Tuesday, 21 June 2011


Irony – there’s a feeling in late June that we’re still only just entering summer… Wimbledon's begun, Glastonbury approaches – and yet the longest day of the year has already arrived. Happily the warming effect of lengthened days trails behind, casting its balm over the coming months (seas won’t properly warm up for a while yet).

At such boundary points and junctures of nature, it's good to stop and ponder these great rhythms - and the relationship between vast macro planetary mathematics and their effects on the natural world that sustain life and growth. The earth’s annual motion through its axis like a vast rocking chair or ferris wheel, imperceptibly edging towards its peak today, then falling, slowly accelerating, till it hurtles through the equinox… then slows to a crawl at winter’s sluggish nadir, before recommencing its long climb back… And accompanying this arc, the kaleidoscope of beauty with which nature’s miracle of design assaults our senses: from yellow burst of daffodil, to skylark in balmy meadow, through fall’s fiery extravaganza, to taut crisp shadow, and ice daggers.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Mammon, 'mother monster' & the marketing machine

It’s easy to veer towards idealistic thinking about a person or topic from an early superficial viewpoint. Having read a bit more about her and seen a few of the videos, I now feel some comments I made relating Gaga to God need qualifying. No denying she’s fizzing with creativity, nor that human creativity reflects something of the Creator - but there’s a clearly a more complex mix going on here. As with Madonna, videos and lyrics are littered with religious imagery, and sexuality paraded and commented on in dark and disturbing ways. With some cleverness and irony too, of course.
I’m reading ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ by Gunther Bornkamm, pupil of Rudolf Bultmann, written 1960. Exciting to learn more of the historical and political background to Christ‘s ministry. Today read Mark 11: 15-19 about Jesus cleansing the temple. The broad insight it communicates: he was passionate about the holiness - set-apartness - of spiritual space, the presence of God; and was active in defending and protecting it from the encroachment of materialism - the worship of money. Engaged as I am in creative communication in writing and commercial radio, seeking to embed and embody aspects of the gospel message in a pop culture setting, I’m fascinated in finding and expressing connections - as well as more directly with my own life. So here for instance, the report of Christ’s confrontation with the worship of mammon - money - comments implicitly on the presumably often ruthless kind of marketing machine that picks up and exploits the talent of a star like Gaga (also known as 'mother monster'). Where is the sacred space in the whole enterprise, and in a ’star’s life - and how can it possibly be guarded? And in my own life - I need to explore ways that I too can fight for the protection and promotion of sacred space - recognition of the presence of God in our culture - not least in the material world of commercial radio.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

A little more on Gaga

A few more thoughts on little miss Gaga (she is after all only 5 foot 1 I readJ) I heard her main stage performance live at the Radio 1 big weekend 15 May. Last night I watched the first ten minutes or so of the video… I suggested in the last post that her creativity in some measure reflects the creativity of God. Don’t mean to overstate my case - it’s obviously quite easy to end up idolising someone so ‘stand out’. Even just a little reading up on the woman reminds that, of course, in a frail human being, behind such a headlong pursuit of fame and attention is likely to lie a complex web of needs and motivations. She was bullied in school, and says that in her music she is often opening and probing that wound. Is there not often, propelling a quest for fame, a deficit in the experience of love? A misdirected search for unconditional and indeed limitless love - that can be found in God alone? A similar problem conceivably lies behind the wider public’s excessive interest in celebrities - an aspirational dream of beauty and success, which again finds its right fulfilment in the esteem of the One who holds us all in his hand.