Thursday, 23 December 2010

Sometimes 140 isn’t enough

Interesting Twitter experience yesterday. I read an interview with the writer behind the excellent T.V. series The Nativity which is being broadcast this week on BBC1. I was particularly struck by some of the writer’s comments and decided to tweet a couple of quotes with some interesting results. Here’s the quote that caused a bit of a stir:
tweet jordan1
Immediately some Twitter friends, mainly male clergy it has to be said, responded with amazement that Jordan had come up with such a profound insight. The Jordan they had in mind was the ubiquitous celebrity Katie Price not Tony Jordan the scriptwriter. A previous tweet had included the full name and a link to one of several interviews Tony Jordan has given about his experience of writing Nativity, but for this message I ran out of characters. Twitter only allows 140 character messages and sometimes that just isn’t enough.

Anyway the interview in The Telegraph is well worth a read and in it Jordan comments:
"If you accept that Jesus is Son of God, why would you not believe that Mary was a virgin, and that God must have had some hand in the impregnation.
''Quite how – whether it was a whiff of steam that came through the nostrils and into the semen, or whatever – is beyond my comprehension, but to me, as a sequence of events, it makes perfect sense." That's a big "if" he's starting with. I thought he wasn't religious. "I have a distaste for organised religions," he corrects me, "because they tamper with stories, add a bit here, take a bit off there, and then start killing each other because the other one doesn't agree. The only thing I know for sure is that the words I read as coming from Jesus Christ are the most truthful thing I have ever heard. As a blueprint for mankind, it is so smart that it couldn't even have come from a clever philosopher. Who would have been smart enough to say 'He who is without sin cast the first stone'? Wow! That's pretty cool."
Several people have drawn attention to Jordan’s more negative comments about the church in his interviews. I think we need to listen and hear how the church is perceived by those with a genuine spiritual yearning who nevertheless don’t see the church as a home for them.
“I have a distaste for people who say to me if you come through these doors, walk down this aisle, sit on that wooden bench, and sing these hymns in this order, I have got God in a little bottle under my pulpit and I'll let you have a look," he says. "I don't think was God's intention.”
Tony Jordan is right, this experience of the church is not God’s intention and if this is all church is then I want no part of it. Jordan’s observation is sobering and challenging.

But I wonder whether this is a rather safe caricature that some people employ to avoid some of the harder aspects of being a follower of Jesus Christ. Being a Christian involves a change of life, abandoning one’s own priorities and values and seeking to embrace God’s love and purposes for the world. Being part of the church, the body of Christ, means learning to love and serve one’s sisters and brothers who are also followers, even with all their faults. The ‘blue print for mankind’ that Jordan speaks of, calls on us to dedicate ourselves to proclaiming God’s Good News to those around us by our words and our actions. It means patterning our lives not just on Jesus’s teaching but on his life, the beginning of which Jordan so powerfully and creatively celebrates in his writing. This is much more than a message in a bottle, it is a life changing challenge.

The one who said ‘He who is without sin cast the first stone’ also said ‘Follow me’.


BanksyBoy said...

Oh dear, does this mean that some male clergy still live in the past? ;-)

I've just posted a Keane song linking to thoughts on the Nativity production which I'm lovin' too...

Philip Ritchie said...

Loved the Keane video. I think our blog posts passed on the digital highway!

Jonathan Evens said...

I posted comments made by Jordan (Tony!) to Christianity magazine at They include helpful clarifications of the reasons why he dislikes organised religion and of the way his faith changed as a result of writing 'The Nativity'.

Sue D said...

I've just sat through the whole of The Nativity on iplayer and think it's brilliant. Interestingly it reflected a lot of the discussion our Advent group had about how Joseph and the village would have reacted to Mary's pregnancy! Was all the astrology about the conjunction of the planets true? That was new to me.
It's interesting how different ages find different things difficult to believe. Anything with at least a pseudo scientific background we tend to believe - a bit like the government trying to research and improve people's happiness - and then we have trouble with a virgin birth. Mind you, I don't see why the Holy Spirit couldn't have been involved even if Joseph was the physical father....