Christmas, Home Alone & Church

home alone church

It’s the same every year. The boxes are brought down from the attic/roof space, the tree is put together, the branches unfolded and my annual task of untangling the lights begins.

There is one box every year that I can’t wait to get into. The Christmas DVD box. As traditional as the tree itself we have a box full of Christmas DVDs  that are just for this special time of year.

Every year the same rotation, It’s A Wonderful Life, Gremlins, Miracle on 34th Street even Christmas with the Kranks (don’t judge me) are all there to enjoy.

Home Alone however above all others has become a firm family favourite. For starters be honest who hasn’t wished their family would disappear at some point? Kevin being man of the house slapping on some Brut and of course the chaos of Harry and Marv working their way through Kevin’s fun house.

There was one part of the film though that, particularly in my younger days, bored me. The segment in the film where Kevin goes to church.

This year though something changed. Something shifted. This year I watched what Kevin did and listened to what was said.

Kevin goes to church seeking refuge. He is missing his family, is afraid and needs some sanctuary. Unexpectedly he encounters his neighbour Old Man Marley and is shocked to discover the human side of  a man he has previously been terrified of. The realisation comes that Old Man Marley is also in church for refuge. He is in fact very similar to Kevin as he also misses his family. Estranged from his son Marley has to watch the choir practice as this is the only way he can see his grand daughter be close to his family. The refuge he seeks is from his past circumstances whereas Kevin seeks refuge from the present.

During the conversation Marley has the killer line following a misunderstanding with Kevin when he corrects him by saying ‘everyone is welcome at church’.

That’s why Kevin goes to church. That’s why Marley is there. They know deep down even with their problems that church is a place of refuge and a place of welcome to the weary.

I hope that this Christmas you find church (wherever that may be ) to be the same.

Shawshank, Paris & Hope


Hebrews 11:1 ‘Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see’

Over the last few days I’ve written, rewritten and deleted this post. What right does someone who blogs on film have to post something on Paris? I’ve wrestled with the events for days. I’ve been grumpy, downbeat and upset by every news report I’ve watched and I’ve pondered how to respond.

As a Christian the automatic response people think I should have is to open my bible and be reassured that God’s plan is perfect, everything is under control. The truth is though that at times like these those clip note verses just don’t get the job done.

That is one of the reasons I  started this blog. Sometimes a film shows me something of God that fumbling through pages of a Bible, searching for a nugget of wisdom or clarity just doesn’t do.

The events of last weekend have affected me. They have left me broken hearted. They have left me to question in truth what is the point of having a faith.

Then I remembered Shawshank. I remembered Andy and I remembered what he said about hope.

Hope might be the one thing I have left.

Hope that God is in the chaos of Paris and through his people is restoring, and healing the wounds left behind.

Hope that people see that God is not confined to pages of a book but is active around us in the smallest of things and the grandest of gestures.

Hope that in some way this insignificant blog post helps anyone else wrestling with this like I regularly do.

Why do I have faith in spite of everything?

Because faith is being sure of what we hope for and hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things and no good thing ever dies.



Pulp Fiction: Cinematic Grace


This weekend in Belfast the lovely folk of Pop Up Film Club are hosting a Tarantino weekender. It all kicks off tonight with a midnight screening of From Dusk Till Dawn, Sunday evening its Reservoir Dogs and on Saturday it’s my personal favourite Pulp Fiction (which is sold out).

The guys are promising a fully immersive experience each night complete with 5 dollar shakes, Big Kahuna burgers and even floor space to twist the night away.

It may seem odd for a blogger like me to plug a Tarantino weekend. Violence reigns in Tartantino’s work albeit in an explosive cartoonish way. However there is something about Pulp Fiction in particular that appeals. It may seem odd to say it but Pulp Fiction is  a film filled with the concept of grace.

Grace reigns throughout Pulp Fiction. Amid the body count, in amongst the violence, the drug taking and subsequent overdosing of Mia Wallace (A sequence that I still watch through fingers all these years later) and the cut and paster narrative there is grace in abundance.

Several of the high-profile characters experience a second chance. A second chance that for some characters we as the audience feel is undeserved.

Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) is rescued from her previously mentioned over dosed state.

Bruce Willis’ boxer Butch (having showed undeserved grace to Marcellus Wallace) rides off into the sunset on a chopper called Grace highlighting that grace is the vehicle for a new start.

Jule (Samuel L Jackson) inexplicably avoids being shot leading to an ‘epiphany’ for the scripture quoting gangster.

Grace however is unique. It breaks into the most unlikely of places. It upsets the norm. It make us uncomfortable when those we deem unworthy receive it.

Pulp Fiction is violent, it is without doubt difficult to watch in places but it may just be the best example of grace we have on film.