The Edge Has Created a Monster, Or Emotional Manipulation Of The Masses

This week thousands will have to cut out expenses like their trips to coffee shops and travel to Atlanta, Georgia of all places to attend the Catalyst 2010 conference. (The price for one admission to its three days ranged from $270-320!)  Its by far the most hyped up and charged of all the various conferences promising to change your life forever (or at least until next year when you need your next dose).

Oh man there is just so much we could say about this.

Maybe it’s best to make it a show, and not tell:

Let’s be honest – this thing is like the apex of cool. Their website is dazzling, their performances reach great heights, the speakers put goose bumps on your arm, and the lights raise your blood pressure more than sugary snacks….

Advertisers and marketers are well trained individuals. They know how to tap into and appeal to our sub-conscious. Their job is to strike that chord that brings us to our knees. They do their job well, with precision and effeciency.

Advertisers know our sense of smell is powerful and tied to our memory, associations and emotions – which is why you can smell chocolate in a section of a mall where the nearest shop is in a totally different corridor. It’s why the advertisers of baby products speak of their item in a way that leads parents to believe they won’t be able to live without it.

In my opinion, Christians are discovering their own ways to manipulate our emotions, just like marketing professionals. This is why so much of worship music sounds the same: the atmospheric synthesizers, the thumping bass lines and the piercing guitar that rings and pummels your heart til it breaks down. (And we have The Edge of U2, whom I love, to thank for the style that so many Christian musicians have “borrowed” and hear in so many worship songs).

This is why modern churches don’t call what they do “services” but instead “experiences.” Of course you feel your emotions rise when thousands people are singing and the lights are pulsing and the music is anthemic and the energy in the room is snowballing.

Hear me out: I’m not saying that you can’t feel the presence of God during those events. But I’m also aware that we are trying to simulate the presence of God through emotional manipulation. And that’s alarming. I understand why we do it, its a lot easier to manipulate than rely on an elusive God, but ultimately its why many Christians become church conference junkies – they begin to believe they only experience the highs of God through music and lights and cool stages. And then they fail to see him in the rain, in good food, in their neighbor’s heart or the infinite other places God lives.

This entry was posted in Deconstructing Big Fancy Religious Systems, Wayward North American Church. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to The Edge Has Created a Monster, Or Emotional Manipulation Of The Masses

  1. David says:

    I am convinced that most folks that call themselves Christians would not recognize the presence of God. Christianity without God’s presence is a philosophy – that is why so many young folks exit it when they grow older. The world has lots of philosophies. For those that have truly experienced the living God, it is easy to see through the marketing ploys wherever they come from. In the blog-o-sphere, there are thousands of opinions about Christianity, but few about the presence of God, that’s how I know.

    • “Christianity without God’s presence is a philosophy” dude you need to patent that. Well said.

      • David says:

        Thanks. Christianity without God’s presence is a philosophy. TM

        It is really true – people in the presence of God don’t have much to argue about.

      • for sure. There’s been a lot of bashing of Pentecostals on some blogs I frequent whenever a video comes out of their gatherings and people are acting crazy – but to me if their life is producing fruit then that’s the test of whether its legitimate or not.

      • David says:

        Don’t you love it, Charlie, Christian Haters, hating Christians?

        The bashing produces very little fruit, and it’s a turn off to those that would like ot know God, but aren’t too sure about his people.

        Some of the videos are pretty dumb, but that is not a fine enough brush to define a group of Christians.

        Incidentally, the Pentecostal denomination; Assembly of God, is the largest and fastest growing denomination in the world. Some folks attribute it to the lack of education in 3rd world countries, others to the moving of God in places where folks are truly poor.

        What we need is God in whatever package HE chooses.

  2. Su says:

    I hear ya. When I was a teen, I lived for the next retreat, or camp session, or youth rally… but I was a teen. I worry about adults that haven’t learned to seek God in the everyday, and to feed themselves spiritually without needing lights and amplifiers. It’s doable! I wish I could convince more people to do it, though.

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