When people are more credible than God

16729706_10154591992678143_339497224_nIn our world, if it can be sold, there’s someone selling it and a celebrity promoting it. The marketing machine of our culture is so normal to us that we rarely stop to reflect how mad we’ve gone.

This was highlighted to me the other day when I saw this article from My Christian Daily: “Prince Harry – Do good in your local church.”

I can almost see the frenzied Christian excitement as Prince Harry, a real celebrity, endorsed the church ‘brand.’

On one level it makes me roll my eyes, on another it causes me deep concern.

First, we need to be far more discerning about whom we follow. Are Christians really holding Prince Harry up as an example of someone from whom we should take life guidance? If not, then we shouldn’t grab on to one little thing he says that happens to suit our purpose and promote the heck out of it.

Second, and more importantly, why is it such a big deal when a celebrity says something that God already said? Does that really confirm it as good advice? The Bible is the word of our creator. It is unsurpassed in wisdom and power and truth. Bono, or Lady Gaga or Bear Grylls or Prince Harry cannot come close to adding to the credibility of anything that God himself has said.

The Bible stands alone. I will celebrate if they submit to it, but I will never need them to endorse it.

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Why no one should have been shocked that Trump won.

This last week has been the most fascinating week in international politics that I’ve seen. Donald Trump, the guy we all laughed about, actually won.man-with-mouth-taped-shut

The fallout has been extraordinary. Opinions and emotions run high as the western world teeters on the brink. The unthinkable has happened, and suddenly the future is unpredictable.

On the radio after the election, I heard an American assert his belief that everyone was shocked. Even the Trump supporters weren’t expecting a victory. I found myself wondering: how could this happen?

It’s not the first time. People were shocked over Brexit, and continue to be shocked over our own Australian election results. Surely these things should be predictable?

I see one key reason why they’re not: people convey different opinions in the quiet safety of the polling booth, from those they’re willing to own on the street.

The leftist ‘majority’ is consistently stunned when votes swing to the right; they’re left floundering, wondering how the results could be wrong. Well maybe they’re not wrong. Maybe those of the right-wing persuasion aren’t saying what they think, or maybe the media isn’t reporting it.

Maybe a whole portion of our society is being shut up (because they’re not P.C.) and it’s creating an illusion of consensus that just isn’t right. The thing about democracy, though, is that this silent multitude still gets to vote, and they’re shocking the world when they do.

The shock shouldn’t have happened, because, had we listened, we would’ve known it was coming.

Do we even know whom we voted for?

2016-07-04 20.14.47Australia is awaiting the drawn-out verdict of our election. The probable hung parliament is an unsatisfying result confirming fears that Australians either don’t know what they want, or don’t have confidence in anyone to deliver.

A big part of the problem is that most of us don’t really know whom we’re voting for.

This became mind-twistingly clear to me chatting to both my ‘leftie’ and right-wing friends and trying to reconcile all of their opposing views based on contradictory evidence.

It was daunting to think that as an educated person, I had next to no chance of figuring out what would be good for our country. I wasn’t sure there was any information I could trust.

Were the candidates really whom their websites portrayed? Could party policies be taken at face value or were there hidden agendas that I could never support? Was there truth or merit in any media reports? Do any of us have any idea what is actually going on behind the scenes of our country in defence, or international relations or economics or anything?

As I watched the election count ‘barracking’ for the party I thought I wanted to win, a friend jokingly reminded me that it probably didn’t matter anyway:

Whoever the Illuminati want to get in will get in.

Let’s hope that’s not the case, but either way one thing is still true: God knows who will get in, and whether the world goes to pot or not, He’s got the end game covered.

What was Arnott’s really doing?

Original-Barbecue-175g-300-x-240-300x240I am far from an expert when it comes to the world of marketing (my experience is limited to analysing advertising techniques with high school students) but there’s been something that’s been bugging me and I’m surprised that no one seems to be talking about it.

What was Arnott’s really doing when they launched their new Shapes?

Perhaps everything we’ve been reading is true. Perhaps they did a lot of market research and really thought they’d come up with a better product. Perhaps it was a shock to them that the general public hated it. But I find it kind of hard to believe.

It’s not the first time that a market leading brand has screwed up a change. In fact, it happened just recently. Gladwrap changed the location of their serrated cutting strip and the public went wild. I bought a box of it, not knowing what I was in for, and suffered through inconvenient tearing for months. I had an idea of what they were trying to do. Get people used to the change, and then they’ll only want to buy your brand. It didn’t work. Or did it?9-2652612-nat210115wrap2_t620

Glad seemed to turn their mistake around by showing that they ‘care.’ They ‘listened to their customers’ and the original tearing strip came back. Now lots of happy customers return to buying glad brand.

Hot on Glad’s heels, Arnott’s has changed their iconic shapes brand, and not only do people hate it, but they’re publicly raving about it. It’s hard to believe, but The Sydney Morning Herald and The Herald Sun and others have run articles about it, not to mention the slather of social media posts. Arnott’s hasn’t had this kind of publicity since… well maybe ever!

Apart from the fact that ‘any publicity is good publicity’ what is the real value of consumers slamming Arnott’s for ruining their favourite flavours? Well Arnotts’ seems to have an ‘insurance plan.’ They haven’t actually discontinued the old flavour. What?? If a flavour is so new and improved, why would you have the old flavour, in very similar packaging, still on the shelves? Actually it’s brilliant. It’s fear marketing and intrigue all wrapped up in one. The scandal of the ‘inferior BBQ shapes’ has caused hundreds of people to go out and buy said Shapes just for the novel experience. Everyone wants to judge for themselves. Surely they can’t be that bad? Surely Arnott’s couldn’t have ruined our beloved flavours while leaving the less favourite ones the same?

tumblr_nd0ktnttzW1tm0icro1_1280Not only have hundreds tried the new flavour, but I imagine that hundreds have also rushed out to buy the old flavour like squirrels storing for winter. The real BBQ and Pizza shapes have become endangered species, and for the first time in decades we are afraid that our iconic snack could be pulled out from under us at any moment.

Arnott’s have had a market leading brand with iconic flavours for a long time, and the consumer has become complacent. Innovation is a necessity when you’re in business, but what do you do when you’re already nailing it? Looks like you create something new. An epic, newsworthy failure that sends the country into a hexagonal shaped spin. Far from a tragedy, they’ve just bought themselves months worth of free publicity, even if it is largely negative.

Can they turn it around? Of course they can. They are a company made ‘for the people’ after all. They’ll listen to their customers. They’ll repent for their wrongs. They’ll give us what we want like a bogus reinvention, and we’ll be so, so happy. We’ll reflect on how we made it through the Shapes disaster of 2016, how it was such a close call. We’ll look with love and relief on the aisles full of original flavoured Pizza and BBQ shapes, and we’ll buy them with renewed vigour, with the knowledge of what could have been, what almost was, if we had not banded together as the Australian people to save our beloved Shapes.

If you talk pretty, you can say almost anything you like

 

photoA print out of this quote hangs in one of my classrooms: Good English, well spoken and well written, will open more doors than a college degree. Bad English will slam doors you didn’t even know existed.

It’s a great quote, but behind it lies something sinister.

When people talk pretty, we lap it up.

I’ve just finished watching Q and A, a live political question and answer show broadcast here in Australia. An African-American man was on tonight who spoke like a poet with a bluesy lilt and flawless rhythm. The audience lapped it up. I loved him… he was on point as my teenagers would say, but did we really know what he was saying? I sure didn’t.

If you can talk pretty people will follow you…

(Russel Brand)

… wherever you go…

(Adolf Hitler)

…Beware the power of the great orator

Are you really anti-abortion, or are you just trying to sell products?

Dear Elevit,

I was surprised the other day, as I was watching TV, to come across your advertisement for Elevit with Iodine.

So much of what we see in the media plays down the value of life in the womb, and it does so because that’s what people want. They want to feel like abortion is okay. They want to feel like it’s not really a person in there, that it is scientifically ‘just tissue’ and that they, therefore, have the right to choose what happens to their body. They want to feel that way, because life is tough, and sometimes things happen, and they want a way out that doesn’t come laden with guilt and shame.

So that’s normally what they give us.

Which is why, Elevit, I was surprised by your ad. This is how it began: “When you’re trying to get pregnant, by the time you find out you are, a little person is already coming to life…”

Hang on. ‘Before you know you’re pregnant.’ So that’s within, what, the first six weeks since conception? And you’re saying it’s already a little person? That’s a big call Elevit, a big call.

And I’d commend you, except I’m wondering this: Do you really believe that, or are you just trying to sell tablets to women who are ‘trying to get pregnant?’

Because sometimes I wonder whether we change the meaning of the word ‘person’ and ‘life’ to suit our agenda. And that’s not cool with me.