Sunday on the Airwaves...

For obvious reasons (being a Methodist minister) I don't get to watch much TV or listen to a lot of radio on a Sunday, but happened to tune into a number of interesting things today, before and after church...

Before charging out to an early meeting I did manage to listen to a bit of William Crawley's Sunday Sequence, which began with an interesting piece based on a survey by Ship of Fools. I would regularly check in with this site myself, but haven't done so much recently, but under the heading of "Chapter and Worse" they've been having a poll of some of those puzzling, perplexing and downright disturbing verses and passages in scripture... Its worth a look, and might perhaps be a good point for jumping off in a series of Bible studies with a more thoughtful group.

Then, honouring the 25th Anniversary of Powerpoint, the programme went on to cover similar ground to an earlier blog, and indeed one of those I cited, Alan in Belfast, was a prominent contributer to the piece.

That's where I, unfortunately had to switch off, but it was clearly a fairly fun-packed programme as it went on to cover many items of interest (to me at least). There's the New International Version of the Bible (or should that be versions now that there are so many different varieties of NIV now), another spat between the Papacy and atheists (this time over the origin of morality and the responsibility for global warming), suicide, bloodgate (a lazy journalistic term for the fracas following the pantomime of Harlequins using theatrical blood capsules) and morality in sport, a Catholic group's recently published Prayer for Before Sex (not sure whether that is instead of or as well as contraception), and finishing with a track from local boy Brian Houston. It's quite a departure for the normally wordy Sunday Sequence to include music, but everyone I know, including Will Crawley has been raving about his recent album, Gospel Road, so I really should extract the digit and buy it, or I won't be able to face him the next time I see him. But before that, I'll listen to the whole programme, here.

But it was what I saw on TV after lunch that set me typing. It's confession time here, because over my post-prandial coffee I indulged my baser nature by watching the X-Factor. There were the usual quota of really amazing voices, as well as the main reason (if we are honest) why people watch the audition stages, that is the complete eye-popping no-hopers... I and plenty of others have said before that this is the equivalent of a Victorian freak-show or a Roman circus. But it came back to me anew today.

Sally, my wife, who was watching it with me, reminded me of a statement by Clive James in one of his earlier TV reviews (before the advent of X-Factor et al) along the lines that we should not despise people's dreams even though they are cheap (if anyone knows the precise citation I would be eternally grateful... well, at least until Wednesday). These programmes sell a cheap (though difficult to attain) dream of fame/celebrity and fortune, and having sold this dream to people who live lives of "quiet desperation", when they have given their all in front of the baying crowd, the judges proceed to jump on those dreams from a great height, popping the flimsy balloons that the people in question hoped would would carry them out of their anonymous workaday world. Some enter knowing fine-rightly they haven't a hope of proceeding ("shepherds' pie til' I die" comes to mind), but many live in a self-deluded world, where friends/family (if they have anyone who could really be described as such) have never been really honest with them, and so the brutal honesty, which is based upon expertise, is unnecessarily crushing.

However, one area that the judges have no expertise in, is relationship counselling, and yet in this week's programme they had the gall to offer relationship advice to one couple live on camera. The male half of this particular couple had broken off their engagement a matter of days before the programme, yet they both still wanted to audition together. So after a number of shots of them waiting for the audition, clearly ignoring each other as best they could, they came on stage and murdered Starship's "Nothing's Going to Stop us Now." The irony was clearly lost on them. But after the performance was mercifully broad to an end, the boy was goaded into proposing to the girl again... And she took him back, prompting much weeping with the female judges, at least one of whom has had plenty of experience forgiving an errant partner in the public eye...

So that's it... Next week after lunch I'll give X-Factor a miss and listen to the re-run of Sunday Sequence instead...


Alan in Belfast said…
The original Wednesday interview - which was digested by the great editing machine but not spat out - included some bits about the possible influence of US mega churches, whose numbers necessitated some way of seeing the man (nearly always a man!) at the front. Though shrinking in size to a manageable congregation would have been a good alternative to installing cameras and projectors!

The Saturday re-interview ended up skipping over some of that stuff.

I'll try not to turn up too often in case I put you off your cornflakes!

The NIV piece is certainly worth a listen. I hadn't realised there had been such a fuss over the gender neutral language - and such a mess in implementing it!

And Brian Houston was sounding fine for the hour of the morning.

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