Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Beeb's Passion

I've just finished watching the final episode of The Passion on BBC One. It's been a great little series, the recreation of ancient Jerusalem felt particularly convincing (of course how would I know what ancient Jerusalem looked like!). The emphasis on the three way power struggle was a great angle on the story, particularly the Caiaphas character. I loved the tension between the protectors of the present order, Pilate representing the political and military might of Rome and Caiaphas representing the religious and cultural establishment of the Jewish homeland, both under threat by the stranger from Galilee who speaks of a new way and a new world. It reminded me again of the contagious revolutionary DNA Jesus carried.
But today is Easter Sunday, and ever since the first episode I've been feeling that this series would ultimately stand or fall by how well the resurrection was rendered. So what do I think? Well hey, a damn sight better than Jesus Christ Superstar which doesn't even include the resurrection, and I hesitate to say, even better than Mel Gibson's version with it's short but very sweet resurrection moment from inside the tomb looking out. Even so, it was still a tad underwhelming. The producer, Nigel Stafford-Clark, references Mark's gospel as his key source which may well be the problem, it's probably the least potent of the four resurrection accounts. If only he'd taken a broader creative approach the scenes could've been so much stronger, even simple touches like the location and the lighting would've helped as the dusty old hillside he used just had zero atmosphere. However, what saved it for me was the inclusion of the Emmaus road encounter (albeit with James and Matthew). I did find it genuinely moving to see their reaction as the guy they're eating with starts to break bread and then reveals his true face before their eyes.

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Ssssh... don't mention the resurrection!

This afternoon I popped along to the Manchester leg of the EA sponsored tour exploring the subject of the Resurrection. Here in Manchester we got Prof Gary Habermas, an able scholar, but sadly minus his stellar counterpart Tom Wright who has appeared at many of the other dates. The first session began promisingly with an opening reference to 1 Corinthians 15, but then sadly descended into a ramble about the common ground that exists between conservatives, moderates and liberals when it comes to the teaching of the resurrection in the writings of 'the big 4' (Habermas' reference to Paul, Peter, John and James).
I cornered said Prof over coffee and pressed him for a preview of his second session, hoping to hear that he would indeed be getting into 1 Corinthians 15 or material of that ilk. Sadly not. We had a helpful chat about the impact of the bodily resurrection of Jesus on discipleship in the here and now but I could not coax him into a discussion about why the personal resurrection beliefs of the early church have been sidelined more recently for a woolly expectation of the soul drifting off at death to spend eternity in heaven. Even when I pitched a carefully worded question in the public forum later on, Prof Habermas and two other able theologians all seemed to fail to grasp what I was getting at. It really does seem that there are very few people alert to the fact that it's almost taboo for contemporary Christians to speak of their hopes about their own future bodily resurrection.
I popped round to my dad's later and asked him what he thought. After pondering for a minute he said that the last time, and only time, he had ever heard anyone preach on future bodily resurrection was 30 years ago! That seriously needs to change.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Passion Week

I'm really looking forward to the BBC miniseries due to start on Sunday. There is no greater drama than those scenes surrounding Jesus of Nazareth during that fateful Passover festival 2000 years ago. For a few short days the Jerusalem air was filled with a heady cocktail of parody, irony, anger, love, justice, corruption, betrayal, loss, hope and belief. The world has never been the same.

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Sunday, March 09, 2008

Douggie hits the Top 40!

What a glorious day, the most persevering of would-be popstars Doug Walker has finally made it into the Top 40! Am I happy because now I can claim some kind of cool-by-association? Well yes, I probably will dig the wedding video out of the basement, not everybody has a Top 40 artist singing for them (yes OK Anna you pulled KT Tunstall out of the bag which has yet to be bettered). No, I'm really happy because Doug is a top bloke who has invested in his God-given talents as a musician and a songwriter and has reached the place where he is producing material that belongs in the Top 40, Top 20, Top 10 even. In particular I could wax on about the lyrics all day because he's really caught something special but instead I'll just invite you to:
a) listen and enjoy, and
go straight to iTunes and buy The Mystery now!

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