Tuesday, April 26, 2011

On "Sunday"

Yesterday, I wondered whether Christians had made a parody of Rebecca Black's Friday, and called it Sunday. They had. I expected it, like most Christian knock-offs, to be bad. It was worse.

Now, I'm not expecting high art or deep theology from a parody of Friday. What struck me first about Sunday was, of course, the excessive poppiness of the song; I'm too much of a grouch to enjoy music that tries to make me like it. What sticks with me, though, is this: God gets mentioned once.

Friday and Sunday both have very high production values: this isn't stuff made by a couple of teenagers with a Flip. Friday was produced by Ark Music Factory, backed by Black's parents.

Who was behind Sunday?

Sunday was made by Community Christian Church, a megachurch near Chicago, as a plug for their Easter services. The ideal audience is potential visitors. Sunday functions as a commercial for a religious institution, with only incidental mention of the Deity himself. This is characteristic of the church acting as an organization seeking to promote its own existence, rather than acting for another goal. What's promoted is the fun times, the "Worshippin', Worshippin' (Yeah)". The lyrics apologize for other churches, “Fun, fun, church can be fun.” It doesn’t say anything about love or release from guilt or a relationship with God being a source of joy.

When I was in high school, I went to a church that had a logo. Ushers got polo shirts with the logo embroidered, church-branded coffee cups and frisbees were given away. My church was unconcerned with social justice. Evangelism that would lead to more church members was much more discussed than remote missionary work. So I made like a self-righteous eighteen-year-old and quit.

And now, as an atheist, I am still bothered when the church focuses on things other than loving God and loving people. If I want to hear a good band, I’ll go to a concert and if I want good psychology, I’ll talk to my counselor. When I go to church, I want religion; I want Christians to engage with their idea of God: I’ll have something to learn from contemplating with them or by thinking about why I disagree with them.