Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Conflict(ed): Where Would Jesus Shop?

Have you seen the new product (red) campaign? Launched by Bono, the idea is for major companies to donate a portion of their sales of certain items for AIDS relief in Africa. A couple of nights ago, Gary and I were walking through the local mall and saw that the GAP had filled its windows with various red shirts included in the campaign.

I have to admit, I’m not sure what to make of it all. On the one hand, I appreciate that the AIDS crisis is being recognized so publicly, and that people are being encouraged to put their money where it can make a difference. I sincerely hope that this campaign will help hurting people. Plus, the shirts were pretty cool.

However, the commerciality of all this that leaves such a bad taste in my mouth… if we make supporting AIDS fashionable, what happens when the trends change? Does the fact that the new GAP shirts are (red), released just in time for Valentine’s day, mean that the campaign is timely, or exploitative?

My reading in Bonhoeffer this morning only served to stir the proverbial pot. “Take heed that ye do not your righteousness before men, to be seen of them: else ye have no reward with your Father which is in heaven.” Jesus says in Matt. 6:1. But then Jesus also says, “Let your light shine before men” in Matt. 5:16. Soooo… which category applies to shopping preferences???

I’m inclined to think that God would care most about our motives. If I wear a (red) shirt just to show the world what a great activist I am, look out! No heavenly reward for me! But if I do buy a GAP shirt with the intent to help fight AIDS in Africa, and encourage and remind others to get involved as well, that’s good, right? Right? Right?

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