One of the unhealthy trends that pastors are noticing today is the secularization of life transitions. Pastors are less frequently asked to perform weddings. Baptism (or in some traditions dedication) of infant children is neglected. And funerals are skipped or turned into something that is a weak combo of a party and a memory session. These are not good developments. They both express and accelerate the separation of our culture from its spiritual roots.
Here is an excellent reflection written concerning the lack of proper religious funerals. Corresponding articles could be written regarding other big life moments where previously our culture and others have for good reason paused to remember the sacred.
I haven’t been really following football this year, but I always enjoy watching the Super Bowl ads. I am especially interested in Super Bowl advertising because it is such a mirror and microcosm of American culture, for better or worse. So again this year, I am reflecting upon the best and the worst of the Super Bowl advertising as I saw it. (I didn’t see every one so I can’t guarantee that this opinion covers them all.)
Weather Tech – I loved the ad with its talk about buying American while at the same time advertising Weather Tech products. It was visually interesting, and I felt the patriotic theme unselfishly dominated the ad. And at the end, the ad accomplished the company’s objective of helping you remember their company name and associating it both with their product and with the fact that it is American-made.
Avocados in space – Every year there is one commercial that rises high on the list simply because of its creativity and off-the-wall idea. This year, this is the one. The whole concept of future aliens looking back at current American society, totally misinterpreting some objects as undoubtedly we now do with things of the ancient past, and then getting to refreshment time and sampling avocados which are recommended as delicious was so creative. Every Star Trek fan was glued to this one.
Pepsi through the Decades – This was a delightful ad, a joy to watch. Nostalgic interest oozes from it. And it accomplishes the goal of associating Pepsi with good times. The lead actor carries it well. I liked it also as the historical decades of music and dance theme goes with the idea of the 50th anniversary Super bowl.
Marmot- This is a simple ad which at first I did not rate highly. However I changed my mind. The change came about because I was trying to figure out what the ad had been about. I had not heard of the company. The ad prodded me to Google the company name and find out. I discovered that the ad fit the company amazingly well and since I responded by looking it up, the ad must have accomplished its goal extraordinarily well also.
Death Wish coffee – Here’s another one where the sheer creativity of the ad forced you to remember the whole thing. The drama of the ad was immense. The fact that it was for coffee at the end was a nearly complete surprise which increased the retention value.
Super Bowl babies – This ad loses on two counts. First of all it was pointless. What was it advertising? I still don’t know. That alone is a fatal flaw in an ad. Second, the ad loses on moral grounds. The whole idea of basing the ad on the assumption of couples having sexual relations after the Super Bowl is at best in extremely bad taste. At worst, it trivializes the fact that huge sports events such as the Super Bowl are unfortunately taken advantage of by the illicit sex trade, one of the sad facts of our day. The ad reflects America’s too casual view of human sexuality.
Toyota Prius getaway – I was visually upset after this ad. It disrespects police. It makes heroes of those who should be vilified. It participates in the moral confusion that is America today. Yes, I did see the mollifying ad during the closing ceremonies where the policemen got a Prius and finally caught the robbers and I was glad for that. But to me it did not undo the damage of the original ad. It flunked with me.
Snickers Marilyn – This ad fails because the subject matter of the advertisement completely overshadows the object being advertised. After the ad, I did not even know what it was that was being advertised. If one remembers the ad, but not what is being advertised, the ad has failed. Any speaker knows that it is very easy for an illustration to distract from the desired point. If I had known what was being advertised, the ad still would have failed on a second level. It failed to give a positive feeling about the product because I found the ad disgusting and not believable.
Puppy monkey baby – Here’s another ad that grossly failed to do its job. It was not interesting to watch. The level of intelligence to which it appealed was somewhere below idiot. And the supposed crossbreed in diapers was more stupidity than interesting. In addition, the story line, if it could be called that, completely over shadowed the product being advertised.
Kia Bland closet – I flunked this ad as well simply for not giving a positive impression. The emotional impression of a bland closet was so much of a turnoff that the ad never did recover from it. The idea of a polka dot sock as a contrast just did not cut it either. To top it all off, if I remember right, the vehicle pictured was white. So the colored highlight of the ad was the sock??
I continue to be challenged by the way our society has become so visually oriented. The new page series – Visuals – is meant to respond to this need by presenting visual sketches of messages in a readily accessible spot.
The story behind this decision is this. November 7, I preached a message called “Walk Humbly with Your God.” To be homiletically sound, it had way too many sub-points – five! But I was inspired to illustrate it visually by having six people (one point required two people) come up to the platform and mime the point. I had all the five points mimed at the beginning. Then I reviewed them and had the congregation repeat them while looking at the mimes. The surprising result was that I had people telling me that they were repeating all five points to people at work that week. Research says that usually most people can’t tell us much about the sermon by the time they get to the parking lot. What a difference.
At the beginning of the work week, unknown to me, my administrative assistant was inspired to download silhouettes similar to the mimed figures and make a bulletin board of the five points. So the visual impact was increased.
As I discussed that result, I decided to try something new. Each week I will make a visual summary of the message for my blog. Sometimes some of it will be used in the Sunday message time and sometimes not.
This is a work in progress. On this first one, the second and third files are auxiliary files. For all the files, I have some technical work to do. The plug-in loads them fine but when you try to view them, the computer wants to open them with Internet Explorer rather than Powerpoint. I worked around it by saving them and then using “open with” to force the computer to use the right program. I’ll work on this.