The similar phrase 'Worldly Christianity' is one used by Bonhoeffer. It's J Gresham Machen that I want to line up most closely with. See his Christianity and culture here. Having done commentaries on Proverbs (Heavenly Wisdom) and Song of Songs (Heavenly Love), a matching title for Ecclesiastes would be Heavenly Worldliness. For my stance on worldliness, see 3 posts here.

Evangelical Holiness and other addresses

Evangelical Holiness and other addresses is the latest Banner book from Iain Murray. It contains five addresses - Evangelical Holiness (given at Keswick), The attack on the Bible (given to C of S ministers), Apostasy, The Benefits and dangers of controversy and Rest in God. The last essay repeats his booklet on the subject, previously published by Banner but it fits in here. As ever what you are getting here is clear thinking Reformed theology backed up by a vast knowledge of western history that sees him quote a massive range of writers and give some fascinating footnotes. The index is a real help but a select bibliography might have been worth adding too.

Bragg on the Talmud

Today's In our time on Radio 4 with Melvyn Bragg was an interesting one. It was on the Jewish Talmud. Details can be found here.

55 years old

I was 55 last week and my wonderful wife arranged for us to enjoy a lovely meal at a local pizzeria. It was a very nice time.
(My youngest was with us most of the time but seems to have been hiding when these were taken).

GT on mortification of sin

Reformation Heritage Books has a little series of booklets on Cultivating Biblical Godliness and my father-in-law Geoff Thomas has written a 30 page thing How do I kill remaining sin? He simply works though four propositions that apply to every Christian majoring on the one that says that every Christian is to be constantly killing remaining sin. You can get it here. I remember this material being preached at Aber either last summer or the one before.

Ware on the manhood of Christ

I have just finished Bruce Ware's Book The man Christ Jesus. By taking up this one aspect of Christology there is always the danger of imbalance but a book on the subject is probably needed. The teaching is quite basic really but is set out well and does help one to think through some of the issues. I won't say more as this is the book that will be discussed next at the Theological Study Group of the John Owen Centre, which meets June 16. I hope to be there. There's time to read the book and plan to join us may be, even if you weren't planning to before. The book is not long, just eight chapters.

Annual Lecture Evangelical Library 2014

Do note that the Annual Lecture of The Evangelical Library for 2014 will be held at 6:30 pm at the Library when Andrew Atherstone (Wycliffe Hall, Oxford) will lecture on “George Whitefield: Eulogies and Elegies in England and New England” All are very welcome.

Lord's Day May 25 2014

Great day yesterday. My son, Rhodri, was preaching morning and evening. I have only heard him once or twice before so it was encouraging to hear him preach so well. He took us to Jonah 3 in the morning and in the evening to Mark 3 and 4. It was particularly nice to hear firstly, secondly and thirdly, which I still think are very helpful words in a sermon. He starts in LTS this coming academic year and I'm sure that will be a blessing to him. I can see why some would be happy to have him as pastor now but that thorough theological preparation will be for the best in the long run.

Welshman scores crucial goal once again

Gareth Bale it was this time with the vital second goal that put Real Madrid ahead for the first time in their 4-1 win over Atletico in the Champions League final.

10 Biographies of Puritans

1. Henry Smith: England's Silver-tongued Preacher by Ronald B. Jenkins
2. Richard Sibbes by Mark E Dever
3. The life and times of Arthur Hildersham by Leslie A Rowe
4. A life of Gospel Peace: A Biography of Jeremiah Burroughs by Philip Simson
5. John Owen: Prince of Puritans by Andrew Thomson
6. Glimpses of glory: John Bunyan and English Dissent by Richard Greaves
7. Thomas Manton A Guided Tour of the Life and Thought of a Puritan Pastor by Derek Cooper
8. The life and times of the Rev Philip Henry by Matthew Henry
9. Life and death of the Rev Joseph Alleine by Alexander Duff
10. Samuel Rutherford by Andrew Thomson

Over 4000!

I notice with the last post that I have just gone over the 4000 mark with posts on this blog. Not all posts have been up to the same high standard I'm sure but we do aim to keep people informed and amused. We began at the end of 2006. Thanks for reading (if you have been).
Top five posts:

1. Lyrics London 20 Apr 2012, 6 comments 10154
2. 10 words beginning with 'X' 27 Jun 2007, 4 comments 9880
3. 10 Famous ducks (fictional) 15 Sep 2007, 5 comments 8097
4. 10 Hindi words we know 3 Oct 2007, 4 comments 4800
5. Moustache Styles 29 Jan 2007, 3 comments 4670

James R White on the Qur'an

We live in an area where there are many Muslims. Opportunities to speak are few and far between but I feel it is important to at least know something about Islam. James R White's book What every Christian should know about the Qur'an is probably a correct title as well as an eye catching one. He painstakingly works his way through the material writing about Muhammad and the supposed revelation of the Qur'an, what it says about the Trinity, the cross, salvation, the gospel and other matters such as supposed prophecies about Muhammad in the Bible and how the Qur'an reached its present form. He writes firmly but fairly and if any suitably educated Muslim would sit and read this book they would be forced to stop and consider many things. It is also very helpful to Christians in informing us on the things we need to know and showing where the argument needs to take place. This book is well worth getting hold of. For a proper review see Themelios 38:3.

10 people who died at the age of 55

I did something like this once before. Sobering.
1. Emily Dickinson, solitary Massachusetts poet who posthumously became a giant of American literature
(December 10, 1830 -- May 15, 1886)
2. Bill Haley, unexpected American rock pioneer who sang "Rock Around the Clock"
(July 6, 1925 -- February 9, 1981)
3. Johnny Ramone, guitarist and long time member of The Ramones, rock star
(October 8, 1948 -- September 15, 2004)
4. Will Rogers, affable Oklahoma-born humorist, entertainer and wit
(November 4, 1879 -- August 15, 1935)
5. Woody Guthrie, American folk musician
(July 14, 1912 -- October 3, 1967)
6. Lee Remick, American TV and film actress
(December 14, 1935 -- July 2 1991)
7. Tammy Wynette, Country and Western musician and singer
(May 5, 1942 -- April 6 1998)
8. Tommy Boyce, Ssccessful American popular song writer especially with Bobby Hart
(September 29, 1939 – November 23, 1994)
9. Jack Ruby, The man who killed assassin Lee Harvey Oswald
(March 25, 1911 – January 3, 1967)
10. John Gregson, English film actor
 (15 March 1919 – 8 January 1975)

Luther on being a pastor

Men who hold the office of the ministry should have the heart of a mother toward the church; for if they have no such heart, they soon become lazy and disgusted, and suffering, in particular, will find them unwilling … Unless your heart toward the sheep is like that of a mother toward her children- a mother, who walks through fire to save her children- you will not be fit to be a preacher. Labor, work, unthankfulness, hatred, envy, and all kinds of sufferings will meet you in this office. If, then, the mother heart, the great love, is not there to drive the preachers, the sheep will be poorly served.

10 famous people with sons called Gary

1. Racing driver Jack Brabham
2. Comedian Eric Morecambe
3. Golfer Jack Nicklaus
4. Entertainer Bing Crosby
5. Comedian and actor Jerry Lewis
6. Criminal Charlie Kray
7. Comedian Bob Monkhouse
8. Banjo player Earl Scruggs
9. Soccer player Ian Bowyer
10. Actress Julie Goodyear 

10 Famous people called Gary

1. Gary Brooker
2. Gary Moore
3. Gary Numan (born Gary Webb)
4. Gary Lightbody
5. Rev Gary Davis
6. Gary Lineker
7. Gary Neville
8. Gary Player
9. Gary McAllister
10. Gary Wilmot

Vos on Hebrews

Do you have unread books on your shelves? I have just read a book that must have sat there all of 30 years unread. Anyway I finally got round to the little paperback The teaching of the epistle to the Hebrews by Geerhardus Vos. It came out in 1956 and contains five chapters of lecture notes tidied up by Vos's son Johannes. I have long been aware that Vos takes the view that (if we may out it this way) the Hebrews were Gentiles. The argument seems to make sense but it is hard to swallow. On other matters he is less surprising but always very thorough an careful, asking awkward questions and pursuing them until he has satisfactory answers. Hebrews is very different to any of Paul's letters and Vos helpfully points out not only where that is so but suggests why too. This 125 page book is an obvious read for anyone working their way through the epistle. The book has a new cover these days. Vos also wrote two or three essays on the same subject for the Princeton Review. These are online here, here and here.

How the late Bobby Gregg saved Simon and Garfunkel

The American drummer Bobby Gregg has recently died. One of his claims to fame is that he had a hand in saving the career of Simon and Garfunkel.
In 1965 Tom Wilson, who had produced Dylan’s Bringing It All Back Home and “Like a Rolling Stone” decided to experiment with electrifying the Simon & Garfunkel song “The Sound of Silence”. An acoustic version of the song had been released on the Simon & Garfunkel album Wednesday Morning, 3 AM. Inspired by the Byrds hugely popular electric versions of Bob Dylan songs, WIlson not only recorded an electronic version of Dylan’s version of “The House of the Rising Sun” but he employed Dylan's backing band to record an electric backing track for "The Sound of Silence", without Paul Simon’s or Art Garfunkel’s knowledge. Bobby Gregg was once again the drummer Wilson employed in the band creating this backing track. The version of “The Sound of Silence” incorporating the electric band backing track became a #1 hit and was released on the Simon & Garfunkel album Sounds of Silence. It was later listed by Rolling Stone Magazine as the #156 song of all time.
One of the interesting things about this is that Simon & Garfunkel had split up just before this, Simon moving to Europe. It was having the #1 that forced them to think about a reunion, which eventually happened. 

Evangelical Seepage

I think of myself as rather cynical but now and again I catch myself out being naïve. I am always surprised by departures from evangelical truths by evangelical men, even though they come at regular intervals. I was just reading the review article in the June Banner of Truth magazine by Bill Schweizer of Bruce Waltke's collection of articles The Dance between God and Humanity. Schweizer is particularly concerned with Waltke's concessions on the matter of evolution and women ministers but is also anxious about the whole drift in Waltke's approach which does not bode well.
Even more disturbing to read is a review article in the current Themelios (here) by Bob Yarbrough of a work edited by Wheaton scholars Christopher Hays and Christopher Ansberry (Evangelical Faith and the Challenge of Historical Criticism) that is even more radical in its concessions to liberal scholarship. It is depressing to know of such slippage. Yet it is the sort of thing that has happened down the years and the very thing we are warned about again and again in Scripture.

Christ or Hitler?

I was attracted to this book by its title. It contains a collection of anecdotes and biographical material by Wilhelm Busch (1897-1966) complied and translated by Christian Puritz. We usually only hear about Bonhoeffer and may be Niemoller so it is good to get another voice. Busch, a pietist in the state church, is quit frank about the failure of the German churches but also displays the quiet courage that he and several others did show in a period of intense opposition. Busch lived a long life and so only a relatively small portion (at the end) deals directly with the stand against the Nazis. The whole book is full of interest, however, and serves as an encouragements and a challenge to Christians today in various circumstances, especially pastors. I particularly liked the anecdote of Martin Niemoller's father. He was not allowed to preach but he was allowed to read Scripture. He was able to read Psalm 73 in such a way that every Nazi in the place knowing exactly where they stood. See page 203.
"Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For they have no pangs until death; their bodies are fat and sleek. They are not in trouble as others are; they are not stricken like the rest of mankind. Therefore pride is their necklace; violence covers them as a garment. Their eyes swell out through fatness; their hearts overflow with follies. They scoff and speak with malice; loftily they threaten oppression. They set their mouths against the heavens, and their tongue struts through the earth. Therefore his people turn back to them, and find no fault in them. And they say, “How can God know? Is there knowledge in the Most High?” Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches. ... "

The Bobby Jones Open

I resisted raising the subject yesterday but whenever I meet a Robert Jones I recall that there is in America a golf competition The Bobby Jones Open. It is for people whose names are Robert Jones, Bob Jones, Bobby Jones, Robby Jones, or Rob Jones. See more here and here.

Lord's Day May 18 2014

I was sat in the congregation once again yesterday. In the morning Mark Richards from Chesham preached on the parables of the treasure and the pearl of great price. It was very thorough and carefully worked out, a blessing to hear. In the evening one of our deacons led communion and then American Robert Jones, currently studying at LTS, preached from Psalm 16, a psalm clearly very der to him and one that he shared well with us. What a good day among God's people and under god's word. Attendances were quite good. As a result of Mark's children's talk my youngest son tells me that if we really can't have a dog, he might settle for a metal detector.

When the pastor is in the press

When the pastor is in the press, the congregations gets the oil from it - see Christ or Hitler (EP) p 210 (said to Wilhelm Busch by a woman in his congregation). Hopefully, she's right.

Welshman wins F A Cup for Arsenal

It was man of the match Aaron Ramsey who scored the winning goal in extra time for Arsenal today after plucky Hull had led 2-0 for much of the match.

Novelists 40 Edith Wharton

Edith Wharton (1862 – 1937) was a Pulitzer Prize-winning (with Age of Innocence) American novelist, short story writer and designer. She was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1927, 1928 and 1930. She combined her insider's view of America's privileged classes, they say, with a brilliant, natural wit to write humorous, incisive novels and short stories of social and psychological insight. She was well acquainted with many of her era's other literary and public figures, including President Roosevelt. She wrote a stack of novels. I have only read Ethan Frome which I really enjoyed.

10 Biblical Theologies

1. Biblical theology, Geerhardus Vos (1948)
2. Theology of the Older Testament, J Barton Payne (1962)
3. A New Testament Biblical Theology, G K Beale (2011)
4. The King in his Beauty, Thomas Schreiner (2013)
5. God's Glory in Salvation through Judgement, James M Hamilton (2010)
6. A Biblical Theology of the Old Testament/New Testament, Roy B Zuck et al (1991/1994)
7. The Promise-Plan of God, Walter Kaiser (2008)
8. According to Plan/Goldsworthy Trilogy, Graeme Goldsworthy (2002/2001)
9. A Biblical Theology of the Old Testament/New Testament, Chester K Lehman (1971/1974)
10. Old Testament Theology A Thematic Approach, Robin Routledge (2012)

10 more recent systematic theologies

1. Wayne Grudem 1994
2. Robert Reymond 1998
3. Millard Erickson 1992
4. Gerald Bray 2012 (God is love)
5. Douglas Kelly 2011ff (2 of 3 vols available)
6. Michael Horton 2011 (The Christian life)
7. John Frame 2014
8. Robert Duncan Culver 2005
9. Norman Geisler 2002-2005 in 4 vols
10 James Garrett 2001

10 older systematic theologies

1. Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, 4 vols (1895-99)
2. Louis Berkhof, Louis, Systematic Theology (1939)
3. Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 3 vols (1871-1873)
4. W G T Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, 3 vols (1889)
5. A H Strong, Systematic Theology, (1907)
6. Henry Thiessen, Lectures in Systematic Theology (1949)
7. J L Dagg, Manual of Theology,  (1857)
8. Wilhelmus A Brakel, The Christian's Reasonable Service, 4 vols (1700)
9. John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (Latin 1559)
10. Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, 3 vols (Latin 1679-1685)

Rock stars stole my life!

Eleri brought this book back from the local Library the other day. Mark Ellen is not a name I knew although he has been a rock journalist on radio, TV and in magazines all my life. Clearly a gifted writer he guides us, very self-effacingly, through his life so far involved in NME, Smash Hits (which I thought I could remember pre-1978 but that must have been a ting called Disco-45), Q, Mojo, OGWT, Live Aid, etc, etc. Going from the Beatles via his time in a band with Tony Blair through to Lady Gaga and Rihana, he mentions any number of bands and songs, the majority of which I had heard of but many I had not. Inevitably you look out for favourites (Beatles, Kinks, T Rex, ELO, Thin Lizzy, Free, Sade). It is disappointing when you come to the only (passing) reference to Focus and see a proofing error (prog-rockers rather than prog-makers surely?). Lots of bands not mentioned, of course (Monkees, Tangerine Dream, Vangelis, Horslips, Enya, Ron Sexsmith). He makes some interesting observations as we go along. The most interesting thing about the book is probably the title - Rock stars stole my life! It's meant to be ironic, I guess, but reading the book, there's more than a grain of truth here I would guess. Be warned.

The film project

As I feel a little better I'm reading more and watching films less, but I thought I might just mention another six I have seen recently.
1. 1967 The Producers
2. 1968 The Boston strangler
3. 1991 The Fisher king
4. 2006 Employee of the month
5. 2009 Georgia O'Keeffe
6. 2011 The adjustment bureau
I was aware of The Producers but had not watched it through. It is the mildly amusing story of two men who think they can make money by producing a flop musical. Just when they think they have managed it the thing (Spring time for Hitler) turns out to be a success. It works well, unlike the much less amusing Employee of the month which would be okay as a half hour sitcom but not  feature film. The Boston Strangler is an interesting period piece with a stellar role from Tony Curtis. I'd never heard of Georgia O'Keeffe, though I recognised the paintings. This made for TV bi-opic starring Jeremy Irons illustrates well the sheer impossibility of living happily outside God's law. I had seen The adjustment bureau (Emily Blunt, Matt Damon) in the cinema when it was released but had forgotten all about it. Tackling the ever present topic of predestination and free will, it struggles to come up with a rationale. What a blessing to have a Calvinistic understanding of such matters. Perhaps the best of this particular bunch was The Fisher King with Jeff Bridges and Robin Williams. it is too long and needs drastic cutting down but if you persevere it makes a bold attempt to tackle difficult subject matter. Terry Gilliam's Pythonesque paw prints are all over it.


10 Premier League managers sacked this season

With the recent sacking of Tim Sherwood at Spurs and Pep Mel at West Brom I believe 12 managers have gone this season. Here are 10 others:
1. Paolo Di Canio - Sunderland
2. Ian Holloway - Crystal Palace*
3. Martin Jol - Fulham
4. Steve Clarke - West Brom
5. André Villas-Boas - Tottenham
6. Malky Mackay - Cardiff City
7. Michael Laudrup - Swansea City
8. Rene Meulensteen - Fulham
9. Chris Hughton - Norwich City
10. David Moyes - Manchester United

(Resigned apparently - so put Sherwood or Mel in his place)

Romans 8

Derek Thomas has written an excellent little book on that vital chapter Romans 8. These were originally sermons but they have been lightly re-edited for reading and cover the ground in a most readable and spiritually nourishing way. With quotes from Calvin, Owen, some of our great hymns and other excellent sources the book moves through the material a few verses at a time with confidence and clarity in a way that any Christian could benefit from. I read my copy on kindle but the book is available in other formats. The book is called How the gospel brings us all the way home.

The Disappearing spoon

The Disappearing spoon and other true tales from the periodic table by Sam Kean is an award winning book of popular science, looking at the periodic table. It's not the first such book I have read and although I did not understand all of it by any means, I find the whole story fascinating. Sam Kean is a typically atheistic scientist and so he cannot see how it all points to God but it seemed to me that any with eyes to see it must be strengthened in their faith by considering the knowledge such books contain. The disappearing spoon, of course, is made of gallium. See here. In the original Godzilla the missile that kills the monster is tipped with cadmium, which is explained here too. As for why Gandhi hated iodine, another fact touted on the book's cover - see here to learn how Gandhi's influence means that to this day many Indians suffer iodine deficiencies. Fascinating book, well wortha read.

Lord's Day May 11 2014

By God's grace I was able to get along to church again last Lord's Day. All the novelty of the previous week was gone and so it was  something of an effort. I slept all afternoon to make sure I was up for the evening service. Robert was preaching in Bradford and Andrew in Cambridgeshire but Garry Williams (Director of the John Owen Centre) kindly came in the morning and in the evening Adrian Diaper (former LTS student now pastoring in Rickstones, Essex). Both had interesting things to say - Garry on Christ the Shepherd (from Mark 6:6b-44) and Adrian on the resurrection focusing on the opening of Revelation (and 1 Peter). Neither was keen on firstly, secondly, thirdly, which I love but they were easy to listen to and made challenging and apt points to believer and unbeliever alike. One of our deacons led in the morning. We were slightly down on numbers perhaps but not noticeably. One unusual feature of the day was the arrival, morning and evening (and at our tea together at 5 pm), of 10 Romanians (Roma may be). They have hardly any English and have come in search of work, having nowhere to live or anything much more than the clothes they stand in. They appear to be Pentecostal Christians of some sort. Free movement of persons may all sound very dandy on paper but it creates a host of problems. It is hard to see what we can do to help them. Thankfully a Romanian speaker in the congregation was able with Garry to get across the gist of the sermon at the end of the morning meeting.

Walk on by

This is a sad but a great song. I think the piano does it. Recorded late 63 it came out in 64. Written by Bacharach and David it is sung by the inimitable Dionne Warwick.

Sycamore Row

So not having read a John Grisham for a while I enjoyed the latest, Sycamore Row, on Kindle. Typically, while not being great literature, it is interesting, well told and very enjoyable. Grisham has a knack of assembling the right number of characters, fixing them on your mind and interesting you in their story. Wealth is always in the background and plenty of coffee is drunk and food consumed - how much that lures you in I'm not sure. For me there are also constant references to church life and this time the whole matter of forgiveness is raised (Grisham is some sort of Baptist). There are also occasional statistical sound bites too, like the number of lynchings in America. The man's a genius.

Flowers of the dead red sea

We went last night to the Rosemary Branch pub and theatre to see Rhodri performing in Ed Thomas's Flowers of the dead red sea. There is another performance tonight and it follows performances in Aber and will be followed by one on Cardiff Saturday night (Richard Burton Theatre). It features two men working in an abattoir and talking. The action is regularly broken up by the experience of junk falling from the sky. Rhodri and Matt Christmas act it out very well. There is some black comedy and interest is sustained throughout. It is not a particularly Welsh play I thought though the men are South Walians (Joe and Mock, short perhaps for Morgan) and there are references to Tom Jones and to the language. The drowning theme is a very Welsh one too when you think of reservoirs. The over arching theme, however, is late twentieth century western European angst in the absurdist manner. I have long been cynical about absurdist theatre so I was not best placed to appreciate it. As a teenager I avoided pubs but once again I found myself in one (Eleri and I had a very nice meal) to see one of my sons perform (Dylan would gig in pubs in his rock band years). They are much nicer now smoking is banned.

Lloyd-Jones Grandfather

I am looking for tips at the moment. Whether you are or not you might enjoy this post from Christopher Catherwood about his gransha. Link here.

Lord's Day May 4 2014

What a great day it was Sunday to be back in church in Childs Hill after such a  long lay off. We had a good turn out both morning and evening, partly due to visitors. I chose a good day, I guess, as we started with communion, went on with the main service and I felt able to stay for coffee and birthday cake for a five year old in our congregation. Everyone was pleased to see me, I guess, and some were pleasantly surprised. It was also good to see the new windows in the parlour - I must be the last member to see them, a great improvement. Robert preached well from Luke on what follows the Lord's Supper.
The evening meeting with Andrew Hill preaching from Matthew 7 was also really good. It was evangelistic but good for every Christian to here too I was quite tired by then so I left quite soon. We'd had relatives with us for the day, which was also great.

Great Artists with Tim Marlow

I have been catching up recently on Tim Marlow's series (now over 10 years old) on Great Artists. These are under half an hour introductions to various artists that I have been accessing by recording shows on Channel 5 in the middle of the night.
I have now seen
Series 1 - Giotto, Leonardo da Vinci, Albrecht Dürer, Michelangelo, Raphael, Titian, Pieter Bruegel the Elder.
Series 2 - El Greco, Peter Paul Rubens, Diego Velásquez, Rembrandt van Rijn, Johannes Vermeer, J M W Turner, ...
I'm not sure if I've seen the one on Vincent Van Gogh.
I believe there is another series - on Schiele, Cassatt, Rodin, Whistler, Delacroix, David, Goya, Stubbs,  Caravaggio, Holbein and Piero della Francesca.

More films watched

I'm not completely vegging out here but I have been watching a few more films. Not such a  good selection this time, perhaps. They were
1. 1962 To kill a mockingbird
2. 1968 If …
3. 1985 Cocoon
4. 1993 Journey to the centre of the earth
5. 1995 Bradybunch movie
6. 2006 Touch the top of the world
I watched the Bradybunch movie out of curiosity. The Bradys were a composite family with six kids who had a show in the seventies. In the 1995 film they are just as cheesily nice and seventies as in the series, it seems. It's a feel good movie I guess but decidedly weird. I recognised Shelley Long but not Gary Cole or any of the other actors. Gregory Peck took the lead in the award winning monochrome To Kill a Mockingbord, a good aide memoir after reading the book. Very good. If ... was nothing to do with the Kipling poem but an increasingly surreal take on rebellion by pupils at an old-fashioned English public school. Very much of its time, it was Malcolm MacDowell's first feature film and understandably had an 'X' certificate at the time. Curiously, the film switches from polychrome to monochrome at certain points. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to this. Touch the top of the world was a biopic about Erik Weihenmeyer, the first blind man to climb Everest. Footage of the climb is interlaced with the backstory in this made for TV story of inspiration. Sadly, those words 2made for TV" will tell you all you need to know.
The other two films were sci-fi, perhaps my least favourite genre (after musicals and action films). The Jules Verne novel Journey to the centre of the earth gets remade every few years. This was a "made for TV" effort. Enough said. Cocoon, on the other hand, although the whole thing is, of course, hokum, was an opportunity to explore some interesting themes such as ageing and eternal life. When the grandfather tells his grandson of a wonderful world of no pain or death one immediately thought of heaven. However, the two would never be together there. Not a great message. I recognised some of the actors including Steve Guttenberg.