Posts Tagged With: religion

The Gospel of John: the Elbow version

It’s been a busy week, all told. Thomas’s party (improbably Lemony Snicket-themed) is next Wednesday and we are still up to our ears in cake plans, brainstorming sessions for games and the sheer rigmarole of chasing people for RSVPs. (Dealing with a few ambiguous or non-existent responses is comparatively easy if you’ve invited thirty or forty children: worst case scenario, you wind up overcatering. When you’ve only invited seven or eight, that’s half the party.)

I am also leading worship on Sunday, and this led to the thing you see above. I wanted to depict the resurrection (the subject of this week’s service) in montage form, rather than just playing a couple of clips.  The first problem was finding suitable source material, and The Gospel of John – from the Visual Bible series – turned out to be a second choice. Son of God, which reuses footage from the 2014 Bible TV series and combines it with new material, has more striking visuals, owing in part to its larger budget. Sadly, there just wasn’t enough – the resurrection and ascension are dealt with in about four minutes flat, so it’s gone on the back burner for another time. (There is also the 1999 Jesus mini-series, but it’s so horribly Americanised I really didn’t want to touch it.)

What strikes me throughout this was the ambiguous mood. I’d anticipated a gradual buildup to the reveal of Christ (that first clear shot, in the Garden of Gethsemane, is quite deliberately placed) and then a jubilant release for the coda, with multiple shots of smiling, overjoyed disciples. In the end, you make do with what you have, and that turned out to be a sea of troubled faces. But that works, largely because I can’t help thinking my own reaction to a resurrected Jesus would be one of similar ambivalence – elation at seeing him again, coupled with shame and despair that I’d let him down a couple of days back.

The song choice was never up for debate. I’ve been wanting an excuse to assemble something to ‘One Day Like This’ ever since discovering Elbow a few years back. While not quite their creative peak (Build A Rocket Boys is a better album) there are few anthems by them – by any band, come to that – which carry such a sense of euphoric triumph. The song’s about waking up next to someone and realising that you love them, but it seems to fit the mood. And as much as I live in fear that it’s set to become our generation’s ‘Hey Jude’ – with a wrinkled, balding Guy Garvey hoisted out onto the stage in thirty years’ time to lead the Olympic crowd in a grand singalong of a tune that’s been played to death – I’m glad I finally got to use it.

My brother-in-law, incidentally, does not share my fears about the fate of ‘One Day Like This’, stating that he “can’t see Guy Garvey allowing that to happen”. And he’s probably right. Elbow can fill an arena in ten minutes, but when it comes to creative choices, I really can’t see them selling out.

Elbow

Well, probably not.

Categories: Videos | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Creation, Mister Maker Style

Well, it is a Sunday.



I haven’t done a video in ages. There was a flurry of activity in the first part of the year, amidst all the old Who watching and trips to the job centre. Somewhere along the line there was an acknowledgement that freelance writing is what I do now. Since then, any time I’ve not spent child-caring has been mostly working on a portfolio, or generating all those memes that occasionally do quite well on the internet. When the novel is finished, I will go back and look at a few of the dozen or so projects I’ve got stewing. But this one? Well, this one was Josh.

We have made it a rule to try and attend our local church on a Sunday, whenever we can – they’re following a thirty week series called The Story that takes you through the Old and New Testament, or at least the Hebrew-centred bits of it. The resources are a condensed version of the New International Version of the Bible and a selection of children’s adaptations. There are also DVDs and YouTube clips, at least some of which contain those time-lapse painting things that are always great fun to watch. Services with our children can be a minefield: the church is extremely accommodating, and there’s no judgement or criticism, only wide-armed acceptance and great love, but we often have to take at least one of the boys outside to calm down. Throughout all of this we are determined to stick to it, because if we can’t teach them to behave in public, who will?

Still, there are some weeks when you don’t make it, and on this particular Sunday, the day after our London visit, everyone was exhausted, so we had a quiet morning at home. And that was when Josh – who, like most nine-year-olds, is normally ensconced in front of Minecraft or CITV – surprised me, largely by showing that he’s actually been listening during those fidgety children’s talks. I’d not been up long that morning when he revealed that he’d spent about an hour on Mister Maker’s Magic Paintbox. Mister Maker, for those of you unfamiliar with him, is the onscreen persona of Phil Gallagher, a sort of Mark Speight on Prozac who dashes around manically preparing a series of artistic creations. He has a talking cuckoo clock (with no cuckoo), a gigantic arts and crafts cabinet and a huge following in the Far East. It’s a far cry from the leisurely paces of Tony Hart, but the boys enjoy it, as do I.

Anyway, the joy behind the Magic Paintbox is its replay function, in which you can spend a while making an image and then review the drawing process in all its sped-up Flash-based glory, while Mister Maker himself shouts encouragement in the background. And when Joshua – completely unprompted – told me he’d made this story of the creation of the Earth, I knew it was too good to just leave on the website. It was a story we had looked at very recently, as part of an Advent series that starts with the fall of man and ends as Mary and Joseph bed down in Bethlehem – it’s impossible to really appreciate the Christmas narrative without its wider ramifications, just as it’s impossible to really appreciate that iconic closing scene in Dirty Harry until you’ve watched it in context, or appreciate ‘Memory’ unless you’ve actually seen the whole of Cats. What struck me about this was how Josh had managed to get the whole narrative in there, and all the important points, while retaining an attention to detail that I couldn’t have managed at all. Suffice it to say that he’s a far better artist than I am.

I ripped the replay video from the web using Movavi Screen Capture, which I knew would come in useful someday, and then Josh recorded his narration on my phone. We knew it would work better with music, and The Truman Show – a deeply religious film on many levels – seemed an obvious choice. While I was uploading this to YouTube, Daniel was working on his own video, which I really ought to finish at some point, once I can work out what to do with his narrative. I may not get the chance to do videos much these days, but my children have, it seems, inherited their parents’ creative spark, and the knowledge that we did at least one thing right makes all the fighting and squabbling and sleepless nights utterly worthwhile.

And on that note, we’re off to church.

Categories: Videos | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Doctor Who Bible Stories

Last week I was helping out at a children’s holiday club in Shropshire. In between the madcap games, craft activities and singalongs, I spent most of my time thinking about the Second Doctor, for reasons I won’t divulge right  now. Perhaps echoing my subconscious thoughts, two of the girls in the junk modelling session we had one afternoon managed to produce this – which looks, I told them, rather like a Quark.

Robot

“Or a War Machine!” suggested Verity, Gareth’s other half. “It could probably destroy a pile of boxes.”

The club itself detailed the story of David and his ascension from shepherd boy to king, along with some of the more memorable tales from the narrative, such as David’s encounter with the ill-fated Goliath. (One thing they don’t always tell you in Sunday School is that after David had felled Goliath with that pebble he found in the stream, he then cut off the giant’s head and paraded it round the camp, perched on the end of his sword. The Old Testament is full of grisly stories like this. The dogs licked up Jezebel’s blood, Herod committed blasphemy and was eaten by worms, and when Sisera, during a failed invasion of Israel, broke protocol and sought sanctuary inside the wrong camp, Heber’s wife Jael waited until he was asleep and then drove a tent peg through his head. And they complain about ‘The Deadly Assassin’.)

In any case, the encounter with Goliath set me thinking, and that’s when –

(The fact that the most appropriate image of Jamie and the Doctor I could find is actually from ‘The Abominable Snowmen’ is a welcome bonus.)

But why stop there? Why not look, for example, at ‘The Beast Below’, and the Doctor’s little dance with Amy in the mouth of the star whale?

Meanwhile, some of the Dalek stories deliberately lend themselves to this. I am still waiting for ‘Exodus of the Daleks’, but –

 

(I’m quite sure there’s more I could do with ‘Genesis of the Daleks’, as well, perhaps by tying it in with ‘Kinda’. But anyway)

Revelation aside, the blood and gore has died down a bit by the time we reach the New Testament. Still, there’s the Christmas story, with its tale of a squalid virgin birth in a crowded town, followed by ritual infanticide. The birth of Jesus is, as the Tenth Doctor puts it, a “long story. I should know; I was there. I got the last room.”

Well, of course he did.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Hedgehogs and donkeys

It’s a Sonic Screwdriver.

Thomas and I are halfway through series 4 (“Hey! Who turned out the lights?”). In re-examining the warm chemistry of the Tennant / Tate pairing, I am reminded of the time we were camping and my second son appeared through a flap in the tent, like this:

Thomas_Tent

And boldly declaring “Donna Noble has left the library. Donna Noble has been saved.” Oh, I was so proud.

Anyway, the other week they tackled the Good Samaritan at school. He understood the story, but didn’t fully understand the significance of the Samaritan’s decision to stop and help the Jew, because the animosity between them hadn’t been explained. Parables are funny like that. The Prodigal Son, for example, is laced with all sorts of detail that escapes a modern audience. The son’s request for his half of the money was akin to wishing his father dead. Working with pigs would have been beneath contempt for any Jewish man. And when he’s on the way home his father runs along the road to meet him – and never mind the fact that he was filthy and smelled of bacon, running in public was something that no respectable landowner would ever be seen doing. All these details would have been familiar to Jesus’ audience and would have emphasised the point of the story, but over the years a lot of this has been lost.

So I explained to Thomas that the Samaritan’s decision to stop and help the injured Jew was rather like the Doctor and Amy stopping to help a battle-damaged Dalek. Which satisfied him, although my friends were less sure. One asked if the Doctor could turn water into wine, while my brother-in-law said “Was it more like a Dalek stopping to help?” Someone else concurred. “You expect the Doctor to help, but you wouldn’t expect a Dalek to.”

I had thought about doing it that way round. Still, it’s always been my understanding that the Samaritan / Jew disdain was stronger on the Jewish side. Which would mean in turn that the hatred the Daleks have for the Doctor is stronger than any he might have for them – and therefore it makes sense to have the Doctor rescue the Dalek. This does then put you in the unfortunate position of a Jew / Dalek paradigm, which is ironic (and somewhat inappropriate) given the Nazi imagery of ‘Genesis of the Daleks’.

Emily got the last word. “I think,” she said, “that it was less about the hatred between the two characters in the story and more about who the audience would identify with. In which case it would be better to have the Dalek help, as that would be the last thing we would expect. Daleks / Samaritans = horrible begins who never do anything nice => shocking story.”

Which reminds me of this.

My friend Rachel pointed out that “A Dalek would have trouble getting the Doctor onto a donkey”. Still, that didn’t stop someone else producing this lovely piece of artwork:

Dalek Samaritan

In any event, it seems like Doctor Who has an answer for everything. But I think we already knew that.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: