Friday, January 21, 2011

"I AM the Dorito of Life"

I learned of this video on Brannon Hancock's Facebook page.





The premise is troubling, but I don't blame Doritos or Pepsi.  Why would we expect any less from corporations for whom the bottom line is their bottom line?  Besides, it's pretty much the image of many evangelical churches and institutions: do whatever we can to get people in the building (free cable, anyone?).  Conversely, it's the image of evangelicals themselves: I'm going to go wherever "I'm fed" and to whomever will entertain me the most.  We are indeed consumers.
Jesus said to them, ‘For real, people, I'm telling you, you are searching for me, not because you want something great to happen in your life, but because you want me to fill your bellies. (John 6:26, JDSV)
And while food & drink is indeed a foundational image that Jesus used heavily, the one depicted here and in much of the evangelical church's emphasis on "more" is far from the picture Jesus gives us in John 6, just after having filled the bellies of some five thousand people on a hillside (feel free to read the whole chapter for context).  While "feeding the flock" is indeed our job, the bread and the cup that Christ offers, and thus the Church should offer, is one that is otherwise difficult to accept:
So Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live for ever.’
When many of his disciples heard it, they said, ‘This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?’  (John 6:52-60, NRSV)
Doritos and Pepsi are easy to consume.  So is "Jesus will make your life just swell."  But it's hardly the message of the good news.

7 comments:

  1. Jeremy,
    I read an article about this earlier today. The man who created this add was entered in a contest by Pepsi Co., the parent company of both these items. The contest will air the add during the superbowl and give a million $ to the person who creates the best add using Doritos and Pepsi Max.
    The man who made the spot is a Catholic and graduated from Notre Dame (I know that doesn't make him any more a Catholic than going to a Naz. University makes you a Naz). However he claims that he tried to include enough hidden symbolysm to clue the viewer in that this was not a catholic church (priest called a pastor, wearing a ring, no alter or crucifix, and no blessing over the doritos or Pepsi Max).
    In turn (according to Pepsi Co) it was never even put on their website for voting. The man who crewated it hosted it on his own website and on youtube. Pepsi addvertising execs decided that it was too controversial to allow voting on it.

    Devin Mulder

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  2. I personally don't have any problem with the commercial. I think it is quite amusing. What I think is sad is that the humor hits so close to home. I was in a meeting yesterday with a Presbyterian who was joking about the time they forgot the bread so they used Angelfood cake. If there is anyone to blame, it is ourselves for treating communion in such a flippant way. The commercial is funny. Relax and have a good laugh!!!

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  4. You can still view the video here

    Good thought, Jeremy. Thanks for extending the conversation! I think Eric is right: it is pretty funny, if irreverent, but as you say as well, mostly reflective of our me-centered, consumeristic approach to religion and the rather casual/flippant way most American churches approach their activities, programs and rituals.

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  5. Eric -

    Hmm...I thought that's what I was saying (commenting on the truth within the commercial rather than the commercial itself), but I obviously didn't say it well.

    The funniest humor generally piggy-backs on some aspect of truth. What I was trying to say is that the truth of the commercial is what is troubling: that many in the Church pander to the tastes and whims of the masses in an effort to gain and keep their attention.

    While there are eucharistic overtones in John 6, my point wasn't so much about our practices of communion, but our practice of filling the seats by whatever means possible.

    (Thanks for the link to the video, Brannon.)

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