The unmarketable

Photo by Daniel Tomlinson on Unsplash

As someone who has consciously chosen to write about the Christian faith and is eyeing seminary at age 40, I often have deep, dark moments of, WTF am I doing?!

Why can’t I just keep my subject material to my current line of work in branding and messaging? This has a far wider appeal (especially on Medium). It could be so lucrative — I could create courses on it and make oodles of passive income as I take selfies of my successful life on Instagram.

Or why couldn’t I have just stayed in the lane of contemporary mainstream non-religious spirituality that I was in a year ago? That stuff is so filled with good vibes and the most popular portion of it promises cash and prizes and manifestations beyond our wildest dreams (though I could never go that far).

Now THAT’S a marketable message.

And yet here I am, pulled back towards this old Jesus understanding. A place I never thought I’d come back to after being away for so long.

But even then, I have to ask myself, why can’t I go the Joel Osteen route and tout the Prosperity Gospel? Or why can’t I pander to the masses of Evangelical Conservatism where white men like me are gods and Trump is the Messiah?

That would make me so. Much. Money. And with MY messaging skills?! Oh my. Back up the Gulfstream, Memphis — here I come!!

But, no… For some reason, I’m drawn to things as unpopular as the Theology of the Cross and the idea that new life isn’t found in glorifying one’s ego, but rather in laying waste to it. This version of faith goes to the sick, the lowly, the infirm, the poor, the marginalized, and the forgotten (and to those qualities even in us so-called ‘privileged people’).

This ancient Christian faith is one that’s contemplative and non-dual instead of loud and motivational. This understanding is based on mystery and sacrifice rather than certainty and security. It’s centered on moving through death, not avoiding it.

So, how do you sell this message?

I don’t really know. I just know that it speaks to me — calls me — from a deep, human level. And I believe it carries hope for many who don’t even know it yet — who may have thrown out that bathwater long ago but may now be missing something essential to the human experience. Something beyond themselves.

I’ll leave you with a profound passage by Fr. Richard Rohr (seriously, one of my favorites — and that’s saying a lot) from the opening pages of Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer as he nails it in so few words…

Inherent Unmarketability

How do you make attractive that which is not?

How do you sell emptiness, vulnerability, and nonsuccess?

How do you talk descent when everything is about ascent?

How can you possibly market letting-go in a capitalist culture?

How do you present Jesus to a Promethean mind?

How do you talk about dying to a church trying to appear perfect?

This is not going to work.
(Admitting this might be my first step.)

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