Innocence and Experience: The influence of William Blake on Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials

This article is an extract from my book, Dark Matter: A Thinking Fan's Guide to Philip Pullman. I have edited it lightly to remove the worst plot spoilers, but inevitably I must mention some events towards the end of the trilogy. As far as possible, I have edited these so that the details of what […]

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Philip Pullman and the Devil's Party

This article is an extract from my book, Dark Matter: A Thinking Fan's Guide to Philip Pullman. See more articles relating to Pullman and His Dark Materials. Philip Pullman was sixteen, studying for A-Levels, when he first read John Milton's Paradise Lost, first published in 1667.[1]He immediately fell in love with it: ‘I found it intensely […]

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Mortal Combat: The clash of values in Mortal Engines

A thousand years in the future, the high-tech world of the 21st-century is ancient history. It is of interest only to archaeologists who look for old tech – fragments left after from the 60-minute war which wiped away civilisation around the globe. Facing dwindling resources, the towns and cities have become mobile, travelling around the plains on vast caterpillar tracks in pursuit of smaller, slower towns which are sources of valuable resources as well as potential competition. This is “Municipal Darwinism” – survival of the fastest. The largest of the predator cities is London – a vast multi-deck machine with enormous metal jaws into which can be drawn prey such as the small mining town which attempts to escape at the start of this story.

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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, […]

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Figures of speech

Figures of speech are found in prose as well as poetry, but are generally more frequent and intense in Hebrew poetry. 1. Similes A simile is a direct comparison between two things. Example – Amos 5:24 Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream. 2. Metaphors A metaphor is a stronger comparison, using […]

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Hebrew Poetry

Some fundamental aspects of how Hebrew poetry works in the Old Testament

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Genres within the prophets

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 […]

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Six key questions about texts in the prophets

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 […]

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The CAST model of digital communication – Part 2

In the previous article, I began to introduce my CAST model of communication, and explained the first aspect of it: Concept. In this article, I introduce the other three aspects of the model: Audience, Shaping, and Transmission.

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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.

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A social semiotic theory of multimodal communication

Gunther Kress's social semiotic theory of communication emphasises the roles of the initiator (providing prompts for a recipient) and recipient of communication (interpreting the prompt), and of the use of multiple modes.

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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.

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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.

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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.

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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 […]

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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 […]

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Discovering the brokenness of the world

I've just come across this fascinating and insightful quote by film critic Michael Chabon, in the introduction to Matt Soller Seitz's The Wes Anderson Collection, about the brokenness of the world: The world is so big, so complicated, so replete with marvels and surprises that it takes years for most people to begin to notice […]

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Gift Horse

The tenth sculpture to occupy the long-vacant fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square is Hans Haacke’s Gift Horse. The plinths in the other three corners of the Square have been occupied by their statues from the outset. The one in the north-east corner supports a statue of George IV on horseback. The north-western one, built in […]

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Aningaaq: Jonas Cuarón's Gravity spin-off

A brief introduction to Jonas Cuaron's short film spin-off from Gravity, showing Aningaaq's side of the conversation with Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock).

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Is God a moral monster?

The Old Testament raises some tricky questions of morality for people living in the contemporary world, at least in the west. The alleged 'genocide' of the Canaanites is one that I hear frequently. It isn't only people who are not Christians who have questions about it; Christians often feel embarrassed about these parts of the Old Testament. However, I am am convinced that there are some very good responses to these issues. I tried to outline a few responses in the first of a series of four sessions tackling difficult questions during Above Bar Church's Discipleship School in the autumn of 2014.

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He who has ears to hear - The Lives of Others

Tony Watkins's article on Florian Henckel von Donnersmark's Das Leben Der Anderen (The Lives of Others) on the transforming effect of art and love on an East German Stasi officer.

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© Tony Watkins, 2020
The Tony and Jane Watkins Trust oversees and supports the ministries of Tony and Jane Watkins in Christian training, education, and communication. It is a charity registered in England and Wales, no. 1062254.
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