John Finnemore at the Storytellers' Club

Comedy on the evolution of language

For the past few months I’ve been falling asleep to comedy shows on BBC’s iPlayer app. It started with Friday evening political satire and then progressed to sketch shows and sitcoms like Hut 33 (about codebreakers at Bletchley Park) and Cabin Pressure (about a fictitious airline) written by John Finnemore.

In my hunt for something fresh to listen to I found John Finnemore’s Souvenir Programme, which is basically a sketch show. In the following example he highlights the way that language use changes over time.

Mike Frost: Live a questionable life

This is your primary evangelistic mission; live a questionable life.

Nobody is going to ask you about the hope that is in you; no one is going to respond with questions about who you are, or how you live, or what you’re doing, if you live just like all the other suburban middle class people in this country.

If you spend the same amount of money on a house as they spend, if you live in the same neighbourhood as they live in, if you take the same vacations that they take, if you renovate your kitchen in the same way that they do, if you have the same views that they have, live the same way that they live, if you spend money the same way that do, if you life looks exactly the same as theirs what would they possibly ask you about?


Thought of the day

Oval Station Thought of the Day

Oval Station Thought of the Day – secretlondon123

This month’s Future First from Brierly consultancy carries an article called Attitudes to Church and Clergy in Britain. In it, Clive Field, says,

‘In a recent article, based on public opinion polls, I examined the attitudes of British adults to Church and clergy since the 1960s, with reference to their perceived influence and degree of confidence or trust in them.’

He then goes on to share an interesting array of statistics of which one segment deserves mention.

Adequacy of answers given by the Church to modern problems

According to the research the church only adequately answers people’s spiritual needs 51% of the time. Problems and needs of the individual and problems of family life are only answered adequately 27% and 26% of the time and social problems facing our country only 20%.

I’m not sure the numbers alone tell us anything significant but there’s certainly an implication that church leaders aren’t able to communicate what the Bible has to say to modern British society. Though, I expect there’s also some research to be done into how many respondents didn’t receive the message they wanted from the church so gave a negative answer.

However, I think Christians have a responsibility to think through the various issues faced by society today and ask what the Bible has to say about it. We also have a responsibility to help others think through these things.

So, two resources to recommend.

1) Go on the LICC Toolbox course and learn how to engage with modern culture as a Christian. If you live near London you have no excuse not to.

2) Have a look at some of the material produced by Focus over the past few years, especially the video series that questions science and faith. A new series on the question of why God allows suffering is coming up – see a trailer below.

Friday music: Happy

A few months ago, on Facebook, I started posting videos of Happy. One video a week on a Friday afternoon, just to make the time pass – and because it’s just the right time to feel happy for the weekend.

I’m going to keep the Friday music videos going for a bit longer on this blog, eventually moving on from Pharrell Williams. But, for now, just to get going. Happy Friday afternoon everyone.

The bit that’s missing from the Christmas adverts

It’s that time of year again, when shops try to sell you stuff without actually showing products. Instead they tell you a nice heartwarming tale and remind you that it’s the message of the season. John Lewis have tried it with a penguin (not anywhere near as good as previous years I think) and now Sainsbury’s are using their partnership with the Royal British Legion to repackage Christmas in the trenches.

It’s a great story, and yes there’s poetic licence – this is an advert not a documentary – but it still does something warm and fuzzy and encourages a little moisture to appear around the tear ducts.

The ‘making of the advert’ is worth a watch too. Illustrating that there was an ambition to be as accurate as possible in retelling the Christmas story from the trenches.

At the close of the story behind our ad video, the narrator says…

There’s a great hope for future peace, when two great nations, hating each other as foes have seldom hated, should on Christmas day, and for all that the word implies, lay down their arms, exchange smokes and wish each other happiness.

It’s packaged as though someone is reading it from a diary of one of the soldiers that were there. I wonder if that’s really what it is, or if it’s a 21st century reflection on what may have been thought at the time?

In a post-Christian nation are you able to suggest that two warring armies may have been able to lay down arms for a few hours because they recognised that Christmas marks the arrival of the ‘Prince of Peace‘ on earth. Certainly there were records of soldiers singing Christmas carols and lighting candles. Did faith have an impact on the actions of those soldiers?