I laugh hardest when comedy stretches reality just one or two millimeters beyond itself. Do you remember the Saturday Night Live commercials that were only one small step outside of realism? Sometimes you couldn’t tell if they were real or not.
Or, how about the best Seinfeld routines? Was the second spitter really any more plausible than Oliver Stone’s JFK? How many of us know, or are, close talkers?
My particular favorites are when people take my personality quirks and just barely stretch them through imitation. Through tears of laughter I ask, “Do I really do that?” The answer from family and friends is inevitably “yes!” It’s a chance for me to see myself through someone else’s eyes. It’s a rare, and sometimes uncomfortable, gift.
Recently, those of us that call ourselves Christian were given this rare gift. The creative PR folks at Electronic Arts gave us a rare chance to look at ourselves. Using a viral marketing technique they staged a mock protest of their new game “Dante’s Inferno.” You can read about it here: http://www.gamespot.com/news/6211829.html?part=rss&tag=gs_all_games&subj=6211829 It was such a good “production” that it fooled The Los Angeles Times for a while http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2009/06/e3-protesters-target-dantes-inferno-game.html. The viral marketing also included a faux website.
The upstart to it all is that it didn’t real stretch reality all that much. Protesters marched in front of E3 at the Los Angeles Convention Center with “trade in your playstation for a praystation” posters and handed out tracts that read “a video game hero does not have the authority to save and damn… ONLY GOD CAN JUDGE and he will not judge the sinners who play this game kindly.”
Compared to some of the posters seen at the memorials to US service men these are rather tame. Granted, those are extremes, but did the actors employed by EA really carry slogans any different than the bumper stickers some of us put on our cars.
As a consultant that seeks to help churches understand and relate to the culture of their times (like the Sons of Issachar) I have spent years striving, in vain, to truly see Christians and their churches through “outsiders'” eyes. As I approach my thirtieth “spiritual” birthday it becomes extremely difficult to “remember my chains.”
Finally, thanks to the unsuspecting modern day prophets at EA I have just a glimpse of myself through the eyes of someone else. I’m not laughing. Do I understand why those “outside” Christianity find it funny? Absolutely. Do I blame them for finding it funny and entertaining? Absolutley not! I would find it hysterical if I were them. And I hold no malice or contempt for anybody that chuckles, giggles, guffaws or ends up ROFLOL. In fact, I choose to laugh with them.
But, for those of us that are “in the family”…well, it should break our hearts. It should break our hearts that they’re right. Their perspective is true and accurate. We really do behave exactly as they have portrayed us. Maybe not us personally, but that really doesn’t matter. As a group we really are more “against” than we are “for.” We really are more against homosexuality than we are for the homosexual; more against abortion than for the pregnant teen; more against pornography than for setting sex slaves free; more against a particular political view than for finding common ground to solve society’s problems.
And, true to form some Christians missed the opportunity to take a look at themselves and instead decided to take offense. Christian commentators and bloggers came out attacking EA and the mock protest. But, there is some encouraging news: many of the usual suspects in the “against” crowd haven’t stirred the pot. Maybe, just maybe, we’re starting to abandon our failing “against” strategy.
I propose that we replace it with a new “for God, for people” approach. In keeping with the whole internet/texting/tweetshrink groove I suggest it be the IALMFGATPHLTIAATSPDTIDLS (I’m A Lot More For God And The People He Loves Than I Am Against The Stuff People Do That I Don’t Like Strategy). OK, so I’m not as clever as the PR people at EA.
Hey, wait! Isn’t the IALMFGATPHLTIAATSPDTIDLS just the Greatest Commandment? Love God…love people.
Anyway, who’s with me?