Saturday, 23 January 2010

easter ads... 4

In thinking about what I want to say about Easter, I’m first asking, what does it mean to me? If Jesus, this character whose words and deeds on earth are remote in time and recorded in an ancient book - is present and with me today, how does that affect how I live my life? I kind of feel I’ve only got something meaningful to say to others to the extent the message is somehow embodied in my own life. Then again, this is thinking quite a way along the spiritual road. Need to get a feel for a non-believer’s starting point; what effect do I want this ad to have on the listener, and how best achieve that? How far along the road can I expect to try and move someone? And by the way billy, I’m not expecting your average punter to be born again at the end of 30 seconds.
Think Easter, and a lot of people think ’easter eggs’. Now how have we got from a bloke rising from the dead 2000 years ago, to a Cadbury’s creme? Or how might we get back again? Uncovering the true meaning of easter. A journey, detective investigation? Easter – get behind the eggs… I’ll think on it.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

easter ads... 3

Easter suggests there is a power at work in the universe that can transform situations of death and decay, on all kinds of levels. The risen Jesus wasn’t merely a resuscitated corpse, he had a new kind of body, a transformed one, and we believe now inhabits a different plane of reality. Like the heavenly beings in cs lewis’ ‘the great divorce’, more solid and real, not less, than the earthly bodies… I want to identify core human aspirations, desires, interests to which Easter offers a response – or just one – and then perhaps shape an idea around that.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

easter radio ads... 2

In thinking about this, I want to address questions and problems too. People find jesus attractive. But the ‘resurrection’ happened a long long time ago – a remarkable event, someone coming back from the dead, but for two thousand years since, history has rolled on, the long mundane march of reality has continued… what I need to connect with is how the power at work in the resurrection is at work, can be at work, today, in my life, in people’s lives. The shift from ‘not seeing’ to recognition can be subtle, swift and seamless; her name spoken by ‘the gardener’ transformed mary’s outlook from gloom to joy in an instant; the disciples on the road to Emmaus suddenly recognised the stranger’s identity when he broke bread. Like the sudden wave-like ‘small stimulus to big effect’ phenomena in chaos theory mentioned below....

Monday, 18 January 2010

radio ads for easter

I’m producing a couple of radio ads, probably one for good Friday and one for easter Sunday, for a big commercial station in Manchester, so need to start dreaming up ideas. I’ve heard it said that postmodern people are not so much asking ‘is it true?’ but ‘does it work?’. so how might the easter message, or some aspect of it, be made fresh and relevant?
Resurrection, coming back to life, made new, surprise, revelation… mary’s first encounter with risen jesus, she thought she was seeing a stranger, but then he spoke her name, personal touch, recognition…hopelessness to hope.
I hope to continue to develop ideas on blog, so if you want to contribute, fee free (that includes you billy:))

Sunday, 17 January 2010

secret life of chaos

Watched this programme on bbc4 last night, exploring the spontaneous, self-organising patterns in nature. Order and chaos found to be closely linked. We’re constantly learning more of nature’s beauty and surprises, and are curious, fascinated. And in some ways nature does appear to be conducting a slightly messy experiment. The presenter insisted the picture emerging suggests random process, not ‘an active interfering being‘ - but an alternative response would be a more enlightened exploration into the nature of the kind of God who could be behind such phenomena. Intellectual interest in this developing knowledge doesn’t stop my heart being warmed when I read scripture or pray; underlines for me that these are distinct arenas of enquiry and experience: the scientific, and the spiritual.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

haiti: God in the dark?

We say ‘God is in control’, but how do you square that with a disaster like the Haiti earthquake? A tide of human lives, not only taken quickly and mercifully, but ebbing away, water from a burst skin seeping wasted into parched ground, because there is not enough help to stem the flow…fifty thousand, a hundred thousand… where is God in this cruel, desolate place on the margins? Perhaps his Spirit is at work in the surrounding surge of human compassion that propels help on its way; but that is so slow and limited, and cannot halt the relentless clocking of lives being snuffed out. What of the victim buried but still conscious beneath the rubble, alone and in pain?
A passage from ‘the shack’ hints at the possibility of light in such darkness. Comforting the father of a young girl kidnapped then murdered, the Spirit tells him that while she was alone in the back of that dark van not knowing where she was being taken, and even in the depth of her ordeal, she found strength and comfort: ‘she and I know each other well’. Could not the Spirit similarly minister to the forsaken earthquake victim buried in the rubble - where there is, and maybe even where there is not, the flicker of an inner cry for help?

Wednesday, 13 January 2010


mark 2:13-17 I’m thinking about the attraction jesus held for tax collectors and sinners. They felt comfortable in his presence - he exuded acceptance and love. Painfully aware of their ‘badness’ - seen in the mirror of others’ disapproval - they felt acutely their need for cleansing and wholeness, and were drawn to the warmth of divine welcoming presence in jesus. An inner recognition… in contrast to the Pharisees and scribes, whose external righteousness blinded them to their need, kept them fixated on keeping up appearances, and aroused their contempt for this man who allowed his image to be so soiled.
Am I sufficiently aware of my need to draw closer to God? Do I see past appearances and reflect the love of God to people with a less than shiny image?
What one ’lowly’ person in my life shall I seek to love more, and how will I do it?

I’ve got hooked on the tynchy stryder with amelle berrabah 2009 hit ’never leave you’. I’m intrigued by the creative synergy between this poster boy of black urban street cool, and poster girl of modern western ethnic chic, a beautiful young woman, of muslim Moroccan descent, utterly conscious of and relishing her sexual magnetism.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

notting hill moment

Watched Notting Hill last night. Key moment: she - ‘famous actress’ Anna Scott aka Julia Roberts - says to bumbling bookshop owner Will Thacker - aka Hugh Grant: “fame, it means nothing really. Don’t forget that underneath it all, I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her”. interesting. Fame can give the illusion a person is on a pedestal, rich, has all they could want.. But she’s saying, it’s external show and fa├žade, I have the same human vulnerability everyone else has, the same desire to be loved, facing the same risk of rejection. She’s even dressed in a simple skirt and cardy that makes her look like a little girl
I’m intrigued by correspondences between human reality and relationships, and the heavenly/earthly. We could explore how the human soul before God is like that little girl, seeking to be loved. How the layers of earthly paraphernalia, like the trappings of fame, keep the soul from awareness of its vulnerability and desire for that surpassing love, and how they might be stripped away.
I don’t mean to be a complete big softie. The other classic scene is of course the rhys ifans buttock clenching one.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

does 'king jesus' need deconstructing?

Bradford at its more picturesque early this morning, its rooftops mantled in snow, clear and crsip, the sun a molten burst of yellow peeping shyly over the horizon. I like this cold snap; I’ve never liked the idea the world is probably warming up with the concomitant threat of more monochrome weather, a flattening of the seasons, slow death of cold white winter.
Back to ‘king Jesus’. Just started reading though Mark’s gospel. ‘immediately’ pops up a lot. A narrative of swift action - Jesus healing, casting out demons, ‘doing stuff’. power evidently was at work in this man. And it’s all very concrete - it doesn’t look made up. This is why partly why the idea Jesus never existed doesn’t look credible - as cs lewis said, the gospels have the character of journalistic reporting, vivid and real. When I read about Christ and his actions, especially in the morning, fresh in body mind and spirit, I am inspired and motivated. But ‘king jesus‘… I feel uncomfortable and doubtful sometimes in church, with people in a state of adoration, eyes shut, hands in the air, jesus I love you, you’re beautiful.. I’m just not making the link between the man of wisdom and action who inspires and this ’invisible love object’. I’ll come back to this…
To answer billy’s question, what Wayne meant by the word ‘christian’ having become compromised was that it has become tainted in popular consciousness by various bad associations where it’s been negatively expressed and lived out.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

liquid gospel

In our HCJB team prayer meeting, we listened on DVD to president Wayne Pederson talking about the vision of the mission. He suggested that the word ‘christian’ has become compromised, and that what we should be seeking is to lead people to love and follow Jesus. There’s an impetus to use technology and current popular communication methods like twitter and face book more effectively as channels. The image popped into mind of the liquid metal T-1000 in Terminator 2, able to morph shape as circumstances required - as an image of what this nimble, adaptable communication aspiration is like.
I try to be honest about my own questions and doubts too. So here’s one: We sing about ‘king Jesus’ in church, celebrating the idea that this man who lived two millenia ago somehow rules and infuses the universe. So how is it that in the daily grind he can seem so peripheral: so far off the radar of my own consciousness in the rough and tumble of life, let alone in the mind of the secular masses? The notion that the church ‘made’ this man into Deity can at times appear a persuasive one. To be continued…