Monday, December 06, 2010

Man or Mouse?

This is going to either be proof that I need to start making my coffee the night before so I can start drinking it the minute I wake up, or it’s proof that Rob Bell has been right about at least one thing: everything IS spiritual. Either way, if you’re a parent, or have a wee one in your life in some fashion (as a relative, someone you babysit, etc.), you may laugh at this a little.

A while back, I wrote out Sonny’s Theological Dissemination of the Disney Channel, which is conveniently hyperlinked here – and is somewhat required reading for the remainder of this blog entry. So go on and go read it; I’ll still be here when you get back.  Anyway, since at 20 months of age, Kai still has this obscene idea that getting up before the sun rises is just the best game EVER!, I am stuck with finding myself every morning dragging myself out from under the covers and lugging a far-too-aware-of-his-surroundings toddler into the living room to stare at the magic talking box with bright colors.

Now, when Kai was half his current age, he didn’t really mind what we watched. I could slam in a DVD of Doctor Who, The X-Files or another show that I wanted to watch to help to get my mind moving. Nowadays, if the show we watch doesn’t predominantly feature primary colors, I am greeted with a chorus of words like “Help,” “Uh-oh,” “Gone,” and – obviously – “Mouse?” We have managed to branch out a bit in the shows we watch in the morning, thanks to a newfound love of Timmy Time, Imagination Movers and, sadly, Chuggington. But the Mouse…the Mouse remains the favorite.

And the other day, I realized while watching a particular episode for what felt like the 67th time why I didn’t like Mickey Mouse Clubhouse:

Mickey Mouse reminds me of everything I dislike about a number of modern preachers, particularly televangelists.

Bear with me for a minute…

If you’ve never watched an episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (called MMC from here on out), the Mickey in this show is not really reflective of what one might term the “Classic” Mickey Mouse; then again, maybe it is, and this rodent has had us ALL fooled for decades. In MMC, Mickey is a narcissistic, egotistical leader of a small band of committed followers who buy into his every word and action and follow him blindly. Every day, the activities have to follow a pre-set routine, even going so far as to close out the day with the same song every day. Mouseketools are used in Mickey Mouse Park, where the Mickey Mouse Obstacle Course if located, and is found just outside of the grounds of the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

…see the theme starting to emerge?

I mean, where is Walt in all this?

Look at two of the more well-known voices/faces in popular ministry these days, and call them names that may or may not rhyme with their real names: “Roel Holstein” and “Hed Eung.” (Go on, sound them out. You know you want to). Neither Roel nor Ted have a CHURCH named after them, but both have their names emblazoned on their respective ministries. Both have .com, .org, .net, .tv, and dot-whatever domain names registered under their own identities. Yes, yes, yes: you can go to their church’s website, but there you can find hyperlinks to their respective blogs, bookstores, or whatever. For example: you can order the necessary Hed-Eung-etools, like a DVD set or devotional book, available from Hed Eung Ministries, to be used at a Hed Eung Conference, where Hed Eung is speaking, quoting from Hed Eung’s Twitter account, available to people who “Like” the Hed Eung Facebook Fan Page. The argument could be made that such “leaders” in ministry are narcissistic, egotistical manipulators with a LARGE band of committed followers who buy into their every word and action.

…see a pattern starting to emerge?

I mean, where is God in all this?

Now, I’m not so ignorant as to not understand or discount the need (in some ways) for personal branding. I understand the need to protect intellectual properties and copyrights of the works of the individual…but the bigger question that I have to ask is this: is the work that is followed and respected the work of the man or the ministry? Is there a defining line?

I know from working in higher ed for lo these many years that more often than not, when brought on as an employee at a new school, one must sign a form which grants all intellectual rights and properties of projects created while an employee of this establishment to the entity which employs you.  Papers you write for publication? Presentations given at conferences? The intellectual rights of these created by you remain yours, but you still have to pay homage to and give thanks to the one that maintains and sustains. In this case, it’s the maintaining and sustaining of a paycheck and steady employment, for (to paraphrase a certain Bible verse) without a job, you could do nothing; or, at the very least, probably not this particular thing.

However, the analogy still holds:

Man, or mouse?

The created, or the Creator?   …and I don’t mean Walt.

However, I know that God can be found even in the actions of and words of someone who may be too busy preening in the mirror to hear Him. I know that this brand of “Designer Christianity” isn’t going to completely derail the faith I have. I know that God is bigger than the ego of both some who claim to represent Him, and He’s bigger than Mickey Mouse (sorry, Kai).

I just have to remind myself to not seek the magic in any earthly kingdom. 

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