I posted a link to a YouTube video, called "Virgilicious," created by students at Concordia University in Mequon. It features students dancing and prancing around, in the campus church in the chancel, at, and in front of, an altar, etc. to a rap song being sung by a guy dressed in vestments, wearing a crucifix, and engaged in various liturgical acts, such as making the sign of the cross and kissing an icon, and praying at the altar, and standing in the pulpit, even engaging in suggestive behavior with a young woman. The young people in the video were shown writhing on the floor around him, and at the communion rail while he used incense. It was, I’m told, supposed to be funny, a spoof, not intended to be shown to anyone else, a private joke, so I’m told. I saw no humor in it, only disrespect, irreverence and sacrilege.
University officials have sent me an "official statement" about the video. I’ve posted it following these comments. Based on what the university official communicated to me, I am fully confident that pastoral care of the students will result in genuine repentance and healing forgiveness for this kind of sinful behavior.
I would also hope the university might be led to say something just a bit more than that they are "saddened" and "disappointed" about "poor judgment exhibited" by the video. One would hope that a Lutheran university will speak clear words of rejection and condemnation of this kind of sacrilegious behavior. One can hope that another, more meaningful, statement will be forthcoming soon.
The incident raises for us any number of important questions and issues. Have we lost all sense of the holy and the sacred? We need, collectively, to ask ourselves why any of us would chuckle over watching a person use sacred space and objects of worship and devotion as "humor." To me it is indicative of just how far we have all been desensitized to the sacred by the constant secularism that bombards us. It seems to me that if we expect others to take seriously the historic liturgy of the Lutheran Church, then we need to take it seriously ourselves.
Of course the students involved should be forgiven, but rather than defend their actions and dismiss the profoundly offensive nature of what they did, and try to explain it away, let’s use this occasion as a chance to ask ourselves, "What’s wrong with us that we could even think of doing something like this?" It is not "pietistic" or "legalistic" to call this what it is: sinful and irreverent. Just because some right-wing Baptist minister with an axe to grind takes advantage of the situation, and just because a fourth year student "blew the whistle" on this situation in such a wholly inappropriate way, we must not allow the real issue to be covered over and dismissed.
But if, as some are attempting to claim, this video was as inconsequential a situation as the student paper on the campus is trying to portray it, then let the video be put back up on YouTube, and let us all view it and come to our own conclusions. The May 8 issue of the paper contains the editor’s assertion: "The video is intrinsically harmless. While it is not exactly the kind of thing we would show our donors and perspective students, the video is an illustration of how students who are serious about worship can have fun." I say let the video be posted for all to see, if in fact, it is as harmless and innocent.
My respectful and earnest suggestion is that people stop defending, excusing or trying to minimize it and just say, "It was terribly, terribly wrong. There is no excuse for it. We are sorry. We’ve learned a good lesson from this and nothing like this will ever happen again." That’s the better way to go here. And then maybe more conversations can be taken up about how or why anything like this happened to begin with.
University officials are saddened by the poor judgment exhibited by a number of students in the making of a video posted on YouTube. We are truly disappointed with, and disapprove of, the content of this video. An inquiry into the production and dissemination of this video has been set into motion by the President’s office in connection with the Department of Theology and the office of the Vice President of Student Life. Decisions regarding discipline, counseling, etc. are pending the outcome of this inquiry.