Tag Archives: SMH

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Things that kill: smoking, sin, being boring

I once bagged vaguely funny (or not funny at all) church signs for very rarely being “on message” or at all related to what goes on if the people the signs are for (passers by) choose to come through the doors of a church building. I was, perhaps, too dismissive, and my discussion with a guy from Outreach Media on that post presents a bit of a middle way… But my position hasn’t really changed all that much – most church signs are used poorly, and if they make Christians cringe, must be worse for outsiders.

I’m also not generally a fan of outdoor advertising – partly because it’s visual clutter, partly because in my opinion, unless you’re saturating a city with a very clear proposition to the people of the city, they’re a fleeting reminder of something people don’t care about – they’re intrusion marketing personified. Or boardsonified. They work for Coke – because Coke is in every shop you walk past after seeing the billboard, they work for people promoting longer lasting satisfaction in the bedroom – because they get media coverage for being shocking – and generally, they haven’t worked all that well for Christianity (thanks Harold Campling and the ACL). They do work if they’re attention grabbing and controversial, and an attempt to be part of a conversation that is actually happening – not the conversation you think is happening that people cared about 30 years ago.

Many churches have the capacity for outdoor advertising – be it a small sign, a letterboard, or a big space. It does not follow that all churches should use them. But if you’ve got the time and resources to think carefully about what you’re going to say, it’s the low hanging fruit of communicating with the people around you.

If you’re going to do them, you may as well do them well… While my preference would just be for clear brand information and a clear, and related call to action, something like: “This week here at church we’ll be looking at X – will you join us at TIMES” – but in a much more engaging, non-boring, non-templated way. The rationale for this approach is – statistically speaking the same people are passing by your church on their way to school, work, home, etc, so the sign outside your building is a long term visual presence for them, and if you can, over time, build the expectation that you’re not a weird cult, but are a church that tackles interesting issues in an interesting way, that will make their decision to come through your doors a little more informed.

I wonder if there’s something like the equivalent of a lectionary for church signs – where the whole gospel is communicated in a year, and if that could be made more winsome and engaging – maybe something like a catechism for church sign writers… but I digress.

This has, indeed, been a rather long digression. A setting of the scene, if you will…

 
A Sydney Church has cracked the pages of the Sydney Morning Herald for using this poster from Outreach Media.


Image Credit: Outreach Media

I have mixed feelings about this – I’m not sure, following the unfortunate issues of a few weeks back, that I want smoking and sin being associated so closely together. It’s a bit like Tony Abbott using the words “die of shame” – there’s going to be an immediate association drawn, especially when part of the argument is essentially the same, just with an explicit, rather than implicit, reference to the theological underpinnings.

But the story is pretty brilliant and engaging – and doesn’t draw the comparison.

St. Peters Anglican Church is on a highway. The sign is getting plenty of attention. I’m not sure how big it is, and how legible it is from the road – someone from Outreach Media might care to comment on that… but the “warning from the Bible” box is pretty gold.

Ignoring the response from the anti-smoking lobby – who used this as an opportunity to stay on message for themselves – this article is pretty brilliant, Andrew Bruce, the man on the ground at St. Peters, got a great opportunity to get some good quotes in, and he took it.

“Better to be a smoker that goes to heaven than a person who doesn’t smoke and falls under the judgment of God,” the Reverend Andrew Bruce said.

The billboard outside his St Peters Anglican Church, on the Princes Highway, is seen by about 40,000 cars a day, he said.
“Jesus is good news for smokers and non-smokers alike.”

The health risks for smokers are not a patch on the prospect of eternal damnation, he suggested.

“One is eternal and one is only for this life; I think that’s the point.”

Love it. I love this endorsement of Outreach Media too – at first read I had a problem, but I’ll explain why I don’t think it’s a problem after the quote…

“Mr Bruce said the organisation’s posters and billboards, which some churches pay to use each month, were deliberately designed to attract attention.

“I think the biggest sin of the lot is being boring. If we put up a sign saying ‘Jesus loves you’ that’s what people expect us to say. You need to strike deeper than that and engage people or it’s here today, gone tomorrow.””

Yes. Being boring kills. You won’t get an argument against that in these parts… I’d rather see churches put up signs about Jesus love than signs that aren’t about Jesus at all – but this quote isn’t saying “we’ll engage by not talking about Jesus” but “we’ll talk about Jesus in an engaging way”… the first is a possible interpretation of that quote, but the idea that we’re to “strike deeper” not “strike elsewhere” is pretty critical, and a point well made.

A late launch

Have you been wondering why the Labor party is launching its campaign today – less than a week out from the election? I know I have. Now I know, and it makes me grumpy.

…a loophole in Department of Finance policy means the sizeable daily travel allowances for politicians and staffers are paid out of the public purse until the day of the respective political parties’ campaign launch.

The Liberal Party and the Nationals have been carrying their own costs for a week and will ultimately be financially responsible for nine days of the 33-day campaign.

However, the ALP will continue to have public funding until the conclusion of tomorrow’s ”official” campaign launch in Brisbane, leaving Labor with just five days to pay for.

Minor parties have never looked more attractive to me.

Identikit Fail

The FBI is clearly under resourced. This is funny.

The SMH Reports (this longish excerpt):

The FBI has admitted it used a photograph of a bearded Spanish politician as the basis for a mocked photofit of Osama bin Laden, to show how the terrorist leader might look now.

The US State Department was forced to withdraw the image, which was circulated around the world last week, after the discovery that it was not quite as technically sophisticated as the FBI had claimed.

The image of an older and greying bin Laden was meant to show how he might look without his turban and long beard. It appeared on a State Department website, rewardsforjustice.net, where a reward of up to $US25 million ($26.85 million) is offered for bin Laden, wanted over the September 11, 2001, attacks and the 1998 US embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya. The FBI said the photo of bin Laden would be removed from the website.

It created a stir in Madrid when a Spanish MP recognised strong elements of himself in the image and complained to the US.

Gaspar Llamazares, a member of Spain’s Communist Party, said his forehead, hair and jawline had been ”cut and pasted” from an old campaign photograph.

The FBI claimed to have used ”cutting edge” technology to reproduce new images of 18 of the most wanted terrorist suspects. But on Saturday a spokesman for the FBI, Ken Hoffman, admitted that a technician ”was not satisfied” with the hair features offered by the FBI’s software and instead used part of a photo of Mr Llamazares that he found on the internet.

Photo shock ...  the FBI said it used  ‘‘cutting edge’’ technology to update its composite image of Osama bin Laden, left. But it turned out to be little more than cutting and pasting features of a Spanish politician, Gaspar Llamazares, right.
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Making “headlines” today

I’m reconsidering the Sydney Morning Herald’s place as my news source of choice. What do other people use?

The writing is as good as ever – there is no political commentator as astute as Annabel Crabb, and few sports correspondents can match it with the likes of Peter Roebuck and Will Swanton.

But when your banner of featured stories looks like this you’ve well and truly jumped the “sex sells” shark…

Collision course

Back when I was casting all sorts of aspersions on Rugby Union I was told I needed empirical data to support my opinion that Rugby League is the superior sport… how bout this… from the SMH… regarding Fui Fui Moi Moi and just how much force he generates in a tackle.

“Imagine standing looking up at the sky. From a leaning tower someone drops a 20 kilogram bag of cement from a height of 22 metres. Dr Nicholas Armstrong, a physicist, says that when you try to catch the cement it will have the same energy as Moimoi generates when he surges into the defensive line.

Moimoi is able to accelerate from jogging pace to 26 km/h within two seconds. His top speed on a treadmill is 31.2 km/h and he has been measured at 32km/h in game situations.

Of course, it is nothing like Usain Bolt, the world record holder for the 100 metres, who reaches 43.9 km/h, but combined with his mass, Moimoi is a deadly weapon. He is one of the three fastest Parramatta players in a 40-metre sprint.”

The secret, apparently, is that he eats horse.

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Fox Trot

There are lots of PR lessons we can learn from celebrities today. Firstly. Megan Fox has lived up to her name, biting the hand that feeds her. Or at least the hand that raised her from obscurity.

Director Michael Bay cast Fox in Transformers, and the starlet had some rather unkind words to say about him in a magazine.

In her interview with a British magazine, Fox had said of Bay:

“He’s like Napoleon and he wants to create this insane, infamous mad-man reputation.

“He wants to be like Hitler on his sets, and he is.

“He has no social skills at all.”

Ouch. That isn’t very nice. Some of the crew responded with a letter via Michael Bay’s blog – which he contributes to, but clearly doesn’t run, because he pulled it a couple of days later and posted his apology.

I subscribe to Michael Bay’s blog with google reader – so it’s not completely lost to you. And the SMH has a story on the letter today. Here’s an excerpt.

He granted her the starring role in Transformers, a franchise that forever changed her life; she became one of the most googled and oogled women on earth.

… Wait a minute, two of us worked with Angelina – second thought – she’s no Angelina.

…We know this quite intimately because we’ve had the tedious experience of working with the dumb-as-a-rock Megan Fox on both Transformers movies. We’ve spent a total of 12 months on set making these two movies.

We are in different departments; we can’t give our names because sadly doing so in Hollywood could lead to being banished from future Paramount work.

We actually don’t think she knows who Hitler is by the way. But we wondered how she doesn’t realize what a disgusting, fully uneducated comment this was?

Hopefully Michael will have Megatron squish her character in the first ten minutes of Transformers 3. We can tell you that will make the crew happy! …

Nice. Firstly, let me say, Godwin’s law needs to be more widely broadcast – comparing anybody – particularly a movie director – to Hitler is just plain silly.

Secondly, if you’re working in a close knit industry like Hollywood – or a regional area, or a city, or the Christian community – don’t bag out people who you’ve worked with. It’ll no doubt hurt you more than it hurts them.

Love languages

You know how there are five Greek words for love? This is a good thing. Because it allows for clarity when you’re using a language of love.

We’ve got one word in English, and it’s contextually defined. I love God. But I don’t love God like I love my wife. And I don’t love my wife like I love my lunch. This is part of the reason that Christian music is so culturally odd.

Am I the only one who gets uncomfortable when we use the analogy of a human relationship when talking about meeting God. I know the Bible does it. But it just sounds odd when people tell the media they hope this new Jesus advertising campaign is like the preliminary to a first date with Jesus.

But Dominic Steele, director of Christians in the Media, hopes it will have real resonance.

”They’re a first invitation to a conversation about having a date with God or potentially starting a relationship.”

I understand the rationale – it just makes me cringe a little. You don’t “date” your father – unless you’re Mark Driscoll’s kids. My response to this language is the same as my response to “daddy date”. Maybe this is a case of unhelpful definition creep when it comes to the word date. It seems to come with a whole lot of eros baggage when it may instead be either storge, agape or philia type love.

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When to make unpopular decisions

John Howard has re-entered the political fray – and probably done more bolster Rudd’s leadership than to aid his former parliamentary colleagues. He’s commended Rudd on a couple of points – and made this interesting comment, which I think probably applies to starting at a new church too…

From the SMH.

The time for unpopular or difficult reforms should always be in the first term for new prime ministers, who tended to be cut a lot of slack by the public.

When you’ve been there two years, you haven’t done anything that’s the least bit unfriendly – jeez, it gets hard in the third year.

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A series of 4chanate events

It seems nobody can safely enter the world of online Christian dating. Cyber bullies from 4Chan have stolen a bunch of login details from a Christian dating service’s database and used them to hack the people’s corresponding Facebook profiles, posting all manner of nasties and shocking family members. I’d seen a couple of their escapades pop up on a couple of the humour blogs I subscribe to. They’re not nice. And I can’t imagine having to explain that sort of thing to friends and family. Here are some examples – don’t believe your friends if they claim these things without talking to them first…

“Status updates posted on other hacked Christians’ Facebook profiles included racist hate messages and messages pretending that the poster had contemplated suicide or had accidentally killed a homeless person.

The hackers also caused trouble between the users and their friends, writing on one user’s photo that their baby was “ugly” and on another woman’s photo that her teeth matched her skin.”

The message here – other than “don’t always believe what you read on someone’s Facebook account” is “don’t use the same password for all your sites across the internet”… oh, and “don’t have a stupidly simple password” and on that point I’m speaking from experience

I’d also suggest not keeping all your passwords in your email inbox. That’s a recipe for disaster

Tall tales

It seems everybody is talking about Usain Bolt. He’s pretty awesome. Groundbreakingly awesome because he’s so tall. Tall people are the superior species. We all know that.

From the SMH – reporting on a study by a Duke University Research team.

“While the average person has gained about five centimetres since 1900, the height of champion runners has increased 16.2 centimetres, say Duke University researchers, Jordan Charles and Adrian Bejan, who studied the heights and weights of 100-metre world record holders.”

“Speed races might eventually need to be divided into weight categories, like boxing, and weightlifting, if smaller athletes are ever to have a chance of making it onto the podium again.”

This seems much more credible than some older research by Oxford’s Department of Zoology. Everybody knows tall men will inherit the earth.

“In 2004, a research team led by Dr Andrew Tatem, of the University of Oxford’s Department of Zoology, predicted that if the record-breaking trends continued men would sprint 100 metres in 8.098 seconds at the 2156 Olympics. Women would run even faster, taking just 8.079 seconds.”

Ninjitsuit

My first thought when reading about this new, controversial “Burquini” the Islamic bikini invented by an Australian and banned in France (two things that make something more likely to be awesome) was that it looks pretty much like a ninja suit.

Am I right? Yeah. Which got me thinking further – firstly, I didn’t know what a ninja suit was actually called – which was a bit of a gap in my ninja arsenal. For the record it’s a shinobi shozoko. But it’s always dangerous to put a ninja in a box.

Besides the typical ninja uniform, the ninja would use any type of clothing that would get them closer to the mission goal. Sometimes the ninja dressed up as priests, peasants or even samurai. Whatever the mission required, they did.

So, now you’re wondering why I am still talking. You’ve got my point. Well, no. You haven’t. Have you seen the Mythbusters Ninja Episode – it’s my favourite – not because they do cool ninja stuff, but because they go to a ninja warehouse and buy awesome ninja equipment for their ninja mission.

Well, there’s a place like that on the internet. And you can buy a ninja suit for $69 (I assume US) that includes ninja shoes, ninja socks and ninja boots. You can get a different pack that comes with some gear as well for $82. I know what I want for Christmas… or a wedding anniversary present… (hint, hint).

You can also buy ninja gear, and buy all the ninja weapons you could possibly want from here. If that’s legal in your country.

Lost and found

I love good news stories – especially good news stories about survivors or people thought lost being found. The comments from loved ones are always pretty awesome, they’ve just ridden the ultimate emotional rollercoaster going from grief to incredible joy in an instant – and they give hope to anyone who gets stuck on “denial” in the coping cycle…

So this story about a British teenager who went hiking in the Blue Mountains 12 days ago and just turned up alive is awesome – particularly his dad’s response. He flew in from England and was set to leave this afternoon before his son turned up alive.

There’s a sermon illustration here for anyone doing the Prodigal Son – here’s what the dad had to say:

"When I arrived, I thought there was still hope, but after day after day went (I thought) we have to maybe consider something terrible has happened to him.

"I actually didn’t start turning cartwheels until I made the call.

"It was absolutely stunning. I’m like a lunatic, [yelling] ‘My boy’s been found, my boy’s been found,’ " he told reporters.

Police then flew Mr Cass by helicopter to the Blue Mountains so that he could be reunited with his son.

He said he was very pleased to see his son, but also expressed anger at his actions.

"Mistake after mistake he’s made.

"I can’t say I’ll kill him, it would spoil the point of him coming back.

"[But] I’m going to kick his arse.”

Naming Rights (and wrongs)

A new “study” has found that names count. It’s pretty much the same theory expounded on in detail in Freakonomics – that people with dumb names will be picked on, or come from dumb families – and these environmental factors will cause them to grow up pretty screwed up. The study found that:

“Boys with unpopular, girlish or uncommon names often are ridiculed by peers, come from families of low socioeconomic status and face discrimination in the workforce based on a preconceived bias about their names, according to the study, which analysed more than 15,000 names.”

According to the SMH article the top 10 bad-boy names are:

  1. Alec
  2. Ernest
  3. Garland
  4. Ivan
  5. Kareem
  6. Luke
  7. Malcolm
  8. Preston
  9. Tyrell
  10. Walter