Video Clips

Blog September 09

Kings Episode 11- The New King 1: It's a pity they didn't do this as a two-part finale for the series - it would have been a heck of a conclusion. However there was plenty in this episode to satisfy. There was one scene I could see myself using in school with senior classes when dealing with issues relating to forgiveness/reconciliation. King Silas makes his son Jack go through a humiliating and grovelling apology for his actions during the dramatic trial scene conclusion in the previous episode. Obviously I'd see this a lesson in how NOT to do forgiveness! It would make an interesting contrast with the prodigal son story. Without giving too much away the romance between David and Michelle is in trouble, and no-one but Michelle and Queen Rose knows about the baby resulting from the affair between David and Michelle. The political machinations become even more twisted, with David threatened with execution and an assassination plot on Silas. The final scenes are high octane as the fates of the main characters hang in the balance as the political intrigues reach a climax. Roll on the final episode!

I've used U2's song Yahweh several times from the CD (How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb), especially when looking at religious themes in music. Then I found a beautiful acoustic version of it (video on left) from a U2 concert in Chicago. As Bono gets a mention in the RE book Know the Way I thought I'd play this for some junior classes. It has been a big hit with 1st Years - after the first playing of the clip I got plenty of requests to play it again the next day. One student said he'd started learning it on guitar and has promised to play it for the class soon! I never get tired of listening to it myself, though I have mixed feelings about U2. See the lyrics of Yahweh here.


Kings Episode 10 - Javelin: As I expected this was a very dramatic episode. The Americans do trial scenes better than anybody and the trial of David for treason was very tense. I was reminded of the trial of St Thomas Moore, at least as portrayed in A Man for All Seasons. David protested his loyalty to the king even as the king was part of the plot to get him condemned on trumped up charges. He remonstrates with Silas saying his only offence was to keep his affair with Michelle, the King's daughter, a secret - no sign of the affair itself being regarded as a sin! The concluding scene was one of the most dramatic scenes in the series so far. Again the scenes between Rev Samuels and the King are intense and really well written - at one stage he cautions Silas that David is becoming only what he is intended to be - presumable king at a later stage. "Don't give God reason to tear from you this kingdom", he also warns, suggesting his spiritual powers by causing a blackout in the store where they meet. But Samuels has been compromised by an incident in the past and Silas resents him taking the high moral ground now.

RIP - Mary Travers, Frank Deasy
Was very sad last week to hear of the death on Sept 16th of Mary Travers (left), of Peter, Paul and Mary, a folk group that sang and recorded together for five decades, producing a consistently high standard of great music. They popularised the works of Bob Dylan, recorded some of the best civil rights songs of the sixties and often included gospel music in their repertoire. PP&M - traditional standards like Sinner Man, All My Trials, Tell It On the Mountain, along with contemporary Christian music (CCM) like Hymn and Christmas Dinner - both written by Paul (Noel Paul Stookey) who had a solo career in CCM - he wrote The Wedding Song - There is Love. PP&M's album A Holiday Celebration is one of my favourite Christmas albums and I've often used tracks from it in school prayer services. See early video of PP&M here. More tributes and info at
Frank Deasy also died last week, on Sept 17th. He had been interviewed on RTE Radio 1's Liveline early that week about organ transplants, but unfortunately he didn't last the week. Frank was an award winning TV scriptwriter whose work included BBC's life of Christ The Passion from two years ago, which I reviewed in detail on the blog. His other work included Prime Suspect and this year's Father and Son.

Today I started on Patrick Kavanagh's A Christmas Childhood in English class. It's full of spiritual content. The poem will ring a bell with anyone who has happy memories of Christmas childhoods. The religious aspect of Christmas doesn't get short changed here: there are the "Mass-going feet", the "Three Wise Kings" are brought to mind by three "whin bushes" on the horizon, the cow-house reminds the poet of the stable of Bethlehem: "The light of her stable-lamp was a star/And the frost of Bethlehem made it twinkle". And in the imagination of the child "The light between the ricks of hay and straw/Was a hole in heaven's gable". Such use of light, common in religious poetry, also figures strongly elsewhere in the poem - the "stars in the morning east", "the winking glitter of a frosty dawn". Music mightn't have figured strongly in the original Christmas story (apart from the angels singing), but it is prominent here - from the actual music of his father who "played the melodeon", to the metaphorical "music of milking" and the sounds from the paling-post: "the music that came out was magical". But it's not just a poem of happy memories - some deeper philosophical issues are touched on. There is a sense of the sin that has taken the poet away from childhood innocence, and there is that link with knowledge and the Garden of Eden: "O you, Eve, were the world that tempted me/To eat the knowledge that grew in clay/And death the germ within it". He can recover innocence, in a way, by memory ("Now and then/I can remember something of the gay/Garden that was childhood's") and the poem ends with a flower image suggesting innocence: "And I had a prayer like a white rose pinned/On the Virgin Mary's blouse".

Back at school a week or so now, and it's tiring! We don't have Transition Year in our school this year so I won't be doing my religion and arts course. However I've written extensively on this in the blogs over the last few years. This year I'll be trying to use arts resources more consistently in my regular religion classes, so I should have plenty to write about. No doubt, also, I'll be coming across several religious themes in my English teaching. Patrick Kavanagh (pictured, left) and Gerard Manley Hopkins are on the Leaving Cert English course for the exam in 2011, as in Hamlet, so I'll have plenty to write about there. We started with Kavanagh's poem Shancoduff, not one of Kavanagh's most spiritual poems by any means, but it does have an odd Biblical reference - he says that if Lot's wife had been as "incurious" as his "Black hills" of Shancoduff, she wouldn't have turned to a pillar of salt! Kavanagh does tend to go for one-off exotic references.

Kings: Episode 9: Chapter One. A very scriptural episode you might say! While there are various interesting plot developments in this episode, the most interesting angle is the writing of the show's equivalent of Scripture. A scribe in the court of King Silas is writing the Book of Silas. David has been sent on a dangerous mission, to recover the charter of Gilboa (similar in appearance I thought to the American Declaration of Independence) and with him out of the way Silas wants to be the hero of his own story. David's plight is not the only example of someone being sent into dangerous territory, perhaps with a view to his convenient demise (what King David story does that remind you of?). However the writing of this particular scripture takes a different turn and we end up with the writing of the Book of David. It's fascinating and subtle. On the plot level the Queen and King are up to their usual machinations, abusing their power in secret, while often appearing magnanimous to the general public. There is an interesting discussion between King Silas and David's mother about David's destiny - a destiny that will not appeal to mother or king ("You and I will wish it never happened", she says to him). Ian McShane continues to chew the scenery as Silas - I'm be disappointed he's not nominated for an Emmy Award. Silas' relationship with God continues to intrigue - in this episode he again feels that he is not in God's favour (not surprising!) - he asks "Why does he reject all my offerings?". The dramatic ending of this episode, the arrest of David, promises some intense scenes to come.

Kings Episode 8, Pilgrimage: David joins King Silas on a "pilgrimage", but to his surprise it's a visit to Silas' lover - it seems he is rekindling that affair after abandoning it in some sort of deal with God (as he imagines it) to save the son he had in this relationship. David is not so forthcoming about his affair with the King's daughter Michelle, leading to major trust issues. Meanwhile the Queen is desperate to keep her son Jack's gay affair out the public eye, increasingly difficult after his lover tries to go public and commits suicide. Quite a potboiler. Of course the Bible stories on which all this is more than loosely based features lots of immoral goings on, but the moral perspective was clear, whereas in Kings the moral perspective is far from Biblical! David's affair with Michelle is, I think, seen in a favourable light (though the deception aspect of it threatens to cause them serious trouble), while a modern gay rights agenda seems more and more strongly to inform the story of Jack's difficulties. The lover who commits suicide is, to an extent, worryingly portrayed as a hero (even by Rev Samuels who presides at the funeral and is seen by many of the kingdom to have the voice of God), while Jack is tempted to come out of the closet - the programme seems to take the point of view that he should embrace his homosexuality.