4/12/2006

PRISM EPISTLE reviews ON EARTH AS IT IS IN ADVERTISING

This week’s PRISM EPISTLE from Ron Sider’s Evangelicals for Social Action features a review of Sam Van Eman’s book, On Earth As It Is In Advertising: Moving From Commercial Hype To Gospel Hope (Brazos Press). We at the CCO (Coalition for Christian Outreach) are very proud of Sam, he has been on staff with us since 1998. In this book, Sam addresses one of the most pernicious threats to us in our contemporary culture—the “SimGospel” that comes from our media-saturated culture that seeks to tell young people that their identity is found in consumerism. The book is directed to college-aged students, seeking to raise awareness that they are being preyed upon by the marketing empire.

The reviewer, Aiden Enns, after admitting that the blurbs from Sider, Tony Campolo and Bill McKibben offer accolades, takes Sam to task by stating that

My main critique of Van Eman’s book is simply this: It’s too nice. When I consider the global rich/poor gap, North America’s cultural imperialism, and the posture of evangelicalism, I cringe… I’d like Van Eman to deconstruct the discourse of mainstream evangelicalism, especially that of the emergent church, and expose how our sanctuaries mimic the message of movie theatres and our marketing strategies are filled with commercial hype. When choirs become pop stars and preachers do it better on the big screen, the medium subverts the message, I fear. In spite of these shortcomings, the book is definitely worth reading.”


This is certainly something that consistently needs to be done, but it seems to me to be beyond the purview of the book. Sam’s purpose in this book seems pretty straightforward: explain to the college generation that they are being duped and what they need to be aware of in this deception.

3 comments:

p.a.hiles said...

this sounds like a book that i should read! as someone that watches a lot of movies and listens to a lot of music, i am starting to often worry that i am falling into the trap of being duped by the allure of consumerism! or maybe i just need to get some more gospel cola (ha,ha!)

Joshua said...

Bob-Thanks for posting the comment on Sam's book. I agree that it was not Sam's desire to deconstruct the discourse of mainstream evangelicalism with his book about advertising. (I feel like that's a no-duh statement.) But the critique is challenging nonetheless. I would love to have someone deconstruct the discourse of mainstream evangelicalism for me...

Now I just need to learn what "deconstruct", "discourse", and "evangelicalism" mean...

Byron said...

URGENT: Please pray AGAIN for Bob; as I write this, he is being life-flighted to Cleveland. Blood has apparently built up around his heart; I'm no doctor, but it sounds as though some surgery is in store for this Good Friday. Pray that God will be gracious to Bob again this day.