I vaguely looked for opportunities on the (mystery) bus on the way home last week, but only got as far as asking the gentleman sitting at the back of the bus with his bright orange trainers on the seat if I could open a window (the idea is that Jesus asked the woman at the well for water, I was trying to ask for something and lead into a conversation), but the call of my podcast was too strong. I have often thought how much of a barrier to evangelism iPods are, you are visibly and sonically cutting yourself off from the world around you when you put earphones in. I was sitting in the wrong place too, next time I’m on the bus I must make sure I place myself within talking distance to someone.
I have a new proposal for the BBFC. Usually they say something like: ‘contains scenes of mild peril’ or ‘contains infrequent strong language and moderate bloody threat’. But I think that some of them should say: ‘contains clips from other films you may have not yet seen’ or easier yet: ‘contains spoilers’.
I was enraged to see that the Japatow film This is 40 shows the final episode of Lost multiple times. On top of that — I cannot confirm this due to the fact that by this point, my wife and I were shouting over the scene so as not to hear anything the blasted characters were saying — but they as far as I could see, they also discussed these crucial scenes extensively. This sort of writing, directing, producing — whoever’s to blame — is irresponsible, not funny and not cool!
Spoilers are inevitable in real life. For example I heard a Harry Potter spoiler in the toilet next door to me once, why there were two men in a cubicle discussing Hogwarts, I don’t know, but it happened. My brother once accidentally told me a Ryan Gosling spoiler, the stupid thing is that this was while he was complaining about people who have no regard for spoilers! But fine, these things can’t be helped in the hustle and bustle of real life, but in films!? Premeditated works of art!?
Look at 50 First Dates. In this film, they give away the ending of Shyamalan’s seminal, twist laden Sixth Sense. Bridesmaids shows important clips from Castaway in it. And I’m sure you can all come up with other examples. This is rife. Filmmakers, have some respect!
I will leave you with the story of a dear friend of mine who loves the book The Picture of Dorian Grey. He loves it so much that he has not read the ending, he thinks that by not reading the end, the pleasure he gains from the book will never end for him, that he will remain in the world of the book and that he won’t be closing the door on it by reading the resolution (I don’t really get the logic, but I respect the sentiment). He lives in a constant flurry of fear, knowing that his life could be ruined at any point by someone blurting out Wilde’s expertly crafted denouement.
I found this self-generated ignorance cave an especially humorous one to inhabit, especially when one day, along came a hip young Christian youth speaker, giving a hip young evangelistic talk. This guy wanted to reach his hip young audience by making references to the hip young author Oscar Wilde (I know, has he not heard of Jane Austen?), but as he did this, he described — in full — the ending of Dorian! It was not pretty.
Yes, due to the masses’ modern penchant for intermediality, I do believe that spoiler warnings need to be given by the relevant authorities, but must we also ask for these warnings from preachers too!? I do hope not.
The other night, as is sometimes my habit, I had half a something whilst waiting for the bus (there’s an establishment opposite the bus stop). I wanted to enjoy it with a podcast in my ears but then I saw a man sitting on his own on another picnic bench a few metres away from me. So I lukewarmly ambled over, and asked if he minded company, he said no. I told him I was working in the area, he told me he was a scientist and we then shared mutual mid-Wales contacts. That’s one nice thing about small town life, everyone knows everyone.
Then his mate came and sat with us, a builder. We got talking about wells—a point of interest on my current project—so the three of us are talking about wells, and I know I need to mention living water à la Ali Begg at some point, but I keep missing the chance (like when you play skipping in the playground and you have to jump in, but are too scared to)!
Then another bloke arrives and I recognise his face, starts chatting independently of me, then he introduces himself, I should have done so before that (for some reason I’ve got it into my head that only Christians introduce themselves and that unbelievers do things more organically. What!?) We realise that this third bloke has seen me in a play, he took a photos of us after the show. Although it becomes apparent that he thinks I’m someone else who was in another play that I was not in. I know this because he proceeds to tell the whole table that he’s seen me perform an explicit act on stage. I’m not the guy! Different play. Different scene. Oh dear.
And before I know it my bus comes. No Jesus mentioned. I regret the omissions, and the false accusations, but I value the contacts made, maybe something to build on. Tough stuff.
I realised the other day that a lot of married couples I know have been doing their weddings wrong. Many men and women think that the right thing to do is for the man to hire a suit and for the woman to buy her dress. Well… OBJECTION YOUR HONOUR.
Women, now hear this… you hardly ever wear your dress again after your wedding day, don’t deny it, I know you don’t. You look at it two or three times a decade and sigh. And maybe once at some juncture, say ten years, twenty perhaps, you get it out and try it on to see whether it still fits, and that ends in one of two ways… in tears or in ecstasy (“whoop I fit” or “argh I don’t fit”), neither of which is healthy. Then there’s the death bed dress stroke, when you have one last look at your youth in a strange reversal of the Dickensian spinster archetype. But that’s it! That’s it! That’s all the use your expensive garment gets!
From what I’ve seen, from my extensive monitoring, the groom rarely keeps his suit. This is not fair! If anyone is in need of a flash set of clothes, it is the man! We have weddings, funerals and job interviews to turn up smartly to. We could really do with having a posh three piece to jump into when necessary, but no!
Husbands have so few clothes. We hate buying them. We don’t know where our underpants come from, and we occasionally get given bin bags of someone’s cast off wardrobe which we gladly appropriate. Generally, nice clothes are rare for the average gentleman. Whereas that blinking white dress just sits in the cupboard, gathering dust.
I have been looking for opportunities to befriend people for the sake of evangelism in recent days. Inspired by Wifey reminding me how much we loved Uncle K and Anti Rh at our wedding talking to everyone. They also did it with Taid when they came to see me in Woyzeck. Inspirational, confidently and amiably befriending people, asking questions.
We were also inspired by Alistair Begg’s great sermon on the Woman at the Well and his other addresses on practical evangelism at the conference. Getting out there, “pushing through the pain barrier”. Oh it’s hard! (But what a message to be sharing.)
We tried it at this wedding on Saturday. Met a man who worked for a bus company, went to college with the groom, said he’d always had friends who were Christians, but they always ended up letting him down. The groom hadn’t let him down yet, “but we’ll see…” he said lugubriously. We were enabled to share the gospel with him. He believed in the man Jesus, and was very friendly, but not yet in the Kingdom.