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Last night Jo and I watched an episode from the 4th series on West Wing (don’t worry – I’m not going to give any big spoilers).

Toby Ziegler has to be one of the most self-righteous, and as his ex-wife says, sad characters. So in the episode we were watching he tries to win his ex-wife back. But she says he’s just too sad for her, too angry, too pessimistic about the world. He stands there stunned, wondering if she’s always thought that, if his friends think that. Ironically he then get’s angry.

It was sad watching a hopeless situation. There was nothing his ex-wife could offer him by way of solution, healing or hope. There was no grace, no chance of change. There was just sadness and broken relationship.

I had to pause the DVD. It made me pause and think of the good news of the gospel. Yes we are broken, sad, angry, pessimistic and destructive. But in the gospel we have hope. By God’s grace we are not slaves to our dispositions, our upbringing, our circumstances. As the Holy Spirit works in us to make us more Christ-like we learn to approach the world differently, there is a joy that grows in us in the face of suffering and a dark world as we consider the future that is in store for us. That is how Jesus was able to endure the cross. As the gospel captures our hearts we are turned from self-righteous, sad, inward looking people without hope into lovers – of God and others.

It really is good news…


Last night Jo and I watched ‘Invictus’ – the latest film by Clint Eastwood, chronicling the early days of the Mandela presidency in South Africa leading up to the Rugby World Cup in 1995.

Quite a film. For starters it was nice to hear an american do an accent other than american in a convincing way. Matt Damon (at least to my ears) did a great job of perfecting an Afrikaaner accent. It was also beautifully shot (just makes me want to be in South Africa again) and powerfully done – especially the scene when the team go to a township, for what could well have been the first time for many of them, and they discover that ‘the other side’ are not so bad – though their living conditions certainly are.

On a more ‘theological’ note, it was quite challenging film. We’re about to have some new ‘Gospel Trainee’s’ start next week at our church, and we’re going to be going through John Piper’s book ‘Don’t Waste Your Life’… and Mandela is certainly someone who, on one level at least, has not wasted his life. He was in prison for 27 years. And as Matt Damon says in the film ‘I was thinking about how you spend 30 years in a tiny cell, and come out ready to forgive the people who put you there.’ Read the rest of this entry »

Last night we watched the 1990 Hal Hartley film ‘Trust’. This is the sequel to another film we’ve watched at our film club by Hartley, ‘The unbelievable Truth’.

Here’s the blurb from Hartley’s own website:

“Maria is a self-centered teenage suburban brat, until she gets pregnant by her un-loving quarterback boyfriend and gives her father a fatal heart attack. Matthew is a rowdy and disillusioned computer engineer with a vicious temper. Disowned by her devastated mom, dumped by her boyfriend, and shunned by her friends, Maria wanders the streets and bumps into Matthew. These two exiles fall in together and set out trying to become a normal, domestic, suburban couple. But these troubled lives evolve in unexpected ways and Maria grows into a responsible person that few conventional notions of “ordinary” can contain.”

I really enjoy Hartley’s stuff, though I imagine that it’s not to everyone’s taste. I’d say it is intelligent black-comedy. It’s not fast paced, its full of intelligent dialogue, it’s low-budget (‘Trust’ was made in just 11 days) and doesn’t patronisingly explain everything in a just-in-case-the-audience-missed-it kind of way.

‘Trust’ not surprisingly deals with the issue of trust, although the word itself is not used until about 3/4 the way through the film.

What is interesting from a Biblical stand point is that this film is a very real and honest take on the world. There are two options it seems that are presented to us – trust each other (that is show faith, and belief) or seek to control each other. Read the rest of this entry »

Oh dear.

One of those films that promised so much – great director: Ridley Scott, fantastic actors: Russel Crowe, Cate Blanchett, William Hurt, Max Von Sydow… and delivered…

I’d say a collection of film cliches, moments lifted straight out of Gladiator (although this time son of a murdered father… rather than the other way around) and the most mixed up accent I have ever heard.

Russel Crowe plays Robin Longstride – from the midlands. I spent most of the film wondering where his accent would wounder to next… bit of irish one moment, scouse, and occasionally a Yorkshire/Nottinghamshire twang. I don’t know why some directors have such love-affairs with particular actors. I would have thought in this situation getting at least an englishman would have helped.

We had (like in ‘Prince of Theives’) some phenomenal travel (Nottingham to the south coast in…?) As well as an interesting mix of what seemed to be northern valleys mixed with the southern white horses.

And the cliches… ouch. Even a oscar-winning ‘nooooooooo’ in slow-motion from ol’ Crowe.

It’s a long way from the edginess of Alien and Blade Runner, and even Gladiator.

On the positive side:

  • little swearing and no s ex
  • and it cost us £1 each to get in…

Other than that I’d say – if you haven’t seen it, possibly wait until it comes out on DVD, but even then only watch it once you’ve got through every other film you’ve been meaning to watch… I guarantee they’ll be better.

Over the past couple of evenings we’ve been kicking off ‘Grace Abounds’ – seeking to engage the issue of abortion with our Gospel Communities. We’ve been talking through what abortion is, the Gospel issue surrounding it and so how we can be sharing the gospel in engaging with it, and other practical things we can be doing to support mums and families and care for those in need.

Last night when we were talking about the termination of later pregnancies (20-24 weeks) someone asked a question that really struck me. To terminate these late pregnancies doctors have to inject potassium via a long needle into the babies heart to kill it before the mother gives birth.

Someone asked wouldn’t it be easy to give birth first and then to do this to the child?

The reason they don’t?

Because once born the child has rights of protection.

It made me think of stories like ‘Cry Freedom’ where someone is trapped and in extreme danger in their own country, in danger from the very government that should be protecting them. However all they have to do is get across the boarder into another country and they’ll be safe. If they can only get across literally a line, then the government from the other country will protect them.

It seems like its an impossible task – the government determined to stop them – but then the joy and relief when they cross the boarder! Freedom! Safety!

All those babies need is to be born to be safe and protected.

I’m happy here

Why do you stop my heart?

Curled, protected from the world

But in danger from your hands

(from ‘First Do No Harm’ – you can hear the full song here.)

We’ve just finished watching ‘Disgrace’ – a film based on J. M. Coetzee’s novel of the same name.

Quite a film… and clearly not one put out by the South African tourist board.

It tells the story of  David Lurie – lecturer from Cape Town who is driven by his passions. After being ‘asked to resign’ from his post at a University following an affair with a student he heads off to spend time with his daughter, near Grahamstown. Read the rest of this entry »

Michael Tinker is a professional musician and part of the Crowded House which is a church planting initiative in Sheffield and around the world. He's a follower of Jesus, Husband, Father, member of a Gospel Community, Musician and avid follower of fashion...

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