Silly Bandz - Stretching the Relevance of Spirituality ~ Praxis Habitus - On Race Religion & Culture

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Silly Bandz - Stretching the Relevance of Spirituality

Thanks to an ongoing invitation from Jason Byasee at the Duke Divinity Call & Response Blog, I just posted a fun article on a recent experience visiting a church here in North Carolina. As my friend John Schmalzbauer commented on my facebook page, "Another interesting episode in the story of Christianity and material culture!"

Anyone who is a parent or works around kids has seen children go crazy over Silly Bandz, a broad array of colorful rubber bands shaped like cars, animals, and superheroes, and worn in big bunches on forearms. I was introduced to these back in April when my kids begged me to drive them over to the local drug store in search of a new shipment. It's not just the little ones who are into it. From toddlers to teens, the kids collect and trade Silly Bandz to express their identity and proudly flash a new form of status in the latest hierarchy of "cool."

So, when I visited a church recently I recognized the rubbery trinkets being passed out by greeters at the door. Actually, my kids saw them before I did - "Dad! Dad! They're giving out Silly Bandz!" Smiling volunteers enthusiastically gave away armloads of these pretty toys to excited kids as they came into the service that day.

As you might guess, the ambiance of this church is casual, the worship music is loud, and the "preaching" conversational. The pastor proudly showed off his own Silly Bandz at the beginning of the service before moving on.

But it was after the service when I saw these trinkets work their magic as kids, parents, other church members, and church staff were animatedly talking about their Silly Bandz, trading amongst each other, and telling stories connecting the shape of these bands to the shape of their lives. Strangers made friends, and adults found constructive ways to talk with children. A band shaped like an electric guitar prompted a person to talk about their love of music. Another shaped as an outline of the continental United States got people talking about their summer travels. And ones shaped like a cross were proudly traded around tables in the foyer amidst conversation about Jesus.

You can jump to the rest of the article here & comment at the Duke Divinity Blog hosted by Leadership Education at Duke University.

No comments: