Wednesday, 25 May 2011

A Journey

video

I have an awesome friend called Kat. She and I had many creative adventures while at university. This is one of her videos. It's simple, but awesome. You can see more of her amazing photographs and so forth over at her blog.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

I'm Not A Racist, My Best Friend Is A Stereotype

In conversation with an American friend of mine, she said that I use stereotypes on this blog a lot, particularly when it comes to Americans. In the same conversation, she also said that she only rarely reads this blog, and even then, it’s out of pity. I was surprised that a casual reader would give such a critique, as I didn’t know Americans could grasp irony…

Stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason. Unjust, perhaps. Unrepresentative, maybe. But British people will always moan about the weather, Americans will always be fat/stupid/cultural Philistines, and the French will always be cheese-eating surrender monkeys.

Of course, I jest.* Yet a lot of humour is based around the idea of stereotypes. When Omid Djalili comes out on stage and starts his comedy routine with an Iranian accent, he plays to the stereotype. The humour is found in what we recognise, or think we recognise as an Iranian. When he then breaks into his natural Home Counties accent, the joke accentuates itself, as we have to laugh to rid ourselves of discomfort at the slightly racist joke we’ve been part of.

Of course, I never set out to offend, and I often think carefully before I post something. But, as I hope you have realised over the time you’ve been reading this blog, I’m just as willing to laugh at myself, before I laugh at anyone else. However, other people’s mistakes are far funnier than mine.

I recently heard a quote from Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sachs (for all my lefty Jewish readers, I still think he’s a dude), which went something like this: “Righteousness always has a sense of humour. Self-righteousness never does.”

Amen to that.


*Aside from the bit about the French. That’s true. And the British. And I wouldn’t like to say about the Americans – I know some, and they own guns.**

**I am, of course, joking. Apart from the guns. That is entirely true.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Church (Behind The) Times?

Perusing the Church Times this week – yes, I know, it is hard being this cool – and I saw one of the comment sections was from a blogging Bishop, Alan Wilson. Bishop Alan blogs about all manner of things, but his comment section in the CT was about new media in general.

I thought it was a great article. It laid out clearly the different varieties of social media: social networking, content-based, and blogs. He then described the challenges that these forms bring about, particularly for the Church. Your average CT reader would have found it helpful, informative, and probably quite baffling. But the essence of the piece was to tell the Church to get in on the act – there is a wealth of possibility within Web 2.0.

I commend the article, and I think Bishop Alan pitched it just right. However, I find it sad that we’re in 2011, and the CT gets round to publishing an explanatory article about new media. Sure, it needed to be done. But it’s a little discomforting that only when the ball is well and truly rolling, and very much in danger of rolling away, does the Church think its time to get involved.

Of course, there are your fringe types, who have always been involved. Krish Kandiah, Johnny Baker, Bishop Alan, and others. There are others who have seen the bandwagon, and successfully jumped upon it because they saw the need and importance of engaging with the internet. And then, unfortunately, there are still a whole host of people who decry the internet as a passing fad. This third group make up the majority of the Church.

Perhaps I’m being unfair to both the CT and the Church, and my opinion is coloured by experience with a variety of Luddites I have known over the years. Not necessarily people who are stubbornly refusing to get involved, but people who just don’t know how. I suspect their main fear is that any attempt to engage will be seen as half-hearted, uncool or neglecting ‘what they should be doing’. I suppose in that sense, that’s where things like Digimission, and Premier Christian Media’s involvement comes in, with their attempt to provide the church with a training ground for using new media.

I just worry that the Church has a habit of arriving to the party late, investing a lot of time and energy getting involved (or completely hammered, if you’ll follow the metaphor) then waking up in the early hours with no money and the mother-of-all-headaches, to find that everyone has already left. I hope for our sake – that is, the Church – we don’t do that. We’ve got a gospel to tell, and an internet ready to be told.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

What I Would Grab If The House Caught Fire

I was lying in bed last night, trying to think of something to think about to send me to sleep, when a conversation I had had with my landlady popped into my head. It was about fire alarms, and how the house now has nice shiny new ones that you can’t remove the battery from, irrespective of how unburnt the toast is. Obviously, this lead me to the thought, “what would I do, if I woke up to find the house on fire?” – clearly a train of thought to settle the heart and mind before turning to sleep. My answer came in a variety of steps:
  1. Have I died from smoke inhalation?
  2. No.
  3. Good.
  4. Could I climb out of the window?
  5. Yes.
  6. Could I take anything with me?
  7. Laptop… personal letters… camera. (The thoughts arrived in my head in that order. Like a cartoon car pile-up, except with fewer cars, and more thought-y.)
  8. Guitars?
  9. No, they’re rubbish anyway, and I could claim on insurance, and get better ones.
  10. Would God frown upon fraudulent insurance claims?
  11. Yes, probably.
  12. Does thinking of that as a possibility make me a bad person?
  13. Yes, probably.
  14. Is thinking about the possibility of losing the majority of my worldly possessions in a fire, and the bureaucratic nightmare of an insurance claim that will inevitably follow, going to help me sleep?
  15. No, probably not.
  16. Should I blog about this in the morning?
  17. Oh, go on then.
The laptop and letters were chosen for sentimental reasons. The camera was because it’s light, and would fit nicely in my rucksack, although a new one via the means of an insurance claim (fraudulent or otherwise) is making me rethink that decision.

If you could save anything from a fire, what would it be and why?

Thursday, 12 May 2011

The Apprentice

I started watching The Apprentice. I've never watched it before, as ego-driven, self-obsessed, jargon-riddled prats are not my thing. However, it is entertaining. The petty in-fighting, the ridiculous attempts at one-upmanship, the dismissive way with Alan Sugar and his lackeys deal with the contestants is hilarious.

I watched the first episode yesterday, and the guy who got fired was the Project Manager for that task. He was an accountant, and was desperately trying to prove to anyone who would listen that he was not in the mould of your average accountant. However, the task at hand required basic accountancy skills, and the failure of the task possibly would have been saved by a pause to work out the mathematics.

However, Edward was determined to prove he wasn't an accountant. He even called himself a wheeler-dealer. Lord Sugar, Harry Redknapp, and Del Boy are the only people allowed to describe themselves as wheeler-dealers, and one of them is fictional. In trying to avoid what he was good at, what he knew, Edward missed a real opportunity. Using just an ounce of those skills would have saved him the trouble of being fired.

Sometimes we Christians can be like that. We're so determined to prove that we're good Christians that we forget to use the skills God has given us. My spiritual director has a real problem with Christians who get so caught up in what we think we should be doing, that we forget who we are. Edward got carried away trying to be a leader, and not being an accountant, and he got fired. We are people, designed and created by God with certain characteristics. We are called to love God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength. We are not called to love God with the best bits and the bits we hope to be and the bits we think we should be.

God loves us now. We should return him the favour.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Death and Videos

I think this blog is either dead or dying. I've been incredibly busy with job applications and Easter and other inane things. I think I might create a new blog, one that isn't this one. Probably with a different focus (there's a focus, you say?) and different name. Any suggestions will be gratefully appreciated.

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Apparently, Osama Bin Laden is dead. As to be expected, we Christians have responded with a variety of responses, from cheering in the street through to getting on our high horses and quoting the Bible at people. I fell, unfortunately, into the latter. More because I look stupid on big horses, not because I think the Bible doesn't have anything to say in this situation.

I don't think killing people is ideal. No matter how horrific the crimes, no-one should die for them. My 10,000 words on forgiveness in my final year helped me to understand that retribution is not a) helpful, or b) Jesus' way. I'm glad that a man renowned for plotting evil can no longer plot evil, but that self same object could also be reached by putting him in prison.

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I don't have anything else to say, so here's a link to a video that I created for my best friend's wedding. I had fun. I hope you enjoy it, too.