Friday, 15 August 2008

'Make Me a Christian'

Since it is being shown at a time when I am in church (and, for some reason, I didn't manage to get it on BBC iplayer), I have not been able to view the Channel 4 reality show 'Make me a Christian' yet. However, it sounds very interesting.

The Reverend George Hargreaves thinks Britain is in a state of moral decline and that a return to a more 'Christian' way of life would stop the rot. He and his team of mentors aim to show how, by convincing a group of non-Christian volunteers to live by the teachings of the Bible for three weeks. In this three-part series, a group of volunteers from around Leeds in West Yorkshire give up their normal lives and attempt to live like Christians for three weeks. They're not obvious candidates for such an experiment - there's:

Martin, a biker who's a tattooist and a militant atheist
Aaron, a young man who was brought up Christian until he was 12, and now has a girlfriend who is 10 weeks' pregnant
Faye, a lap-dancing manager who can't live without continually acquiring expensive designer shoes
Sarah, a middle-class mother who is so professionally busy that she and her husband have hardly any time to spend with their children
Kevin, a man in his 20s who, unbeknown to his girlfriend, goes out every week drinking and womanising
William, who found Christianity unfulfilling and has converted to Islam
Laura, a lesbian who sometimes sleeps with men.

Their mentors come from different branches of Christianity but they share a number of core beliefs.

Week one
First stop was York Minster – an awe-inspiring cathedral that's almost 1,000 years old – where they were asked to participate in a communion service. Then it was back to Leeds, where George Hargreaves gave each volunteer a Bible and asked them to read some every day.

The second episode of this Channel 4 reality show 'Make Me a Christian' threw its participants some big challenges, according to Revd George Hargreaves, one of the series’ team of minister-mentors. The idea of doing street evangelism ‘by way of foot washing’ stunned some of the volunteers. William, a Muslim participant, said it was ‘unknown in his experience of Muslim culture that a teacher should humble himself in front of those he is teaching’. And ‘A visit to a Salvation Army centre had a profound effect on Martin’, shown in last week’s episode as a promiscuous clubber. Although the series’ formula features a lot of Christian ‘dos and don’ts’, George believes all the participants got the message that ‘the dos and don’ts come through a relationship’ and belief in Jesus as God.

Can this diverse group live as Christians for three whole weeks, and how will it affect their lives?

The mentors visit the volunteers in their own homes, to get a picture of their lives and to give them guidance. The parents are asked to spend 15 minutes each day with their children. The lesbian is ordered to get rid of her explicit pictures and books. The young man and his pregnant girlfriend are given some instruction in the basics of Christianity. The lap-dancing manager is discovered to have more than a passing interest in witchcraft and magic - her books and ceremonial paraphernalia are taken away. The womanising 20-something is persuaded to agree not to 'look lustfully at a girl'. The biker, so far, is challenging every instruction and the others are beginning to get fed up with his refusal to listen.

All this is just the start of their three hard weeks. Can they embrace Christian ideals and learn to live in a different way or will their old lives prove just too strong to resist?

Source: The War Cry (16/8)

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