This trip to purgatory-on-earth, however, was a little different in that the shopping was served up with a side of laughter and reflection. While walking through the markdown-littered aisle next to the men's clothing, my eye couldn't help but catch a display filled with Christian t-shirts. This shocked me for two reasons: First, I couldn't believe that Walmart actually sells blatantly religious apparel. Second, I couldn't believe how ridiculous some of these shirts actually were.
Unlike modern Christ-wear of the "Jesus is my homeboy" persuasion, this stuff was neither funny nor hip. "Jesus: Without Him, Life is Hell" and the classic "WWJD" placed second and third in the kitsch category, but got beat out by "House of Jesus"--a clear knock off of the "House of Blues" logo. (I mean, seriously, what does that even mean?)
Next to this aisle was a rack of a different kind--shirts much more vulgar, likely transferred from the Panama City store. Many of these shirts were too vulgar to even repeat in this forum (email me and we can have a good laugh), but some of them were just trashy sayings like "Beer...Cheaper than School."
As my mind began processing these two polar opposites, it occurred to me that both lines of clothing were no more than pop culture. One represented the redneck-who-buys-airbrushed-sandollars-on-spring-break pop culture and the other represents the Christ-versus-culture, Christian separatist pop culture. Neither communicates its message very effectively.
If followers of Christ are to live incarnationally, I don't think we need to chastise non-believers with bawdy, sarcastic billboards that are signed God but resemble a sarcastic old man more than the One found in Scripture. If we are living out our faith like Christ did, people will know we are set apart and we won't have to resort to cheeseball Christian t-shirts.
It is very difficult to imagine how Christ is exalted by kitschy, marketed, meaningless, awkward expressions of Christianity like "House of Jesus" shirts printed on a .40 Gildan. Why can't Christians just do what Jesus did and participate in culture like everyone else while letting our lives serve as an invitation to salvation? Wouldn't it benefit the cause of Christ more if we sent our people out into culture rather than retreating into an awkward Christian subculture like a turtle attacked by a toddler?
Are you a devotee of the crazy Christian sub-culture? If so, do us all a favor: STOP.