Thursday, June 09, 2011

The Marketing Industry and the Church

I hate malls, and in my 2009 blog post "A Trip to the Mall" I explain why. But I've recently been reading Jamie Smith's book Desiring the Kingdom, in which Smith makes a convincing argument that there is much we can learn from the mall, idolatrous as it tends to be.
“…I think we should first recognize and admit that the marketing industry – which promises an erotically charged transcendence through media that connects to our heart and imagination – is operating with a better, more creational, more incarnational, more holistic anthropology than much of the (evangelical) church. In other words, I think we must admit that the marketing industry is able to capture, form and direct our desires precisely because it has rightly discerned that we are embodied, desiring creatures whose being-in-the-world is governed by the imagination. Marketers have figured out the way to our heart because they ‘get it’: they rightly understand that, at root, we are erotic creatures – creatures who are oriented primarily by love and passion and desire. …But meanwhile, the church has been duped by modernity and has bought into a kind of Cartesian model of the human person, wrongly assuming that the heady realm of ideas and beliefs is the core of our being. These are certainly part of being human, but I think they come second to embodied desire. And because of this, the church has been trying to counter the consumer formation of the heart by focusing on the head and missing the target: it’s as if the church is pouring water on our head to put out a fire in our heart.”
Is Smith right? I'd like some feedback. Canterbury Chris has been making some similar arguments that are being published on the Creedal Christian blog, which may helpfully feed into the discussion.
   

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