Thursday, September 30, 2004

The Fashion of The Christ

  Wal-Mart.  7:00, Saturday night.  I had beaten them.

  Skipping the Whole Enchilada Fiesta and the Aggie-Lobo game, I knew the time was perfect for a little shopping.  No crowds, no lines, no problem—right?  Well, almost.

  While fighting the crowds, looking for the shortest line, something caught my eye.  “The Passion of the Christ,” now out on video and DVD, was prominently displayed in the aisle, along with Passion-themed coffee-table books and necklaces. That’s right, necklaces.  Little necklaces with a little nail, which got me to thinking.

  I got to thinking about Mel Gibson, 7th Heaven, Scott Stapp, Mase, and Kanye West.  About the move toward bringing Christianity out of the closet.  We now have celebrities sporting their spirituality on their sleeve.  And I think it’s a good thing.

  Sure there are examples of this that pre-date the movie—going all the way back to Elvis, Cat Stevens, Bob Dylan, and Johnny Cash.  But recently, it seems more and more celebs are talking about God, even when they aren’t accepting awards.  Madonna, for example, has become the new spokesperson for Kabala, a form of Jewish mysticism.

  “The Passion of The Christ,” released in theaters last Christmas, set movie-going records and is now doing the same with video sales.  My grandparents, well into their eighties, went to see it in the theater.  (They haven’t done that since they were “courting.”)  I don’t want to make this about merchandising and exploitation, but perhaps this has sent the message to “The Industry” that God does sell. 

  Of course, networks like CBS and The WB have known this for a while.  The popularity of shows like “Touched by An Angel” and “7th Heaven” attests to this.

  The music industry is catching on, too.  Until recently, it was fairly common to see Christian artists crossing over to the pop charts, but they were doing it with mainstream songs.  Amy Grant took “Baby, Baby” (and a string of others) to the pop charts.  Creed and P.O.D. crossed over with mainstream hits.  Now, it seems, that trend is reversing.

  Hip-Hop rising star Kanye West is doing it differently.  His breakout single “Through The Wire,” written about a near-fatal car accident, contains allusions to his spirituality.  In his latest smash, “Jesus Walks,” West is very forward about his religion.  In fact, his debut album The College Dropout, has been nominated as Best Gospel Album in the upcoming American Music Awards.  It’s refreshing to hear a rapper rapping about a different kind of “convictions.”

  Mase, who left the rap game to become a minister, has now returned and his presence is being felt.  It’s no surprise that he too is very outspoken about his religiosity.

  We’ve always heard that God is everywhere, and it’s never been more apparent.  And Sundays are not just for football anymore.

 -From Pulse

  September 30, 2004