Saturday, December 19, 2009

Missing the point

A local progressive Anglican church here in Auckland posts a billboard each Christmas to provoke debate about modern Christianity.

This years billboard, as below, was designed to make the point that many Christians and church leaders do not believe in the literal virgin birth, and didn't believe that was the true meaning of Christmas. They’re critiquing the outmoded idea of a male god impregnating Mary and the literalism of the virgin birth.Since the billboard went up a few days back, the more traditionalist god squad around the city have repeatedly painted over it and now an ‘elderly lady’ has apparently been so incensed that she’s slashed it with a carving knife. Archdeacon Cardy of ‘St Matthews in the City’ has now accepted defeat and has removed the billboard as he was worried someone was going to get hurt.

It’s distressing that increasingly some things can’t be openly debated with clear heads.


  1. But on the Interwebz it will live on forever!
    I thought it was marvelously creative.

  2. I don’t think that rational, cool debate is possible where religious fundamentalist ideas are concerned.

    This may seem an odd thing for an atheist to say, but I’m with the traditionalists here. It is surely a sign of doubt in one’s faith if cultural changes make you water down the writings that are the basis of your religion – writings that were clearly believed to be literally true for several millennia. If you believe, you should believe unconditionally, or it eventually becomes meaningless.

  3. Of course my coffee group had a field day with this one. Someone (I'm not saying who) suggested he needed some ribbed condoms for her pleasure.
    I know we have no respect and are going straight to hell.

  4. I get what you're saying Simon but I'm not sure that I agree. I think there's a place for evolving interpretation - the old testament was interpreted in the past as a literal record but we'll never actually know whether it was intended that way. I do agree though that cool and rational discussion about such things is an endangered idea.

    Lol Lori, if we can't joke then we're doomed

  5. So many "sheeple" (people who follow blindly like sheep) miss the point of religion - whether Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, or any other. To me, the point of religion is to grant others the option to be who they are when they are at their best, and in accord with humanity. ...Don't understand how passion can be so misdirected. Everyone needs their own myths, as Joseph Campbell said. But we are all different. I would think we survive best when we acknowledge and celebrate our differences as well as our similarities.
    ...Liked your response to Simon, Lou. And I understand Simon's opinion too.

  6. I am a Christian, live in NZ, to be honest, the billboard doesn't bother me. I have found through the years that often, the ones who protest the loudest are the ones whose faith isn't perhaps as strong as they would like.
    As for me, I know what I believe, this billboard hasn't caused me to question my faith at all. I am secure enough in my faith that it doesn't bother me when/if people refer to it as myths. That is the freedom of choice we have all been given.

  7. Thanks for your comment Lorri and I agree. I was raised RC and had a great conversation last night with my fairly devout parents - the billboard did exactly what it was designed to do which is provoke debate. Even mum and dad chuckled when they saw it the first time.

  8. I agree the billboard was a great jumping off point for debate, but for some of those most "devout" there is not, nor will there ever be, room for debate. Their will interpret the Bible as best it suits them, conveniently skipping the parts they choose not to follow. It's a form of religious buffet-ism and, in fact, it isn't very religious at all.
    Personally, the billboard was just a billboard.

    Sidenote: love the tree up top Lou! Gorgeous! Merry Cristmas to you and Rory as well.

  9. i think most women will have empathy with mary's disappointment and more than one or two of us have been in the presence of a bloke who thought he was god in bed...

  10. Fascinating story, many similar event happen here in the states around this time of year. I loved this billboard Lou, thanks for posting it. Fun, creative,and thoughtful. Debate and conservatives don't seem to mix well; I wish that wasn't true.

  11. Wow. I would've found another billboard that was 30 feet up. You won't get many little old ladies climbing up there.


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