Christians like investing in cultural goods simply because they are “Christian”. From literature to music to football, many of us have our tastes shaped by the beliefs of the producer of a product. Entire industries are built around “Christian” products, and oftentimes these products are of a lower quality than what you’d expect for their broader industries. But this is deemed acceptable (and often goes unnoticed by consumers) because the label “Christian” apparently makes up for these shortcomings.
It seems to me that the consumption or promotion of goods based on their “Christian-ness” contributes to that false and prevalent mindset of a divide between sacred and secular. We have imbued cultural goods of various kinds with a supernatural value which allows them to be “better” than other “secular” goods whether or not they are qualitatively so. In so doing, we have determined their value based on criteria that aren’t inherent to their respective mediums and have praised work that is qualitatively deficient by the standard of the field.
The reason doing so is such a problem is because it deducts from the beauty of creation and from the significance of creativity and thus from the glorification of God. God gave humans creative and athletic and entrepreneurial gifts and when they are exercised he is reflected whether or not the person intends to do so. And the greater the creative gift or the higher quality the good the more God is reflected. However, when we promote lower quality “Christian” work over higher quality work that isn’t explicitly such we have depreciated the reflective quality of the creative gift in the non-Christian.
There are obvious complicating factors in this. It’s not as simple a formula as “higher quality work = worth consuming 100% of the time.” The message of the work matters. Many of the most gifted writers and musicians produce goods that can harm souls if consumed unwisely. Many of the world’s savviest entrepreneurs are self-serving money grubbers who should be wholly imitated, which is also a description that fits many athletes. There is a familial inclination toward supporting those who produce goods from a place of Christian faith. All this must be considered and valued.
But Christians need to feel freer and more inclined to appreciate and consume the best of the best in any field or craft. God made us to enjoy and benefit from creation, from the creative gifts he has infused in the people he made. Read the best books, listen to the best musicians, watch the best athletes, view the best art galleries and movies, and study the best business practices. God created them to reflect himself. Bring those gifts and that quality into our world of faith so that the reflection they offer can be truly appreciated. Nobody should be more appreciative of the highest quality than those people who recognize truly who made it and why it was made.
This column originally appeared at WORLD News Group’s website (wng.org). Reprinted with permission. Copyright © 2012 WORLD News Group. All rights reserved.