Alright, I try to keep a positive tone around here as a general rule, but I’m all flustered right now, so I might get a little…grrr… Here’s why:
This afternoon I got home and opened my mailbox to be faced mostly with junk mail. As I was tossing it in the trash, something caught my eye. It was this little advertisement here:
If you know me, then you know that I’m a self-described technophile. I have a particular fondness for Google’s Android operating system and its ecosystem. So you’ll understand my surprise when I saw that this advertisement claimed that the MYeebo Christian Tablet E-reader was using Android 9.0. Why would this surprise me, you ask? Because at present, the latest version of Android is 4.2. There is no such thing as Android 9.0. In fact, if Google continues on its current trajectory, Android 9.0 will probably be available sometime around 2017. I understand that this flub could be the result of a number of things ranging from a gross misunderstanding of the product, to a simple uncorrected typing error. But that isn’t really the issue I’m concerned about.
Here’s what I’m concerned about: why does the world need a MYeebo Christian Table E-reader? Are the existing tablets and e-readers not “Christian” enough? Is it sinful to buy a tablet that doesn’t come pre-loaded with the Bible? Is it better to patronize an explicitly “Christian” technology company even when they sell clearly inferior products? Why do Christians continue to make and do things that by all objective standards…suck?
Ok, calm down Timbo…let’s not say anything we’ll regret here…
It would be easy for me to use this as a launching pad for a tirade against the Church and how we should all live in Jesus-centered communes eschewing corporations and consumerism thereby decommodifying Jesus. And, I don’t know, maybe we should do all of that. But let’s start with a simpler question.
Why does the MYeebo Christian Tablet E-reader exist? Does it do something a “non-Christian” tablet or e-reader can’t do? Are the iPad or the Nexus 7 somehow lacking because of their “unChrislikeness”? If I buy a Christian tablet, what else do I need to make sure is “Christian”? Do I need “Christian” headphones to plug into my “Christian” tablet? Should I get a “Christian” case for my tablet? Do they even make those? (Answer: yes they do). If I use my “Christian” tablet in my living room, should I be sure I’m sitting on a “Christian” sofa? Ok, maybe the sofa is “Christian,” but I’m pretty sure the ottoman is Muslim! What do I do now?!
We Christians seem to feel much safer when we take someone else’s idea and make it “Christian,” (which, unfortunately, almost always seems to mean making it worse somehow.)
What if we (the Church) stopped making second-rate imitations of what the world already has and then slapping the word “Christian” on it? This happens all the time. ”Christian” musicians and filmmakers are probably the worst offenders. ”Christian” record labels and film companies make a business out of vampirically sucking the creative juices out of the world, sterilizing them, and then repackaging them as if they are authentic creations of those in communion with God. And the worst part is that when we imitate what the world is doing, we almost always get it wrong (i.e. Android 9.0).
Genesis 1 accounts for us the fact that God is creative in nature. He imagines things that once weren’t, and He calls them into being. When Adam shows up on the scene, God gives him some creative tasks (create more people and name the animals; both creative in nature.) And because Adam is in relationship with a creative God, he is able to achieve these tasks.
Where now exists this creativity in God’s Church? Why have we settled for so much less? Why have we become hucksters of cheap and shoddy imitations of the world’s goods and entertainment? Where is the creativity? If we find that we have trouble being genuinely creative, we must ask ourselves whether or not we are in communion with the most creative Being in existence. Are the beauty of the Gospel and the wonder of grace bereft of their ability to stir up genuinely new creations? Does Christ make us into “new creations” or simply repackaged goods? If Christ is capable of new creations, and we know Christ, then why are we incapable of creating anything genuinely new?
Will I live to see the Church recapture its capacity for creativity? I hope so. Dear Lord, I do hope so. In the meantime, I find myself unable to support those who make an industry out of plastering the name of Christ on someone else’s creation, and doing a poor job at it.