It’s hard to imagine that human eyeballs on toast could be the title of my favourite track from 2010 but it is. I’ll let Peter Broderick explain the title in his own words;
In order for this song to make sense, you have to imagine that I am a chicken. More specifically, a chicken in a factory farm, being raised for consumption by humans. When I wrote this song, I had just finished reading the book Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. This brave and wildly informational book stirred up so many things inside me, when I sat down at the piano to write vocals over the top of this piano melody, I imagined myself as a chicken and these words just came out.
Battery Cages will be made illegal in the EU from 2012.
HUMAN EYEBALLS ON TOAST
feathers and a cage too small
chemicals that make us tall too fast
all my friends look the same
all of us feel the same pain
artificial sunlight here
perfectly calibrated year
and it feels wrong
so every time i see a man
i dream about his face in a frying pan
human eyeballs on toast
but when they seared off my beak
i realized just how weak we are
and if i had a bigger brain i’d surely find a way
to take my own life
i’d end it all right here before my meat is how they want it
but that might be the only part of my body
that you haven’t tried to change
my altered life is the worst miracle my peanut can’t imagine
Mock the Christian?
Have you watched Come fly with me, the new comedy by Little Britain stars Matt Lucas and David Walliams? As with LB it’s very much a character-based comedy and in parts is quite funny with some of the characters pretty well-observed. But they can’t resist having a pop at Christians.
Meet Precious Little
Matt Lucas comments: “Precious Little is a lady who works at the coffee kiosk. A jolly West Indian lady, middle-aged, who enjoys gospel music and she’s a Christian and is seemingly never able to open her kiosk, she’s always missing a vital ingredient – the coffee’s gone missing, or the water isn’t working, or the cups have gone missing. And then there’s something mysterious going on – I’m not going to tell you any more!”
Let’s look at Precious from episode 2:
And so the joke runs through each episode that Precious deliberately sabotages the Coffee shop, providing her with the excuse to close the shop and find something else to do. Continue reading »
I’ve been taking my iPhone to bed with me for the past few weeks. Not because I’m expecting an urgent call you understand nor in case of emergency but because I simply have to keep a check on the cricket score. Having a 12 day old baby means you know you’re going to be awake a fair bit of the night so why not see how England are doing and whilst I’m at it I might as well check my e-mails, twitter account and blog stats…..
But if that is a temporary feature brought on by a crying baby and a decent English cricket team my need to be connected isn’t. The reality is that if I leave home without my phone it feels as if I’ve had a limb amputated.
Are you addicted to technology or can you live without it?
The Winter of Our Disconnect is a new book written by Susan Maushart in which she and her family undergo a ‘digital detox’. They pull the plug and put themselves through a six month experiment without laptop and games consoles.
In interview with the Daily Telegraph she comments:
‘It’s a push-pull, isn’t it. There is a part of me that feels suffocated when the train goes into a tunnel and I lose signal for 10 seconds. I write about this stuff in the book because I fuly identify iwth it. But you also know that this stuff can compromise your life hugely.’
I’ve been listening to a BBC radio 4 serialisation of the book this week. It’s well worth a listen.
As Christians we have even more reason to take a look at how we are using or being used by technology. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6:12
“Everything is permissible for me”–but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”–but I will not be mastered by anything.
Or as ESV renders it
“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything.
How can I ensure I’m not mastered by my use of digital media?
Here are 6 actions that may help;
1. Take a break one day a week. If fasting from food is a helpful spiritual discipline for many fasting from technology might be even more beneficial.
An interesting article on one student’s attempt at a ‘Phone-free Friday’ can be found here.
2. Limit the time you (or your family) spend on computer games. Set yourself a maximum time eg. an hour a day?
3. Make an agreement with your family that you won’t check your phone or answer it when you’re having a family meal or meeting with someone or at church (!).
4. Don’t check your e-mails until you’ve addressed the more important matters of reading your Bible and praying in the morning. You could try and be even more radical and only check your emails between certain hours (it helps to let others know when to expect a reply).
5. Don’t see it as a chore but take note of all the benefits. Slow your brain down and see how much you gain.
6. Put the time you gain to good use. Reading, writing, praying, meditating, talking with friends.
A good friend recently told me the story of how a mother could get her children to swallow anything by rolling bitter pills in butter and coating the butter in sugar. It tasted good to the kids and they swallowed whatever they were given.
Such deceitful behaviour doesn’t stop with medicene! Take entertainment for example. What we consume through TV. film and music is like a pill in sugar. We end up swallowing allsorts of things unintentionally. What we might well spit out if served to us ‘Straight-up’ we swallow without a thought because it tastes so good.
ALL media contains a message, even entertainment, and like sugar-coating a pill the ideas that are absorbed have consequences on our thinking and living.
So Christian do you seek to be only entertained by what you watch or listen to or do you seek to engage with what you watch?
A Missionary in culture
Driscoll regards himself not as a consumer of culture but a missionary in culture. What’s the difference?
As a missionary, I do not view culture passively, merely as entertainment. Rather, I engage it actively as a sermon that is preaching a worldview.
I teach my children to do the same. We watch shows with our children. Those shows are recorded on a TiVo so that we can stop and have discussions during them, helping our kids understand the ideology that is being presented and how to think about it critically. We want our kids to be innocent but not naïve. Naïve Christians are the most vulnerable to engaging culture ignorantly and unpreparedly. If a Christian kid does not know how to walk as a Christian in culture, it’s no surprise that once he or she leaves their parents’ home after graduation, they are statistically likely to fail continue walking with Jesus.
Driscoll as a pastor sees it as his responsibility to teach the church how to think critically about media.
Like our children, our goal is not to create a safe Christian subculture as much as to train missionaries to live in culture like Jesus.
As a missionary, you will need to watch television shows and movies, listen to music, read books, peruse magazines, attend events, join organizations, surf websites, and befriend people that you might not like to better understand people whom Jesus loves. For example, I often read magazines intended for teenage girls, not because I need to take tests to discover if I am compatible with my boyfriend or because I need leg-waxing tips, but because I want to see young women meet Jesus, so I want to understand them and their culture better.
7 tips for getting more engaged
1. Try listening to a different radio station for an hour a day each day for a week.
2. Watch, if only once, programmes that are most talked about at your work or amongst your friends that you’ve never watched. Think through why they are popular, what message they convey and how the gospel interacts with those ideas.
3. Use the web to read journalism from different perspectives. A short cut approach can be found by visiting the New Stateman which links to 10 different but interesting articles from the papers each day.
4. Watch a film with some Christian friends or better still watch with a mix of friends and chat about it afterwards (tell everyone this is what you plan to do BEFORE you watch the film). Do your research in advance. Try Damaris for some good resources.
6. Ask your pastor to preach on culture and engagement or ask for some church-based workshops on film, tv, etc.
7. Above all else remember that cultural engagement is essential for Christians. It protects us from swallowing those bitter pills of untruth that undermine our faith or the faith of those around us. Understanding the world around us including it’s thought-forms and ideas enables us to build bridges with those around us. The more engaged we are the more opportunities are provided to open up a conversation that leads us to a gospel conversation.
As the new year approaches I wonder whether you’re inspired to make plans for 2011? Newspapers and the web are full of ideas as to how to improve your lot over the next 12 months but usually it’s little more than losing a few pounds in weight or getting your finances in order.
But how can you make the very most of 2011? What about some serious planning?
Planning is not about learning to manage your time better it’s about learning to prioritise your plans so that you make better use of your time. For Christians planning means not being efficient with our time, it is about being effective with our time, making sure that what we do with our time really matters.
And the question we need to ask is what determines our priorities in our planning?
Tim Chester’s excellent book The Busy Christian’s Guide to Busyness shows how easy it is to fail to plan according to God’s priorities. When we don’t intentionally plan according to God’s priorities we’ll probably end up planning according to the world’s priorities.
Our world says ‘Success is primarily measured in the lifestyle you have’. Therefore success is measured in money. It’s about the car you drive, the house you own, or perhaps its about the status your job gives you.
So we plan to realise the lifestyle.
1. We have in our minds the goal lifestyle that we want and then
2. We look for the education that will lead to the job that will buy us that lifestyle we’re seeking.
3. To find the job and we move to wherever that job will take us. We sacrifice friends,family, church in a bid to get the job to give us the life we want. And then when a better job comes along we’re ready to do it all over again. My parents moved 11 times in 5 years!
4. Having found the home we are going to live in that goes with the job because we’re Christians we look for a church in the area that we can belong to.
5. Now in a church if the job allows us any time and energy we look to see if there is any way we might serve the church.
That is the way the world works and if we don’t plan that is the plan that we’re encouraged to follow. In other words we fall into a very worldly plan when we don’t plan otherwise and then we think it becomes a Christian plan because we have asked God to bless it.
What we’re really doing is making a plan that ignores God’s plan but asking him to bless it anyway.
And that is not the way Christians ought to plan.
You see the plans that set your priorities should be God’s plan. His plan for the world takes into account far more than that. Continue reading »
The BBC comedy Little Britain may not have been your cup of tea but most of us have some idea of who Daffyd Thomas is. He lives in the Welsh mining village of Llanddewi Brefi and the comedy kicks in when poor deluded Daffyd thinks he’s ‘the only gay in the village’. In fact half the village is homosexual but Daffyd can’t or won’t see it. Unable to cope with the fact that everyone (including his parents) are quite OK with his sexuality and that even his best friend, Myfanwy, the local bar-maid is a lesbian, Daffyd stays the centre of attention as he persists in playing the ‘victim’, a misunderstand and isolated gay man in a straight world.
What makes it funny is the lengths that Daffyd has to go to in refusing to recognize the gay community around him. The fact that it is a gay man revelling in his status as ‘victim’ makes it particularly powerful. But the sketches also challenge the assumptions and thought-processes behind all those, gay or straight, who wish to ignore the sizable gay community in their own town or city in a desire to keep homosexuality on the margin of society.
But clever as the big idea is that makes the sketch work new research suggests that perhaps the voice of the gay community, in our media in particular, is out of proportion to it’s size.
How many people are gay in the UK?
The most common statistic is still the 1 in 10 figure associated with the Kinsey Report. The study reported that 10% of American males surveyed were “more or less exclusively homosexual for at least three years between the ages of 16 and 55“.
More recently, during the debate over civil partnerships, the then government accepted a figure of somewhere between 6 and 7 percent.
However it now appears that such figures are hugely inflated. The most recent and comprehensive survey conducted by the Office of National Statistics demonstrates that in this country we have consistently overestimated the size of the homosexual population.
My preferred weekly magazine, in its Christmas special, ran only one article on the Christmas story and they asked an atheist to write it. It’s called ‘Confession of an atheist: I respect Christianity too much to believe in it.’
Why would the magazine, which is conservative culturally and politically, prefer the view of an atheist for a Christmas comment? Well I guess because it’s a different angle. And that, my friends, is the problem for Christians when it comes to Christianity and the media.
There exists an inevitable bias against Christianity in the media because the media is always looking for new angles and new opportunities to say new things.
Andrew Marr at a recent internal seminar at the BBC let the cat out of the bag.
The BBC is a publicly funded urban organisation with an abnormally large proportion of younger people, of people in ethnicminorities and almost certainly of gay people than the population at large. It depends on the states approval at least for its funding mechanism and all this creates an innate liberal bias inside the BBC and I think if we pretend there isn’t an institutional liberal bias of that kind which is much more clearly expressed as a cultural bias than as a party political bias.
And it has always been so. Marr, in his presentation to the September seminar, actually quoted a parliamentary committee from 1936 which highlights how the old, old story will always be eclipsed by the new.
‘There’s an inevitable tendency in the general programmes of the Corporation to devote more time to the expression of new ideas and the advocacy of change in social and other spheres than the defence of orthodoxy and stability, since the reiteration of what exists and is familiar is not so interesting as the exposition of what might be.’
As Marr pointed out, ‘Any producer, any reporter worth their salt wants to go for newness, challenge, controversy – and the Continue reading »
The philosopher and atheist AC Grayling is writing a book entitled ‘The Good Book: A Secular History’. In it he joins Richard Dawkins and Christophet Hitchens, amongst a growing list, who insist that you don’t need to believe in God to be good. Every Christian would want to affirm that fact. Atheists can and often do choose to be ‘good’, whatever that may mean in an amoral universe of ‘blind pitiless indifference’ to quote Dawkins.
But, heres the rub, the thing they don’t want to tell you is that without a belief in God there is no reason to be bad either. In a quite brilliant article the intellectual dishonesty at work in those who will not admit that their creed allows men to be cruel is exposed by Peter Heck.
Here’s just one extract but it’s well worth reading the whole:
Two years ago, their motto was “Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness’ sake!” Last year, they were more direct: “No god? No problem!” But this year, as they feebly attempt to detract from the celebration of Christ’s incarnation once again, perhaps it’s a fruitful exercise for our civilization to consider their overtures and weigh the merit of their message.
As far as I can tell, the mantra “No god? No problem!” has but one minor flaw: the entire record of human history. It is no coincidence that as German atheist philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche boasted, “God is dead … we have killed him … must we not ourselves become gods[?]” (which, by the way, is the entire basis of humanism dating back to the Garden of Eden), he Continue reading »
A few thoughts on this really interesting video:
1. I wonder what the visuals would look like if we tried to map the growth of the church over the same time period? Certainly it would be much more dramatic with the growth of the church in China and the developing world against the decline in Europe.
2. Is he being wildly optimistic in his prediction that all the nations will head up the graph? As Christians do we share his confidence?
3. As Christians do we recognize and thank God for his common grace? As we reap the benefits of living in times of peace, prosperity and long life do we acknwoldege him or do we enjoy the blessings and fail to thank our creator who has gifted men and women in ways that lead to scientific and technological advancement? What reasons do you have to thank God for in the light of this short video?
4. As a culture why are we no more happy even though we have so much more stuff and live longer, more comfortable and healthier lives? For statistical evidence that we are no happier see for example Oliver James’s Affluenza.
People are embarrassed to believe in God so confesses Victoria Coren in an article in the Guardian over the weekend. And so as a believer in God herself she bemoans the lack of quick-witted, thinking, believers able to stand up to the growing assault of radical atheism.
She writes: ‘Lord Carey (previous Archbishop of Canterbury) complained last week that Britain is ashamed to celebrate Christmas as a religious festival. It’s bigger than that: people are embarrassed to believe in God at all. They feel silly.
There is a new, false distinction between “believers” and “rationalists”. The trickle-down Dawkins effect has got millions of people thinking that faith is ignorant and childish, with atheism the smart and logical position’
Coren wants Christians to pick up the gauntlet and respond! It’s time for Christians to expose the illogicality of atheism (after all you simply can’t prove a negative and Dawkins when pushed on the matter in debate with Professor John Lennox admits that he is an agnostic rather than an atheist). We need to reveal the intellectual poverty of atheism in its answers to questions of morality and to demonstrate the falsity of the claim that religion is to blame for everything by showing how the course of human history and the Continue reading »
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