Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Confused conceptions

Antonio Frederici's controversial ice cream advertisement (Image credit: BBC)

UK-based ice cream company Antonio Frederici (I'm not linking to their website because it automatically plays music; man, I hate websites that do that) has had some advertisements banned to coincide with the pope's recent visit to the UK.

The ad (above) depicts a pregnant nun eating ice cream, with the caption "Immaculately conceived."

I thought the ad was pretty funny until I saw the caption. It's one of my pet peeves that people mix up the terms "immaculate conception" and "conceived by the Holy Spirit."

(I can't really speak to how much of the following dogma I actually believe. This is what I was taught. Twelve years of Catholic school, and what do I have to show for it? Terminology.)

Mary is the Immaculate Conception. Mary said it herself in her apparition at Lourdes to Bernadette Soubirous. Mary was conceived without Original Sin. This is special because everyone else is born with Original Sin, or the stain on humanity from when Adam and Eve were tempted by a penis serpent to disobey God. Original Sin is washed away during baptism. Mary didn't have Original Sin because she's that special. To summarize, Mary is the Immaculate Conception, born without Original Sin.

Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Mary was a virgin and engaged to Joseph when she got pregnant with Jesus after the angel Gabriel announced it to her. Joseph was a fine, upstanding man and didn't leave his pregnant fiancée when some other angel appeared to him in a dream to explain that God did it. So Jesus was a virgin birth, conceived by the Holy Spirit.

Remember, kids: Mary is not Jesus. The immaculate conception is not conception by the Holy Spirit. Birth without Original Sin is not virgin birth.

With that in mind, let's look at that ad again.

The nun is pregnant, and she apparently has a craving for ice cream. OK, so she'd probably claim virgin birth, that no man was involved in the baby-making, and that the baby was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Referring to the nun, the caption, "Immaculately conceived" makes no sense.

However, this is an ice cream ad. Is it perfection in ice cream form? Is the ice cream so good that we can consider it immaculately conceived? Born without ice crystals? Yeah, possibly. If the caption is referring to the ice cream and not the baby bump, there should be a better way to indicate that.

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