Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
Can lamb bring us together? Can lamb chop out our differences? That’s the rather cheeky claim of the latest lamb ad in Australia. Australian lamb ads are becoming a tradition in themselves. Almost as traditional as Australia Day.
And Australia Day is nearly upon us. It’s 26th January. At least it is this year. That could change, given the rejection of the day by many Aboriginal Australians. So, ironically, the lamb ads that reach their zenith, just in time for Australia Day barbecues across the nation are, according to some, part of the problem.
Make no mistake. We’re in a divisive mood in Australia, not to mention Western culture, on just about everything. But for the moment Australia Day is 26th January. The lamb ad should prepare for a roasting.
The clever wag who dreamed up the now long-running campaign to make Aussies eat more lamb by linking it jingoistically to our national identity is no sheep, he, she or it (an advertising agency), is definitely the leader of a pack.
Australia’s lamb ads have taken on a rich, aromatic life of their own since the time crusty ex-footballer, Sam Kekovich warbled loudly and proudly about our Aussie eating habits back in the good old days when we didn’t all hate each other.
Lambnesia. Lest we forget. Which is pretty much what Aboriginal Australia is asking us not to do.
Now, in the midst of a hotly contested culture war, in which sides are being drawn and middle ground vacated, the latest lamb ad is an attempt at a “larf“, an advertising gimmick to remind us that we’re all in this together, Left and Right. Mind you, I suspect there are more lamb eaters on the Right than the Left and the next outrage will be that we eat lambs at all.
Eternity Magazine’s Kaley Payne has a good article about it here.
The gist of the ad is that the Left and the Right can come together into one big happy family because of lamb. Those on the Right who scorn the snowflakes on the Left can come to understand why trigger warnings exist. While those on the Left can stop their pontificating about how anyone who disagrees with them on just about anything is basically a fascist. I suspect any Poms, steeped in good old middle class passive aggressive tendencie, watching this ad would be astonished.
Payne makes this comment:
When we start thinking that every person is actually just a Wiggles character who wears the same coloured t-shirt every day, we’ve lost. Some of us don’t like wearing shirts that don’t fit properly. If we continue to portray Australian society as polarised, we will continue to be like that. The centre, in this ad either depicted as fence-sitters or ignorant barbecuers, will slowly disappear because they’re forced to choose a side.
That pretty much nails it. Although I think the ad’s aim (apart from the obvious fact of trying to sell more local produce for the lamb industry), is to say, “Hey, something can bring us together, why not lamb?“
Of course the problem is that both the Left and the Right both believe they have solutions for bringing the country together. The Left and the Right both view the opposing position as fractious and part of the problem, if not the whole problem. Payne is right, the centre position is disappearing. It’s something Oz Guinness pointed out in his book, The Case for Civility, written way back in 2008 when it seemed that a case for civility could be made, and adhered to.
The gospel tells us that a lamb can, did, and does bring people together. Though not necessarily in the way in the Aussie lamb ads would. The primary problem with both Left and Right in this country, indeed in the West, is that the other side is seen as the sinner; the problem to which a solution must come. There is deep moral conviction, both Left and Right, that the solution is NOT the centre, but one’s own position.
When John the Baptist says, as Jesus approached, “Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”, he’s pointing out a lamb who stands against both Left and Right and declares them both to be the problem. He’s pointing out God’s solution to a total problem, of which all of us contribute.
When The Times of London wrote asking this question of famous authors: “What’s wrong with the world today?” GK Chesterton even more famously wrote back:
Yours, G.K. Chesterton.
Chesterton got the gospel. And he got that it was his sins that the lamb of God had to deal with, not the sins of someone else. I can only imagine the same question posed today in the moralising broadsheets of our nations. There’d be plenty of bluster, plenty of finger pointing, plenty of blame shifting, plenty of obfuscation about one’s own weaknesses, and very little, if any at all, of those two words “I am.”
In short, there’d be a whole lot of column inches of “they are.”
The gospel, the message of the lamb slain from the foundation of the world for us, is that “we are”, all of us, and until we humble ourselves and come to that position, then the fractured culture we live in will only fracture more.
Can we all agree on that?