Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Parades and Positive Publicity

To hear the way that some people respond whenever they hear the name of Jesus Christ proclaimed in positive way public, you'd think they lived in a world in which he was never mentioned at all, and thus they're drinking up the mention of the name as though it were a drop of water after having spent the past month in the desert dying of thirst.

Now, there's no point in denying that I am not a resident of that world. I work at a Christian seminary. My wife is a priest. I volunteer my time teaching Sunday School (among other church-related endeavors). I hear about Jesus Christ all the time. And that's not even talking about the Christian hymns that pervaded the radio stations and mall loudspeakers over the recent (and not yet fully completed) Christmas season.

While my own perspective no doubt colors my observations, I'm wise enough to recognize that my experience is by no means universal. Even so, when I hear people make claims like "the media is hostile to Christianity," I can't help but wonder how they can truly believe such a thing. Take the annual Rose Parade, for example. One of the floats (pictured at the top) depicted Jesus Christ and a very explicit (if simple) message of salvation. I won't swear that no other religions were depicted on floats during the parade, but I'd nonetheless be willing to state that none were so explicit about it. That message was reasonably unique in its exposure to the masses.

But that float wasn't the only thing connected to the Rose Parade the media cameras had the chance to see. Both before and after the parade proper, there were multiple groups carrying signs of protest in the name of Christ. Most of these were so offensive that I don't wish to give them additional publicity by sharing the images here, but suffice it to say that a "hostile" media had more than sufficient opportunity to make Christians look bad if they were so inclined. To the best of my knowledge, the media has by and large declined to do so in this instance.

This isn't to deny the existence of anti-Christian sentiments within the media. Folks like Bill Maher (to name just one recent example) stand ready to poke fun at believers whenever they can. But how representative is he, really? Is he really so influential that he's worth getting riled up over? And is our faith so fragile that his name-calling can do any serious damage?

I maintain that he's not so influential, and our faith isn't so fragile. God has provided ample opportunity for Christians to "get the word out" in a positive way. If Christ's name is portrayed less positively (as indeed it is from time to time), then I would suggest that we Christians are the ones to make sure that the faith is percieved in a better light, and that this won't be done by attacking the media. The media is just a tool like anything else, and it can be used for positive purposes, too.

As we enter the New Year, let's resolve to be the kind of people that gets Christianity noticed for its best attributes, and not its worst ones.

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