Institution, I Love You

A song to create the mood for the my post below…

I’ve just been going through my big pile of mail that I’ve been unable to get to all week. So far, I’ve opened a number of letters from institutions who claim to have a ‘relationship’ with me, or who say other amusing things in their letters.

These have included:

  • One letter from an insurance company saying that they’ve decreased our life insurance premiums, but we will still see an annual increase – but much less than it would have been had they not decreased their rates! Hmm, I’m not sure why they bothered to send that letter, and wonder how bad the increase would be that they had to warn me how much worse it could have been in advance;
  • One letter (email) from my mobile phone provider, saying they look forward to our ‘long and happy relationship’;
  • One letter from a Christian charitable organisation asking me for to contribute $$$ to their fund, while quoting my name ‘Mr & Mrs RavingPente’ at strategic intervals throughout the letter to make it more personal, repeating the sum numerous times in case I forget, interspersing their plea with tragic stories to tug at my heart, and claiming that I am their ‘dear friend’ multiple times.

    Why is it that I am irked by these approaches – though I did laugh at the first two, the second one because it had a funny joke in it. I found myself wishing that the third one had some humour in it somewhere too.

    I don’t mind giving money to things, in fact I think its important to be generous, but I don’t like being marketed to in a way that claims some kind of meaningful relationship yet is clearly just a case of using a database to fill the gaps. There’s something jarring about reading a letter that is designed to appeal to the emotions, yet to be made so aware that a machine is inserting your name, since they obviously don’t know your first name, despite claiming to be dear friends. I wish they’d just give up the attempt to emotionally connect, and be straightforward about what they are doing, in a non-manipulative fashion, rather than treating the reader like some kind of ignoramous who actually believes the name at the head of the organisation (whose electronic signature ends the letters) knows that they exist.

    For some reason, this reminded me of church building funds, church mother’s day gifts and all kinds of things that work to create or exploit the illusion of personal relationship to an institution.

    Now I’ve had my rant! Can anyone else identify with this? Am I just wierd to find it inauthentic and to wish it didn’t happen in a so-called Christian context? There must be ways to raise money that are more real!


    (Click here for Lyrics to the above song, for anyone interested.)

  • 5 thoughts on “Institution, I Love You

    1. “Why is it that I am irked by these approaches”

      “Now I’ve had my rant! Can anyone else identify with this”

      No. I am someone who use to make this material. Their is no such thing as art anymore. (Generalizing here).

      Today’s art is made for two main reasons today – to be sold and to make a name for someone. This is also the way it works in the music industry. At their very core – tools, techniques and designs in each of these forms of art are their to manipulate us into buying the artistic product or product. From Lady Gaga to the magazine to the Garnier Fructis product on the shelf.

      It is an horrific system we have created. Everything is birthed in a way to manipulate people to get their money so someone is famous or to make loads of cash.

      Many churches and organizations are aware of these techniques in the world and unfortunately use them to get what they from the world in the same way. They justify these manipulative tactics as ‘winning the people to the kingdom’. They don’t see it as manipulation. We have been targeted so much – as a result – we are starting to lose touch with reality.

      This seems to be one of many reasons why kids as early as thirteen are starting to battle with depression. The teenage market is heavily targeted by media and companies to the point that young adults are convinced that they are living in two realities – one where perfection is obtainable and close to touch, the other is rejection, pain and condemnation that they will never be good enough.

      This two realities are the same with the church environment. We offer to realities – aim high – follow your heart/desires/dreams. You can and will.

      In comparison – let these things die and pick up your cross, don’t settle for the world.

      This bombardment of advertising is only giving the viewer too many teachers to follow and overwhelming them with too many tiresome, depersonalized views that they don’t wish to deal with it and – treat them as garbage.

      We have been so heavily weared down by advertising that we allow it to affect us in a negative way where we consider it trash – it’s manipulation still getting to us.

    2. RP: How does MR RavingPente feel like being branded with your moniker?

      S&P: “In comparison – let these things die and pick up your cross, don’t settle for the world”

      Very sober thought – this is where its at.

    3. Although I think RP’s comments about seasons on another thread have a bearing here too.

      Not in relation to advertising though…

      As you pointed out the real issue is where a person thinks there ‘life’ is, and then what do we do about living it to the fullest we can.

    4. Another thing that marketing tries to do is keep up with language.

      One reason why the Compassion campaign irked RP is because that form of language, (emotional tripping), WAS overused. The current language for marketing is controversy. This is marketing people respond too. If your product or company is too respectful to speak in controversial ways, then their is the dated sexual language (sex sells approach), or the smarty-pants language.

      That smarty-pants language is marketing that shows that they continually think outside the box to impress audience,s demonstrating how cutting edge they are. This and the controversial language are the most influential at the moment.

      As an example to show how the church adopted this form of marketing – this is when Bentley, John Crowder, Brandon Barthrop and shooting cows became all the rage in America. These controversial ministries became internationally well-known because of there open controversial events that they broadcast worldwide.

      Now the emphasis on thes ministries focus on divine revelation more than ever, they are proving to the rest of Christendom that they are leading the way through their ground-breaking revelations from God. Once again – clever marketing to show that their church is with the times.

      This form of advertising in the secular and church world will start to grow tiring until the marketing world speaks in a new way to entice and inspire audiences. I am guessing – that clever story-telling will return to the forefront of advertising. And likewise we will see this entertaining language return to advertise the current churches more than ever before.

      Stories hook, stories relate, stories have a point and reason for being said. Emotive advertising is too overdone and no one likes being played with anymore. But people are wanting good stories these days since movies aren’t providing this kind of outlet today (which is why they are making so many movies from books).

      When the controversial, conceptual and emotive language of advertising is overdone, people will be enjoying a different form of marketable language.

    5. Haven’t had time to read the blog this week, but re MN’s comment above –

      “RP: How does MR RavingPente feel like being branded with your moniker?”

      He probably thinks its appropriate in the context of the article I wrote – if I said ‘Heretic’, not everyone reading would know who I was talking about. In real life, I took his surname since I have no issue with that… in case anyone wonders about it. Ironically, because I took his surname, due to the nature of it, I am often asked about it and even labelled by occasional people because of it, whereas my own maiden name was very ordinary.

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