Blog March 2009
As for the
episode itself - of course you'd expect a rake of Irish stereotypes as
the Simpsons came to Ireland - and it would be churlish to complain. They
did it quite cleverly - having most of the Oirish clichés in Grandpa Abe
Simpson's flashback to when he spent great times on the Emerald Isle,
and so there were pints galore, dancin' in bars and cabbage on tap as
runny as the beer. So now as he returns years later (on a Derry Air plane)
all is changed as the Celtic tiger has transformed the land (this was
written last summer!) - Abe's favourite pub is empty, the owner (voiced
by Colm Meaney) can't even remember how to pronounce pub or pint, and
everywhere you look there's signs of dubious progress - we get glimpses
of the Hewlett Fitzpackard and Mick R O'Soft companies, and yupprechauns
walk the streets. As they tire of this new bland Ireland they are encouraged
to stay by a busker - yes, it was Glen Hansard from the film Once
in one of the funniest turns in the episode.
Today I was covering the theme of search for meaning in modern culture with a 2nd year class - I normally do this kind of thing with senior classes, so I wondered how I'd fare out. We looked at examples from music today and will look at film and TV next week. One resource I found useful in class was the music download site 7Digital - as I was referring to search for meaning, especially spiritual meaning, in the songs of the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Van Morrison, Bob Dylan etc. I was able to play clips of these songs using the preview facility on the site. Actually, necessity was the mother of invention as I'd forgotten my CDs! One student suggested Heal the World by Michael Jackson, but unfortunately I couldn't find it. Found it later though by first checking which of his albums it came from (Dangerous). I've found 7Digital a great resource for finding individual songs for class. They only cost around 99 cent, and many come in MP3 format with no digital rights restrictions, so they should be easy to burn to CD or transfer to memory stick for classroom use. I've rarely searched for a track in vain, and the sites includes a huge range of gospel/spiritual/religious music. You can pay per song rather than having to pay a subscription per month as with some download sites.
Have just come across a beautiful Stations of the Cross presentation online that could be used in class as part of the preparation for Holy Week. Stained glass artist Richard King produced this work which is available as an online slideshow - the pictures move on rather quickly so you may want to use the pause button. The original work is in Swinford Church. See it here.
Writer Christopher Nolan figured in religion texts in the 80's. Nolan had to write with his mother's help using a "unicorn stick" on a word processor, a witness to human dignity showing great creativity despite his disability. Unfortunately Nolan died recently. I came across a nice tribute to him from fellow blogger Raymond Arroya. Check it out here.
Yesterday I wrote about my Religious Themes in Drama module in Transition Year. I used many of the same resources as last year (check out the drama archive - link on left). One new resource I used when doing the section on animated drama was Give Up Yer Aul Sins - animated versions on Dublin youngsters from the 60's telling gospel stories. It went down really well with my students (15 year old boys). Fortunately this is now readily available on YouTube. The one I used, about the death of Jesus is the video on left.
On other fronts I'm doing the last days of Jesus as part of the 3rd Year exam course - we read the different scriptural versions and then after each segment I show the relevant clip from Jesus of Nazareth for the most part. I used the Last Supper scene from the BBC Passion, with Joseph Mawle as Jesus. When I get to the Resurrection I'll use that again as it presents it in an unusual way - with two other actors playing Jesus - to convey how Mary Magdalen and the disciples on the road to Emmaus didn't recognise him. For the arrest, trial and passion of Jesus the Robert Powell portrayal in Jesus of Nazareth is fine.It's interesting to see how the different gospel accounts are blended. The clip on left is of the questioning of Jesus before the Sanhedrin and also Peter's denial.
Have just finished doing the Sacrament of the Sick with 6th years. Among the resources I used were Hopkins' poem Felix Randal which shows in a very personal way the priest administering the last sacrament. I also played the song Now is the Time for Tears by Charlie Peacock from the excellent Coram Deo album - this is based on Job, and imagines a bereaved person asking his friends to grieve with him rather than try to fix him. Had also planned to play John Michael Talbot's beautiful Healer of My Soul but ran out of time.