As most of you already know, the first movie in the Chronicles of Narnia series, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, is being heavily marketed toward Christians. But how far is too far?
The Philadelphia Inquirer released "Hyping 'Narnia' to Christians" last Sunday. This article says,
Walt Disney Pictures is so eager for churches to turn out audiences for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which opens Friday, that it's offering a free trip to London - and $1,000 cash - to the winner of its big promotional sermon contest.
The only catch is that the sermons must mention Narnia, based on the hugely popular children's books about four British children who walk through an uncle's magic armoire into an enchanted kingdom.
In response, Philip Ryken (Senior Pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, PA) posted the following:
Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Walt Disney Pictures is offering a free trip to London and a thousand dollars in cash to the winner of its promotional sermon contest. To qualify, a sermon has to mention Disney's new Narnia film. So welcome to a new medium of marketing: the sermo-mercial. It would seem that something more than Aslan is on the move. I wonder: Would mentioning the film while decrying the absurdity of the promotion qualify one's sermon for the contest?
Christianity Today also commented on this idea in their blog, asking: Did Disney Pay For Your Sermon?
Of course, there is nothing wrong with using Lewis' fictional works as illustrations and examples in sermons. What is alarming is that businesses are apparently willing to exploit preaching to advertise and sell their products.
Regardless, do you know what I find most interesting? That there is really no reason for businesses to pay churches to sell their stuff at all. How many churches do you know of that have already placed "announcements" (known as ads in other publications) about Narnia in their newsletters and bulletins?
Do we still recognize the church as the body of Christ? Or are we now simply seen as consumers?
(Originally posted at the A-Team Blog: http://ateam.blogware.com/blog/_archives/2005/12/8/1441798.html )
posted at 4:35 PM