Brian Edwards Media

Sexy knickers in the City.

New Zealand’s Next Top Model is my trash-telly fix of the week. I’m addicted. Will Danielle get to scare model agencies in New York? Will someone punch out Dakota’s lights? Will spending so much time with the twins give everyone diabetes?

Last night the leggy ingénues got to model a new line of underwear  – in St. Matthew’s in the City.

Although the Church and I parted company decades ago, it made me distinctly uncomfortable. And if I was uncomfortable I can only imagine what religious viewers were feeling. A couple of the girls, who are professed Christians, must have seen their wee souls heading straight for purgatory.

It’s not the first time St. Matthew’s has set out to shock. A few months ago a couple of tongue-in-cheek billboards created a nation-wide fuss and upset someone so much they were defaced. So I can’t help thinking that hiring out the church for a bevy of teenagers to strut their stuff up and down the aisle in nothing but a few wisps of lace might have been pushing the envelope a tad too far.

 Am I being a prude, or was this completely inappropriate?

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78 Comments:

  1. Would the Goddess be offended by scantily clad young women?
    Would the Goddess be offended by Her ‘house’ being used as a television prop?
    Would the Goddess be offended by the ‘morality’ of the fashion industry?
    Who is Her official PR spokesperson?
    Is there a Goddess?

  2. A first glance it’s easy to condemn this as inappropriate, (to the extent that it’s up to me to deem it such). Thinking further it does cause one to examine what exactly is the source of the perceived offence.

    Is there anything inherently ungodly about partial nudity or even sexuality? Irreligious, perhaps, but that’s a whole other discussion.

    Is it the commercialism of the arrangement that offends?

    If presenting themselves as progressive and open minded brings more people to the faith and ostensibly to salvation, does the holiest of ends justify the earthliest of means?

    Coming on the heels of the billboard, which frankly wasn’t clever or funny enough to justify the questionable taste, I think the church is sending a risky (risque’)message. As I say, I don’t think it’s up to me to call actions by a church of which I am neither a parishoner nor even a believer ‘inappropriate’. However, what causes me to, on balance, disapprove is less the content than the medium: reality television.

    TV and reality tv in particular are seen as fairly amoral, ‘trashy’ a ‘guilty pleasure’. They carry the taint of sin. I don’t really subscribe to that, but the didgy element here is that the juxtaposition was clearly intended by the producers to be confrontational, challenging to audience and contestants. I suspect the young women had little doubt that, if they objected to this event on religious or simple moral grounds, their future in the show – their chance of advancing their career was limited. It’s a kind of a cruel manipulative trick. It’s the stuff reality shows do all the time, but their willing participants are rarely, as in this case, young and/or minors.

    That’s what really makes it seem cheap & nasty.

  3. I like to think that the God I worship has rather more tolerance than to worry about this sort of trivia. There are greater issues confronting Christianity than a few leggy models walking up the nave of a church. I have no doubt that there will be those who are offended but those same people would probably be offended if the programme were shot in a multi storey car park.

    What irritates me is that the makers of this programme would not have dared to shoot it in a mosque and had they done so there would have been rioting acros the globe, NZ Embassies would have been razed to the ground, John Key would have been burned in effigy and a couple of dozen fatwas would be issued.

    I see that the Moslem Council is calling on Maurice Williamson to apologise for his joke about getting stoned. The members of that tolerant body appear to be oblivious of fact that the joke was about 30 years heard first uttered by Sir Humphrey Appleby on Yes Minister.

    There are times when I start to believe that atheism is the way ahead; until I see Dawkins and realise that he is as bigoted as any evangelical Christian or Imam.

  4. That’s a pretty perceptive analysis, Aaron J.A.

    Certainly the Western Church (Catholics and Protestants) have had a hang-up about sexuality and bodily existence since the time Augustine circulated his personal psychological hang-ups over sin.

    St Matthews in the City have long been a bit of a rent-a-quote adolescent-like rebel, looking for attention by being provocative. In theological and spiritual terms I find them, and also Madonna, rather banal and tediously predictable, rather than cutting edge.

    Also, plenty of alternate streams of Christian spirituality would consider a stone mausoleum, which sucks up financial resources in order to provide a bogus “spiritual space” as an ugly perversion in and of itself. That a group of naive young people got exploited in that location, and in the way that you have discerned, is entirely par for the course.

  5. @ Ben

    From the point of view of secularism, which secures the freedoms of all of us, I can understand your frustration at the double standard in regards to Islam. However, as a Christian, I’m actually a bit concerned about the Church whining all the time about unfair and inconsistent treatment.

    The Church shouldn’t have to ‘rely’ on Caesar to protect it from being offended. I think ‘South Park’ is the most brilliant and honest satire out – if you are arrogant, and pretentious, then you are fair game. Yet we actually had the then-Prime Minister climbing into the Church-provoked and inspired public debate over an episode featuring a menstruating statue of the madonna.

    Hey, I’m more Protestant than Martin Luther, and anything that mocks Mariolotary is fine by me! However, I can well understand why elements of the Christian message, including that rtaher indispensible bit about a Jewish mob demanding the death of their Messiah, would be offensive to Judaism.

    If you are Roman Catholic, Protestant, Muslim or pagan, secularism should safe-guard your right to practice and propagate your beliefs. But spare you from being offended? No way!

  6. It was inappropriate. I don’t normally watch this show and I just happened to have tv on mute when this was aired. The girls looked young, cold and uncomfortable to me and I felt very sorry that they had been pushed (forced really) into modelling underware in a sacred space.

    It’s not that they weren’t beautiful girls, but their bodies shouldn’t be for public consumption anyway, let alone in a space dedicated as a place for worshipping God.

    I’m Catholic and I wasn’t angry, just very, very sad for the girls. That and worried, is this what we have come to as a society? This is quality tv? Girls in lace panties and bras walking the catwalk in front of an altar – I know the show was trying to be edgy, but it was just sad.

  7. I can’t remember when I was last confronted by such pretentious, overblown, pseudo-academic claptrap as the comments on Judy’s post, attempting to justify the segment on New Zealand’s Next Top Model in which a group of young women were encouraged to parade in bras and knickers up and down the aisle of St Matthews in the City for the entertainment of television viewers. Small wonder that the Anglican Church is, as Sir Paul Reeves described it to me over a decade ago, ‘dead in the water’. I’m an atheist, but I’m saddened to see the respect and dignity that ought to be accorded to a place of worship auctioned off in the interests of a populist, liberal ideology, which is intended to make the church more relevant to the present day, but in fact makes it less so. Like Judy, I enjoy this programme, but this was little more than desecration. If it represented a serious lapse of judgement by the producers of the programme, it was an even more serious, but unsurprising lapse of judgement on the part of the clerics who condoned it.

  8. BE – Yes, the clergy who accepted this use for their church should be blamed. I’m not Anglican obviously, but this must be a terrible feeling for Anglicans – to see their precious, sacred space treated in this way.

  9. Just another sign of the desperation the church has in maintaining a congregation. Remember the days of the Sunday evening Bible Class dance, held after the church service. At least they had the decency to hold it in the church hall, rather than in the sanctity of the place of worship.

  10. There is a dance party soon at St Matthews.

    The average clubber is no friends of judgmental religion and all it’s bullshit morality, so I have no doubt that that godless lot will relish the irony – and take advantage of the opportunity…

    Meanwhile, I won’t watch NZ next’s top model because I am uneasy with looking at sixteen year old school girls in underwear. Perhaps instead of showing organised religions trademark obsession with its own self-importance some of the people here ought to think a bit more about that.

  11. “I’m an atheist, but I’m saddened to see the respect and dignity that ought to be accorded to a place of worship auctioned off”.

    “Ought” is an interesting word from an atheist, especially in regards to what the Church should or should not be doing. ‘Pagans’ are often better than ‘the faithful’ at picking the spiritually bogus. The media campaign against Brian Tamaki springs to mind.

    Not sure if your statement, “I can’t remember when I was last confronted by such pretentious, overblown, pseudo-academic claptrap” was aimed at my posts, but seeing you’ve thrown down the gauntlet…

    I see you are fixated with the idea of the “desecration” of a “place of worship”. Have a read of Acts chapter 7 – the trial and stoning of Stephen, ultimately because he rejected the ‘sacredness’ of stone buildings – “However, the Most High does not live in houses made by men”.

    I have little doubt the programme (and the entire series for that matter) was tacky. I also agree on the embarrassing desperation of St Matthews in City to appear hip and relevant.

    However, I’ll still stick by my opinion, well stated by Aaron J. A., that the real desecration was the objectifying and exploitation of young women. They, like all of us, are the true bearers of the image of God.

    Also, I think you are easily impressed if you think Reeves is a bastion of spiritual discernment. I’ve generally considered his views and ecclesiastical policies typical of the liberal nonsense that seeks to marry the spirit of this age, only to end up a widow in the next.

    …and Tess – not wishing to drag this into a sectarian bickering session, but why should you be concerned about what the Anglican clergy does? Your own leader rightly (from the point of view of Catholic orthodoxy, apostolic succession, etc.) announced recently that they aren’t even real ‘clergy’!

  12. “Tess – not wishing to drag this into a sectarian bickering session, but why should you be concerned about what the Anglican clergy does? Your own leader rightly (from the point of view of Catholic orthodoxy, apostolic succession, etc.) announced recently that they aren’t even real ‘clergy’!”

    That’s okay Kimbo, it’s a valid question and one that to answer fully is a bit theological. There are two different ways that we can gain the grace of God “ex opere operantis”, and “ex opere operato”. To quote Blessed John Henry Newman:

    “Grace is given ex opere operato, when, the proper dispositions being supposed in the recipient, it is given through the ordinance itself; it is given ex opere operantis, when, whether there be outward sign or no, the inward energetic act of the recipient is the instrument of it.”

    To put it another way, Anglicans gain the grace of God through their worship ex opere operantis – their faith and love of God is the instrument by which God’s grace is given to them.

    Therefore even though the Catholic Church sees Anglican orders differently to their own, they are still powerful Christian witnesses. Any space dedicated to God is important, including churches of other denominations. Anglicans are Christians, they worship Jesus Christ, to have a space consecrated for worship to be used to sell things (whether it be the underware the girls were wearing, or the tv show itself) is a stunning example of the kind of trading that Jesus attacked directly in the Temple.

    Jesus quotes Isaiah 56:7 “for my house will be called a house of prayer” and then adds “but you are making it a den of robbers.” in Matthew 21:13. St Matthews in the City is a house of prayer and to see it used as a commercial venue was upsetting especially given that the girls were nearly naked.

  13. …wasn’t so much that I don’t think an atheist philosophical framework can’t provide reasonable and consistent moral judgements, sometimes better than the ‘faithful’. They certainly can and do, and it is pious arrogant claptrap for the Church to insinuate otherwise. As I suggested, the ‘secular’ media has picked Tamaki’s true nature far better than his flock…

    However, I’m struggling to understand the foundation for your position, and the vehemence of your rhetoric. If you don’t think/believe/know there is a God, then there is no basis, in the way that SOME Christians claim, that a certain space or building can be set apart, i.e., ‘holy’ or ‘sacred’.

    If you agree it is a designated ‘place of worship’ as a result of the beliefs and actions of the faith community who utilise it, as it seems you must, then fair enough…

    But if you are within the ‘theist’ camp, and more particularly the Christian family, there is a solid tradition of embracing the ‘genuine’, and rejecting the ‘idolatrous’. That’s is what you meant when you criticised ‘populist, liberal ideology’.

    I’m delighted that, unlike some 200 years ago, our society allows Roman Catholics to worship freely, and without penalty. I’m also delighted we are relatively free of the sectarian bigotry that has characterised pockets of the provinces you hail from.

    Yet I’ll admit that my teeth grind a bit when I see Tess writing about an ‘altar’. May seem like an obscure argument over the label of a piece of furniture, on a par with many angels can fit on a pinhead. However, it cuts to the heart of an insoluble 500 year debate concerning the true nature, form, and function of the Church. If you are a Protestant, and you reject ‘populist, liberal ideology’, then there are certain things you are duty-bound to ‘protest’ about!

    If that sounds like its “pretentious, overblown, pseudo-academic claptrap”, then perhaps you should advise Judy not to pose questions which have their resolution in the teachings, actions, and nature of a certain Jewish carpenter who was put to death because he didn’t think a temple was such a vital and indispensable place.

  14. Thanks for the reply, Tess, although I think you misunderstand my intent. I’m well aware of Rome’s position, but thank you all the same for stating it in such a charitable manner.

    However, having given much consideration to the matter over many years, I choose to reject it, along with the particular manifestations of spirituality, including a sacrament-administering clergy, and a ‘bells and smells’ approach to worship. I’m a bit happier with John Calvin’s advice, that if you want to ‘see’ God, then ‘put your eyes in your ears’, and listen to the Scriptures.

    In that regards, thanks for reminding me of Matthew’s citation of Isaiah. I prefer to put greater weight and consideration on Christ’s words in John 2:19, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days”.

  15. If that sounds like its “pretentious, overblown, pseudo-academic claptrap”, then perhaps you should advise Judy not to pose questions which have their resolution in the teachings, actions, and nature of a certain Jewish carpenter who was put to death because he didn’t think a temple was such a vital and indispensable place. Really!! Why did he violently chase out the money lenders?

    • If that sounds like its “pretentious, overblown, pseudo-academic claptrap”, then perhaps you should advise Judy not to pose questions which have their resolution in the teachings, actions, and nature of a certain Jewish carpenter who was put to death because he didn’t think a temple was such a vital and indispensable place. Really!! Why did he violently chase out the money lenders?

      ‘advise Judy not to pose questions’ Now Judy, if you don’t stop posing those questions I shall have to chastise you! Oh dear, what sort of paternalistic world do you live in, Edward?

      A world devoid of logic certainly. Why did he chase out the moneylenders? Well, precisely because he thought their presence was an affront to God and to the sanctity of the temple. Rather like teenage girls in their knickers perhaps.

      Or was that the point you were making and I misunderstood you?

  16. Recently I vistited mosques in the UAE and Cathedrals in Britain. As an aetheist, I couldn’t accept their beliefs but sure as hell, I could respect their right to believe. If the rule of a particular place was clear, there is no way I would do anything to interfere by dress or words or actions, their particular position. Therefore it must be up to that particular church to state and keep their mores. Not mine to judge.

    The Abu Dhabi Central Mosque by the way, is an incredible wonderful building. I bet they would not allow skimpy clothing or ignoble actions to take place there!

  17. A wickedly funny poster by the way!

  18. “Why did he violently chase out the money lenders?”

    Exploitation of the poor. Money changing was actually a necessity to enable the required system of animal sacrifice to function effectively. Ever tried to lug a lamb or a goat on a month long journey to Jerusalem without the means of modern transport?! “Den of thieves” gives the game away.

    In John’s gospel, the incident of the temple cleansing leads to the question of Christ’s authority to perform it. The answer, “destroy this temple…”(2:19), and the explanation, “but the temple he had spoken of was his (resurrected)body” (2:21) indicates that the stone building where the debate took place was no longer the genuine place of worship. Mosaic worship was always predicated on one ‘place and form’ if worship was to be legitimate (Deuteronomy 12, especially verse 5)

    Confirmed a couple of chapters later, in a debate Jesus had with someone fixated on the ‘right location’ to worship: 4:19-26, “a time is coming when you will (not) worship in Jerusalem (as commanded in the law of Moses, in a specific place, with specific physical requirements and procedures!)…(but) in spirit and in truth”.

    Thoroughly agree with Ianmac: “Therefore it must be up to that particular church to state and keep their mores. Not mine to judge”

  19. ………..he didn’t think a temple was such a vital and indispensable place.

    “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” (Mark 11:15-17 RSV)
    Doesn’t suggest that Christ “didn’t think a temple was such a vital and indispensable place”.

  20. “Doesn’t suggest that Christ “didn’t think a temple was such a vital and indispensable place”.

    Suggest you rethink you views in the light of his prediction that the entire structure was soon to be torn down (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21).

    Also, you may want to consider the facts the Church functioned for nearly all of its first 300 years without “church buildings”, and the New Testament is devoid of any reference to them, let alone explicitly stating the requirement.

  21. Fascinating stuff – my rather general question has set off a maelstrom of religious debate. Fine, go with it.

    However, my discomfort had little to do with religion, with which I parted company in my teens. Let me refine my thoughts on this:

    I feel for those girls who were embarrassed, but a model is going to be put in many such awkward situations. If your beliefs or morality conflict with your vocation, you need to take a good, hard look at that before committing to it. Either you harden up or you walk away.

    However, I have always regarded the causing of unnecessary distress – be it offence, embarrassment or discomfort – as gratuitous and therefore rather cruel. Most people grow out of this behaviour when they reach adulthood and a slightly higher level of morality, insofar as they forsee the effects of their actions on others. I dislike practical jokes, because to me they fall into this category, and I used to detest television shows like ‘Beadle’s About’ that relied on embarrassing people in public for a cheap laugh.

    An underwear parade in a church was a calculated piece of shock value. “What’s the naughtiest place we can think of to film this? Tee hee – let’s do it in a church!” Not only gratuitous, but professionally insane when you may alienate your audience and lose ratings. Would they have held an underwear parade on a war memorial or cenotaph? Of course not, for the very reasons I have outlined – it would be disrespectful and upsetting to members of the public.

    I have no problem with dance parties, underwear parades or indeed orgies in churches. I have a problem with people deliberately distressing others for no better reason than personal satisfaction.

    An astute 10-year-old could have predicted that this parade of teenage flesh and sexuality in a place of worship would be disturbing for many people. If the programme’s organisers didn’t forsee the distress this would cause to some of their viewers, then the church administration most certainly should have.

    If the church was not made aware of the nature of the shoot, then shame on NZNTM. If the church was aware, then shame on St. Matthew’s.

  22. They are Kimbo’s words, not mine Brian. I don’t live in a paternalistic world and am well pleased when a woman reaches the heights of power usually assumed by men. Quite frankly I assume they will do a better job based on their lower rate of criminality compared to the male of the species.

  23. @BE “I can’t remember when I was last confronted by such pretentious, overblown, pseudo-academic claptrap as the comments on Judy’s post, attempting to justify the segment on New Zealand’s Next Top Model in which a group of young women were encouraged to parade in bras and knickers up and down the aisle of St Matthews in the City for the entertainment of television viewers”

    I can’t remember when I was last confronted by such a strange over reaction from BE. A reasonable post by JC is followed by what seemed to me perfectly reasonable, inoffensive and sane analysis and commentary. Strictly “reasonable people can choose to disagree” territory. When I came to BE’s comment I initially assumed some kind of glitch meant I was missing some hidden intemperate or otherwise unbalanced comments.

    Since I am here I may as well weigh in with my own opinion on this. I am with Dawkins. Let’s be rational about this. There is no such thing as a spiritual dimension or a sacred place. The emperor (a little like the models) has no clothes. The real tragedy is that so many resources, so much wasted human effort and industry for so many centuries has been sunk on making churches into such nice places. But seeing that churches do exist and are nice buildings, they may as well be used in contexts where you need a nice building. I think this is entirely independent of the merits (or otherwise, I don’t watch it and can’t judge) of NZ’s Top Model.

  24. I don’t live in a paternalistic world and am well pleased when a woman reaches the heights of power usually assumed by men.

    Excluding the blond bimbos in the Act Party, of course.

  25. “‘advise Judy not to pose questions’ Now Judy, if you don’t stop posing those questions I shall have to chastise you! Oh dear, what sort of paternalistic world do you live in..?”

    Gender was never the issue, and I’d suggest your cry of paternalism is a possible reflection of your own foibles and hang ups. Judy posted, I responded, you intervened as a third part with commentary – in a rather irascible form, I’d suggest. However, as I’ve basically been suggesting ‘precious’ places of worship get razed to the ground, I won’t make too big a fuss about being offended!

    Judy, thanks for the re-focusing the questions. I’d suggest that you have unwittingly given the sought-after oxygen and publicity to this tacky programme, first by watching, and then by commenting.

    It’s all very well wringing ones hands over trashy tabloids, but if folk would exercise discretion, the market would dry up.

  26. So, “sexy knickers” at Saint Matthew’s in the City is bad. A fundraising “debate” where every speaker laces their orations with sexual innuendo (and I had a fabulous time for a worthy cause) is OK.

    Good to know.

  27. If you weren’t offended, and the audience wasn’t offended, and a good time was had by all, then of course it was OK.

    It’s not the venue, it’s the intent and the reaction.

  28. Kimbo – sorry for misunderstanding you. One of the downsides of internet debates is that often we know nothing of the other posters, so I’m sorry if I was showing you how to suck eggs :) Maybe it will inform another person reading it.

    “I prefer to put greater weight and consideration on Christ’s words in John 2:19, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days”.”

    Here we agree wholeheartedly.

    I would like to add that I would feel a similar way if NZNTM had used a Hindu temple or a Muslim mosque. I think we run the risk of losing the specialness of sacred spaces. Although perhaps Hindus and Muslims would be more careful about allowing their worship space to be used in such a way.

    I do wonder what the Anglican bishops think of it all. And I wonder what the original Anglicans whose hard earned money went to pay for the building of the church would feel if they were to see what happened.

  29. I am not clear why an atheist should be bothered about what happens in a church. It is just a building. Worship comes from the heart not from bricks and mortar.

    The evangelical church my son attends is in a town hall. At other times it may host all sorts of events including scantilty clad females but that does not lessen it as a place of worship on a Sunday. The Anglican Church is dying not because of what goes on in its schurches but because of what goes on outide its churches.

    As Michael foot said, “being a meber of the Liberal Party is like being a member of the Church of England; it does not require you to believe in anything in particular.

    Too many of the problems of organised religion stem from the willingness of people to take offence at the most trivial occurrence. With all due respect Christianity does not really need your sympathy, Brian.

  30. @Craig Ranapia
    So, “sexy knickers” at Saint Matthew’s in the City is bad.

    You would have to worry about any institution which dressed up little boys as girls like church choirs do.

  31. “It is just a building. Worship comes from the heart not from bricks and mortar.”

    It isn’t ‘just’ a building. It was purpose built ‘from the heart’ to be a place to worship God. A church has a specific function given to it by its builders. A church is a symbol of the Mystical Body of Christ – the actual church – being the unity of believers. In a church, the church gathers, the ecclesia. This place of gathering has been built for that purpose and to help lift our hearts and minds to God.

    Churchs are there for people for their whole lives. Babies are baptised, couples married, the dead have their funerals. It’s a place for joy and sorrow, but it shouldn’t be for commercial use especially when what is being sold is images of teenage girls barely wearing anything.

  32. “I do wonder what the Anglican bishops think”

    I’m reminded of the words of Louis XVI, when a particularly unsuitable candidate was recommended for episcopal office: “No, no, no! The bishop of Paris must at least believe in God!”

  33. Kimbo – LOL, well said.

  34. Tess, you highlight the problem of the established religions; the attachment to material things. Apart from the fact that some churches are beautiful in their own right, the use to which they are put is irrelevant to the needs of Christianity. I suggest you go and visit the great cathedrals of Europe. Most of them now charge for admission, dismissing the notion of spirituality. The money changers have well and truly taken over the temple.

    When one enters one is confronted with a a mass of tourists, pointing cameras, eating ice creams talking in loud voices and having not the slightest interst in the spritual nature of the establishment. By comparison holding a lingerie party in St Matthews is the very model of restraint.

  35. Ben – two wrongs don’t make a right.

  36. I find this argument difficult to place amongst the crimes committed indirectly/directly by religous orders.The molestation by priests of alterboys really angers me.The possible inappropriate use of a church by lingerie models pales in significance.

    • find this argument difficult to place amongst the crimes committed indirectly/directly by religous orders.The molestation by priests of alterboys really angers me.The possible inappropriate use of a church by lingerie models pales in significance.

      Well, yes it does. But this sort of argument really isn’t all that helpful. Can we only discuss the most egregious errors or behaviours? How about this reasoning: the rorts committed by Wall Street Bankers pale in comparison to to the attacks on the Twin Towers and are therefore barely worth discussing.

  37. “However, I have always regarded the causing of unnecessary distress – be it offence, embarrassment or discomfort – as gratuitous and therefore rather cruel”.

    Participants in an industry who pressure young women to diet unnaturally and obsess over body image…

    wearing clothes made in 3rd world sweat shops…

    on a programme utilising a genre (reality TV) that is essentially exploitative contrived drama…

    which is the primetime ratings flagship for a TV desperate for ratings,and have a reputation for pushing the boundaries of taste…

    and a liberal church as desperate as a puppy on a leash to get attentions, so they’re prepared to whore themselves…

    in a context which relies on self-regulation.

    Seems to me this was a train wreck always waiting to happen. If you wanted to experience, “love your neighbour as yourself”, this wasn’t the bunch of people to go to.

    As it was so predictable, why should I give the producers the satisfaction of raising my ire?

    • As it was so predictable, why should I give the producers the satisfaction of raising my ire?

      Reasonable question, Kimbo. But then why give them the satisfaction of devoting so much energy and so many words to the issue on this blog?

  38. Tess, if you are going to argue in cliches I surrender.

  39. I am not suprised, for some times “St Matthews in the City” has been the Sodem and Gomorraha of Auckland, it festates, pulsates sin, it is surely a place that Satan would call home, indeed he may well do so such is the level of depravity that takes place in what was once a place of worship.
    It is no longer that, how can one pray to God in a place that spits in the very face of that act.

  40. superCalo: brilliant; how do I get tickets?

  41. Hmm. Is that an other paternalistic intervention on behalf of your partner?

    I wasn’t the one who actually watched the programme, and then described it as “my trash-telly fix “. However, we are all allowed our inconsistencies. God knows, I have mine.

    As I’ve outlined before, there is an irony here. As an atheist you were ‘saddened’ by what happened. Whilst I take no pleasure in Tess’ discomfort, or yours actually (although she has ‘more on the line’, so to speak), as a Christian, like Ben, I actually couldn’t care less what they did in that particular venue. I also think my faith should robust enough to endure some trash TV silliness.

    To paraphrase Voltaire, defend to the death my right to practice my faith, and I’ll defend your right to believe atheism. But like Ben said, I don’t want or need anyone to protect my delicate sensibilities or sense of good taste from assault. The Church has wasted enough people’s time over too many centuries playing that violin

    Why devote so much energy and so many words?

    Because I found the subject of interest, as shown by my discussion with Tess…

    Because I found it focused my thinking, as shown by my response to Aaron J. A…

    Because it was an exercise in thickening up my skin, as shown by my capacity to absorb your critiques…

    Because Judy took the time to refocus the question, so I considered her efforts deserved the courtesy of consideration and a response.

    • Hmm. Is that an other paternalistic intervention on behalf of your partner?

      While I appreciate your efforts, Kimbo, I find your defence of me is the better example of ‘paternalistic’.

      After nearly 30 years, Brian’s has far too much respect for his kneecaps to be patronising .

      I don’t always agree with him (mmm.. make that quite often?), and we can get into shouting matches over the use of commas – but I can fight my own corner with scary efficiency.

  42. …I’ve been warned! :)

  43. “we can get into shouting matches over the use of commas”

    …and photographs of plumbers’ backsides perhaps?

  44. I think Kimbo is reacting to the strange manner in which an apparently angry BE waded into the debate in JC’s defense. My comment on this earlier was lost in moderation limbo for 24 hours or so.

    I suspect that JC and BE with their talk of a serious lapse of judgement etc. have actually got this one quite wrong. Maybe I haven’t been paying attention but I have not detected a backlash, nor would I expect one. Society has grown up and moved on. Models strutting in their underwear ? Well that’s what they do. In a church ? Hmmm, cool location, why not.

    • I suspect that JC and BE with their talk of a serious lapse of judgement etc. have actually got this one quite wrong. Maybe I haven’t been paying attention but I have not detected a backlash, nor would I expect one. Society has grown up and moved on. Models strutting in their underwear ? Well that’s what they do. In a church ? Hmmm, cool location, why not.

      Curious concept of ‘growing up’.

      ‘In a church? Hmmm, cool location, why not?’ Why not indeed? And why not move to the next logical step – Steve Crow would undoubtedly find this a really ‘cool location’ for his next Erotica Exhitition.

      And, by the way, Bill, I wasn’t angry. I was merely commenting on the lamentable quality of some of of the arguments.

  45. …at the risk of being accused of engaging in pretentious, overblown, pseudo-academic claptrap, that looks at first glance like reductio ad absurdum to me, but I’ll think about it a bit more.

    I’m actually a bit perplexed as Judy has argued that it’s not the place, it’s the intent to provoke, that is the issue,

    “I have no problem with dance parties, underwear parades or indeed orgies in churches. I have a problem with people deliberately distressing others for no better reason than personal satisfaction”.

    …whereas you seem to be saying there is an inherent quality about the location in question,

    “I’m saddened to see the respect and dignity that ought to be accorded to a place of worship auctioned off…this was little more than desecration”.

    Fair enough, the two of you don’t have to agree. However, I’d suggest that my argument, no matter how “lamentable” its quality, at least had the merit of more logical consistency. It’s just getting a bit difficult to keep up with the goal posts the two of you are moving.

    • My argument is consistent. Brian’s argument is consistent. They are simply different arguments.

    • Fair enough, the two of you don’t have to agree. However, I’d suggest that my argument, no matter how “lamentable” its quality, at least had the merit of more logical consistency. It’s just getting a bit difficult to keep up with the goal posts the two of you are moving.

      You could always find another site more appreciative of your efforts.

  46. …but also contradictory. Anyway, thanks for the debate. Byeeeee

  47. @BE “Curious concept of growing up”
    I think learning what is important and what’s not is pretty reasonably correlated with “growing up” actually. And I still see nothing to get outraged about here. So I stick to my view.

    I’m guessing St Matthews would reject Steve Crowe so the issue wouldn’t arise. If he did manage to do his erotica gig in the church I for one would be no more or less outraged than if he did it anywhere else (hint: I wouldn’t be outraged at all).

    And I’ve re-read the early, apparently “lamentable” arguments again and I still find nothing remarkable about them. They’re just opinions and comments, reasonably stated.

    I’m starting to suspect your definition of a lamentable argument is one you don’t agree with. We saw this recently with your description of Mary Wilson making “mincemeat” of Simon Power. What actually happened was that she competently espoused one argument (I’m guessing the one you agreed with) and he competently espoused the opposite argument. No one made mincemeat of anyone, it was a battle between equals.

    Sorry to change the subject.

    • I’m guessing St Matthews would reject Steve Crowe so the issue wouldn’t arise. If he did manage to do his erotica gig in the church I for one would be no more or less outraged than if he did it anywhere else (hint: I wouldn’t be outraged at all).

      That doesn’t surprise me. All of this seems to me to represent a sort of moral or perhaps cultural desensitisation. It’s extremely difficult to argue against an ‘anything goes’ philosophy. One ends up looking fuddy duddy, out of touch, old fashioned. Well, I’ll just have to wear it. To me it’s ‘obvious’ that teenage girls prancing around in their bras and knickers are really out of place in a church. And you tell me, Bill, that a bit of porn would be OK too. There’s no possibility of a meeting of minds here. There is simply no common ground.

  48. …actually on 2nd thoughts, I don’t think Brian’s argument is consistent.

    Judy, you are arguing that because it is deliberately distressing to some folk, the lingerie parade was not on. In a sense, the venue was irrelevent to you, other than you anticipated how others would feel by an act of deliberate provocation.

    But Brian seems to have consistently ignored that argument, and is arguing there is something inherently “holy’ about the site. You would seem to corroborate this when you point out that the two of you have different arguments.

    For something to be holy, it is set apart by God and/or humanity. Which rather begs the question, if one is an atheist, and one not taking into account the sentiments/beliefs/feelings of the group who inhabit it, how can any site be ‘holy’?

    Check with your “lamentable quality of some of of the arguments”, to which I respond “checkmate” with my QED, Mr Edwards? Somehow I doubt it.

    Also, speaking of unlikely events, Bill Forster, “I’m guessing St Matthews would reject Steve Crowe so the issue wouldn’t arise”.

    Scoundrels like Steve Crow and St Matthews naturally gravitate together, so I wouldn’t be so sure! In fact I can very well imagine the vestry meeting:

    “How can we promote this really saucy ‘Song of Solomon’ book in a way that’s rrrrreally relevant to our community, and just happens to get us a bit of publicity? I know…!”

    • …actually on 2nd thoughts, I don’t think Brian’s argument is consistent.

      Have a look at Tony’s comment ‘a building has no inherent spiritual value….’ above. He expresses it perfectly. What this has to do with is how people feel; it’s about, as Tony says, manners and respect. Your clever dialectics really miss that point entirely. This is a game to you. It’s all about words and nothing about the reality of what people feel, experience, believe. I’ll leave others to play with you. I can’t be bothered.

  49. A building has no inherent spiritual value. But by virtue of usage and symbolism people will ascribe such to a building. The programme makers knew that and were deliberately disrespectful, presumably on the basis that such actions attract viewer interest.

    As so often it all comes down to good manners and
    respect. It is no different to burning the Koran (which as a physical object has no inherent spiritual value) except that the differing perspectives are intra-cultural rather than inter-cultural. Anyone who objects to the burning of the Koran on the basis of respect and tolerance should equally object to what happened here. And the fact that the church custodians approved it is immaterial. After all we are not dealing with intrinsic value but ascribed value. If they don’t share it, fine. Others do, just as they do with war memorials, Maori carvings and the Americas cup. Where are our manners in the 21st century?

  50. “we are not dealing with intrinsic value but ascribed value”

    I’d agree with in regards to this matter, but Tess wouldn’t, and neither does Brian by the look of things.

    “Anyone who objects to the burning of the Koran on the basis of respect and tolerance should equally object to what happened here”.

    Yeah, I’d agree with you, but what if you consider your cause just, and it is a necessary action, then I’d rather safeguard the freedom to do it – while expressing strong disagreement.

    Actions like burning a flag (especially American ones) strike me as passive-aggressive posturing, and very insulting. But there’s a whole bunch of self-righteous ’60s hippies still dining out on the fact they did when Spiro Agnew visited in 1970.

    What about a South African flag in 1981?

    What about a Nazi one in 1936?

    Perhaps that judge had it right – I don’t know how to define indecency exactly, but I know it when I see it!

  51. I’m surprised there’s no common ground. I’m something of a curmudgeon myself, quite the old fuddy duddy actually. I just don’t see churches as particularly special places, and I certainly aren’t surprised or shocked by models in underwear. It’s not New Zealands Next Top Tax Accountant after all. A bit of sex appeal is surely par for the course. Anyway, agreeing to disagree is fine with me. All the best arguments end that way.

  52. …you are a very presumptuous, dare I say it, arrogant fellow. I also suspect, contrary to your earlier denials that you did not respond in anger, you are in denial, and self-deceit. At least I have some tangible evidence to discern your intent.

    I think I took the time to carefully listen to Tess, and despite our differences, was thoughtful and and engaged sensibly. That is more than you have exhibited.

    Actually Brian, it’s not a ‘game”. I’ve laid my cards on the table. I think it is spiritually hazardous to be ‘fixated’ on a place of worship, but, as I’ve stressed, I take no delight in the discomfort of others. So no – I didn’t miss the point entirely. Instead I considered there were other more important issues at stake.

    Frankly, for a man with no formal faith (a view to which you are entitled), you are rather pious, and dare I say it, dogmatic in your utterances.

    Fair enough – your blog site – in which, by mutual agreement we shall not meet again

    • …you are a very presumptuous, dare I say it, arrogant fellow. I also suspect, contrary to your earlier denials that you did not respond in anger, you are in denial, and self-deceit. At least I have some tangible evidence to discern your intent.

      Live long and prosper, Kimbo.

  53. Hey Kimbo, don’t be like that. Don’t take it personally, it’s all just robust debate. This site needs people who are prepared to keep BE honest and challenge him sometimes. Otherwise he’ll no doubt conclude he’s right about everything. (Indeed there’s evidence he’s already leapt to that conclusion :-)

  54. …er, no, Bill. It’s not ‘robust debate’ – it’s snide and smarmy rudeness, posing as wit and considered commentary.

    Anyway, like I said – over and out!

  55. Just to fling one final comment at you all – it’s like there is a race to see who can be the most unshockable and blasé about the whole thing.

    I guess I’m just old fashioned enough to be surprised by the tv show (and I’m not even forty yet). But then I go to church on Sunday and to me they are special places.

    Still, don’t trust me. I’m still wandering about the cultural landscape shaking my head and saying ‘but marriage is about a man and a woman having babies’ and ‘huh… half naked porn stars on main st like a blue movie Santa parade?’.

  56. I don’t perceive myself to be a participant in any unshockability race. In fact I am a deeply unfashionable middle aged man with absolutely no credibility in the world of stylemeisters, fashionistas and trendsetters. So I am not trying to make a statement or pretend I am cooler and more blase than I really am. I am just not shocked. At all. And I am really surprised anyone outside the most deeply conservative is. The whole thing has left me shaking my head in wonder. On the very next page BE is trashing Family First, but on this page he is advocating a position that would positively bring joy to their hearts. And following up by essentially bullying a guy with the temerity to disagree with him off the site. The whole episode just makes me sad.

    I will admit I am worried by one aspect of my own position in this debate. Where do I stand with respect to people like you (Tess) who are hurt and upset by the spectacle in question. The last thing I want to do is add to anyone’s genuine distress ! My attitude to life is to live and let live. My default position is to always be friendly and welcoming to anyone, to assume the best rather than the worst.

    So: I suppose my attitude is, I respect your position, you are upset and shocked. If I was a decision maker involved in the production of the program, I would weigh that up along with everything else and maybe (*maybe*) choose to do the evening wear category in the church instead !

    • On the very next page BE is trashing Family First, but on this page he is advocating a position that would positively bring joy to their hearts.

      I’m not sure where you found me ‘trashing’ Family First. I merely reprinted their survey and their ‘scores’ for the five contenders.

      That said, I find what you’ve said in this comment entirely reasonable. “So: I suppose my attitude is, I respect your position, you are upset and shocked. If I was a decision maker involved in the production of the program, I would weigh that up along with everything else and maybe (*maybe*) choose to do the evening wear category in the church instead !”

      My position was best summarised by Tony when he wrote:

      “A building has no inherent spiritual value. But by virtue of usage and symbolism people will ascribe such to a building. The programme makers knew that and were deliberately disrespectful, presumably on the basis that such actions attract viewer interest. As so often it all comes down to good manners and respect. It is no different to burning the Koran (which as a physical object has no inherent spiritual value) except that the differing perspectives are intra-cultural rather than inter-cultural. Anyone who objects to the burning of the Koran on the basis of respect and tolerance should equally object to what happened here. And the fact that the church custodians approved it is immaterial. After all we are not dealing with intrinsic value but ascribed value. If they don’t share it, fine. Others do, just as they do with war memorials, Maori carvings and the Americas cup. Where are our manners in the 21st century?”

      My objection to Kimbo’s numerous comments was that he seemed to me to be treating this as a theological argument when in fact it was an argument about social mores, about the appropriateness of certain types of behaviour, and its effect on those who do regard a church as a special place, deserving special respect. Tess, to whom you refer in your comment, is one such person.

      I’m perfectly happy to admit that Kimbo really got up my nose with what seemed to me interminable semantic nit-picking. But he certainly wasn’t ‘bullied off the site’. If I want someone off the site, I merely have to add them to a ‘banned’ list and that’s that. There are a couple of names there already. I merely suggested to him that he might find another site that appreciated him more and told him that I ‘couldn’t be bothered’ replying to any more of his comments. There was/is absolutely nothing to prevent him continuing to comment on the site. He won’t even have to fear my wrath.

      As for the ‘BE’ thinks he knows everything’ remarks, I’m one of very few bloggers who takes the time to reply, sometimes at length, to readers comments. If you do that, occasionally you’re going to spit the dummy.

  57. Bill, makes an interesting point; would there have been all this concern had the models been wearing formal evening wear? If that would not have attracted attention one assumes that it is the lingeries that is the problem. So what is offensive about lingerie? We all wear some form of undergarment. Why so squeamish? Would it have made a difference had it been swimwear?

    The other question that is in my mind is why anyone would want to watch this sort of garbage in the first place. It is all very well complaining about standards of TV programming (and the topic has been debated on this blog), but then to encourage trash by watching it apppears positiveley perverse.

  58. I do appreciate the fact that you respond to comments. I enjoy crossing swords with you (or patting you on the back, it does happen). I wouldn’t bother commenting if you didn’t engage in this way. I can also understand that sometimes the urge to spit the dummy is irresistible. Sometimes I am tempted to lash out at you (do you really think it’s funny or clever to make up a moronic thought line to put into the Prime Minister’s mouth ?), but since this blog is not my primary online focus it’s presumably easier for me to resist the temptation.

    I couldn’t always follow Kimbo’s line of reasoning, but I did think on the whole he was a good commenter, and I thought he was pretty good about playing the ball not the man (focussing on argument not name calling). I think he landed some solid body shots in his sparring with you (not so much in this thread, I agree with you that the theological semantics were tiresome). I considered that telling him you wouldn’t talk to him anymore and suggesting he go elsewhere more than once amounted to constructive dismissal, which I chose perhaps controversially to label as bullying. But as you say he was free to continue to contribute, perhaps you would reengage with him, and I in fact encouraged him to try that line.

    Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I think I finally see the nub of our disagreement here. I totally agree with you that the quoted post from Tony is excellent. I totally agree with it myself. I love good manners and respectful behaviour. However, and it’s a huge however, this would be so much more relevant if the program makers were burning bibles. If they were doing that I’d be up in arms too, I am an atheist but that doesn’t mean I agree with disrespecting sincerely held beliefs. Not at all!

    I think it’s a huge leap to assume the program makers were being rude or disrespectful because they chose to do an underwear show. Why would you think that ? Do you think attractive young bodies are rude, offensive or dirty ? Is sexy a bad thing ? Is there some kind of scale; underwear on one end, then swimwear, then sportswear all the way up to evening wear ? Wait even evening wear is tight and probably shows some cleavage, should they invent a burqa segment especially for the episode in a church ?

    I’m genuinely puzzled, and I think the ultimate answer to Judy’s original question is that yes she is being a prude. It’s hardly the end of the world, but it is what it is.

  59. …and even though I did promise I was ‘on my bike’, indulge me, gentlemen, in one last “Nellie Melba” comeback!

    No, Brian, you certainly did NOT bully me off your website. More a case of our minds and intentions don’t really match, and I picked you for a more consistent and considered mind than you exhibited.

    However, one point I would make. How can one possibly separate “theology” from the church?! Seems like arguing “get the politics out of parliament”. If you do regard a church as a special building, like Tess, then a theological judgment has been made. Therefore the door is open, and it’s not just “an argument about social mores”. All of us, whether atheists, pagans, or theists are theologians – it’s just a case of how well you do it.

    Perhaps you may take that into consideration next time Judy picks a topic your site labels “Religion, Television”

    Finally, thank you for the parting farewell, “Live long and prosper, Kimbo”. Have you converted to Trekkism?

  60. Re: bra and panties vs. evening wear… I think using a church for non-religious events has to be carefully done. I’m fine with classical music concerts, often a church organ is the only one available to organists for example, but rock/pop concerts, no. Fashion shows, even in clothing that actually covers the girls, would still be to much for me. Mostly because I think the fashion industry can be harmful to women’s body image and I think selling clothes to be appropriate for other venues.

    Having the girls barely covered was more a twist of a knife already inserted (so to speak). It just made a bad situation worse.

    I think non-religious activities in a church should be in keeping with what already happens there, thus classical music gets a pass. Often it’s religious in nature anyway, and even if it isn’t it is beautiful and uplifts the soul to Heaven. OTOH I wouldn’t have a Last Night of the Proms kind of affair in church, even though that is classical. It’s a question of tone. (Dear God forgive me, I sound like Miss Manners!)

    A house of worship is just that – a place for reverence, dignity, beauty, joy and sometimes sadness. I don’t know what the Next Top Model people thought, and I want to think the best of them. Perhaps they picked St Matthews in the City because of its beauty and they wanted to place beauty in a beautiful place. I hope they did it in good faith for the sake of their own souls but as I said, it made me feel sad.

    At the end of the day, churches are like homes, they are special buildings because of the love that is there within them.

  61. I am not a religious person, but try to live my life by Christian values. I do not normally watch New Zealand’s Top Model but came upon it by chance. I too thought it was inappropriate to have young models parading down the aisle of a church scantily clad. I have skimmed over other people’s comments on this blog and agree that some of the girls did look very self-conscious about what they were doing.

  62. Limiting the church to a specific era (in this case music) risks it becoming an anachronism and losing touch with those it whishes to encompass.

  63. PJR – watching a church try to be hip and get down with it’s funky youth self is even more painful than a bit of Gregorian chant. It’s like watching your parents wear your clothes and twitter to your friends about how rad Justin Bieber is.

  64. I havent read all the comments so apologies if this has been covered but in this day of church blessings for PETS, they have already lost a ton of credibility!