First Impressions

 

First impressions aren’t always accurate.  The story goes that Fred Astaire’s initial screen-test for Paramount Pictures in Hollywood left the responsible executive deeply unimpressed, ‘Can’t act, can’t sing  .  .  . can dance a little was the supposed assessment[1].  Less well known but equally lacking in judgement was Charles Jennings’ 1742 estimation of Handel’s Messiah; this exceptionally self-confident 18th Century librettist described Handel’s newest oratorio as ‘Far unworthy of Handel, but much more unworthy of the Messiah!’

 

The first disciples’ conclusions concerning their Lord’s resurrection were equally lacking in perception.  On finding the empty tomb the women assumed that Christ’s body was not risen, but stolen![2]  Similarly on the road to Emmaus, disciples spoke of their disappointed hopes by referring to their Rabbi in the past tense, ‘We had hoped that he was the one who would redeem Israel.’[3]

 

In the end, it was the test of sustained scrutiny that obtained the truest measure: Astaire went on to be one of the Hollywood ‘greats’ and was awarded an Oscar for lifetime achievement; audiences still regularly stand through performances of the Hallelujah chorus to honour its heavenly magnificence; and the first disciples of Christ were not only persuaded to turn their own presumptions upside down, they spent the rest of their lives seeking to persuade others of the truth of their revelations.

 

Problems only arise when people will not be open-minded enough to really look at the movie, listen to the oratorio or examine the possibility of faith.  In one of Jesus’s parables he spoke of those who were so prejudiced that they would not be persuaded ‘even if someone were to rise from the dead!’[4]

 

There are some people who genuinely do not believe, but far more common are those who will not believe, and more common still are those who can’t even be bothered to consider the issue.

 

The problem many of us have when it comes to truth is we can’t be bothered to think long enough or hard enough to discover it.

 

Jeff Cuttell

 

 

 


 

[1] In fact this oft reported comment is something of a myth.  The official concerned was a gentleman named Burt Grady whose estimation of Astaire was only marginally more flattering ‘Can’t act. Slightly bald… Also dances’

[2] John ch20 vv2&13

[3] Luke ch24 v21

[4] Luke ch16 v31

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