I remember, as a curate, doing a communion service for the ‘Young At Heart’ group on a Wednesday afternoon. They were predominantly over 50s who met weekly for lunch and fellowship in the church hall, usually with a speaker, but once in a while a communion service.
I had my little talk prepared, at least in my head. Started cheerfully, then mentioned Big Brother (the TV programme), which I intended to use to illustrate something. Can’t remember what.
However, at the mention of Big Brother there was a weather change in the room. It went really frosty. It was like I had sworn. I was both taken aback, and amused, and, though knocked off course, still ended up at the same place.
For me Big Brother was the story of a group of individuals in artificial circumstances. But compassion, manipulation, grace, etc., was all there to be seen. Rich stuff to draw on to illustrate being human, the need for, and working, of redemption.
But to the ‘Young At Heart’ Big Brother was anathema. It was insulting, and a typical example of everything that was wrong in society.
I’ve only watched a little bit of this year’s series – in fact only what my daughter has been watching. But it seems now that the contestants are just acting out stereotypes of who they think they are, and it takes a lot of stress (and there seems to be a lot of stress) for the real person to emerge – either when they crack, or when someone extends compassion.
We are individuals, but it relating to others that makes us people, and relating in love that makes us ‘human’ – where human means ‘as we ought to be.’
Recognising and accepting we are loved is the first step in re-becoming human.