I’ve had an idea in my head for a long time. It basically goes like this: There are two things that you don’t see in PopCulture very often these days; people going to the bathroom and people going to Church. While the first I understand, the second I don’t. Faith plays a huge role in life, and I’ve particularly felt its impact on my own heart and my desire to love and do good in the world. While I don’t own a Television Studio or a Movie Production Company, I do have friends that are excellent illustrators and I absolutely love to write. In this case, I’ve partnered with my friend Mark Marianelli, of New Hampshire, who has an amazing illustration style. I’ll be doing all the writing. We love to laugh (as you may have experienced with our projects at Six AM Comics) and we are faith inspired people, so why not base a comic on the life of a good young pastor trying to do good. I think this could push against some of the faith based stereotypes I’ve encountered and explore the silliness we all experience in community in general. There is a huge chest of goodies that our pop culture doesn’t explore a whole lot these days.
For your pleasure, here is our first ‘Life of Parson’ Comic (Click Comic to Enlarge):
I hope this interests you? And if so, once I have 50 interested people signed up on this “Special Persons“ contact list, I’m going to send out the second comic and the scripts as well as some interesting “Making Of” materials. We’re not going to publish this like we do with our other webcomics because we want to test the interest in this kind of endeavor. If the newsletter grows, Parson will flourish and the content will flow. If it doesn’t, then we have many projects in the works. Take a moment to let us know this is something you would like to see happen. If it takes off, we’ll try and publish in different venues, but this is a test. Lets see where this goes. Sign up now below:
I’ve been involved with my good friend Mark Marianelli for a long time working on an amazing side project called “Six AM”. Whether it be working on comics, videos, creative characters and new ways to express humor, we’ve done it all. There have been quite a few transformations as we developed content, and we’ve gone through one more as Mark takes up the project as a personal portfolio/creative project while I work more on Youth Ministry work. I’ve been throwing him script ideas and he modifies them to his tastes and boom – webcomic. I love seeing them come out. The above panel is a play on The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in our “Got Apocalypse” comic strip. The apocalypse has happened, and Jason, Kal and Stan live in the sewers to stay out of the radiation on the surface. Cue odd moments like this one. There are cats, rats, followers, power structures, war, sewers, famine, biblical revelations, and much more. If you like the above comic, explore the site a bit. There are several comics like “Scholars” – college based humor; “Dawn of Six AM” – semiReality based origins of our creative exploits, “GotApocalypse” – post apocalyptic humor, and more (ex. Honestly, Sugar Frosted Sea Bunions, etc.).
I was meandering the internets and noticed this clip from Conan Obrien’s late night show (Team Coco, as known on Facebook). I watched this clip of television reports inanely repeating the same line over and over …and over…and over – ad infinitum. Basically, there seems to be one writer somewhere who called the shot, and all the reporter does is read a script. They all did try to put their own panache on the situation. Inflections were slightly different, they laughed at different times…some left out the “Well” marker, but ultimately, the scene becomes scary as we realize that they’re basically actors/actresses – puppets singing someone else’s song. Take a look and continue below:
My first gut reaction was the same as Conan’s – “Thats not even funny – that’s scary.” He’s pointing out something that we really need to be wary of. In Youth Ministry, I do source culture and have in the past used curriculums. In fact, for my confirmation class, I have a curriculum from the United Methodist Church that is a guide as to what the church feels is important to pass on to our youth. Someone wrote it up, placed games, pictures and activities in their. They even made videos that we showed as discussion starters. But when it came down to it, it was up to me to convey the passion of faith to our youth. I also had to convey that my individual relationship with God is unique – not something that the church as pre-scripted for me. I have the Bible as my guide, I have the church and tradition to remember and help in times of trouble, and the Holy Spirit is like a river flowing through my soul – but when it comes down to it, there is a path and a passion that God gives to me uniquely and I have to communicate that uniquely. If I did not, the youth would know that I am a fake merely reading a script, and that is what they may do for the rest of their lives. I can’t do that.
In your life whether a reporter or a pastor or a small business owner or an employee at McDonalds – you have a script that is all your own. When you repeat others thoughts as your own, you become a robot. If you agree with something, process it, think it through (deeply over time) and then articulate why it is meaningful to you and your community in your own words. Don’t just “Scream for Ice Cream” infinitely into the void of ridiculous nothingness. You are meaningful. Mean what you say. Know why you are doing what you do.
I made some memes. Take a look, and I’ll add the explanations below (if you care enough about me to understand anything going on in my mind).
Arnold – This one was random. I saw a picture of Arnold S. and thought immediately of Terminator. I was in an odd mood, so I tried to think up the most random thing I could – dolphins and dogs trained by robots made by aliens to destroy humanity. Terminator is waaaay too simple.
Yoda Birthday – Amanda’s Birthday week (Amanda is my wife) was a while back, and I thought that she enjoyed it. That saturday I sat down with some Dragon Ball Z and celebrated a good week.
I Would Kill – I laugh every time I see this guy’s glare, so I wanted to do something along the lines of “I Drink Blood…Orange Juice at the Farmer’s Market” meme. I like the unexpected.
Goliath – This was my first meme, and I wanted it to come from scripture. I think I succeeded ;D
Y U Make Me Happy Owl – Amanda was spending time with me which is normally awesome, but this time it was keeping me from reading for a class – so I made this Owl to represent the moment. I love this one.
Wide Eyed Dog – This was in honor of my friend Josh Cooke and his Dog, who constantly obsessively wishes for you to toss his ball/stick/whatever. It will last until you give up. Forever.
Bear Falling From Sky – Amanda sent me an article about a bear being trapped in a tree. The image was pretty interesting, and lent itself to taking it out of context. It looks like a bear is falling from the sky. I love it.
Hope you enjoy. I don’t know why I’ve been so much into humor lately, but I think it is a good sign. And lastly, the “Ron Swanson”!
I don’t know if Christians are aware of a conversation taking place on the internet. The conversation is primarily visual, involves lots of laughter, is challenging and often evokes gut reactions, and is often denigrating to believers of Christ. I did notice, however that these conversations are full of misunderstandings and misconceptions, and if there are no Christians involved in the conversation, and providing a voice of love and compassion in this world, there will be no gains or healing. This conversation is done in the form of MEMES.
Memes are humor based one or two liners that are associated with an image that grabs attention. Our culture is becoming incredibly visual in the internet age. The person who said an image is worth a thousand words is probably understating their importance today. The visual is the message in these cases. They evoke an emotion or a feeling or a familiarity associated with pop culture. The consumer reads the image and wants to learn more, so they read the words – placed in often unattractive yet attention grabbing white fonts.
If you still don’t know what a meme is, check out the lolcat memes at http://icanhascheezburger.com/. That is a generally inoffensive meme place, where people share funny photos of cats saying funny things. There really is no point but entertainment there.
My point comes into play at the philosophical level, where young people, adept at using computers, are using their time to make arguments using memes – and these memes spread on social media sites, or are googled, etc. They go viral, and people nod their heads in laugh, but they’re only seeing one side of the argument. In fact, I’ve found that in their mini-debates, fallacy in argument seems to be the rule. If you build up a “straw man” enemy (the weakest argument by your weakest opponent), and tear it down easily, you win.
I do wonder, if there were more intelligent (yet humorous) Christian memes out there, speaking truth in clever ways, would the dialogue change towards (1) Honest Dialogue (2) More Truth Seeking (3) A Spirit of Charity (4) Less Vulgarity on the interwebs? I wonder. Though I’m not holding my breath, and I have found it hard to sit down myself and think through appropriate yet insightful memes, I have found some interesting ones that talk to the Christian Experience, or communicate old messages in new ways (in the gallery below – feel free to click through). I have found them all through the net and many of them have no attributions, so I apologize for not linking. They have been passed around quite a bit.
In my thoughts I have struggled with the question, “Why don’t Christian’s Laugh?” – as much, especially when it comes to our own failures in faith. I understand that our walks are serious, and as Christians we have a huge amount of responsibility (in which we have often failed), but in all honesty, God made us as humans ‘like’ God, not as gods. We err, and for some reason, laughter is a form of healing which we need, and often breaks the ice for more serious discussion and growth.
It is a hard subject though, because pop images and modern assumptions are not evenly spread in the minds of people. Not everyone gets a reference to emo glasses used in images, or of Indiana Jones or Chuck Norris quotes being used as propellants for a hidden truth. There is the possibility of offense, so I do walk lightly here. The intention of all this is not to offend, but to get people thinking about what is already going on.
I do not recommend just googling “Christian Meme” without you realizing that most memes out there are people who have obviously taken a strong anti-Christian stance and often communicate it in vile and venomous ways. It is a wild west kind of culture, and there are literally no rules right now. That is because it comes out of the “trolling” anonymity of the internet.
But that is why I believe that good, well written and made Christian memes could add a new dimension, and perhaps one day eclipse the ridiculousness of the culture. Speak truth in love, in a way that others will understand, and perhaps you will see God move in the hearts of people. And you may see discipleship start with a few chuckles, as long as we point to the depth of understanding and wisdom that a life devoted truly to Christ can offer.
Here are some that I’ve found. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Sometimes something just hits me the right way. I’ve been reading the “Footprints in the Sand” picture of Jesus carrying us on his shoulders all my life – I’ve also been a big Star Wars fan. I believe that if Jesus came back to live with us here today he might have some fun with this one. Love it: