Saturday, February 02, 2008

The Choir, the Cops and the Coptics

Managed to catch 'The Choir: Boys Don't Sing' on BBC2 last night. Very interesting. Back in vicar school, they once showeds us an Eastenders omnibus (in the days when they were only 1 hour long) in the Ethics module, and asked us to list the moral issues the programme dealt with - we ended up with well over 20. If you happen to be a mission tutor, download last nights The Choir from IPlayer and show it to your students.

The episode showed a keen singer and singing teacher given 2 terms at an all-boys comprehensive school in Leicester. His task: to recruit and train a choir to perform at the Royal Albert Hall at the end of the 8 months. The school didn't sing: assemblies were notices, pep talks and tellings off, the boys were very much 'singing is for girls' 'singing is gay' etc., and I must admit I wasn't too sure about his methods, but by the end he'd recruited 170 of the boys to start a choir, which was pretty incredible.

I was reminded at several points of Jesus. The teacher identified kids with talent, and recruited them one by one for singing lessons. One especially talented kid let him down, after showing a lot of promise, so we saw how tough and frustrating that was, but for others it was a big opportunity. The teacher also sang a solo in front of the whole school at his first assembly, which could have been horrendous, but actually seemed to earn him a lot of respect. 3 lessons in with the music GCSE group, he got them performing a song (they'd not done any singing before he arrived) to 2 othe classes. Terrifying, but they were thrilled when it went well. Reminiscent of Jesus calling the disciples, showing them how its done, then pushing them out to do it themselves.

And he was (at this stage anyway - 3 more programmes to go) succesful. It made us wonder whether as a church we are far too limp and gentle about discpleship. Jesus wasn't afraid to put tough challenges in front of people, and it was facing those challenges that brought growth and confidence. They'd also seen him do it, so Jesus wasn't asking the disciples to do anything he'd not already done. I don't know if this guy modelled himself on Jesus at all, but it was an excellent contemporary example of calling and discipleship in a modern context.

Whilst on the subject of TV, those of you who've not touched your remotes since the end of Extreme Pilgrim can twitch that finger again. Not only is there a raft of excellent films coming up this week (Calender Girls, Million Dollar Baby, Matrix (again), Last of the Mohicans), Ashes to Ashes starts on Thursday 9pm, and Channel 4's Unreported World on Friday 7.35pm focuses on the Coptic Christian community found on Egypts rubbish dumps.

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