Why do people call me ‘Rev’?

In the last few weeks as ‘Rev’ reached its denouement, several friends took  to calling me ‘Rev’. This was not just one group, but several and with no discernible connection between them. There seemed to be several reasons:-

* He is male, on the telly & a Rev. I am male, not on the telly &……a Rev

* He does his best, gets flustered, seems overwhelmed, falls short & frequently seems exhausted. OK, that is satire, but even I can see elements where there might be a crossover there….

* His rolling internal monologue, full of self doubt and ‘stuff’ bears some resemblance to mine(apparently). Whilst I do not tweet/facebook/blog along the lines of ‘Life is crap & I can’t cope’ (although I do sometimes feel like that), my social media output of questions, random articles & wry observations has some parallels. Perhaps.

I am still genuinely puzzled. I would like to think that, disillusioned by the standard Christian fare that I saw on social media in the past which I interpreted as ‘Ignore your doubts, live in the victory & only share certainties (anything bad happened in the past and you are now ‘delivered’ from it) that I consciously try and do something that feels more ‘authentic’. Maybe that has a ‘Rev’ parallel? But I can think of many others who do the same now.

As ever, I remain genuinelyconfused….



I rarely watch TV these days: there is so much to watch and I don’t know where to start. The choice is bewildering and life is too short.

One thing I make a point of watching is ‘Rev’ on BBC2. There have been a long tradition of ‘revs’ on TV: mostly as figures of fun: I think of Derek Nimmo types, Dick Emery types & Vicar of Dibley types. Few, to me, have any trace of gritty reality; ‘Rev’ is an exception.

Some Christians object to it as it is too dark and unrealistic. I have never quite understood this: it is comedy, it is drama & not reality. I also think that there are parts of the Christian subculture that are uncomfortable with darkness, loose ends and rawness, but that is another subject.

This series has been the best for me: there have been moments that the TV screen sucked me in and I could not look away. The one a few weeks ago on same sex marriage was incredible and the one on this week with its many Holy Week metaphors is some of the best TV I have ever seen. I was moved by the moment he met Liam Neeson, playing God.

I liked the way that God appeared as a down and out swigging lager, saying to Adam (Rev) :‘Hello; I like your dancing’.

I was torn apart by Adam’s honesty on pastoral ministry: ‘I’m trying to keep something alive, but I don’t think that I can do it”

And then, after a string of intentional cliches, God saying to Adam: ‘I understand Adam: I’ll always be here.’

No easy answers, no plan, no map, just assurance.

There are moments when TV transcends the medium: this was one of them. I am so looking forward to next week.

Sherlock/TV/Insiders/outsiders etc

I rarely watch ordinary TV much these days, but I could watch a film or sport any day. Mostly I don’t watch it as it seems so disposable (part of the point of TV, I guess). I did make a point of watching ‘Sherlock’: it was so good, it was hard to tear my eyes from the screen. The BBC seem to have hit on something in this series: less is more…. keep us waiting and then resist the temptation to produce too many episodes.

The press/blogosphere is full of reviews etc about this series and I have not the wit or intelligence to add to that. I only want to highlight an excellent article I read.http://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/tvandradioblog/2014/jan/03/sherlock-doctor-who-fans-influencing-tv

The article talks about how the series has been incredibly web/social media savvy- reacting and taking on board fan involvement to a degree rarely seen. Whilst the article praised the show’s creators, it also struck a cautionary note:-

‘The risk of this approach, though, is that the stories become skewed towards the smallest audience that any programme has: the obsessives. While any successful TV drama these days should generate fan fiction, it can not afford to become entirely fan fiction itself. Even shows as successful as Doctor Who and Sherlock should be aiming – especially given the accumulating publicity they receive – to introduce new viewers…’

….and here is the biggest danger for anything that requires any loyalty. In the quest to know more, to build a community of like minded people and to keep the flame alive, you forget the whole reason for why the thing existed: to introduce new participants.

I am involved in a lot of good things in churches at the moment that involve creative rethinking 7 looking at new possibilities. In all this, there are the constant dangers of ‘keeping things as we like them’ or changing/innovating so ‘we will like them better’ and forgetting that it is more about being open to new viewers….



Oddly prophetic

I rarely watch ‘Newsnight’ but caught it last week. I watched this section open-mouthed and genuinely grateful that my license fee enables things like this to happen.


Yes: he does not give a complete vision and you may be thinking ‘but will it work?’. But, in a western culture where politics seems to have become management, the rich get richer and large swathes of Western Europe have no engagement with any political process, this makes for compelling viewing. I was practically on my seat cheering when I watched this.

The more I see of Russell Brand, the more like him: passionate, inconsistent, lewd, funny and angular. Why is it a comedian proving more prophetic than a politician? Maybe it is because he has nothing at stake and can speak freely. Maybe we need the Shakesperian fool more often than we think we do.

The Gadget Show

So; it is school holidays here. We are a bit more liberal on the issue of TV; mostly because my oldest son creeps downstairs early and has a labyrithine knowledge of TV schedules- he has more knowledge of what is on when than the average 11 year old. This may be because we restrict TV viewing normally so he is lusting after what he cannot have.

Yesterday morning was ‘The Gadget Show’ (after yet more Top Gear). I don’t watch much TV; if anything I watch more films, so I had only heard of this programme & never seen it. It is the most evil & insidious programme I have ever seen; a whole 30 minutes (or more) devoted to the ‘latest’products. The products that we have to have if we are to be part of an imagined society. Cue amusing, yet expensively dressed presenters in their 20s/30s to give the (un) subtle message ‘you can be equally as hip and happening as me if you buy this’. And then some.

This week featured bungee jumping; also requiring travel to a far off place (more unsubtle pushing of ‘more is more’). The main focus was to test portable HD cameras. Afterwards, they gathered in the studio to compare what was filmed and a presenter said something like ‘Wow; you have recorded the experience; now you can keep it’. Fine, I suppose- I take photos and video clips. But; why does something have to be recorded on something expensive just so you can ‘keep’ the experience; isn’t it enough sometimes just to live the experience and savour the moment? For something to be ‘good’, ‘amazing’ or ‘OMG’ (a phrase I cannot stand !), it doesn’t have to be recorded on expensive product to make it better.

I don’t think ‘more is more’ will make anything better. And I wonder sometimes if we people of faith should be modelling more dependent communities and embracing downward mobility; not modelling ‘product’.