Friday, August 24, 2007

Jesus saves! Christians hang on for a draw . . .

Enjoyable piece in the Guardian a couple of days ago featuring photos of the billboard slogans that appear outside many churches and chapels in the American Deep South (and, increasingly, also in this country). A few of the more striking lines included:

TO BE ALMOST SAVED IS TO BE TOTALLY LOST

YOU'RE ON HEAVEN'S MOST WANTED LIST

WALMART ISN'T THE ONLY SAVING PLACE IN TOWN

YOU MAY PARTY IN HELL BUT YOU WILL BE THE BARBEQUE

DON'T GIVE UP! MOSES WAS ONCE A BASKET CASE!

IF GOD HAD A REFRIGERATOR, YOUR PICTURE WOULD BE ON IT

I wonder how effective these communications are? I suppose that, realistically, they are not aimed at persuading pagans like me to pop in and pray. Their main purpose, I'd say, is clearly to prevent back-sliding, and to boost Sunday attendance figures by pulling in a few lapsed users, as we say in the business. And perhaps, if that is the goal, the better ones may do a decent job.

Incidentally, for me, the last line quoted above is by some distance the best. As it happens, I find the idea of a personal god, who watches over me and helps me achieve worldly success if I pray hard enough, bizarre and distasteful. But, if the intended reader is a believer who knows he hasn't been a good boy lately, I think the image of god as a loving parent, saddened perhaps by his offspring's misdemeanours but ready to forgive, is a powerful one.

5 Comments:

At 11:48 am, Blogger g. said...

Haha, what a brilliant title. Took me a moment to figure out, but then it's August after all.

Thanks for writing a wonderful book. And please don't slow down your posting just because you don't get many comments. I can't be the only lurker on your blog.

 
At 2:09 pm, Blogger Lindsay said...

Thanks very much for this, G. Very glad to hear you enjoyed the book.

It is good to know that the blog has a few regular readers, but actually, the reason I haven't posted much recently is that we moved house about a month ago, and it's taken me a while to recover.

Just a thought: I wonder if you'd be kind enough to go on Amazon and write a brief customer review of the book? The publishers tell me it's good for sales!

 
At 4:52 pm, Blogger g. said...

Hi Lindsay,

You mean 11 five-star reviews aren't good enough for you?

(Only joking, I'd be happy to. I'll try to write one soon.)

 
At 2:15 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lindsay,

Well done on a brilliant book - I still pick it up when I need a primer or just some amusement.

This is a very late comment on the Christian witticisms outside the US churches. I think most believers would find the 'American South' God of hellfire 'n' damnation, with his capricious give and take, as distasteful as you do. For me as a Christian, it's an image that's nothing but demotivating - like any concept based on fear.
Re: the 'fridge photo' phrase, I believe in the idea of the parent, with the unconditional love: far more persuasive, as well as accurate.
More recently in your blog you say that no piece of Christian wit would persuade you to believe it. Same for me, but I don't think that's what the writers ever intended - they were just starting the ball rolling.

I hope you don't mind me saying all this, but I find it very interesting. (I avoided the use of the word 'passion' while naming my 'brand values'. I reserve that word only to describe the Crucifixion).

Do please write another book if you can. You could start a whole 'lifestyle' brand centred around persuasion, including CICYM merchandise: diaries, mousemats, the whole deal.
Finally, your book made me genuinely consider pursuing a career as a copywriter! Keep it up,

Peter

 
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