(re)integrate: Finding God in Advertising Bob Robinson
In a profound chapter in A Matrix of Meanings: Finding God in Pop Culture, Craig Detweiler and Barry Taylor look at how advertising has shaped contemporary society. The authors offer “Ten Commandments of Advertising,” all of which point to an overarching question that people in this (and every) culture ask: “What is it to be fully human?”
“This is the question that advertising seeks to answer, a question that was one the pursuit of philosophers and theologians. Advertising is an incredibly powerful form of pop culture that influences us on levels far deeper than getting us to choose certain products. Life choices are part of today’s world of advertising and consumption. ‘The glory of God,’ Irenaeus wrote, ‘is a human being fully alive.’ In contemporary society, to be fully human is to shop. Advertising offers us ways to be alive, ways to be human.” (p. 84)
Certainly, there are ads that are manipulative and appeal to the baser aspects of human depravity in order to sell products. But advertising, at its best, appeals to our desire to know who we are, to celebrate life, to find meaning in being human. ...
I especially liked this statement:
Christianity needs to “re-message” itself as a faith that embraces the joy of God restoring humanity and encourages celebration. The restoration of all things is in our future. We await the return of Jesus Christ with great anticipation. What are we doing in preparation?
The primary vision of the church today, liberal or conservative, is to offer people meaning and transcendence by extracting them out of the daily routines of life, rather than equipping people to see transcendence in those daily routines. We do it in the form of therapeutic pietism or in the form of activism to change the world. And if you are really "spiritual" you will enter "full-time ministry" to do these things.
(Bob wrote a great post here. He recently began (re)integrate, which is devoted to addressing just the kind of issues the post raises. Be sure to check the website.)
Where have you seen examples of the church equipping people to see transcendence in the routines of life? How might we do a better job of celebrating life?