Archive for December, 2005

Christmas Is About The Kids

Sunday, December 25th, 2005

You can’t write about Christmas without falling into cheesiness. Forgive me before I begin.

Jesus wasn’t born silently in the depths of winter in a snow covered manger. He was born to a shamed mother and a confused father in May. He was announced to shepherds who couldn’t even testify in court, their standing was so low. He was greeted by an undetermined number of travelling Arabian scientists who had taken 3 years to get to him and who tipped off a crazed King before arriving. Herod then went on a genocidal spree based on their information. Soon the small family would flee as refugees to Egypt.

But in that moment, Joseph fell on his knees overwhelmed, when the Creator of the world was born as a baby and cried out “Help! Save me!” His mother answered his call. In that moment, like every other, he who needed sustenance sustained all existence. This sacrifice, this dependence, was a shadow of the purpose of this life, when at the end, totally dependent on mercy that did not come; he would make a sacrifice to save us all. This mercy, this thrill of hope makes weary hearts rejoice. Fall on your knees.

Your Correspondent, Today his soul feels its worth

Where Zoomtard admits he likes it in the Wardrobe

Saturday, December 17th, 2005

The Chronicles of Narnia, by the way, is astonishing. It is the most spectacular kids movie I have ever seen (well, since Karate Kid III). It has everything that an 8 year old or a 12 year old or a 24 year old psuedo-theologian would want in a movie. You won’t even be too annoyed by the Christian message. The brainwashing is so subtle, you won’t even notice it! My church, with the help of CS Lewis’ son, rented out the biggest screen in Ireland last Friday night and afterwards a flock of excited kids pretended to be eagles dropping stones from on high for about 20 minutes. Then they roared and bounded up and down for about 2 hours. I think 6 hours later they stopped sword fighting with the folded-over paper popcorn boxes. During the movie they were glued to the screen. They didn’t even laugh when the children play cricket!

It really does have everything you want from a movie at this time of year and if you have kids or nephews and nieces or cousins or neighbours or just some kids without appropriate supervision in your neighbourhood, snatch them up and take them to it right away. It has the Christmas trinity right there and waiting for their approval and amazement- it has a CGI lion representing Jesus, it has Santa Claus in his original outfit and it has Dawn French. If you ask a kid about Christmas, they are likely to list just those things.

In my last post I talked about the upsurge of Christians producing mainstream art for our cultural compulsion in terms of the backlash this was receiving in some quarters. I tried to argue that Narnia and all the rest of it weren’t a vast conspiracy to rob the zeitgeist but a culturally positive change in attitudes within local Christian churches which are starting to engage with culture with gusto. But Neuro doesn’t think my argument would have convinced anyone. She said in fact, that I was playing to my audience. (My audience, by the way is 4 Christian folks)

So let me re-state my case in 2 paragraphs. Christians exist. Some of them are very creative. The churches, for the last 100 years or more haven’t really valued and made a space for creativitiy. This is changing. A rigorous and robust intellectual confidence is (I hope I am right) beginning to grab certain sections of Christianity. Christians who are artists or musicians or writers or poets or sculptors are beginning to be really highly regarded and encouraged in their local church. Young people with these gifts are being nurtured. When they reach maturity they start producing art and it comes from them, from their perspective, from their view-point. This worldview is a Christian worldview and the stories and themes they are mining resonate deeply with our culture at large and so they become successful. Sufjan Stevens and Mark Wallinger are just two hoity-toity ooh-lah-dee-dah high-brow examples of this. U2 have been at it under the radar for the last 20 years. Jars of Clay are an outstanding band who just haven’t had the breaks that Sufjan has.

These movies and plays and novels (Gilead, last year’s Pulitzer Prize winner for example) and albums are not brainwashing you. They are artists seeking to speak with their authentic voice. Surely that is what modern art is all about? And their voice is a Christian one. For some this expression is confused and ambiguous, like Chris Martin‘s lyrics. For others it is out in the open and so brazen it seems sutble, like everyone’s favourite this year, Sufjan Stevens. And for others it is irrelevant, ridiculous and embrassaing, like Apologetix. (Please don’t click that link) It is not just foolish or ill-advised to lament individuals expressing their belief through their art, it is narrow-minded and intolerant. Toynbee’s article is written from an arrogant vantage point quite similar to Catholic pronouncements in the 50s in Ireland- these alternative views can be disregarded and scorned because they are alternative to mine. So continue to buy Christian propaganda when it rocks or when it is a compelling page-turner or when the twist at the end leaves you speechless long after you’ve left the cinema. So the movie/book/music is made by a Christian? So what! You might even find they have something useful to say.

So finally pulling myself away from Narnia for a moment, I am still trawling through my archives to remix myself. A few weeks ago I wrote about a preacher from Zimbabwe who I heard speak at work one night. He had an amazing effect on me and a conversation began in my comments. The Miss World of Irish Blogging, CaoimheB wanted to know who he was so here he is: Steven Lungu interviewed by Gerry Ryan on December 9th. (19mb – 42 minutes)

Although she may resent me for it, Zoomcommentator extraordinaire, OG, now has her own corner for furious thoughts. At time of writing, she hasn’t uploaded anything which is a shame because she is hilarious and smart. Coerce her by hacking the whole of FuriousThinking or simply by encouraging her with positive thoughts.

Penultimately, I have a truck load of really interesting comments from my last entry. This is unprecedented for me and I need to know what to do. Is it the done-thing on these little lay-bys of the information superhighway we call blogs to take up all those posts and write about them? It seems a little obnoxious to me. Like, if this was a real conversation where we were face to face and you had gotten over the initial phase of slack-jawed awe at my beauty and general Clooney-ness, I wouldn’t take every thing you said as an opportunity to jump off into a 2000 word diatribe about voting in Iraq or whether some guy called Lucas is in fact Godd. Well, I would. But I’d feel sorry afterwards and send you a simpering text message from the bus home.

Finally, I have a collegue up in deepest darkest Nor’n Iron, where the light of reason and whimsy never shines who plays a game with his friends where they compile best-of lists. I know this sounds like a dorky thing to do that only people who use the word dork would ever consider worthwhile but I think I will do it this year. And I will continue to insult you as a “dufus”, because dufus is the most gentle sounding insult of all time. However much I enjoy going over the movies and books and films I’ve seen and considering their strengths and weaknesses and so on, it is a weird thing to do. Compiling lists that rank the things we’ve invested time in. Maybe we should just write a poem about it or make a collage. A numbered list seems so arbitrary and anal.

Top 6 Things Zoomtard Is Doing Today:

1. Drinking Cola Coa
2. Encouraging Neuro to take her medicine
3. Having dinner with friends. On the menu- mushroom and peanut soup
4. Day-dreaming about going on a week-long drive around the coast of Ireland
5. Lambasting bad drivers
6. Sleeping
*. In no particular order

Your Correspondent, Tonight he’ll walk on by the place you used to live and the company that you keep