All preachers need role models to learn from…
Look and learn. Note the following:
- the confidence to ‘own’ the whole of the stage by walking its length
- the ability to engage with all corners of the audience
- the ability to sustain interest throughout the message
- the ability to give the audience what they want
- the ability to vary the intensity and volume of what’s being said
- the ability to give the audience what they want, without actually saying anything of substance at all
I can’t imagine where this young prodigy learned his craft…
Oh and by the way – i’ve just noticed that this is my 300th post. So that’s nice…
Thanks again to my transatlantic source, Paul Carter, for this fantastic demonstration of Christian revenge (er, hang on – that doesn’t sound quite right). But pastor’s wives are on the turn – they’re fed up with being the butt of sermon illustrations and jokes. Preachers and public speakers all… beware…
you can’t now say you’ve not been warned…
I had a physics teacher at school who always used to say that. I remember finding it infuriating and pedantic at the time. But I since realise that I’ve become rather infuriating and pedantic myself. He must be chuckling (my old physics teacher that is). But words matter – and they reveal far more than merely momentary thoughts. As does tone of voice. Together, they can unwittingly expose one’s entire worldview… as stunningly captured by this guy – a genius by the name of Taylor Mali (HT to Gavin McGrath for posting the clip first).
Like all the best humour, it’s true!
But in a weird convergence today (spooky, huh?), I went from watching that brilliant parody of the verbal tics of the inarticulate, to reading this totally reasonable rant against the impenetrability of the articulate (thanks to the African theological educators’ journal, Mwalimu, edited by Keith Ferdinando of AIM). Both extremes completely fail to communicate (either by trying to be too cool or too clever by half). It is taken from a review of the theological tomes of Wolfhart Pannenberg by Donald Macleod (who is himself no mean theologian). What he thinks of the man’s theology is not at stake here; instead, let it speak for itself:
Pannenberg is heavy-going. Indeed, it is hard to avoid the impression that he glories in it. This raises four specific questions:
- First, is it not the responsibility of theologians to be elucidatory and expository? If so, then they should be more lucid and accessible than what they are trying to expound. Otherwise they are useless. What is the point of our Protestant doctrine of the perspicuity of Scripture if our expositions of it are impenetrable?
- Secondly, is it not the duty of the theologian, as of any other author, to be interesting? If not, why should we expect people to read us?
- Thirdly, is it not the duty of Christian theology to be ministerial: and in being ministerial to serve not merely one’s fellow academics but the whole Christian community? It is hard to see how such work as Pannenberg’s falls within the perspective of equipping the saints for ministry (Eph. 4:12).
- Finally, is the theologian the one Christian functionary who is not bound by Jesus’ example? He was the teacher par excellence. Sometimes, beyond a doubt, he uttered hard sayings. More often, his utterances aimed to tease the imagination and to fill the mind with ideas which no propositions could exhaust. But always, the concern was with people, with life and with practical wisdom.
It is a curious irony that modern theology, so critical of scholasticism, now finds itself prisoner of its own schools.
Donald Macleod, The Christology of Wolfhart Pannenberg, Themelios 25.2 (Feb 2000), 40-41
It seems to me that many of us have much to learn. Is it too much to ask:
- for more academics (in all fields) to heed Donald Macleod?
- for more ‘trip and hendy’ preachers to take note of Taylor Mali?
Well, Tim Chester has done it, so I feel i can do the same. It seems that the trendies of UCCF have gotten creative – and produced a students 10 must-read list for the recent New Word Alive spoofing TV programmes and ads (from Antiques Roadshow to The Office via Top Gear, Jamie Oliver and M&S food ads). Pretty funny really. Although, I suppose I’m a little confused (call me narrow) why the guy who did my book (who I’m sure is a very lovely bloke) started riffing on why he’d like to be an orange with everyone wanting to peel him. Weird. I wonder what he would have come up with if it still had the old cover (see right).
For info, the books are:
- Glory Days, Julian Hardyman (IVP)
- Cross-Examined, Mark Meynell (IVP)
- Out of the Salt-Shaker, Rebecca Manley-Pipert (IVP)
- Dig Deeper, Nigel Beynon & Andrew Sach (IVP)
- Delighting in the Trinity, Tim Chester (Lion)
- Let the Nations be Glad, John Piper (IVP)
- Battles Christians Face, Vaughan Roberts (Authentic)
- Sex is not the problem (Lust is), Joshua Harris (Multnomah)
- The Devoted Life – Introduction to the Puritans, Kelly Kapic & Randall Gleason (IVP)
- God’s New Community, Graham Beynon (IVP)
HT also to Dave Bish
Art is far too under-rated by contemporary bible-believing Christians. This is VERY sad indeed – because art at its best helps to challenge and shape the ways in which we see the world – which is a very Christian thing to be doing, when you stop to think about it.
But there has been blogdom outrage about 2 recent artistic ‘experiments’.
A dying dog
Guillermo ‘Habacuc’ Vargas has allegedly tied up a stray dog in a Nicaraguan art gallery and left it to starve and die. The inevitable ire of animal lovers has spurred various online petitions to object (rightly) to this appalling abuse and concept. Here is one example:
Now the artist insists that he meant no such thing and was testing the visitors’ reactions – in other words, rather like some obscene psychology experiment, he was provoking them to see if any did anything about the dog’s predicament. And in the hushed tones of the art gallery, no one did.
Then from a student at Yale University (thanks to my mate, Adam Johnson), there was this:
According to the Yale Daily News, Aliza Shvarts had this idea:
Beginning next Tuesday [ie Tues 22nd April], Shvarts will be displaying her senior art project, a documentation of a nine-month process during which she artificially inseminated herself “as often as possible” while periodically taking abortifacient drugs to induce miscarriages. Her exhibition will feature video recordings of these forced miscarriages as well as preserved collections of the blood from the process.
Inevitably, there has been a right rumpus about all this. There web has been blazing about it – and the Yale authorities are up in arms – with everyone bad-mouthing everyone else. According to the Yale Daily News on 21st:
As news of Shvarts’ project swept across the Web last week and attracted the ire of students and private citizens alike, Shvarts and the University engaged in a match of he-said/she-said: Shvarts stood by her project as she described it earlier last week in a news release, while the University — claiming Shvarts had privately denied actually committing the acts in question — dismissed it as a hoax that amounted to nothing more than “performance art.”
photo courtesy of Yale Daily News
Now who knows whether or not either of these stunts are genuine is anyone’s guess. There’s certainly no way from this distance that we can know for sure. But surely the point is this: despite the shock, outrage and horror, few of us these days would be surprised if they were genuine. And as such, they reveal the extreme insanity of a culture that has lost all its ethical moorings – ironically enough, all in the name of provoking reflection. Even worse, I can’t help suspecting that the online heat generated by the moral outrage over the starved dog has reached a higher temperature than the complaints about the abortion art show.
Any comments / thoughts …?
This simple advert (from Transport for London) is simple genius.
I’m sure there are all kinds of implications from this – from issues of racism to worldviews, to missing the wood for the trees. It is a parable for our times. It reminded me of that wonderful essay by C S Lewis, Fern Seeds & Elephants (in the book of the same name), in which he berates biblical scholars for being so focused on the minutiae of modernist biblical source criticism (the fern seeds) with its strongly anti-supernaturalist approach to the texts, while completely failing to see the extraordinary changed lives of those who encountered Jesus (the elephants)
PS you can tell that today is a sermon writing day – struggling to keep on the case, hence taking regular surf-out time
In my opinion, LOST Season 3 is much better than Season 2 (the latter just got silly – well more silly than the other stuff). I know we’re a bit behind the times but have been working through it as a result of a lovely Christmas present. For the uninitiated, Sayid (played by Brit, Naveen Andrews) was a torturer with the Iraqi Republican Guard under Saddam Hussein. He is one of a large number of survivors of a terrible plane crash onto a deeply mysterious island, somewhere in the South Pacific. In each episode, a different character is the focus and we learn more about them through a series of flashbacks. In the episode ENTER 77, Sayid has a flashback to his time working as a chef in Paris – and finds himself kidnapped by the husband of someone who claims he tortured her back in Iraq. Here she confronts him. NB – the first minute or so is a bit gruesome!
If this clip doesn’t work, then you can watch it on the Youtube site here. Don’t quite understand why it works sometimes and not others.
Forgiveness here is profoundly liberating. But notice it is also linked to admission of guilt. And the guilt was genuine, as the clip shows. It had plagued and haunted Sayid ever since. His only escape from the vicious cycle of revenge was for forgiveness to break it. It is what Dr Truman in the ER clip (previous posting) longs for but never found in the hospital. But it is remarkably what Sayid finds from his victim.
After this flashback, Sayid’s forgiveness has a major impact on his life and methods – and creates significant tensions amongst fellow-survivors his part in the drama. But it all goes to remind me of the essential Christian imperative that is derived from the gospel liberation of forgiveness. (Ephesians 4:23-5:2) Of course, not everyone has the ‘luxury’ of being able to find forgiveness from the people they have wronged. Estrangement or bereavement are two such barriers, as is a victim’s unwillingness to forgive. Which is why it is all the more amazing that the gospel brings total and divine liberation for every conceivable (and inconceivable) wrongdoing.
This has been doing the web rounds – but in case you haven’t seen it, here it is: the 12 days of Christmas as you’ve never heard it before (with the Serengeti thrown in). Genius.
But did you know what this carol actually means? Well according to my only just recently moved on colleague, Paul Blackham, there is a lot more to this carol than first meets the eye (or ear for that matter):
It has got to be the most theologically intense Christmas song. I know that might sound odd… but it is a song written as a memory aid to teach Christian doctrine. It is one of several songs called “catechism songs”. I’m sure some already know this, but here is a complete list of the 12 gifts and their meanings:
- 1 Partridge in a pear tree = Jesus on the Cross
- 2 Turtle Doves = The Old and New Testaments
- 3 French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity (Some think this is The Trinity, but this is not the case)
- 4 Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
- 5 Golden Rings = The first Five Books of the Old Testament, the books of Moses
- 6 Geese A-laying = the six days of creation
- 7 Swans A-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit OR the seven sacraments of the Catholic faith
- 8 Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes (from the start of the Sermon on the Mount)
- 9 Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Spirit
- 10 Lords A-leaping = the ten commandments
- 11 Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles
- 12 Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle’s Creed
Sadly, the carol’s Wiki page rather dismisses such an interpretation. But Paul has a PhD and knows about such things – so I’m going with him on this one.
A VERY HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL OUR READERS!
SEE YOU IN 2008 – we’re off for a week’s blogging-free break
It seems that the genius who is eggman913 has done it several times (he was the one to bring 500 year’s of women in art to youtube) and I was just slow on the uptake. But here is his compilation of Picasso’s portraits (including some of his self-portraits) – which brings the points made a few days ago into even sharper relief, but also brilliantly helps the viewer to understand what was going on as he developed his cubist portraits – they seem far less alien as a result.
And for good measure, he has done the same thing for Van Gogh’s self portraits – which reveal a profoundly troubled person struggling with life, faith and death. Very powerful indeed.
Never analyse humour – it takes the heart from the soul.
Still, these two clips from Friday night’s episode of the Armstrong & Miller show are ingenious, provocative AND funny. Incongruous juxtaposition is the key – yanking modern (sometimes ‘colourful’) street-speak out of context and injecting it into the mindset of Battle of Britain fighter pilots. It exposes our self-obsessed and litigious age for what it is – and tentatively suggests that modern generations lack the nerve to make the same sacrifices.
Yellow Spitfire, anyone…?
this is stunningly beautiful. speaks for itself…
a CRUNCHIE bar to all who can identify all the paintings…
My brother put me onto this – an extraordinary animation based on the daily flight patterns over the USA
Managed to get the last half of Panorama’s investigation into Scientology last night. It was profoundly disturbing. Much has been made of the rage that John Sweeney succumbed to during one of his many confrontations with Tommy Davis, a senior spokesman for Scientology in the States. Well i have to say that watching Sweeney’s explosion, especially after all that had gone before, completely drew me in – while he was no doubt wrong professionally to have lost it like that, after the barrage of intimidation, arrogance, horror, it was amazing he managed to hold out so long. I really don’t think i would have done. What finally caused the eruption was a sickening museum that Sweeney and his crew had been shown around – a museum that maintained that the horrors of the Holocaust were entirely the result of Psychiatrists (one of Scientology’s bêtes noires). But he’d been subjected to character assassination, personal confrontation (constantly being trailed by cars, his interviews being interrupted by people accusing him of unprofessionalism and of ‘listening to perverts’) and above all a total failure to have his perfectly reasonable questions get a fair hearing let alone a reasoned answer.
I couldn’t help feeling that his rage was to a large extent righteous and appropriate. Scientology’s techniques by themselves are sufficient to indicate seriously sinister intent – as Sweeney said more than once, you couldn’t see the Church of England doing these sorts of things to those who simply wanted to ask questions (well as a member of this denomination for better or worse, i would certainly hope not). Despite its lack of control, Sweeney was quite right to be angry – and it just reminded me that we should get more angry about these sorts of things. Here’s a pic i randomly came across.
Here is the BBC’s covering report on the whole episode – full of contrition for the way things had got out of control, but rightly unapologetic for what had (after all) been straightforward questions. [You can see the whole episode if you click on the programme’s official site, linked above, over the next few days.]