Yesterday I went with Gareth 'Taffy' Jones to conduct a sixth form conference at the Emmanuel School in Newcastle. The idea being that Taffy would provide an objective and distinctively Welsh perspective on the day's proceedings. I hail from Hertfordshire and my observations are often blinkered and half-baked. Taffy has assured me that this report is reliable and corresponds to what he saw and heard.
Oh and by the way Taffy has a PhD and is a very sharp lad.
We had a fantastic time! There were 140 sixth formers present and the head of RE Paul McKenzie introduced me in a gracious and friendly way.
I spoke for fifty minutes. I unleashed some of my best stories from the celebrity world. I included vignettes about Katie Price, Cheryl Cole, Russell Brand and Paris Hilton. I connected this celebrity circus to Hollywood mythology (follow your heart) and 17th century Wiltshire boffin Thomas Hobbes (you are a selfish calculating machine). I even did my impression of Count Dracula! I briefly touched on human trafficking and commodification. I then told the stories of inspiring Christians like George Cadbury and David Serunjogi, the amazing Ugandan pastor who has adopted 1700 orphans. I concluded the talk by challenging the students to think about the story they are living in.
There was then a half-hour session where the students asked me questions and grilled me about the Christian faith. I was able to talk frankly and boldly about my hope in the resurrection and my Christian convictions. The questions the students asked were absolutely superb. They had clearly been listening and reflecting.
Many of the questions focused on materialism, secularism and consumerism. One boy invited me to respond to the challenge of empiricism and the 'dogma' that 'only science gives you the truth'.
At the end of the conference two girls approached me and Taffy. They had loads more questions. Taffy was brilliant in this context and asked them some corking questions.
What a brilliant time we had!