Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Relevant Magazine is Bad


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.

9 comments:

Robert said...

I think your argument would be better served if you were to give us the story about your experiences at Relevant and your untimely dismissal.

dylanclub said...

You're right. Maybe I will get into detail another time. This was a heated rant, not an argument. Sometimes Relevant makes me so mad that I can't think straight. Once I'm able to look back with 100% clarity, I'll share the story

Samuel Adler said...

Hope some "time" has has passed. Love to hear more of some details and stories that back up your heated rant if possible.

At first I was very welcoming of the magazine. Then I got the idea that it was a Christian Hipster magazine. That turned me off. Then the constant articles on marriage and dating drove me crazy. All this made me conclude that they were just pandering to the typical Christian singles out there.

The constant changing of editors also raised a few red flags on what was happening down there. Speaking of down there, doen't the magazine know that the publishing, advertising, and broadcast world lives in NYC? Orlando isn't even a top ten market. To expensive? Ok, they could move to a much larger cultural market like Atlanta. Still in the Bible Belt, affordable living, media heavy, and good talent pool. Location! Location! Location!

Anyway! Like to get the 411 now that some time has passed. Thank!

Samuel Adler said...

P.S. - Here is a link to a recent interview of Cameron Strang. He talks about some of his faults and big idea tunnel vision.

http://awakengeneration.wordpress.com/2011/02/06/cameron-strang-founder-relevant-magazine-gives-rare-inside-look-to-how-he-started-and-what-it-takes-to-run-a-magazine-in-great-interview/

the simple christian said...

Watched the interview and I don't understand your point. He admits that it went better without him and gives full credit to the people around him. Where's the problem? Not everyone has to like a magazine, but sheesh why attack them?

Unknown said...

As a person who after just 3 days cancelled my sub at relevant. I will say what was a clear signal that this was not a Christian rag at all was the incredible amount in layers of compromise with the world they are advocating. You can party , go clubbing , drink carry on like the world and still be of God, simply untrue, what the world really seeks from Christians is a person who offers something different than Johnny 6 at the club who offers a good time at the cost of emotional currency.
Be ye separate from the world, come out from the world, my people are a peculiar people. Everything about the description of Christians in the Bible never describes them as trendy, it does state we are to be Modest in dress and demeanor, relevant magazine could not exist on itas own merits with competition from gq or in style or any other secular giant, so they tried top marry themselves to the Christian label and herein lies the issue I have. Deception, Satan uses it well, just a hint of truth he offered Eve and thus we have the fall, so Relevant in my opinion does not better than Lucifer, they offer a hint of faith but its wrapped in a worldly hedonistic ideology born from narcissism.

Tyler Kent said...

I love necromancy, so I am resurrecting this post. First, I think you misunderstand the goal of Relevant. It is not to BE trendy, but to understand trends and culture and view it in light of living a Christian life. Of course they are out there looking for the next trend because understanding trends means understanding a part of culture and being able to discuss that in the context of faith. I won't stand up for Cameron Strang as a person as I don't know him personally, but the magazine is doing exactly what it set out to do. With that said, your rant has no actual content and should be updated or removed as it is only serving as an example of a Christian being more focused on personal angst than anything else.

As for the comment above me, how could you possibly be more judgemental and self-righteous? There is nothing in the Bible that points to partying and drinking as being inherently un-Christian. Can it lead to sin? Sure. Is it, in and of itself, sinful? Absolutely not. Parties and drinking are a continual part of celebration throughout the new and old testament and there is no reason to demonize it. Your interpretation of how to apply to teachings of Christ may be what you are called to, but do not be so presumptuous as to state that YOU have all the answers and know THIS is what the life of Christians should be. People are not looking for Christians to be disaffected from our culture. Christians must live within it, yet all the while view it through the lens of faith and Christ and live within the world while following Christ as best as they can. To remove yourself from the world and culture is to remove your influence as a Christian. Christ did not intend for us to sit by and worship God and wait for death. Christ wants us to go out and be a positive force in our world and show people the light that is faith in our Lord and Savior and the mercy and grace of God.

James Hartline said...

I am quite confused as to why you were working at Relevant at all - or at least what was your real motivation. Under most circumstances, I would have written an article eerily similar to your's - but, I suspect for completely different reasons. In fact, I thought your commentary about Strang was strongly on the mark. It is refreshing to find someone - in this age of megachurch corruption and backroom deal making between demonic Trump and the likes of seriously and sinfully compromised Jerry Falwell Jr. - who, like myself, is willing to call out AND confront the despicable betrayals of the Gospel by America's corporate church equivalents of Bernie Madoff. (please note photos of Falwell Jr. and his wife smirking jovially with Trump under a photo on the wall of Trump on the cover of Playboy's porn magazine in Trump's office, as well as Liberty University's massive $500 Million construction expansion at the same time Falwell began his shady involvement with Trump's presidential campaign). Jerry Falwell Sr. also was involved in horrific, shady backroom deals with the likes or cult leader Rev. Sun Myung Moon (leader of the Moonies). Falwell senior raked in tens of millions of dollars from corrupt people tied to Moon even as Moon declared himself god. Moon was the godfather of the modern day endless criminal corruption scandals that have destroyed every Korean president for the past 40 years including the latest one who was just forced out of office and is facing prison. Via Falwell senior's corrupt backroom deals with Moon that enriched Falwell and the Falwell family and paid off the massive debt at Liberty University due to mismanagement by the Falwells, Moon was able to infiltrate the Republican Party and purchase The Washington Times. These were the factors that created the path by which Falwell Jr and Trump made their gutless, sinister backroom deals to heist the GOP nomination in exchange for the massive expansion of Liberty University and the utterly depraved corruption of the Southern Baptist Convention and its inexpiicable embracement of Trump's presidential candidacy.

HOWEVER, I see in your biography you use explicit profanity - you list your occupation as "bullsh*tter" and most of your movie and book interests are anti-christian, unbiblical, secular and depraved titles. If that is your thing, that is your thing, but why would you even set up shop in a Christian publication in the first place if you aren't a Bible-focused Christian. Irrespective of the generation one finds oneself in, God does not change to accomodate the whims of that passing generation. God isn't interested in people being relevant. God is interested in people obeying Him and the Bible. Why would you be angry at the mindset of the publisher or editor of a Christian publication or how he treated you if your self-described occupation is "bullsh*tter"? Why would you be interested in working for anything Christian if your interests are akin to the perverse, anti-christian, pro-abortion movies and books you list as favorites in your profile?

I, on the other hand, would confront the wickedness of Cameron Strang because I am a faithful Christian who risks my life everyday for the cause of Christ and I cannot tolerate false shepherds like Cameron Strang who enrich themselves by trampling all over the Bible as well as the flock entrusted to them to get to their gated community and fheir high priced residential palaces.

Tyler Kent said...

James,

Your attitude of self-righteous, judgmental, holier-than-thou is astonishing. Your blog and just about everything you have been involved in is micrometers from hate speech and seems founded in fear. Who cares if this blogger uses profanity? If he isn't taking the name of the Lord in vain, at worst he is being impolite. If he enjoys secular films, would Christ have turned his back on him? Judged him wanting? I doubt it. None of these things you mention are inherently evil, yet you treat them as such.

Perhaps you, like many extreme right-wing figures, need to review what the gospel teaches us. Christ loved everybody and treated them all with respect. He never spoke out against the rights of anybody, whether what they were doing was right or wrong. He tells us that winning people to God is about love, not hate and fear.

There is only one that has the authority to pass judgment on our actions, and you are certainly not he. I would encourage you to think about what your motivations are when you are writing your next blog post, or responding to something online. Is it about lifting yourself up as an example? Is it about your hate, fear, distrust, or dislike of somebody else? Is it about helping somebody understand why their actions aren't in keeping with the teachings of Christ as you understand them? Is it to point to Christ as the example of how we should live our lives?

Only one of those answers is the correct one. The Bible is the most comprehensive, encompassing, and uplifting self-help book ever written. It wasn't written for you, for me, or for anybody specific. It was written for everybody in all of their sin and faults and failures. It exists to show us the way, so that we can better try and continue to fail to be like Christ and grow closer with the creator of the universe. It is not for us to judge what it speaks to others and it is not for us to force or brow-beat or legislate the masses into complying with its teachings. Every one of us falls short of the mark every day. And there is no matter of degrees; you are either Christ-like, or you are sinner. All sin, great or small, is ugly to God. Yet, in his infinite mercy, he can forgive all of it. From the child who steals a candy bar, to the man who cries out in torment and denounces him only to return begging for his grace.

Love is the most powerful and beautiful gift that Christ gave to the world. His love is for all. Christ would have walked with gays, sinful billionaires, atheists, and the righteous alike. Praise him and his undying and enduring love for us. Not a one of us is worthy, and yet we receive it anyway. Use Christ's most powerful tool; the human race is in desperately short supply of truly Christian love.