God’s Worst Marketing Scheme: Junior Garcia walks to DC with Cross On Back
Maybe you’ve seen the news clip about 19 year old Junior Garcia walking to D.C. with a big cross on his back. As someone who once did big things to prove my faith in Jesus, I can totally understand where the kid is coming from; but there’s a number of big problems with this story, starting with:
1) Who Benefits?
Junior is inspired by God (so he says.) But what does God hope to prove by this blatant media-grab? If he has the power to influence and inspire people to do good things, why not inspire world leaders to stop nuclear weapons trading, or fix health care / economic issues, or start recycling. Something big, something major. Of all the important people in the world, why does God focus on a few random unknowns who do things that have no measurable impact (apart from a brief 15minutes of novelty fame?)
Garcia is walking for the “Speed the Light” campaign, which (I believe) has pledged $35,000 for a vehicle for missionaries in Mexico. So he’s not really doing it for free or to test his faith or his relationship with Jesus. He’s also doing it for $$$ (which is very practical). But $35,000 for a vehicle in Mexico? Doesn’t that seem a bit steep – even for a nice good big van? (Maybe it’s for a huge truck or something). Who benefits?
Aha – why the Catholic Mexicans, of course. God doesn’t like Catholics. Even though he sent Jesus to perform miracles and inspire the writing of the Bible, he had to wait until the Luther and Calvinist revolutions and the pioneering spirit of American theology to produce the present-day faith of contemporary American Christianity, which then crystalized into the Assemblies of God churches, and the “Oasis” church in particular.
They believe, according to their website (what-we-believe) in things like the 2nd coming, the rapture, Speaking in Tongues and Divine Healing.
It’s easier to believe the Catholic Church, who spends billions of dollars on their image and has overwhelmingly beautiful and decorous palaces, actually represents God on Earth than it is to believe that God’s Best Marketing Idea was to contact Junior Garcia and tell him to carry a cross to buy a bus for Christian Missionaries in Mexico. Obviously God doesn’t care much about things like web design (Jesus spoke to people in the language of their times, and confirmed his message with miracles… if God is still speaking, shouldn’t we demand that he at least hire some decent graphic designers and coders so that his marketing looks good? Or maybe sub-par, homemade websites are naturally part of his Anti-consumer culture image?)
2) God helps those who help themselves
Even though they believe in an almighty and powerful God who intervenes in history, “A support team will follow him on foot and on a cart and bus. They’ll help shield him from traffic, especially on busy highways.” He also, presumably, rests, eats, drinks water and things like that (he didn’t just go do it alone, eating manna in the desert as it were, but spent a year fundraising and planning). If Garcia really believed in God, or if God was really a part of Garcia’s plan, why would he need a support team? Why couldn’t he just go and be protected?
As of the moment, Junior’s gone about 20 miles out of the 1,369 miles to get to Washington DC. He already has blisters. (Why couldn’t God stop his feet from sweating? Why, God, Why?!) Personally, I don’t think he’s going to make it.
If he doesn’t make it, we’ll have to ask, is he a failure, or is God? Did God set him up to fail, to teach him a powerful lesson? Or does God just not give a shit?
If he does make it, how will the world be a better place (apart from more Evangelical Christians in Mexico)?
My message to Junior Garcia
I’m not critical of Garcia, at all. He’s one of those sensitive, passionate people determined to go further than everyone else. He would have stood out and excelled himself in any field. Any Christian is morally obligated to do what Garcia is doing (the fact that more of them aren’t makes them all hypocrites. Jesus said follow me, leave your family, leave your possessions. The early church was entirely, forcibly communistic. Private property was a sin punishable by death.)
So Garcia is morally superior to the majority of Christians. If he ever leaves Christianity behind, I’m sure he’ll use the same dedication and passion to excel at something else, hopefully something more worthwhile. If he sticks with Christianity, hopefully he’ll be one of the few Christians actually leading the life of service and charity that Christians believe in, but never practice (apart from an annual outreach trip which is really just a glorified summer camp in a foreign country).
In any case, I disbelieve in a God who thinks all of this is a good idea. (Carrying a piece of wood to make some vague religious point, to raise enough capital to buy a vehicle, when Hollywood Stars like Angelina Jolie make hundreds of millions of dollars off sex appeal and bad-assness and leverage it to make significant, multi-million dollars of positive change to the people who really need it.) The greatest need on earth is converting Mexican Catholics to Evangelicals?? Really?? I don’t accept the God who thinks so.
Derek Murphy is a writer and artist from Oregon, currently working on his PhD thesis on revolutionary literature while traveling the globe. He writes about comparative religion, popular culture and literary theory. If you’d like to hear about his upcoming projects or books, you can follow him on Twitter, join the Facebook page, or subscribe by RSS.