December 05, 2007
Marketing atheism

Looking for a special gift for that devout atheist in your life? It might be harder than you think to find something appropriate. According to Greg Beato, atheists are way behind the entrepreneurial curve.

Look for atheist perfume, and you'll be looking for eternity. Try to find the works of Bertrand Russell packaged like the latest issue of Self or Cosmo, as the publishing company Thomas Nelson does with the Bible. ("Becoming is the complete New Testament in magazine format, but it wouldn't be a culture 'zine if it didn't address men, beauty, fitness and food!") Search for the atheist equivalent to Christian yo-yos and Christian neckties, and you will come up as empty-handed as Mother Teresa passing the plate at Christopher Hitchens' dinner table.

To many freethinkers, the idea of atheist lip balm or atheist jelly beans may be even less appealing than Christian lip balm and Christian jelly beans. One virtue of non-belief is that not every aspect of your life has to be yoked to some clingy deity who feels totally left out if you don't include Him in everything you do. And then there's the logical disconnect: What does candy have to do with atheism? Why not stick with books, arguments, reason?

If today's Christian entrepreneurs thought like that, atheists might not have to be concerned about their own current marginalization. Instead of fretting about "obscene spending bonanzas" or admitting that jelly beans are mentioned in the Bible exactly as often as Homo habilis is, Christian entrepreneurs embrace pop culture. They recognize what the consumer puritans behind efforts like Buy Nothing Day never quite grasp: that the stuff we buy, from lipstick to Star Wars figurines, helps to fashion identities, to build communities, to infuse our lives with purpose and meaning.

Amusing stuff. Check it out.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 05, 2007 to Society and cultcha