God is my Director

Youth ministry, movies, no drugs and a variable amount of Rock ‘n Roll

Archive for January, 2007

Wario wonderful

Posted by Martin on January 31, 2007

This is what every youth group needs. No, not four Japanese girls. Wario Ware: Smooth Moves on the Nintendo Wii. End of.

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Rocky Balboa: youth worker

Posted by Martin on January 30, 2007

Went to see Rocky Balboa with my good friend Chris last night, and wanted to post my thoughts. But first:

DISCLAIMER: Rocky Balboa is clearly a big piece of cheese. The script is pretty basic, and some of the acting is not going to win any awards. I realise this, ok?

Right – now that’s out of the way… what a great movie! It’s been a long time since a piece of cinema literally got me leaping out of my seat in excitement, but Sylvester Stallone’s last (please Sly) Rocky movie managed it. I have to admit that like most people, I was fairly exasperated to hear that he was actually making what was effectively Rocky 6, especially since he’s hardly a youngster anymore. But what Stallone said was that he wanted to give the story a ‘proper’ ending, and indeed, that’s what this movie really feels like.

One of the most striking aspects of the film is the music, and one, haunting tune in particular: a recurring reworking of the famous Rocky theme on tinkling piano. It’s a poignant piece which perfectly captures the retrospective feel of the movie. Rocky’s life and career are drawing to some kind of close – but there is still unfinished business, and still too much sadness in the protagonist’s life.

Despite the simplicity of the story and script, there’s a raw emotional energy that will resonate with many. And even though it’s completely ridiculous, watching Rocky go back into training for one more fight is a pretty cathartic experience. I recommend it!

What really interested me however, was how Stallone both wove in his own Christian spirtuality (example line: why you gotta do something to get something back?), and his hopes for young people. One outstanding scene features Rocky choosing a new dog, and taking the teenage son of his platonic girlfriend to the dog home to do so. At first, the teenager messes about, and lives down to expectations. But when Rocky empowers him, asking him to help choose a name for the animal, the teen softens, and, once he realises that he is genuinely valued, contributes. It’s a small thing, but it made a big impact on me – seems to me that Sly believes we need to listen to and respect young people more.

There’s a fairly big youth work theme in the movie in fact, from Rocky’s relationship with his son, to the gradual redemption of a teenage girl who is apparently transformed by watching his example. Again, a lot of this stuff is portrayed simply, but sometimes that’s the most effective way. There’s a lot more going on in this movie than some people will care to notice; I hope the cheese and the drawbacks won’t prevent cynics from spotting it.

If you don’t mind a bit of boxing-ring blood, this is a decent film to watch with teens.

Posted in Movies, Youth Ministry | 1 Comment »

Jack’s back

Posted by Martin on January 22, 2007

Yes I know it’s an obvious title, sorry. But HOW AWESOME was the season premiere (impressed, my American friends? We say, Episode one) of 24, series six? I felt the new, more vulnerable Jack was a much overdue piece of character development, and without wanting to put any spoilers out there, I’m really interested to see where they take his relationship with the Alexander Siddig character. And over the course of the two hours, they still managed to hit the quota on explosions, humour and eye-watering torture (although never in the same scene, yet).

Appearently we get two episodes a week for the next two Sundays here in the UK. Oh Mr Murdoch – with these Rocher you are spoiling us!

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Posted by Martin on January 21, 2007

So Santa came late, but eventually, he did arrive. At last, there is a beautiful white box sitting underneath my television, and its name is Wii. Which is still ridiculous, but who cares when it makes video gaming this fantastic?

The most incredible thing about the Nintendo Wii is not the motion sensitive controls, the brilliant multiplayer games or even the GameCube compatibility. The most incredible thing about the Wii is the fact that my wife likes it. For ten years, she’s been repeatedly telling me to grow up and leave my gaming passion behind. Now, after a quick game of tennis and a boxing match in which I learned something scary and new about her, she’s a convert.

Playing the Wii is in danger of murdering my ability to hit deadlines. I have also been posting notably less often on my beloved blog (sorry about that). I can also no longer be bothered to spend time with my son. Joke, obviously – although I may be getting him into video games at an appallingly young age…

My big recommendation with this is to my fellow youth workers – if your budget allows, you have GOT to get one of these! It’s such a hoot in multiplayer, and I reckon it will go down a storm in a youth club setting – four people can play at once, but it’s also almost as much fun to watch them at it as it is to have a go yourself.

And also – if you don’t like working out, you should seriously try this thing. My arms are aching! Advertisment ends.

Posted in Family, Gaming, Youth Ministry | Leave a Comment »


Posted by Martin on January 19, 2007

I understand that I am by no means alone in this, but I’ve been the recent victim of online card fraud. There some smirking criminal type somewhere in this country watching the Sony LCD television which was purchased using my card a couple of weeks ago. It’s all rather ironic – my wife would never let me buy a TV that good…

Anyway, my bank have credited the money (over £1000, all in) back to me, but I do feel a little violated by the whole experience. I have no idea how someone was able to hack my card details – I tend to be very cautious online – and from speaking to friends this week it appears that this crime seems to be happening more and more often. No joke – in a room of six people, every one of us had been stung by fraudsters.

I wonder where this is going. If card fraud and identity theft continue to rise, surely the point is going to come where the banks (or there insurance companies) will simply stop paying out. I’d certainly feel a LOT sicker now if I’d simply bought a TV for a thief somewhere. It’s not like he’d even invite me round to watch the football on it.

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Life after lager

Posted by Martin on January 17, 2007

So far, so good. I’ve managed to last seventeen days on the wagon since my New Year Resolution-fest, and all seems to be going well. The one thing I do miss is a nice, cool relaxing beer at the end of a stressful day, so last night, I tried something which I never thought I’d have to resort to: alcohol-free lager. I know there have been a lot of jokes about the stuff over the years, but I thought to myself, surely it can’t be THAT bad…

Well, it turns out that those jokes were made for a reason. One sip was bearable; a second mirrored the sensation of accidentally drinking paint stripper. Which, incidentally, is slightly preferable to a whole bottle of this stuff. Ah well, it was a nice idea. Guess I’ll be back on the diet cokes next time.

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John Barrowman and Jesus

Posted by Martin on January 9, 2007

Over New Year I happened to catch the BBC’s appalling excuse for a ‘spiritual’ Sunday morning show, Heaven and Earth. I say it’s appalling because according to them, anything appears to qualify as a major religion these days – Jedi, cross-stitch, pigeon-fancying – and they’ve probably run features on all of them. But in the midst of the usual dross, there was a very interesting article on this particular show with the actor John Barrowman, who plays ‘the other Captain Jack’ in Doctor Who and Torchwood.

John was talking about his rarely-mentioned Christian faith – he was brought up in a strong Christian family, says he tries to live like Jesus, reads the Bible and prays. He was open and honest about his faith, and the struggles he has with the church, which has not accepted him. John is gay, and recently ‘married’ his long-term partner in a civil partnership ceremony. Of course, that doesn’t stop him from being a Christian, but it has meant that he’s struggled to engage with a church which is repeatedly telling him that he’s going to hell in a handcart.

The interviewer asked him if he was just twisting the faith to meet his own ends, and he replied that he didn’t see what was wrong with that. I don’t actually believe that he would have given that answer if he’d thought about it – so it wasn’t likely to endear him to many traditional Christian viewers.

I find it interesting though how many prominent gay men I’ve heard openly talking about their interest in Jesus and their rejection by the church. The singer Boy George and the comedian Julian Clary both wrote about this in recent memoirs, and they’re by no means the only gay men to address this subject. I don’t believe it’s because they’re doing it to draw attention to the negativity of the church; I think they’re drawn to Jesus and they feel they’ve been barred from getting close to him.

I’m a self-confessed Doctor Who nut, so I’d love the chance to talk to him anyway, but I’d be really interested to find out more about John’s faith, theology and thoughts on the church. If you’re out there John – drop me a line…

Posted in Spiritual is everything, Television | 10 Comments »

Emerging a little further

Posted by Martin on January 7, 2007

Over Christmas my buddy and I managed to get a little bit further with the new expression of church project which we’ve been working on, and we’re looking at running our first ‘service’ in mid-feb. What we know so far is that it’ll start as a monthly meeting, it’ll include a meal, and it’ll be supplemented by a web-based element. Oh, and we have a name, but I’m not allowed to leak it yet. More soon…

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Resolute again

Posted by Martin on January 5, 2007

The first of January came and went, and I’m pretty happy with the results of my last round of resolutions. 2006 was the first year I’d really tried to make them work, and as a result I’m now much lighter and entirely more biblically literate. I ended up losing a shade under my target of two stone, and got all the way to 2 Kings in the Bible, meaning I’m exactly halfway through.

This year, rather than calling them New Year’s Resolutions (and thus setting myself up to fail), I’ve drawn up a list of 2007 targets. They are as follows:

  • Finish reading the Bible
  • Become a blood donor (despite needle phobia)
  • Write three complete screenplays AND have them signed off by my manager
  • Lose one more stone in weight (and then frankly, you’ll want my number)
  • Er… give up drinking alcohol

Yeah… I know that last one is a bit ridiculous, but I just wanted to see if it was possible. You see, I’ve been a fairly serious drinker (as in little and often) since the age of 18, and so ten years on, I want to see if it’s something I enjoy or need. I’ve found that when I drink even a glass of wine or beer, my manner changes and my ability to stay alert rapidly deteriorates. So I’m not preaching – just seeing if it’s something that I can do without.

The real killer on that list is the screenplays. It takes me four months of solid work to take a script from idea to completion, so there’ll be no letup. Having been out to LA in October and set up all these smokin’ contacts though, I now have to do the hard work of putting full scripts in their hands. So three is the magic number, and I’m praying that will be enough to see my first one sell.

Posted in General, Movies, Spiritual is everything | Leave a Comment »

I have returned!

Posted by Martin on January 3, 2007

A very HAPPY NEW YEAR! So, how have you been? I have returned from my self-imposed technological holiday, and will endeavour to return to the proflific posting of recent weeks.

While I was away, we learned: England are beyond terrible at cricket, Russell T Davies is even more of an evangelistic atheist than I’d given him credit for (see Big Bang scene in Dr Who Christmas special for details),  and in 2007 I have even less money than I had in 2006.

It’s good to be back.

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