Browsing articles in "Culture"
Oct 12, 2011
neil

What have the likes of Rowan Atkinson and Ricky Gervais got in common? Fraser Nelson thinks he knows

Fraser Nelson in last weeks Spectator magazine takes issue with the condescending tone of Rowan Atkinson;

Rowan Atkinson, the comedian and actor, this week denounced many of the clerics he has met as being ‘smug’, ‘arrogant’, ‘conceited’, and ‘presumptuous about their position in society’. He shows no mercy to the clergy, and shows no doubts whatsoever about his right to judge the church.

There are smug priests, of course, just as their are smug architects, smug engineers, smug police officers, smug politicians and, whisper it, smug comedians. No member of the priesthood, for instance, would sit behind the wheel of a sports car valued at £2 million, still less prang it, as Mr Atkinson did last month, No ‘clerk in holy orders’, as vicars used to call themselves, would attempt to raze a perfectly good house in Oxfordshire to the ground, and build in its stead a monstrous glass and steel edifice, as Mr Atkinson wants to do, in defiance of the wishes of local people. Some fuddy-duddies might consider this sort of behaviour to be arrogant. His unhappy neighbours might even suggest that Atkinson himself was a touch presumptuous about his own place in society. Perhaps Mr Atkinson is above hypocrisy.

Modern comedians have become a secular priesthood. They have their own customs and rituals, and their own language, which is not always friendly. There is a strict hierarchy among TV comics, and at the top of the profession, an untouchable, cabal, far grander and more self-important than any circle of bishops.

Many comedians like Atkinson are rich beyond their dreams. Most real priests, by contrast, live humbly, and dedicate their ministry to the lives of others without expectation of reward. If Rowan Atkinson is keen to continue his new vocation as a lay preacher, he would do well to learn from their example.

 

Oct 11, 2011
neil

Why Monty Python wouldn’t make the Life of Brian today

An article in today’s Telegraph

Oct 8, 2011
neil

Which city is the capital of the world?

Intelligent Life from The Economist asks which city has the right to be called capital of the world.

Oct 7, 2011
neil

Is David Cameron right about gay marriage?

The Telegraph reports on the growing number of voices within the church opposed to Cameron’s attempts to legalise gay marriage.

Oct 6, 2011
neil

‘Death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it’ – What motivated Steve Jobs

With the sad news of the death of  Apple co-founder Steve Jobs quite a number of people are quoting from his commencement speech given at Stanford in 2005.

Here’s a sample (full text available here)

“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.’

For any Christian reading what stands out is that what motivated Jobs, at least in part, is the shortness of life and the inevitability of his own death.

Apart from the events of Easter day Jobs is surely right to say ‘death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it.’ But Christ’s resurrection changes everything. Because of him we can truly ‘think different’.

Jesus not only escaped death, but defeated death and transcended death. What a tragedy that it appears that Jobs never came to that understanding.

 

 

Sep 30, 2011
neil

More drama from Rob Bell

Some would say that Rob Bell has been writing fiction for some time now (yes, I know, only a joke). But this is an interesting development.

 

Sep 25, 2011
neil

The Christians who hit hard and then thank God

Of the numerous articles, publications and pictures about the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand here are three of interest and inspiration to Christians.

1) Euan Murray, who plays for Scotland on his decision not to play on Sundays.

2) ‘Godzone’: Rugby-themed Gospel produced by TSCF

A gospel of Luke, ‘interspersed within the book are a ten testimonies of high profile rugby players from around the world – Brad Thorn (current All Black), Deacon Manu (current Fiji Captain), Euan Murray (current Scotland player), Jason Robinson & Nick Farr-Jones (World Cup winners), Doris Taufateau (NZ Black Ferns World Cup winner), David Pocock & Sekope Kepu (current Australia players), Pierre Spies & Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira (current SA players)’.

 

3) A photo (courtesy of England’s Andy Gomarsall) of Fijian and Somoan players huddling together for prayer after their match.

 

Sep 23, 2011
neil

Independent reviews Dawkins new book – ‘untrue, absurd and dangerous’

Did you witness Jeremy Paxman’s sycophantic interview with Richard Dawkins about his new book ‘The Magic of  Reality‘ on Newsnight a week or so ago?

If you did might well have shared a general and growing frustration that Dawkins keeps getting away with writing bad books and making quite a bit of money from it in the process (including another £10 from me for this new book).

In one sense, Dawkins is a great help in the Christian cause because he helps to ensure that ‘God’ and ‘religion’ are centre-stage.  Having said that I did enjoy this review in the Independent which does a good demolition job of the weak arguments presented in the book.

Sep 22, 2011
neil

What if all your dreams come true? If you’re Michael Stipe, the answer is disillusionment

After yesterday’s announcement that REM were splitting after 31 years my mind was taken back to this quote.  In September 1996 NME published a review of REM’s New Adventures in Hi-Fi. In what must be one of the most extraordinary cd reviews NME wrote;

What if all your dreams come true?

If you’re Michael Stipe, the answer is disillusionment.  Of all the maladies that can strike you down, disillusionment is the darkest. Disillusionment is neither trust betrayed, nor hopes shattered.  Disillusionment is far worst. It is all of your goals attained, all of your ambitions achieved, all your hopes fulfilled and yet there is no satisfaction.  No peace. Disillusionment is the hollow realization that the fault resides within yourself, that even with everything you’ve ever wanted you are an incurable emotional vacuum.

Most of us will never get to be where Michael Stipe is, will never find our dreams fulfilled only to discover it means f- all.

 

Sep 21, 2011
neil

Anything else you worship will eat you alive – what David Foster Wallace came to see



The Guardian described David Foster Wallace as ‘the most brilliant American writer of his generation.‘ Novelist, essayist and Professor of Literature at Pomona College, Claremont California he tragically committed suicide after struggles with depression in 2008.

He is most famous for a commencement speech given to graduation students at Kenyon College, Ohio in which, as you will see below, he describes the reality of idolatry in the lives of all of us and their devastating impact.

In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And an outstanding reason for choosing some sort of God or spiritual-type thing to worship — is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things — if they are where you tap real meaning in life — then you will never have enough. Never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly, and when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you. On one level, we all know this stuff already — the trick is keeping the truth up-front in daily consciousness. Worship power — you will feel weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to keep the fear at bay. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart — you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. And so on.

Recognise that as a reality in your own life? If you want to explore the dangers of idolatry then Counterfeit Gods; When the Empty Promises of Love, Money, and Power Let You Down’ by Tim Keller and Idols by Julian Hardyman are both well worth a read.

 

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