Les Fils de Shamgar

Swinging the Ox Goad in Birmingham, Southgate, Chessington, Sevenoaks, Boston and Brighton.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Speech of the Penguin.

I am currently banned from posting anything until you guys post at least three items. Mrs Tata is concerned about the effect my dominating posting is having. Fair point. Anyway - hopefully she won't find out before you have had a chance to look at the next EN draft. Epilogue courtesy of Old King. There will be a credit.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Hark the Herald Angels Sing!

Happy Christmas boys! May you all know an ever closer walk with the Lord in the coming year.

Friday, December 23, 2005


The biggest misconception about Hinduism is that it is possible to speak about Hinduism in general as though all Hindus believed and practiced the same things. Perhaps the second biggest misconception about Hinduism is that one cannot make any general statements about Hinduism at all. The truth is that, even though no statement about Hinduism may be universally true for all Hindus, there are certainly beliefs and practices, such as karma and reincarnation that most Hindus share. A particular misconception by Westerners is that Hinduism is essentially pantheistic. Even though it is the case that many Hindus believe in the identity between an impersonal God and the universe, many Hindus (possibly the majority) would be more accurately described as theistic, viz. as believing in a personal God who is not identical with the world. Along that line but going in the opposite direction, a fourth misconception is that Hinduism is polytheistic, promoting belief in many separate gods. Now, obviously, Hinduism has a plethora of deities (popularly represented as 330 million); however, we must be aware of the fact that for many Hindus these are all manifestations of either a personal or an impersonal God. So, it is generally fair to describe Hinduism as polytheistic, but only if we keep in mind that for numerous Hindus, all the gods emanate from the same fundamental deity. Finally, a very popular misconception, stemming from the fame of Mahatma Gandhi, is that Hinduism is essentially pacifistic. This is not the case; Hinduism recognizes the Kshatriyas, or warrior, caste and recognizes the right of society to defend itself with arms if necessary.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

All is quiet on the blogging front.

I thought I would at least acknowledge that. I also thought it worth noting a couple of mp3 links on the dhsbeliefs.com website. Both are about 18 meg downloads. The first is a set of interviews conducted with parents - there are a few laughs in there if you're broadband bored. The second is the soundtrack to a DVD I have just produced for a unit on Hinduism with 14 year olds. Obviously there aren't the pictures to enjoy (and trust me there are a few ripe moments there) but it will give you a few interesting insights into a Brummy Hindu. Laters and enjoy the rest.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Some new sites to look at.

UPDATED: I know these didn't work earlier (I tested them on an XP machine) but can you try them again? epiloguetv.co.uk saamvisual.com

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Penguins and Apes.

Intelligent Design Evangelism? So anyway - after all the fuss being made by both anti-christian friends of mine and the media and pro-creationist groups in the UK/US I went to see March of the Penguins with Mrs Tata and a few buddies. It is one of those situations (Narnia included) where lots of different groups have almost hi-jacked the situation with their own agenda. In this case, many are saying that it points to 'Intelligent Design' and others that it proves nothing etc etc. You know the sort of thing we are talking about. My initial reflections are:

  • I should have been more amazed than I actually was. The penguins travel 70 miles and then repeat the process several times to feed (in breaks of between 2-4 months) while juggling the raising of an egg/baby penguin in extreme conditions. There is a mass of penguins that look identical but apparently find each other with sounds alone and reunite in a seemingly powerful example of monogamy. They huddle together in a massive bunch while protecting the weak. That sounds amazing, right? Why was I moderately involved? I reckon that this might be one of those situations where I end up being shot down - like when I was bored by Touching the (dull) Void (a similar situation in many ways: ice, documentary, important life issues and a really dull handling of the subject matter when it could have been great).
  • It was too mediated for it's own good. The expository* voiceover by Morgan Freeman was too much for this viewer. I didn't really like being told the whole time what to think. To have a weeping woman on one arm who was responding to comments like 'for the mother the joy is indescribable' (I think they call that a projected anthropomorphism) was getting me down slightly. Weirdly, the end credits were probably the best part - they had clips of the filmmakers wandering around and among the penguins - usually this personal stuff is excluded from the film because it is 'better' to have an unambiguous take on reality that is simply delivered to us the viewers with no reference to how it actually got there. I don't agree. I want to know about the people who got their asses frozen off filming the stumpy wobbly birds...
As far as the whole Intelligent Design debate is concerned, I think it is one of those tricky situations where the gospel is in danger of being forgotten and a more general theological position is adopted. I suspect that the US in general wants to adopt a general nod-to-theism view without the specifics of the gospel to muck it up. Even if someone comes to see a film like this and accepts that there might be 'something out there that made it happen' what's new? Romans 1 and Psalm 19 are pretty clear on this being available for free (without the price of a cinema ticket!). To think that Christians are 'using' this film to convert people makes me cringe somewhat because it seems to be an unintelligent bit of evangelism. There is value, sure, but isn't it better to focus on Christ alone? I was imagining that bit in Matthew where Jesus talks about the end verdict of 'I never knew you' after people did various miracles and exorcisms. Imagine the same being said to people who converting hundreds to 'Intelligent Design'.

*Ironically (in more ways than one) also called the 'voice of God' convention in filmmaking/media circles.

Monkey Magic? I saw Kong and here is what I think in a very short paragraph. The ape stuff is incredible. Wow. Really moving interactions between Serkiss and Watts. There are several sequences which you have to see at all costs (I wont say which because if you are going you might want to say what you liked in the comments without me spoiling it for you). There is a lot of stuff which I wasn't particularly moved/interested/motivated by - the story feels impoverished somehow. There are lots of things which can't really stand up in any way to LOTR. Mind you - should they ever? As a standalone action film it is good. Probably too long but worth it overall. It is hard to watch it without comparing it to LOTR and therein lies an interesting discussion. Laters.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Multiple Shock Homicides.

1. We emerged this morning to what should have been a very peaceful breakfast time. A very depressed member of the community was pacing to and fro. At first we couldn't understand why she had been sleeping on top of my mobile phone on the dresser in the bedroom but things would soon become clear. 2. A member of the local indigenous population was discovered soon afterwards. 3. It was clearly a case of murder. 4. We will spare you details, but people were very stressed by the ugly site of this poor departed one. 5. Minutes later there was a further shock in the bathroom area. This was getting very fishy. Only it wasn't fish. 6. Another dead person. 7. This one had had it's guts literally torn out in what must have been a murdering frenzy of almost psychopathic proportions. 8. Suspects are being questioned. We are appealling for more witnesses.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


Dear Boys, Mrs Toon and myself fly later today to stay with Unpainted and sprogs for just over two weeks. We will, however, endeavour to keep you posted and keep an eye on the Blog. Thank you, once again, for allowing blog privileges to this senior gentleman of Northern extraction.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


UPDATED A FINAL TIME: please please please give it another go. UPDATED: this should work now, according to the experts. Please try it...? Yeah, this is a little project which is currently being worked on. The lovely thing with mac computers is that you can buy this software for about 20 quid and do sites like this with very little problem. It has given me faith in the web design system again.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Kung Fu Hustle.

Very good indeed! Really strange and ultra slapstick. Not really one for the non-violent ladies, but very interesting. Plenty of matrix-style stuff but a few really strange/interesting and weird moments that make this well worth the visit.


Yeah, this is a little project which is currently being worked on. The lovely thing with mac computers is that you can buy this software for about 20 quid and do sites like this with very little problem. It has given me faith in the web design system again.

Banarnia and Kong-crete offerings...

So then boys and girls, lets talk a little about the Narnia offering and finish with some Kong materials I think you should enjoy. Narnia I went last night with some friends in an - admittedly - exhausted state. In fact I was so tired from the week that I cried several time during the film. Here are my thoughts - skip this if you don't want to be spoiled pre-viewing. Overall 6/10. There is a lumbering quite slow pace to the film but it has many good moments. It isn't great but I did get emotional a few times when I thought about Jesus as Aslan. Some moments where people talk about him and say things like "Is he as great as they say...?" took my breath away because it connected with that huge longing you get for seeing the Lord. I was helped a few times by the embedded allegorical stuff. The kids are far better than Harry Potter and I didn't mind the CGI although it felt substandard somehow. I am actually amazed at how 'christian' the whole thing is. Unfortunately, unless you are a child you may not watch it again because it seems to foul up slightly on that age-old media sin of trading off of the inheritance rather than putting pure quality on the table. Kong looks like it will do that very thing. And while I am at it, you might want to check out this reference. Mark Kermode has a regular Friday film review section that can be automatically downloaded through itunes podcast menu (broadband permitting, Bane) or directly from that page. The current edition has an EXCELLENT interview with Andy Serkiss about the Kong/acting method. Really interesting. Plus there is a surprisingly generous review of Narnia. What I like about Kermode is that although he occasionally disappears into his own bottom in terms of being into horro films (and using the word 'visceral' too much) he has a family-perspective that comes out quite often and is an intelligent critic. I like to listen to people who talk about films in a way that helps me on a creative level. Enough said. Enjoy.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

More google video.

Unpainted: I'd rather light a candle than curse your darkness.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

King Kong.

Excited? Manipulated? Worn out by Narnia anti/pro propoganda?

My favourites so far

I don't know if any of you chaps with broadband have had chance to explore the google videos that Tata made us aware of but here are my favourites so far....thanks Tataboule! Tom Cruise Kills Oprah Chinese back street boys Stupid dog

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Two guys chilling in their new homes.

How does this look to you? I am about to send it to EN and wondered if it communicates okay. I have backed off from the specifics of dealing with pensions and went for something more generic. Any feedback will be helpful. Some churches have been getting in touch and asking for permission to reprint my cartoons in evangelistic literature and I thought that this might be one of those. Anyway - no more waffling. x

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Pensions and gospel inheritance.

Once again, I just thought I'd throw my hat into the ring again and ask for any fruitful reflections on the pensions stuff that has been dominating the news so far this week. 1. Certainly it is a perplexing situation and one feels vaguely anxious as a 30 something about what will happen. What about you old folks? As a teacher we get a decent-ish pension but what if I ever did 'full time' like the rest? 2. Is it one of those 'this is just the age we live in' type situations, or is there something else to say? Actually, am I just being crazy...? 3. One initial thought on this situation is that somewhere someone is going to be feeling cheated/anxious or worried about what will or won't be left to them pensions-wise when the time comes. I am guessing that there is something here about not being able to wait for things etc. 4. What are the important questions an evangelist should be considering when dealing with this issue? What can one say/do/think/discuss without appearing to be hijacking an important issue with an even more important one about entrusting something to the Lord in the future? Man the garble above is a true reflection of my mental energy this evening. Good night.