Find what you're looking for

Saturday, 30 December 2017

A Showman Indeed!

Today, I finally went to see The Greatest Showman. I'd been interested in seeing it since I'd initially heard about it - but my interest was heightened when I saw this video with Hugh Jackman and some of the cast singing one of the songs in the initial reading (From Now On). When I saw the song in the movie, I was singing along too! And then I had friend after friend seeing it and saying that it was incredible. So I was pretty keen by the time I went in.

For those who don't know much of the story; The Greatest Showman is inspired by and loosely follows the life of P.T. Barnum, who was one of the figureheads of his time when it came to show business; probably one of the first to do this sort of thing. His show eventually morphed into the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which had its final performance in May this year.
The film, however, showcases his progression from tailor's son, to married man, to owner of a museum of curiosities, to a show of fantastic people, to the circus we are more familiar with today. Many events are compressed or altered somewhat for dramatic purposes; for instance, Barnum did not start his circus until much later in life, having a long break after the museum burnt down, and having other pursuits (such as politics). The side character of Phillip Carlyle, along with his romantic interest, the trapeze artist Anne Wheeler, are both fictional. The bearded lady Barnum actually met when she was quite young, and she grew up in the show; not being known as "the bearded lady" until adulthood. Tom Thumb was also one of the later people that he met.

However, as a story, and conveyer of emotion, it works brilliantly. The songs are brilliant, and this is one soundtrack I know I'll be purchasing before long (I would now, but I have no money after Christmas...), and trying to learn on the piano. The costumes are loud and fun, and you fall in love with the characters. I'll admit, I found the voice coming out of Zac Efron's mouth somewhat...strange, just because it wasn't as boyish as I'm used to. But the performances were all incredible, particularly by the circus family.

As with many movies, it also worked to send a message. And the one portrayed in this movie was quite clear - it wasn't just about acceptance, but a celebration, of all people. That no person should feel excluded, belittled, made small or insignificant, by anyone else. Not because of their class, race, birth, looks, height, weight, or otherwise. For some reason, it's a lesson that we're still struggling to learn. Maybe one day we'll get there - but I won't be holding my breath.

The Greatest Showman is definitely worth watching. You may well get emotional, and if you watch it in the cinema, you may find yourself wanting to clap at the end - as a few people did in the showing I was in! Certainly worth going out to the cinemas for, rather than waiting for the DVD/Netflix.

Friday, 22 December 2017

Worth Remembering.

I've just finished watching the film Amazing Grace. If you're not familiar with it, it depicts the life of William Wilberforce, and particularly his work with the abolition of the slave trade (though he was also involved in a great many other things). I can't recommend the film enough.

But also featured in the film is the character of John Newton, the writer of the hymn Amazing Grace. His story is also something quite remarkable. He was the owner of a slave ship, for about twenty years. But God found him, and he turned his life around. He wrote the tune Amazing Grace - and a couple of others - and eventually published what in the film he called his "confession", his account of all that he had seen and done in that time that he could remember.

By the end of the film, he is waning somewhat; he has become blind, and quite old. And he says a remarkable line, which is a quote from one of his works (I haven't been able to find which one). "Although my memory's fading, I remember two things very clearly: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Saviour."

If we forget all else - let us remember these. The greatness of our sin; and the greatness of his grace.

Particularly as we come into Christmas; his grace was such that our Father sent his Son into this world, to save us from our sins, and bring us back to him. I keep trying to understand that love, that grace; but I don't think I ever will. I can only be thankful for it, remember it, and share it. And so I do.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Seeing Everest.

One day, I would rather love to go and see Mount Everest. At least, to go to the Base Camp. That would be awesome. Part of me would love to go to the top, of course - but the rest of me reminds myself that rather a lot have died doing so. So perhaps not.

Looks rather pretty, though.
But I have my own Everest. It didn't start as big as that, but it grew pretty fast. I built it up. And kept building, and building....until it became what it is now. I'm talking about my idea of a relationship.

I didn't just put it on a pedestal. I fantasised about what being in a relationship might be like, thought about all the different things I might do or see with someone I was in a relationship with, what I might say to them. And the mountain just got bigger. But it was always on the other side of the world, well out of reach, and out of sight. I knew it was there, and I'd get there "one day". But not any time soon.

Recently, I had an experience where Everest suddenly became an awful lot closer. And it scared me. It scared me. And I ran. Nothing quite as dramatic as it sounds - but that's basically what it was.

The idea that this massive mountain that I had built, that I thought was somewhere far away, that I might never even reach for all I know, was suddenly right in front of me - was rather a lot to take in. Everest will do that to you, I guess.

You'd think that making a relationship work would be hard enough for me. But, of course, I have to go and make it harder....

I mentioned in a recent post that I struggle with the lie that I will never be in a romantic relationship. There is part of me that still believes that, at some level, and that's certainly part of the issue.

But I also think I need to start tearing down Everest.

Not because a relationship isn't great. And not because God doesn't want that experience to be amazing, and awesome. He does. But because, if I keep standing in the shadow of Everest, I'm not going to get anywhere. It's no wonder that I find it impossible. But if it's just one person - well, it's still hard, don't get me wrong. But I can work with that.

And when I find the right person, then we can start building together. Rather than me dropping Everest on them. I feel like that wouldn't be ideal. Yeah, let's not do that.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

On Truth.

A couple of weeks ago, I did this post. I mentioned that we filled out a piece of paper that had a brain on one side, and a heart on the other. In the last post, I covered all of the negative ones from the brain side. In this post, I want to show you the positive ones from the brain side. And then I'll talk about the heart side.

Below are all the positive ones that I listed.

I am a son of my Father.
I am a man!
I am a brother of Jesus.
I am SEEN! I can reach people and do things that others can't.
I am LOVED! And I always will be.
I am made NEW.
I am a prince!
I can love and be loved.
I am in the truth. I am in the light.
I am an encouragement to others.
God has never left me alone, and he never will.
I am clean.
I can feel people's pain and comfort them.
I am a man of truth.

I was pretty happy with that :) I could probably add a couple to that these days, but it's a decent list.

Then we come to the heart side. The brain side was ideas and thoughts that we believed about ourselves; then the heart side was verses from the Bible either supporting or disproving these ideas. These are the ones that I came up with.

You are the God who sees me. Genesis 16:13 
I have loved you with an everlasting love. Jeremiah 31:3 
Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9 
I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and rescue you. Isaiah 46:4 
He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. Isaiah 53:5 
So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. Hebrews 2:11 
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17 
So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. John 8:36 
Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. Ephesians 1:4 
But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. John 3:21

These are the truth that I cling to, and remember. In a world full of lies, darkness, and pain - I do my best to live in the light, and in the truth. I fall plenty of times. But I don't try to hide that. Because that's not how to live true and right. It's hard. But it's so much better than trying to go it alone, doing it in your own strength, and going on what the world tells you. Nothing can replace the truth.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

What Life Matters?

This will probably be a somewhat niche view, but hey! Who am I to care.

Over the past years, we've started moving towards a view where all human lives matter, at a fairly similar level. Most people, if pressed, will probably say that their family matters a bit more, or perhaps that people that can do more should matter more; but, generally speaking, we've moved away from the views that say that particular groups of people don't matter, or that they matter significantly less. At least in thought, if still working on it in practice; and with a fair bit of contention over when an embryo becomes a human, for example. That is not my topic for this post.

Rather, I want to start looking rather wider. To other sorts of life. And ask the question - where do they sit? How much do they matter? When it comes to animals, to plants, to bacteria, single-celled organisms; how much do they, or should they, matter, and what should that look like in our world?

For myself, I have a rather simple, if somewhat reductionist, view: all life matters. (Please do not confuse this with the terrible people who go around saying something very similar in response to #BlackLivesMatter. This is not that at all.)

Just this afternoon, as I was driving along a road where there's a lot of new development happening, I saw a big "Welcome!" sign advertising one of these new suburbs/areas. It was surrounded by trees that had just been cut down. It cut me to the core, and I had to remember that I was still driving and not go into the kerb. Somebody else probably looks at that and goes, "Finally, the land is cleared and I can do something with it!" I look that and go - you have just taken dozens, maybe hundreds, of lives. And it feels to me like an absolute travesty.

I look forward to a time when we can synthesise things like meat, wood, leather, cheaply - so we have no need, nor desire, to end lives. I hope and pray that I will see that day come around in my lifetime. But I fear that it is still very far away. And it makes me sad.

How many lives will it be too late for? How many species will be lost forever? How much of the planet will be surviving by then? To give you an idea, by the way; about 927 trees are cut down every second. And about 1775 animals killed. And dozens, maybe hundreds, of species going extinct each day.

How long?

Wednesday, 6 December 2017


I'd heard about the movie Wonder a couple of times before I went to see it. I knew that it was about a young boy with facial differences and his family, and I'd heard that it was very good. That it was based on a book, and I thought that it would be a good one to see, possibly to read later as well.

I watched the movie this evening, and it was rather incredible. I liked it for a lot of reasons, many of them rather emotional and biased. So I'll try and get the non-biased ones out of the way first.

For those that haven't seen it - the movie is about August, or Auggie, a boy with facial differences, who is going to school for his first time after being homeschooled by his mother. It goes through one school year. One of the things it does really well is that, every now and then, it will jump to playing the story from a different person's point of view. Like the sister, Via (short for Olivia); or Auggie's friend, Jack Will; or Miranda, Via's best friend. It helps you to see the other side to the story now and then, and understand the complexity of what's being portrayed a little more. At a guess, this is something borrowed from the book, where different chapters follow different characters - but not having read it, I couldn't tell you!

I also love the various pop culture references; which vary from Minecraft, to Star Wars, to Major Tom. Seeing random Chewbaccas or space suits popping up was awesome.

It's also great to see the overcoming of bullying presented here. And also showing that, often, the bullies have their own issues that they're dealing with - the bullying is more a show and demonstration of power, trying to be bigger when they feel small; trying to have control when they usually don't. As someone who went through a bit of bullying in school - though not to the same extent Auggie did, and never physical - I really appreciate that.

But what I really love is the heart behind it. The story. Every character here has their own story, their own journey, even if only for a moment. Even the bully! You get to feel their ups and downs, ride with them on the emotional rollercoaster of life, feel the real pitfalls that seem to keep coming. (I may have fallen a little in love with Via - and then checked myself when IMDb told me the actress was only 16. Yeah, let's not go there.)

Having a younger sister with Down Syndrome, I also relate quite well to what is portrayed in the family on-screen. It was rather easy to draw a lot of parallels between my own experiences and what I saw there; though I can't say I've suddenly found myself going from understudy to lead in a moment. (Mild spoiler, sorry!) So, by the end, I was pretty emotionally invested in the film.

And I think all of us can learn a bit from Auggie. And from those like him in the world. Not to put people that are different on a pedestal, just because they're different; or because they have something more to overcome; but for their heart.

Do yourself a favour, and go and see this one. You won't regret it.

"When given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind." - Dr Wayne Dwyer

Jesus went into the synagogue again and noticed a man with a deformed hand. Since it was the Sabbath, Jesus’ enemies watched him closely. If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath.

Jesus said to the man with the deformed hand, “Come and stand in front of everyone.” Then he turned to his critics and asked, “Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?” But they wouldn’t answer him.

He looked around at them angrily and was deeply saddened by their hard hearts. Then he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored!
Mark 3:1-5