Video Clips

Blog April 2009

I've started working on Eucharist with my 6th Year students. It's rather late in the year I know, but I'm trying to lead into the Graduation Mass and make it more meaningful. It's not easy to get attention at this time of year so it's a struggle. A few days ago I used a few useful video clips and these really did hold the attention of the students.
First off I showed the Last Supper scene from BBC's Passion - it's very down to earth and realistic but doesn't hedge on the Eucharist. I take it from the start of the washing of feet scene (around 3mins 15 seconds into the clip on left) and on to where Jesus and the apostles rise from the meal. Then I go to the post resurrection where Jesus meets the disciples on the road to Emmaus - Jesus is played by a different actor, which works really well I think, until they recognise him in the breaking of bread - the Eucharist scene here matches the Last Supper scene and showing the clips together effectively makes a point. For contrast I then showeed the Last Supper scene from BBC's Manchester Passion - (you can se the full video here - the scene is 10 mins 30 secs into this video) - it's a modern setting, with music, where Jesus uses a burger bun and a bottle of wine - sounds "off" but I find it serious and respectful. The song used is Love Will Tear Us Apart by Joy Division, which some of the students knew and even sang along with in one class!

Regular readers will know I look forward to the musical items on the show Spirit Level, the monthly religious magazine programme on RTE 1, and once again I wasn't disappointed. There were two soulful performers - Padraig Rushe, formerly of the Dublin Gospel Choir sang the catchy Free Now from his new album Greyworld, while Joseph Fitzgerald's best song was the haunting and unaccompanied "Deep". See it all at the Spirit Level website.

Recently I finished reading an excellent novel - Danny Gospel by American writer David Athey. It came highly recommended and I wasn't disappointed. It's a spiritual novel, but the touch is light, and it's not doing any heavy evangelising. Danny Gospel, the central character, has an interesting family background - part of a family gospel singing group, but a family that has known great tragedy. Yet the tragedy is blended with hope, and while at times the approach seems surreal and mystical there are no pat solutions. At times it's achingly beautiful and at times achingly painful, as Danny searches for meaning after the events of 9/11 leave a profound mark on him. I love books and films where the minor characters are well developed and this is certainly the case here. I came back every night to the book as I would to a good thriller, and have just started re-reading it and am enjoying it all over again, and hoping to make better sense of what mystified me first time around. It has been well received as the reviews on Amazon testify (and on Amazon, with the "look inside" feature you can even read the first 12 pages), and I'd certainly recommend it to Religious Education teachers for their own enjoyment and inspiration. Selected passages might also be useful for senior classes doing "search for meaning".

Oh well, I'm disappointed with the way the 24 series has turned out. I had hoped for more of a redemption theme (see previous entry) but when the new series started one of the first things was Jack Bauer defending his questioning techniques (i.e. torture!) to a legal hearing, and it was the investigator who was trying to combat human rights abuses who came across as the fussy one! In the second episode there was a corny scene where a young policeman driving Bauer said he thought Bauer was getting a raw deal. The only sop to a changing attitude was Bauer saying he wanted it all out in the open, so the public he was so patriotically protecting could judge how far they wanted him to go. The end justifies the means in 24 land! Ironically in another scene Bauer warns against the dangers of compromising on standards. He should take some of his own medicine. OK, it's still riveting drama, heightened by the trademark real-time approach, and the new female president (a Hilary Clinton look-alike) looks like a decent sort, concerned with human rights abuses in a fictional African country. Also, it's early days yet, or should I say early hours, so maybe things will improve.

The US drama series 24 has returned and started on RTE last Monday night with a two hour drama special to lead into the new series. 24: Redemption has been out on DVD for a few months, and the cover tells us that Jack Bauer has been working as a missionary in Africa, so I was intrigued, as Jack has been a rather ruthless anti-terrorist agent up to now, a bit of a fascist actually, torturing prisoners, even the innocent. As always it was a tense and riveting drama, but I felt they could have done more with the redemption theme. If anything, redemption comes for a friend of Jack's who is seems to be a missionary of sorts working with disadvantaged children in a troubled African country. Jack is helping out at the school, though whether to make up for his sins as one character suggests, or just to hide out from the American authorities (sleazy stereotypes as usual!) isn't too clear. The issue of child soldiers is central to the story and Jack certainly shows courage in defending them, but I can't help feeling that for the programme makers this is just an excuse, a plot on which to hang some vicious fighting and blood letting. Maybe I'm too cynical about this. I'll watch the new series for the drama and tension, and hope that the redemption theme is continued, but I wouldn't be hopeful that religion teachers will find much in 24 that they can use in class. Check out a video trailer for 24: Redemption at Amazon's page for the DVD.

Right, I learned a lesson this week - never do a prayer servivce on April Fool's Day! I brought a group of 1st year students to the prayer room for service leading into Holy Week and Easter. I was all set with my music selections and prayers, but it went pear-shaped. The students were unsettled for April 1st, and then started acting up because allegedly there was a spider in the room. It wasn't a pretty sight to see 1st years getting so agitated about a spider. I assumed this was an April Fool's prank and soldiered on with great difficulty. Later I returned on my own to the prayer room and found the remains of a poor spider - so maybe there was something in it. Anyway, lesson learned!