Last week our airwaves and newspapers were awash with stories and commentary on a proposed event for the Dark MOFO Festival this winter. The event will see an animal carcass, its blood, and entrails used in a ritualistic way over audience participants and an altar. All of this is billed as an artistic performance to make us think about animal slaughter among other things.
Many people have expressed their disquiet about it. Over 17,000 signatures have been gathered for a petition to stop the event. Hobart Lord Mayor, Sue Hickey, and the Independent Member for Dennison Andrew Wilkie have publicly spoken against it.
I must say that I find the idea offensive, and some of the descriptions of it indicate that it will be quite blasphemous to those of us who are followers of the Lord Jesus.
It is a reminder to us all that we do not live in a Christian nation. Australia is now, on the whole, very secular. Events like this, and other aspects of the Dark MOFO, are quite pagan and reveal a dark spiritual side of society, which is quite confronting.
But I want to encourage you not to despair about these things, as they are not new to us. The church in Corinth met and ministered in a strongly pagan society. In 1 Corinthians 8 Paul is writing about meat sacrificed to idols in the pagan temples of his day. See what he says to them:
“So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.”
Paul reminds them that the idols are nothing, and that God is everything, even when people in the world think otherwise. We are to be confident in God’s goodness and power.
So how should Christians respond to something like the Dark MOFO event? We could join others asking for it to be banned, and I am guessing that some of you are among the 17,000 signatories to the petition. We could just ignore it, and set our minds on things above, which is often a good strategy.
Another strategy is to use it as a conversation starter with others about your faith; about what Jesus’ sacrifice means to you, and therefore why you find it offensive. Given the tide of public sentiment, you might just find some openness from others to talk to you about spiritual things.
This week I wrote an Opinion piece for the Mercury, to try and model this last approach (see attached). I was trying to use the pagan rituals and popular culture of our age to stimulate people to think about the spiritual realities of Christ’s atoning sacrifice. I guess I was trying the same approach that Paul uses in debating the philosophers in Athens in Acts 17, where he uses their ideas, poetry, and thinking to present the glories of Jesus.
I am praying that you will have good conversations about Jesus with your neighbours, family, and friends, your workmates, hairdressers, shopkeepers, members of your local sporting club, local MPs and even strangers. Let’s use every opportunity to commend to others the beauty, truth and relevance of the Lord Jesus.
Every blessing in Christ