Kerre McIvor

Kerre McIvor is a Herald on Sunday columnist

Kerre Woodham: I'll go for fire and brimstone

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'Divine sperm' makes for awkward Christmas conversation. Photo / Supplied
'Divine sperm' makes for awkward Christmas conversation. Photo / Supplied

I do wish churches would get back to core business and start laying down the moral law, delivering thundering nightmare-inducing sermons and ministering to the poor.

My dad always said no good would come of allowing guitars and folk songs into services, and he was right. All this faffing around trying to be edgy and relevant is embarrassing. It's like watching your parents dance.

St Matthew-in-the-City is the latest culprit, with its Saatchi & Saatchi-generated billboard depicting a dejected looking Joseph and a disappointed Mary in bed. The caption read: "Poor Joseph. God is a hard act to follow." Implying, of course, that God is the Man - capital "M" - in the sack and Joseph is a poor second.

The billboard has generated much debate, with some saying it's offensive and others saying religious maniacs need to lighten up. Predictably, Family First is in the offended camp.

But really, Bob McCroskrie's great-great-grandfather was probably the first man to cover the legs of pianos in Victorian England, so as not to offend the sensibilities of the ladies. The Catholic Church had a milder response, saying the billboard was inappropriate and disrespectful. On the other hand, archdeacon Glynn Cardy is beside himself with excitement, saying the agency has fulfilled the brief. He says the church wanted to get people to think more about the meaning of Christmas. Is it about a spiritual male God sending down sperm so a child would be born, or is it about the power of love in our midst, as seen in Jesus?

Although I don't think the billboard was especially offensive, I think it was probably just a bit too arch. I don't know about you, but Christmas has never been about God and sperm. It's a time to be with people you love, sharing what you have with those who might need a bit of help and for me, it's about doing a moral stock take. How much have I done for others this year, and what more could I do? Not wondering whether bodily fluids were ever mingled between God and Mary - or for that matter, Joseph and Mary. St Matthew-in-the-City prides itself on being "at the progressive end of the Christian continuum", but the way it's promoting itself, its future seems more assured as a venue for fashion shows rather than a place of worship.

- HERALD ON SUNDAY

- Herald on Sunday

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