Review of Last Year’s Predictions

Well, clearly it behoves me to consider last year’s New Year Predictions and see how I did.

Remember those people who used to say, “But what is a blog…?” Well this year you are going to be hearing them say, “But what is a mooc…?”

Well, I think I got that partially right. Lots of people have been getting online education and training from moocs and mooclike environments. Coming to a church context near you in the future. I claim a partial hit with this prediction.

Gay men are going to start shaving again. Now that so many straight men have bought into the idea that beards are hip, it is time to mess with their fashion sense again. Consider this the memo. (Next year, the end of tattoos!)

Oh, I got this so, so wrong and beards have become so, so absurd. How long, O Lord, how long?

Church of Scotland General Assembly will be unable to affirm last year’s compromise on a local option for ministers who happen to be gay.

Well, I got this one wrong too. Looks as though the Assembly will affirm last year’s compromise though there is disagreement about whether the provisions regarding civil partnership should also refer to marriage. I expect this one will run on for a bit.

More revelations relating to Cardinal Keith Patrick O’Brien.

Yes – we have revelations about where he is living and how he is funded. I expected more about his time as bishop, but that may come yet.

Number of active bloggers decreases. Influence of those still blogging increases.

Yes – blogging has become much more intentional and is clearly for the committed. However, I’m pleased to see an end of year boost in Scottish Episcopal blogging once people realised they had something they passionately wanted to talk about.

The real purpose of the Pilling Report will be revealed with hindsight as evangelicals begin to argue about its contents. (May take a couple of years, but trust me on this one). Initially this will be in private – increasingly in public. Having been the great unifying factor for Evangelicals for the last 10 years, attitudes to gay people will become the source of greatest disunity amongst Evangelicals for the next decade. Unappealing and unsatisfying as it is, Pilling is a watershed – it was never designed to court liberal opinion so we might as well stop moaning about it. It was designed to divide evangelical opinion and is going to be jolly successful.

Not Proven must be the verdict on this one for the year that is past – partly true but the bit about Pilling remains to be seen as I expected. We’ve have some interesting debates within Evangelicalism and Vicky Beeching’s coming out. This one really will run and run.

The Independence Referendum will be lost here in Scotland but alas, not by enough to shut everyone up.

Yes – bang on. I was right. I was right. I was right.

Such terrible statistics in the Diocese of Glasgow and Galloway that we lose at least 4 seats on General Synod.

Yes – did we lose 6 or was it more?

Lord Carey will say that Christians are being persecuted in the UK, that the church is dying out or that the sky is going to fall in, and will say it at the most unhelpful time possible – probably around one of the English General Synods or Easter.

I’m claiming this is a hit. He came out in favour of allowing assisted suicide (against the Church of England’s stated policy) on 11 July 2014. Synod started 11 July 2014.

We will hear about our first UK gay divorce.

No – surprisingly, I don’t think I can find headlines about this.

Trends to watch:

Continued meltdown of the Church of Scotland. Ceasing to be a national church before our very eyes.

Internet increasingly rewards those who know how to manipulate images.

Economic polarization of the UK continues.

Yes. Yes. And, sadly, Yes.

Mixed bag this year.

Opera Review – Macbeth – Scottish Opera

Here’s my review of Scottish Opera’s latest production, as posted at Opera Britannia. The exclamation marks are obviously not my own and have been added by an editor.
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Scottish Opera’s revival of Dominic Hill’s production of Verdi’s Macbeth is something of a mixed bag that is saved by several confident performances, most notably that of Elisabeth Meister as Lady Macbeth. Before we think about the singing though, we must discuss the curtain. By understanding the curtain, we can understand the whole of this production!

Scottish Opera is currently out of its usual Theatre Royal base in Glasgow whilst that theatre has major improvement work undertaken. This show took us across the river to the Citizens Theatre where simply due to the relative sizes of the buildings, any show is going to seem much smaller and more intimate. Now, the Theatre Royal has pretentions to the grand whilst the Citzens wears its faded grandeur with pride. And walking into the theatre we find that someone has unravelled a piece of string across the stage and hung a grime-laden piece of cloth inelegantly across the stage. The cloth itself looks as though it has been dragged around every venue in Scotland. It looks so grubby and untidy that one wonders whether someone has dragged it through Birnam Wood itself. The string sags in the middle and the curtain droops. It is a metaphor for what we will see unfold from a company that one fears has itself got a case of the droop.

For this production has indeed been all around Scotland and on the first night of this revival it was already feeling a little tired. It transpires that the production is a revival not of a main stage show but of a much pared down Macbeth, which was part of Scottish Opera’s commitment to tour opera to small and often unlikely venues in 2005 with a small band of seven singers and only a piano for accompaniment. In this revival the piano is gone, to be replaced by a small orchestra of just 18 players (a larger band is due in Edinburgh) making it difficult to decide whether we are seeing something that is essentially a big show cut to the bone or an already emasculated production being beefed up.

The curtain barely covers the set which itself only covers the lower half of the stage, the back walls clearly visible beyond. The set itself, such as it is, doesn’t do much to distinguish one place from another. It is a grungy, dirty interior – somewhere in a war zone. This is to be a production of Verdi’s version of the Scottish Play in Scotland by Scottish Opera that makes no reference to Scotland.

So…….on to the singing. [Read more…]