Escapism

While on holiday I was reflecting about why we love holidays so much. I think for me there has always been a a lot of escapism about it. That we can just leave our ‘normal life’ behind (ok so with modern technology we can have as much or as little contact with it as we like…). We can relax, switch off, not worry about the door the needs painting, the naming of school uniform, whether the lounge needs hoovering, or the inevitable work. In previous years I haven’t been able to totally switch off as I was running my own business, so there was a lot to think about even when away. This year was different. I totally zoned out. And it was bliss. I really wish it could have gone on longer. Of course now we’re back everything is just there waiting to be picked up again. This is the last week of the hols and so there is the usual panic of school uniform, shoes, bags etc. But it just seems so easy to slip back in to. And I love it, but I also need to get away from it.

I am not sure what the need to escape is all about. I think I’ve always had someone inside me who wants to run away from things. Even though I am happy and setttled there is a part of me that actually can’t handle being settled and happy. When I was a teenager I used to think like a victim. Like there was always something happening to me, that bad stuff happened to me, so perhaps I never quite escaped that feeling. Perhaps I don’t feel like I deserve this… Or maybe it is just that ‘fight or flight’ part of human nature.

I don’t know if this is making any sense to anyone else. It’s just I thought a lot whilst away about what it would be like not to go home. Not to go back to that little stable life. Perhaps it is because I am sooo not in control of my life at the moment that subconcsiouly I am wishing it on myself even more.

I think what I’m trying to say is that I feel the need to escape this life, daily. Not in reality, or literally, but just to have some time away from it. Away from the daily grind, and away from the pressures of life. The scripture coming to mind as I write is, to be in this world but not of it. Is that it? Is all this about reminding myself that I am not ‘of’ this world? That the little details of this world are often unimportant in the grand scheme…

In going away and escaping the usual routine, we have no responsibilties. It doesn’t matter if the kids stay up late, if the housework isn’t done, if we eat crisps and ice cream all day. No one contacts us. Bills are left behind. It’s like a new world where responsibility is taken from us for our lives and we can literally do as we like for a week or two. Of course in reality we just can’t do that for much more than a few weeks because the stable life that one eventually returns to will fall apart without some guidance. But then would that matter? Perhaps I am realising that so much of my stable life is unnecessary. How wonderful it would be to run off with just a rucksack and nothing else. To have no posessions, rather like the first disciples. they left everything to follow Jesus and shared the little they did have with each other.

I am rather over romanticising this I know. It’s just post holiday blues I am sure !

Back from hols

So… yes I am back from hols. Had an absolutely amazing time. Weather was just lovely, spent part of every day (if not all day) on the beach. Spent a lot of time in the sea, I think the last time I did that was in Australia, some 16 years ago! Actually tried surfing, and loved it.
I did a lot of reflecting while away so this is kind of an intro to that, a ‘hey I’m back’ kind of post before I launch into it all.

Our beautiful beach: Perran Sands

Attempting to surf

I relaxed, got fresh air, had great family time. It was just brill. then on the last day I tweaked my back. Then we had a late night coming back (after spending all day on the beach!) and now I am exhausted and totally incapable of seeing sense! There is a fantastic line in one of the Blackadders where he says ‘some days the devil just farts in your face’… today feels like one of those. Actually nothing is hugely wrong, I am not under massive pressure, but the tiniest thing is likely to overcome me. Guess that’s the thing about coming home from a holiday – it sucks!

Anyway enough whining. I had lots of time to think about stuff, reflect on where I am in the discernment process, read a lot of books (none from my reading list so HA! to the diocese ;) ) and processed a lot of new ideas. On which I will undoubedly be posting. I didn’t miss my blog really but I did keep on thinking ‘I must write about that’. I think I often blog or write to work out in my own head what I am thinking and I did miss that. I still have a week before all the kids are back, staggered starts this year, but I am so looking forward to being back in the routine.

BTW I did keep up with twitter while away and it was fab to see lots of posts from Greenbelt. I’ve always wanted to go but never made it, and seeing all those tweets made me even more keen to go! One day…

CFS diagnosis

Ok so I wasn’t going to blog, but today it’s avoidance tactics as I’m supposed to be packing. lLove going on hols but when you have to pack for a family of 5 plus self-catering stuff, it’s really not all that fun…

Anyway I also wanted to blog about something that happened yesterday, which was that my referral arrived for the CFS clinic. Apparently the first thing I have to do is attend a ‘Managing your Fatigue’ session. Sounds really fun…

But what was very interesting, as I was feeling rather cynnical about the whole thing and making sarcastic remarks about the wadge of papers that had come through my door, was a questionaire. Which was no less than enlightening. You see I think I’m still a little bit in denial about the whole ‘being ill’ thing. I know I have symptoms and that I am exhausted but CFS seems a bit like a non-diagnosis, because they have tested me for everythign else and still don’t know what it is… It’s like they didn’t know what else to do.

However the questionaire, which I was rather reluctantly filling in whilst I could have been watching ‘Country House Rescue’…(what is my life coming to?)  actually grabbed my attention by the second page. There were so many questions that to anyone else would have seemed rather odd, but to me, perfectly described my symptoms. And things that I didn’t even know were symptoms. Like memory issues for example. I have always had a good memory, my husband has joked about it. Especially as he doesn’t. But now I have a worse memory than him. I have forgotten to attend important meetings/appoitnments even when I have clocked the memo in my diary just a  few hours before. It’s  not only embarrassing but worrying.

Another thing flagged up was about having trouble speaking – mixing up words, not being able to remember the right word, mixing up endings to words. This is something that I haven’t even admitted to my husband but I have been having trouble with this kind of thing. I was honestly very worried about it. What if there was something wrong with my brain? but no, that was on the questionaire too, so thankfully I don’t have BSE or incredibly-early-onset-alzheimers, I am JUST TIRED! and also forced to admit that it seems I do actually have CFS. I may not be bed-bound or unable to climb steps but I do have a condition that is affecting my life rather a lot right now and more than I had realised. So best stop the deinal thing and get along to the ‘Managing Fatigue Session’ then…

As per previous post I really will be away as of tomorrow so won’t be looking at comments but feel free to comment and I will reply on my return or tweet me @redjules  :)

Blogging Break

Recently I noticed my blog stats were down. And I was irritated with myself for being bothered by this. But still I decided to make a concerted effort to blog every day. Then I realised we would be away this month and that would not help my stats. So then I thought, well I will have to write double the posts and schedule them for when we’re away…
and then I thought… GET A LIFE WOMAN!!!!

So with that I am taking a break… we’re not off ’til next week…), when my lovey brother comes to house sit for us, but I am starting early! I am deliberatley affecting my stats and Wikio ranking but I DON’T CARE!! (well maybe a little bit, but I’ll get over it..)
I will undoubtedly not be able to drag myself away from twitter, and if you so wish you can find me @redjules
Cornish surf here I come…

Otherwise see you all in September :)

All Age Talk on Prayer, 14th Aug

In case anyone is interested this is my talk from this morning, for our all-age service. Sorry about the notes, various instructions to myself – we used bubbles as a prop and even had a bubble machine during the worship – worked well with the kids!Turning to The Lord’. Acts 9:32-43

 

Just to give you a bit of an intro, this morning we are going to look at PRAYER. Do you know in the old or traditional church they use something special to symbolise prayer, to make the prayers visible, help us to
picture them.. .. – does anyone know what it is?
Incense….  bit like smoke – was used to symbolise prayers rising up to heaven – as they go up like smoke, going up into the air.

 

TODAY: So today we are going to use something to symbolise our prayers too.Can you guess what it is? We have been using them already…
Bubbles!
 We are going to hand some out… Now need a bit of adult supervision here!! Don’t worry if they get spilt…
Whilst we go through the rest of the service I want you to help us to think about prayer so whenever we pray
or when I talk about prayer I want you to blow your bubbles to help us all imagine our prayers rising up to God.

So shall we have a little practice – everyone has a blow and I will say a little prayer…

 

 TODAYS PASSAGE

 

So if we look at today’s passage, it we see 2 pretty awesome miracles don’t we? These are not just healings, they are the ultimate aren’t they? I mean one guy has been paralyzed (do you know what that means
kids..) for 8 years, bedridden.. can’t move…  and the other is dead! What more do you need when you see healings like that?

 

WANT TO SEE THAT HERE.. I don’t know about you but I long to see that kind of miracle here, in our church, in Mid Sussex, to see God moving in such an amazing way right here. And I believe he is going to…

 

NOT MIRACLES BUT SIMPLE…

 

But although they are amazing, it’s not the miracles themselves that stood out to me, it’s the really simple way
they happen. What does Peter do? In the first he just says to Aeneas, ‘Jesus Christ heals you’ (Get up and tidy up your mat) . A simple prayer, in Jesus’ name. And in the case of Tabitha (or Dorcas), the dead woman, the word says that he sent every one from the room and got on his knees and prayed. then he says
‘Tabitha get up!’. 3 words!!  Simple…
No special words, no stream of endless prayer. He just asks of God and they receive.

 

Will we see that happen here in our church? I guess that not many people here will have seen anything like that happen… but there is no reason why we can’t.

 

BIBLE ON PRAYER: The bible tells us we have Jesus living inside of us, the bible tells us to pray in His name.  It tells us to pray about all things (Philippians 4:6), it tells us to never stop praying (1 Thess 5:17), it tells us to pray in faith. (Mark 11:24)

 

But it’s hard, right? Sometimes prayer is not easy. Sometimes we struggle. Particularly if we have something
really troublesome going on in our lives, something hard to deal with, prayer can be the furthest thing from our minds, it should be the first port of call, but sometimes it’s the last resort.  I mean some prayers are not the little bubble prayers are they? – like this – kids…

 

Praying for someone to be healed from being paralyzed or being raised from the dead, that’s like a really BIG BUBBLE PRAYER , (BUBBLE WAND DEMO…)

 

In fact in the passage we
looked at it looks like the disciples might find it hard sometimes too… v 32. says that Peter goes to visit the Saints – or the believers, Christians. But yet they ask him to pray. The word says:  v 38: Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, “Please come at once!”

 

These are believers, Christians… and yet they send for Peter to pray. We don’t need to send for someone else to pray – we all have Jesus within us.

So why do you think Peter could just pray such a simple (but huge) prayer and see people healed in such amazing ways? Ask kids…

 

I think it’s because he knew Jesus. He was a friend of Jesus, he spent time with Jesus, and not just
actually with him, which he did do, he spent time after Jesus had died, seeking him in prayer (in the passage it says, he got down on his knees and prayed) – what do you think he was saying then?

 

What would we say if I asked you today to pray for someone who had just died? To pray for them to be raised from the dead, to be alive again. What would we do? we be like, yeah ok, come on let’s pray..?

In Peter’s position, I think I’d  want to spend a week on my knees! Crying out ‘help Lord!’ what do I do! What do I say? I would undoubtedly be stressing out.

But Peter doesn’t do that does he? Remember he had seen people raised from the dead before when he was with Jesus (Jairus daughter Mark 5). Perhaps it wasn’t a huge big deal for him. He knew the power of Christ. And what did he do? He made some time for God. He sent the people out, got down on his
knees and prayed. We don’t know how long it was for, might have been 5 mins. Might have been an hour…   (I imagine he just said to God, I’m here, I am your servant, please use me to see this wonderful woman who has helped so many people, raised to life). And so after spending time with God in prayer, he could just say ‘get up…’

 

The bible tells us to pray about all things (that’s the little stuff and the really big HUGE stuff!) . It tells us to Trust in the Lord (Prov 3:5). ‘Trust in the Lord will all your heart…’ How can we trust him if we don’t really know him? If we don’t even spend time with him.
Prayer is our way of being with God, of spending time with him, getting to know him. Because we should
remember, prayer is not just about asking Him for stuff . It is not a one way conversation as we sometimes treat it. I am sure you have heard it said before, but: How many of us, rattle of a list of people or things we are praying for then get up and go. (stream of bubbles). We don’t even allow God the courtesy of answering us do we?! Let’s listen to God! Listen to what he might be saying tous, what he might be asking us to do?  How can we know God or know his will for our lives if we don’t spend time with him, in his presence. And I am preaching to myself here too! Even those of us who call ourselves Christians are guilty of this I am sure! Our lives are busy, finding time is not easy…  But every one of us can do that, we can spend time with him, even if its just a few minutes. Even you (kids…).

And in those quiet prayer times, its where  we get to know God,  if we allow him in.

And then, when we really know Jesus, when we take time to know him, like Peter did, then, maybe then, we will have the confidence, the faith, to pray for these things, absolutely believing that God can and will act on our prayers.

 

Kids: what do you do when you make friends with someone? You talk to them, play with them. YOU just spend time with them, you get to know each other, get to know each others likes and dislikes. And we can have Jesus as a friend like that – only he already knows us, knows our likes and dislikes – he made us after all!
Not enough faith?
Please don’t hear I am saying we don’t have enough faith, that’s not what I’m saying. The bible says we all
have a diff measure of faith, but all we need is a mustard seed. This is about knowing Gods will for us and for our lives, knowing what to do in a difficult situation, knowing how to pray in faith.

 

 TODAY:

 

So this morning I would love us to lift some of our really tough prayers to God. Let’s come together and lift
some of the problems we have been struggling with,  the people that have been on our heart but we just don’t know what to do, the sick needing a miracle to be well, let’s lift them this morning to Jesus, asking in faith for him to answer our prayers.

 

So we’re going to ask you to spend a few minutes thinking about what you are struggling with in prayer, or the
things you find hard to pray for.  In groups, too many for me to split up so can you try and group yourself into 4 or 5 if possible, and please come sit with the kids, I am always learning from my kids, so let’s learn from them too and lets encourage them too…

 

Lets write down those prayers –
bubble cards –

 

And we can all do this, kids too – what would you like to pray for? My daughters fave prayer at the mo is for it
to be sunny – we pray that every night don’t we ? But perhaps you have something that is worrying you – new school, a friend in need,  let’s lift it to God right now! If you can’t write it, draw a picture of it, or you can ask an adult to help. 5 mins, so let’s not spend too long!

No hope for our youth..?

Very interesting interview with some teenage looters on Sky News tonight… And I must specify they were looters, they did not admit to violence or attacking the police, they were taking advantage of the situation. And do you know what, I actually felt for them. Admittedly some of what they said incensed me, but they were at least educated and they did have a point…

The boys were aged around 16-18 and one of them admitted to being a father, at 16. He said he was stealing stuff to provide for his family, including nappies. (Although he did also pinch stuff for himself.) Some of what they said was naiive, immature and stupid, but I don’t want to write about that, because that’s what we expect them to be like, self-centered teenagers. But what did surprise me was the way they talked about the government and David Cameron. Half the teenagers round here don’t have a clue about the government and probably couldn’t even name the PM. Ok, so these boys could be quoting their parents or adults around them but actually I felt like they really knew what they were saying, they were angry at their situation. I don’t know, maybe I am being naive, but they were talking about their lives. These were not criminals, part of a gang, just ordinary kids who saw an opportunity and took it. I am not for one second excusing what they did, but from what they said, this is not just something that happned as a result of a man getting shot. This has been building for a while.

These young men, boys even, told of how they had tried to find work, taking CVs around, they said they worked hard but there were no opportunities for them, no work available. One of them talked about how there was nothing for them to do, how the government has cut funding from youth clubs. They said David Cameron has no idea what it is like for them, what it is like to live where they do, and I am sure they are right, that he has absolutely no idea what it is like growing up where they do. That isn’t an excuse for what they did, of course, but actually I wonder how many of us would have done something similar when we were growing up? If somone had told us at age 16 there was a shop open to the elements down the road, that the police stood by while people took stuff, would we not have been tempted? I know I would have been, without a second thought, knowing the person I was back then. I was not inherently bad, or part of a gang, I was just a misguided teenager out for a good time. And I did not come from a deprived area, did not have money worries, but here it was literally laid out on a plate for them, everything that they wanted, ipads, blackberrys, more… And personally I don’t think we can blame them for wanting that too. Advertising rams down our throats every time we leave our front doors (well and behind them probably more so) all the stuff we should have, that we should need. They taregt youngsters with their marketing, so when they start to want so much the things they can’t have, can we blame them?

Please don’t mishear me, I am NOT excusing what they did, but I can to a certain extent understand it. They need to know what they did was wrong, and these guys admitted it, they said they knew what they did was wrong, but they still did it. For that reason I honestly don’t know how effective it is prosecuting all these people. Those who were involved in the rioting itself, causing the violence and attacking people yes, absolutely. But those who just stole a few bits, is this really going to help them? or the situation?

I am sure this will be contraversial but I can’t help but feel for them. It is so sad that they think there is no hope for young people. at age 16… their lives have not even begun. Is there a whole generation growing up believing that? Because that is just heart breaking.

Being a woman…

It’s not easy being a 21st century woman is it? I feel pretty terrible writing that, because women fought for our right to vote, to stand up and be counted, women have worked hard to pave the way for us to be able to work, to be treated on the same level as men. It has been a struggle. Women now have it better that they ever have. Labour saving devices mean those of us who chose to do the lions share of the housework don’t have to spend days scrubbing, cleaning, polishing. And as for microwaves, man how did I ever live without one?!

However with all that seems to come a whole host of pressure. Some of us chose to stay at home with the kids, some of us chose to go out to work, and yet in either situation there are pressures. If you are a woman at home you can feel marginalised, isolated, lost even. If you chose to work you can feel guilty about the time you are not spending with your children. You might even be able to afford to pay someone else to do stuff with your kids while you work.

So right now I am stuck in the midst of all this. Pre-kids I always said I would be happy to stay at home and look after any future kids I had. Yet after No.1, I was a single parent and it was necessary for me to work (I could have lived off the state but I felt uncomfortable about that and anyway it barely paid for nappies) and I found that I enjoyed working. I enjoyed being able to use my brain and being able to be someone other than ‘just a mum’.
After No.2 I was fortunate enough to be a stay at home mum. I loved it but I felt I needed something else so I went back to my roots and started painting again. Of course that led to organising sales for my work and selling further afield, which in turn meant more time painting. Once No.3 arrived I was planning my own business. The idea being it would fit around the kids. It didn’t of course… 

So now here I am, in a whirlwind of uncertainty about my future. I have now had 7 months away from ‘paid’ work and the truth is I love it. I have some time to do my artwork but with all three kids now at school it doesn’t take away from time with them. What’s more I love being able to actually ‘think’ about what we will have for supper. I can try new recipes, I can plan them in advance rather than knocking up a pasta sauce in 5 mins because that’s all I have time for. I love being able to sit and play with my kids, to be creative with them, to snuggle up and watch a movie together, without telling them , ‘just 5 mins because I have to check my emails..’, without checking my texts every 5 minutes.

I find myself thinking ‘I can’t get comfortable with this, I have things to do, plans for the future…’ but what would be so wrong with that? Why do I feel I can’t do this for ever more? Well obviously partly it’s because I feel God is calling me to something, that he has plans for me. But then are those plans for now? Am I putting a time scale on things that isn’t in His plan? Am I feeling the pressure to work, to earn an income (which would actually be rather helpful, currently).
So many choices… I know my husband will support me either way, although I also know he rather likes the current me, who has his dinner on the table each night, every night! I feel like I can’t really plan the future anyway due to my illness, so perhaps I should be enjoying this time, and I am, but there is a part of me that I just can’t switch off that wants more, that wants to know when and where and how? and that wonders if there is a point at which I say ok, enough now, I need to get out there again…
Am I a 21st century woman? or maybe I am a ’50s woman at heart… but I guess it is where I draw the line that makes the diffference…

UK Riots: a reflection

Photos from Enfield this morning:
Courtesy of @MattJF, ace ITN cameraman. Thanks Matt.

I cannot begin to describe what I felt watching the news coverage last night of the riots. It was compelling in a truly horrible way. We watched the coverage until midnight, my husband also getting emails through work (as he works in disaster recovery and contingency).

Rebels without a cause, except for their own gratification, absolutely trashing our cities. People  injured, some seriously. Over 400 arrests. London cells full. Fire crews unable to get to fires to fight them because of the mobs. Children running around getting involved, some as young as 10. What on earth is going on? This is England, not Afghanistan. It is absolutely bizarre. I tweeted last night, ‘if this is what our youth can do when they get together, imagine what they could achive it they used their energies for good’.

People interviewed by the media seem to have differing views. Some saying it has been brewing for a while, others saying that these kids have nothing to do, they are disenfranchised, others still, talking about high unemployment and people being angry.

A few days ago I wrote a post having watched ‘The Boy in Striped Pyjamas’ about people having a line at which they cross, at that point where morals go out the window, a point where they would do things they wouldn’t otherwise do. The last few days seems to have seen a lot of pepole crossing that line. I refuse to believe that all those people getting involved in the riots are malicious. I think a lot of them are opportunists. There was a shot on the news last night of people breaking in to a shop and two girls stood outside pointing to things they wanted. They did not have masks on, they were obviously not taking part in the violence but were taking advantage. It seems to me that a huge number of people are joining in with this because others are. I suspect that social networking sites are playing a large part in enabling them too.

However it is so important for us to remember that not all our young people are lawless or condoning this. In fact those that are involved in the rioting are a tiny minority. And it is wonderfully heartening to see people getting involved in clearing up their communities this morning and the online efforts to enable people to help clear up.

But what I want to know is why people have got to this point that they are inciting people to violence like this. Looting, rioting, setting fire to buildings… What has made them get to this point? What has made them cross their line? To be totally unafraid of authority or law and order, totally ignoring the police, goading them even… Is this really what a lawless society woudl be like?  I live in leafy Sussex, I am so far removed from this that I do not have a clue what it is like living in inner city London or what troubles and trials they face. Either way, something has got to be done. Whatever the cause is, it needs to be addressed.

The one good point of the evening was seeing #prayforLondon trending on twitter, well above #londonriots.  Whatever goes on today we all need to pray for a peaceful night tonight.

sorry just edited photo caption, it was Enfield not Ealing – I am sure the obersvant among you would have noticed! totally my fault…

Peter: Idiot or awesome?

Today I have been writing a talk for next Sundays service – today is pretty much the only time to do it when the kids won’t be around, so I ruled the day out for writing… pr so I thought…then no.3s party got cancelled, no.1 needed shopping for Soul Survivor which she goes on tomorrow, then the floor man came to repair our floor (washing machine leaked and floor rose 6 inches – no joke…).. I seriously wondered if I was ever going to get it done. But God has been so gracious, despite my awful tendency to get distracted by twitter and emails… and thankfully I can now blog without feeling guilty!

Anyway, I will post about the talk next week, but through preparing for it I have looked a lot at Peter. I love Peter, because he just makes me feel like I am ok!

Here is a guy who actually spent time with Jesus, was his disciple, prayed for people, man I mean, people even wanted to be in his shadow to get healed, but yet so often we seem him being, well, let’s face it, a bit of an idiot. he doesn’t always ‘get it’, does he?  He is impulsive, not always on the ball…I love how at the transfiguration, when he’s up on the mountain with Jesus, and then Moses and Elijah appear, and he suggest making shelters for them all.. Shelters? I mean, these guys descend from heaven in a cloud, Jesus’ face is shining in glory and he wants to build a shelter? Soooo missed it…

And there’s the time when he denies he knows Jesus, not once but three times. In my NLT in Mark 8:32, the passage where Peter doesn’t believe what Jesus says about dying, the translation reads: ‘Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things…’ He, Peter, is reprimanding Jesus!

 But ultimately he has amazing faith in Jesus. Jesus asks him to look after his followers (He says ‘feed my sheep’), he heals people in Jesus name, for example: the lame beggar who asks for money at the temple: (Acts 3:). His teaching, along with John, was so good that the Priests and temple guard were so concerned that they arrested them (Acts 4).

Jesus accepted Peter in spite of his failures, and Peter went on to be an amazing man of God. Which just makes me feel so much better about myself when I make a mistake or get things wrong. Sometimes I feel like I am so in the dark, that I haven’t got a clue what God is saying to me, or wanting me to do, but I know that’s ok.

My NLT says: its better to be a follower who sometimes fails than someone who fails to follow…

Understanding Evil.

Last night we watched ‘The Boy in Striped Pyjamas’. I have not read the book and had limited knowledge of the subject of the film. For those that don’t know, it’s about Second World War Germany, in particular one family, the Father of which is a German Comandante in a concentration camp. The 8 year old son is the main character who forms an unlikely friendship with an 8 year old Jewish boy, through the fence of the camp. It is a rather sanitised version of the German treatment of  the Jews, presumably so it is suitable for younger viewing, but it is harrowing nonetheless. Not least for the portrayal of the propaganda rolled out across Germany and especially that aimed at children. It is all the more horrifying to think that this kind of teaching was aimed at Children. To think that they were specifically targeted to learn the Nazi thinking, to be brainwashed from such an early age. I have learned all this and understood it before in history lessons, but it really stood out to me whilst watching the film. I think that’s why movies based on history are great because they can really help people to understand the personal angle, how it really affected people at ground level.
Anyway, what I really wanted to write about is the pervading sense of evil throughout the film. The knowledge of something really horrific going on behind the scenes. I just cannot understand how one human being can be so cruel to another, fellow, human being. What is it that makes people descend to such a point? Are people really born evil? Or does evil come out as a product of their lives?
Although I have studied WW2, I don’t know much about Hitler himself. From what I do, it seems he ruled with fear, that those who didn’t follow his message were threatened, punished, imprisoned, killed. I imagine a lot of his soldiers simply did so out of fear, for fear for their families and their own lives… And it made me wonder, do we all have that capability within us? To do truly awful things out of fear? Most of us would say now, that we would never do something like that, that we would stand our ground, stand on our faith, on our principles, but where do we draw the line? What if your own children were threatened? And let’s be clear, Hitler and the Nazis threats were never empty. Would I, if faced with the choice of doing the right thing or saving my child, chose the right thing? And what is the right thing anyway? There is a point in the movie where the young German boy, Bruno, is talking to his friend and gives him some cake. A German soldier comes in and ‘asks’ what is going on. Bruno claims he has never seen the boy before and that he has helped himself to the food. One can see the fear in his eyes, the fear of what this German soldier would do to him (let alone the Jewish boy). Afterwards his remorse is hugely apparent. He knows he has done the wrong thing, that he has surely consigned this boy, his friend, to some awful punishment. A wonderful portrayal I think of what many adults must have faced during those turbulent times.

We see in the media, when a criminal, murderer or child abuser is taken into custody, that they are often referred to as ‘evil’. But what is truly evil? Defence lawyers often use a criminals background as a defence, perhaps they had been abused, came from a broken home.. They are not truly evil, just a product of their upbringing… (And I have no idea what Hitlers background is but I imagine if he were around now psychologists would have a field day with why he acted in theway he did). But not all abused people become criminals, killers or worse. Not all people who have had a broken home or had parents who didn’t love them, take that out on those around them. So it must be that people have ‘a line’. A line at which their level of pain makes them continue their own cycle of abuse or damage. A line at which their own awful acts do not seem so bad, a line at which their own fear overides any sense of what is right and wrong. And I just wonder if we all have that line, no matter what our background or upbringing may be?
I have read, like many Christians, books about incredible stories of faith. The Heavenly Man, Jackie Pullinger, The Cross and the Switchblade for example. Stories of people who have, in the face of threats, torture, attack and worse, stood firm in their faith, in what they believe in. They have not given in to the evil around them, so why do others? Is it their life experience, is the pressures on them at the time? Is it a force of evil or a presence of evil in them?

Perhaps I need to study pyschology, or perhaps it is just one of lifes unknowns… Either way I would like to understand it a bit more…
Incidentally, I really ‘enjoyed’ the film, if that is the right word. It’s perhaps not ideal for vegging out with on a Saturday night, but very worthwhile nonetheless. And the ending is rather poignant in the light of the story. Tragic, but definitely poignant.