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Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Hindsight and being 'stuck'...

This post is probably a little bit depressing, but I'm in that kind of mood today, so with that in mind, read on...

I've just in the last few days sent a job application in, that I've since realised could have been better.

It's also made me realize something about my personality, in that I've always wished I was one of those quick-witted people who can just pull a one-liner out of thin air, or always apply themselves when they need to.

I have the ability to realise just after someone's said something, what I could have said, usually long enough after the conversation to not warrant saying it, as the opportunity has gone. Usually the reply I think about afterwards in my head is brilliant, witty and has just enough sassy to sound great, but by then the moment has gone!

After sending my application in, a friend reviewed it, and he gave me some feedback, and I knew what he was going to say before he said it. His constructive criticism was bang on. I knew it, so why didn't I do it?!

It's the kind of frustration I live with in my own head, always feeling smack bang in the middle of things, not quite dumb, but not super intelligent either, not quite on the left, but not quite on the right either; not, not, not...

I'm not where I feel I should be as regards my aspirations, personally or career-wise. In terms of life, I feel stuck, and I'm not quite sure how to get out of where I am. I feel sometimes like I'm just one big advert for apathy.

I guess there's nothing really to be done at the moment other than get my head down and work at things, but I do feel tired. Tired of the way things are, and wanting things to change.

That's living in hope I guess!

Monday, 8 April 2013

Margaret Thatcher's Death - an opportunity for Discipleship?!

Ok, you may be wondering about the title...

A few pointers before I start:

1. I am not and never have been, a Tory supporter.
2. I disagreed with all of Mrs T's policies when she was in power.
3. I totally disagree with Tory policy currently.
4. I'm not sure where I am politically.
5. I'm certain of one thing: NO political party has it all right!

All that said, I have to speak out today.

I find following Jesus VERY hard. I've been doing it, (I realised last night due to a question I was asked), for nearly thirty years!! I met Jesus when I was 9 years old, and have been following Him and His teachings since then.

I'm not brain-washed, I'm not an idiot, though there are PLENTY of people in the world grossly more intelligent than me, I can assure you.

I find following Jesus very frustrating and offensive to my own heart at times. Why do I say that?

I say that because Jesus' demands on my heart are total. The hardest and most demanding thing of me He asks, above everything else, (and there's plenty of demands, trust me!) is to love my enemies. According to Him, and the Bible, that is the way of a Disciple, someone who associates themselves with Him, and the entirety of His teaching.

No-one's death is a good thing, no matter who they are. (Yes I realise that's an offensive thing to say). When you come down to the essential core, the kernel of being a follower of Jesus, you find out that God's love, shown through Jesus, IS offensive.

It's offensive to all people, whoever they are, because it asks us to go against our most primitive, tribal nature as human beings. According to Jesus, there is no 'other', or 'them' if you're a follower of Him, because he asks you to Love those people who wind you up the most, who really get under your skin, who oppose everything you passionately believe in. He asks you to love your enemy.

So please stop 'celebrating' someone's death because you didn't like them or because you disagreed with their ideology or view of the world, or the life they lived.

A disciple of Jesus does not hate, does not delight in evil, keeps no record of wrongs. Sound familiar?

That's God's definition of Love, it should be ours.

Now THAT's offensive.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Humour and Subversion in the Book of Jonah... (Part I)

I've been listening to a series of sermons on Jonah recently, (by Mars Hill Bible Church) and while a lot of things stood out to me that haven't before, these two subjects above almost kicked me in the face as it were!!

If we have a VERY serious view of the Bible, we can read it without thinking or noticing the humanity of the authors of specific books at times. yes, I believe the Bible is the Inspired Word of God and all that that means, but I also believe that the writers of each book left their mark of humanity on it also. God used hundreds of different people to write the Bible, and their personalities and idiosyncrasies at times come through the texts. Inspired doesn't mean 'Dictated' and if you think it does, you need to look up the definition of the word...

Anyway, I'm digressing...

So, I'm going to go through the particular verses that stood out to me during my listening. All quotes are from the NIV Bible (My apologies if you don't like that one, but it's the one I use and this is my blog so hard luck!)

Jonah 1
Jonah Flees From the LORD

1 The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” 3 But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD.

Jonah is asked by God to PREACH against the city of Nineveh but doesn't want to. (make a note of what exactly he was commanded to do, because it becomes very important later)

We're not told why Jonah does this, just that he does. (again that becomes important later too)

Jonah wants to run away to Tarshish. Here's where it gets interesting...

Tarshish - most Scholars think that it was a place in Southern Spain, very far away in ancient terms, and with a very moderate climate, palm trees, etc. So Jonah figures he'll go to paradise to escape God??! :-) (Joke No.1 of the author) Can you imagine if the story had been different, and Jonah got there, lazing on the beach looking round saying "ah, look at the sand, the sea, the warm breeze, my suntan, God isn't here...!" Not likely!

Apparently, the Hebrew construction of the sentence 'After paying the fare...' indicates a lot more than that, it also conveys the suggestion of paying a lot more that a normal fare and in actual fact the suggestion that Jonah chartered the boat for himself... Wow, that's a man of means hey?! He uses his resources to flee from God. (or so he thinks!) It's not just a case that Jonah is fleeing God, it's that he's using his OWN resources to do so. He thinks he can use his own wealth to escape God's call on his life, but this is not the case as we soon learn...

4 Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. 5 All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship.

The crew of the ship are very cosmopolitan, representing many cultures and nations and religions, they would be classed as 'heathens' or 'gentiles' in Jonah's mind. They all do what they know they're supposed to do in a crisis: they cry out to their gods. Nothing happens, so they start to panic and rely on their own common sense to lighten the ship and make it more buoyant. The author hear is trying to make a point, as we'll see from the second half of the verse:

But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. 6 The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish.”

It's interesting. The man of God, Jonah, is asleep below deck, and is woken by the heathens and is asked to pray to God! In their desperation, they recognize that they need to seek Jonah's God, as there's a possibility they could be wrong in their assumption of which deity (as they saw it) is in charge! They show humility, the exact same character that God wanted from Jonah, that he didn't show!!

Here's where some more subversion comes in: the ones that are classed as heathens even in their ignorance of Jonah's God, display a confidence that his God will be compassionate towards them. The man of God who's supposed to know God, shows no such willingness!

Friday, 1 April 2011

Employability After Christian Retail 'Experience'?

I honestly thought (naively I now realize) that ten years with Wesley Owen would have made me more employable than I am... I guess they were just too small (in the big world of retail) to give me any 'real' experience... (according to every single employer that I've applied to for jobs anyway). Apparently managing a £250,000 annual turnover shop is worth absolute zero to employers... Which means I wasted ten years of my life!! (in terms of job experience anyway). 

Today I was told that I wasn't 'suitable' for the role I was applying for (A DEPUTY Manager), but that they would keep my name on their books in case any Senior Sales/Supervisor roles came up 'in the future'.

I realise Wesley Owen (as was) and even STL was a small fish in the big pond of retailers, but I honestly thought my experience with them would have counted for something. Literally every single management role I've applied for has turned me down because the shop I was in and the staff team I managed was too small. 

I understand the reasoning, that I was in a 'niche' market, but what happened to the 'speculate to accumulate' method of recruitment? Surely there must be some Employers out there who can see past mere numbers and look at breadth of experience??

I'm very, very frustrated by employers seeming lack of vision at the moment in terms of recruitment. I know it's a hard economic climate, I know sales are hard to come by, but surely this obsession with quantifiable numbers won't get them the staff they ultimately need? Staff who are loyal and hardworking, and committed?

I find it funny the number of companies who have in their profile things like 'work/life balance' and 'our staff matter', etc, but who prove by their decisions that all they're concerned about ultimately is the bottom line. I understand in retail that that's very, very important, crucial even, but surely you want good staff, not just people who can make a buck?

I'm a bit dissalusioned at the moment, after over 600 jobs that I've applied for since July with no success. I just don't understand why no-one will even consider me. I never thought that I would be at Wesley Owen until I was an old man, but I never realised in terms of employability how much time I was wasting when I should have been applying for other posts during all that time that would have given me the 'right' experience, in terms of other employers anyway.

It's very frustrating and soul destroying.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

The Weather Man

Just watched this and thought I'd do a review.

Definitely post-modern in it's thinking, this depressing film goes for realism in a big way, by looking at the life of David Spritz, (Nicholas Cage), a Chicago weatherman separated from his wife and kids who negotiates his misery and tries to reconcile the disparate parts of his life. With the help of his father Robert, (Michael Caine), whose approval and affection he constantly seeks, he tries to be a better person and miserably fails, whilst trying to support his father through diagnosis of a terminal disease. His father is a prize-winning author and journalist now retired who's shadow David tries to live up to.

The film's narrative is understandably slow as it follows the minutiae of David's life, from hope to hope as he tries different tactics to be a better father to his two kids and reconcile with his wife, grabbing the new opportunity of a job offer with a major network to try and solve his problem of absence.

Basically, all these attempts fail and the film ends depressingly with a 'there you go then, that's life' kind of conclusion.

I don't dent that sometimes life is like that, (after all I'm living that at the moment in some ways!) but I found it depressing that there seemed to be no redemption for the main character in anything, and he resignedly admits there's nothing he can do. It was a depressing take on how empty life can become if your life is your work I guess, and a pointing to what sometimes is an embarrassingly male phenomenon of 'lack of presence' or 'lack of attention'.

In the film every other character is seen to lack interaction with David, real meaningful interaction, as David tries too hard, and tries to force intimacy with his children, wife and father that obviously died a long time ago. An interesting part of the plot is that strangers randomly throw fast food at him in the street from time to time, and he eventually realises that people do that, because he appears to be a shallow, unconnected person on their screens. Eventually, he realises that this is the truth about himself, and towards the end of the film he resigns himself to taking the big salary job in new York. Personal success and professional success are mutually exclusive, and he realises that he has nothing left personally to keep him where he is.

I found this film really depressing, and whilst this sad story might be a reality for some people, I think the writers maybe were trying to make a point about the way we view our work, and how important human interaction is. I found it strange though, that they didn't give any chance for David to change, it seemed his fate was inevitable, even though he tried to change it. Filmed very well, but not really one I'd like to watch again!

Monday, 22 November 2010

This got me thinking, and made me feel relieved!

I've always wondered why I struggled so much over the last year with academic study... This may be be part of the reason. It may also be why my wife (who was home-schooled) always seems to engage with things more easily than I do...

Watch this.


Skyline... My Thoughts!

Well, I liked it.

I liked it purely on a no-holds barred, entertaining aliens movie with lot's of effects and action basis.

In terms of plot, there is hardly any in the film, it's just one minute of tense atmosphere with a very small amount of poor dialogue in between, for the whole film basically. It's amazing to think that virtually the whole film was shot in/outside the Directors apartment, which is why the costs of the film were $500,000, and the effects were $10,000,000!

I think the weakness of the film is the dialogue, which is very stuttered at times, action sequence upon action sequence means that the film doesn't give the actors little time to develop their characters, as basically they're running from one thing to the next!

In some ways it reminded me of War Of The Worlds, (the remake) which a few other people have commented on I think, but it has even less character development than that. This I find strange, as the quality of people they got, is actually quite good. Eric Balfour, (of '24' no less!) and David Zayas, (of Dexter) should be expected to produce some good work, but the scripts they were given are very limited.

One thing that is slightly frustrating is that no questions that could be raised by the viewer are ever answered. Questions such as 'why the lights?', and 'where is the rest of the world?', and 'what are the invading species planning?', etc. Also it bugged me a bit that certain biological things happen to you if you stand in 'the light', but no clue was given as to what precisely that was. there was a lot to 'guess at' in the film, which from one point of view is good, as people can have endless discussions afterwards, and if you like that, then great! If, however you like your films to be clear and self-explanatory, then you might want to give this a miss! There is nothing in the film from the invaders perspective, it is all from the humans trying to survive, and perhaps this might be another weakness in the plot? Mind you, that seemed to work for Cloverfield? *shrugs*

About the ending of the film...

I won't spoil it if you haven't seen it, but a lot of people who have seen it reportedly don't like it. I have to say I thought it was really clever, and because it wasn't your usual 'happy ever after' ending, I liked it even more. Some film endings where the story neatly resolves, I do like that occasionally in film, but I thought in this case the fact that it doesn't, is really a strength. It made me want to watch the sequel, (if there is one!) to see what happens next. I think the ending can work either way; as a clever ending, or as preparation for a sequel. I think I would prefer a clever ending, but then the story of the invasion isn't resolved at all, which I personally don't have a problem with, but I think a lot of viewers would.

Overall, despite the weaknesses I've briefly outlined, if you're looking for an entertaining 'action alien invasion' film, this would be the one for you to go to. If you like your films to make you think, or if you enjoy exploring characterization in a film, this isn't the film for you.

I'd like to be sexist at this point and say I think it's more of a 'boys film' than a 'girls one'...

I thoroughly enjoyed it as a nice bit of escapism on a Saturday afternoon!