In the World

Are the chips and soda what's offensive?

When I was at Wheaton, a story (possibly apocryphal) circulated
about a student who had been expelled a couple years earlier for celebrating a
mock Eucharist on the quad, in which he faux-consecrated donuts and beer. If
you wouldn't want to see such a thing, don't watch this video, an ad entered
for a Super Bowl contest and then pulled amid uproar:



Offensive? I'd say so. But is the problem the fact that the
elements served are foods other than bread and wine? That's certainly not
unprecedented--and churches that get experimental in this area may provoke
controversy, but hardly accusations
of blasphemy. Is it the use of junk
food in particular? Maybe, but the Wonder Bread and "grape juice beverage" I
grew up with had at least as much in common nutritionally with Doritos and
Pepsi as they did with actual bread and wine.

I think what makes the ad offensive isn't the Doritos-and-Pepsi
communion itself; it's the 
suggestion that more people would go to church if churches focused on
providing cheap pleasures people already want--and that this would be a good
thing for the church. Looked at that way, the ad starts to come off
(intentionally or otherwise) less like a thoughtless and easy punch line and
more like satire that offends to make a point.

Steve Thorngate

The Century managing editor is also a church musician and songwriter.

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