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A Cross Cultural Gathering August 25, 2009

Posted by Andrew in Entertainment.
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I’ve just got back from a very nice trip to France with the family. We visited a variety of interesting places: castles, caves, towers, cafes etc. During our 2 week stay there was one moment when I realised I was in a truly multi-cultural setting. I was surrounded by Muslims Sikhs, Hindus, Christians and secular people from a wide variety of ethnic and racial backgrounds. All of us joined together with a common purpose… to see Mickey Mouse come past in the parade at Disneyland Paris! For all it’s glitz and commercialism Disneyland was a truly global, multi-cultural and multi-faith gathering, much more so than any other tourist sight we visited.

Now I do try not to spend my hols reflecting on work, but it did strike me as interesting, and perhaps a challenge to those of us engaged in bringing together young people of different faiths. I’ve always resisted taking young people to visit churches or mosques as I’m not convinced that’s what they want to do. The new charity a few of us have set up is called The Feast to reflect our ethos of celebration and enjoyment at bringing people together. But here it was writ large, not perfect, but an interesting challenge.

Torchwood – the impact of story July 12, 2009

Posted by John Stephenson in Entertainment, Media.
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torchwoodI have just finished catching up with Torchwood this week – a highle enjoyable series for sci-fi fans. It was fascinating to see some really interesting issues being raised through the programme. In many ways this is how issues are raised in contemporary society

Some particular issues were

1. Live forever – Capt. Jack Harkness can’t die and comes back to life. In the end this ability means that he sees hundreds of lifetimes and in the end he can’t cope with what he sees

2. Worth – when requested to give up 10% of the world’s children, the UK chooses its 10% by taking the bottom 10% schools from the league tables. So do we think thatĀ children who are more academicĀ are worth more than those who don’t achieve in this way. Even if we don’t think that do we treat them differently?

3. Sacrifice – the government have to choose between sacrificing millions of children or the whole human race. Jack has to choose between the death of his own grandson and the death of the children. It seems that one being sacrificed for the manyis a theme in contemporary story. Of course we have the ultimate example of that in the death of Jesus

But these themes (and others including friendship, family etc) are raised in these stories. How do we help young people develop the tools to think critically about these issues and engage biblically? If we don’t then they will remain passive consumers of the entertainment industry and their lives will be shaped by those many stories

Making an Impact July 3, 2009

Posted by John Stephenson in Entertainment, Media.
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michael jacksonI have not really known what to make of the news relating to the death of Michael Jackson this week. Given that we are almost the same age he (or at least his music) was part of the soundtrack of my life when I was growing up. I’m not sure I would call myself a fan but I have been very aware of the impact of his work through his iconic albums like Thriller. In recent times I have found myself saddened by the stories about his relationships with children. Sad to see his life seemingly in such a mess. The child who wasn’t allowed to be a child when growing up, simply seemed to revert to childhood when he became an adult.

But this morning footage of some of his rehearsals for his forthcoming tour have been released and watching them I was struck by how well he looked and reminded of his talent. This week his music sales have shot through the roof and it looks like he will be more succesful in death (good thing given his debt) than Elvis or Lennon.

That set me thinking – as someone who believes that the good news of the kingdom of God is the most significant news in the world, what do I need to do to allow that good news to make a similar impact on the lives of children and young people today. I realise that the entertainment indistry is superficial and commercial but here is someone who used their talents to make an impact. How do I live my life for God so as to make an impact on those I am called to serve? Makes me think!