Video Clips

Blog Archive Oct 2007

Got to the Cork Jazz Festival again this year. Went to the Blind Boys of Alabama concert in the Cork Opera House, and what a night! The support group was fantastic for starters. The Campbell Brothers performed some foot stompin', soul stirrin' black gospel music, with enough energy to light up Cork for a week. There was plenty of singing about judgement day and the morning train to take you there. A highlight was the praise song Lord I Just Want to thank You!, and slowing down the tempo a soulful version of I'll Fly Away, more commonly heard as an up tempo bluegrass song. And there was a cautionary tale - Don't Let the Devil Ride! This introduced as a "service announcement for Cork" - don't let the devil ride 'cause he'll want to drive! The Blind Boys of Alabama, singing gospel for six decades, received a great welcome from the packed theatre as they launched into spirited versions of gospel classics like People Get Ready, When the Stars Begin to Fall (a beautiful acapella version), Amazing Grace (to the tune of House of the Rising Sun!). There was plenty of banter and gospel exhortations between the songs, and the audience was on its feet for the last few songs - I'm a Soldier in the Army of the Lord was particularly good. After the encore the Blind Boys stayed on stage to greet the fans for a long while after. For both groups the message and the vocals were central, but both had the hottest of bands as well. See video clips page for a sample of the work of The Blind Boys.

Went to see John Michael Talbot in concert last night – at Mt Argus Church in Dublin. It was a beautiful prayerful experience. It seems he rang the parish priest and asked if he could do the concert there – an offer not to be refused! It was a short event, a very holy hour. I particularly liked his version of Make Me a Channel of Your Peace, and Cave of the Heart. The familiar favourites were there too, allowing people to pray/sing along. He didn’t say a lot on this occasion but I liked his words of introduction to a song from his new album – Come Home Little Children from the album Living Water (his 50th) called us to come home if we have drifted, from Jesus, from Church, from humanity. Sound clips from this album can be heard here. Great to meet some friends and acquaintances there too – thanks Yvonne for the guided tour of that wonderful church and its Saint Charles of Mount Argus exhibition.

Have been doing The Blessed Trinity with third year classes this week. One resource I used was the Insight video Jesus B.C. – where the Trinity is portrayed by three actors – an older man as God the Father, a younger man as Jesus (B.C.!) and a black woman (called Grace) as The Holy Spirit. It’s the only film I’ve ever seen that has portrayed the Trinity and it works some of the time at least. And it provides great ideas for class discussions. On the down side there is some silly squabbling between the Son and the Spirit – the American sitcom approach! In an early role James Cromwell (the farmer in Babe and recently on stage in Dublin in Long Day's Journey into Night) plays an angel who reports back occasionally from earth on some key events from the Old Testament. Today we had a prayer service on the Trinity. Our prayer room, designed by Fergus Costello, is especially suitable – we have a separate artwork on each person of the Trinity – and a single three-candle holder. For music I used Lord of Love by Michael Card and Charlie Peacock, which is a beautiful Trinity song from the Coram Deo album - great meditative songs by various artists and still available on – click here). For the Father I used My Father’s House by Amy Grant from her Legacy album, for the Son I used In Jesus Name by Randy Stonehill from the Lazarus Heart album, and for the Spirit, the catchy song Spirit by Sal Solo from his soft rock Rosary album Look at Christ (hard to find but well worth it if you do!)

Lots to report on from the last few days. First off it was great to meet some of the people who use Faitharts at the RE Congress in St Pat’s Drumcondra over the weekend. From keynote speakers and some workshops there was plenty of reinforcement of the idea that creativity and imagination are important in religious education. And there were quite a few artistic touches in the liturgies, especially the music.

Meanwhile, in class I’ve managed to use a good few artistic resources. Continuing the “Images of God” classes in third year I used clips from Oh God You Devil, with George Burns as a genial old God – I used the scene late in the film where the main character contacts God by phone! The Insight video Jesus B.C. has its problems but the scene where Father Son and Holy Spirit discuss what to do with the rebellious human race is a useful attempt (the only one I know of) to portray the Trinity – with three actors – the Holy Spirit is portrayed as a black woman! Martin Sheen’s portrayal of God as a cocky young man in a white suit in the Insight video The Walls Came Tumbling Down sparked a few interesting comments – I used the opening 10 minutes. Would have used the scene from Bruce Almighty where Bruce meets God for the first time (hilarious) but my copy of that has gone astray. Tomorrow I’ll complete this module with a prayer service, which I’ll write up soon as I’ll be using some appropriate music along with scripture readings.

Speaking of music, I have been listening to Beth Nielsen Chapman’s new double CD Prism. It’s a bit too much on the New Age spectrum for my liking, but there are some truly beautiful songs! Will post a proper review in the CD Review page shortly, just a few observations here. I heard her sing God Is In (Goddess In) on BBC’s Heaven and Earth Show and it keeps going round in my head. I think I’ll use it in tomorrow’s prayer service on images of God. It’s a simple but infectious song on the theme that God is everywhere. There were lines that might raise some eyebrows – “God is in those dancing pagans … God is in the atheist and all those things that don’t exist”. Irony or what? Prayers of an Atheist is intriguing – those prayers have the longest journey home. Be Still My Soul is a great aid to reflective prayer, and This Life That’s Lent To You makes a catchy end to the first CD. The second is a collection of songs and chants from many religious traditions. Veni Creator Spiritus recalls her earlier CD Hymns (see review) which were mostly old Catholic Latin hymns from her younger days. She’s doing a concert in Whelan’s Dublin on Fri 7th Dec – I’ve got my ticket!

Finally for today – I’ve started doing Eucharist with a difficult 6th year class. It’s tough going but today went reasonably well – as part of the build up to the meatier content I showed some video clips – first off the scene from Ken Loach’s Raining Stones (mid film) where an unemployed father tries his best to explain the Eucharist to his young daughter who is preparing for first communion. It’s a funny and touching scene, though some debriefing is needed – e.g. at one stage he tells her that you need to have had communion in order to get into heaven. And perhaps, watching the little girl’s puzzled expression, a student might get the impression that the Eucharist is impossibly confusing! I followed this with the Last Supper scene from BBC’s Manchester Passion – it’s respectful and quite moving I think, but it has a modern-dress Jesus doing the Last Supper in the streets of Manchester, singing Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart. Finally I used John Michael Talbot’s Live in Concert video – with him singing I Am the Bread of Life. His introduction to the song is worthwhile in this context also – about our commitment to the Eucharist . John Michael Talbot is also coming to Dublin – for a donation only event in Mount Argus on Saturday Oct 20th. See news page.

I've been doing Images of God classes again with Junior Cert Students - very enjoyable. Got them drawing pictures of God which I find a great discussion starter. Today I showed some clips of various portrayals of God in films and TV. Got good mileage from these: Charlton Heston as God meeting petty criminal Paul Hogan, from Almost an Angel, Bob Newhart as God in the Insight video Packy, and an early scene from God the Devil and Bob, where Bob first meets God in a bar. Great discussions on these, teasing out ideas of good and not so good representations of God. Think I'll do another class on this next week, as I have plenty more clips. After looking at images of God in the Bible I'll finish the unit with a session in the prayer room.