Wednesday, April 11, 2007


The current issue of Rolling Stone has an article about Battle Cry, an evangelical ministry that attempts to wean children and teenagers from mainstream media and win them to Jesus through media boycotts. The ministry is supported by recording service TiVo. Battle Cry is also taking its message to Romania, Guatemala, and other countries.

While there are some flaws in American entertainment such as the violence and sex that is promulgated in the media, from a capitalistic point of view it is unwise to transform the secular entertainment industry to a Christian propaganda machine. Services and entertainment are the only industries that thrive in the United States. Manufacturing is dead, information technology is easily shipped to anywhere there is Internet, and most of the food that Americans eat is imported. Jesus isn't going to save the United States if an atheistic country like China produces the goods that Americans buy. The Chinese can build goods better, cheaper, and faster. Or bootleg them.

Furthermore, the entertainment industry can be outsourced too. What is there to say that America will retain its preeminence in media? Ministers like Ron Luce do not understand what I have coined as the "widget economy". Media isn't the big multinational corporations entirely; there is blogging,vlogging, podcasts et cetera. One only need use the service Stumble Upon, a web application that steers the viewer to random web sites based on pre-programmed criteria (which can be filtered against adult content, by the way) to see what odd and specialized niches there are in the world.

There is also the simple fact that the rest of the world will not buy Christianized media on the scale that other countries buy secular entertainment. Christian entertainment is for the most part unexciting, dull, and usually poorly crafted. Christian media is only an ape of secular media from Christian heavy metal bands to Christian homemaker magazines. The production values in Christian media aren't very good and it is transparent that Christian entertainment is an earnest copycat of what has already been done. The bar is raised high in entertainment production values and Christian media can't compete worldwide.

Last, and history is always a good muse to contemplate, Ron Luce and his fellow ministers ought to heed the fate of Girolamo Savonarola who sought to banish and burn the entertainments of fifteenth century Florance, Italy and died on his own Bonfire of the Vanities. People like their entertainment and will do what they will to obtain it. China has restricted foreign magazines, books,newspapers, and movies to hotels that cater to Westerners. The bootleg economy of Western media among Chinese citizens is thriving. To restrict media or to try to Christianize media will only create illicit markets. While it is good to keep a watch and critique on media, completely transforming entertainment to one ideology creates economic disincentives that eventually would hurt the general economy like Savonarola destroyed the economy of Florance.

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