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Rev Adam Pawley

The Rector writes,

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread… Should I go on? Have you heard this prayer before?

The Church of England has just produced a really quite creative 60 second advert, with different people – children, choirs, celebrities and the Archbishop of Canterbury – all reciting (or singing) lines of our Lord’s Prayer.

Except if you’d like to see it you won’t get to see it in the cinemas this Christmas – where the Church was hoping for it to be aired – because Digital Cinema Media (DCM) have (currently) said no. It’s awarded ‘U’ rating seems to mean not ‘universally suitable’ as much as ‘unsuitable for all’.

Though it will be interesting to see for how long. People of faith and no faith disagree with the decision. David Cameron thinks, “It’s ridiculous”, Boris Johnson has tweeted, “Expect U-turn from the cinemas” and atheist Stephen Fry even reflected, “bizarre, unfair, misguided”.

The Church of England was hoping the advert would be aired just before the new Star Wars film. Ironic too that the Star Wars ‘liturgy’ has always appeared to be influenced by none other than the Church of England itself – Or more accurately George Lucas’ “The Force be with you” – has very close similarities to the sixth century Dominus Vobiscum (Latin for “The Lord be with you”).

What is credible is that the DCM made their decision based on an existing policy that forbids any religious or political advertising before a film. Applying their policy if the Church of England is allowed its ‘Unsuitable’ prayer then it could open the door for other religious-political opportunists to target the cinema with their own propaganda too. This actually is a point I think on the one hand we can all very well understand. Though I still struggle with the decision – I appreciate we mustn’t enforce our own religion upon others, but isn’t the Lord’s Prayer part of our British culture as much as our religious life?

Personally I wish all the cinema adverts were gone. That way (as well as getting another twenty minutes of my life back) there really could be no political-religious agendas put forward too – aside from what’s shown in the film – but then that is what we pay to go and see!

In the past when I’ve arrived at the cinema with my own family, I’ve sometimes wished that I’d arrived late so to avoid those sometimes awful adverts (that DCM incidentally have approved) that I fear could influence my children negatively.

According to one survey conducted by The Mothers’ Union (as part of their campaign, Bye Buy Childhood: Valuing Children above Consumers), I’m with the majority on this. A survey conducted in March presented 81% of parents as being concerned about the impression the media makes on their children and 68% of parents concerned about the effects of ‘adverts’ in particular.

In my house, as we approach Christmas and Thunderbirds are Go! breaks for adverts – I confess I can become a little tense – as soon enough comes the, “Dad, please can I have this for Christmas [as well]?”

We’re all susceptible to the lure of marketing of course even as adults – especially when it’s for our kids! It’s just as adults we’re expected to be able to ‘decide’ for ourselves.

Funny then that the target audience for the new Stars Wars film (PG, which means generally suitable for “aged 8+” I learnt recently from the British Board of Film Classification) will be on the whole for older children and adults.

Perhaps Digital Cinematic Media wants to be God? Or perhaps DCM for many of us already is God? The world of adverts can so easily become our daily bread.

As a vicar I don’t normally do this – but for a change I’d like to rebel – If you’d like to see an offensive advert please go online to www.churchofengland.org.

I’m saving my thoughts on the Mulberry bag advert for Carols for Candlelight!

I will conclude my prayer now – I need this bit as much as the first:
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Have a blessed Advent and a great Christmas. The Christmas flyer inside includes all the festive fun! The village lights now on, I trust you’re looking forward to it as much as I am. Remember Christmas doesn’t start with Star Wars! (Nor Thunderbirds, as much I’d like it to).

Christmas starts with Christ.

Happy Christmas! Adam.

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