just like the original- just not as good!

just like the original- just not as good!

i had to run to a christian retail store yesterday to look for a few church supplies. as usual, when i walked in, i was bombarded with christianized versions of what is popular (or at least was 2 yrs. ago) in the form of cheap trinkets, plaques, pictures and key chains that were marked up 5x’s what they should cost because they have an out of context bible verse stamped on them. inferior art costing more than a blu-ray player because the artist is a christian beckoned to my sense of christian loyalty,  even if that same christian isn’t much of an artist.

i have also been dumbfounded for years that the norm in most christian entertainment (music, movies, video games) is not originality and quality, but rather  imitations of what is popular in the “world” except that the christian version usually lacks the quality, professionalism, and appeal of the original.- not at all unlike someone trying to pass off their target brand wristwatch for a rolex or their $4 perfume for what smells like the $70 original (but not really).

even games and entertainment have fallen prey to this trend. when i was a kid our church friends played uno, trivial pursuit, and twister like everyone else.

not anymore apparently.

 “guitar hero” not sanctified enough for you? then try the christian version…“guitar praise” which is already being ridiculed for its decade behind graphics and possible copyright infringements (read:didn’t come up with anything original-just copied off of what was already popular-only badly).

there are some incredibly talented musicians and songwriters that are christians. i have written about several on this blog. but the “christian music machine” churns out 20 generic and un-original groups for every one that has real talent that would be recognized by a someone who isn’t a christian. for every boyband, metal band, or john mayer type musician you can find the “christian version” that is marketed as such and whose music and lyrical content’s atrocities are not due to obscenities or sexual references, but rather the utter mediocrity and anti-originality.

and then there are the awful “christian” movies. i am not against christians being in or making movies. but please, don’t have bad actors, a terrible script, poor production (lighting, sound, special effects, etc.) and then expect me to like it or promote it just because “christians did it-we should support it!” i dare say no one does that in any other area of life.

“you should try my friend dennis the dentist. his tools are old and out of date. his pain medication is ineffective and he hurts worse than putting your face in a manual lawn mower-but he’s a christian-you should support his business!”

i think not.

case in point:on the heels of the success of the “high school musical” franchise, here comes the baptized version…”sunday school musical”

no really…. someone really thought that this was a good idea.

here is one reviewers (who is a christian) assessment.

While clearly inspired by High School Musical
in its packaging (the cover of the straight-to-DVD
movie, released in October 2008, features leaping
teens clad in choir robes rather than graduation robes,
but other than that, it’s almost identical to poster for
October’s High School Musical 3) and its singing,
dancing, multiethnic stars, Sunday School Musical
also borrows significantly from other movies.

Sunday School Musical’s plot: soulful African
American singer-dancer brings life to straight
laced, slightly off-key white choir. Sounds
suspiciously like . . . Sister Act!

Of course, the whole movie builds up to a state
choir competition, so there’s the sports-movie
cliché, too. Are we surprised when the competing
choirs put aside their differences and conquer all
odds together? Not in the least.

I generally try to find whatever value, however
small, there may be in teen pop culture, because,
let’s face it, teen culture is so easy to mock. But it’s
hard to find a silver lining in what seems a
calculated attempt (whether for financial or
evangelistic gain) to piggyback off another
popular trend. Maybe Sunday School
will accomplish something good
for God; God has certainly used unlikely
vehicles before. But Christians need to
stop using “my [God’s] strength is made
perfect in weakness” as an excuse for artistic mediocrity.

andy gullahorn is an amazing songwriter that you have probably never heard of. just a guy and his guitar without much production or flair, yet his lyrical ability and clear tenor voice (not unlike vince gill -without the annoying twang/whine) make for a powerful combination. and yes he is a christian.

after hearing 10 seconds of the song a non-christian would not immediately assume gullahorn “is christian music” because there is no out of date style, inferior and/or cheesey production, or lack of any discernible talent that is usually a dead give away that the radio has “auto-scanned” to a christian radio station. he or she may not like his style or even his music, but the point is, he is really good at what he does by an unbiased standard. he is not just making records because, bless his heart, he tries real hard when he sings “specials” at church!

one of his more popular songs is “holy flakes” his tongue in cheek take on christian retail and marketing.  i think the lyrics sum the issue up well..

Holy Flakes

on top of a dusty shelf in a small town grocery
boxes of some store brand flakes hadn’t sold in years
the manager that transferred in with marketing degrees
thought he could sell that cereal with his big fresh ideas.

he found a picture of the pope and when he got it scanned
used photoshop to take a spoon and put it in his hand
then a bubble with the caption of what the pope was trying to say
“if you’re a christian, act like one, and eat your holy flakes!”

holy flakes
holy flakes
holy, holy holy
holy flakes

the same old folks came in that week to get their rasin bran
but they all felt convicted when they saw the holy man
so they filled their carts up with John Paul instead of stuff they liked
they thought it was their duty as the good God-fearing kind.

holy flakes
holy flakes
holy, holy holy
holy flakes

and the holy flakes sold so well, they couldn’t keep them on the shelf
so they diversified
soon there were sacred chips, and virgin mary chicken strips
and prince of peace apple pie.

it don’t matter if it has no taste, cause it’s all in the name
soon they had a one brand town with pantries all the same
it left them with no appetite for stuff that broke the mold
and a faith that was as shallow as the milk left in the bowl of

holy flakes
holy flakes
holy, holy holy

holy flakes