Tuesday, April 03, 2007

why relevant magazine really bothers me sometimes

1. The magazine and, especially, the website have turned into a barrage of advertisements for A). any Christian artist with a new album coming out, or B). every worship conference under the sun

2. The tone of most of the editorials consist of a snobbish, too-good-for-the-church, post-liberal, “check out the new Shins record” theology that is grating and irritating

3. There is an apparent identity crisis within the publication… they’re not really sure what being relevant means. Ben Folds as the cover story? What purpose does that serve? So he throws a couple punches at mainstream Christianity and displays our shortcomings… fine, but why use a blatant non-Christian to do this? Why hasn’t John Piper ever been on the cover of Relevant? How about Mohler or Driscoll… or other leaders that are really shaping what it means to think theologically in the 21st Century?

I have always appreciated the intent of Relevant, but it often seems disconnected. Relevant is a great setting for modern thinkers and theologians to propel real thought forward, but it seems like most of the time modern-thought has been reduced to a little rant about the modern church with a couple of expletives thrown in to cast the illusion of “relevancy” within culture.


Melissa said...

what a way to celebrate the blog's one year anniversary... ranting about relevant. i find that funny.

uncle tim said...

ha! Oh Burnshead...the first half of your post really spoke to me. As one who's read Relevant since its inception (or close, anyway) I'm getting a little tired of reading the same articles over and over. (The church isn't progressing as quickly as I am progressing, blah blah blah).

BUT, the magazine's intent is to speak to people like me...folks who have been burned and are tired of the church. I can guarantee you I would run away screaming from ANY magazine who put Piper on the cover. And, no I don't have to justify that...because I am their target market and that's how I feel.

burnshead said...

fair enough - i mean, it is a magazine about God, life, AND culture, so sure, not necessary to put the theologians on the cover. That aside, my biggest beef is over the confusion of what "relevant" really means though... is witty, social commentary on the culture around us enough, or does our faith demand something more penetrating?

uncle tim said...

agreed...although it IS easy to sit in the stands and criticize (I'm as guilty of that as anyone). Relevant has its work cut for it...to come up with content that is deeper and more "penetrating" is not an easy task while still being Relevant to its readers.

Chris Hill said...

Well said. I don't know what to call it - I wish there was a specific name for this phenomenon - but they seem to have the same attitude that the song "If We Are the Body" (I don't know if that's the name, but I assume everyone knows it) has. It's an attitude of "I'm going to quickly point out all the problems in the church, of which I am part of, but I'm better than it too because I am pointing out all the problems, even though I am doing little to fix anything or even encourage others too, but since I point out the problems it makes me somehow not a part of any of them." Makes one think of that whole "take the plank out of your own eye first" idea...

It bothers me because it, one, doesn't help anything, two, comes across as arrogant and bitter (and often is, if you ask me), and three, is intellectually dishonest ("oh, I can't stand how unaccepting the church is, so I'm going to share this problem by having my thoughts accepted in a widely published national Christian magazine").

Anyway, good thoughts.

revolution said...

the entire christian infrastructure would collapse if all of the christian conferences were done away with.

i haven't been to one and don't intend to, especially when all of their content can usually be found online after the fact.


Derek said...

I just stumbled on this blog and was happy to know that somebody else noticed this. They once did an interview of actor, John C. Reilly.

I thought to myself, "Oh, I didn't know John C. Reilly was Christian?" Well, he isn't. He is a talented actor, but his movies can be raunchy at times, and when they asked him during the interview, "Is there anything that you have refused to do because you were morally against it?" (I'm paraphrasing here) he responded, "no, not really. I just do whatever they ask me to do."

The whole thing was so ridiculous that it made me think of the movie, "Notting Hill," where Hugh Grant's character pretended to be a reporter from "Horse & Hound" as an excuse to interview an actress played by Julia Roberts.

Hugh Grant: "I'm with Horse and Hound magazine. Were there many err . . . horses in this movie?"
Julia Roberts: "No. It was set in outer space."

Basically "Relevant" tries to make worldly topics seem related to Christianity so that you can feel cool reading it. What a waste of everybody's time. To me, if I'm going to read something Christian, it should be deep and meaningful, and if I want to read something about a secular movie or actor, I would be better off buying a secular magazine.