A year ago, I thought Relevant had the potential to be a noteworthy publication. I hoped it would someday become our country's primary source for relevant discussions about faith and culture in our post-modern society. And why shouldn't it be? Q-Tip and Mickey Rourke on the double cover don't necessarily scream "christian hipster." On the surface, Relevant Magazine looks like it might be above the Christian industry. But I came to work for them as an idealist. I left bitter, and educated.
I should have known better. First of all, Relevant's headquarters are in Orlando, Florida. A culture magazine cannot thrive in a place like Orlando. But Relevant doesn't care about culture. It cares about the next cool trend (and yeah, social justice is their latest "trend". If you can even imagine such a despicable thought.), and it wants to prove that christians can be trendy too. The inherent problem is that it's all a sham. Orlando is not trendy. Nothing that comes out of Orlando is trendy. Relevant is not trendy. It's just shallow mimicry.
Relevant wants to appease an audience. There are a few people that pay for the magazine, and these people are dorky christian-college graduates living in the suburbs. Along with incompetent high schoolers and middle aged crises trying to "stay in touch with what's hip nowadays," Relevant's audience isn't interested in discussion. It wants to just feel in touch with the times. Herein lies Relevant's failure. Relevant is not in touch with the culture, so it has nothing to offer its audience. Nothing real, anyway. Nothing original or of substance.
But Relevant's biggest problem is their leader. Cameron Strang is a megalomaniac without a map. He wants great things, but doesn't really know what they are. He fires employees without remorse, even if they've done nothing wrong. Even if they only do things that strengthen the company. He has issues, and as long as he's at the helm, Relevant will be a joke.
Look at where he came from though. He went to Oral Roberts University, the same college Ned Flanders graduated from. His dad owns the largest charismatic christian magazine in the country, and is rich. He grew up in Orlando. These are not the ingredients for a respectable, influential publication.
Cameron got into trouble early on. He decided to treat the Relevant readership like they were his close friends. He hosted Relevant's podcast, and shared all sorts of personal stories with the listeners. He never drew the line between work life and real life. The two blended into each other, and came back to bite him. So when a personal problem comes along, the only thing he can do is take a sabbatical and leave his audience wondering, "what happened? Where did Cameron go? What's happening with his life, he always kept us up to date before."
Relevant Magazine was misnamed. It should have been called Cameron Strang Magazine. Even if there were articles written by other freelancers, Cameron had to put his seal of approval on every sentence. Even after copy editors and section editors got through with an article, Cameron still had the power to have his way. Why did he hire editors then? I'm still trying to figure that one out...
So he is a poor manager. That happens. Unfortunately, Relevant is actually a very small company. So when your boss doesn't really care about his small staff, well, it's just difficult (to say the least).
Here's what Relevant is good for: suburban youth pastors with goatees. It's just another "christian" magazine. If you look at their ads, it's nothing but seminaries and christian music festivals. The only people who want it to exist are those who believe that christianity can be hip. It's a shameful magazine, run by a shameful man. I hope it continues though. I hope the recession doesn't kill it, because this world needs mediocre writing and hypocritical religion on the newsstands. Relevant fills a niche. Without Relevant, the youth pastors have no idea how to keep in touch with the culture. If the youth pastors can't be relevant, how will they be able to prove that christianity can be cool?
Yeah, I'm bitter. But you would be too if you experienced what I did this past year.
I was talking to a couple of the kids in Anathallo, telling them about the travesty that has been Dylan Peterson and Relevant. At first, they were upset. But then they expressed happiness. They were glad that I had been relieved, because they never liked the magazine anyway. This is because Anathallo lives in a real city. They engage in real culture. They despise insincerity. So of course they don't like Relevant, it's the epitome of everything an honest, truth-seeking individual despises.
I could go on. But I'm just pissed that Chad got fired. I'm so sorry Chad. I hope you know how much better you are than Cameron Strang Magazine.