Nike has done it again.
Another great advertisement (and far better than the Tiger Woods one at the time of the Master's last month!)...
But I suffer from a compulsive behaviour disorder. I love reading cultural texts theologicially. When I do so four observations surface.
the indispensable word
Amidst the staccato imagery and the throbbing soundtrack, the power of word shines through. Just ask yourself where the ad would be without these words: "nikefootball.com" and "write the future". Love the images and the music as much as you like but Nike would not spend the money if it could not add these words.
I guarantee that when this 3min full length version is cut down to just 15sec and 30sec versions those two phrases will still be there. There is no advertisement without these words.
the new ecclesiology
Look at the instantaneous way in which a single football game can be watched by people in diverse places all around the world. Look at the interconnected way in which performance on a football field can impact the fortunes of the stockmarket. The globe has shrunk to a village. This means the church in the DR of Congo is worshipping in the hut next door from us and the church in Cambodia is just up the path from us. The decisions we make in local churches in NZ can no longer be the same in this village. The church in the North and West is unalterably shaken. The instantaneous and the interconnectedness means that 'doing church' can no longer be as it was. 1 Corinthians 12 and 1 Peter 2 have new applications. As Brooke Fraser expresses it, "now that I have seen, I am responsible".
the lost eschatology
Our churches do not deal in the certainty of hope enough. Afterall when life is relatively comfortable and luxurious in the present the significance of a hope designed to help us endure the present is lost. It isn't needed in our theology. And so it isn't there in our theology. We become sub-christian. And then along comes an ad that puts us to shame. "Write the future"? It resonates with the eternity planted in every human heart by God (Ecclesiastes 3). It feeds the longing of so many football fans worldwide who would just love to break free from their dis-comfortable and un-luxurious lives defined as they are by oppression and deception. It knows the power of hope - which just happens to be the engine of Christian eschatology. God has written the future already. It is a time when all evil will be punished for forever and all good will be vindicated for forever. I long for that day. I know it is coming. I will live in a way that ushers that coming.
the sad anthropology
The eclipse of the hero by the celebrity is one of the sadnesses of our time. Rooney, Ronaldo, Ribery. They capture peoples' imaginations. They are inspirational and aspirational figures. People want to be like them. People want to have what they have. And yet - again and again - these sorts of celebrities live rotten lives. Really - when all is said and done - what is worthy of emulation? Our understanding of humanity is skewed. The answers to the elemental questions - "who am I?" (identity) and "why am I here?" (destiny) - have radically different answers from what these lives demonstrate. The biography of a dead and godly saint is of far better worth than the lifestyle of a living and vacuuous celebrity. But our culture and even our churches are no longer geared this way. It is sad.