Monday, 27 April 2009

sent over by the mater

1. Teaching Maths In 1970

A logger sells a lorry load of timber for £1000.
His cost of production is 4/5 of the selling price.
What is his profit? 

2. Teaching Maths In 1980 
A logger sells a lorry load of timber for £1000.
His cost of production is 4/5 of the selling price, or £800.
What is his profit? 

3. Teaching Maths In 1990 
A logger sells a lorry load of timber for £1000.
His cost of production is £800.
Did he make a profit? 

4. Teaching Maths In 2000 

A logger sells a lorry load of timber for £1000.
His cost of production is £800 and his profit is £200.
Your assignment: Underline the number 200.

5. Teaching Maths In 2008 

A logger cuts down a beautiful forest because he is totally selfish and inconsiderate and cares nothing for the habitat of animals or the preservation of our woodlands. 
He does this so he can make a profit of £200. What do you think of this way of making a living? Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down their homes? (There are no wrong answers. If you are upset about the plight of the animals in question counselling will be available) 

6. Teaching Maths 2018

أ المسجل تبيع حموله ش حنة من الخشب من دولار. صاحب تكلفة الانتاج من> الثمن. ما هو الربح له؟

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Culture and the Christian Faith

In an interview in Australia, Michael Horton had some very interesting things to say.

His call throughout for Christians to get back into the world, relating to unbelievers, doing their jobs well, being involved in cultural activities, etc is well put and surely completely correct. What was intriguing to me was that in his final paragraphs his views of ecclesial practice were shown to be rather myopic. He could only conceive of a modern magisterial reformed view...

Bible teaching and catechesis, and word and sacrament ministry. Then we could stop all this mid-week stuff and let Christians have those six days back that you find in the Ten Commandments...

or a modern evangelical subculture view (which he quite rightly criticises):

But now, we have an alternative culture going on so that a Christian can actually be involved in the Christian ghetto 24 hours a day, listening to Christian radio and Christian music, going to Christian functions, taking the kids to Christians sports to the point where they don't actually know a non-Christian. And no-one at their work would know that they're Christians because they don't have any deep relationships with any of their co-workers. They're so busy with other Christians all the time.

What about the idea that 'church' invades the week, that the subculture is open to non-Christians, that gospel conversation (not corny, but contextualized) saturates everything? Has Dr H not heard of the best of the missional/emerging church?

Prince Caspian (making of)

The recent Prince Caspian film has come in for a lot of stick – “Ben Barnes’ accent is tosh”, “the children are annoying”, “the Telmarine army is too small”, etc. I watched it again the other day and actually thought it was quite good. Most criticisms probably occasionaed by jealousy at the rather good performances by the younger actors and their obvious enjoyment of the project. 

The book is perhaps the weakest of the Narnia series, consisting of long flashbacks, and with quite compressed action (not that any of this prevents the imagination from having a great time with the material, of course) which the film expands on, even adding a long extra plot element, the attack on Miraz’ castle. Although ‘inauthentic’, that sequence is exciting, and effective in underlining the early gung ho hubris of Peter and is well done on screen. Even better is the conjuring of the White Witch – fabulous cameo from Tilda swinton and very effectively done. 

Not surprisingly the filmmakers didn’t know what to do with the almost surreal bacchic revelry that occurs at Lucy’s encounter with Aslan towards the end of the book, so they ommitted it altogether. For me the loss of this section and the generally scanty appearances of Aslan were the disappointments. Maybe they couldn’t take Lewis’ Christianization of classical cultural themes and figures? They prefer a Disneyfication instead.

The documentaries on the DVD certainly show that many in the production team do not understand Narnia, whether willfully or because of ignorance.

The message of Narnia is that ‘we’re all one’
No it isn’t. That’s the “message” of Disney.
At the end of the movie, the day is saved by nature
Well kind of… The next comment does spot who’s behind that…
it’s Aslan
and Aslan, really, is an animal
CS Lewis is showing us that we can learn from animals and that we can learn from nature
But ripped from its context of dominion, gody rule, as found in Genesis 1 and 2 (which the script even recognised – “Narnia was never right unless a son of Adam was on the throne”, they rightly retained from the book) this is mere tree hugging.

The endless pre-menu adverts were also advertising a (straight to TV) film set in a corny pseudo-Indian setting with elephants, white marble and petals, plus a bronzed girl band… “The Cheetah Girls: One World”, on the Disney channel… Hurrah for vacuous universalism – that’ll save us, yeah

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Messiah with a twist for Easter

In 1992 a large group of African-American musicians (including some I’ve even heard of in my white British and Western European art music bubble) got together and produced one of my favourite bits of music – Handel’s Messiah: a Soulful Celebration. Sixteen numbers from the 18th century masterpiece have been, for want of a better word, ‘jazzed up’, to create something I like even more than the original (as a classical musician, am I allowed to say that?) I give it a clear 9.5 out of 10 and the oscar for best adaptation. Mervyn Warren seems to have worked hardest on the artistic side of the project, and what a result! 

Having enjoyed the album for the last 10 years, I’m now really getting into it.

The ‘Overture’ is now a partial history of Black music, from African forest drums to Hip-Hop and House, using all Handel’s themes, given new poignancy in the Negro Spiritual section and new fire in the Jazz Fusion passage. ‘Every valley’ starts in proper baroque vein, hilariously interrupted by brassy synth and drums before the rapper starts up. ‘Why do the nations?’ is a big band jazz scat whirlwind, and so on…

Best of all (and guaranteed to make me cry) is ‘But who may abide the day of his coming?’ The drama of this track is incredible. Patti Austin sings it better than any bloke ever could (pace Handel), the choral snippets and hints at polyphony in ‘gospel’ style are exceedingly fitting, somehow the electronic instruments just work perfectly on the baroque figures and harmonies. The tension mounts with repetitions, questions, quasi-improv, interjections in that way that only Black religious music can, and when it is almost unbearable (for he is like a refiner’s fire… tell me, won’t ya’ who’s gonna stand, for you got to stand, stand…), after the instrumental a la Handel, the confidence of the singing voice comes to rest in a glorious major chord not found in the original, decorating a theologically welcome addition, ‘I know, I know, I know, I will abide’.

Whoa. Tears in my eyes just thinking about this. For who can abide the day of his coming? Only those who trust in the Messiah’s sacrifice on their behalf. They will be refined by the fire of judgement, not consumed, and they can know that they will abide. Who else but Christ can give such a hope? Who else has the words of eternal life? Who else is risen from the dead?

The tomb is empty – Jesus is alive! Hallelujah!

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

April Fool's Concert

The fool in question is me, this morning attempting the impossible piano part of the Franck Violin Sonata (which I have been longing to play for about 15 years). I slipped in Fazil Say's Jazz Fantasy on Mozart's Turkish Rondo as a mid-concert encore (or as a quasi-finale for the 2-movement sonata) which got a few laughs.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

Sonata in E minor, K304

Tempo di menuetto

In 1778 the piano was in charge of duo sonatas and got most of the best tunes, occasionally allowing the violin to double up on them. At the recapitulation of the first movement’s main theme the violin gets its one chance to play a melody without it being first introduced by the piano. Unfortunately the jazzy chords being played on the keyboard rather steal the glory at that point! The spare, almost skeletal texture keeps the sonata from being one-sided, however, and Mozart lets the string player sing out as well as accompany the pianist. This is the fourth of Mozart’s nineteen violin sonatas, and probably the darkest. The shimmering brightness of the second movement’s trio section is the only extended passage in a major key. For a few moments the music takes on a hymn-like quality before returning to the wistful minuet, one of Mozart’s most winning melodies. Despite the relative lightness of this second movement the sonata’s dark mood dominates the final bars of the work and gentleness gives way to something much more defiant.

César Franck (1822-1890)

Sonata in A major

Allegretto ben moderato
Allegro – quasi Lento – Tempo I – quasi Presto
Recitativo-Fantasia (ben moderato) 
Allegretto poco mosso

In the story of this German-Belgian organist a blow is struck against the cult of youth and shininess everywhere. As a precocious child virtuoso Franck had ‘produced a quantity of flashy, quite worthless display pieces’ (Max Harrison), which even his reverential disciple Vincent d’Indy thought monotonous. He did not pursue the career his pushy father had planned for him, that of an international pianist. Instead, he plunged into hard-working semi-obscurity in the organ loft of St Clotilde’s in Paris for four decades, composing almost nothing. How many musicians flower in their fifties? How many composers manage to produce such original and sublime masterpieces in spare evenings and in retirement? This sonata dates from 1886 and has established itself as perhaps the pinnacle of the repertoire. It displays Franck’s skill as an improviser, sliding effortlessly between keys and sections, alongside his tight control of cyclic form, in which he used and re-used themes and motifs within and between movements. The opening movement is graceful and rarely darkened. The second is very busy, alternating between driving, flowing passages and angry declamations. A pensive, almost mystical mood infuses the third movement, some of the themes of which re-appear in the finale, woven into the extended canon (imitation) of the infectiously lyrical melody.