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Doritos, Pepsi Max & The Loss of the Sacred

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In case you haven't seen it, an ad was recently created by Media Wave Productions featuring a pastor who is concerned about his dwindling congregation. So he initiates a new church growth technique that involves replacing the bread and wine of communion with Doritos and Pepsi Max. The title for this thirty second spot is Feed Your Flock. Until recently, this ad was in the running to be broadcast on SuperBowl Sunday, but it failed to make the final cut, partly due to the controversy it generated. It's hard to imagine such an ad being created only a few decades ago. The trivialization of the sacred in this piece is nothing less than astounding. And that's just it. There isn't anything sacred anymore. Everything's a joke.

I recently visited a church in my city that had three huge mega-screens featuring music videos and advertisements for various things before the service began. All along the right side and back of this expansive worship area, people were selling CDs, books, T-shirts and cappuccino. It was all in the same room. The pastor told a number of jokes and preached a sermon on the subject of his latest book. At the end of the sermon, he actually pleaded with us to "go to the back and take a look at the book!" Though there was no communion service, there was a fifteen minute video infomercial on the virtue of tithing, followed up by, you guessed it, the offering basket.

Undoubtedly there is a loss of the sacred in today's secular and cynical culture. But should we really be surprised by this? It's "secular" culture after all. Why shouldn't secular types think that everything's a joke unless we give them something to believe in. What is more troubling I think is the trivialization of God, the shallowness of discipleship, the evacuation of the sacraments, the commercialization of worship and the general chumminess with which we all approach God in our own churches. These are things that concern me greatly.

UPDATE: The ad has been pulled from both YouTube and the Doritos website, but you can watch a good portion of it in this clip from the Jan 5th, 2011 edition of The O'Reilly Factor. You can also watch a "behind the scenes" video of the Feed Your Flock commercial here.
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  • Guest - Kathryn Boehne

    What struck me about the ad is how similar the church portrayed in the ad is to the current American church. All that matters is the number of people in the pews and every possible method man can come up with to get the attendance up is acceptable.

    It has been this way for so long that many Christians don't seem to understand that this isn't Christianity. But how could they know, if they have never seen the real thing?

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  • [...] Doritos, Pepsi Max & The Loss of the Sacred  White Horse Inn Blog Posted on January 5, 2011 by Reformed Joe Doritos, Pepsi Max & The Loss of the Sacred [...]

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  • Guest - Jason

    I grew up in the Midwest in a small country Freewill-Baptist church. When we lit the candles for the candlelight service, it was pretty, but it wasn't sacred. Communion was special, but it was far from sacramental. Little cups of Welch's grape juice and broken up pieces of unsalted Saltines were what we used to remember Jesus as he commanded, but it had no bearing on the church's life except as some archaic tradition that Jesus said we had to do. Tithing, the rapture, and spiritual warfare were far more important talking points in sermons than communion.

    To go from that, I see no huge departure to doritos and pepsi max other than that's because we always used grape juice and saltines.

    My point is that the sacred in much of American Evangelicalism has been gone for a long time. From my reading, I don't think my church was the exception. It was pretty much the norm.

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  • Guest - Rebecca

    Is it secular culture? Or is it just commercialism?

    Maybe the problem isn't so much that we've lost the category of secular. Maybe the problem is that there is no corner of creation we won't bring into the service of Mammon. The lines are blurred between secular culture and the commercial, too. They don't keep TV shows if they can't sell commercial slots, no matter what the artistic value of the show.

    The commercial at least dignifies the sacred by making it the foundation of the joke. If there weren't an understanding of the sacrilege, the commercial wouldn't work. On the other hand, some congregations have been known to use Pop-Tarts and Kool-Aid, and not because that was all that Walgreens had at 9:55 on Sunday morning. The bitter irony, for me, is that we Christians, usually in the name of appealing to outsiders, are making light of the sacred faster than outsiders can finish mocking it. No wonder the world thinks we're just kind of stupid.

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  • Guest - Peter

    Thanks for the post, Shane.

    Camille, if you're looking for an answer to your question, here's one: ask why. If the answer doesn't center on Christ and support the gospel of forgiveness, point it out to the pastor and leaders. Not saying it will work, but it's an option.

    Good points and observation Kathryn, Jason and Rebecca.

    When Christ isn't sacred, when we live under law instead of grace, when we're more concerned with making people feel good than with proclaiming the law in its fullness and offering forgiveness and salvation through the sweet gospel of Jesus, this is the result.

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  • Ten years ago in the little town on the east coast of Australia where I grew up, one of the trendy churches held "Communion" at their youth events with Coke and Skittles. It's happening.

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  • [...] Doritos, Pepsi Max & The Loss of the Sacred [...]

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  • Guest - Joanna

    I'm really not offended by the commercial; it would probably be quite suitable for cable TV, but I can certainly see that there would be many who might see it as controversial. What has got me STILL cracking up is the, what I assume is the unintentional, pun made by Kathryn about never seeing the "Real Thing".

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  • Guest - Kathryn Boehne

    Joanna, I'm glad that you caught the unintentional "Real Thing" pun.

    I wish it had been intentional because it's a pretty funny pun.

    But, alas, I've never been witty.

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  • Guest - Jim

    I've seen things similar to this in the evangelical world for years. That's why I started attending Catholic, Lutheran, and Anglican services. I'm still trying to decide which denomination I will join. In these churches, I feel more of a reverence toward God. Although my theology is still closest to Billy Graham, I'm sick and tired of the evangelical world treating Jesus like a high school buddy that one would goof off and watch football with, with a few Bud Lights handy.

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