Category Archives: entertainment

Susan Boyle Mania: Susan’s first kiss

2842_81701991834_677921834_2218846_2163950_sSusan Boyle. She really warmed my heart, but a week after my previous post about her, I’m less optimistic. I tend more to worry for her as she’s caught up in a media circus. Just for the record, I know this post adds to it, so I’ll blog briefly here and leave it at that.

I took this photo on my way home from work tonight. It made me sad.  I don’t understand why this needs to be news. Last week we saw a beautiful lady remind us we all have gifts and that we should be careful about how we judge others. She reminded us that beauty is not defined by our shallow social norms.

This headline somehow seems to imply that hitherto there’s been something wrong with this lady’s life, and that now she’s hit celebrity status everything’s going to be transformed for the better. I really dislike this. Why?  (1) It reinforces the ways we judge people based on appearance and conformity to our narrow-minded norms (and yes, I’m as guilty of it as anyone else); and (2) it bolsters the false belief that hope and happiness are to be found in glamour, fame, materialism, and in doing what everyone else does.

For once, I don’t really have anything positive thing to say… it just seems shallow in the extreme. Maybe I’m wrong. Am I?

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Bill Maher v Jesus Christ: Religulous #2

090401billmaherandjesusWell, I did it. After my earlier post I bought an enormous bar of chocolate and settled into a big, comfy  cinema seat to watch Bill Maher take on Jesus Christ.

I have to tell you I was disappointed.  

I’ll say this for Maher – he is a funny guy. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t laugh – a lot. But despite setting himself up as honestly investigating God, a major strategy Maher employs is to ask people hard questions, to expect eloquent one line replies, to laugh at their absence, and to intersperse them with footage of material deliberately intended to undermine and ridicule them.

Predictably, he focuses on easy pickings, examining the controversial edges rather than the core foundations of faith. Creationism, homosexuality, and Islamic fundamentalism are come under scrutiny in favour, for example, of asking people about the basis and values of their faith. We come away knowing the ways in which it’s possible to ridicule religions but without the balance of counter-arguments.

So first and foremost, sadly, Religulous is a rant. That said, it’s also thought provoking. 

First, I was struck how frighteningly easy it is for christians to be way out of touch with people who don’t believe the same things they do, and to be unable to relate to them.

Second, I was reminded sharply religion can be ugly, has a great deal to answer for, and that  as a church we face a huge challenge in disentangling our mistreatment of God and His people from the truth of His message.  We have a lot of work to do to re-introduce our society to who Jesus is and his cultural relevance. 

Third, I the film was a reminder that what a person of faith says and does is watched, and it’s judged, and will be viewed through filter of: “this is what God stands for”. Scary. How we choose to present ourselves and our faith –  whether we’re thoughtful, balanced and equipped to discuss intelligently and honestly with other, matters.

Fourth, as I blogged previously, even without the help of satire, it’s easy to see how faith can seem to be crazy. We need to recognise that. However, the fact is that people continue to want to investigate Christianity. We also need a space where people can really consider life’s big questions and make their own informed decisions. Gordon Brown (reportedly) recently said he intended to do just that  attending an Alpha course. It was on April 1st (shame – I thought it might be for real – my innocence made me giggle when it was pointed out to me!) Whatever, having skirted the edges, maybe Maher should consider it. 

Susan Boyle is Beautiful!

140x1056I’m not a big tv fan generally, and reality tv in particular tends to send me screaming from the room. I just don’t get the desire for fame and glamour, although I’ll concede I do like to see an underdog triumph.

When a friend suggested I watch Simon Cowell et al interviewing Susan Boyle for Britain’s Got Talent 2009, I was sceptical. But here I am, 8 hours later, still thinking about her. Why? Because in her there’s the start of a story hope. A middle aged lady, who by her own assessment “never had the chance” to make it doing what she loves, had the guts to stand up in front of Cowell, known for his ability to knock down the most confident of wannabes. No-one expected her to be anything more – if we’re honest – than a laughing stock. We watch her being set up in advance – you can just see the footage for the out-cuts… And then she takes a breath and sings.

She really sings. As she does so, she comes alive. We’re reminded of what real beauty is: not the skin-deep glamour of the stage, but the inner life thing that comes out when we do what we’re made to do. There’s something profound in it. I saw it; Simon Cowell saw it; hopefully you see it too. Certainly the rest of the world seems to be seeing it, judging from the attention she’s attracted.

It lifted my heart, reminded me that we’re all given beauty and it’s there to be celebrated. We shouldn’t be afraid to show it. “Wow! Go on!” I thought. What a gift, and how much more fabulous for being unexpected!

I felt a wee bit emotional, too, to see this lady start to live  a dream. I also worry for Ms Boyle, though, that making it through the interviews invites her into a lion’s den she’s likely to be unable to imagine from the confines of her West Lothian life. There’s an innocence in her, and that’s to be cherished. I wonder how it will change. Let’s hope the experience is a lifting one for her.

For now, for me, note to self: quit judging, expect to see beauty in people, and be ready to celebrate it.

Watch her here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lp0IWv8QZY