Ellen Loudon

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the death of popular culture

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I have had a bit of a bonkers 10 days – full of Christmas cheer, popular culture and a viva that nearly tipped me over the edge.

I missed a lot of the run up to Christmas last year because I was caught up in jury service but this year I am getting the full hit of being a priest at Christmas-time. There is so much to do – and advent has been a lively spiritual challenge for me. I am loving the waiting for Christmas and all the lead up to it. That said there have been a few things that have been quite disturbing – The X-Factor for one. I am not sure I can express my disdain for it without rude words but I will have a go. I once thought it was as innocuous as karaoke but now think it is destructive. You know, dear reader, that I love popular culture and can usually find some worth in nearly any of it (even Miley Cyrus has her good points) but xfactor is a cruel twisted popular culture that is sucking the life out of everything that is good about music. It is a vampire draining the life-blood from young people’s talent and leaving them with nice teeth, lovely hair, shining legs and a look of vanity. I want it to stop – with all my of my heart I want it to stop. I want our young people to come back and stop following the nasty child catchers into the little box. I want them to run free and make pop music that is about them and not about a strange middle aged man who likes everything to be pretty. So there…

I am a bit tense at the moment (can you tell). I had my PhD thesis viva last Friday and whilst I am not knocking my achievements I still have some more work to do on it…work that I am disappointed about really. They are asking me to shift my work away from my practice and more toward the theory that underpins it. Of course my theory is completely sound and the work they are asking me to do is perfectly reasonable but I am gutted that I didn’t express the worth of the practice clearly enough to validate it. It’s not the end of the world but I do have to spend some time digesting their comments and working out what my response will be in terms of the work. It shouldn’t take me too long to sort it out but at the moment I am not sure where the time will come from. Some reflection and careful prayer about time management, stress and workloads will also need to be done.

Anyway, I hope you are enjoying advent and that your Christmas preparations are bringing you joy. Remember Jesus isn’t just for Christmas and that when the heavens and the earth are reunited there will be salvation from xfactor and all bad things. Until then it is up to us to make this world a better place and fight against injustice (wherever we find it) and seek the Lord in all things good and worthy. Lets get to it.


Written by ellenloudon

December 14, 2009 at 9:48 am

run’s house

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Eva and I have most evenings to ourselves at the moment because Mark is off with Da Boyz…as a result we have been watching some rubbish TV. However, the best thing we have found to watch is Run’s House ‘an MTV reality series. It shows the family life of rapper and hip-hop music pioneer Joseph Simmons a.k.a. Rev Run.’ We actually laugh out loud…

Written by ellenloudon

August 12, 2009 at 5:12 pm

Posted in culture, stuff


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I am very grateful to Gaby Malcolm for this fantastic piece of art which she so kindly gave to me as an ordination present. It is currently exhibited in my office on top of the filing cabinet.

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July 28, 2009 at 9:27 pm


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Not sure how I feel about this…super lamb bananas were bad enough but penguins might push us over the edge. Anyway, this is the press release for the penguin invasion of the city planned for the autumn/winter:

More than 100 six-foot birds will decorate the city centre in a public art event set to rival last year’s popular Go Superlambananas trail.

From mid-November, small groups of penguins will be on display for seven weeks in an effort to attract visitors and spread an eco-friendly message.

Artists are being invited to enter designs for the fibreglass penguins, with the winners chosen by businesses sponsoring the event for £3,000 a piece.

More than 50 schools have already signed up to adopt and decorate a 3ft penguin for £450 each.

They will be displayed in a city centre indoor venue and will be returned to the schools once the trail has finished.

Commissioned by Culture Liverpool, the event is being organised by Wild In Art, the team behind last year’s successful Go Superlambananas.

It is based around a story, written by former Culture Company vice-chairman Phil Redmond, in which a penguin called Patrick is rescued from the ocean by HMS Liverpool.

He said: “Penguins are cute and funny, and everywhere in popular culture.”

Designer Chris Wilkinson, who came up with the basic penguin shape in clay, said: “In the story, the penguins are from the Falklands, where there is a large range of different species, but we wanted these to be generic penguins.

“They are brought to Liverpool to see Patrick with the help of the Liver Birds. We wanted them to look young because Patrick is a teenager.”

Patrick, a rockhopper penguin with distinctive yellow eyebrows, will make his debut as a cartoon character before he is revealed to the public.

The initiative is a highlight of A Winter’s Trail, which runs from November to January

It will see a series of special penguin-themed events take place across the city, with the support of many of Liverpool’s cultural organisations.

Liverpool Council leader Warren Bradley said: “The Superlambananas were the icons of Capital of Culture and we hope Go Penguins will similarly capture the hearts and imaginations of everyone across the region this Christmas.

“Last year showed how cultural events can make a huge impact on the tourism economy.

“I am excited about the plans for the penguins. Everyone is pulling together to create a magical Christmas which will further cement Liverpool’s creative reputation and appeal to visitors.’’

The recyclable Go Penguins, produced by a firm in Kent, were inspired by Liverpool’s Year of the Environment.

The festive trail aims to raise awareness of climate change by reflecting on the melting of the ice caps in Antarctica.

Merchandising opportunities are also being looked at, with miniature versions of the penguins to go on sale later this year.

The deadline for artists’ designs is the end of August.

FURTHER details can be found at GO-PENGUINS.

Written by ellenloudon

July 15, 2009 at 9:49 pm

Posted in culture, Liverpool

pop crisis

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I am having a pop crisis! The king of pop is dead and her ‘mag’esty (madonna) has seriously lost the plot. I went to see Madonna last night at the MEN and it was a fright…she went on very late then she mimed her way effortlessly through the first section of the concert. She danced like a 12 year old (and dressing like one!), she even tried to fool us with costume changes and at one point we were supposed to believe it was her singing under a full cape whilst sat on a grand piano (I am pretty sure it was a body double whilst she put her feet up in the dressing room drinking pop). The most grotesque spectacle was the unpleasant display of wealth and bizarre obsession with showing us her pants. Though there was a pretty good middle section where she seemed to have joined the fair and became incorporated into a Hispanic gypsy family even this was marred by slightly a preoccupation with death and the ‘cult of the child’. Madonna needs to spend some quality time coming to terms with her shift from youth to middle age, enjoy being an older woman and not see herself as having to prove herself as a sexual being…there is so much more to her than this but at the moment her pain at the loss of youth is unnerving and slightly disarming. As an audience member it makes for uncomfortable viewing (and not in a useful challenging way). Because she started so late we missed most of the last section – because we had to catch the last train home – which if she went on to demonstrate that she was in a transition and was seeking a new phase in life would have been encouraging – but I suspect it went on to be more of a cry for help!

I don’t want to walk away from pop. I want to see something useful, challenging, musically inspiring in the mainstream but at the moment I am really struggling to find anything in the charts that makes me want to celebrate life. I know Philly J will help me through this crisis…but I have seriously hit a musical wall. We need Cathy Dennis to write a great pop song NOW!

Written by ellenloudon

July 8, 2009 at 8:18 pm

Posted in 2009, culture, friends, music