What are the perceptions of Christianity from the secular world? If you read books like Unchristian and Simple Church, they are pretty negative. I was surprised to see a recent mock protest in L.A. a couple of weeks ago, one that turned out to be a rather hysterical publicity stunt. It also serves as an example of how mainstream culture perceives Christians, and it is not a nice picture.
The protest was conducted outside of the LA Convention Center during a game conference called E3 Expo. Several “Christians” carried signs that attacked the new Electronic Arts’ game Dante’s Inferno. (You can find out more about the game here), claiming that it was morally objectionable to have a game about eternal damnation.
EA since admitted it was a stunt, which seemed pretty obvious since the protests were sort of funny and over-the-top. At the same time, the associated website (wearesavedgroup.org) and hand-out flyer struck a deeper chord: both were poorly designed, matching the look of a lot of church websites, and the pamphlet (which had artwork only a knowledgeable designer would have found at the EA press site) looked like a few church bulletins I’ve seen. OK, so Christians are not good at graphic design.
The interesting thing about the site was the music they had playing in the background. It has this line about “he is victorious, he is enormous” that is actually really funny, but also very sardonic. I’m not sure who thought of this stunt, probably people I work with occasionally covering games, but it provides some insight into how mainstream culture views Christianity.
I have to say, first off, I’m not a big fan of books like Unchristian. I’m not sure it makes sense to try and learn from the secular audience—changing our process or tactics to appeal to a wider audience. Jesus is not very appealing if you want to live your own way. What bothers me about the music at the site is not that it is horrendously bad (and I agree there are some artists in the genre who should probably be working as tellers in a bank somewhere) but that they are actually mocking God. To me, that is a pretty dangerous thing, and something that God takes seriously in a “it’s my universe” sort of way.
Really, I think Galatians 6:7 has two meanings. One is that God cannot be mocked, as in: God is too big to be mocked. It’s like pointing at the sun and saying “I am bigger than you” just because the sun is 152 million kilometers away from your hand. God is beyond mocking in the same way that the Queen of England is sort of immune from being disposed. It is just not going to happen.
There’s another sense though, and it helps if it is in all caps: GOD CANNOT BE MOCKED. It’s what Gandalf said in the Lord of the Rings: YOU SHALL NOT PASS. It’s sort of a warning.
Now, I’m not saying we should fight this, or actually protest anything. I’m not sure protests work that well for Playstation games. I’m saying that, when people make fun of God, it gets me sort of irked up and irritated. It makes me think of a bug standing up on its hind leg son a sidewalk giving you the finger right before you crush it with your flip-flops. Guess what, God really is enormous—and it’s not really that funny. Jonathan Edwards was right: We really are hanging on a string.
So the question then is: What to do? Not much. I think just having the stance that God is big enough that He can take care of Himself is a good plan. I worry about people who are not offended, though, by this mocking business. They get the lowercase version, I just wish they’d get the uppercase.