TCT: Total(ly?) Christian Television

I’ve always had mixed feeling about what I think of as the “Christian Culture Industry.” You probably know what I’m talking about: Christian rock, Christian books, Christian trinkets.

To the extent that these things can be used by Christians to deepen their experience of God, I’m all for them.

What makes my feelings mixed is the idea of Christianity mediated through commercially produced objects which have less connection to God than they do to somebody’s profit margin.

It’s therefore inevitable that I find Channel 54 (of the TCT network) rather bizarre. As networks go, it can sometimes be painfully low budget–most of the time I flip through the channels, it appears to be coming from the same set. Denominationally speaking, it seems that there are a lot of people coming out of the Holiness tradition. As for the political perspective… well… let’s just say that Pat Robertson appears in their news broadcasts.

A great example of what I find strange about it:
My wife recently allowed our children to watch a “Veggie Tales” video. When it ended, she flipped through the channels, stopping in shock and disbelief at channel 54. “Jim,” she said, “you have to come down here.”

I walked downstairs to find that some guy was singing on the instantly recognizable channel 54 set. What was he singing? Painfully Christianized tv theme songs.

“Baptist! I’m a Baptist!” to the tune of the Flinstones. Also, a song about how all Christians were part of the family of God to the tune of the “Gilligan’s Island” theme song. As I walked upstairs, I could here him singing something (my mind effectively repulsed exactly what) to the tune of the theme to Bonanza.

While I’m all for using the media to attract people to Christianity, I’m not convinced that that’s the likely effect of his efforts.

5 thoughts on “TCT: Total(ly?) Christian Television”

  1. Send that station your decapitation animation. Label Ed as “John” and yourself as “Herod’s Prison Guard” for relevance.

  2. I’d have to have Ed change my Hope College sweatshirt (which is not exactly from that time period) a little to pass as a prison guard. Bearing in mind the low budget nature of most of passes as entertainment on that station, it might just be okay.

    Trouble is, the background of the scene isn’t quite garish enough to pass as one of their sets. I think they may have used the same interior designer as Saddam Hussein.

  3. Don’t you find your 2 statements (in quotes, below), directly following one another, contradictory? By the way, TCT is not a profit organization: no profit margin.

    Your quotes:
    1. “What makes my feelings mixed is the idea of Christianity mediated through commercially produced objects which have less connection to God than they do to somebody’s profit margin.”
    2. “It’s therefore inevitable that I find Channel 54 (of the TCT network) rather bizarre. As networks go, it can sometimes be painfully low budget–most of the time I flip through the channels, it appears to be coming from the same set.”

    How is TCT making “commercially produced objects” connected to profit margins, when they are regulated, as a non-profit, from having profit margins?-which, by the way, defines them as a NON-commercial “product” as well. More like a non-profit service, rather than product (no commercials, so it is not for SALE to any advertisers, either-no one can influence it’s mission with money).

    Which is more offensive to you:
    • the “less connection to God than to somebody’s profit margin”? (even though the profit margin is non-existent, but the messages are definitely God-connected )*
    OR
    • their “painfully low budget” sets?

    *I have watched TCT day & night for months and have NEVER seen the show (or any show like) what you are referring to. I guess this is what happens when you comment on something you simply “flipped” to. I’m wondering if you may have even gotten your channels mixed up, since I watch it regularly and haven’t even seen anything LIKE your example.

    I think if you spent time watching durring the week (adult programming) with a sincere heart. You may have a different perspective.

    I have been greatly encouraged spiritually to tears watching their programming, whereas the church has been extremely hurtful in their close-mindedness. Anything that reaches out to those abandoned and rejected by the church is a GOOD thing.

  4. When I read your comment, I think that the main difference here is simply that you genuinely enjoy what you find on TCT. I’m going to assume that you find it interesting and relevant to your life.

    For the most part, I don’t. Whatever audience TCT is intended to appeal to, it probably isn’t former religion majors/seminarians with a strong interest in modern sociological theory, distributed computer programming, Jazz, and science fiction.

    This is wise of them because they’d have an audience of one. Instead, they go for a larger audience that doesn’t include me.

    Your other points:
    1. My mixed feelings about the commercializaton of Christianity: In writing about my mixed feelings, I was not attempting to argue that TCT exemplified that. I was attempting to point out my long standing discomfort with the Christian culture industry. I don’t assume that I am right to be uncomfortable with it in all cases, but right or wrong, I am.

    Whether TCT intends to be part of it, it is. It’s one of those places the industry uses to market their work. Examples: interviews with various Christian speakers/writers promoting their books/CD’s, Christian music video shows. Also, many shows seem to be promoting works by the person who hosts the show.

    Again, I don’t think it’s wrong for such people to promote their work, but at the same time, I find something distasteful in it.

    I think it comes down to getting two messages out of it. Message one would be that giving your life to Christ is liberating, freeing, and costs you nothing. Message two might be “buy our 10 volume DVD set about the end of time.” The first message is important. The second is much less important, but given a great deal of prominence.

    2. With regards to the possibility that I might have been confused what station the guy singing Christian lyrics to television theme songs was on:

    We don’t get cable. Thus we have only 6 stations: ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, PBS and TCT. It is impossible to confuse them. For what it’s worth though, I wasn’t saying that this was a regular show. I think it was a small part of one of their regular shows. Or possibly part of a pledge drive. I recognized the set even though I couldn’t tell you the show’s name off the top of my head.

    3. My reference to their sets as “painfully low budget.” This was a cheap shot on my part–though I have to admit that their designers and I have different tastes.

  5. I am a Canadian who gets the TCT network from accross lake Erie. Some of the TCT programing is OK (Not what I would like to see). But I am sick of the fundraising methods. Especially the guy who says “go to the phone” 500 times in a broadcast. He twists the scripture and pulls on the emotions of the poor and needy. He even plays on the parents of cancer victims, blind people, and those in very difficult situations. I think that the Church would be better off without this trash.

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