Friday, December 07, 2007

the church as a drive-thru coffee shop?

last night megan and i made the mistake of shopping for christmas presents at west town mall. for me, shopping at any mall usually follows this routine:

  1. 0-5minutes: eagerly look around, searching for something of interest in (fact: guys like to purchase stuff, maybe even more than girls--example: star wars poker chips and atomic clocks)
  2. 5-10: realize that there is nothing here, beside a hand-crank weatherband radio that is even remotely interesting
  3. 10-11.5: feign interest in what megan is shopping for
  4. 11.5-eternity: complain about how much i hate the mall, exhale and glance around impatiently, force megan to rush from store to store
yesterday was no different except that at end of the evening, we found ourselves at the bargain christian bookstore. you've probably been to this store before. every three months or so, it changes locations inside the mall for unknown reasons. the shop itself isn't bad. there were a few decent book for extremely good prices. unfortunately, there was also the gospel according to starbucks.
here's a few line from the jacket:
"You don’t stand in line at Starbucks® just to buy a cup of coffee. You stop for the experience...[With this book] You can learn to pay attention like never before, to identify where God is already in business right in your neighborhood. The doors are open and the coffee is brewing. God is serving the refreshing antidote to the unsatisfying, arms-length spiritual life–and he won’t even make you stand in line. "
at what point do you say to yourself, "hm. i need to write a christian self-help book based on my experience at the global coffee chain that i frequent. why can't religion be like having good coffee in a place that looks exactly like 5 million other artificially unique coffee shops?"
no doubt this author has good intentions, and understanding that i haven't read the book, this seems like a pretty poor illustration for the gospel.
starbucks is good at having good coffee and at adamantly managing the perception of their brand (we go to "starbucks for the experience"). in the context of religion, this will only bring a sense of the manufactured rather than true.
without reading a word its probably safe to say the book is full of cheesy, trite comparisons between the success of starbucks and success in your own life. of course i'm judging the book by its cover, but then again, its a pretty horrible title.

in slightly related news, i went to food city today and saw a strangely bearded man with a rosary. i think he might be from the greek orthodox church. you don't see a lot of religious people willing to don their full regalia anymore (all out purchasing their barista aprons no doubt). i snuck a few shots of him on my way out of the parking lot.


lucas said...

excellent post! insightful, informative, opinionated yet kind, and fun to read. you are a blogger extraordinaire, stanley.

will cote said...

thanks stan. liked the post. and the stalker pictures

benjamin said...

hey stan, i'm glad i'm a nerd and found yous guys' blog. also, i'm working on a draft of the gospel according to OPEC - you should read it when i'm done.

stan said...

hi benjamin, we're happy to have you! i think you could probably find some EXCELLENT illustration points between OPEC and the Gospel. i can't wait to read it...

benjamin said...

this is ben rucker by the way - heeeeeey!