Thursday, April 16, 2009

Will God Shoot?

I think this might be one of those ads where something in the presentation is deliberately skewed, scrambled, or disordered -- a psychological trick that forces you to pay closer attention to figure it out:

As given, the ad's audio states an outright non-sequitur: "If you don't matter to god, you don't matter to anyone." How to evaluate this? Does this mean that if you do matter to god, you matter to everyone? To one person? To some unspecified, arbitrary, non-zero number of people? If I check around and find that I do, in fact, matter to someone, does it follow that I matter to the god mentioned in the ad? If I find more and more people for whom I matter, does my mattering-to-god scale up accordingly?

Suppose I am a hermit entirely unknown to other people, but keep a large number of cats, guinea pigs, ferrets, chickens, and, oh, say, a couple of ponies and three chimpanzees. Further stipulate that I matter to all of these creatures in some valid sense of "matter to" or another -- I feed them, shelter them, teach them to interact peacefully, change the chimps' diapers, etc. What follows about my mattering-to-god based upon this ad's verbal presentation?

The ad's video only raises more questions. Is the boy and his unsafe wielding of firearms meant to represent all of humankind, i.e., the non-god candidates for supplying the coveted mattering-to? Perhaps he is all of the known universe except for god, i.e., the gun-crazy indifference of not only humankind but nature too?

Or is the boy meant to represent god? Consider that he seems cut from a recognizably human form, as one would expect of a god that made mankind in his own image; he comes across as threatening and wrathful, ready and able but not yet willing to pull the trigger (shades of "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," no?); he doesn't say anything to clarify his intentions or wishes, but keeps his ways mysterious; he seems to know his way around a revolver, which one would expect of omniscience.

Then again, who gives a shit? Maybe the best "reading" of this ad is simply to observe that stupid, nihilistic people can be expected to make stupid, nihilistic advertisements.

(via Andrew Sullivan)


Larry said...

Is there one more possible interpretation? Are they saying that if I don't start believing in god that they will train children to kill and send one after me? It's extreme, yes, but then again it's being done.

Nice blog.

Anonymous said...

Whoa! According to christian doctrine, everyone matters to god. Everyone.

So, a real christian could never even intimate that I, you, or anyone else does not matter to god. It would be sacreligious. Heresy.

Larry said...

Hmmmm. Twoblueday, I've read a very different bible than you, apparently. The ones I read growing up (NIV, King James and another that I can't remember the name of) are filled with wholesale killing based simply on lack of belief or "wickedness". Cities, nations and even the entire population of the world are said to have been laid waste directly by god and by people at his direction, both before Jesus and predicted afterward. The teachings of Jesus might suggest the doctrine that you express, though even that is debatable, but those teachings are only a VERY thin piece of a big book.