So this afternoon we discovered our local independent cinema and spent part of our day-off with Aronofsky’s Noah.

Noah is an ambitious piece, set initially in a scorched, desolate post-apocalyptic world. Think very flat, low budget, Mordor country. There are some bold and ingenious script moments, but also some flat, unhelpfully slow and disappointing cul de sacs.

The growl of Ray Winston’s character baying, “don’t be afraid!” is engaging from beginning to end.
The brilliance of Jennifer Connelly articulating the struggle and bargaining pain of Mrs Noah is centre piece.
The journey of the sons into their directed pathways and consequences are well described.
Noah’s unresolved steadfastness means he holds to task, though tortured as to what should result; helpfully this movie rarely defaults to requiring us to like him. Noah isn’t portrayed as a sweet natured zoo keeper with a wisdom beard, rather as one painfully seized by dream patterns and ‘Mad Max’ style obedience.

The ark is square and chunky with dashes of molasses. The closing rainbow scenes are awkwardly clichéd as other moments esp. the water trickles becoming abounding rainforest provision in minutes, may frustrate. Those who welcome creative licence and the neat-necks who require theological purity will surely war. 

Its a slow starter, and ‘the watchers’ offer an interesting robotic-dinosaur-warrior companionship in the fulfilled mission of God. Winstone provides a compelling nemesis to Russell Crowe’s, Noah with poignant overlays on the formative language of their early years. There are layered traits that Noah discerns in himself. For “the wickedness is not just in them; It is in all of us,”

Krish Kandiah has suggested five reasons as to why this is worth 139 minutes of your time. The water rises, the animals are manifestly present and the challenge of Genesis restarted is clearly seen. Wounding, guilt, loss and punishment are explored; with mercy and love in attendance.

For me this movie is a cultural gift as a credible engagement with biblical action. It’s got it all with flawed humanity and the hope of a new day. It’s gritty, adventurous and challenging stuff. Very much like the life of faith.

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“A book is a garden, an orchard, a storehouse, a party, a company by the way, a counsellor, a multitude of counsellors.” so said Henry Ward,…..and obviously he didn’t mean kindle!

1 Provocatively, multi-site churches are from the devil!
2 Eleven ways you know you’ve settled for a mediocre marriage
3 Five discipleship fails through and through…..
4 The therapeutic power of giggles. These delightful two babies and elastic bands captured on youtube!
5 Churches experiencing growing pains. Good things.

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….sobriety is killing… it’s a stunning truth! It’s all too painfully visible at times…..

so go-on…… I dare you behave as a child, this lenten season.

Jesus says that children are at home in the kingdom of God. And so He wants adults to be childlike. What could be more fun than that! This is your the invitation to let the child within out to play. The child in you is naïve, impulsive, direct, simple, trusting, vulnerable, unsophisticated and unpretentious. Jesus tells us that this is a really most important part of who we are. If the inner child does not thrive then nor do we. Let your inner child out to play. It knows how to live.

ps. And if you’re struggling……. watch this. I defy you not to giggle!

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“Imagine that Christianity is not just about an afterlife for those whose sins are forgiven. Imagine that it’s about participating in Jesus’s passion for the transformation of this world into a world of justice and peace.”
Marcus Borg

1 Simon’s asking, ‘what season are you in now?’
2 Jon Tyson via Hoylus on consumers or disciples, because ‘entertainment rarely transforms.’
3 “We are glorious ruins, bent glory.” That indeed…… Firebrand notes captures it well here.
4 John Steven’s sweep of what discipleship looks like for him.
5 Aaron Sorkins moving ‘Letters from Dad‘ very powerfully captured.

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Rich Mullins had this knack for speaking with a prophetic edge. He was said to be an arrow pointing to heaven. He blazed a trail, and lived his life fully in the fulfilment of these words:- “I believe what I believe is what makes me what I am.” Here’s something from him, that stopped me in my tracks.

“David didn’t kill Goliath, because he set out to slay giants. He set out to give sandwiches to his brothers, and Goliath got in the way.”

Maybe this is just a little of how we should be fulfilling God’s will…….

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yes, Jesus is enough.

not Jesus + good times. Not Jesus + encouragement. Not even Jesus + good company and something of a bank balance.
Plain, bald, simple. Jesus is enough.

And if you’re not sure…… Hear Brennan Manning’s words:-
“My life is a witness to vulgar grace- a grace that amazes as it offends. A grace that pays the eager beaver who works all day long the same wages as the grinning drunk who shows up at ten til five. A grace that hikes up the robe and runs breakneck towards the prodigal reeking of sin and wraps him up and decides to throw a party no ifs, ands or buts. A grace that raises bloodshot eyes to a dying thief’s request- “Please, remember me”- and assures him, “You bet!” A grace that is the pleasure of the Father, fleshed out in the carpenter Messiah, Jesus Christ, who left His Father’s side not for heaven’s sake but for our sakes, yours and mine.

This vulgar grace is indiscriminate compassion.

It works without asking anything of us. It’s not cheap. It’s free, and as such will always be a banana peel for the orthodox foot and a fairy tale for the grown up sensibility. Grace is sufficient even though we huff and puff with all our might to try to find something or someone it cannot cover. Grace is enough. He is enough. Jesus is enough.”

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again and again is a foundation bible passage for me……
So to wrestle with seasons, pruning and fruit has been a painful and rich privilege for me. Here’s to sharing that in these days with some new friends. Your prayers and love are appreciated.

Here’s to much and lasting fruit in your life too. You can desire this, confidently knowing that it’s God’s will for you.
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Here’s the quotes from my re-reading the brilliant and timeless Community and Growth, by Jean Vanier.

“I am struck by how sharing our weakness and difficulties is more nourishing to others than sharing our qualities and successes.”

“Many people are good at talking about what they are doing, but in fact do little. Others do a lot but don’t talk about it; they are the ones who make a community live.”

“Love doesn’t mean doing extraordinary or heroic things. It means knowing how to do ordinary things with tenderness.”

“Community is a sign that love is possible in a materialistic world where people so often either ignore or fight each other. It is a sign that we don’t need a lot of money to be happy–in fact, the opposite.”

“If we are to grow in love, the prisons of our egoism must be unlocked. This implies suffering, constant effort and repeated choices.”

“When people love each other, they are content with very little. When we have light and joy in our hearts, we don’t need material wealth. The most loving communities are often the poorest. If our own life is luxurious and wasteful, we can’t approach poor people. If we love people, we want to identify with them and share with them.

“People cannot accept their own evil if they do not at the same time feel loved, respected and trusted.”

“All of us have a secret desire to be seen as saints, heroes, martyrs. We are afraid to be children, to be ourselves.”

“It is only when we stand up, with all our failings and sufferings, and try to support others rather than withdraw into ourselves, that we can fully live the life of community.”

“A growing community must integrate three elements: a life of silent prayer, a life of service and above all of listening to the poor, and a community life through which all its members can grow in their own gift.”

“We discover that we are at the same time very insignificant and very important, because each of our actions is preparing the humanity of tomorrow; it is a tiny contribution to the construction of the huge and glorious final humanity”

….yes the books a classic and worth your time and investment.

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