Wednesday, 30 December 2009


Being a geeky kinda guy means I get excited at the mere mention of a new James Cameron movie. Ever since I first laid eyes on the immensity of Aliens back in '86/87, I've been a massive fan of his movies. Great spectacle with great storylines each time (forgiving Piranha II: Flying Killers in a moment of grace, of course...). Terminators 1 & 2? Brilliant. The Abyss? Far, far better than its critics will have you believe (watch the special edition and allow for the E.T. marshmallow coda). So when I heard that Jim was getting back behind the camera after a decade-long hiatus I was over the moon(*)...

Having had a little chat via Facebook with a bud of mine last night about it, I figured I'd add to the debate with an expanded cut and paste of my musings. There's been a big internet ding-dong regarding the lack of depth in Avatar's story, and the overbearing political allegory and saccharine coating layered across it. Not to mention the "Pocahontas-in-space/Dances-with-Thanators" swipes. But to be honest, I can see exactly what Cameron's been up to.

We must remember that while much as the likes of myself would LOVE Cameron to take risks with a script such as this, his unwavering vision right now is the future of cinema, not "art". Yes, there's more allegory than a Thanator can shake a claw at, and the Smurf-dom/Pocahontas shmaltz is pretty thick treacle, but he HAD to ensure nothing would prevent this from being the success it needed to be - for the sake of 3D and photorealism really winning the hearts of the punters. Financial independence aside, he still makes blockbusters (and still loves the process of such, not of small indie dramas!), and still has to work within the constraints of an INDUSTRY, which is all about the big $. I say enjoy this near-3 hours of escapism (plus another 30 mins in the upcoming special edition BD...) for what it is, and wait with bated breath to see what he does with Battle Angel Alita (or a possible Fantastic Voyage remake) in the next couple of years...

Because you see, there's something many others seem to be missing: the biggest star of the show didn't get any billing at all - the moon Pandora itself. THAT'S the point of the whole movie really: Cameron showing/convincing us what can be done for future reference... And what a thrill-ride it was.

On an alternative note, regarding the spiritual theme, I am a Christian who gets concerned when alternatives to my faith become "acceptable" simply because they're launched at us through the global media, and Avatar is utter pantheism in a pretty day-glo box. But that doesn't mean I should ignore the film, either. I say accept the film's message for what it is - and then make your own mind up, don't just accept it simply because it feeds into appealing/romantic Native American or Gaia theologies - and enjoy the movie for what it is. It's a thrilling ride to a moon/planet we could never have visited before, without the wonderful imaginations of men like James Cameron. Now watch this space and see what he does next...

(*sorry, Pandora-related joke. Couldn't resist)
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Tuesday, 8 December 2009

New Year, new job, new challenges...

Yep! New Year, new job! As from the end of January, I'll be working a half-time post for The Beacon Church and am tremendously excited. The ambulance service have provided the means for me to work half a working week (= an average of one to two 12 hour shifts per week), freeing me to serve the church and community on other weekdays, plus Sundays (the ambulance service have agreed that I'll never have to work a Sunday. Hoo-ha! Thank You, Lord!). This is something that has been discussed for many a month/year and it feels strange now that it's finally come to fruition.

So, what is it I'll be doing for Beacon? Well, my responsibilities for overseeing our small group system and for website admin will continue, albeit now with more time to invest in them (particularly the former - the site ticks over nicely for now and needs little tweaking other than updates). The changes mean I'm now also available as often as required for preaching and leading worship in our Sunday services. Most regional leaders' meetings shouldn't be such a challenge to make it to anymore either, while on top I'll be focusing on supporting and motivating our ground troops: discipling the young guys, encouraging the rest, something that will take time to build momentum but that sort of investment clearly reaps huge rewards years down the line. We still need more leaders, we still need to see folks rise up and take hold of "that" (ESV reads as "it") for which Christ has taken hold of them (Phil 3.12). We ALL have a specific and significant purpose in this life for Christ (see my sermon on Ezra recently), and sometimes guys and girls just need the extra nudge to help them see that for themselves. I firmly believe we all have a part to play and, amazingly, I now have the privilege of helping folk in that direction.

God has BIG plans for Beacon Church, of that I'm convinced. For the church in Herne Bay in general, in fact (we're making great headway into joint initiatives with the local evangelical churches for A Passion For Life already). I can't wait to see what God unfolds for us here in Beacon Church over the next few years. To have this opportunity to get so stuck in to such an adventure is both humbling and mind-blowing. It's not without its difficulties and challenges - pray for me, my family and for Beacon themselves - but God's desire is to see His name glorified in Herne Bay and beyond, and He WILL see his plans come to fruition. Can't wait.
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