In my faith tradition—evangelical Christianity—I’m struck by an absence of preaching, teaching, and talking about these kinds of Biblical ideas. Perhaps it is because materialism has become a respectable sin or maybe it is because we need the wealthy to bankroll our massive ministry budgets and mammoth church building projects.Evangelical silence regarding materialism and its associated values, he concludes are a sign of how much all of our churches have Americanized the Christian gospel.
Merritt is surely correct in his analysis, but my point here is merely to illustrate a crucial approach to theological reflection in the 21st century. His subject is a commercial, which is a key form of contemporary communication—a form loaded with values of all kinds packed into neat flavorful, colorful sound and image bites. His approach is to expose the assumed values of our society to the light of biblical narratives, while his medium is a blog. Merritt mixes, that is, the ancient and honorable Christian task of exposing culture to the judgment of scripture with a form of communication that did not even exist a few short years ago. We, of course, still need the more traditional kind of theological reflection that leads to books and retreats, but even those enterprises need to be and inevitably will be informed by e-theological reflection.