At least it wasn’t Homer



Marge Simpson ‘posed nude’ for Playboy Magazine last week. Sounds like spoof news from The Onion or Daily Mash, I know. But much of last week’s news had a spoofy flavour. Like Prince Philip ranting, in classic grumpy old man fashion, that ‘you practically have to make love to’ TV remote controls in order to get them to work, and NASA ‘bombing’ the moon.

Actually, Mrs Simpson (née Bouvier), one of the lead characters on TV’s longest-running sitcom (and a cartoon) did not ‘pose nude’ as the Telegraph (and Independent) said – the ‘photoshoot’ only contains ‘implied nudity’; and NASA did not ‘bomb’ the moon (the Telegraph and others again), just crashed a rocket into it in search of ice.

Obviously, newspapers using misleading words to make stories more interesting is about as surprising as the fact that Prince Philip really did say that stuff about remotes. And when we’re misled about cartoons (who, let’s face it, are no Jessica Rabbit), it probably doesn’t matter. But when it’s about the Archbishop of Canterbury and the war in Iraq, it does.

Last week, The Sun ran a story that claimed: ‘The Archbishop of Canterbury yesterday hijacked a service honouring the sacrifice of British troops in Iraq – to spout an anti-war rant.’ And that sounds awful, doesn’t it? But it’s not true. Or at least, only as true as Marge posing nude, judging by The Sun’s own quotes.

The Archbishop ‘hijacked’ the proceedings by being their main preacher. Which is like saying David Cameron ‘hijacked’ the recent conference in Manchester with an attack on Labour.



And his disgusting ‘anti-war rant’? It included this venom: ‘Reflecting on the years of the Iraq campaign, we cannot say that no mistakes were ever made.’ Shocking, I know. He also suggested that we should think more carefully the next time we were asked to send young people to die. Which is crazy, right? I mean, as I’m sure The Sun would agree, give them better equipment, but don’t think too hard about starting wars. It is far less dramatic.

The Sun’s story not only suggested that the content of the speech was inappropriate for an occasion where our troops’ sacrifice was honoured, it suggested that to make such a point at all was disrespectful to those who’d died. And this is an argument and an attitude that is trotted out all too often when nations have been at war.

But, would German citizens have been wrong in 1939 to question whether it was right to send their young men to die for their Fuhrer? Were the veterans of the Vietnam ‘police action’ who bitterly protested the continuing war being disloyal to their living and fallen comrades? No. Because if young men and women are going to die serving a country they have committed to obey, it is up to those of us who are safe at home, not facing the danger they face, to make sure that they are not being sacrificed for nothing, or for goals that are far from righteous.

When the patriot Rudyard Kipling wrote, in 1918: ‘If any question why we died, Tell them, because our fathers lied,’ he expressed something that is too often still true today. That truth is most relevant when we honour the fallen. Pretending that is not the case or refusing at least to ask the question is not something that any Christian should be comfortable with. Regardless of what any paper says.

And, yeah, here’s who i would have picked:


One Response

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