Charity is vital; so, however, is being mindful of God’s commandments.
Just a couple of thoughts about Christian kitsch, which is well-described and discussed at Rod Dreher’s Crunchy Con.. We’re talking major kitsch here; glow-in-the-dark statues of the Virgin Mary; wax limbs for throwing in a fire to encourage healing.
It’s all very vulgar, and pagan. Dreher advocates charity, and a sense of humor. Here’s his conclusion:
But for Christians, it’s worth remembering that we worship a Saviour who scandalized those who set standards of appropriateness in his culture by acting on what was in his heart, and in the hearts of those he met. On the other hand, by throwing the moneychangers out of the Temple, he recognized that there are some things that must be kept sacred. It’s a hard balance to strike, but in general, I’ve learned that it’s wiser to be generous toward popular piety. Chances are the way you worship strikes somebody as lifeless and stiff, and somebody else as irredeemably vulgar. (emphasis added)
I’d love to be “generous toward popular piety” except for this thought: It seems to me that charity is not well-served by ignoring two of the biggies: “You shall not make for yourself a carved image…” (Ex 20:4) and “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain…” (Ex 20:7).
Christian kitsch doesn’t just offend our allegedly superior taste. If that’s all it did, we could laugh it off. It very much seems to include offenses against God. Which is hardly a laughing matter.