From Winterval to Easterval and every interval in between, Christians need to stop being the boy who cried wolf on the hunting down of their religious festivals. If they don’t pack it in then when a real wolf comes they will be justly ignored… and I wouldn’t count on the Good Shepherd to treat them any differently because he’s probably sick of this prattle too.
A vocal and often powerful minority of Christians moaning that Christianity is being sidelined has become so much a part of the yearly round of events that Hallmark is considering bring out a new range of cards: Pictures of bishops howling at a moon as it pours a cup and a half of milk into a Cadbury’s chocolate bar would fly off the shelves.
This year, in an uncharacteristic moment of lack of self-awareness and clumsily worded screeching rhetoric (sic.) the Archbishop of York has put his best foot forward – into his mouth – and stepped into the none-story that the National Trust have banned Easter from their Easter Egg hunt which is sponsored by Cadbury’s chocolate.
Spoiler Alert: they didn’t. It seems more likely that the National Trust have done more to remind none-Church goers and people of all faiths and none of Easter than any institutions outside the church, in recent years.
It doesn’t matter that the National Trust didn’t do it the damage has been done to both the Church and the National Trust but I know which one will bounce back (Another spoiler: it’s not the Church of England).
I still meet people who believe that Birmingham City Council banned Christmas when they briefly launched a series of events under the slightly bureaucratic portmanteau of Wint
Birmingham didn’t ban Christmas and spent loads of money celebrating the Christian festival as usual.
“But they did ban Christmas, didn’t they?”
“Then who did?”
“No one. Really, honestly. Just because the Daily Mail does a wee in its pants, doesn’t mean we all have to slip about in the puddle.”
“I’ve put my wellies on already.”
When I was a teenager I heard a joke about Colonel Sanders going to visit the Pope with a business proposition: he wanted to sponsor The Lord’s Prayer. After hours of negotiations behind closed doors the pope came out and addressed the cardinals:
“I have good news and bad news. The bad news is we’ve had to let go of the Hovis contract…”
The National Trust has called their Easter Egg hunt a “Cadbury Egg Hunt” this year. Cadbury are paying for it. If the Church of England had sponsored the event they could have a say, and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t have got in on that act sooner.
A “spokesman” for the Church of England said, “This marketing campaign…highlights the folly in airbrushing faith from Easter.” I’d argue it highlights the folly of the Church of England hiring reactionary and poorly briefed spokesman.
I hate political correctness as much as anyone. Really do. I mean the real stuff of silencing and bullying people who intend no harm but express themselves in old fashioned ways and might be encouraged rather than harassed into more kind language. Good manners.
The bullying kind of political correctness that is so afraid of causing offense that it fails to speak anything of value is rubbish. Euphemasia: death by political correctness.
But the Freedom of Speech Brigade is at least as annoying and usually twice as ignorant.
Take Archbishop Sentamu, for example. Please will someone take him? Perhaps the Quakers would take him? Oh wait; they don’t do hierarchy… or Easter.
This didn’t stop the Archbishop of York claiming that the National Trust Cadbury Egg Hunt was like “spitting on the grave of John Cadbury,” who didn’t celebrate Easter at all. Does he not have Wikipedia?
Week in, week out, church leaders work tirelessly and joyfully communicating their faith to an incredulous but gracious public only to click on their favourite newsfeed to find an ill-informed public face of their faith has made them look daft in all the papers.
So desperate were this small but vocal group to find evidence that the Church is being sidelined they cast truth aside and went and alienated two corporate national treasures they could have worked with instead: Cadbury and the National Trust.
Perhaps like the little boy, tending his sheep on the fields, the Archbishop – shepherd of his flock – was also bored or lonely and just wanted a bit of attention. So he cried wolf.
I’ve already heard one newspaper say he’s bored with this perennial story. Fair enough. Soon the whole world will be bored with it and with the church that churns it out.
One day the Church might cry, “Wolf” and no one will be listening anymore.
Oh well. Happy Easterval everyone.
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