Church of England Diocese of Bath & Wells Ston Easton

Vicars Monthly Letter

28 Jan 2019, 1 a.m.
February_2019_hzgXdsD.docx Download

Dear All

Hector the black cat is becoming increasingly agitated about Brexit and a potential shortage of Cat Treats later in the year.

Because after the relative Christmas peace from all the Brexit furore, we have now returned to the fray, with dollops of demonising and extra denigration all leading to nothing other than impotent fury on all sides. Hector has a point.

It led me to consider Marshall McLuhan. He was an interesting man a professor of English, philosopher and prophet. He was interested in the way media affected society.

He is known for coining the expressions the medium is the message, and the global village and for predicting the World Wide Web almost 30 years before it was invented.

He understood the power of words and slogans.

Just do it. Because you’re worth it. A diamond is forever. It’s the real thing. It’s the economy, stupid. We’re going to build a wall. Yes, we can!

For good or ill, a slogan or a catchphrase can make the difference between brand recognition or irrelevance; between electoral victory and failure. Slogans can shape our lives.

Recently whilst watching ‘Brexit: The Uncivil War’, a television drama that showed the power of slogans, we see the eureka moment where the campaign director comes up with ‘Take back control’.

A pithy phrase that captured the essence of their message. It’s hard to measure how much these three words swung the vote, but they made for a simple and effective slogan.

The word slogan comes from the Scottish Gaelic meaning ‘war cry.’ This feels apt at a time when the people that shout loudest seem to be winning the war of words.

For a slogan to work it doesn’t have to be positive. Indeed, we’re living at a time when negative messages seem more likely to succeed; it’s less Yes, we can, more, No, you won’t!

Just say whatever you like, as often as you can, repeat ‘fake news’ and people will believe it. President Trump’s Wall offers a metaphor for this; whether it happens or not, in some people’s minds it’s already been built.

Jesus could have been a slogan writer - Do not worry; love your enemies; beware of false prophets - but for me these slogans only mean something because he is their author. Their authority comes from him because his life was the embodiment of his words. He didn’t just say them, he lived and died by them.

Jesus is the messenger and he is the message and the medium, the signpost and the slogan. And in these noisy, harsh times, we should be wary of believing in any message, unless we can also believe in the authenticity of the messenger.

And for me, Jesus isn’t fake news, but you knew I would say that

Yours

Howard

P.S. Maybe I should get in a few more Treats in to cheer Hector up.