WARNING: This post contains a video deemed offensive and as such, “carries the risk of upsetting, or offending, audiences”.
The video contained in this post has consequently already been banned from screening at UK cinemas despite having been cleared by the Cinema Advertising Authority and the British Board of Film Classification. The Odeon, Cineworld, and Vue chains – which control 80% of screens across England – have refused to show it.
What is this offensive video, you may ask? And who would make such a video? Well… that would be the Church of England… Confused? Then have a look at this:
Yes, the video which has caused such controversy is indeed The Our Father as recited by individuals of various backgrounds and professions. It was created in order to promote a new website made by the Church of England which simply encourages prayer – www.justpray.uk – worth a look, it’s very beautiful.
“How dare they”, I hear you cry!
Take a look at the offensiveness of The Our Father
1. ‘Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name.”
You mean to say that I am not the center of the universe?! That I have someone above me towards whom I should become childlike; to whom I should submit to in faithful trust, and with a humble and joyous heart. A Father whom I should will to be like. A Father who holds majesty and who loves me… How dare you.
2. ‘Thy Kingdom Come.’
You mean to say that my ultimate hope is not the establishment of my own kingdom, my own progression in my career, the satisfaction of my own ego by any means necessary, but the anticipation of Christ’s coming?… Well that’s just offensive.
3. ‘Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.’
You mean to say that my will is not the be all and end all? That I am able to commit myself to another’s will. And that in committing myself to another – to Christ – I learn humility in seeing that virtue does not depend on my work alone but on grace from on high. That following this greater will is not just for me but for the good of the whole earth… the audacity.
4. ‘Give us this day our daily bread’
You mean to say that I should look to another for something that I want? That despite all the work that I do, everything I receive ultimately comes from God anyway and I should find a trustful surrender in this! And that I should be content with daily bread, and not submit to the destructive consumerism that surrounds me… Very rude.
5. ‘And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us’
You mean to say that I am in need of forgiveness – that I am not sinless? And you’re telling me that the outpouring of mercy that I am in need of will only penetrate my heart insofar as I have forgiven those who have wronged me?! That I should show mercy to others if I want mercy to be shown to myself… this is an outrage.
6. ‘And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.’
You mean to say that I am not completely in control of my surroundings and that I am capable of being tempted towards sin and death? And that I should turn to Another in prayer and call upon His strength so that the temptation I may feel does not lead to a consent towards that temptation? That Someone loves me so much that they would offer me a way out; a way to endure. To prevail against the evil one; a victory! – I find this all highly upsetting and offensive.
While movie theaters, and advertising companies, are allowed to pump us with falsities suggesting how one spray of a new fragrance will guarantee our career success, and have the ladies or gents flocking towards us in a rage of passion. And how it’s the latest watch or fashion item that is exactly what we need if we want to become the strong individual we have always wanted to be. We are told that we don’t need to turn towards others, certainly not towards God, and it’s considered offensive to assert otherwise.
You see, the outrage here, the offensiveness here, is that the Lord’s Prayer is something which is totally orientated towards someone else – towards The Father. It takes us outside of our own little worlds and places us at the feet of something – someone – far greater.
For further thought.
This video, and the banning of it, is a great way to get us thinking about what we’re really praying when we pray The Our Father. Reflections I have presented above are built upon what we find in Part 4, Section 2, of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 2759-2865), and this is a great resource if you want to take a closer look at the authentic beauty of The Lord’s Prayer.
Why do you think the video was banned? Was it down to theological issues that may conflict with other religious outlooks? Or is there a deeper fear of prayer; a fear of the power of prayer, and the necessary recognition of something greater than ourselves that prayer entails? Does ‘religious’ instantly mean ‘offensive’ nowadays?
Featured image: Catholic Diocese of Saginaw @ Flickr