Every time I drive through St. George, Utah, whoever’s in the car with me gets treated to a rant spurred by this billboard. It’s been there for years and it’s hard to miss: it’s almost due east of the St. George Temple, ironically. My problem isn’t with Starbucks or Ralph Lauren specifically–I consider coffee and name brand clothing to be bad things only insofar as God has commanded us to abstain from them–but for anyone to use the name “Zion” to advertise them is a gross affront to that holy word. Imagine a store called “Jesus’s Sporting Goods,” or an ad for a restaurant showing a sacred symbol of any religion as an attempt to promote that restaurant. Anyone should see how wildly inappropriate that would be.
And yet, here we are: the name of Zion being used to hock things that simply aren’t compatible with Zion. Now, I’m sure that whoever runs this mall or made the billboard has the geographical designation of the nature park in mind, and may not even be familiar with the LDS Church; furthermore, they’ve probably heard this complaint from many others before. Still, at least it stands as a reminder to those of us devoted to building Zion of what a careless attitude towards it may lead to: a watered-down mixture of Zion and Babylon, worthless and spiritual in name only.
But the label game reaches its all-time peak of skill and effrontery in the Madison Avenue master stroke of pasting the lovely label of Zion on all the most typical institutions of Babylon: Zion’s Loans, Zion’s Real Estate, Zion’s Used Cars, Zion’s Jewelry, Zion’s Supermart, Zion’s Auto Wrecking, Zion’s Outdoor Advertising, Zion’s Gunshop, Zion’s Land and Mining, Zion’s Development, Zion’s Securities. All that is quintessentially Babylon now masquerades as Zion. –Hugh Nibley, “What Is Zion?”