Last week I wrote about the March for Life in Washington. During the week other significant gatherings came across my radar.
Most bizarre of all was the march on Washington portrayed in Messiah, an intriguing 10-part drama series on Netflix. This dramatic march was led by a character thought by his followers to be the Messiah returned. It is not a theological work and some of the premises don’t sit too easily with Christianity, so some faculties have to be suspended to enjoy it.
Some of his activities have echoes in the life of Jesus (e.g. with his followers in the desert, being interrogated by authorities, slipping through the crowds unnoticed). He has some wise sayings alright (e.g. “if you seek comfort you won’t find truth, but if you seek truth you may find comfort”) but these may have been lifted from other sources.
It’s all very ambiguous and mysterious but quite intense, absorbing and rather unpredictable.
Michelle Monaghan excels as a conflicted CIA agent and there are other interesting characters – an angry Israeli agent who won’t confront his many demons, a disillusioned Baptist Minister who finds new purpose in following the guru. So is this mystery man really a/the Messiah, or a charlatan or a fantasist or political extremist?
As far as any objectionable content goes, we could have done without the fairly frequent f-words and unfortunately it is also marred by a gratuitous sex scene that’s fairly graphic.
Over in the UK there were many marches and gatherings last Friday to either celebrate or protest Brexit. I was traveling at the time and out of curiosity listened to much of LBC’s coverage. That UK radio station has lots of opinionated presenters and those on that night were Andrew Pierce, a very strong Brexiteer and Nick Ferrari, a more muted Brexit supporter.
In one contribution Nigel Farage compared the split with the EU to Henry VIII’s break with Rome – a bit of a stretch I thought. In his own Nigel Farage Show on Brexit Day (aka Independence Day, Freedom Day, etc.) he sounded like the cat that got the cream. I’m not a fan of triumphalism in any situation, and I had to admire those Brexiteers who said they’d take a low key approach out of sensitivity and respect for the feelings of those who voted Remain.
The Big Questions returned for a 10-week run to BBC1 last Sunday morning and I was surprised Brexit didn’t figure more prominently.
When one audience member mentioned it presenter Nicky Campbell wryly said “did you say Brexit was divisive?” This question under discussion was: “Is Britain failing white working class boys?” This was partly in the context of a college refusing a substantial donation to fund scholarships for such boys, because of the perceived racial/colour discrimination.
Experts who disagreed over the premise of the question quoted figures at each other – “follow the data!” one man said with conviction, but then others thought the data showed something different. There were distinctions between class, poverty, those in receipt of school dinners – different measurements.
I found myself most convinced by those who argued for support for all those underachieving regardless of race or colour. One lady launched into a sentence that immediately included “patriarchy”, “privilege” and “entitlement”. Others also followed a strong ideological line with a flavour of divisive identity politics.
And what of our own politics with a General Election imminent? For the most part I can’t stand the discussions between the politicians as they are so predictable. I’ve had more than enough of politicians telling how ‘clear’ they are, their sporting metaphors, those ‘leaders’ interviews’. I think it’s unfair to have ‘leaders’ debates’ without all leaders present, however unwieldy that might be. From a democratic point of view Peadar Tóibín of Aontú and Mary Lou McDonald of Sinn Féin have been excluded too often.
I do enjoy the shows where the pundits discuss the polls and the relative chances of various candidates being elected. Ivan Yates’ predictions on The Hard Shoulder (Newstalk) have been particularly engaging.
There should have been more explanations of the proportional representation (PR) voting system – so that people will learn how to use it effectively – by giving first preferences then moving on to give votes down the ballot paper to candidates you can just about tolerate to ensure they get ahead of candidates you can’t tolerate at all.
And there’s quite a few of those.
Pick of the Week:
Songs of Praise
BBC1, Sunday, February 9, 1.15 pm
Seán Fletcher is in Whalley Abbey in Lancashire with a minister with Asperger’s and the world’s first performing autistic adult choir.
For The Record: Seamus Mallon
RTÉ1, Monday, February 10, 11.35 pm
Following his recent death, another chance to see this profile of one of Northern Ireland’s pre-eminent politicians.
Being Stan: A Life In Focus
RTÉ1, Thursday, February 13, 10.15 pm
Sr Stanislaus Kennedy recently turned 80. This documentary celebrates her life’s work as a champion for the homeless.