|Touchdown! Sermon on Super Bowl ads scores|
The Rev. Ken Diehm, pastor of First United Methodist
Church in Grapevine, Texas, discusses the Super Bowl ads during his
sermon. A UMNS photo by John Gordon.
A UMNS Report
By John Gordon*
Feb. 14, 2007 | GRAPEVINE, Texas (UMNS)
A Texas pastor gave members of his congregation an unusual assignment
– watch the Super Bowl and don’t leave the room during the commercials.
“I think the Super Bowl’s a cultural event in our society,” said the
Rev. Ken Diehm, pastor of First United Methodist Church of Grapevine,
near Dallas. “And so, I think it provides the church an opportunity to
comment on what is going on in that culture.”
Diehm believes there are lessons to be learned in the much-hyped ads.
For the past several years, his post-game sermons have focused on the
“One year, I was watching the Super Bowl, and I was watching the
different commercials. It became evident they were telling a story,” he
Those stories are sometimes consistent – and sometimes not – with
what he preaches from the pulpit. On Feb. 11, the Sunday after this
year’s NFL championship game, Diehm showed several of the commercials
and discussed their meaning.
A deeper look
Church members review a car commercial that debuted during the Super Bowl. A UMNS photo by John Gordon.
First was a Sierra Mist ad featuring a man – who has his beard combed over his head – being fired.
“It’s a funny commercial, talking about how we judge one another by our appearance,” he said.
Diehm said most people spend about an hour a day on their physical
appearance. “You put that much time into how you appear, but how much
time are you putting into your soul, and making your faith with God
stronger?” he asked.
Another commercial promoted a Honda sports utility vehicle, with the word “crave” morphing into the SUV model name “CR-V.”
“Commercials and advertisements seek to get us to crave things we’d
never even thought of before,” he said. “We judge people by what they
drive; and somehow we think if someone drives a better car, then they’re
a better person. And I think that’s in conflict with how God calls us
Diehm said more commercials this year dealt with social issues, and applauded one that celebrates Black History Month.
“The Frito-Lay commercial, it’s about … celebrating, I think, the
moment that two black coaches were coaching the Super Bowl,” he said.
“And I’m going to talk for a few minutes about how we struggle to look
past skin color.”
A different viewpoint
While football game analysis kept many television viewers mesmerized
on Super Bowl Sunday, many in Diehm’s 2,300-member church were equally
intrigued by the pastor’s Madison Avenue analysis.
“He had a message about how you judge people based on their car, and I
hadn’t really thought about that until he said it,” said Chris
Thompson, a visitor to the church. “And I definitely think that your
first impression, lots of times in a car or what they dress, you
definitely have an impression right off the bat, which a lot of times is
Jennifer Tidmore was turned off by some ads that celebrated promiscuous behavior.
“Some of the commercials were rather racy this year,” she said. “One
of the ones that I particularly didn’t care for, the message that was
behind it, I was hoping that my sons weren’t watching the same
Dr. Edgar Lancaster, a longtime member of the church, questioned the high cost of the Super Bowl ads.
“I think they were pretty good,” he said. “I don’t think they were
worth two million, two-and-a-half million dollars a 30-second
commercial. But that’s OK; I didn’t have to pay it.”
For 13-year-old William Tohlen, the sermon changed his view of
advertising. “I’ll remember the commercials forever and see, like, the
underlying meaning,” he said. “I’ll look at commercials in a new way.”
Diehm believes the Super Bowl assignment scored a touchdown with church members.
“As they stopped and watched those commercials, in that moment they
were thinking about their faith,” he said. “And I think that’s a good
Gordon is a freelance producer based in Marshall, Texas.
News media contact: Fran Walsh, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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