The prints are looking nice – after many hours of backwards and forwards we think we have them perfect. Hopefully this run will be the ones we use and we can launch the new art site and party on in to the night.
Watch this space.
Nigel Warburton will be on the Richard Bacon show on Radio 5 live, Tues 30th June from midnight, talking on the subject of agnosticism and whether it’s a cop-out. I recently posted a flyer for his talk with the group Dialogue with Islam about whether we need religion. I have heard from a source that there was ‘a symptomatic moment… when the Humanist association organizer without irony asked the Muslims to the pub to carry on the conversation.’
A while ago I was interviewed by Jon Ronson, and since then have met him a few times at a friend’s barbeques. A fascinating and funny man to talk to. Last night I watched his ‘Revelations’ documentary on the Alpha Course, which exists to turn agnostics into Christians. It was on C4, and is well worth a watch if you can find some way of doing so. He followed eight agnostics attending the course, who, through the clever structure of the course days, had Jesus gently and relentlessly sold to them. It became increasingly uncomfortable to watch. Certain things struck me in particular:
1 – Each of the attendees was clearly unhappy. Hence, one imagines, their attending such a course. The relentless and structured selling of any solution to unhappiness in that sort of environment would clearly be effective. Any message could have been offered. In fact, the 1 in 8 success rate the Alpha Course apparently boasts would seem rather low, compared to other life-changing happiness secrets (bogus or otherwise) which could have been proffered instead. Having attended several courses, religious or otherwise in my time, I can testify how quickly one falls in line with thinking, and starts to think and speak as a devotee, enjoying the bonding of the group. It’s a pointer to perhaps how ultimately mundane and misguided the message was at this course that not more attendees were ‘spoken to’. Loads of unhappy people ready to accept God, and the perfect environment to find him: you’d imagine a least as much enthusiasm and ‘conversion’ as from an NLP course, surely?
2. I can’t reconcile in my mind the person of Jesus, whoever he was in history, and the modern need to have a course as manipulative as this one. It’s a shame that God seems to need salesmen, and a structure as ultimately cynical and carefully thought-through as the Alpha Course to connect with people. There were parallels with a time-share ‘talk’ that I once went to, and echoes of plenty of brain-washing techniques from history. What a shame that people, especially unhappy ones, need to be broken down in such a familiar way. The Christians involved I’m sure, don’t see it as remotely cynical, just preparing a ground for God to do his best work. But if they don’t also stop and honestly wonder if they’ve been recruited into a persuasion exercise, then they’re doing themselves an injustice. I spoke to an ex-pastor recently from a Charistmatic church who left his calling out of disgust at the manipulative techniques he knew he was employing, and expected to employ, with his congregation. The placing of the music, the manipulative nature of the music itself, the timing of the emotional pleas, the whipping up of the crowd hysteria, the pushing over of people to suggest they’d been ‘slain in the Spirit’, the transparent nonsense of getting everyone to talk in tongues and the arbitrariness of so-called ‘interpretations; the heightening of suggestibility: he had the honesty to realise that nothing separated him from a stage hypnotist or a revivalist showman. He still privately believes, but is disgusted at the manipulative techniques that are used. At the time, it’s hard for him to say if he was being ‘cynical’ or not. Probably not – he was just letting God do his work and providing a rousing experience for his congregation. It took a moment of brave honesty to see what was going on.
3. There was an interesting exchange between a questioning attendee and one of the Christians designated to gently persuade them during the small group meetings. The Christian said that God had spoken to him on a bus. He had been asked to carry out an assignment which he felt was probably too much for him, and God has spoken to him, ‘as a voice inside his head’, to say ‘you can’t do it’. The question was asked – a perfectly sensible one – how did he know it came from God, as opposed to from himself? The question was treated as patronising and offensive, by the very people placed there to answer sensible questions. It was brilliantly symptomatic of the problem: that rational discussion has no place at the table. Just believe it because it’s true. End of story.
So we’ve finally updated the blog. In case you were confused before you are now looking at the official Derren Brown blog. It’s no longer just Coops’ blog – we had to take it off him for being naughty – however he will be putting in an appearance once the tour is over.
We made lots of upgrades and hope you like them. If not, just tell us we suck and we’ll be happy to cry in a corner. Big thanks to Mr Brain who re-coded it and most of all Abeo for doing the leg-work whilst I concentrated on finishing up the new art site (and re-ordered my wardrobe) which should be launching in about a week.
For those of you who regularly post – get yourself a gravatar here which will give you a picture next to your comments.
As iTricks previously hinted, the Derren Brown ENIGMA run has been extended by another three nights, due to popular demand.
The rave reviewed London show will now include at least another three nights of performance on the 23rd, 24th and 25th July 2009.
The show takes place at the London Aldephi Theatre, and you can scoop up extra tickets right here
Our good friend (and Britain’s most gorgeous psychologist) Professor Richard Wiseman has published another masterpiece. I caught Derren reading a copy and got quite upset I was the last to know it was finally available:
In “59 Seconds”, psychologist Professor Richard Wiseman presents a fresh approach to change that helps people achieve their aims and ambitions in minutes, not months. From mood to memory, persuasion to procrastination, and resilience to relationships, Wiseman outlines the research supporting this new science of rapid change, and describes how these quick and quirky techniques can be incorporated into everyday life. Think a little, change a lot.
This title helps to: discover why even thinking about going to the gym can help you keep in shape; learn how pot plants make you more creative; and, find out why putting a pencil between your teeth instantly makes you happier.
‘At last, a self-help guide that is based on proper research. Perfect for busy, curious, smart people’ – Simon Singh
‘A triumph of scientifically proven advice over misleading myths of self-help. Challenging, uplifting and long overdue’ – Derren Brown.
Available now and recommended by DB himself.