Monday, January 19, 2015

Marketing

I felt a strange pressure on my shoulder and turned to see a man with a marker writing on my shirt. I recognized the man as one I had seen before at similar events, but did not know. He had a confident paternalistic smile on his face as if he had both deigned to impart a gift to me and also earned merit points himself in the process. In this dream I was back at a religious youth conference and was in a crowd somewhere in or near the exhibit hall. This young man had just written with permanent marker on my shirt. I looked more closely at the marks he had made and saw it was the crudely lettered acronym of a particular supporting ministry he was promulgating.

The ministry behind the slogan on my shoulder is one I respect. I have no doubt they would not want to be marketed in that way, yet I was repulsed by the attempted advertisement.

Upon waking, I thought back to the conference and recalled seeing stickers for a different supporting ministry stuck to the backs of at least two conference participants—likely placed as a joke by someone who knew them, but stuck between their shoulders without their knowledge nonetheless. I recall seeing, both at that conference and elsewhere, instances where worthwhile literature had been “seeded” in inconsiderate and distasteful ways. I recall presentations I have attended that reek with overtones of “I have the whole Truth characterized, purified, and put into a capsule. All you need to do is swallow it and don’t ask the wrong questions.”

…and I ask myself:
What is my attitude as I communicate about the things I hold dear?
Does my desire for others wear the slogan I believe in interfere with what that slogan stands for?
Do I indeed have, on a daily basis, more than just a slogan to share?

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