Blinded By Your Grace

It’s Live Lounge Month with Radio 1 this September. One British artist who always impresses is Stormzy, and his song Blinded By Your Grace has some interesting commentary about faith:

I’m blinded by your grace
I’m blinded by your grace, by your grace
I’m blinded by your grace
I’m blinded by your

[Chorus: Stormzy & MNEK]
Lord, I’ve been broken
Although I’m not worthy
You fixed me, I’m blinded by your grace
You came and saved me
Lord, I’ve been broken
Although I’m not worthy
You fixed me, now I’m blinded by your grace
You came and saved me

[Verse 1: Stormzy]
One time for the Lord, and one time for the cause
And one round of applause
One time for Fraser T Smith on the chords
I feel we got one, I stay prayed up then I get the job done
Yeah, I’m Abigail’s yout, but I’m God’s son
But I’m up now, look at what God’s done
Now I real talk, look at what God did
On the main stage runnin’ ’round topless
I phone Flipz then I tell him that he got this
This is God’s plan, they can never stop this
Like… wait right there, could you stop my verse?
You saved this kid and I’m not your first
It’s not by blood and it’s not by birth
But oh my God, what a God I serve

stormzy

In an interview with Fader Stormzy said, “You know when you’re watching churches, and a lady or a man in the choir just takes it away, and it’s just like, Flipping heck, and everyone just feels it in their soul? I was like, “I want someone to do that. I want someone to come and take this tune where I can’t take it.” I listen to a lot of radio, and a lot of pop and R&B. I’ve always clocked with MNEK, he’s got such a voice. I was like, I know he can go to church with it. He came round to the studio, and it was like watching a magician work. He was able to record his riffs and his [backing vocals] and his harmonies all at once without hearing them back. He took the tune exactly where I wanted it to go.”

Then with Radio 1 Stormzy explained,

“It’s a song that means so much to me both in terms of my faith and what God means to me but also for my artistry as well. It’s a song that me and Fraser [producer and songwriter] made up and we was trying to make something incredible for the album and it’s a song I almost felt I wasn’t capable of making but between me, Fraser and MNEK we pulled it off.

“It’s a little bit of an anthem in the weirdest way. It’s a little soulful, a little gospel. I’ve played it at festivals and everyone’s hands are in the air like drunk and I don’t know if it goes but it’s working and it’s beautiful and it’s amazing. Everyone kinda comes together for it.”

 

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Broken – a TV series with plenty of religious content to learn from

The six-part series called Broken, which stars Sean Bean and Anna Friel, first aired on Tuesday 30th May. If you missed the first episode go to BBC iPlayer to catch up (until mid-July). Why? Well for a drip feed of Catholic religious beliefs, teachings and practice for the AQA Component 1 exam, this TV series is a ‘godsend’!

You will be able to see in the first episode the role of a priest in the local community; the preparations for First Holy Communion; the Eucharist; the importance of prayer; the last rites for a dead person and confession. If you’ve never been inside a Christian church before, or it has been a long time, then just by watching this drama by Jimmy McGovern you’ll see how the place of worship is used by a community in Northern England.

To top it off there is also a mention of Food Banks – perfect GCSE content!

broken-credits

Temple of the Jedi Order NOT a religion

A group who only follow practises and beliefs of the Jedi from Star Wars films has failed in its efforts to become a registered religion. The Charity Commission turned it down saying that Jediism “lacks the necessary spiritual or non-secular element” it was looking for in a religion. The Guardian newspaper goes on to report:

In the UK, Jedi has been the most popular alternative religion in two consecutive editions of the census, after a national campaign saw more than 390,000 people (0.7% of the population) describe themselves as Jedi Knights on the 2001 census. Numbers fell sharply a decade later, but there were still 176,632 people who told the government they were Jedi Knights.

jediorder

Reported in The Day (a website our school has a subscription for) the links to faith of the Star Wars series is explained:

What does Star Wars teach us about religion?

‘I fear nothing. All is as the Force wills it,’ says Chirrut Imwe in Rogue One. The film explores the history and traditions of the Force, a mystical power which ‘binds the galaxy together’. From the very first Star Wars instalment, which was released in 1977, the Force was referred to as a religion — albeit a ‘hokey’ one — by Han Solo. ‘There’s no mystical energy field that controls my destiny!’ he insisted.

He was wrong. Siths and Jedis who follow the Force use it to float objects, choke their enemies, and shoot tiny targets from impossible distances. Time and again, their faith helps them to conquer their enemies; the true struggle is between those who use it for good, and those who use it for evil. In the real world, the fictional religion has gained a force all of its own: in 2001 in England and Wales, 390,127 people listed ‘Jedi’ as their religion, outstripping Jews, Buddhists and Sikhs. TheTemple of the Jedi Order is an official church in the USA, and for $10 you can be ordained as a Jedi minister.

Traditional religions also see themselves in the galaxy far, far away. The magazine Tablet compares Star Wars to ‘classic Jewish history’ as ‘a lone figure or small band overthrows a larger oppressive force’. The Muslim writer Irfan Rydhan has pointed out that in Star Wars, as in Islam, the chosen ones emerge from a ‘remote desert’ to bring ‘a hope of peace and justice to their society’. Christian theologians note the story’s Biblical images of light and darkness.

Star Wars creator George Lucas has admitted that this was partly his intention. His work takes ‘all the issues’ of religion and distils them into a ‘more modern and easily accessible’ form, he said in 1999. He is not the first to use religious allegories in a fantasy story. But Star Wars seems to resonate far more than any previous attempts. Why, in the age of reason and science, do many people still yearn for religion — even a fictional one?

May the force be with you (and also with you)

We are all searching for moral clarity, say some. Science can teach us about how the world works, but it does not tell us how to respond to that world. That is why religion still matters. For those who do not believe in God, Star Wars can fill this gap. It tells us that light overcomes darkness. It is a message we can all find comfort in.

It is more than that, say others. Following religion is about being part of a history and community. The ancient rituals make us feel connected to those who came before us. After 40 years on screen, Star Wars has a similar power: several generations can now sit down together and remember a ‘religion’ from their childhood.

Let’s have the death penalty if there is no God

An incredible story from the Independent about the Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte who has called for the death penalty in his country to be reinstated, claiming growing atheism and agnosticism means people have a lack of fear and respect for the law.

The death penalty was officially abolished in the largely Catholic country in 2006, but Mr Duterte said that ‘if God doesn’t exist’, capital punishment is the only way to ensure justice for the victims of terrible crimes. Speaking in Manila, Mr Duterte also questioned God’s existence himself and addressed God directly in his speech, asking “where are you?”

agnostic

He said: “Every president along the way didn’t impose it only because the Catholic Church and all the bleeding hearts would say that only God could kill. But what if there is no God?”

He pointed at Isis and the plight of women and children in war-torn Syria, who he said are burned if they refuse to have sex with Isis militants.

duterte

“When a one-year-old baby, 18-months-old baby is taken from the mother’s arms brought under a jeep and raped and killed. So where is God? My God, where are you?” asked Mr Duterte. “It’s not enough to say that at the end of the world, he will judge the living and the dead. What would be the purpose of all of that if the heartaches, sorrows and agony have already been inflicted in this world?” Mr Duterte said.

C S Lewis

aslan-resurrected

Perhaps you’ve heard of C S Lewis from reading the Narnia series or watching The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.

c-s-lewis

He’s interesting to us in RE and PSHCE for his thinking and books about Christianity. His gradual conversion to Christianity is explained in this BBC biography, in which it explains about how his friendship with J R R Tolkien affected him.

There are some quality CSLewis Doodlebooks on YouTube of which I’d advise the The Origin (or 1, 2, 3, 4) of Christianity as being a good first step into understanding C S Lewis’ thinking.

cs-lewis-quotes

You can also find out about how Aslan’s resurrection in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe was hugely influenced by C S Lewis’ Christian beliefs of Jesus’ resurrection.