Friday, January 28, 2011

"God on the Box": Peter Owen Jones

Last Wednesday Reading University Chaplaincy's New Year lecture, "God on the Box", was attended by a large number of St John's members, including two home groups who usually meet on Wednesdays. The speaker was Peter Owen Jones, presenter of Around the World in 80 Faiths, Extreme Pilgrim and How to Live a Simple Life. It was an inspirational and challenging evening with a lot that was relevant to the EcoCongregation journey. It will soon be possible to watch the lecture, although not the questions afterwards, on the university's tv website RU:ON.

Many of us were struck by his explanation that most television now is driven by 'jeopardy' - in order to keep viewers hooked they must be persuaded that the subjects they are watching face jeopardy. This means that many interesting and important subjects just don't make it into TV documentaries any more because there is no element of jeopardy. It also means that we have so much jeopardy thrown at us that it is hard to separate what really matters, eg climate change and 'the crime of extinction', from the fabricated jeopardy.

He also talked a lot about anti-consumerism - if you disagree with bankers' bonuses, take your money away from those banks! He said that his three months without money had 'de-toxed' him from the need to buy. He has enough possessions for the rest of his life. He will be talking more about this at the forthcoming Christian Ecology Link conference in London on 5 March which a couple of us plan to attend: End of the Age of Thorns-Surviving Consumerism.

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