Dreams part 2

Just last week I put up a post on dreams, centered on the Disney/Pixar movie Up and the main character, Carl, fulfilling the life long dream he’d had with his late wife. Yesterday I saw this advert for Under Armour, which has quickly gone viral internationally.

Misty Copeland is an American ballerina and a soloist for the American Ballet Theatre, one of the three leading classical ballet companies in the US. She is also the first African American soloist at the company. Her whole story is quite incredible, with custody battles, eating disorders and adversity because of her ethnicity. And Misty didn’t actually start ballet dancing until she was 13, when most beginners commence their training aged 5. Despite this she kept going, kept training, and eventually joined ABT in 2000, working her way up to soloist in 2007.

The advert has the narration of her rejection letters playing in the background…

Dear Candidate. Thank you for your application to our ballet academy. Unfortunately you have not been accepted.

‘You lack the right feet, Achilles tendons, turnout, torso length, and bust. You have the wrong body for ballet and, at 13, you are too old to be considered.’

According to the ballet academies she had applied to, just about everything about her was wrong to them…her body, her feet, her bust, her age….and so on. Some would have given up. Many wouldn’t even have attempted to apply. With all that was going on in the rest of her life, it would have been easy to understand why she would settle for an easier life, a straightforward career.

Misty had a dream, a passion she wanted to fulfill. And she worked and worked and worked at it, she focused, she didn’t give up on her dreams.

No matter what life threw at her, Misty knew what she wanted to do, and she worked at it relentlessly with a passion. The ad campaign is titled I Will What I Want. I’m inspired.

How hard are you willing to work at achieving your dreams?

Judgement Day – Hey Ref!

Have you ever felt unfairly judged, or that someone has made the wrong assumption about you? Maybe you’ve been quick to jump to conclusions about someone else, or in the heat of the moment you’ve said something you shouldn’t have, and now you’re not quite sure how to undo it. I know that I’ve done it, and I continue to do it…and the majority of TV soap operas and cop shows base their story lines on the premise.

This clip from Outnumbered shows Karen, their youngest daughter, taking it upon herself to referee a “friendly” tennis match with her dad and his friends. Karen judges according to her own understanding of tennis games (probably on a par with my football knowledge) while one of the tennis players takes it all a bit too seriously. The outcome, predictably, is hilarious.

Referee’s decision?

As we’re moving towards the end of another football world cup, there have been many refereeing decisions made about possible goals, the conduct of players and of course the infamous offside rule. To be honest, I have never been much of a football fan, so haven’t really been paying much attention to any of the matches…so I catch the edited highlights on the news each day. So to be seasonal we’re using the World Cup as a loose theme for our current series, this week looking at judgement.

God is the ultimate judge, and is often portrayed as such…smiting the heathens, frowning on our mistakes and ultimately testing us against his book when we’re before him on judgement day…do we go up or down? But our God is not a vengeful God…he doesn’t run around us, waving a red card and waiting for us to trip up. He judges with love and grace, and wants us to succeed.

Organised chaos

Without a referee, football would be anarchy (some may say it already is)! Without a moral referee, the world would be in chaos. Our moral compass is an argument for the existence of God.

God is perfect and holy, and therefore we will always fall short…but he made a way for us to be on the right side. Judgement is a good thing to help keep us on the right track, to help with our decisions, and to aid our direction. Through Jesus we will be judged righteously and ultimately be redeemed. No final warnings, no red cards, no dismissals. If God is on our side, who can be against us?

Is your view of God as a judgemental referee or as someone who is cheering you on?

Rik Mayall

Very sad news this week of the sudden passing of Rik Mayall. I grew up with the Young Ones (not that I was old enough to watch it the first time around), and that plus Blackadder, Bottom and The Comic Strip influenced much of my formative teenage years (which probably explains a lot…)

This is a clip from the Jackanory series that Rik did back in 1987, reading Roald Dahl’s “George’s Marvellous Medicine”, one of the most popular set of programmes they ever broadcast….it remains as memorable, astonishing…and proper Laugh Out Loud some 27 years later.

He will be much missed, and forever remembered as a Young One.

The Holy Police…

BBC 2 has been celebrating their 50th anniversary, and concentrated on 50 years of comedy programming over the past week. As well as the usual talking heads and clip shows, this they have commissioned some special one off episodes of classic and cult series with the existing casts and characters. One of these is The Fast Show, something that I remember watching avidly when it was on…amazingly it only ran for three years from 1994 – 1997. It was (for me) essential viewing and its ensemble of characters and catchphrases could be heard in many offices and pubs across the land…I know that I was guilty of repeating them on many occasions…as I possibly still do…(I recommend the box set for repeated viewing).

The Holy Police was a fast show sketch featuring many of the cast, Arabella Weir has lost her dog, and so goes to the police station to report it. And is greeted by three of the nicest policeman you could ever hope to meet…

Now you may find this sketch slightly irreverent, and clearly they are taking a very tongue in cheek view of Christians. But at the same time, from the outside looking in, we can look like this to many people. As we strive to be relevant in an increasingly secular society, much of our church language and actions can seem just like this clip. How do you explain being overcome by the Holy Spirit? Why do we worship the way we do? What is the big deal about Jesus? The Fast Show crew observed this brilliantly (I am sure that some of them must have had a church background somewhere….)

Why I am I rambling on about this…

We used this clip as a part of a series titled Christianity on Trial, which did just that. We set up a courtroom, had defence and prosecution, and presented arguments for and against church and Christianity, letting the congregation decide on the outcome. It was a really well received series, giving some history and insight into Christianity while also answering some questions and raising some others. The feedback from those that were there was great, and it led to inspiration and ideas for lots of future series.

Although it’s been a long time since I’ve sung Kumbaya, I no longer own a twelve string guitar, and I’ve never possessed a rainbow guitar strap, I can still recognise some of me in this clip. At the end of the day, if we can’t laugh at ourselves a bit, then something is going wrong somewhere. And I have found (as you will, if you continue to follow this blog), that humour can be uniting, disarming, and broad, so I use it often in most of what I do at EBC.

Be honest! Have you ever been “Christian” like this?!

The Friendship Algorithm

Now when you’re looking for illustrations or examples of friendship, where do you start? The Bible? Do you speak to good friends that you have? Or search out some friendship movies or books?

There was of course Friends, who were always there for us…for 236 episodes that are still on constant repeat today. Bill and Ted were great friends, Harry, Hermione and Ron stuck together through the whole of the Harry Potter series and beyond. Elliott and ET were great friends until ET went home…Buzz and Woody stayed together long after Andy stopped playing with them, Chewie and Han always looked out for each other. And When Harry met Sally they became more than just friends.

But before I show my age by revealing any more favourite movies, the obvious place to start is by looking at Dr Sheldon Cooper, as we all know how well he makes and keeps friends…

We are all big Big Bang Theory fans in our household, and as with so many of these series, while they are proper funny they also tell us some great stories about life, relationships and the day to day…that dare I say I can relate to possibly too often? Or maybe I shouldn’t say that.

In this clip Sheldon is wanting to make friends with Kripke so that he can use his super computer. But as we know, Sheldon (putting it politely) isn’t the best at relationships. So he does what all scientists do…he creates a friendship algorithm.

We are using this on Sunday as an illustration as to how not necessarily to make, or be, a friend. This is a precursor to the final part of our series, Not Just Sundays, where we are looking at accountability partnerships and prayer cells.

And if you’re really, really interested, someone has gone to the trouble of recreating the algorithm for your use/pleasure:

What about you? How do you make friends? And how do you maintain friendships?