`SELLING' THE CHURCH
By EVE MeAD AM
AQUICK look at certain young people's revulsion to church-going was taken in "The Sunday Break", and assuming this revulsion to be typical of all young people the programme went ahead to ask an Advertising executive why Britain's youth did not go to Church and had no use for Christianity. The reply was that the "brand image" of the Church is at fault.
Using the inimitable language of advertising, the advertising executive went on to say that "the greatest product in the world" (which was his term for Christianity), is not being "marketed" properly because it is "badly packaged".
Though this jargon puts one's teeth on edge, the case for advertising by the Church turned out to be a fairly strong one, provided. always, it is done with dignity and gives no offence.
ON the panel discussing it was Fr. Nigel Lam, Director of the Catholic Enquiry-Centre. Several advertisements placed in the national press by the Centre were_ shown to prove his point.
Against this was the argument advanced by the Rev. Tinsley that advertising methods aim (and this advertisers themselves frankly admit) to exploit and manipulate the minds of the mass. Christians believe it is wrong to exploit people, he added.
It wasn't possible to do justice to this subject or to reach a conclusion worth considering after a debate of 20 minutes. And this is where the "jolly religious programme" always lets down its audience. You cannot have it both ways : you cannot entertain your audience and make it think, unless, of course, your scriptwriter is someone like Bernard Shaw.
AS for "Hair Shirts or a Soft Option" in ATV's "About Religion", here was another programme bent on having the best of both worlds. It started with a thoughtful history of Lenten selfdiscipline and then switched to the popular presentation of a panel of people who were bound to disagree. And this they did whole-heartedly but without, necessarily, enriching the audience's understanding of Lent.
The brand image (the jargon is catching) was that of the shrewd, worldly. chic woman journalist, Katherine Whitehorn, who told audiences of her admiration for Mormons' self-discipline during Lent (they gil'e up coffee and teal, adding that she personally gave up nothing. and finding the average form of "giving-up for Lent" trivial. She pointed out that "Weightreducing diets which women undertake for vanity are far more rigorous than the things people give up for religion".
I could not help wondering what serene Mother John of the Sisters of the Assumption thought of this. She tried to explain to Miss Whitehorn about interior mortification and quoted "Mortification gives wings to the soul".
IN " Counter Reformation ". fourth in " The Reformation" series, the Third provided Professor H. 0. Evennett, Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, with a chance to outline the Catholic revival of the mid-16th century.
In Europe. he said, the " beleaguered Church " defended itself against the Protestants by reformulating old doctrines and putting its house into better order. By the end of t he century the Catholics were making world-wide expansion with "an astonishing recovery in fervour, prestige, and self-assurance".
TCounter Reformation could not be understood, Professor Evennett said, unless one
realized that it was the "basic way in which piety and zeal of reformed bishops and laymen was directed at reforming not the Church as a whole. but their own lives". This the Catholics attempted in a "struggle against self", which was not founded through inner subjective pressure as in Luther's manner. but in the spiritual manner through prayer.
Professor Evennett paid tribute to the influence of Ignatius Loyola and the members of his Society of Jesus who dedicated themselves to the Pope, went all over the world to convert people. and gathered together all forces under the•Papacy. He ended by telling audiences, "one man's life typified the Counter Reformation", that of the ArchBishop of Milan, Robert Bellarmine, who "has gone down to history as the saintly bishop of the Catholic Church".
The week's best
THERE is little room for what 2was probably the best religious programme of the week—the closeup of the famous French Dominican, Fr. Yves Congar, in the BBC's "Viewpoint" last Thursday. Interesting, too, to catch a glimpse of
Vernon Sproxton, the man behind many excellent refigious programmes; he interviewed Fr. Congar.
A middle-aged man with a high forehead, intelligent eyes and great charm of manner, Fr. Congar was interviewed in Paris though he now lives, I believe, in Strasbourg. He has been in the news recently because he is assisting in the preparatory work for the coming Ecumenical Council in Rome. At the age of 33 he published "Divided Christianity" which was described in the programme as "The fullest. most careful and best informed work about the Ecumenical movement'..
THE most important thing to
him, Fr. Congar said, was that there should be contact between Catholics and "our brethren". He added "one learns more in an hour's conversation with a person
than through years of study. I realized this when I stayed in the Bishop's house in Lincoln and talked to Dr. Ramsey".
Ecumenical success can't be achieved through a Five-Year plan, he said. but unity could be advanced by correct and adequate information and by converting our hearts and "abandoning egoistic ideas of religious imperialism".