomfortably large percentage of young faces (it had church split in its history written all over it - and I was right), but the theology was, well, you tell me:

1. "God does not speak in dreams anymore because we have the Bible."
2. Sermon illustrations:
A. Video clip from Rocky.
B. A fight.
C. An array of sport analogies.
D. "You need to love your wife."
E. A military reference.

There was more testosterone in this sermon than the Smackdown wrestlers reading Iron John around a campfire eating the flesh of the T-Rex they had just killed with their hands. It was feminist Hell.

3. It was completely consumed with the topic of self-discipline to avoid doing really bad things like being really bad. There was no sense of service for the sake of the world, depth in spiritual formation, or even any insight. I felt like I was at a dorm devo for Freshmen at Baylor.

Now, they did not use the word, emergent, on their website or in their church service, but only because I do not think that word has really hit Jonesboro, AR in any significant way. My guess is that if they knew it, they'd use it. It's hot, it's hip, and it attracts attention. Why not use it to make some more Baptists?

Rant complete!

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