Spotlight, Outsiders & Church


Not enough has been written about the role of Liev Schreiber and his role in spotlight. Yes Ruffalo is great, Keaton outstanding and Tucci wonderfully manic in their roles but Liev Schreiber for me was the key role.

Schreiber plays Marty Baron the new boss of the Boston Globe. He is an outsider. His non interest in sports is the first red flag thrown in the film never mind his Jewish faith background in a city dominated by the Catholic church.  This however is the key to Baron he is not like the others and by being an outsider he does not hold the same ideals in relation to the church. While others on the Spotlight team profess to be ‘lapsed’ or ‘non-practicing’ it is the difference that drives him on. He does not hold the church in the same regard and therefore encourages the team to investigate the allegations when the team has reservations.

The outsider holds the key.

So what of the church today? How comfortable are we with the outsider?

How comfortable are we when someone not like us enters ‘our world’ and points out our flaws?

I saw a quote this week that got me thinking

“…we know when we are really preaching and living the way of Jesus because it’s the Christians that are often most offended….”

– David Capener

All too often, when challenged,  offence becomes the go to reaction. Outsiders are not afraid to let us within the church know when we aren’t getting it right. Yet we often take it badly. Offence is so often the go to feeling. Often that is because the truth is uncomfortable. The truth will push us outside our comfort zones.

Personally I’d rather be outside my comfort zone that have my faith stagnate. Without the challenges from outsiders my faith becomes a pointless character accessory that can be reduced to a social media bio point or degraded to a meaningless hashtag.

The outsiders are vital.

We are called to welcome the stranger, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the prisoner.

Yet when we are called on it we become uncomfortable.

We need the outsiders.

They might understand Jesus better than we claim to.





Second Coming: An alternative Christmas film


Every December we repeat fairly familiar patterns. Presents are wrapped, trees erected, cards and best wishes posted and, one of my favourite traditions, the circling/highlighting of must see shows and films in the Christmas Radio Times.

Christmas films have become part of the seasonal routine Miracle on 34th Street, It’s A Wonderful Life, The Muppets Christmas Carol, Elf & Home Alone have become part of the staple Christmas movie diet. Alternative options have also increased in their festive circulation, Die Hard, Gremlins, Rare Exports even Batman Returns. These alternative serving to satisfy those seeking more action, fantasy or even horror in amongst the family favourites.

However this year I want to suggest a possible alternative, something fresh to add to the established few.

Second Coming.

This small British film flew under the radar this year but really is worth seeking out. Screened at the Belfast Film Festival this year I missed out due to a scheduling clash but intrigued by the title I made sure that a copy was quickly purchased and I was not disappointed.

Directed by Debbie Tucker Green Second Coming tells the story of Jackie (Nadine Marshall) who discovers that she is pregnant. She knows it is not her husband’s (Idris Elba) as they have not slept together in months and she has not slept with anyone else. Therefore the question remains where has this pregnancy come from?

Playing with the notion of an immaculate conception in the London of 2015 raises so many questions. Could it really happen? Could your relationship survive the doubt and the questions that this news brings?  Could you survive the mental anguish that Jackie outs herself through?

The real treat is the ambiguity that Debbie Tucker Green applies. No clear answers are given and it is up to the audience to decide what has happened.

Second Coming is not a traditional Christmas film but it does have a little bit of Christmas within it.

Selma, Russell Brand and Me


‘I’m not doing it any more’ I said in disgust. ‘I’m not wasting my time voting when there is no one worth voting for!’ another comment I have made recently.

The reason for these and other statements over the last few weeks was that I was tired and disgusted at the state of Northern Ireland politics. The constant bickering, the sniping from the long grass at political opponents . The disrespect for other cultures in our country. Conscience clauses. They had worn me down.

Russell Brand and his mantra of don’t vote it is a pointless waste of your time, we the people can make the change around us and ignore the powers that be and live in some form of harmony outside of their control was starting to take hold and make sense.

I felt it was possible to love my neighbour, as I am commanded to do,  without the input from politicians who seem to have lost all regard for the common good. I don’t need them, they don’t serve us as they should so why waste my energy and vote for them was my logic.

Then I watched Selma.

As the film progressed I became more and more uncomfortable in my seat. Not only simply due to the depiction of the events  but more so the reason for the events in Selma.

Martin Luther King went to Selma to get something for his people that they were being denied. The right to vote. It was their entitlement made inaccessible because of the actions and prejudice of others.I have never been denied that opportunity. From the age of 18 I have faithfully and prayerfully gone to the polling station to do what I considered my duty as a citizen. My recent wobbles aside I believed that my vote was the one that could make a difference.

Selma reawakened that belief in me.

As I watched there was the uncomfortable realisation that not everyone here may have the right to vote. The many immigrant families, for example, who may never register or be eligible to register. Who speaks for them? Who knocks their door? Not everyone here has their voice heard.

The cry of the common good is that EVERYONE is taken into consideration, NONE are denied.

I HAVE to vote again. I have to try again to find that person I believe can do the best job for ALL communities, ALL people who live here.

To those that have already given up (which is  a substantial percentage in NI) I fully understand how you feel. The thing is this is bigger than us. Bigger than our own personal issues and gripes with the system. It may never work out the way we hope.

However if we don’t use the rights afforded to us it may turn out a lot worse.

I am not a film snob. I’m just looking to better my diet.


There was a time when a good old fashioned popcorn guzzling romp of a film was enough for me. However I think I may have changed.

I have just finished watching Dredd and during the course of the film I began to ponder why exactly I was not engaging as much as I used to with this type of film. It is after all a Friday night. An action film on a Friday night is a perfect fit after a working week right??

Well yes it is, let me be clear Dredd is not a terrible film but its just a very nothing film. When I mentioned I was going to watch it a couple of film friends on Twitter how great it was and how much I would enjoy it. So why did I not?

To be honest as I type I’m coming to the conclusion that meaningless action fodder is no longer for me. I can appreciate the cinematography and the direction in Dredd on a visceral level but that for me is all it holds. Its point and shoot rhetoric holds no draw for me. I spent a lot of time thinking it was comparable to The Raid with the main difference being guns instead of fists.

I didn’t enjoy The Raid particularly either I found it repetitive with its endless kick punch in a room to get the end of level storyline. My needs have changed. I want to be challenged. I want depth. I don’t want to watch something which is essentially an Xbox game played out in ‘real life’ that’s why I have an Xbox!

If it sounds like film snobbery its really not meant to be. What I’m trying to say is much like my journey of faith my ‘needs’ are now different and things have changed for me. The authors I read and listen to, the way I look at the Bible is totally different to how it was several years ago.  My views on certain things have in some cases had a complete turnaround. I want more, I want to go deeper, I want to be challenged.

I’m not saying Dredd or films like it are terrible at all. I am not a film snob (although I’m aware it sounds a lot like I am in this post). I’m just looking to better my diet.