The Pret A Manger food chain has withdrawn its line of Virgin Mary crisps from sale, following protests from Catholic leaders
The crisps were tomato flavor, and the name indicates a relationship to the Bloody Mary cocktail, a potent and popular concoction of vodka, tomato sauce, Tabasco sauce and assorted and idiosyncratic ingredients introduced by innovative cocktail makers. Among enthusiasts for the drink was one Ernest Hemingway.
While Bloody Mary has always struck me as a term with potentially inflammatory connotations for Christians, it seems to have mostly avoided demonology. The deepest objections come from those who rail across the demon drink in all its manifestations.
The Cult of Mary
The labeling of Virgin Mary crisps, however, triggers off far more powerful reactions. The Catholic Church has elevated Mary, Mother of Christ, to what has been described as cult status.
A gift to the poor
Unsurprising that Catholic leaders protested vehemently over the crisps, and Pret backed down after a broadside from the Protect the Pope website. The offensive crisps were withdrawn and donated to the poor. I have heard no objections to this further symbolic gesture.
The brouhaha reminded me of the outrage during the Pope’s visit to England in 2010 over the leaking of weird ideas to jazz up the visit. The bizarre outpourings of a brainstorming hit the headlines briefly. Another downer for practitioners of creativity-spurring techniques, I thought at the time.
This week also saw the story of Halal meat contaminated with traces of Pork, offensive to the dietary observations of Muslim and Jewish religious practices.
Religions sustain their beliefs through symbols. A perceived attack on the symbols is a perceived attack which goes to the core of the religious beliefs.
On giving offence
I had no intention writing this blogpost to offend the sensibilities of subscribers to Leaders We Deserve. The image above was taken from Catholic Answers Forum. The story seems to me to have considerable interest to leaders and leadership students.