Try-hards and Vaccine Evangelism
One way to sell a product is to convince others how cool they will look if they use it. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. If the advertiser is selling something that is self-evidently cool, like, say, a Lamborghini, the potential consumer doesn't feel like they're being manipulated when they watch two beautiful people step out from under the scissor doors onto a red carpet. This scene fits. Lamborghini's don't need to convince us that they're cool. But if Honda tried to pull off an ad like this we would all have a laugh, assuming that they were taking the mickey. But if it was obvious to us that they were assuming the cool ground in all seriousness, that kind of ad campaign would backfire big time. No one cool is proudly rolling up to the Grammys in a Honda Civic.
It is like watching a nerdy white kid awkwardly striding into the school cafeteria for the first time with his new corn braids and without a word of explanation taking a seat next to the cool kids. It's sad-funny. We call this kind of behavior "try-hard" and we call him a "wannabe". The trappings of "cool" doesn't make something cool. Despite his efforts, this kid's social status is going to go down even further because of the way he went about being cool.
If you're selling something that is not cool, it is best to advertise it by highlighting its other qualities, such as major health benefits, proof of long-term effectiveness, and lack of side effects.
Vaccination Is Super Cool Guys
If you watch TV in New Zealand for any length of time you will see that (with our tax dollars) they are trying to get our vaccination rates up by appealing to their cool factor. Like corn braids on a computer nerd, they rap, dance, pose, and swagger so that we know that it's cool people that get the needle. The all-time tryhard low was reached about a couple of weeks ago when the profanity-ladened song "Vax Nation" dropped. They even promoted it on seven sharp. You can watch the trash that you paid for in the link below, but be warned, it is high-level cringe. I won't blame you if you can't get through to the end.
And just to demonstrate that they actually thought that producing this would make vaccines seem cool to the youth, watch this super cringe interview where the songwriter admits that he thinks his rap will confer coolness.
And if you want to see that there is a worldwide effort to make vaccines cool, ask google to sing you a song, but I'd suggest having a spew bucket handy.
A Teachable Moment For The Church
I hate that I helped pay for the production of that "Vax Nation" rubbish, but at the same time, I find some encouragement in what they've done. It's like they've taken their queues straight from the playbook of the failing modern-day church. We've been using these techniques of conversion by "coolness" for a long time now, and we've all witnessed how that has led to the destruction of our congregations and our public reputation. So it is with some hope that I watch our nation becoming a big vaccine cult, equipped with all the typical manipulative practices of every other historical cult - book burnings (Facebook censorship), nit-picking pharisaical law-making that suppress its people, and emotionally manipulative evangelism. This is a sign of the end. These are the tools that a failing movement will reach for when their message isn't enough to sustain them.
Now that another religion has adopted our tired and corny ways of conversion, we, the church, have a unique opportunity to take a good look at ourselves through the actions others. Hopefully, we will learn the necessary lesson from the cringe it provokes. If we don't learn our lesson we will become even more irrelevant. The worst thing for a try-hard is to be ridiculed and sense no shame. But if the rebuke is understood as true and helpful, feeling an appropriate sense of shame has a way of pulling a wannabe back into his lane.
The Church Of Cool
The church's appeal to the world should never be our "coolness" according to their standards. We're not cool with the things they do, so unless we compromise our standards, we're going to be an eternal buzzkill to their orgies.
"For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this, they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead." (1 Peter 4:3–5)
Our true appeal to a world that participates in these destructive behaviors is a power that can pull them out of it. We hold out the good news that sinners can find true joy and freedom through repentance and belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. Some will hate this message and some will be saved through it, but without it, no one will be saved.
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes," (Romans 1:16a)
Since the church has become embarrassed with the Bible and not understood its power to convert, it has resorted to "Vax Nation" style entertainment and manipulation to draw people into our buildings. I remember as a kid inviting some friends to a youth group event that I thought would be quite cool. We all stood near the back and listened to the Christian band playing "Smells like teen spirit" by Nirvana. I didn't actually know that the song was famous at the time but I thought it sounded pretty cool. That was until I found my friends all laughing at it. Apparently, the band had changed all the lyrics. They Christianized that song for evangelistic effect. They had the best intentions, but instead of making an unpopular message relevant, my friends could see that they were using popular things to peddle Christianity. The band was dismissed as a bunch of try-hards, and the message, since the band evidently thought it needed repackaging, came across weak.
What did they expect, seriously? That the kids would think, "Hey, I like this tune. Now, what are these new less-cool lyrics they are singing? Hey, I think I might repent." In the same way, what were the "Vax Nation" writers expecting to achieve? That the vaccine-hesitant would suddenly lose their hesitancy because here lays before them an opportunity to become cool like these hiphop doctors? Did they think the kids were going to say, "Hey, cool. It's like the other profanity-laden highly sexualized rap lyrics that I listen to, but full of great medical information. Let's get vaxxed"? It is safe to say that not one person was converted to Christianity through a Nirvana rip-off and that not one person got vaccinated because of a medical rap.
What Is True Coolness?
Someone might ask at this point, am I saying that since we have no chance of being worldly cool, we cannot be cool at all? Nope. Christians should be cool, but our "coolness" comes from a lack of concern for their coolness. When someone is confident and unashamed, joyfully living out their Christian convictions in the face of their opponents, this is a sign to them of their destruction.
"Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God." (Philippians 1:27–28)
When you're unaffected by your opponent's attacks, it has the effect of stopping them in their tracks. They begin to second guess whether they've brought enough firepower to the fight. True coolness is not giving a rip when someone who is wrong opposes you. True coolness is knowing how to handle yourself under fire. The security that comes from the knowledge of Christ is the only way to have this kind of confidence in the war of worldviews. Men and women who have it are like rocks that stand out amongst the waves of insecurity that thrash around beside them.
There's much more that I could have said about the claims that the rap made, but I'm guessing that most of you since you're reading my blog, will already know how to refute all that was said with ease. The irony of the whole thing was, that though it claimed to know something about sexual potency, it was impotent on every level. Nothing about it was attractive or good.
Like I said at the beginning, we should find encouragement from things like this. It's a display of desperate tactics being used by a desperate and dying movement. Sad-funny stuff. It's good to laugh at them on their way to failure. And let's not be like them again. Let's return to a plain proclamation of the truth that has been drawn straight from the pages of Scripture. This is where our power comes from and we need nothing more to convert the world.
"And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God." (1 Corinthians 2:1–5)