(Above: remember the good old days for turkey killers?)
It being Sunday, the pond does its level best to maintain an ongoing interest in mainstream religion in Australia, but really what can you say about this?
The central sacrament is the Eucharist, when we are fed on the bread and wine turned into Christ's Body and Blood so we have the energy to be good and to believe. (Cardinal Pell in Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time).
Human flesh and blood gives you energy? And belief? Is it like some kind of caffeine charged energy drink, only tastier?
Could the cannibals have got it right, and everything since has been a fundamental mistake?
Come on down, Anglicans, let's crank up those theological wars one more time. Just because it's Sunday, there's no reason to skirt around charges of heresy:
Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of Bread and Wine) in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by holy Writ; but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions.
The Body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten, in the Supper, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner. And the mean whereby the Body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper is Faith. (Article XXVIII of The Thirty Nine Articles, agreed by almost everyone that mattered in London, 1562).
Take that, Cardinal Pell ...
Meanwhile, Michael Jensen, who recently re-started the theological wars between the Catholics and the Sydney Anglicans, now turns his attention to thanksgiving in Want to be a revolutionary? Learn to give thanks:
Have we forgotten how to give thanks? Thanksgiving is the potentially the most revolutionary thing you can do against the destructive greed of fundamentalist materialism and capitalism, because it recognises that the source of things is not the system, but the loving hand of God.
Say what? Thanksgiving is the occasion for the mass murder of turkeys, and conspicuous consumption of fundamentalist materialist goods and services as Americans embark on mass transit arrangements to criss-cross the continent in search of turkey meat. (I know this because I've seen Planes, Trains and Automobiles).
Even worse, it's a part pagan festival, and watch out turkeys, thanks to the evil socialist FDR, your date with destiny is now set for the fourth Thursday in November, coming soon, ax in hand to a table near you (we never tyre of American spelling).
Wait a mo, for a moment we were thinking Michael Jensen had gone full blown American evangelist, scribbling fulsome praise of American turkey thanksgiving follies, but he gets through the rest of the piece without once mentioning Thanksgiving in the United States ...
Still hope always lurks beneath the surface. Perhaps it's a surreptitious, underground, undercover attempt to sneak Thanksgiving into Australia:
At several moments in Jesus’ life he gave thanks to his Father. Most often he did this over food – at the feeding of the five thousand, and at the Last Supper. Once again, there is in this receiving of food a counter to the ungratefulness of the Exodus generation for God’s provision for food.
Fish? Sorry, look out turkeys ...
Meanwhile, there seems to a disturbing number of conflicts in the messages emanating from the front page of the Sydney Anglican website.
There's Steve Kryger urging everyone to get down and get with it, and offering 5 reasons to use video in your Christmas services.
It seems the conspicuous consumption of videos might be a materialist digital way forward.
First reason on offer is a wretched attempt to pander to the indolent, insolent YouTube generation:
Cultural comfort - people are familiar with video (thanks YouTube). When newcomers visit our churches over Christmas, many of them will find parts if not all of our services unfamiliar - singing, listening to a sermon, spoken liturgy, etc. Watching a video is familiar, and therefore makes it easy for them to feel comfortable.
Uh huh. But then it gets even more tragic, with Steve Jobs wheeled in to offer advice:
Engagement - Steve Jobs recognised that there is a universal point at which people lose concentration. It doesn't matter how good you are, 10 minutes into a talk, minds start to wander. A video can help bring people back in - ever noticed how when a video starts playing, everyone sits up and starts watching? Thinking about how to keep our listeners engaged is part of loving them.
Was Steve Jobs talking about amateur videos produced by a bunch of amateur Christians?
It reminds me more of a Simpsons episode and long suffering young ones thrust in front of a projector, suffering even more than they might suffer through a sermon by the Rev. Lovejoy ...
More to the point, indulging in a plethora of Xmas videos - getting down and groovy and now and YouTube real - seems very much at odds with the message offered up by Karin Sowada, in Buy Buy Christmas, as she gets terribly distressed about people being made to work over the Xmas break:
Sowada is dead set against any notion that Sydney become a 24/7 real time rocking, video aware capital capable of offering more than a cemetery experience to tourists and secularists over the Xmas break:
As a church we would want to ensure this time of community rest and reflection is preserved, and that the Christian message of these periods is not lost in more displays of unnecessary mass consumption.
Steady. What about the pagan secularist message for these secularist feasts, full of Santas - relocated to China because of cheap labor and materials - and fertility bunnies?
Besides, if you're part of the great unwashed urban secularist masses, like the pond, consumption is necessary.
After all, Christ himself wasn't above bunging on a do for five thousand party goers. And if we can't do over the turkeys, by golly we can break the rulings in Leviticus and do over a solid sampling of shell fish.
Moreover, the further extension of trading is a form of bracket creep; in time there will be inevitable calls for trading on Good Friday. At that point, why bother with Easter holidays at all?
And ruin things for the Easter bunny?
There are plenty of days for shopping and going about one’s business in the rest of the year. In addition, the enthusiasm with which Australians have adopted internet shopping means that the store-based retail experience has less appeal anyway. An enforced break from this activity does everyone good, whether people believe in 'the reason for the season’ or not.
And never mind the poor sods working overtime in the warehouses to fulfil the internet orders in a timely manner.
So what can we deduce from all this?
Well, the holiday silly season is getting earlier and sillier each year, and the Sydney Anglicans sometimes sound sillier than most.
Now if they were getting anxious about workers losing penalty rates for working holidays they might have a point - the pond never got paid a cent beyond basic to work on holydays - but truth to tell, it's really extraordinarily bizarre to propose that consumers can indulge in an orgy of consumerism in privacy within the home, thanks to the intertubes, yet not be able to indulge in an orgy of consumerism in public by way of shops.
While we have little to no interest in the fate of Hardly Normal shops, how on earth will consumers be able to check that the drapes fully cover the piano legs so that no unseemly lust is provoked?
Before they return home, surreptitious iPhone photo handy, to order the drapes over the intertubes ...
Leaving more than enough time to partake of swine with parteth hoof, and all those detestable things without fins and scales that these days swarm in aquaculture more than in the seas and the rivers ...
(Below: an internet Xmas?)