Monday, February 23, 2009


1. Is This the End? Drama and Puppet Plays for the Easter Season by Paul Clark (The Hive, 2008).

Making children's time in church services interesting/funny can be a challenge. (Back in seminary, theologs irreverently called it the 'Brats' Chat').

Here we have some very creative ideas to get the Easter message across to young people. They include a 'Shrek' donkey telling the Palm Sunday story. It's rated 'comedy' and it's very funny - 7 minutes of it, if your congregation can cope with some humour. Palm Sunday is the setting for a political rally - with placards etc. The 'sideways look' at communion will be also challenging for people who don't smile much (with its party food - a packet of chips, bottle of coke, basketball etc.).

The Easter weekend has four more serious offerings - 'Is this the End?', 'The Body Snatchers', 'Inspector Clueless Investigates Easter', and 'Emmaus'.

Brings back memories of skits we used to do at Beach Missions. Very entertaining.


2. Not a Tame Lion: A Lent course based on the writings of C. S. Lewis, by Hilary Brand (Darton, Longman and Todd, 2008).

C. S. Lewis has done more than almost any other writer to make Christianity believable for better-than-averagely-educated moderns. But what of those for whom he's just too complicated or dense?

Here'a book of very thoughtful group studies for anyone, well-read or not. It has everything: scriptures, getting to know you ideas, film clips, 'brainstorming' prompts, quotes from the great man, discussion and reflection material, meditations and prayers, etc. etc. (It's so practical, that in the Leaders' Notes section there's a tip about how to manage DVDs: if there are two clips, 'the best time to change over to the second clip is during the first "reflect and share" session')!

Hilary Brand uses excerpts from three films: The Chronicles of Narnia's The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian, and Shadowlands (the Attenborough cinema version). C. S. Lewis's Aslan was not a tame lion; and the Christ of the Gospels 'is not always a comfortable Saviour', so this Lenten course is sometimes confrontational, especially in the discussions of Lewis's hard views on suffering and hell (which softened after his wife died).

Excellent for groups. But also - and this is not the primary purpose of this book - it's the best introduction to C. S. Lewis for folks who've never read him that I've ever seen.

Here are some of the famous quotes Hilary gets us mulling over:

'Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home'. 'There are two equal and opposite errors... One is to disbelieve in [devils'] existence. The other is to believe and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them'. 'The Christian faith is what it is and was what it was long before I was born and whether I like it or not'. 'All the great religions were first preached and long practised in a world without chloroform.' 'Pain is God's megaphone to rouse a deaf world.' 'Praise almost seems to be inner health made audible'.

Those of us who've had a fairly thorough theological education can easily be handicapped by all that when reading a 'layperson' like C. S. Lewis. Yes, we can argue with some of his 'complicated simplicities'. But if we allow the child in us to be astonished at his insights and wordsmithing we too can still be 'surprised by joy' as he was.

I wish I'd had a resource like Hilary's when I was pastor of a congregation.

Rowland Croucher

February 2009.

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Rowland Croucher


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