Saturday, 26 July 2008
I've seen it.
The Dark Knight; a film I'd been so hungry for since the early days of that remarkable viral campaign... since Batman's flipping over of that calling card at the end of the last one, in fact... a film that was destined to have geekdom in a fever without Heath's sad and premature death adding to the frenzy...
... but was it THE film of the year thus far, to quote the early US reports?
Well, I'm reluctant to get caught up in hyperbole for hyperbole's sake, nor sentiment for sentiment's sake. That's always a danger, and I know I can be prone to it. So I'll just try and stick to the facts:
1) With Heath's performance, we finally have the Joker as originally created: a maniacal and unpredictable and FUNNY catalyst for chaos. You will not see Heath anywhere on that screen, only a clown with no origin who will leave a trail of destruction and death and pain in his wake. He's not a man, nor a beast, nor an icon. He just is. Can anyone fill Heath's shoes for a future installment? Yeah: Ben Whishaw (Perfume, I'm Not There), but it won't be easy. And would Heath be worthy of an Oscar next year? For sure. Check out that disappearing pencil magic act. The best intro to a character I've seen for years...
2) Aaron Eckhart gives Harvey Dent the soul he needs for us to invest in his fall from grace. He makes us care, and makes us genuinely believe in a DA of integrity in a city of rampant corruption. I BELIEVE IN HARVEY DENT, I really do.
3)The script is crafted so that no one gets left in the shade of the Joker. Wayne/Batman, Dent, Gordon, Rachel, all have depth and breadth and the performances fill them well. Maggie Gyllenhaal slips into Katie Holmes' role well, and you don't miss Mrs Cruise in the slightest (no offence :-)). And Bale, of course, is solid.
4) The effects will leave you wondering how on earth they did Two-Face's deformity. A fantastic, horrific design that serves the character well.
5) The action - not Nolan's strong point, let's be honest - is still gripping and pumping. He's learning on the job and coping well. With the likes of him and Marc Forster and others, Hollywood has a future...
6) The film may be relentlessly dark, but thank goodness the Nolans (and Goyer if he played a part in this detail) have retained some glimmer of hope in the climax. The people of Gotham City - both ends of the spectrum - reaffirm a faith in mankind that we needed all along. EVIL WILL NOT WIN.
I'll leave it there. I could go on forever about every detail, and have already said more than I intended. Don't wanna fall into the usual trap of getting carried away. You may notice I do that...
...so, was it THE best film of year thus far?
Absolutely. Read more!
Sunday, 20 July 2008
Unfortunately, the whole debate of homosexuality, ordination of women bishops and so on is merely scratching the surface; these are all symptoms of something far deeper: the authority of Scripture. If you choose to dismiss just one aspect of it, then by the same model you have to dismiss everything else, simply because of the rules you're viewing it by (and the Bible is clear, particularly on the former issue I mention). When it comes to the Bible, it's all or nothing. Dismiss one part, and you automatically call into question everything else by your same action. I'd rather people threw the Bible out completely rather than pick-and-mix... (*)
If, as Timothy informs us, "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness" (2 Tim 3.16), and Jesus Himself says that, "Scripture cannot be broken" (John 10.35) - and taking on board that same rule of thumb that these statements are fact because I'm not calling any other piece of Scripture into question either - then the Bible is more than a book, more than a guide, more than just a manual; it is God's revelation to us of Himself, it is prophetic, it is inspired through man (as opposed to the common assumption that it was written simply by man), it is His living Word...
In which case, ask yourself the following:
Do I understand the Bible in the light of my own life and surrounding culture?
Or do I understand my life and surrounding culture in the light of the Bible?
I know where I stand...
(*I'm not for one moment suggesting that we accept the Bible blindly or naively [the writer to the Hebrews reminds us in chapter 5.11 - 6.8 that learning should be a part of our maturity - in fact, it is part of that process, no?], but we need to be absolutely determined in every way that our study of God's Word is not filtered by a subjective approach. Remember Who ultimately wrote it. Then study it.)[For further blogging on the same theme, check out bluefish ) Read more!
Friday, 11 July 2008
I'm back from the New Frontiers' Leadership International 08 conference in Brighton and I have to say... it was so profoundly resourcing in many ways, so much fun and so ground-breaking as an event. Where on earth do I start?
"...so profoundly resourcing": the wealth of equipping tools provided from the likes of Dave Holden, John Groves, Matt Hosier and others was phenomenal (those named being the particular guys I heard on my training track: between them, they spoke on building counter-cultural churches; on how the post-modern world - which is basically the world coming back full-circle to the multi-faith, multi-culture, multi-idol, multi-sexual, multi-truth world of the Apostle Paul's day - thinks, and how Christ IS relevant to every area; on how the church should be fearless in speaking out on what good Biblical sex really is, on porn and many Christian men's proclivity to it - let's not pretend they/we're not). Practical and profound... And the main session speakers? Terry Virgo himself, Steve Van Rhyn, David Devenish, David Stroud, PJ Smythe, and the phenomenon that is Mark Driscoll. He da man... All these godly men spoke deeply into where we are at as a movement, and prophetically, more importantly: God used these mighty men to lead us ever-stronger into the next phase of New Frontiers history. And speaking of the prophetic, Julian Adams and Keith Hazell (love him - had the privilege of getting to know him recently, great guy) brought powerful prophetic words to us all about radical changes in New Frontiers and, more significantly, in our nation at a political level. Hold on tight, guys... [listen to the downloads if you missed it: TOAM 08 ]
"...so much fun": I caught up with so many of my old and new friends - Dave Watt and Tom HC from ChristChurch London; Dave Pask from my Vietnam jaunts; Jennie White, Sarah Fergie, Kev & Lydia Jones and Bill & Margaret Law (all ex-City); and of course my buddies still at City - Tom G, Oli & Hazel, Dodge and George, Rob, Ashley, Bill Hayes (loved your dancing, man), Olly, Ben & Jo, Tom & Josie Shaw and the girls, and not forgetting the unforgettable Joey Natali... the list goes on... oh, and I got to know Darren Blaney from the local Baptist Church a whole lot more. And I couldn't get enough of the dancing in the worship times. Oh, and I saw Wanted at the cinema (3.5/5)
"...so ground-breaking": well... that Mark Driscoll (I love him in a non-gay way - here's an intro if you don't know the guy: MarsHillChurch) is fearless. He spoke to us gently and humbly but also boldly. What he shared with us allows us to speak openly about the future of New Frontiers: life after Terry... it was to be one of those moments when you say "I was there..." History was made. Mark basically warned us against dishonouring the future of NF by only honouring its founder. We need to honour both simultaneously, or risk becoming an institution and a museum, dead within 2 generations, rather than a pioneering movement ever-continuing forward, making progress for the magnificent good news of Jesus Christ, seeing lives, communities and cultures transformed into HIS people for HIS glory... Hoo-ha...
I think I'll shut up now; does it sound like I'm buzzing? Jennie's had it in the ear-hole since I got home... I'd best leave it to my good buddy Tom "Absolutely" Shaw to summarise:
Thursday, 3 July 2008
Next week we welcome approximately 5,000 people from over 50 nations to our conference in Brighton, Together on a Mission.
A week before they were due to go to Calcutta to get visas to be with us in Brighton, John and Esther Pradhan, who are church planting in Nepal, had a terrifying experience.
John and Esther had gone to a graveyard for the funeral of a child in the church, with their daughter, Aradhana, who is 2½. Aradhana fell down a narrow and very deep crevasse nearby. Newspaper reports say it was 60 metres deep at least. Because it was so deep and dark they were unable to see anything. At first they could hear her crying out, but after a while there was no sound.
The police were called in, and then the army, but the crevasse was so narrow, it was impossible to tunnel down. By now, darkness was closing in. To add to their fears, it was monsoon season, and if it rained, water could rise in the hole adding another terrible possibility of drowning.
Many prayed all night
John had contacted all his relatives in India, who in turn contacted friends literally all round the world, and believers began to intercede, both for her rescue and that there would be no rain. Many prayed all night.
An expert team was dispatched from Kathmandu, who encountered another hazard: a huge boulder inside the pit further impeded access, yet to break it up could be very risky. Aradhana could be hit by falling rock. To their great joy, around 3 a.m., Aradhana’s voice was heard again, and attempts were made to lower food and water to her.
By morning light, some progress had been made in digging, but it was disheartening to discover that the crevasse was in an L shape, and the food and drink had failed to reach her. The rescue crew kept everyone away from the spot, but Nepal TV were covering their efforts.
All adult men were too big to squeeze through the narrow aperture but just before noon, a young boy of 12 or 13 volunteered to be lowered down. He managed to crawl over to where she was and found her curled up in a corner, alive.
“Who are you?” she asked innocently. He helped her to crawl along to a space where she was visible to the team and they dropped down a harness which the boy strapped on to her, and they were then able to lift her out, covered in mud but otherwise unharmed. She had been in the pit for 22 hours without food, water, and limited oxygen. Her father, John, held her in his arms, tears pouring down his face. “Don’t cry, Papa,” she said, “I’m fine.”
The news went out on national TV and was labelled “miraculous”. John was interviewed clutching his daughter, and used the opportunity to say it was an answer to prayer, and to preach Jesus to them. Another miraculous aspect was that it had rained in all the surrounding region, but that particular area had stayed dry!
The family is full of thanksgiving to God for preserving Aradhana, and desire to honour all who helped in rescuing her, especially the boy. They are also grateful to all who poured out their hearts in prayer.
You can see dramatic pictures on