What is “The Gospel”?


There is an inherent inner tension that consumes many followers of the way. So many feel the conviction in their beliefs about Jesus but are unsure of how to articulate them to a quizzical world. Surely there must be an easy way to justify our deeply held beliefs? It must be possible to reduce the Christian faith into a suitably strong concentrated form that we can keep in the cupboard like stock cubes. Everyone is looking for something beefy that they can easily unwrap when they need it.

Here Tom Wright subtly reframes the questions people are keen to ask.

Instead of the formulaic reductionism that people seek, Wright frames “the gospel” in the context of something much bigger; the whole story. He sets the life of the Christian within the ongoing narrative of God’s interaction with humanity focussing on the person of Jesus Christ. Can you live with the unending quest for that illusive superficial “cure all”? The easily unwrapped gospel flavouring? Or would you rather focus on something much deeper and richer?


The Sun

Science is awesome!!

The creativity that is emerging around the globe is staggering.  No longer are people constrained by the companies who sell ideas, they are free to explore the possibilities.  This is the beauty of the digital revolution. 

I was given the opportunity to speak about alt worship/emerging church/culture with a group of people exploring their vocation to ordained ministry on Tuesday night.  In a short act of corporate worship I showed the Vodafone advert*, “Dad he’s left me”.  I used it as an introduction to The Lord’s Prayer.  Later on we discussed the concept of the advert as a group.  It is essentially based around two emotional responses it elicits from the viewer, identity and empathy.  “This is how a Father should act, wouldn’t you like to be like him”?  By sticking the vodafone logo at the end of this short story, we are invited to identify the product with the good guy – and they tell us nothing about their product.

The above video is amazing.  If you had asked me half way through what it was about, I would have guessed that it was a bunch of mates who thought it would be really cool to slow motion capture an exploding hydrogen filled balloon.  I wouldn’t have thought it was a company called GE trying to sell the US some solar panels. 

No longer are people constrained by telling us about their product, they are trying to capture our imagination.  They are telling us a narrative and inviting us to identify with it.  With that in mind, I’m off to make a cup of Gold Blend.

*sorry, it seems to have been eradicated from the internet so if you haven’t seen it before, my apologies.


I have just finished reading Marked by Steve Ross.  I was sent it by a friend who was feeding my comic book addiction.  Here’s a quick review by Alan Grant:

Steve Ross’s graphic novel ‘Marked’; is an exceptionally impressive achievement. The New Testament’s Gospel According to Mark is re-told in comic strip using contemporary life, characters and culture. The result is startling, remarkable and completely unique: the horrors and demons of 2,000 years ago are dragged drooling and screaming into the mean streets – and meaner people – of today. Steve’s chilling message seeps out from under his bold words and images: nothing has changed in two millennia, and Mankind will always fail, unless… somebody cares enough to save us. –Alan Grant

From my own perspective, I was greatly impressed with it.  However, I am a comic book nerd who knows the gospel of Mark.  There have been other attempts to reimagine religious narratives in graphic novels and some have been more successful than others.  For example Deepak Chopra and Shekar Kapur’s Ramayan is an artistic delight and authentically manga experience.  However, the Bible is usually given the well meaning but saccarine 60’s pastel shades of the ghost of sunday school past.  Even the artistic talents who worked on Judge Dredd seemed heavily influenced by the images of their childhood.  Marked however has no such hangups.  This really does look like it belongs up there with Judge Dredd.  The art work is really good.  Mark’s Gospel has been placed into a futuristic post apocalyptic setting that intrigues the reader to carry on.

I have only a couple of concerns.  What is it for?  It doesn’t follow a true enough course to the Gospel itself although it does make you want to ask more questions.  Is this a springboard into the text for someone who has never really encountered the biblical narrative or is it a thought provoking encounter for people like me who have a good knowledge of the original?  Is it both and at the same time actually neither?

Churches Advertising Network

It has come to that part of the year once more where I feel the need to point people in the direction of the Churches Advertising Network (CAN).  Those of you who have read my blog either here on wordpress or in the past on MySpace will no doubt have noticed that I hold strong opinion on church notice boards.  I just don’t think that a piece of luminous card with a trite hand written verse has any really positive effect.

This year the CAN campaign is based upon the culture of narrative in a very modern sense.  Can you condense the Birth Narrative into thirty seconds?  If you can, you could win £500!!  There will be radio adverts on commercial stations as a way of publishing the whole thing.  Click the links and get involved.

Retelling the Narrative

Often referred to as the greatest story ever told, the life of Jesus is one that touches millions around the world.  There has been much academic movement to discover ways of making the Gospels heard in a world that is 2000 literary years away from them.  The cultural difference between the time and place of the original writers and the modern day west is huge.  However, the gulf between the culture of the now westernised church and the hindu world of India is just as alien. 

Latha Rajasekhar is a Hindu woman who has been so touched by Jesus message that she has penned an epic 900 page saga of the life of Jesus as though written by the author of the Ramayana or the Mahabharata.  She decided to write the epic after having a vision of Jesus at her door.  Since then she has visited the holy land as part of the process and has published the work.  The poetic work is produced in the Kannada language that is spoken in Karnataka.  The launch was presided over by Bishop Vasant Kumar of Karnataka central diocese.  Read more here.

I guess that is one answer to the question ‘How do we preach in a narrative culture?’

The Apocalypse

I’m in the middle of getting everything off my old myspace site as it is defunct.  This is a song by Muse called Apocalypse Please.  It has some wonderful biblical language and imagery to convey the end times.

Declare this an emergency
come on and spread a sense of urgency
and pull us through
and pull us through

and this is the end
this is the end
of the world

and it’s time we saw a miracle
come on, it’s time for something biblical
to pull us through
and pull us through

and this is the end
this is the end
of the world

proclaim eternal victory
come on and change the course of history
and pull us through
and pull us through

and this is the end
this is the end
of the world


Hulk Smash!!

The trailer for the new Incredible Hulk movie is out and worryingly I am looking forward to it.  I have to say that the 2003 Ang Lee film left me feeling more than a little let down.  The promises in the press left the film with a lot to live up to.  The rhetoric of ‘amazing CGI’ that perfectly depicts Eric Bana as the Jolly Green Giant contributed to greatly to a truly flat experience when sitting in a cinema staring at an extra from Doom.  To be honest I wasn’t even that convinced by Bana’s ability to convey ‘the inner conflict that goes on inside all of us’. 

With this in mind it was with much trepidation that I saw the trailer for The Incredible Hulk.  I was prepared for another disappointment in the somewhat inconsistent Marvel movie universe.  I have to say, 21 days before the film is released that I was quite impressed by the 3 minutes of footage as it flashed across the cinema screen.  Edward Norton looks to have been a good choice for Banner.  His ability as a character actor is clear from roles as diverse as the dark and brooding Fight Club to the coming of age romantic comedy of a priest in Keeping the Faith.  His internal monologue is always fantastic and he is good at conveying the inner turmoil through subtly facial expressions.  Finally perhaps we will see the real struggle within Bruce Banner brought to life on the big screen.  It will be interesting to see how the CGI has improved over the course of the last 5 years to allow the other elements of this narrative to speak of the human condition.