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Monday, February 20, 2006

Nothing Left Sacred


"Keep selling truth in candy bars
on billboards and backs of cars;
Truth without context--
The favorite of all my crimes."

- Derek Webb/ excerpt from the song "A Ballad in Plain Red"


Some friends and I were walking through Wal-Mart yesterday, when we came across the item pictured above. It took a second or two for it to sink in; it just didn't seem real at the moment. In case you haven't figured out what it is, it's Easter candy:

Candy Crosses--in traditional milk and white chocolate!!!

This is insane. It's bad enough that Easter has been reduced to bunnies and Easter eggs. Now this; a complete bastardization of the truth behind Easter to push product. Welcome to the postmodern era, folks. Now some may say, "What's the big deal?" Well, here it is.

The Cross, for any true Christian is the ultimate reminder of the sacrifice that Christ made for the atonement of the sins of the world. It represents the punishment originally due to us, taken on by the One who knew no sin and became sin for us. As the hymn goes:

Seven times he spake seven words of love;
And all three hours his silence cried
For mercy on the souls of men
Jesus our Lord is crucified

O love of God! O sin of man!
In this dread act, your strength is tried;
and victory remains with love;
Jesus our Lord is crucified

I don't quite get this feeling when a look at a chocolate candy cross. But one shouldn't be too surprised to see this in our day and age. The calling card of postmodern thought is bastardization; to take anything it wishes, pluck it out of context to be used as representative for whatever your heart desires. Everything is relative. Nothing is sacred. Whatever you want it to mean is what it means. This is the age of the end of absolutes because objective truth has no meaning. Some may see this as a way to strike a blow against the Easter bunny, but it falls well short of doing that. It puts it on the same level. The cross is no longer set apart (especially in the minds of children), but rather now to be included in the pop culture and folk lore that has become so familiar to us. It's about as ridiculous as a church Easter egg hunt. Power is traded for product and glory for monetary gain. The lists of examples is long (both in Christian and non-Christian industry), but for brevity's sake I have chosen to stay holiday specific.

While this may seem to be a non-issue to some (probably most), this is a subtle symptom of a problem that is prevalent in our day. We should never underestimate the power of marketing. Images and words play a powerful role in shaping our worldview. Images and words outside of the proper context can be dangerous. It causes the paradigm to shift:

"Ring around the rosy
Pocket full of Posies
Ashes, ashes!
We all fall down"

What we have above is a simple little nursery rhyme that is recited by all children in modern day times. With no thought given to the words, it's harmless. But if we put it in it's proper context in history (Bubonic Plague of 1666, England), much more weight has to, as well as should be, given to it.

This is where we stand today as Christians; we must fight against the cultural standard and resist the temptation to reduce meaning of faith to mere product placement. Christ crucified is the pivotal point in the redemptive history of man. To contemplate the cross should not make us salivate; it should make us weep. As the holiday approaches, I urge those that are of the true Christian faith to look upon the cross more earnestly. After all, every Sunday is essentially an "Easter" celebration. As we meditate on the power and the purpose of the crucifixion, let us sing the words of Charles Wesley:

Amazing Love! How can it be; that thou, my God, should die for me!

Amen.

"But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed." -Isaiah 53:5 (ESV)

Soli Deo Gloria,
Shon
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