Robbie Williams, a British pop star, consulted Derren Brown on his latest publicity effort.
Church officials helped to fuel the publicity but probably not in the manner Mr. Williams or Mr. Brown intended.
Ireland On-Line reports "church leaders have blasted British pop star Robbie Williams for his part in a stomach-churning 'crucifixion' stunt aired on TV on Sunday night."
Here's some background to help better understand the ire of the Irish religious leaders:
Many Christians in the Western Catholic and Protestant churces celebrated the solemn day called "Easter" this Sunday.
Easter has been celebrated by most Christian relilgions since the first century as a way of recalling the resurrection of Jesus Christ following his death (a death he freely accepted) on a cross three days earlier.
Some faithful celebrate this important day by attending church or dining with friends and family. Some have added to the religious tradition with the apparently secular "Easter Bunny" or the hiding of eggs painted in various colors.
There are reports some countries celebrate by eating a special meal in community as well as attending church plus hunting for painted eggs dropped by a bunny in and around their homes.
In some countries, men actually duplicate the crucifixion event by having their hands and legs pierced by nails thus affixing them to a wooden cross. These acts are usually performed prior to Easter Sunday and are offered as a sign of respect for the pain endured by Jesus.
We read of one cuture where Easter Bunnies were crucified but we cannot trust the source of that report. Similarly, we dismiss the claims of some that a small tribe of fanatics have themselves nailed to a bunny.
Our point: people celebrate Easter in various ways — but usually respectfully.
Ireland, as a country, and the Irish, as a people, tend to take their religion seriously.
Okay, enough background. Back to the story of the magic trick.
Mr. Williams enlisted the aid of Mr. Brown to design a special Easter illusion wherein the pop idol from the band Angels was pierced by 14-inch needles while strung up on a make-shift cross. The stunt, says Ireland On-Line, "mimicked Jesus Christ's execution."
The controversial gimmick was the brainchild of British illusionist Derren Brown, who first hypnotised his celebrity victim.Williams, looking visibly shaken, later joked he liked the novel 'body art' and giggled: "I want to decorate myself like that.
"Perhaps Derren can come on tour and insert (the needles)."
One of Mr. Williams hometown religious leaders, Reverend Ian Gregory from Stoke-on-Trent, "slammed the trick as tasteless and insensitive. He added: "To trivialise the most important event in history is unforgivable."
A Lichfield Cathedral spokesman, Gavin Drake, told reporters: "It was obviously an attempt to trivialise the cross."TV network Channel 4 has dismissed the furore, insisting it was a magic trick, not a religious slur."
But may we point out, without appearing too pious, the network's claim that the piercing and suspending was a "magic trick" also cheapens the effect for which Criss Angel is famous?
Mr. Angel rightly deserves credit for the method and manner in which he has exploited his ability to be suspended by metal hooks through his flesh. Too bad some may now think it is nothing but a magic trick.
So the network had a choice, offend Christians or offend magicians – they decided to do both.
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