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Blog Oct 06

31/10/06
Just back from the Cork Jazz Festival, great music and atmosphere as usual. Struck me on Sunday morning that it was a pity there wasn't a high profile Jazz mass during the festival. I don't think there was any. Some mightn't like the idea, but I think with thousands of musicians in the city for the weekend there was a chance to involve them, even minister to them. I'm no jazz expert, but there are plenty of spiritual trends in Jazz, which isn't a million miles from gospel music. The Harlem Gospel Choir featured in one of the main concerts on the Friday night (unfortunately I wasn't down on time for that) so the festival wasn't bereft of spiritual input. I've come across liturgical/spiritual work by the likes of Oscar Peterson and Dave Brubeck, so let's hope that next year some imaginative parish will take on the task. There's a Church right down the road from the main venue, (the Metropole), St Patrick's parish I think, which would be an ideal venue. Though not jazzy, the choir there at Mass Sunday at midday was in fine form and there was a great sermon about the extra light we need to get us through these complex times. Funny how jazz, once regarded in some circles as immoral, now seems downright respectable compared to, say, the excesses of heavy metal! And there are spiritual nuggets in heavy metal too, but that's another story.

And finally a school update. Finished my classes on religion and film with Transition Year on Friday last, with a final look at Jesus films - showed two clips from The Passion of the Christ - the atmospheric opening scene in the garden which I love, and a brief clip from the way of the cross - where Jesus meets his mother at a cross roads on the way to Calvary - it's very touching, especially when intercut with the flashback of when Jesus fell as a child. Perhaps more of the brief flashbacks and less of the intense violence would have helped the film achieve a broader perspective on the life of Jesus.

16/10/06
I'm doing Images of God with third year boys at the moment. Got the first to "draw God" - a great exercise that provides many talking points as I ramble around the classroom, giving as much praise to the blank pages as to the human-looking depictions of God. Mind you I'd say the blank pages are more a reflection of students being off-task than reflecting on God as invisible spirit. I get great fun out of asking why so many put beards on God. Some student will usually talk about beards being a sign of wisdom at which point I stroke my own beard and say thanks very much! Today I continued with the theme by showing video clips with various depictions of God. Many of these are hard to get now, but are from the old American Insight videos that Veritas shops sold. For example there's the scene in Packy where the main character meets God (Bob Newhart) after he dies eating a chicken sandwich. This deals with the expectations people have about God. In a clip from the film Almost an Angel, Paul Hogan meets God (Charlton Heston) also after death. This is a more conventional representation - old guy, big white beard, cloak and floating on clouds with heavenly music in the background. A young Martin Sheen plays God in the Insight video The Walls Came Tumbling Down. A young God makes for an interesting image but he comes across as rather a show off - perhaps the old character he appears to needs to be gizzed up in this way. Bruce Almighty is a very funny film, though it has its crude moments. I used the scene where the Jim Carey character meets God (Morgan Freeman) for the first time. It's popular with students and makes some useful points. This is one of the few "black" god images I've come across, and he comes across as caring and powerful but also playful. I do point out that of course Jesus is the ultimate image of God, but at this stage I don't get into the ways Jesus has been portrayed on screen. An Insight video Jesus B.C. tries to portray the Trinity using three actors (the Holy Spirit is a black woman!), it's an interesting effort but the dialogue is a bit stodgy in spots and it is too American in flavour. And you have the silly notion of the three persons of the Trinity arguing with each other, with the Holy Spirit accusing Jesus of chauvinism! All in fun of course.

8/10/06
Brought my third years to the prayer room for the first time today. We had been looking at the whole business of time alone, getting away from it all, peace and quiet etc so it seemed an appropriate opportunity. Most of them were fine, though one lad was particularly hyper. Talking to me later he said it was because the music was irritating! First time I heard that one. But he did apologise, and in the discussion that followed, when he seemed more in favour of instrumental music I asked him to bring in his own music for the next session. He seems OK with doing that. The "irritating" music I had used was: Be Still and Know by Kim Hill (from album Kim Hill), I Turn to You by Randy Stonehill (from excellent album Lazarus Heart), and Dare to Believe, also from Randy Stonehill (from fair album Edge of the World). I think I caught some of thing singing the catchy chorus as they left - "Turn off the television, shut off the radio .".

 

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Sept 06
June 06
May 06