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Lights. Cameras. Christmas! Absolut-ly.

December 1, 2007

Absolut Stirring and Absolut Ritual

Since 1981, Absolut vodka has been imported into the U.S. from Sweden. Probably inspired by the unusual and proprietary bottle shape, designers and photographers have been creating some pretty imaginative posters advertising Absolut. A good number of them have incorporated religious themes in general and Christmas themes in particular. Absolut Stirring, as in “not a creature was…,” was published in 1994, and Absolut Ritual (What family hasn’t made untangling the Christmas tree lights a family ritual?) hit the market in 2005. View the enlarged version here. If you have any holiday-related Absolut posters from the last 25 years, send them in!

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Hello Dalai

December 1, 2007

Dalai LamaAlthough the Dalai Lama has been exiled from his fellow Tibetans since 1959, he remains their religious leader. The official Web site of “The Office of His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama,” is definitely worth a good look. For at least 25 years, he has leant his image to a variety of ads, including an advertisement for Apple computers. See a larger version of the photo at right. According to his site, the first two of the Dalai Lama’s 3 main commitments in life are:

(1) [O]n the level of a human being, His Holiness’ first commitment is the promotion of human values such as compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, contentment and self-discipline. All human beings are the same. We all want happiness and do not want suffering. Even people who do not believe in religion recognize the importance of these human values in making their life happier. His Holiness refers to these human values as secular ethics. He remains committed to talk about the importance of these human values and share them with everyone he meets.

(2) [O]n the level of a religious practitioner, His Holiness’ second commitment is the promotion of religious harmony and understanding among the world’s major religious traditions. Despite philosophical differences, all major world religions have the same potential to create good human beings. It is therefore important for all religious traditions to respect one another and recognize the value of each other’s respective traditions. As far as one truth, one religion is concerned, this is relevant on an individual level. However, for the community at large, several truths, several religions are necessary.

How do you feel about this religious figure appearing on this billboard? Do you feel the same about him appearing in an Apple ad? Would it depend on the type of Apple ad? Explain.

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Virgin Mobile: Cell phone contracts not kosher

November 30, 2007

Virgin Mobile adVirgin Mobile uses some Jewish symbolism to sell cell phone service. The main image is of a rabbi or a Jewish man wearing a prayer shawl, a tallis, and reading a presumably holy book. The headline reads: “Cell phone contracts. Avoid them like shellfish.” Of course, shellfish are not kosher, and are not to be eaten by Jews who follow the dietary laws known as kashrut. I’ll have to look into this, but the Virgin Mobile logo at the bottom of the page sports a halo. I’m not sure if this is a regular part of the logo, or if it is being used here only. What do you think? Is this funny or is it demeaning? I have a feeling that the Jewish man pictured here is a stock photo, but I don’t know that for sure either. Check out the larger version here.

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Can plum brandy be Jewish?

November 29, 2007

Kosher brandyThis is a product of the Czech Republic. The brandy is kosher, but does that mean that it should be “labeled” with a Star of David? There is a recognized label for kosher products, and it’s a “K” inside a circle. If you aren’t Jewish, what would you take this to mean? The label on the bottle does not indicate that it is kosher. Do you feel that this is a misappropriation of a religious symbol or is this okay? Get a better look at this product from the enlarged version of the image. Comments?

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Here’s a clever idea for spreading the Gospel

November 29, 2007

Gospel in a CookieI’ve heard that this fortune cookie with a verse from the Bible has been around for quite some time. I just discovered it…or rather a whole bag of them…several months ago. The verses are from both the Old and New Testaments. Not only do restaurants use them, but I’ve heard of individuals who serve them at parties. For a larger version of the cookie and message, click this link.

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Muslims advertise, too

November 28, 2007

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has run a recent advertising campaign “designed to foster greater understanding of Islam and to counter a rising tide of anti-Muslim rhetoric in the United States.” The ads were supposed to number 52 in the series, but their Web site shows only about 6 or 7 of these. The photo below is just a part of the ad. Click here to see the full ad. Please comment on whether or not this ad changes your previous conception about Muslims, and if it does, in what way? What was your conception before and what is it now?

Muslim Girl Scout Troop Ad

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Statue of Liberation Through Christ

November 25, 2007

Statue of Liberation, MemphisOn Independence Day of 2006, the congregation of Memphis’s 12,000-member World Overcomers Outreach Ministries Church unveiled their version of the Statue of Liberty. Lady Liberty’s torch is replaced by a cross, and she holds the tablets of the Ten Commandments in her left arm and hand. “Jehovah” is inscribed on her crown. She is called the Statue of Liberation Through Christ, and stands 72 feet tall. The church’s pastor, Apostle Alton Williams, claims that the statue serves as a reminder to all that God is the foundation of our nation. Some people have said that there’s nothing wrong with the statue, especially in the Bible Belt. Some have complained that religion and the symbol of our country’s freedom have nothing to do with each other, and that this statue misconstrues the true meaning of the Statue of Liberty.

Pastor Williams has written a book titled, “The Meaning of the Statue of Liberation Through Christ: Reconnecting Patriotism with Christianity.” His church is predominantly black, and in another of his books, Williams says that the real Statue of Liberty, a gift from France, “was originally intended not to welcome immigrants but to celebrate the emancipation of slaves” (New York Times, 2006).

Dismissed by one man as a cheap publicity stunt, the monument was anything but cheap. The structure cost the church $260,000, and was erected on church property. Williams is quoted at the end of the article as saying, “This statue proves that Jesus Christ is Lord over America, he is Lord over Tennessee, he is Lord over Memphis.”

What does a symbol like this say to people of other religious faiths in America? Are you okay with taking an American icon and changing its appearance and meaning? Does this “work” as evangelism?