Logos, buttons, blurbs and Jesus Christ.

The Episcopal Church had a logo contest for the logo to be used for the 2009 General Convention. They got one.

The past few years have produced quite forgettable images - last time around it was "come and grow" and the blue book was green and the grass grew. In 2003 it was "engage God's Mission" and I don't remember much about a logo for that, and in 2000 it was "MM, the Jubilee Year." The logo that year was MM which, while attempting to mean 2000 mostly looked very very Roman Empire, in kind of a counter-trump to the sound of Jubilee. Oh well.

But this year there was a contest and a lot of entries and a winner. Here is the logo. I think it is very good. It is most of all an inviting logo. It may suffer the fate of most logos that are build around a word that is not of our own language... the translations of UBUNTU will seem stilted and unfamiliar to a church used to adopting such niceties only from the Greek or Hebrew. And "I in you and You in me" echoes the notion that "we are all members one of another." (Ephesians 4:25) and is a paraphrase from the Gospel of John.

The Episcopal News Service ran an article on the logo and the one who produced it, The Rev. Paul Fromberg. I think we can surely live with this after the grass of the past and the MM of the year 2000. And more, it may actually be a logo that works, suggesting that we are all part of the same community of love and service in Jesus Christ.

Over at Stand Firm where they take no prisoners, in a small article titled, "Make It Stop: GenCon09 Settles on ‘Ubuntu’ Logo" the complaint was that, " Number of times "ubuntu" appears in the article: 12. Number of times "General Convention" appears in the article: 5. Number of times Christ
appears in the article? Take a wild guess." (The Answer is 0)

Well there it is. Stand Firm, by the way, sells buttons like the one on the left. On the blurb advertising this slogan based on a slogan of a political button for a presidential candidate who died in 1969 we have the following: Notice the many fine words...notice that the word church appears 0 times, the word Christ appears 0, the number of times Iker appears is 1. There is no reference to bishop. Well, ok, its a button and the logo is the ol' red, white and blue. Does this mean that Bishop Iker has more to do with patriotism than with the cross? or that supporting Stand Firm has nothing to do with Christ? We would certainly hope not.

Sometimes a logo is just a logo.

But this logo is better than that: one of the judges, Ahlborn said this about the logo chosen, "...the judges were impressed by the "graphic strength" of Fromberg's design and his "sensitivity" to the meaning of ubuntu.

She went on to say that throughout the selection and design process, the judges were seeking a visual representation of the Trinity for the logo and that God the Father, Earth-Maker, is represented by the globe or circle, God the Son, Pain-Bearer, is represented as a cross etched onto the axes of the globe, and God the Spirit, Life-Giver, is carried in the colors and the movement of the figures around the center."

So let's see, Cross 1, The Trinity 1, God the Father 1, God the Son 1, God the Spirit 1, call to mission 1, a paraphrase from the Gospel of John 1 (I in you and You in me.) Well, I think that covers it.

By the way, look carefully at the center of the circle... there is the Cross.

All in all a good logo, and Stand Firm might cut the Anglican world some slack. We all have greater fish to fry.

It justs gets better and better.. Now Baby Blue thinks we are of to goofy land..or perhaps to the land of those awful pagans. My she is on a rant. It must be because there is not too much going on on the floor of the RNC at the moment.

I have to admit I did like her calling attention to the David Letterman Taco Bell gig. But this rant on the logo is over the top.


  1. wait for it... i hear it coming... sun worshipers...

    i cannot see the cross, BTW... might be my bad eyes.

    no matter what we do including "I love God and so does TEC" buttons, they will find fault. the only solution is to let them design our stuff and we obviously (and pictorially) see how that goes.

    We just need to let it go... we know how this will all work out, don't we?

    why do we even CARE what they think at this point?

    BTW I like it... still waiting to see the cross though. I really need new glasses. Honestly, it's true.

  2. There may be some popular culture confusion http://www.ubuntu.com/

    I also found this nice explanation of the word, "Ubuntu" is an ancient African word, meaning "humanity to others". Ubuntu also means "I am what I am because of who we all are".

    I just can't tell you how much I want one of those Iker buttons. Really. Momma taught me not to use words like those in polite company.

  3. "cross etched onto the _axes_ of the globe"?

    I say this in love, Mark. It's 'axis.'

    Speaking of the NRC, I think I will still vote for Obama, in spite or maybe because of McCain's 'humility.'

  4. I love Ubuntu, it's the most popular Linux distribution, it's free and beautifully designed and the one I installed on my rector's home computer. The Open Source software movement is one of the most impressive volunteer efforts in the global economy, imho.

    Of course, that's what's going to make GC calling itself Ubuntu kind of confusing or, to me, funny. To make it more wonderful, Ubuntu is distributed by Canonical Software of South Africa.

    To learn more about the true ubuntu, check out www.ubuntu.com

    Let the confusion begin.


  5. Bob of Fremont5/9/08 7:01 AM

    Put a cross where the "whatever it is" shows up on the logo, drop the Ubuntu word and then you've got a great logo.
    If you don't want a cross, substitute an artist's rendering of Jesus and the same English wording and I'm feeling you.

    Bob of Fremont

  6. The playfully Retro "I like Iker" badge, which unusually for this lot, is at least witty, exposes two significant aspects of right-wing "Orthodox" blogging - conservative politics, often far to the right of those of the Ike of the original slogan, and a looking-back to the "safe" world of the 1950's, when gays ("I thought men like that shot themselves"), blacks and women ("PECUSA" wasn't upsetting the Natural Order fooling around with the Civil Rights movement and ordaining Wiminpriests) knew their place. Do some folks - people who would not give the time of day to their "primate" if he passed them, out of uniform, at the shopping mall - recognize the irony of their dependence on African bishops?

  7. Susan S....accepted in love, but strangely it was not my spelling, but posted that way on Episcopal Life Online. Axis is singular, the plural is axes... so ELO is right, more or less, although I am not sure we should call them axes. There is one axis on the globe, around which it spins. The cross etched is on the surface of the globe so I guess we would say on the great circles of the globe? Whatever.

    love back...

  8. Oh, well, foiled by the plural again! I just saw the 'hatchet' kind and jumped on it. Never mind!

  9. I like the logo. The suggestion of motion, almost of dancing, I knows what I likes and I likes it.

    However, as a Mexican-American and an elected representative of one of the traditionally Black churches in The Episcopal Church--

    ENOUGH WITH THE COOPTING WORDS FROM LANGUAGES OTHER THAN THE ONES THE EVENT WILL PRIMARILY BE SPOKEN IN! It's not 'honoring' the culture, it's pretty much racist, yo. It comes off as "Oh, look, how cute! They have this concept and we'll define it as we wish and take it totally out of the cultural context! It's ethnic, darling, just like that mask I bought at Pier 1 Imports last week!"

    For the love of the Sweet Baby Jesus. Stop. Just, stop.

  10. Donald Gerardi5/9/08 1:27 PM

    Attractive logo design but I can't make out a cross with or without my specs. Use of an ancient word known to only a few will only confuse, as it did me particularly because the posting never identified the language. How about just using the line from John without recourse to a recondite word?

  11. I agree with Mary Sue - co-opting other cultures is more than a little paternalistic.

  12. As soon as I saw the logo, I knew that someone or someones would call it a pagan symbol. Remember the Proctor & Gamble sign-of-Satan uproar some years ago?

    I love the concept of UBUNTU, and I like the logo, too. I'd like the lines of the cross to be a tad more prominent.

    Cany, maybe only the pure can see the cross.

  13. Some will always find something to whine about, eh? I like it tho I can't see the cross either.

  14. actually, it reminded me of a monstrance. I have a feeling Baby Blue wouldn't like that either.

  15. My new moveon.org Obama button is an interesting counterpoint to the stark Iker version.

    Is Iker running for President?


  16. Yes, Grandmere, I think that's it. We're impure!

  17. I think the ladies are looking to see a solid cross.

    Think more along the faint lines marking longitude and latitude on a globe. It is there.

  18. For me, MM will always mean Marylin Monroe.

    I liked Ike a lot better than I like Iker. The general was a better man all round.
    I agree with lapinbizarre, it's probably less about Eisenhower than it is a nostalgia for a '50s that never were; a golden age of "normalcy" built on the shifting sands of segregation and Cold War paranoia.

    I'm afraid I agree with Mimi. While the new logo may be inspired and subtle, doctrinal ideologues aren't going to be moved by anything short of a giant bloody cross with a huge neon sign that says "JESUS IS LORD!! backed by a loudspeaker blaring praise music at the decibel level of a jet engine at full throttle. It looks too much like one of those New Age "spirit catchers."

  19. Damn, Counterlight, its Dream Catcher, not Spirit Catcher.

    And you an artist!

  20. Love Mary Sue's comment above....

  21. Was the term "indaba" at Lambeth also racist? (That's a sincere question, not a rhetorical gotcha)

    I believe that multiculturalism is here to stay---w/ all the crossings of language, as well as food, music, and yes, imported masks (the question is whether they're fair-trade or not). And also, spirituality(s, plural)

    It's too late, to start raising barriers. [Funny: in both the design AND the concept of "Ubuntu", I'm reminded very much of t-shirt design, w/ logo, that said "Namaste: the spirit within me greets the spirit within you". It's a t-shirt I got working at the "Whole Earth Festival" at UC Davis . . . in 1983.]

    Like I said: "multi-culti" is here to stay. Doesn't mean we can't do it better, fairer, less exploitively. But cultural exchanges---even as w/ workers, imports, information---have happened, are happening, and will continue to happen.

    [P.S. I can see the cross! ;-/]

  22. How about 'Hakuna matata'? Can we still use that?
    Or that other Episcopal treasure, 'De Colores'?

  23. I need to say that I too find ungrounded appropriation from other peoples' cultures to be patronizing. So I am not sure about "ubuntu."

    We do this in TEC more than I am comfortable with. Yes we need to expand our horizons. But lately we've been using a Sanctus setting the uses the music of "We Shall Overcome" -- and I am somewhat put off. Thoughtless over exposure to emotionally potent symbols can begin to devalue their meaning.

  24. Huh, and here I thought the crosses were the tiny spots of yellow on the rim of the circle at top, bottom, left, and right. Actually, downloading the image and zooming in suggests that the middle has longitude and latitude lines, more than the two in each direction required to outline a cross.


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with comment moderation but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.