Friday, 28 November 2008

A miscellany of topics

This week, I was intending to take a brief break from discussing cultural matters to share some local news. However I cannot resist making the point that it seems that no American president will be elected unless he (or she) talks openly and comfortably about God, while no British Prime Minister will be elected if he (or she) does. I would like to think that there has been progress in this area but I’m afraid Tony Blair has rather ruined this because he did bring God into matters and now his stock is very low indeed. I think it will be some time before any politician here has the courage even to say ‘God bless you’ at the end of any talk to the nation. By the way, here is another difference: Americans clearly have not the slightest problem in confidently asking the Almighty to look favourably upon America. Indeed their tone is sometimes so confident that one is inclined to suspect that a certain overlap exists in their minds between the Kingdom of Heaven and the United States of America. In contrast, Britons of the 21st century would never dream of invoking the Almighty in the political arena. Americans get embarrassed when, in the context of politics people do not mention God; we get embarrassed when they do.

And now to family news. The first item of news is that two weeks ago our younger son Mark got married to a delightful young lady called Alice in central London where they both work. I don’t think they would mind if I attached a photograph.

So we travelled up from the provinces and stayed a couple of nights in London in order to attend. It was a great time and the Christian witness took centre stage. In fact the sermon was outspokenly and unashamedly evangelistic and took as its basis the parable of the wise and foolish virgins (‘bridesmaids’? there are hard issues of cultural equivalence here). The fact that both our sons are happily married raises the interesting question as to whether ‘parenting’ is now over for us. In one sense the answer is ‘yes’ but I suppose we probably continue in an advisory role until such time as we are senile. Oh yes, and young Simeon turned up to the wedding looking every bit the normal three-month-old baby. He seems to be responding well to the daily hormonal supplements.

The second piece of news is to do with books. No, I haven’t sold the film rights to Lamb among the Stars; I think that may be a longer haul than I had expected. But I am signing a contract with Hodders to co-write a short book with the British evangelist J. John centred on the parable of Prodigal Son. Of course a lot has already been written on this but we are hoping to come at it from a fresh but authentic angle. I have a lot of Lebanese anecdotes which clarify matters and bring some of the issues into sharper focus. Anyway the nice thing about Hodders is that they get their books out into the secular market; here they differ from the specifically Christian book companies who seem to be fishing in the ever smaller pond of Christian book readers. Once I get this out of the way, all being well in May, I want to talk to them about future fiction projects. So it’s no television for me for the next five months.

Anyway I have a sermon to finish for our Chinese Fellowship in Swansea so must dash. The problem is that I feel it incumbent upon me to e-mail the text to the translator beforehand; she is very good but I think it’s helpful that she has a chance to read it all through first.

Every blessing