Wednesday, 25 November 2015

…Not just for Christmas

I don’t like adverts, as you may know. But I don’t like adverts being banned either, which is what’s happened to a cinema ad produced by the Church of England. It’s called “Just Pray” and some big distributors for cinema adverts have decided it’s not suitable.

Some people might take this as a cue for saying Christians are being persecuted in this country: I won’t. It’s not the case, and I’m not that sort of person.

Other than being a Methodist, I’m a pretty typical Anglican: my faith is small but real; my worldview is liberal; I don’t like to talk about it much. I wouldn’t dream of telling anyone else what to believe.

Partly it’s embarrassment. Most people I know wouldn’t get it. They think they’re countercultural; that's not how they see the church. (I’d argue, though, that the best parts of the church are countercultural: these, these and these, for example.)

I have a lot of arty/lefty friends (not to mention, “friends”) and you’re more likely to find among this subculture someone who’s out as gay than someone who’s out as a Christian.  One of my best friends is an atheist: we respect each other’s position. Because of where I used to live, a lot of my “friends” are ex-Catholic, which means they are nearly as anti-religion as Richard Dawkins.

One of them decided to have a rant against religion in a Facebook comment after I’d posted a link to the “Just Pray” video on YouTube. I thought it was a bit unfriendly, rude even. I don’t try to convert people, so I don’t know why he was trying to convert me.

As for the video, it’s by the Church of England, so it’s going to be a bit wishy-washy and nondescript, isn’t it? That’s what I thought while I was watching it, all the way through. Until it got to the end and I found I had a lump in my throat, and couldn’t tell why.

The people that banned the advert say it might offend people. But that's true of any ad: every advert presents its own world view and most, by their nature, are consumerist propaganda. I’ve spent a month trying to avoid TV adverts that tell me Christmas is about snowmen, happy family get-togethers, and eating a lot. It would be nice if, for a change, we were allowed to see something small, subtle, and suggesting there might be more to life than this.

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