Perhaps watching episodes of the X-Files while reading Heath & Potter’s book “The Rebel Sell” was not the wisest decision I made this week. While taking my journey through communism to consumerism, and trying to visualize things through the eyes of Kurt Cobain, Adolph Hitler, Sigmund Freud and Fox Mulder, I kept hoping to myself…the Truth must really be out there. The authors’ suggestion that, “the world that we live in is not real. Consumer capitalism has taken every authentic human experience, transformed it into a commodity and then sold it back to us through advertising and the mass media;” left me with the imagery of the alien invasion that has so adequately taken over the world and deceived us all. Are we all truly lying to ourselves with our corrupted illusions of freewill, while in all actuality, we simply live the life that others have convinced us is necessary to live for true happiness. Is it possible for a Coca-Cola ad to give my life a feeling of self-worth, or the implied need for fulfillment could be satisfied by what blue jeans I am wearing? If this is the case, then how does non-conformity play a part in my relationship with Christ and the role that consumerism has on the Christian movement.
As a Christian, I have always believed that it was/is possible to make a difference in the modern world by teaching others the need for incorporation of God’s Word into their lives. Sadly, however, I have also noticed that the world is guilty of placing more pitfalls in the way of Christians and their efforts than I believe has ever been placed before. With the icons of advertising, media, and internet, the speed by which evangelism is able to progress, is limited by the mass effects of alternative teachings. According to the reading, the threat is even greater than anticipated: “Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process.” The world is oblivious to the power that Satan and evil play in their lives these days; they have become so numb and bombarded by filth that they do not even realize that they have become as much a part of the problem as the wickedness itself. So that bids the question…am I right in believing that it is possible to make a difference…or is conformity the truth that is out there.
As I read through this book, the same Scripture kept popping into my head; Romans 12:1-2. “1I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
The major concept in this reading seemed to be rooted in the need for a counter-cultural revolution; or rather the need to react to society in a way contrary to the direction it was headed. The idea that people have conformed so much to the brainwashing that society has been selling them through advertising that it was necessary for the world to finally fight back…providing it was not already too late. As Christians, though I am not completely as “rebel” bound as the reading may have implied, I do support the need for counter-cultural teachings. The reality is that Christ was a rebel of the highest degree in my opinion. He sought out the leaders in the church, corrected and rebuked them, and then demanded reform. I do believe that He focused on religious government and not political government, so there is a difference between the approaches of Christianity in that aspect today as well…or at least should be. However, I shared in my Bible class recently that when the serpent first approached Eve in the Garden of Eden, he was trying to sell her something; he tried to convince her that she was not good enough with what God had provided her and therefore, she needed to have more. And here lies the battle…for too long, we have always bought into the advertising sales pitch that we needed more, and as a result, we sold out.
However, is the answer to throw out the system, which seems to be the proposed plan in the reading? “Here’s where Heath and Potter get into their main argument: that the countercultural idea of “throwing out the system” is not only unrealistic—it hinders reasonable political aspirations and creates disregard for valid social norms that promote law, order, and prosperity.” I believe part of the challenge of Christianity is living in a method of integration without conformity; it is not possible to live outside of the world, but it is possible for us to shine through its darkness. The reality is that the world is always going to be contrary to the will of God…but does that mean His people have to be? Philippians 2:15 reads, “that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shin as lights in the world.” The reality is that the world has always had a perverted perception of things when compared to the path that Christ came to set for us. It is not a new theology to learn that the world is teaching things contrary to the bible, nor that the devil is still trying to convince us that we still need more than God has given us to be happy or complete. I have always loved 2 Timothy 3:16-17, because it provides us with the confidence that we need to overcome the teachings of the world and Satan; “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” We should never allow someone else to convince us that God has not provided His people with all that they need, nor should we ever be convinced that we are inadequate. This is the way of Satan and we should never give him that kind of satisfaction.
Boles, Blake. Book Review: The Rebel Sell. Dec 13, 2017. http://www.blakeboles.com/2012/11/book-review-the-rebel-sell/ (accessed February 22, 2018).
Heath, Joseph & Andrew Potter. The Rebel Sell: Why Culture Can’t be Jammed. Toronto: Harper Perennial, 2004.
 Heath, Joseph & Andrew Potter. The Rebel Sell: Why Culture Can’t be Jammed. Toronto: Harper Perennial, 2004. Pg 5.
 Ibid, pg 29.
 Boles, Blake. Book Review: The Rebel Sell. Dec 13, 2017. http://www.blakeboles.com/2012/11/book-review-the-rebel-sell/ (accessed February 22, 2018).