Monday, 1 December 2008

I Can't Help Thinking There is Something Missing from This Advert

Take That, Britain's great comeback royalty of Pop, appear in a new advert for M&S at a Christmas celebration with, I assume, beautiful ladies who are their glamourous girlfriend's (at least for the purposes of the ad).

It's a fact that some of these superstars have children and families. They're not spring chickens anymore either. It struck me, that more and more it seems, the mass media promotes a kind of childless society, or at least a society that is embarrassed by the institution of the family, which promotes material possessions and personal success above new life.

Perhaps I am being pedantic or over-sensitive, I don't have a wife and children myself, but I can't help thinking that this advert portrays a sexualised, yet sterile vision of a Christmas gathering. A UN report recently suggested that children in the UK are among the unhappiest in the Western world. Perhaps this advert gives us a little clue as to why...Are we becoming a society that sees children as a burden, or a hinderance to our own egotistical goals? Are we so in love with pleasure that we have forgotten that no amount of money, wealth or fame can make us happy? Are we so attached to the pleasures of this world that we are blinding ourselves to the truth that, for most people at least, fulfilment comes from forgetting our needs and dedicating our lives to bringing into the World and nurturing new life? If as a society we are doing that, then we are sowing the seeds of our own destruction.

My parents raised myself, brother and sister devotedly. There's no such thing as a perfect family or perfect parents, but both gave me a happy childhood, made me feel loved and valued and above all, wanted. The contraceptive generation, the abortive generation, the generation that promotes sterility and sexual relationships that can never bring about new life, how do children feel about this generation? Maybe this is the heart of the matter as to why our children are miserable.

For us, the generation of thirty-somethings, and let's face it there are quite a few of us without children and families, it amounts to a spiritual sickness. We know that living for ourselves won't make us happy. We know that sterile relationships will not bring us true fulfilment. But within ourselves, maybe we are afraid that we are so used to living for ourselves that to step into the unknown of the Sacrament of Marriage and commit ourselves to Procreation is too much for us. What we are really saying is, "I don't want children at the moment because I am too selfish," or maybe, "I can't do it, because I know I am too selfish." We are shirking back from Christ, like St Peter, who when Christ washed his feet said, "Lord, I am not worthy." Well, friends, that is why we need our Lord Jesus Christ and His Church. Christ came to set us free from the emptiness of living for ourselves, to change our hearts and turn them into hearts that live for God and seek His Will, not our own will.

Yet when men and women hold their first child in their arms they weep for joy! Even grown men with a strong sense of machismo cry with delight! The awesome responsibility and palpable wonder of new life transforms men and women's lives.

If there is any advert that promotes the culture of sterility and death that Pope Benedict XVI condemns and the late Pope John Paul II battled, then on the face of it, at least, this is it.


Anonymous said...

Laurence, that's a brilliant post. I had seen the ad and liked the way it was shot. I hadn't really thought about the content.

I was reading this morning about the Christmas we tend to celebrate, the one the Victorians invented. Apparently they were the ones that made it something that should involve children. Before then, it was seen primarily as an adult celebration. It wasn't about the family at all.

I wonder if we're going back that way again...

The Bones said...

Thanks for the comment. Men have to take the lead more, I feel. It is more of a male crisis.

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