Saturday, 31 October 2009

a spot of lit crit

I’m reading a book that has been talked and raved a lot about by Christians in the past year or so: ‘the shack’ by William P Young. It’s very readable and offers fresh revelatory perspectives on God, especially the persons of the trinity and the relationship between them, and on some of the riches of the life of faith; but as fiction and writing I’d say it’s not great. There’s too much tell and not enough show, so that many of the depictions, especially of Jesus relating to Mack, are saccharine, a bit cringey, cheesy, and leave me cold.
I’m struck by the contrast with the powerful emotional effect of the last half hour especially of the recent bbc ’emma’. now jane austen cd be considered a bit girly, but getting past the frocks, bonnets and other period frippery, I have to say, I was impressed, and I’m interested how the story achieved its effect. The crunch comes when emma learns that her less sharp-witted friend harriet has feelings for the gallant and principled mr knightley - life long friend of emma - and when she’s given reason to believe the feeling may be mutual. The threat reveals to her her own love of knightly, and she laments that she’s been so busy looking after other people’s hearts that she’s neglected her own. The girl who has up to now been rather snobbish and feels immune to the currents of love ordinary flesh is heir to, is suddenly vulnerable, her heart exposed. She had taken a significant step toward humility in her penitent response to knightley’s rebuke over her treatment of miss bates, and now her journey is completed. So we as the audience has moved from dislike to sympathy - our heart goes out to her, and the stage is set for the happy resolution.
Anyway that’s my lit crit over for one day. I studied this one at uni, that’s my excuse.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

the big move

Like buses: no post for two months, and then suddenly two on one day. I’ve just been up at my parents’ old house in bridge of weir, near Glasgow. They finally moved south to lymington near Southampton today, after nearly 27 years at The Laurels in BOW. A father and son team swept through the house like a force of nature, driving us on to clear stuff as fast as possible from shelves and cupboards. Mother was somewhat flabbergasted how much stuff there was in all kinds of nooks and crannies.
I wonder what they made of us? In churning through all the stuff, they quite possibly picked up that we’re a ‘religious’ family. I’m struck by the contrast, between their ruthless practicality and efficiency, and the sheer impracticality, inefficiency, apparent intangibility of the ‘religious way’ as it CAN so easily be lived. Strikes me it’s so easy to make religion a fantasy land, a comfort blanket. To some extent I feel I lived it like this a lot in the past. You don’t feel any kind of ‘practical pressure’ from God - that comes from other people and the circumstances of life. But Christianity could lay claim to being a very practical faith, and Jesus was a man of sweat and blood and tears. How do I work out my faith so it engages, is relevant to, has purchase with people who are by nature ruthlessly practical?

alone in the wild

i wrote this a month ago but then my laptop broke down, so here it finally is...

I recently watched the channel 4 three parter, ‘alone in the wild’, following the experiences of a scot called ed wardle who was (of his own volition) deposited in the Yukon wilderness in Canada and left to fend for, and film, himself. Have to admit I was hooked from the start. Apart from anything else, he sounded intriguingly like a friend from Helens burgh who’s currently in New Zealand. I’d seen another solo tv explorer Benedict Allen wandering around Mongolia with a camera attached to his body with a similarly intriguing contraption, in ‘edge of blue heaven’ a few years ago. Now my sister and her partner who’s a mountain leader were of the opinion that this guy ed might have enjoyed the experience rather more if he’d had a companion, and they of course have a point; as it was he spent a lot of time feeling hungry, afraid (of bears), lonely and generally miserable. But on the other hand, his condition of aloneness, the vulnerability that engendered and the sense of watching a human being in an extraordinary situation being pushed to his psychological limits, for me made a very compelling programme. In the end, he gave the impression of being subject to an experiment into profound aspects of the human condition (not to put it too grandly!). One friend has commented that he cried too much, and he was indeed pretty distraught by the last episode. All I would say is, how would any of us be feeling after forty plus days on our own in the wilderness! (sorry racheJ). it’s funny how different things move us or leave us cold (or irritated). There’s plenty of emotional stuff in tv and films that I find pretty saccharine, but I’m not ashamed to say I actually really felt for this bloke in his distress! Witnessing a person undergoing perhaps the worst kind of emotional/psychological trial - prolonged solitude - for real, no acting. Solitary confinement is after all used as a form of torture.
But of course it’s hardly news that we need people. What left me pondering more was his comment about the wild itself, how he came to feel it was indifferent to his needs and suffering, it was just there. Interesting how his perception of it was affected starkly by whether he was well-fed or hungry (the latter most of the time). With food in his belly, he could see its utter beauty; famished and deteriorating, he saw it as ugly and hostile. This gave me a fresh perspective on nature, its relationship to God and man. In its lone raw ferocity and grandeur, it can feel like an enemy, yet in the religious view it is considered to be the creation of a being who cares deeply and tenderly for humanity. It’s not easy to reconcile these perspectives on God.. and yet could not a proper pondering of them lead to a richer, synthesised and ultimately more satisfying view of God? Quite possibly methinks…

Saturday, 17 October 2009

halloween party

radio script- revised

FX: halloween party atmosphere

A: What is it about Halloween that brings out the strange human urge to look like a complete freak?

B: What ya talking about?

A: Well just look at her – big nose, wart - I take it she’s a witch. I mean, if you're gonna turn up as a woman with supernatural powers, why not go for the hot pants and the bullet deflecting bracelets? She just looks like an extra from the Addams family.

C: D’you mind? That’s my girlfriend.

B: Lighten up mate. It's just a bit of fun.

A: And what’s THAT? Looks like it's come back from the dead – and what’s it eating?

C: That’s my girlfriend!

B: It's a zombie y’thicko.

A: Ooh, scary. But they’re not real though are they.

B: No. Hang on though. Supernatural power? Coming back from the dead? Sounds a bit like that Jesus bloke dun’it?

A: Yeah. An’ he WHA real.