Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Death sucks

Our church has a signboard on a fairly busy intersection in the middle of Leichhardt. There have been a number of above average signs in the history of this board, most of them making reference to contemporary events in one way or another:

Where the bloody hell were you last Sunday?
In response to a controversial Australian tourism campaign in the UK: 'Where the bloody hell are you?'
Biannual worshippers welcome here
Just before Easter.
Come to me all you who are Labor and I will give you rest
After the ALP lost the last Federal election.
If you're looking for a sign from God, this might be it
While our rector Tim was away recently, he asked me to put something up. I chose Death sucks, which seems to have generated some discussion. Yesterday I received a call from local newspaper The Glebe interested in running a story. Tim told me today that someone graffitied the board, crossing out the "sucks" and replacing it with "rules". A number of parishioners have mentioned overhearing conversations as people pass by. I'd love to hear your reactions too. Also, any thoughts on what might come next? I'm thinking of Life is a gift, and then a week or two later I have come that they may have life - Jesus. My thought has been to run with sentiments fairly widely shared (though with strong Christian bases) and then build on them with the third sign. However, I'm very happy to hear other suggestions/improvements.

St John's, Ashfield (whose sign is done by our friend Andrew E) has recently put up this one: Church: where relations are more than industrial.
There has been much discussion and controversy surrounding changes to industrial relations laws in Australia over the last couple of years and it has hit the news again recently.

UPDATE: A few years ago when my rector went on holidays, he told the catechists to get the sign into SMH's front-page interest section called 'Column 8' (it appears on the far right of the print version of the SMH front page (or used to - it's now on the back page) and has done so for many years). He did so with the first sign mentioned above ('bloody'). A few weeks ago when Tim again went on holidays, he repeated the instruction to me. And it seems I also succeeded. Thanks to the Wednesday Bible study group at the café, who helped work on the idea.


Anonymous said...

I know this isn't answering your request, but my favourite Rev. Tim sign was "Get a taste of Christianity: Bite a minister".


Ben Myers said...

I love "Where the bloody hell were you last Sunday?" Did you ever see the spoof of that advertising campaign on The Chaser's War on Everything? It was hilarious.

Anonymous said...

There's a great billboard ad campaign (entitled "Godmarks") being run in NZ through an agency called Consortium - perhaps you've already heard of it - which I heard about on fm103.2/light fm The Open House program. It's a series of billboards with simple, in-offensive one-line statements written on them. One of their most successful ads simply states "I miss how you used to talk to me when you where a kid" - God ; some others:

"Open 24/7" - God

"Everyday I get more prayer requests for carparks than anything else. You people need to start thinking bigger." - God

Perhaps you could use these billboards for inspiration :)

More pictures and info:

byron smith said...

Mik - I hadn't heard that one. Thanks.

Ben - I missed that Chaser - only started watching it (irregularly) more recently. I'll have to see if I can find a podcast from back then...

byron smith said...

Anon - I'm generally against putting words in God's mouth, though I did like the email one:

"If you want, you can email me at God@heaven.com, it's not my address but i can still check it" - God

Thanks for the link!

Bruce Yabsley said...

Byron I like all of the signs you mention very much, but seem to have missed them. Since moving to Abbotsford this year I've been catching the 438 past ASL every day on the way home, and I have to say I've been underwhelmed by the notices most of the time.

My thought has been to run with sentiments fairly widely shared (though with strong Christian bases) and then build on them with the third sign. However, I'm very happy to hear other suggestions/improvements.

I guess my main comment would be: don't try to force it. But I suppose you know that already.

anton said...

I think it has got to be a two word-er again, because its punchy, catching and clearly setting up a narrative to be continued. So how about "life shouldn't" followed by ???? or perhaps "life's better" and then Jesus' "I have come ..."

Lara said...

Hey Byron, you made it into Column 8!! John Cook says he always enjoys the signs, but feels that you have "excelled" this week with "Death Sucks"! Well done!

Anonymous said...

Hey B - here's the text for you:

"I always enjoy the quotes on the signboard outside All Souls Church at Leichhardt," writes John Cook, "but feel the the minister/parish priest has excelled this week with his contribution, 'Death sucks'."

Column 8
May 2, 2007

byron smith said...

Lara - thanks for pointing this out. I just got an email from my rector also pointing this out. When he went away last year, he told the catechist to get the sign into Column 8 (which he did, with the first one I mentioned), and so (tongue in cheek again) he told me this year to do the same.

Antman - good point. Yes, I do think brevity carries a lot of oomph: Brevity... is wit.

Bruce - I agree re not 'forcing it'. Understated and potentially misunderstood is usually better than groan-worthy or twee or unnecessarily offensive.

Simone R. said...

How about:
"Death rules (but it doesn't have to)"
or something like that. I'm thinking romans 5.

Unknown said...

You guys in ministry are having TOO MUCH FUN!



Adam Gonnerman said...

People really read these signs. When I was in high school in Missouri (midwest United States) an Assembly of God congregation had a sign that always had some witty comment. I'm not sure if it helped their numberic growth, but everyone in the community knew the church was there.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps my favourite church sign of all time is:
"come to church this sunday....we'll kick the hell out of you"