Friday, 25 November 2011

New album, new website!

My new (and first) album of Christian music, "Hope for the world", has just been released and is on sale at Illuminate Christian book shop, Shrewsbury. If you're not local to Shrewsbury and you'd like to buy a copy, leave me a comment below.

It's an album of 13 mostly original tracks, with a couple of re-worked hymns and a Tim Hughes cover (with thanks to Kingsway, who let me use the track without paying royalties). Anyway, it's only £10, and all of the proceeds will go to Shrewsbury Youth for Christ.

To infuse yet more excitement into the situation, I've also just launched a new music website.

Monday, 21 November 2011

The King's Sp**ch

We recently borrowed a DVD of The King's Speech, which was rated 12 due to "strong language in a speech therapy context" (I don't think I've ever seen that exact criterion before). Anyway, the language certainly was rather strong in places, which made me feel a bit uncomfortable. However, it seems I'm in the minority.

For a long time I've suspected that most people are actually quite comfortable with just about all the words we refer to as "profanities", and now a High Court judge has ruled that there should be no law against hurling obscenities in public because people just aren't offended by them any more.

As a student of English Language, I find the whole issue of what's considered "bad language" fascinating. I mean why, exactly, is the word bottom less offensive than many of it's more concise synonyms?

There's also a difference between hearing a post-toe-stub cuss and actually being sworn at.

And then there's blasphemy - the worst of the lot, and yet tolerated to a much greater extent, especially on TV.

A while ago (2000), the ASA did a research project on swearing, which makes interesting reading. One of it's main components is a rank scale of the perceived severity of specific words (if you're interested it's on page 13. If you want to avoid reading it, it's on page 13). It also reveals that 38% of people think swearing is more acceptable on Channel 4 than BBC 1, among other delicious statistics.

Also, saying "Jesus Christ" is apparently more offensive than saying "crap", but not quite as offensive as "balls".

What do you think?

Friday, 18 November 2011

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

What's influencing you?

[First published in the Shrewsbury Chronicle 3rd November 2011]

Recently, in preparation for our ‘Rock Solid’ lunch-time and after school clubs, we performed an experiment on a jelly baby. Next time you buy a packet, try this out: take one of the sweets and plop it into a bottle of water. Leave it there for about a week. Slowly, the jelly baby absorbs the water until it becomes a grotesque bloated baby blob bobbing around in the bottom of the bottle (try reading that out loud). The point of all this? To get the message across to the young people we work with that it’s easy to soak up influences from our surroundings.

How often does a discussion about television, video games or the internet bring out a statement along the lines of, “it’s a bad influence on the children”? We are rightly concerned about the effect mass media has on impressionable young minds. As a child, I was a regular reader of The Beano comic. While I do accept responsibility for my actions, I’m sure it was reading the antics of Dennis the Menace that led me to put a drawing pin on Tom Poole’s chair during a maths lesson.

It may be true that young people are particularly vulnerable to the messages that creep out of our screens, but are we all keeping track of what’s influencing us? Saint Paul instructed the early Christians in Rome “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2, NIV). He believed that the attitudes of Christians should be totally different from the attitudes of the culture that surrounds them. That’s only possible if we allow God’s Spirit to influence us more than anything else.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011