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What Would Punk Rock Jesus Do?} ?> A reality TV show executive clones the DNA of Christ, implants that clone into the womb of an 18-year-old virgin and videos her life so it can be watched by the world, The Truman Show style. How’s that for a solid premise? I’m hooked.
Every ounce of me wants to review this comic, aptly named Punk Rock Jesus, but according to the Managing Editor (i.e. the Commander), I am “not supposed to be writing reviews.” I hope you read that in a snarky tone because, despite snark being completely foreign to her speech, it is how I falsely remember the conversation.
Without giving much away about the story, Punk Rock Jesus explores a powerful question: can people’s religious beliefs be exploited for profit? The answer, which should be to no one’s surprise, is an absolute yes. I mean, if we can exploit people’s desire for marriage (The Bachelor and its affiliates), spiritual exploitation isn’t so surprising.
Years ago, I was listening to a podcast that featured Scott Kurtz of PVP Online fame; I recall him telling a story about his encounter with The Christian Plumber. This legit plumber would come to his house, do the work he was hired to do, offer prayer, and leave a Bible verse on the table as he left, written on a card. The weird thing is—he wasn’t a Christian. It was all a marketing gimmick and, while I don’t appreciate the dishonesty, I can admire the ingenuity of it.
In North America we have Christian schools, Christian bookstores, Christian fast food chains, Christian plumbers, and even I work at a Christian radio station. As customers and clients, Christians are fiercely loyal, so there is a lot of money to be made in this space. It should come as no surprise that there is a desire to exploit it.
Even within the Christian sphere, business gets complicated.
A for-profit Christian radio station, like the one I work for, might be presented with an opportunity to highlight amazing relief work for an organization, raise their profile, and connect them to our audience. But if the organization doesn’t buy a commercial, odds are their story will be silenced in favour of someone else who did.
We could also remove the business part of the equation and take a look at how finances work in a church; things are just as complicated here.
Imagine a church that wants to hire a female pastor. Despite a majority of the congregation’s support, a select few oppose it. If those few are the ones that donate the lion’s share of the church’s budget, their voices tend to carry more weight. The likely have the power to shut the whole idea down, especially if the church would face a financial crisis if those donors were to up and leave.
Many churches and charities have sailed those waters beautifully to find solutions for financial politics, but money complicates every situation, in the church and outside of it.
So then what? What would punk rock Jesus suggest we do in response to a world that revolves around money? Like The Clash or the Sex Pistols he’d cry out against the proverbial man declaring that money might make an excellent tool, but it is a truly horrible master and we shouldn’t be slaves to it. Actually, come to think of it, I’m pretty sure non-punk rock Jesus said that too.