Recent posts

These are my most recent posts. You'll find plenty more from the menu above.

Running film discussions for outreach

Why and how should we use film discussions in evangelism? Using films within our communication is very helpful because film is an extremely popular medium. Long-form television is arguably more popular, but film remains immensely important. Second, film is powerful because it is ‘multimodal’ – it doesn’t communicate in a single mode (images, spoken words, music, etc.) but in several at once. This means it connects with us in a...

Genres within the prophets

A ‘genre’ is a type or style of writing. Contemporary examples would include novels, scientific text books, fairy tales, insurance documents, poems, tweets, and so on. The are several main genres with the Bible, including historical narrative, poetry, letters, law/instruction, and prophecy. We're interested in the prophets here, but there isn't one single type of prophetic writing in the Bible. There are several prophetic genres. Many of these are kinds of...

Six key questions about texts in the prophets

We need to ask a few key questions about every passage we come to in the prophetic books. What is the historical context?What is the biblical context?How is the prophet’s message presented? (see Genres within the Prophets, Hebrew Poetry and Figures of Speech)What main problems does the prophet diagnose?What are the remedies?What is the underlying message about God and humanity? These posts may be related: Handling prophetic literature This is a collection...

The CAST model of digital communication – Part 1: Concept

As I wrote in the previous article, the very simple model of communication is inadequate. It assumes that the conversation partners hear everything clearly and understood each other perfectly. This is far from the truth, as is clear within a social semiotic theory of communication. This article introduces my CAST model of communication, and considers the first aspect of it: Concept.

What is communication?

An important question is, what is communication? It is more complex than we imagine, only happening in response to a prompt and when a recipient's attention is sufficiently engaged to interpret the prompt.

Introducing Modes

Gunther Kress defines a ‘mode’ as 'a socially shaped and culturally given semiotic resource for making meaning'. This article explains what this means.

Media in a post-truth world – part 2

Why do people click so frequently on false stories? How do these lies spread so rapidly? It is certainly true that facts and non-facts circulate at a speed that would have been inconceivable before the Internet and social media. Most people do not have the means, or perhaps inclination, to fact check the things that they see on social media. Psychologists say that all human beings have a strong confirmation...

Media in a post-truth world – part 1

 This post was first published on Engaging Media, the website of the Lausanne Media Engagement Network. Oxford Dictionaries chose ‘post-truth’ as its Word of the Year for 2016. Editor Casper Grathwohl said, Fuelled by the rise of social media as a news source and a growing distrust of facts offered up by the establishment, post-truth as a concept has been finding its linguistic footing for some time. . . . I...

Despite present appearances, God is in control

I spent last week on the edge of Berlin teaching on the Bible and Culture course, as I’ve done for the last eight years. It’s a four-week programme for IFES (International Fellowship of Evangelical Students) staff and graduates from Europe and Eurasia. This year, we had 35 participants from the UK across to Kazakhstan. I taught the book of Daniel for the whole of each morning. That’s an immense privilege,...

Seven stories we keep telling

Over the course of around twenty years of analysing films, books and other media, I have often been struck at the ways in which storytellers keep telling the same kinds of tales over and over again. That’s not to say that the narratives they construct are inevitably wearied or hackneyed; far from it. There is extraordinary diversity in the way that the themes have been explored. Yet, it remains the case that, under the surface, most if not all stories are versions of a limited number of key themes.

Freedom Fighter: Amazing Grace

This is an old article of mine that was published on Culturewatch (which later became the Film & Bible Blog from Damaris) in 2007. I am gradually republishing many of my Culturewatch articles here, especially since the demise of Damaris Trust and its websites. What's prompted me to republish this article on Amazing Grace today is that I'm teaching on Bible & Culture this week, and we had a film discussion on it...

Old Testament Timelines

My Old Testament timelines are now available in five languages on Slideshare. If you spot any errors, please let me know! The two different chronologies for the patriarchs are because there are two significantly different ways of dating the Exodus. You'll need to look at the evidence and draw your own conclusions! Note that these are still a work in progress, but they're available now for those who want them in...