Forget all that morbid Jesus stuff - try New Christianity

The Churches have re-packaged their product for Easter, but lost the point

Share
Related Topics
THE MENTALITY that gave us New Labour is now zooming in on an innovative product - "New Christianity". CAN - the Churches' Advertising Network - has launched an Easter Campaign. CAN is a "joint project for the decade of evangelism" (joint means lots of denominations). It has gone out and done some market research which has revealed that the words Jesus, God, cross, death, sacrifice, repentance and even resurrection don't deliver a feel-good factor. (Church, perhaps surprisingly, is an OK word, suggesting community and vague "traditional values", while Jesus is a downer implying judgement and criticism.) So CAN avoids all those old-fashioned negative concepts and recommends some nice non-specific cuddly terms instead - comfort, happiness, love and singing.

But this is advertising - the words provide only an atmosphere. What is needed is a strong visual image, and since crosses and tombs are right out, what can we possible use? What about the death of the Princess of Wales? Great idea. Yes, the central image for Easter 98 is one of the piles of flowers and teddy bears: a religious shrine of contemporary relevance.

You may expect to see splashed across the billboards, bus shelters, churches and houses of this land over the next 40 days large posters with a picture of the heaped bouquets and fluffy toys of sacred memory running along the bottom and a plain test above reading "If all this started you thinking, carry on at Church this Easter." ("Carry on", we assume, has warmly humorous and British connotations.)

CAN has also put out leaflets explaining the campaign's rationale. They emphasise that "in recent times we've witnessed the hunger of people from all backgrounds as they're faced with life's big issues - not least death. It is a shared communal experience." Christians, you'll be relieved to hear, "believe it's OK to be human". "This campaign," we are told, "is not designed for `committed' Christians. They're (sic) designed to awaken interest in those who are outside the church." (Grammar, incidentally, is not a priority in CAN's output.) As it happens I agree that too often Christian conversion material uses language that has meaning only for the already-converted, and that the need to be comprehensible is a good one. The trouble with this campaign, apart from its intrinsic bad taste, is that it is completely incomprehensible.

The whole point about Easter, from a Christian point of view, is that Jesus's death on the cross is caused by and is the cure for sin: no Jesus, no death, no cross, no sin = NO EASTER. No matter how you play it Easter cannot be about hope, joy, peace happiness and singing if it isn't first about repentance, discomfort, hard choices, and sacrifice. No amount of promulgating St Diana, and the new morality of "feeling" can change this slightly inconvenient fact.

The campaign leaflet ends up proclaiming that "the Easter experience can actually be part of a 20th century lifestyle". A lifestyle of cheap comforts built on half-truths, euphemisms, easy options and nursery pap. Is that what we really want? New Labour obviously thinks so, and here the churches are showing a horrid willingness to go along with it.

How about a different Lenten slogan: Spin doctoring makes you giddy. Try intellectual rigour.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£28000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer and Markets Development Executive

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company's mission is to ma...

Recruitment Genius: Guest Services Assistant

£13832 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This 5 star leisure destination on the w...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Account Manager is requ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Seven per cent of young men have recently stopped using deodorant  

‘Sweaty-gate’ leaves a bad smell for PRs and journalists

Danny Rogers
Alison Parker and Adam Ward: best remembered before tragedy  

The only way is ethics: Graphic portraits of TV killings would upset many, not just our readers in the US

Will Gore
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory