Mark Driscoll, I really, really need an iPad.

The Stranger recently posted an article detailing a recent marketing strategy Mark Driscoll implemented to boost reviews of his new book, Who Do You Think You Are?: Finding Your True Identity in Christ. Allegedly, Driscoll was spurred on by a less-than-positive review of the book by Stephanie Drury (from Stuff Christian Cultures Like). On Driscoll’s Web site this week, he announced they are giving away prizes like an iPad Mini every day in exchange for a review of the book on Amazon.

Legality aside, I was intrigued by this issue. I clicked on through to the Amazon reviews of Who Do You Think You Are, and immediately entered the strange, strange world of the modern Evangelical culture wars.

There were positive, thoughtful reviews from people who had read the book, but this category was undoubtedly the minority. There were reviews from people who simply wanted to win an iPad. There were reviews from people, like Ms. Drury, who were definitely not impressed with Mr. Driscoll’s entire oeuvre and wanted everyone to  know it. And then there was a large rash of “other” reviews — most referencing iPads in some way or another — that went a different route. Some were angry, bordering on mean, but many of these reviews (which don’t mention anything about the book, BTW) were actually quite funny. I found myself giggling, which was a welcome relief from the feelings of helplessness that I normally experience while watching Christians rip each other to shreds in a public forum.

Many of the funny reviews are also effective social commentaries on the entire situation, like this one from Bob Diamond:

I haven’t yet read the whole book, but I have read the cover! It wouldn’t be honest for me to review this books contents, just like it wouldn’t be honest to buy reviews with promises of an iPad, so today I will be reviewing the cover. I really like how the cover doesn’t show Mark Driscoll’s face, so 3 stars there!

Not all of the comments are like this, of course. Many resort to cheap shots or easy moralizing. But for those commenters who didn’t — those who chose to use humor as a way to get their point across — it was a revelation for me.

We don’t need another post on Mark Driscoll, either for or against. We don’t need to talk about the moral implications of giving away prizes for favorable book reviews, or about detractors that are cruel in their critiques. What we need to talk about are the ways we as Christians need to get off the merry-go-round of vitriol in dialogue, of responding to every mini- and mega-theology debate that appears on our Twitter and Facebook feeds. There is quite enough of this going on.

What we need are more creative types, people who are willing to be funny, to point out how ridiculous we all are, in a way that refuses to “Other” our opponents. We need to build bridges by capitalizing on how absurd we all can be, with the gentle hope of redemption. But currently, it seems we are addicted to the self-serving circular nature of being offended, righteously defending our opinion/favorite book/pastor, and receiving negative feedback.

And the more the cycles continue, the more our tribe will fracture, and only a few authors and pastors and booksellers at the top will benefit from it all.

Let’s get off the merry-go-round, shall we? Hate doesn’t need any more platforms. But humor — well, we could all learn a lesson in taking ourselves less seriously.

Oh, and I haven’t read the book, but I probably/maybe will glance at it someday in the future. Can I still get my iPad, Mr. Driscoll?

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article stated that only those who wrote positive reviews would be eligible for iPads. In a follow-up post for another giveaway, Driscoll’s website clarified, saying, “Whether or not you liked the book doesn’t matter, either way I’m grateful for your time, and we’d be glad to award this week’s free gifts to critics and fans alike. But please only write a review if you’ve actually read the book.”

About D.L. Mayfield

D.L. Mayfield lives and writes in the Midwest, where she currently is a part of a Christian order among the poor. Mayfield’s writing has appeared in McSweeney’s, Image, Christianity Today, Books and Culture, and The Other Journal. Her book of essays is forthcoming from HarperOne in 2016. Learn more at www.dlmayfield.com.

  • http://www.thehighschoolsermons.com Mark Humphries

    Everyone is trying to find a way to generate interest for their voice. Articles about popular but controversial people, is one way, giving away free stuff is another. In some ways social media just takes the popularity dynamics of high school and makes it available to everyone.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/christandpopculture Ben Bartlett

    If you think the Driscoll Amazon entry, you should check out the Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer. http://www.amazon.com/Hutzler-5717-571-Banana-Slicer/dp/B0047E0EII

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/christandpopculture Ben Bartlett

    Sorry, if you think the Driscoll Amazon entry IS FUNNY

  • Pingback: Mark Driscoll, I really, really need an iPad. | ChristianBookBarn.com

  • Tom

    I don’t say much to people I don’t agree with about theology but sometimes I feel I need to speak out when Christians are attacking people just so people see that there are alternative voices out there. I don’t want the defensive attack Christians to be the only face of Christianity that people see. We seem to be defined by what we are against more than by what we love. When people with alternative views sit quietly by and watch, people think that all Christians are about is what they hear on TV or talk radio. It does damage to the Church and the Kingdom.

  • Diana Wilson

    This is direct opposition to Amazon’s stated policy:
    • Reviews written for any form of compensation other than a free copy of the product. This includes reviews that are a part of a paid publicity package

    I have let Amazon know about this “contest” and requested they stop sales until contest has halted.

  • http://ludometanoia.blogspot.com.br/ tifaucz

    “What we need are more creative types, people who are willing to be funny, to point out how ridiculous we all are, in a way that refuses to “Other” our opponents.”
    That was interesting to read. I live in Brazil( http://www.forbes.com/sites/andersonantunes/2013/01/17/the-richest-pastors-in-brazil/ )
    and here, most of the critics try to be funny(really, our depressed Calvin and depressed Luther pages are the best) but many end up missing the point, or use humor as a shield, like “oh, I was not really saying that, it was only a joke!”.
    So I miss more serious critics here.
    Anyway, I used to follow and be really edified by many Driscoll teachings and materials before 2012. I guess I need to get used to see people I previously admired falling out in blind pride.

  • Andy Smith

    If you’re trying to stop the “Merry-Go-Round” of “self-serving circular nature of being offended, righteously defending our opinion/favorite book/pastor, and receiving negative feedback,” then as a blog writer you must be very careful, resourceful, and thoughtful with your subject and wording. When you say “giving away prizes like an iPad mini every day in exchange for a positive tweet and/or review,” that’s not true: he’s not doing it for a “Positive” review. It states clearly on his website “Whether or not you liked the book doesn’t matter, either way I’m grateful for your time, and we’d be glad to award this week’s free gifts to critics and fans alike. But please only write a review if you’ve actually read the book.”
    As a fan of C&PC, I’m surprised to find you getting your sources from SLOG and Amazon of all things, and not from the Pastor Mark Driscoll website itself…

  • Theresa

    There is a point in this article…I see it. Yet, no matter how hard one tries to lighten the hearts of readers on so many petty quarrels ,it just will always get lost on some.

  • Royce

    “I doubt Driscoll wanted a positive review as much as he wanted a big dust up over his attempt to buy a positive review. If he needed a couple positive reviews I am sure he could’ve sent down orders to his 15,000 followers at Mars Hill inside of the confines of THE CITY (Mars Hill’s Facebook like members only social network) without exposing himself to critics and the possible blowback. Which makes it all the more likely that the motive wasn’t the review but was in fact the blowback itself. Crafty little man that Driscoll – dare I say devious. Funny that we don’t normally attach words like crafty, manipulative or devious to men of faith. But they seem to describe Driscoll to a tee.”

    LINK: http://twocleareyes.blogspot.com/2013/01/desperately-seeking-something.html

  • http://nickrynerson.com Nick Rynerson

    This article brightened my day. I haven’t read much about Marky Mark Driscoll lately that has truly brightened my day. Thank you.

    And Mr. Driscoll, if you read this: I am poor, and I’ve stuck up for you on social media like a bunch of times (I’m Acts 29, bro!)… I could really used an iPad, heck, even an iPad Mini (I’m not picky). I’m still reading paperbacks like a peasant farmer…


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