Garrison Keillor Speaks Truth about Christian Branding

Branding is one of those terms that have crept up on us and caught us unawares and now it seems here to stay. Occasionally my publishers — never my editors — have spoken about “branding” me and it just seems so slimy to me. Faithfulness and wisdom and above all love are the virtues to be sought by those who teach the Bible and theology, and since we are seeking to be faithful to God in Christ as revealed in Scripture, the content of what we do is set by Someone Else and not our own little twisty twist on it.

Those who are most concerned are turned off by the branding game. Those who are into the branding game are playing twisty twist with faithfulness. Hear me, friends, branding one’s name or one’s “product” in our field is to seize control of the One who is supposed to be in control.

We have no product, we have no brand, we have nothing to monetize. What we have is God in Christ who is mighty in Word and Deed and his Word and Deed are toward us in the mercy of Christ. Amen?

So when Chuck Eklund sent me this piece in WaPo from Garrison Keillor, I sent out a big Amen toward Pike’s Peak in the far distance.

Garrison Keillor:

The evangelicals who brought me up avoided politics, believing that the Second Coming was imminent, perhaps only hours away, which would usher them into God’s Presence and the unfathomable rapture of celestial splendor, so why waste time trying to pass a bond issue for curbs and gutters? And they certainly avoided money-grubbing. They were above that. So unbecoming for a Christian, as Jesus descends through the clouds on shafts of heavenly light, accompanied by cherubim and seraphim, to be caught wheedling and conniving and flattering in order to scrounge up watches and free trips and weekends at deluxe hotels and all the loose cash around. Like the poor wretch in “The Pilgrim’s Progress” who grubs in the garbage with a rake and does not notice the angel holding a gold crown over his head.

Those evangelicals are still around, studying the Word, doing good and living modestly, and they are writhing in discomfort at the carryings-on of the Rolex Christians and their gospel of prosperity. And their shamelessness….

But that was then and this is now. Now you use your faith to build your brand and eventually you monetize it. I say: whatever lights your candle. For me, what works is high Anglican, a modest rector, not overly jovial like a game show host, an organist who knows his place, and liturgy with some long silences in it. “Be still, and know that I am God,” He says. So let’s. God speaks in the stillness. For that reason, friends of mine prefer a walk in the woods to a place in the pews. Good for them. Enter into the woods with thanksgiving and into the pasture with praise. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting; and His truth endures to all generations. And wherever two Corinthians are gathered together, there He is in the midst of them.

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