So we have another story about a young person who has suffered trauma and misery through a perceived lack of physical perfection. In 2008, Imogen D'Arcy, a 13 year old girl from Leeds committed suicide because she thought she was "fat and ugly".
Thanks so much to the Light Church in Bradford which invited me to speak about Celebrity Culture, Discipleship and Evangelism at their Café Theology. Gareth Jones was a superb Master of Ceremonies. I love working with 'Taffy'. About fifty people attended and we got some great feedback.
In the past few weeks, RealityBites director Mark Roques has partnered with Whistling Frog Productions (Bradford) and St George's church in Leeds to bring RB stories and teaching to thousands of people in West Yorkshire.
On Christmas day Mark delivered six football monologues on the Pulse of West Yorkshire radio station to approximately 136,000 listeners! He told the story of Jesus' birth through the lens of five football fans from England, France, Germany, Spain and Russia. There was a clear gospel challenge to follow Jesus and not Herod! Feedback has been excellent.
I was talking about James Bond, rat worship, trafficking and God and this former member of the National Front, I mean the NF, came up to me! He told me he thought my talk was brilliant but he thought it very political and unlike any talk he had heard in church. What's that all about?
A quick plug for Mark's new LifeMatters course...
"Ideas Have Legs!" will explore the key ideas of the great philosophers and how we can look at them with a Christian worldview. It'll be philosophy like you've never heard it before: an earthy, blood-and-guts investigation into some of the big ideas and idolatries that have shaped our world, from Plato to Rorty.
It's not just about ideas and theories: there'll be examples of real-life situations transformed by good or bad philosophy, with guest speakers… and there'll be pirates, and crocodiles…
The Narnia experience in Leeds has been absolutely amazing. Thousands of people, young and old, have entered Narnia and experienced the magic. Truly Lynsey Jones and the other core people have achieved something quite remarkable.
The story of Aslan, the white witch, the beavers etc is delightful, funny, poignant and subversive. The story re-enchants the world and opens peoples' eyes to the wonder of the world. The Narnia experience spills the perfume of Christ in the theatrical sphere of life.
If Hollywood transforms Joseph into a secular hero, there are others who portray him as a moral and spiritual giant. Both views fail to do justice to the biblical story.
In Genesis 47:20-21 we read that Joseph reduced the Egyptian people to servitude. In this respect he can be described as a spiritual pygmy. Consider the teachings in Deuteronomy 15 and Leviticus 25 that give us a fuller picture of God's redemptive purposes for the world.
Tim Rice is an incredibly rich man who has made 150 million pounds sterling crafting lyrics about Joseph and many others. Here is Joseph's finale:
I closed my eyes,
drew back the curtain
to see for certain what I thought I knew.
Far far away, someone was weeping
but the world was sleeping;
Any dream will do.
Frau Beckstein lived in Austria at the fag end of the 19th century. She was a noble and idealistic school teacher and she loved poetry, novels, opera and painting. To say that Frau Beckstein was cultured would be an understatement. She loved the life of the artist and she swooned when she pondered the inspiring story of the eccentric, poverty-stricken bohemian living in a rat-infested garret.
Following on from my short piece about the Ofsted Report, some thoughts on how many young people learn Scripture in their RE lessons.
Many British people have studied RE but it is often unacknowledged how materialism and Hollywood mythology infuse this educational experience.
Here we draw on the research of Terence Copley's Biblos Project at Exeter University. His team have been looking at what children learn about the meaning of Bible stories in schools in England. Here are some examples: