The Liverpool Nativity

The Liverpool Nativity was fantastic.  In my opinion it is the highest profile the gospel has had in the UK since the Manchester passion.  Whilst it was always going to miss the presence of Keith Allan, Geoffrey Hughes gave a sterling performance of Gabriel.  OK, so it was sometimes not true to the nativity as written but it appeared to be true to the whole of the teachings of Jesus.  It has to be said though, Ruth and I knew more of the songs from the Manchester Passion.

My one complaint about the show was that it was often used as a vehicle for political comment and this was allowed to dominate the Christmas story.  Casting Herod as a black woman made a big statement about the current media concerns that made people make a justifiable double take.  However, Herodia’s major crime was racial prejudice and lack of compassion to immigrants.  This presented her currently topical right wing political views as the vehicle for her to become a figure of hatred.  I suppose the best illustration of the nativity using it’s position on TV to make political comment was the retort to Herodia by one of the Magi, “Shouldn’t that be homeland insecurities”?  As I say, it seemed to be concerned with Gospel issues but sometimes it felt like a shameless attack on modern forms of government.

Where I felt the modern issues particularly worked as part of the story was the casting of Mary and Joseph as a mixed race couple.  This was a stroke of genius that highlighted one of the major issues facing the UK at the moment.  Placing Joseph as an immigrant made the issue real and gave a voice to those who are marginalised at Christmas time.  When we are all tucking into turkey and raising a glass it is often difficult to remember that we are one of the few who can.  The Liverpool nativity took one of the issues that is throughout the Gospel whilst not staying true to the letter of the story.  This in my opinion is a much better deviation than the addition of donkeys, goldfish, Caspar and reporters that we are usually force to endure.  As a-religious as the story at some points appeared, it cannot be denied that it represented Jesus.  This is best demonstrated by the final line of the show,

Jesus really was a revolutionary.  Throughout his whole life his message was love! 

The real question I have is – how come it only dawned on us half way through the show that we could have been 40 miles down the road and seen it live.  Dur!!

If you missed it it is repeated on BBC1 on 23rd December.

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Time to think about Christmas?

It would seem that the media have so oversold Christmas by trying to get us to start preparing in October that everyone has put it off until now.  It still feels like the celebrations are a million years away and yet in just over a week it will have happened.  Even the people around the corner have waited until this week to put the excessive lights with all the trimmings on their house.  There is something inside me which instinctively cringes every time I see it – but each to their own. 

 We decided that we were going to leave it until today to do anything other than advent.  We have had Mary and Joseph making their way across the living room and the four wise men at the other side of the room (in the east ;-)) waiting for Epiphany.  Today we are putting up the tree.  Time to move from an indignant “but it’s advent” to the serious business of Uber-Christmas.

On a different note, the weather is freezing*.  I should know as I just took the bike for an MOT.  Despite the two pairs of socks, two pairs of trousers, 2 scarves, three t-shirts whilst leather clad head to toe clothing arangements, I still manged to have my fingers and toes amputated on arrival after 30 miles.  As Ruth followed in the car, it proudly declared -2 degrees to her!!

Hop on my Chopper

A cup of tea and then I had better go get the decorations out of the loft!

*having reread this, how typically English of me – lets talk about the weather!!

More exam madness…

Year 11 mock exam.  They question was “what is stewardship?”

Once there was a man named Steward who dremt (sic) of going to sea, so he got a ship and did just that 🙂

Geminid Meteor Shower

I went out last night to look for Geminid meteors.  I took my camera with me on the hope of taking some shots.  I started the process by going to Jessops to get something that would allow me to use a long exposure of more than 30 seconds.  Here lies my first mistake – Jessops have nothing in stock.  Do’h.

 We went out at about 12:30 but it was unbelievably cold.  Ruth was driving and getting cold so we didn’t stay long and didn’t see anything.  The camera may have done when I have a look after work. 

Apparantly the best time for viewing is around dawn where up to 12 “shooting stars” and hour are visible.  I may try again tonight but from past experience, the second night of anything, once you know what you are doing, it is always foggy!

Out of the mouths of babes…

Sometimes pupils really say something that makes you smile.  I am looking at the Exodus story with Year 7.  One pupil asked me what Moses mother was called.  Not having gone through sunday school as a child, names of biblical characters always baffle me.  I asked her to pass me a copy of the Bible from the back of the room.  Sure enough, off she goes to get it.

One of the more interesting things about being a teacher is that you see how much influence someone has upon their friends at that age.  At this point, the girl sitting next to her jumps out of her seat and dashes up grabbing another copy of the bible.  I am at this point leafing through the Exodus story looking for Moses’ early years.  I turn to pupil A and say, “It doesn’t say, it says she was a Levite woman”.

Pupil B springs forward and proffers her copy of the bible, complete with dust cover and proudly enquires “will it tell you in this one?” 

Feeling Cultured

Last night I went to see a string quartet.  OK, I admit it, it was Apocalyptica.  There is something very appealing about Metallica played on 4 chellos!  I don’t think you can say you’ve ever lived until you have seen Wah chello whilst a guy holds another chello over his head with one hand and claps it with the other!  Brilliant!

Worship Idea – Alternative Hymnal

Those of you who have followed my myspace blog will have heard me advocate the use of ‘secular’ songs in an act of worship.  It comes from a piece of research I did for my MA into the prevelance of music in society and what types of music they were.  I also researched the cultural split that can occur based upon music as we create ingroups and outgroups in society drawn along lines based often on musical taste.  I have posted a few ‘secular’ songs that I think should be included in worship on my blog.  The alternative hymnal does just that.

Liverpool Nativity

I’ve just seen an advert for the Liverpool Nativity.  It is on Sunday night at 8PM on BBC3.  It doesn’t seem to be as high profile as the Manchester Passion in 2006 but if the production is as good it should be well worth a watch.

Stumbling blocks…

How’s this for a stumbling block?

Danger of Falling

The Church Becomes Big Business

I have often said something like “if coca-cola applied the same rules to it’s marketing as the church everyone would drink pepsi”.  However, the opposite side of the coin seems to be equally ridiculous.  When the Church becomes big business and we head down the route of the Mega-Church we find that people stop mattering and become just a number… and sort code…

I can’t help recalling the time I saw an American style ‘graduation ceremony’ at a mega-church for people who had passed the ‘course’ in leadership.  Each of the 83 candidates trotted up replete with mortar board and gown.  We were proudly told that the candidates had completed such tasks as “carpark duty” and “maintainance” throughout the year.  Each candidate gave a little speech about how blessed they had been and eventually confetti rained down upon us as hats were thrown in the air.  Later we were informed that we too could be blessed like this.  “If you want to realise the potential that God has for you, sign up for this today.  Next year you too could be standing on this stage and all it costs is £1300”!

You may do a double take here.  I did.  £1300 so that God will bless you??!!??

So why do I think these thoughts today?  It is reported that Rupert Murdoch’s company Fox Digital Media has bought beliefnet.  My question is why?  Clearly there is money to be made in faith but surely that is not the purpose.  Is this the start of something else?

On a different note, the Church Advertising Network have put together another interesting campaign to promote Jesus at Christmas.  The whole thing invites people to go to their site second chance life.  It looks like a really interesting idea.

So here is my dilemma, caught between the rock and the hard place.  Church without some form of decent marketing is likely to die.  Without Jesus though, all we are left with is the marketing.  I guess we need to find a happy medium between the two.