Culture

  • The noise, the noise.  Oh, the blowing of trumpets.  In the front row of the Internet orchestra are those blowing their own, but these are easily outnumbered by those modelling their brass on John Knox's The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women (1558). Every internet rant is a blast that wants to be first, and ranting is such a natural fit to the form that the temptation ought to be resisted.  Over the past month I have resisted ranting about Ryanair, automated sales calls, and two more subjects that are so rantishly scrawled on a scrap of paper I have no idea what they were.  Paddles, apparently, and errors in tenant paranoia.    Whatever was hurting, the pain has

    Feb 26,
  • The Real ThingThere’s an old rugby saying: if you’re good enough, you’re big enough.  The actor Matt Damon would have to be very good indeed.  In Clint Eastwood’s new film Invictus, Damon plays the role of 1995 Rugby World Cup winning captain Francois Pienaar.  He is 5 inches shorter and 4 stones lighter – the All Blacks would snap him in half. At 5’10” Matt Damon is also shorter than Nelson Mandela (6’1”), who in Eastwood’s film is played by Morgan Freeman (6’2”).  Winning the World Cup as the shortest man in the room is the kind of exploit that Hollywood loves. Invictus is based on John Carlin’s book Playing the Enemy, which describes Nelson Mandela’s use of rugby to

    Feb 05,
  • Dru tells me, with all due respect, that I haven't yet developed my blogger's voice.  She means that I write like I always write.  I haven't managed that intimate but off-beat tone that she does so well herself.  But then Dru has unfair advantages as a blogger.  She does loads of stuff.  She's been having an adventure-a-day, against doctor's orders, since before blogs were first used as solid fuel.  Take a look.  This is how it should be done. Instead of adventures, I make a habit of sitting at my desk doing nothing much, though I do have an idea for an art installation that will be a speeded-up film of my day at work.  The lucky audience will get to see exactly how

    Nov 12,
  • I've done a bad bad thing.  Reading the  Bible seems like a culturally rewarding thing to do, like going to Shakespeare plays and listening to Bach.  It doesn't happen that often and it's not always for fun, but I know I'm not going to come out the other side any more ignorant than I am already. The twitch state starts with Bible Commentaries.  Worse - New Testament bible commentaries.  There should be a warning against reading books about the books of the bible, because  New Testament Studies is not a field in which anyone can dabble.  You're either in or you're a non swimmer, and not even everybody who's in can swim. The gospels are constructed using devices familiar from postmodernism.  A 'frame' in Mark describes his

    Oct 03,
  • If Heaven is one place ( and it surely is, because the people who go there won't mind sharing) then it has many quarreling embassies on earth.  Most of these will make you feel welcome, because on the whole, with some obvious exceptions, religious people try to be nice, especially if you're new. Just keep the moonlighting a secret. Spiritual double-dating is one of the underappreciated pleasures of the post-enlightenment.  The Greeks one Sunday, and the Russians the next.  In Paris there's an excellent basement filled with guitar-playing South Americans. Nothing quite so exotic here in the English countryside, but enough god-in-buildings to keep a recent arrival interested.  The Anglican vicar in the church above the river lives in fear of central directives.  She points

    Sep 21,