How Not To Advertise

My favorite church is up to it again, y’all.

For the uninitiated, I live close to a megachurch. It’s got it’s own empire or something. I mean, I can only assume it’s dotted all the t’s and crossed all the i’s and blown all the proper DMV employees to ensure it stays a non-profit, but it had to be the most conglomeratey non-profit ever to non-profit. What would Jesus drive, if not a Porsche.

What’s that?  We’re not supposed to orally copulate DMV employees? And it’s not even the proper level of government to grant tax-exempt status? Oops. Color me chagrined.

But seriously, this megachurch used to be competing with another megachurch nearby. Then the one near me bought the other one out. Then the two of them merged with a third, just as the good lord intended.

Did I mention that they regularly move their services to the home of the local basketball team? No, not a high school gym. I mean the 20,000-seat NBA arena.

Good thing the bible doesn’t say anything about pride or gluttony.

But that kind of business expansion requires some powerful advertising. Fortunately these guys have some pithy Pontius Pilate on staff. And they must have bought stock in a printing business. Because on a regular basis, they post wonderful posters, often with unintentionally hilarious phrases beckoning us all with messages of how much better we’ll feel if we come.

As God intended.

Which is how they became my favorite church.

Oh sorry, did you think they were my favorite to attend? You haven’t read much of my stuff, have you? I’m contemplating publishing a bunch of my posts under the title “An Asshole Looks at Forty.”

So if you came here looking for a liturgical discussion of my favorite proverbs, you can run along. If you want to know if the patience of Job exceeds the patience of a Hand Job, you’re in the right spot.

For those who enjoyed that and stuck around… well, shit, you might want to leave, too. Because shit’s about to get a bit darker. But it’s not my fault. It’s the church’s fault.

You see, unlike my previously favorite advertisement which was based on the premise that Jesus abhors mobile technology, the new sign makes me feel uneasy. I still chuckle, but it’s more in the “Holy shit, do they know what they’re implying here?” Instead of the usual,  “<SNORT>. Come!”

Okay, here it is: “If I Only Let God…”

I don’t know how comfortable I am with that.

There’s a certain level of appeasement going on there.

I think this was the attitude present leading up to World War II.  “If we only let Hitler… remilitarize the Rhineland. If we only let Hitler… Anschluss with Austria. If we only give Hitler… a little bit of Czechoslovakia,” then we can have peace.

No, I’m not comparing God to Hitler.

But I kinda think this church is.

Even if we’re not talking about appeasing, there’s an uncomfortable level of symbiosis there, an unhealthy cession of responsibility and agency. And yeah, I know that’s step number one of the twelve step program, so this isn’t the only church that says we gotta stop taking responsibility for our own actions. That’s why I don’t join a twelve-step program. Aside from the fact that I don’t wanna give up the booze.

But that’s why this advertisement rubs me the wrong way.

It sounds like the internal struggle that victims of date rape and domestic violence endure, doesn’t it? “Well, I don’t really want to, but I feel like I need to let him…” of “I can’t leave him. I deserve this because I never let him…”

But it’s okay if it’s God, right? I mean, he has a great track record. What with the destruction of the Garden of Eden and the flooding of the entire Earth and the plague of frogs.

But shhh, church goers. Put on a happy face. You know how God can get if we don’t let him watch the football game.

Maybe I’m being overly harsh, that I’m purposefully misinterpreting the message of this sign. Except that underneath the big “If I Only Let God…” there’s some smaller subscript. You have to be close up to read it. Presumably it’s only for the true believers who have already been enticed by the big message.

The subscript completes the sentence in a number of ways.

“If I only let God love me.”

Okay, I can live with that.

“If I only let God change me.”

Now I’m feeling a little uneasy.

“If I only let God use me.”

That’s it. I’m tapping out.

Don’t come whining to me when the whole congregation ends up in South America with some Kool-Aid.

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