We were watching a program that we took to be about what ordinary people thought of Heaven, an appropriate topic given the timing of the broadcast.
Before us were paraded about half a dozen people each describing their ideas of what it would be like; in general, the kind of sentiments with which the vast majority of people would agree. However, as the show continued, and each of these people began to elaborate their thoughts about such topics as whether animals would be present, or what the quality of sex would be like, we began to feel uneasy.
Gradually, and done in a way that was most amusing, each of these people, with whose sentiments about the spiritual realm we had identified, were shown to be either mad or foolish eccentrics. Not harmlessly so, but in a slightly ugly manner. They were shown to be generally undesirable or pathetic characters.
Needless to say, we were quite shocked. Here was one of the most accomplished works of anti religious propaganda we had ever seen, being broadcast on the eve of Christianity's holiest day. It was not that it confronted the spiritual view with an atheistic one, it was far subtler than that.
It asked you to identify with each of the people shown, along with their beliefs, and then undermined them by showing these people to be spiritual perverts. The emotional effect was to draw you towards a comforting notion of Heaven and God, and then divert you into a wasteland of the spirit before abandoning you. The message was: this is all there is, anyone who believes otherwise is stupid and deluded.
Unbelievable that the timing of the transmission was a mistake. Still, better luck on another channel maybe. We were still discussing the outrageous timing of the above piece, and speculating about occult conspiracies running things when one of the characters in the cop show turned to the camera and said: 'You realise if you two are right this could mean harassment'. Score one for Meaningful Coincidence, Professor Jung. As we flicked between channels we did not come across a single item about Easter, other than officially sanctioned 'religious' programs, that could in any way be considered as being supportive of Christianity, which at the time tended to make us consider why so much effort was being expended trashing the major belief of this nation.
The grand finale to the night was the singer George Michael's video featuring his hit single 'I Want Your Sex'. Obviously it was going to be a moderately lewd piece since it had been banned from being shown at any earlier time when children might have been watching. This was expected, and was not the problem.
What we saw cavorting in a kind of spastic parody of a dance was George Michael as some sort of demon prince singing '... no need to look in the bible, just look into my eyes..'. Of course George Michael is not a demon and is not 'possessed' in any way, but that is not how it works. It is all to do with timing and context. Any medieval peasant would know exactly what he was seeing, whereas the viewing public is fed the 'rational' version of events.
Has it got so bad that demons can dance on television, whilst telling you who they are, and most people still cannot see? Anyway, the final touch was a short article in The Times the following Sunday morning, Easter Day. One of our aforementioned Church of England Bishops refused to allow crosses to be placed on graves within the Cathedral precincts as aesthetically '...it would not do to have undue repetition of the supreme Christian symbol.'
As Jesus might have said, what a way to celebrate Easter.