Moral Superiority on Beckham Nativity

December 21, 2004 by

You’ve probably heard the stories about a London wax museum with a nativity scene featuring soccer star David Beckham as Joseph and his wife “Posh Spice” Victoria as the Virgin Mary. Pop singer Kylie Minogue appears as an angel, Tony Blair, George W. Bush and the Duke of Edinburgh are the Three Wise Men, etc.

While the whole celebrity nativity is a bit goofy and questionable, what I found completely repelling was the response from the Vatican:

“You cannot use contemporary personalities as the central figures of the Nativity … And it becomes worse, if that were possible, if the people may be of questionable moral standing.”

The implication here is that everyone at the original scene 2,000 years ago was of high moral standing. The Christ child certainly was (and I suppose if you’re Catholic you might think Mary was, but let’s not argue about that). But the rest of ‘em are all sinful humans, just like the rest of us.

Churches do a disservice when their public relations drip with moral superiority. That’s a good way to turn people away from your church when you’ve been presented with an opportunity to draw people in.

Sure the nativity is goofy, but rather than turn people off with your high and mighty attitude, why not say something that encourages people and draws them in? Why not at least encourage people to remember the real nativity and check the story out for themselves?

Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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2 Responses to “Moral Superiority on Beckham Nativity”

  • Andy Havens
    December 26, 2004

    And the worst thing about the Catholic Church’s commentary is that they simply *didn’t get it* about the Beckham nativity. Talk about taking a punch at the tar baby. It’s a joke, people. It’s an attempt to take the crass, commercialization of Christmas to the nth degree in order to point out how far we’ve gone in actuality. It’s satire. It’s deconstructionism. It’s a site gag. They should have come out with a press release saying that this was a great way of using art to point out the gross lengths to which our modern, consumeristic society has gone to swath the manger scene in stardom, bright lights and politics. Missed opportunity for the Pontif’s PR person.

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  • John M. Alrrington
    August 9, 2007

    Hi ‘Evelyn
    Read your words and do not fully understand, but hint of what your intent was. Let me guess what you may want to know.
    In 1968 Book of Discipline published by UMC. I bought copy and could not find objectionable material. So local churches just kept operating their Churches as organized place of worship and it was working. In the background people that were not pleased with matters that were not addressed went to work to cause change. Some wanted Lesbian Bishops, guys marring guy, and women marrying women, adoption of children by this sought that was un unusual .
    In Garden Villas Case a procedure for UMC bureaucrats determining a church not worth opening for service, so allow UMC to cause combining several churches to become a Parish Concept. The 1968 Book of Discipline rightfully laid out democratic procedure to do this. This meant all members would participate in how all this was to be planned. Conferences were held as required, but the local clergy failed to tell members they should participate in process. In Garden Villas UMC the Clery at the time was to see that member representative attended these change conference to present local view of what they wanted. This did not happen and some local members did appear, but when subject matter un palatable they left, or did not show up at all. Example of who would want to set up rules for acceptance of a lesbian Bishop, and or legal marriage of all like partners.
    The bureaucrats of UNC just kept drafting drafts of laws to change the Book of Discipline to allow all these un wanted changes to occur. Conferences were held timely with no one from local churches showing up regularly, and not speaking their minds on what they and the members they represented would approve, or stand for. The bureaucratic UMC employees were allowed to advance whatever hey choose.
    The results of this was the 2004 Book of Discipline that had extensive additions that were advanced autocratically and not the democratic procedures within the 1968 Book of Discipline. When the 2004 Book of Discipline published the Garden Villas Methodist Church just kept operating as always, and did not purchase a copy of new 2004 Book of Discipline. Members of GVUMC comfortable in this as nothing appeared to have changed. Its nine Trustees just kept operation as before.
    GV Members did not know that a preacher named Will Reed history brought him into position to use new provisions in 2004 Book of Discipline allowing shutting down of Garden Villas Methodist Church in name of improving operation of Garden Villas Methodist Church members, who were quite happy with way things were operating. This is history of Will Reed:
    1. Reverend Will Reed given job of operation of Missouri City Areas new Methodist Church. He held services in school gymnasium. Members flocked to church services and new building was built. This became one of the largest Methodist Church congregations in Houston.
    2, Reverend Will Reed for whatever reason Divorced his wife and some labeled this as a scandal.
    3. Reverend Will Reed married again, but was assigned the worst Church in Houston Area, being Milby UMC with few members, and could not pay its bills.
    4. Reverend Will Reed did not move into the Pastors Home of Milby UMC, but choose to buy large home in exclusive neighborhood in Clear Lake, where he lives today.
    5. Reverend Will Reed became politically lobbying for money to create mission of caring for underprivileged youth in Pecan Park. However, Pecan Park homes were owned by Mexican Families that doing very well and few underprivileged youth existed.
    6. Reverend Will Reed joined hands with Enron as a source of large grant to expand intended mission of providing GED’s, and internet use education at Milby Campus. A not for profit IRS status originated so grants could be had to support Will Reed’s chosen Mission. Will Reed gained support also from UMC Bishop Huie. Enron bankrupted so grants never advanced to Reverend Will Reed. Those attending Will Reed’s program are majority of Mexican Heritage. Speculation that without background check these Mexican may or may not be legal American Citizens. If so, then US Tax dollars used to support non citizens.
    7. This was strange mission because there existed many places anyone could obtain GED for free, and the City of Houston committed to giving all Houstonian free access to internet service. Feeding of homeless a duplication of Social Security grants so participants did not show up for food until their checks fund spent for non food gratuities. Reverend Will Reed was duplication a service already available.
    8. The grants and donations for this Mission of Will Reed are using Tax Dollars to advance this duplication of service.
    9. Garden Villas UMC had a pastor Sherrill Corson, whose half salary paid for by Garden Villas UMC and she lived in Garden Villas UMC Parsonage with liberal use of money from Garden Villas Methodist Church treasury. Pastor Sherrill Corson secretly worked on the planned closing of Garden Villas Methodist Church in autocratic manner by never asking Garden Villas Methodist Church Trustees, or it members to participate in orderly planned closing of Garden Villas Methodist Church.
    10. Reverend Will Reed had knowledge of the new 2004 Book of Discipline that allowed UMC Bishop Huie to actually close Garden Villas Methodist Church. Reverend Will Reed collaborating planning by Reverend Will Reed and Pastor Sherrill Corson in secret. Half of Pastor Sherrill Corson salary being paid from treasury of those being deceived. They autocratically originated plan under the new 2004 Book of Discipline that reads as follows;
    FOLLOWING EXCERPTS FROM BOD (Book of Discipline United Methodist Church):
     2518. Authorization and Establishment of District Boards of Church Location and Building_There shall be in each district of an annual conference a district board of church location and building. The board shall consist of the district superintendent and a minimum of six and a
    maximum of nine additional persons nominated by the district superintendent in consultation with the district nominating committee, if one exists, and elected annually by the annual conference;
    provided that in a district of great geographical extent an additional board may be so elected. It is recommended that the membership include one_third clergy, one_third laymen, one_third laywomen, and, where possible, should be inclusive of sexgender, race, age, and people with
    disabilities. These persons shall be professing members of The United Methodist Church.
    The members of the board, excluding the district superintendent, shall be divided into three classes. One third shall be elected annually for a three_year term. A chairperson and a secretary shall be elected annually at the first meeting following annual conference. The board shall file a report of any actions taken with the charge conference of each conference or conferednce. The board shall also make a written report to the district conference (or, if there is no district conference, to the district superintendent), and this report shall become a part of the records of that conference.
    Section IV. Churches in Transitional Communities
    21212. Since many of the communities in which the local church is located are experiencing transition, special attention must be given to forms of ministry required in such communities. The local church is required to respond to the changes that are occurring in its surrounding community and to organize its mission and ministry accordingly 2. Since many of the communities i
    1. When the communities where the church is located experience transition especially identified as economic and/or ethnic, the local church shall engage in deliberate analysis of the neighborhood change and alter its program to meet the needs and cultural patterns of the new residents. The local church shall make every effort to remain in the neighborhood and develop effective ministries to those who are newcomers, whether of a cultural, economic, or ethnic group different from the original or present members.
    2. In communities in transition, the local church shall be regarded as a principal base of mission from which structures of society shall be confronted, evangelization shall occur, and a principal witness to the
    changing community shall be realized.
    3. It is recommended that decisions concerning ministry in transitional communities be made after thorough consultation has taken place between structures and agencies in the connection.
    4. It is recommended that the commitment of resources in terms of money and personnel to ministries in transitional communities be of sufficient longevity to allow for experimentation, evaluation, and mid_course corrections to ensure an adequate effort in ministry in those situations. Evaluations shall involve those on the local level as well as those at the funding level.
    5. The ministry of the local church in transitional areas may be enhanced by review and possible development of some form of cooperative ministry.
     213. A Process for Assessment of Local Church Potential__In static, declining, or changing population areas, local churches may take the opportunity to study their congregation’s potential. Upon the request of
    the congregation the district superintendent shall appoint a study task force to do an extensive study of the past, present, and potential ministry of that local church. Alternatively, the district superintendent may appoint such a task force when the future viability of the congregation is in question or whenever he/she deems it necessary for other reasons. The task force shall be composed of an equal number of lay and clergy persons and shall include persons from that congregation.
    1. This study shall include, but not be limited to: a) unique missional opportunities and needs of the community; b) present ministries of the congregation; c) number of leaders and style of leadership; d) growth potential of the surrounding community; e) fiscal and facilities needs; f) distance from other United Methodist churches; g) number and size of churches of other denominations in the community; h) other items that may impact the church’s ability to fulfill the mission of the Church as stated in Chapter One, Section I.
    2. The findings shall be published and presented to the congregation with recommendations as to how best to fulfill the local church’s call to ministry and to optimize the stewared ship of the ministry resources available. The recommendations shall explore options for serving assist them in determining how they shall serve the community witnurture, outreach, and witness ministries as an organized church ( 2) or cooperative parish ministries ( 206) or ecumenical shared ministries ( 207); or give special attention to redevelopment, relocation, or discontinuance. Those invited to the presentation shall include: the members of the congregation, the pastor(s), the district superintendent, and members of the district board of church location and building ( 2518). (SEE LINE ONE THRU TWENTY THREE ABOVE)
    3. a)The members of the local church shall consider the recommendations and adopt a response to them. The district superintendent shall report the results of the study and the congregation’s response to the cabinet, with recommendations for the allocation of conference staff, resourcing, financial support, or other resources needed to undergird the congregation’s efforts to reach its recommended potential. Such annual conference support shall be committed no longer than three years. b) In urban churches where the reported average worship attendance for the previous two conference years is below 25 or is unknown, the District Superintendent may convene a special session of the conference to take.
    1. action concerning the ministry recommendations. In addition to the local church charge conference membership, the members of the District Board of Church Location and Building will be present with voice only.
    11.One Sunday District Superintendent Reverend Welch asked to speak to Garden Villas UMC Congregation, or members. Reverend Welch announced that a plan had been originated starting nine month prior to close Garden Villas UMC at specific date. This autocratic action was new to listeners and they were stunned. However, Reverend Welch used the Cliché “THIS IS GODS WORK”.
    12. Reverend Will Reed and Pastor Sherrill Corson immediately started implementing the un approved plan. There was no worship service at Garden Villas UMC by direction of Reverend Reed and Pastor Sherrill Corson. Members were told to attend Park Place UMC that several miles away. About Ten of former GV UMC members, being mostly choir member accepted the Cliché and went to Park Place UMC. Forty or more member petitioned the Bishop Huie to have worship service as before at Garden Villas United Methodist Church. As token measure Bishop Huie did cause a preacher to conduct a new time service at Garden Villas Methodist Church in two week s after closing at new time of 8:30 am service. This pastor placement by Bishop Huie a token move and directly under control of Reverend Will Reed at Mission Milby. A Adult Sunday School Class was also allowed by Bishop Huie.
    Bottom line to this that Garden Villas Methodist Church members deceived, the nine standing Trustees each put into un wanted position of voting to transfer ownership of land and building at Garden Villas United Methodist Church to outside interest, and abandon worship service using the new Book of Discipline autocratically developed Church Laws to un lawfully merge Garden Villas Methodist Church into a name change and become part of un defined mission in a four church parish.
    A token made to allow former Garden Villas United Methodist Church member Jim McKnight to become representative for development of this illegal procedure to originate the Parrish Concept for the four churches. Jim McKnight became the first member of the un lawfully created Parrish Concept, called Mission Milby, from Garden Villas UMC.
    This matter one that has to be settled on fact issues. Obvious the UMC Bishop Huie acted in Autocratic manner when Book of Discipline spells out Democratic procedures.
    John M. Arrington 8-9-2007
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