The New Saturday Review 9
June 12th 2023
(The purpose of this is to give general reviews – not detailed – in order to encourage (or in some cases discourage!) your reading, viewing and listening. After each review I give a mark in terms of the value, beauty and worthwhileness.)
Nick Cave Interview on Channel 4
It’s difficult to describe how much I love Nick Cave! His music, writing, website, honesty, openness, intelligence, confusion, pain, attraction to Jesus and his interviews. This is one of the best. Krishnan Guru-Murthy discusses his latest book, the coronation, the tragic death of his son, his attitudes towards free speech and political correctness, and his journey to find – and define – happiness. He’s almost there!
The Hunt for Raoul Moat
This is a three part series on the drama surrounding Raoul Moat – a killer who eluded the Newcastle police for a few days. The drama from ITV (although we watched it on Stan and thus avoided all the adverts) is excellent – and shows how, sadly, so many people made him into a hero, instead of the psychopathic murderer he was. To this day there are still thousands who idolise him. This is well acted and historically accurate.
This is an ITV series about the disappearance of the Labour MP and minister, John Stonehouse, spy, and fraud, who faked his own death and ran off to Australia before being caught out and returned to the UK in disgrace. I had high hopes for this – but we only lasted about 20 minutes into it. It was filmed as a cross between a spy thriller and a carry on romp. It trivialised an all too important subject and made the whole thing into some kind of joke. To be honest it was also boring. Not recommended – maybe it got better – but life is too short to waste on junk.
Christianity is Good for Us – Kevin Donnelly
This is a collection of articles written by Dr Kevin Donnelly an Australian writer who regularly contributes to different Australian newspapers, and is regularly interviewed on media; as well as being an author of several books. He is a Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Catholic University.
The articles are divided into three sections, Christianity is central to Western Civilisation, Faith Based Schools and Christianity in the Curriculum; Freedom of Religion under attack. The foreword is by Cardinal George Pell and is recommended by people like Tony Abbott, John Steenhof and Archbishop Fisher.
Donnelly is a Catholic conservative social commentator, and I find myself in agreement with the vast majority of what he says. Although there are a number of essays which are quite repetitive. Nonetheless Donnelly is a reliable and perceptive commentator who writes well and makes cogent and important arguments.
The essay entitled “Christianity is the rock on which Australia stands” (p230) is one of the best. His final sentence is brilliant “As such, it is hypocritical and illogical to argue that socialist ALP members of parliament and Green politicians worshipping the Gaia have to right to decide public policy according to their beliefs while denying Christians the same right”. Sadly this hypocrisy and illogicality is now happening.
Signals of Transcendence – Os Guinness
Os Guinness is unquestionably my favourite writer and thinker. I think he is so undervalued in the wider Christian community – but like Schaeffer and C S Lewis before him – he is a prophet for our times. There is not a single one of his books I have not enjoyed and benefited from. But Signals of Transcendence is one of his best. His thesis is simple – there are moments of transcendence which move us beyond ourselves and point us to God. Telling the stories of Kenneth Clark, Whitfield Guinness, Leo Tolstoy, Windsor Elliott, C S Lewis, G K Chesterton, Philip Hallie, W H Auden, Peter Berger and Malcolm Muggeridge, Os shows us in a subtle but brilliant way that all of us experience such moments. I cannot recommend this highly enough – both for Christians and non-Christians. Here are a few examples….
“With our modern lack of time and our endless supply of modern technological devices and gadgets, such diversions become “weapons of mass distraction” so that we never have to think deeply at all.”
“The net effect of all these factors is that many modern people live all their lives as if in Plato’s cave, unaware and unconcerned. They have no idea and are probably skeptical that there is any other reality than the seven-to-eleven world in which we live every day. They have lost their sense of questioning, wonder, and curiosity, and they live under a powerful spell that the seen world is all there is. The insistent ordinariness of our daily existence drowns out the wonder of existence itself, and we don’t notice the huge gap between the two levels of reality.”
“As one biographer wrote, and he himself admitted, Muggeridge always knew what he disbelieved before he knew what he believed”.
“It shaped Dostoyevsky’s gratitude for life forever and resulted eventually in a Christian faith that was both deeper and more orthodox than Tolstoy’s. His was a faith, he said in his last notebook, that was not naive and untested “like some schoolboy; but my hosanna has passed through a great furnace of doubt.”
“The truth is that our Western commitment to hedonism has proved empty and damaging, and our Western reliance on technocracy will always let us down. Only God can save the world now, but is God there? Who or what is he? Is God only a “god”—a projection of our human capacities, or a projection of the forces of the universe? Or is God the one who is the Creator of the universe and the supreme Presence and reality himself?”
Lethal White – Robert Galbraith
This is the fourth in J K Rowling’s adult detective books Cormoran Strike. Like the others it is lengthy, well written (Rowling is a superb writer), entertaining and maintains an interesting plot throughout. Sometimes the language is crude and ugly – but that seems to be on a par for most modern novels! This was my favourite so far of the Cormoran Strike novels.
“You know the internet. Plenty of people out there think being a Tory as tantamount to being a child killer.
“Friends of friends had offered everything from management roles in the close protection industry to business partnerships, but the itch to detect, solve and reimpose order upon the moral universe could not be extinguished in him, and he doubted it ever would”
“She had already explained to Robin at the shop that she identified as both genderqueer and pansexual, while monogamy, properly looked at, was a tool of patriarchal oppression, a line that Robin suspected had been originally Jimmy’s.”
“Life had taught him that a great and powerful love could be felt for the most apparently unworthy people, a circumstance that ought, after all, to give everybody consolation.”
Film – Pride and Prejudice
I confess that I am a Pride and Prejudice fan. Love the book and most of the versions I have seen on screen. My favourites remain the 1940 version with Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson, and the BBC’s six part dramatization from 1995. I don’t think anyone will ever beat these! When I first saw Keira Knightly’s version I enjoyed it but was not over impressed. However I recently saw it again – and loved it. I think the music, the settings, the acting (including Donald Sutherland, Judi Dench and Matthew Macfayden) and of course the plot are superb.
Music – Beethoven’s 9th
Beethovens 9th is one of the best known pieces of all classical music – first performed in 1824 it amazes me that Beethoven would never hear it! This version from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Riccardo Muti is beautiful….It’s a delight to see it free on YouTube where is has deservedly garnered over 43 million views – of which three are mine! Stunning.