Banner Book Covers vs. Crossway Book Covers

Recently, I’ve been given a lot of reading material surrounding the issue of ministerial calling. Something that struck me was the fact that there were two books which shared some similar content– The Ministry by Charles J. Brown (Banner of Truth) and Am I Called? by Dave Harvey (Crossway).

As soon as Am I Called? landed on my doormat, I looked at the front cover: an image of a 1960s telephone– jet black, interposed with a stylised question mark, and the typeface, I’d say it was a lovely bit of Clarendon Bold. It screamed Crossway, and I guessed right.

This has been a gripe of mine for a while. Crossway have up to date book-covers, great. Banner had — note had — great book covers. I think that their design brilliance is epitomised in the Lloyd-Jones Romans series: block colours, white space, ecclesial images. The set looks great lined up together, and each book has a stand-alone aesthetic value. But recently they’ve attempted to update their covers. Take Charles J. Brown’s book for example, it has been pasted with a faux-leather binding image, and the font is kitsch. Look at John Murray’s classic Redemption: Accomplished and Applied, this is a book which has an iconic front cover: BLACK-GOLD-RED, with the word ‘Redemption’ in grotesk white capital-lettering. Sadly the iconicity has been lost in the current edition, it’s been made into a quasi-Crossway cover. Stock image of a chain, sans-serif font.

The most important thing is that the books are read, I know that. But something in me thinks that firstly, Banner should stick to the strength that is in their original graphics, and keep reproducing those ones — and new ones in that style — because they look great. Secondly, I would have thought that the hip graphix would not attract younger readers, but the theological content will. Crossway do need to spend thousands of dollars on covers, because readers have only that — the book covers — as recommendation, I’m sure their reputation will grow over the decades. Banner have centuries of experience so that when you buy a Banner book, you buy it for the book, not for the cover. That said, it should not go unnoticed that the Banner covers from the 70s are really rather toothsome, and would — IMHO — attract younger readers. So it’s win win.

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What have CHVRCHES and Tupac got in common?

It hasn’t been the case in a while, but sometimes a song comes out and you listen to it on the radio or — these days — on SoundCloud for ages before it’s actually out. Well this is what I’ve experienced with the CHVRCHES’ new single Gun. I’ve been listening to it since the beginning of June! Put your stuff out sooner and quickerer please Mr. Branson or whoever’s in charge of the bizz these days.

I’m reluctant to like this band due to the fact that they are flavour of the month, but this is one of those songs that I listened to and immediately liked. I had the exact same experience with — you won’t see this one coming —  the song Ghetto Gospel by the once ubiquitous Tupac Shakir, a posthumous release in collaboration with none other than the bespectacled sexagenarian Elton John. I heard it on the piratic monstrosity that is BBC Radio 1, and before I knew it I was saying things like… “the music you were playing really blew my mind” and I started feeling like “everything went from wrong to right” (finish the line now).

The video to this song Gun is not very good, it can’t quite decide whether it wants to fully commit to the now passé MTV in the 80s look seen here: Two Doors Down – Mystery Jets and here: Rihanna – Rude Boy. So that it just ends up being a lower budget version of this: Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes.

It is also worth noting that the lassy who sings possesses what some writers might call eyes as big and as soft and as dark as ripe Caledonian Blaeberries. And she sometimes puts glitter on her face so that she looks like a teenage vampyre, only she is in fact Scottish and possesses the sensibility of a battery-operated collectible she-ghost from t’future.

Why does Stephen Fry feel like a Calvinist?

Fry writes in his second autobiography (The Fry Chronicles, 2010) of the countless acts of immorality that he commits on a daily basis. He claims that, ‘there is almost no moment in the day when I do not feel myself to be intensely guilty of numberless trespasses’.

He goes on to list a number of acts which he feels are against his conscience, ranging from drinking too much alcohol to not keeping in contact with his friends. He brushes these off as ‘pathetic little particles of plankton in the deep ocean of sin’ but cannot deny that his ‘feelings are as craven, cringing and confessional as the most self-abasing Calvinists in their most prostrate and abject furies of repentance’.

My immediate thought — of course — is that he needs the divine salvation found in the cross of Christ, but his answer comes swiftly: ‘I dont believe there is a god or a judgement day or a redeeming saviour’.

Why does the human heart insist upon rejecting the only person who can help us? We all experience these pangs of guilt. The reason is the fact we are fearfully and wonderfully made, but that we have broken God’s law.

I can pray that Mr. Fry’s life may be changed by the transforming power of the gospel.

The vilest offender who truly believes,
That moment from Jesus a pardon receives.

All You’ve Ever Learned From Love (Songs)

Some say love is a burning thing,
That it makes a fiery ring,
Oh but I know love as a caging being,
Just a killer, come to call from some awful dream.
Phosphorescent – ‘Song for Zula’

Some say love is just a four-letter word,
Of nothing do they need to be assured,
Oh but you say love is pain to be endured,
A disease from which you’ll never be cured.

Some say love is a losing game,
One that’s lost in the final frame,
Oh but you say love made you feel such shame,
It was something you never ever overcame.

Some say love, love is a verb,
Love is a doing word,
Oh but you say love is a noun (like turd,
Or curd or nerd); love is a flightless bird.

Some say love is all you need,
The bah barararah and all that proceeds,
Oh but you say love makes your hairline recede,
And that it will make your ears and eyeballs bleed.

Some say love is all around,
Your fingers and your toes it will astound,
Oh but you say love was the reason you frowned,
And made you feel like you were being drowned.

I think you should throw out your radio,
And stop reading Smash Hits.

Early Days with Spaghetti Bolognese

I always ate spaghetti bolognese really quickly as a child. I remember it was always a source of pride for me that I finished my spaghetti bolognese before everyone else finished their spaghetti bolognese. 

It was always a dish of choice at Golders Hill Park café, perhaps a continuation of the Italian theme that was fostered in their over-priced ice cream corner. 

There was an unfortunate story passed on to me from Wibsy which involved the involuntary regurgitation of said dish, and the distinctive element to the tale was in the resemblance of the spew to the meal that had been digested just a few hours previous to this ghastly event.

Finally, a reminiscence of Uncle G cooking spaghetti bolognese in our house (he didn’t live there). I remember being struck at the simplicity and effectiveness displayed in the production of the nosh. We went to the shop and bought a tin of chopped tomatoes, and before I knew it the meal was made. What a hero.

Scribe Scrawls Scribbles after Sad Soleil Scoop

Cirque du Soleil was in the news recently. Well, we went to a more amateurish (yet utterly entertaining) circus here in Aber the other day, and there were plenty of opportunities for death there! There was this huge murder wheel thing. The most frightening was an extraordinarily precarious balancing trick which involved being several feet off the ground whilst remaining on top of two flimsy plastic tubes, there was a football and a dinner tray somewhere in this mix too– all too much for my weak heart. Maybe it’s actually more thrilling to watch these less professional circuses because you know there is a real chance that they could die, (and it would probably only make the local press). Whereas I imagine those watching Cirque have quite a bit more faith in the spectated act.

I think it was my Granfer who had very little respect for any acrobat who used a safety net, and he had a point. There’s something in us that only gets thrilled when we know there is a real chance of death, we feed off the adrenaline, and the performers feed of the buzz they can see that they’re providing. Sadly Canada has found that this frisson can result in calamitous events.

Circuses are much safer places than they used to be though. Taid casually told us that he once saw a lion jumping through a ring of fire in London when he was a boy! That’s a circus.

My only experience of Cirque du Soleil is watching them in a silly film in which the characters get really freaked out by how freaky the whole freaky thing is, due to freaky fungus. I imagine that they would have freaked even more if any accident had occurred.

Royal Court Theatre & Vampires (a bite too far)

It seems new Artistic Directors always have to have a fresh and original new target audience. Seven or so years ago, Dominic Cooke was saying that he’d like to give theatre back to the middle classes. And before that there were plenty of attempts — such as Theatre Workshop — whose task had been to bring plays to the proletariat. Now Vicky Featherstone has found her prey… teenagers.

Why does the management of a theatre always have to bring in a new audience? Surely the only task of a theatre head is to commission good work and once that happens teenagers, common folk and the bourgeoisie will all come pouring in.

“Well it’s all good and well you saying that Mr. Brady, but have you thought for a second of the latent implications in what you’ve just said? What is this good work of yours, and how can it exist without an audience? Surely it makes sense to target a certain group if it means more of them will come to the theatre and experience it?”

Yes yes yes yes. All true. But look at the means by which they’re bringing the teenagers in, they’re putting on an adaption of a Vampire movie! That’s totally against the ethic of the Royal Court! It’s not new work! Where’s the new writing!? Come on! It’s what Britain does well! Films get enough airplay, they need no encouragement, and this one (Let the Right One In) has already had a Hollywood remake! Is that where the Royal Court is getting its artistic strategy from now? Los Angeles? What’s more, it’s a clear attempt to follow a fad, vampires are in at the moment, “let’s catch the Twilight crowd” that’s what they’re saying. That’s not what George Devine founded the theatre for, the Royal Court exists to buck trends, not be swept away by them.

“It might be good though.”

Oh pack it in.